World War I and William Miles

7 Nov

This Monday Webster University will screen Apocalypse: World War I (Parts 1 and 2), “a monumental five-part miniseries produced by France 2 Television which used over 500 hours of archival footage unearthed after exhaustive research in archives, film libraries and private collections around the world.” Later in the week Webster will screen, The Officers’ Ward (La chambre des officiers) and, The African Fighters of the Great War (Les combatants africains de la grande guerre).

Flmmaker William Miles, whose collection is housed at Washington University Film & Media Archive, covered similar subject matter in his groundbreaking film about African-Americans during World War I. Miles’ 1977 documentary, Men of Bronze  is the definitive story of the black American soldiers of the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” who, because of segregation in the U.S. Army, fought under the French flag in World War I. The regiment spent more time in the front-line trenches that any other American unit, fighting alongside French, Moroccan, and Senegalese soldiers. The 369th became the most decorated American unit in WWI, and their regimental band under the leadership of James Reese Europe became famous and was often credited with helping introduce jazz to Europe.

The Miles Collection contains many photos, documents, and film elements relating to African-American soldiers from WWI, WWII and later decades. For more information about the collection, contact the Film & Media Archive.

The 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the "Harlem Hellfighters," return home to New York.

The 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” return home to New York.

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