Sgt. Hilda Griggs clearly remembers the time she spent sorting mail during World War II.
In 1945, Griggs was assigned to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the first and only Women’s Army Corps unit composed of African American women to be deployed overseas.
Nicknamed the “Six Triple Eight,” the 855 women were charged with clearing several years of mail backlogged in large warehouses and other facilities throughout Europe.
“We had to separate them by where they were going. We did England’s first because a lot of our troops were over there,” Griggs said about her shift. “It would take a while to pile and sort the mail by 4 p.m.”
Griggs, now 96, is one of nine surviving members of the 6888th, whose motto was “No Mail, Low Morale.” The group is being remembered during Women’s History Month for its role in keeping American troops connected to their loved ones during a perilous moment in world history.
Griggs, a Clementon, NJ, resident, helped sort and route millions of pieces of mail with thousands addressed only to common names such as “Robert Smith” and some just to “Junior, US Army.”
“Most of the letters came from the soldiers’ moms — to make them feel at home,” she said.
Griggs traveled through war zones to help clear the mail backlog and said the unit “all worked together” to get the job done.
“We went from Birmingham, England, to Rouen, France, then Paris. We learned a lot — especially to keep our mouths shut.”
Following her honorable discharge from the Army, Griggs worked in civil service until she retired. She looks back on her contribution to the war effort with pride.
“I feel great. It was a big help for the men,” she said.