6888th Central Postal Battalion, Women's Army Corps
Plot A, Row 19, Grave 30
Pfc. Mary J. Barlow was an African American woman from Connecticut who served in the 6888thCentral Postal Battalion during World War II. The battalion was the first and only all-female, all-African American unit to be deployed overseas. They arrived in Birmingham, England in February 1945.
Known as the "Six Triple Eight", the postal battalion arrived to discover that millions of letters and packages were severely delayed, some for almost two years, and that postal service to American soldiers had slowed to a near halt. It was now the postal battalion’s responsibility to sort through all the mail and deliver it.
In addition to long hours in dangerous conditions without light and heat, the 6888th had to solve a major issue of similar names. Maj. Charity Adams Early of the 6888thstated, “With over seven million persons in the files, there were thousands of name duplications. At one point we knew we had more than 7,500 Robert Smiths.” Given this confusing situation, the 6888th created a unique number system for each soldier in order to continue successful delivery. Over time, the 6888thaccomplished the huge undertaking and cleared the backlog of mail to American soldiers in England.
After England, the battalion was moved to Rouen, France where Dolores Browne, Mary Bankston, and Mary Barlow, three postal workers, were involved in a jeep accident on July 8, 1945. All three are buried at Normandy American Cemetery.
Mary J. Barlow is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot A, Row 19, Grave 30.