India And Myanmar: 1944-1945. Item #1432
9” x 11”. String tied, full faux leather with hand painted title, name and trident design on front cover. 50 pages with 189 black and white photographs mostly inserted into corner mounts. An additional 12 photos and 13 items of ephemera laid in. Most photos measure from 1¾” x 1¼” to 3¾” x 4¾” and nearly all are captioned on the pages. Album very good with moderate wear, painted elements faint; photos generally very good or better. Around 15 are loose from mounts, 10 have exposure issues and six appear to be lacking but presumably are among the ones laid in. This is the wartime service album of Frank Minnis, supply sergeant for the 1888th Engineer Aviation Battalion. The battalion was formed April 1, 1943 at Florida's MacDill Field and arrived in India in March of 1944 to build a B-29 facility. According to a retained copy of a commendation letter in the album, their work here led to the first bombing of industrial Japan. After India, they were sent to Burma to work on the storied Ledo Road. The road, later renamed the Stillwell Road, was built as a response to the Japanese capture of the Burma Road—a key supply line between India and China. It was considered an engineering miracle due to the conditions the men faced: working in swamps constantly exposed to malaria and typhus, as well as on mountainsides with elevations up to 5,000 feet. Of the 15,000 men who worked around the clock to build the road, around 9,000 of them were African American. Over 1100 men died in its construction and the black soldiers' efforts were not recognized by the government until a ceremony in 2004. While only a couple of photos may show the men working on Ledo, the album is devoted entirely to Minnis' time in India and Myanmar. It includes a number of excellent group shots. Others show the men mixing with locals with one great image of two of the soldiers riding a rickshaw in Calcutta. Around their camp they are seen cooking, doing laundry, partying, and two show them in a foxhole. There is a series showing a Burmese market as well as a birdseye view of the building of their camp there. One photo shows a member of Minnis' unit play-boxing with Henry Armstrong (see item #67) , a world champion African American boxer who was sent to the theater in 1945 to entertain troops. There are at least seven other photos of Armstrong as well. Ephemera include presumably post-war business cards of fellow service members, a typescript true copy of a commendation letter, and a business card of a jeweler in Calcutta Minnis, whose family's papers are held by the University of Kansas, went on to become chairman of the Leavenworth City and County Planning Commission and was elected the city's mayor in 1994. Compelling imagery of an important African American battalion in Asia with original photos of a black boxing hero sent to boost their morale. This item is offered by Langdon Manor Books, LLC, antiquarian booksellers. Please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information and/or photos and we will respond promptly. We package our items carefully, ship daily, and have a no hassle returns policy--your satisfaction is guaranteed. We are members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) , the International League of Antiquarian Booksllers (ILAB) and the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA) and adhere to their rules of ethics.