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Session 3: Global war experiences

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Members of the 93rd Division started to be repatriated on 31 January 1919. However, some African-American troops remained behind, tasked with ‘salvaging battlefields, clearing barbed wire, filling trenches, and removing unexploded shells, […] reburying the dead and constructing cemeteries for the Graves Registration Service’ (Williams, 2010, p. 201). The work went on for several months, and the reburying of corpses in particular was described by a contemporary as ‘gruesome, repulsive and unhealthful’. (Ibid) There was fear of mutiny over being assigned such a ghastly task and because of the continual racial discrimination the soldiers suffered at the hands of racist superiors.