– 39th Infantry Regiment Black Market Band –
Colonel Harry “Paddy” Flint’s favorite band
During World War 2, the 39th Infantry Regiment had its own music band. It was known as the “Black Market Band” because its members bought, found, stole or borrowed instruments to perform on, and the band itself was never officially authorized. Bennie Nardone, a former 39th Infantry Regiment man related a story about the band in 1965.
“I served under Colonel Flint and was the Regimental band leader. After the Sicilian battles, a Lieutenant piano player and myself played many impromptu concerts for the GI’s and Colonel Flint was always there. During the heat of an engagement with the Germans, Colonel Flint asked me to try and locate half a dozen of our boys and see if we could salvage half a dozen of beat up instruments in a trailer to the rear. We found some instruments that would make a noise. We then returned to the area where K Company was pinned down. The Germans were holding them to a standstill. We were greeted by enemy mortar fire upon our arrival. Without any “tuning up” we stood straight up and started blaring away! The war seemed to end. Both the Germans and Americans ceased fire and lay there enjoying such Jazz strains as ‘The Jersey Bounce’, ‘The St. Louis Blues’, etc. The next day, the town was captured by the Americans. I was then ordered to Colonel Flint’s headquarters and was thanked personally for our performance.
On another occasion, USO show troops visited England just before the Normandy Invasion and put on a show for our Regiment. After the show was over, Colonel Flint remarked to the USO Group: “My band can put up a better show than that!” He then sent for me and told me to put on a show for the USO. He ordered a Battalion of men to attend the show. I located a couple of GI’s who were pretty good entertainers and between them and the band we put on a very good show. You should have seen the Colonel beaming, smiling and bragging about his Black Market Band! I was mighty happy and pleased to know we were appreciated by our Colonel. He was loved by all of us”. *
*The complete letter by Bennie Nardone was published in the Octofoil newspaper #18, 6 in the May/June 1969 Issue.
Please note: I am always in search for more information about the 9th Infantry Division band. Please contact me if you have information in regards to this. Thank you! – Yuri