|THE STORY OF THE CORPS OF
THE STORY OF THE CORPS OF MILITARY POLICE
INFANTRYMEN often have described the Corps of Military Police as the soldiers who posted "Off Limits" signs even before towns were liberated. But there's one place where doughs found no signs; there were
no complaints about the early presence of MPs. That was the Normandy beaches.
MPs crossed those narrow belts of sand at H-Hour, D-Day, and began clearing vehicles from the beaches, evacuating wounded, guarding prisoners in an improvised cage, unloading shells. In the pre-dawn air
invasion, MPs had come in fighting with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
They were not immune. The same murderous fire caught them as well as their infantry buddies. In some ways it was even tougher for the MP. Once posted, he had to stand up and take it. His duty didn't allow
him to duck into a foxhole. If he became, a casualty, another MP replaced him.
Pvt. Neil Dawson. San Antonio, Tex., a V Corps MP was typical. Acting as a beach guide, he was exposed to continuous artillery and small arms fire for eight hours. Before that, Dawson and Pvt. Jack F. Conrad,
Sunbury, Pa., of the same platoon, unloaded mortar ammunition from an LCT plastered by enemy fire.
Wounded in the shoulder as he leaped from his landing craft, 1st Lt. Charles M. Conover, 1st Inf. Div. MP, directed and organized traffic three hours before collapsing. He was awarded the Silver Star.
M/Sgt. Edward Lopes, V Corps MP, led his detachment ashore in the assault and posted men within 100 yards of the enemy where they directed combat soldiers along the safest routes of advance. Men under Sgt.
Nicholas T. Kinderknecht guided traffic from the beach to assembly points and evacuated wounded from the water and nearby front lines while dodging machine gun fire.
Helping division, Corps and Army MPs were especially trained amphibious MP companies—the 210th, the 214th and 449th—normally assigned to Corps but now attached to the famed Engineer Special Brigades.
These outfits, experts on beach traffic, were in at the beginning.
D-Day traffic wasn't the only problem. Increasing numbers of PWs jampacked cages. Immediate help was imperative. Late in the afternoon, June 6, 1944, the 302nd MP Escort Guard Co., composed of 57
percent limited service men, came ashore. The unit suffered casualties in men and equipment before relieving 1st Inf. Div. MPs of their stockade responsibility. Several days later, the 595th took charge of three
beach evacuation pens while the 301st was busily occupied with PWs in another sector. Supposedly, these were Com Z units.
Cos. C and D, 783rd MP Bn., directed beach traffic on D plus 4, and the entire battalion, along with the 713th, followed Armies thereafter.
MPs looked the enemy in the teeth and hit back the best way they knew how on that memorable D-Day. They guided doughs from beach death traps to rendezvous points. Airborne MPs engaged in close-in
fighting with the 101st A/B Div.
With traditional thoroughness, MPs turned in a job well done, a performance which was to he repeated many times—repeated during von Rundstedt's famous break-through drive in December, 1944.
During the crucial hours of the German drive, the Corps of Military Police, with units assigned to every echelon of command, became a prime controlling influence—the pivot on which the holding and regrouping
of American troops depended.
MPs kept a firm grip on traffic, ignoring enemy artillery zeroed on vital road intersections. Pfc George F. Swearingen, Byronville, Ga., 2nd Inf. Div., drove up to Post 8, Camp d'Elsenborn, Belgium, through which
essential traffic was moving. There were two wounded MPs and a third suffering from shock when he took over amidst artillery bursts. Twice wounded, Swearingen stuck to his post, preventing a traffic snarl
that would have caused many casualties both in men and equipment.
Others led outfits to battle, lines. S/Sgt. Floyd Calloway, Pfc Fred J. Warner and Pfc Henry F. Gozdan, all of the 803rd MP Corps Co., escorted the 7th Armd. Div. along N-32 until contact was made with enemy
tanks near Waimes.
In another sector, Third Army, in a stream of veteran infantry and armored units, began a northward movement. Half-tracks, two and a half ton trucks, tanks, jeeps, clogged the roads. Traffic jams seemed
inevitable. But the inevitable didn't happen!
Brig. Gen. Hobart R. Gay, Gen. Patton's chief of staff, commending the 503rd and the 512th MP Bns. (the latter now possesses the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque), praised them for their "extremely efficient and
untiring efforts in expediting the recent heavy movement of troops in the Third Army area..."
In First Army's sector, the situation confronting the 509th and 518th MP Bns. was acute. In the area between Corps and Army rear boundaries, traffic was excessive, enemy agents were at large; local inhabitants
were frightened, restless.
Co. B, 518th MP Bn., recorded: "First Army rear echelon units were ordered to evacuate... MPs were the only military units on duty. They were the sole means of liaison to incoming combat teams... MPs tracked
down all reports of enemy infiltration and action... organized and controlled all Belgians in the area...
"At Spa, Lt. Dean W. Nelson's 3rd Platoon rounded up 21 released collaborators and calmed the civilian populace. By Dec. 19, Lt. John Kolodziejski's 1st Platoon were the only troops in Rochefort... At Marche,
with the exception of the 51st Engrs. and the MPs, all other military units had evacuated... Engineers engaged the enemy east of Hotton... MPs were subject to enemy tank and small arms' fire, bombing, strafing
Further back, Com Z MPs perfected a tight security network, with rear area defense largely the Provost Marshal's responsibility. MP battalions posted heavy guard on all key bridges; patrols scoured the
countryside for parachutists and enemy agents; road blocks were thrown up from Army zones through Paris to the coast.
This vigilance trapped many disguised Krauts. S/Sgt. Richard Hallman, and Sgt. Walter A. Sowinski, Long Island, N.Y., 783rd MP Bn., in Advance Section, knocked off a fleeing German after they had teamed up
with British troops to capture three Nazis in a stolen jeep.
Pfc Donald E. McHenry, Berwick, Pa., spotted a fast-moving quarter-ton, waved it to a stop at Liege, Dec. 19. When S/Sgt Leon M. Hansen, Muskegon, Mich., questioned the occupants—an officer and three
men—he signalled for support. Sgt. Walter Staiger, Brooklyn; Pfc Albert Dial, Oxford, Ga.; Pfc Lars Johnson, Seattle, and Pfc. Alex Molnar, Detroit, got trigger fingers ready.
These 769th Bn. MPs had snared a prize—four spies given the job of sabotaging vital material and bridges. In the vehicle were more than enough arms and explosives to wipe the MPs off the map.
When infantrymen stormed ashore D-Day in Southern France, Aug. 15, 1944, MPs again gave efficient support, following up the 6th Army Group's lightning sweep inland. With the junction of the twin American
thrusts in France, Brig. Gen. Joseph V. Dillon's MP organizations came under control of the Theater Provost Marshal and Gen. Dillon became Deputy Theater Provost Marshal.