A Buffalo Soldier’s Wartime Service In Italy

Roy Caldwood


Roy Caldwood was born in 1922 and grew up in Harlem, New York, with his two sisters. His parents were from the British Virgin Islands. His father drove trucks and was an elevator operator, and his mother was a housecleaner and operated a switchboard. As a boy, he enjoyed playing stick ball and basketball, but “you had to be careful for the police.” After Catholic high school he became a pre-med student in college. He remembers when Pearl Harbor was attacked, remarking, “We knew we would be in a war.” When he received his draft notice, he was not surprised, and he completed segregated basic training at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. He was drafted with three friends, “the 3 R’s”: Roy, Rodman, and Renald. Because he had been a pre-med student, he was selected as a Combat Medic and was trained at Camp Patrick Henry, which was later his point of embarkation for Europe. He volunteered to serve in the 92nd Infantry Division, an all-black Buffalo Soldier division (the 93rd was a Buffalo Soldier division that served in the Pacific). He felt that his training prepared him well for what he experienced in Italy. He deployed to Europe on a Liberty ship in late September 1944 and landed in Naples, moving north after his unit, 2nd Platoon, Reconnaissance Troop of the 92nd Cavalry, assembled. While in Italy, he picked up some Italian from three sisters, Anna, Maria, and Alberta. He describes some interesting occurrences in Italy, including bandaging an Italian man’s leg, escorting Italian women to the grocery store under German mortar fire through an area known as “Purple Heart Stretch” (where the Germans brought the mortars close, but did not hit them), and having nuns bring them to a building full of children that were able to finally go home because of the liberation the American forces brought. At one point, he was mortared and was knocked unconscious, receiving a shrapnel wound in his arm. He received a Bronze Star for his actions during that event. He recalls sharing a care package from his mother with two of the Italian women he was friends with, Anna and Alberta, and his Captain and Lieutenant. He remembers taking the surrender of groups of 30 to 40 German Soldiers who were all well dressed and equipped. He walked through the group of Germans, looking for the German who fired mortar rounds close to him when he was escorting Italian women through an extremely dangerous area. After locking eyes, Roy felt that he and the surrendered German shared a moment of understanding. In Italy, he felt colorless, where no one saw race. He was in Imperia, Italy, when the war ended. When he returned home, he married Muriel Isabelle in 1949 (they were married for 73 years), and later took a job with the New York Department of Corrections after working at the Post Office. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his wartime experiences, and his post-war life. He recalls several exciting stories of his service in Italy with the 92nd Division, Buffalo Soldiers. He shares some of the awards he’s received and talks about his book, “Making the Right Moves.” He discusses the importance of physical fitness. Finally, he reflects on his service during World War II, noting, “I learned a lot, I learned what it felt like to be white,” because the Italians did not see them in terms of color.


conflicts World War II
topics African American Military Experience Injuries Civilians Race in the Military
interviewer David Siry
date 12 January 2024


name Roy Caldwood
service Combat Medic
unit 2nd Platoon, Reconnaissance Troop, 92nd Cavalry, 92nd Infantry Division
specialty Buffalo Soldier
service dates 1943 1945