Graphics By Jodie Taylor



The North Point Web-Site







The History Of The 558th Military Police Company

 

 

Corrections

   One of our members, Ed Trax, sent in a document listing some discrepancies he found in the 558th History that follows. Since it is not my place to correct the document provided here by Bob Gunnarsson, nor can I substantiate any of the differences, I have included the document provided to me by Mr. Trax at the bottom of this history. Also included are some insights on the duty schedule as he remembers it. As the web-master I have no idea which version is correct so in the interest of accuracy I have chosen to include both. I welcome anyone with memory of the events to contact me and I will be happy to include your comments here as well.

 

 

     Only The Best May Belong   



   Our group is very fortunate to have Bob Gunnarsson as a former North Pointer and member.  Bob is the author of a very in depth history of the 558th Military Police Company,  that spans from its inception at Ft. Custer Michigan, to its tenure at Kriegsfeld Special Weapons Depot.  I have to commend Bob on this history as it must have been a major undertaking for him. I’d also like to thank Bob for making it available to me, and allowing us to publish it to our web-site.

   Please take the time to read the history in its entirety, even if you have read it in installments. It’s full of facts and includes lots of photographs.  If you have any comments on the history please feel free to e-mail. If you have memories or stories you would like to share they are always welcome. I have intentions of sharing your e-mails somewhere on the web-site in the near future.

 



 

 

 

  The 558th Military Police Company

 

A Unit History

 

 

 

By

 

Robert L. Gunnarsson Sr.

 

 

 

 

                                         

 

 

   

 

Korea                                                                  Germany

     

                   Eighth Army;                                    Advanced Weapons Support Command    

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2003 by R. L. Gunnarsson Sr.

 






PREFACE

 

     This work is one small section of a much larger planned project recording the history of the Military Police Corps in its service to NATO during the Cold War years. The 558th Military Police Company was just one of many veteran units that contributed to that service.

     The Military Police Corps was, without a doubt, and probably still is today, one of the largest law enforcement organizations in the world. From the early beginnings of the Cold War until the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the resultant  “draw-down ” of troop levels that followed, thousands of soldiers served as military policemen.  These individuals were both enlisted soldiers and officers. They were volunteers as well as draftees.

      Military Police personnel served at many different locations and performed a variety of assignments. They patrolled towns and autobahns in traditional “white-hat” duty; they guarded both sensitive weapons and missile sites; they operated correctional facilities and handled all phases of prisoner administration. In addition, they performed a myriad of other special assignments. They watched both borders and frontiers, they reported opposing troop movements and strengths and they gathered intelligence information. For all intents and purposes, they became the true “guardians of democracy”.

    On an individual basis, military police recruits were the best and brightest that the Corps could capture. They were trained in both combat operations as well as law enforcement techniques. Many of these individuals stayed in the Military Police Corps until retirement. Others served only their initial obligation and then moved on. What they learned in the Army in general, and in the Military Police Corps in specific, they carried into their individual careers. Thousands of former MP’s joined civilian law enforcement agencies where they either completed, or are currently working at, distinguished careers. All of them, however, contributed significantly to the pride and professionalism of the Military Police Corps. To these military policemen, both veterans and active duty personnel, this work is most respectfully dedicated.

    The Military Police Corps’ contribution to the overall military mission has been woefully neglected in the literature. Acknowledgement and recordation of the Corps’s accomplishment throughout WWI, WWII and Korea remained both literally and figuratively in the background. The MP Corps had been, until recently, given scant attention by either Army literature or law enforcement scholars. This is one reason that makes it particularly difficult to gather historical information about individual MP Units.  However, recent historical works such as Robert K. Wright Jr.’s text on Military Police lineage and Rick Young’s book about MP’s in Vietnam are a step in the right direction.[1]   The Unit Annual History Reports, the MP Journal and the History Department at the Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood have made worthy efforts to correct the deficiencies. 

 



[1] Robert K. Wright Jr., Military Police, Army Lineage Series,  (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing 

  Office, 1992)

  Rick Young, Combat Police: U.S. Army Military Police in Vietnam, (Lubbock: Texas Tech University 

  Press, 1997)

 









    Researching and writing the history of the 558th MP Company has been a challenging and arduous task. Many of the company records have either been misplaced or purged. Individual members who served with the 558th either at Camp Como or in the Philippine Islands could not be located. Extensive research also failed to locate any photographs of the company during its service in Mississippi. Period photographs of the Philippines were located and some are included here. However, none were found that specifically identified the 558th MP Company.

    Despite these deficiencies, I am indebted to many individuals and associations. Both current Military Police personnel and company veterans have assisted me in obtaining relevant information. They have joined me from around the world and from all quarters of this country to help with the project. They have provided data, photographs, information and personal stories. Without their contributions this history could not have been completed. Their continued support and urgings have been a source of inspiration to complete the task.

      Additionally, the personnel of both the Center for Military History at Fort McNair, Washington D.C. and the Institute for Military History at the Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania have been instrumental in helping me gather information. The National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, assisted in providing photographs needed for illustrative purposes.

     Individuals that merit particular mentioning are numerous. First, LTC Gilbert Jones, (Ret.) a member of the 558th Military Police Co. in Korea, provided me with a multi-chaptered manuscript describing his experiences with the unit during the 1953-1954 time frame. Moreover, his insightful editing of the manuscript significantly improved the final product. History owes individuals such as this a great deal of gratitude. Second, Mr. Gerald Schaffner, another company veteran, graciously provided the numerous photographs of the 558th facilities in Yongsan  (Seoul) taken in 1955 just prior to his departure from the Korean Theater. Third, Mr. Chris Butler, operator of Shoebox Photos on the Internet, provided several photographs donated by Mr. Melvin Somes showing views of Northpoint as it appeared in 1970. Fourth, Major Mike Yurk  (Ret) who served at Northpoint from 1977 to 1980 provided the photographs of the renovations that took place during that time period. Finally, Mr. Steve Blackwell, web master of the Military Police Homepage on the Internet, established the forum that has been indispensable in locating both current and veteran military police personnel.

      I have placed all the material gathered to complete this project on file with the Military History Institute, U.S. Army War College, located at the Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. The photographs, tapes, interview notes and written records were put on deposit for other researchers who desire to continue any work left undone. Hopefully, others will.

 

Robert L. Gunnarsson Sr.

Hampstead, Maryland

May 1, 2002 







Table of Contents

 

 

     I.     Introduction    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -      5

 

 

     II.   Creation - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -        8

 

 

     III.  The Philippines – WWII    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  15

 

 

     IV.   Korea  - Combat and Garrison    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -       28

 

 

 

       V.  Germany – The Cold War     - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -         43

 

 

     VI.  Epilogue       - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -          58

 

 

             Appendix A  - Basic Field Manual (1944) - - - - - - - - - - - -  60

 

 

             Appendix B  - Photograph Gallery - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  -  61

 

 





                  CHAPTER I                    

INTRODUCTION

 

     American participation in the conflict that became World War II started long before the attack on Pearl Harbor. US leaders had anticipated hostilities and military planners had developed operational plans on how to fight the war. Pre-war operations included such well-known episodes as lend-lease, convoy escorts and the “arsenal of democracy”.  Domestically, military bases as well as important civilian production facilities had implemented increased security measures and Army personnel were assigned the task. National Guard and Reserve units were put on alert and many were activated to fulfill the function of military guards.[1] 

     Following the Japanese attack the need for military police drastically increased. That need began with the Japanese internment camps and continued unabated throughout the conflict. Military Police personnel were needed for security, enforcement, escort and intelligence functions. Hundreds of Military Police Companies would be needed to process and control the massive numbers of anticipated prisoners-of-war (POW).[2]

    The need for POW guards led to the initial constitution of the 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company. 

     During World War II, approximately two hundred Prisoner-of-War “camps” were constructed in the United States. The Corps of Engineers built the camps during late 1942 and early 1943 and located most of them in the southern U.S.[3] Army leaders and overseas commanders began relocating POW’s from Africa to the U.S. in September of 1943. Military leaders reasoned that it would be first, less expensive to care for the POW’s in the U.S., second, that returning empty troop transports could be used to move the prisoners and finally, the POW’s would help to solve the then farm labor shortage.[4]  Military Police Escort Guard units were activated and staffed for this specific duty.[5]

      It was the burgeoning POW population arriving in the U.S. that led to the 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company’s assignment to Camp Como, Mississippi.

      By 1944, the planned Philippine invasion altered not only the prevailing POW confinement arrangement but also the command and installation security needs as well.[6] First, it was too far to transport prisoners from the Pacific Theater to the United States.  Second, enough isolated islands were available locally that could function as confinement facilities. Third, the imprisonment of Japanese POW’s in the U.S. would have created serious personal safety concerns for Imperial soldiers.[7] Fourth, the many islands of the Pacific


[1]  Center for Military History, American Military History  (Washington, D.C.: 1988) p. 234.

 

[2]  Ibid, p.447.

 

[3]  US Army Corps of Engineers, Report of Prisoner of War Camp Construction Project, 1943. p.17.

    POW’s were also interred at existing bases bringing the total of POW compounds to 700. POW 

    population in the US eventually reached 425,871.

 

[4]  Maxwell S. McKnight, “ The Employment of Prisoners of War in the United States,” International Labor

    Review, July 1944. p. 29.

 

[5] US Army Services Forces, Fourth Service Command, Report, 1 March 1945. p.4.

 

[6]  US Army, Division of War Plans, Report, 1942.

 

[7]  Barry W. Fowler, Builders and Fighters: US Army Engineer in World War II, ( Ft. Belvoir, Virginia:

    United States Corps of Engineers, Office of History, 1992) Section V,  p.38.

 







Group created a multiplicity of bases and a decentralization of command much more diverse than that of Europe. As a result, Military Police units were delegated the responsibility of providing security at both installations and POW compounds in the Pacific Theater.[1]

      The anticipated need for Military Policemen in the Philippines resulted in the reconstitution of the 558th MP Company and the unit’s assignment to a combat theater.

     When World War II ended, the U.S. Army was faced with a daunting task. First, it had to provide an occupation force in both Germany and Japan to institute some semblance of order out of chaos. Second, it needed to establish a law enforcement network in many of the liberated countries.[2]  Third, the Army had to meet demobilization requirements that the American people were clamoring for. As a result of these demands, occupation forces were created out of the remnants of retiring combat units. In Europe, the Constabulary became operational on July 1, 1946 and essentially performed the functions of a State Police force in the American zones.[3]  However, law enforcement and civil administration began on tenuous footing. Germany, along with Berlin, had been divided between East and West thereby solidifying the “Iron Curtain” between democracy and communism.

     International relations between America and its former ally Russia – precarious at best - rapidly deteriorated following WWII. The Soviet blockade of the three western sectors of Berlin in 1948 catalyzed the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) documents on April 4th 1949. America reasoned that NATO was one way to prevent communism from world domination.

     Meanwhile, the situation on the Korean peninsula was just as precarious. Throughout 1947 and 1948, Army units remained there to handle both the Japanese surrender and repatriation.Once those tasks were accomplished, tactical units departed the country. The year was 1949 and by that time many military and civilian leaders had knowledge of both Soviet and Chinese support for infiltration into Korea.However, the Republic of Korea was not considered as an “essential” element of the U.S. foreign policy plan.[4]

[5]  [6] Then,


[1]  US Army, Division of War Plans, Report, 1942.

 

[2] At the end of the war both Germany and Japan were nations in ruin. The responsibility of establishing

    most civil and military law enforcement fell almost exclusively upon the U.S. Army.

 

[3] U.S. Army, Headquarters European Command, Historical Division,  History of the U.S Constabulary 10

   Jan 46-31 Dec 46, (1947), File 8-3.1 CA 37,  p 1.

          The Constabulary in Europe was composed of 38,000 voluntary re-enlistment personnel who elected

  to stay overseas after hostilities had ceased. They were drawn mostly from the 1st and 4th Armored

  Divisions, the seven mechanized cavalry groups and tank destroyer units. The Constabulary was

  disbanded on Dec. 15, 1952 at Bad Hersfeld, West Germany when the 24th Constabulary Squadron cased

  its colors in a ceremony neither seen nor remembered but for a few individuals. Arriving MP Units

  assumed the functions once delegated to the Constabulary. 

 

[4]  Col. Harry G. Summers, Jr. U.S.Army (Ret.) “The Korean War- A Fresh Perspective” Military History, 

     (April 1996) p. 2-3.

 

[5] Center for Military History, American Military History (Washington, D.C.: 1988) p.535.

        The commanding general of surrendering Japanese forces, Lt. Gen. Yoshi Kozuki, actually requested

    the U.S. Army leaders to quicken the pace of processing due to the infiltration of communists into North  

    Korea.  Lt.Gen. John R. Hodge, XXIV Corps, accepted the surrender.

 

[6] Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Policy in Korea, Report No. 1483/50,  Dated 30 Jan.1948. p. 4.

      “No military security … guarantee should be extended … to the Republic of Korea… because such 

   action would risk major war …in an area where Russia would have all natural advantage”. On April 4th, 

   1948 President Truman approved U.S. policy stating “the U.S. should not become involved in the Korean 

   situation where that action…would be considered a cause belli for the U.S. [General Omar Bradley wrote

   the only objection to this policy in a memorandum dated June 23, 1949. Report No. 1776/4]

 






On June 25th, 1950 North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel and invaded the South. The United States responded quickly and Army units were soon on their way to the battlefield. The Cold War had suddenly turned very hot and Korea became the testing ground for opposing ideologies.

     Events in Korea resulted in the re-activation of the 558th Military Police Company and the unit’s assignment to a second battlefield.

    Following initial setbacks in South Korea, United Nations forces eventually managed to push the aggressors north to the Yalu River. At that point the Chinese Communist Forces entered the conflict. They decimated the United Nations troops.  President Truman declared a national emergency and called for additional manpower for not only Korea but for NATO divisions as well.[1] The reasoning, at the time, was that Korea was a mere diversion used to shackle the limited number of available U.S. forces thereby leaving Western Europe vulnerable to Soviet and communist takeover.

     The eventual armistice in Korea proved the “diversion” theory somewhat incorrect. However, throughout the remainder of the 1950’s, the Cold War solidified into the familiar superpower “confrontational mentality.” In Europe, the standoff was characterized by increases in both troop level and armament. The U.S. as well as the Soviet Union instituted sophisticated and secret weapons systems and positioned a large amount of them all over Europe.

     The decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s were characterized by continued “brinkmanship”. In 1961 when the East Germans constructed the Berlin Wall and again in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis, the world held its breath. Although resolved peacefully, the incidents deepened Cold War cleavage and resulted in increased nuclear armaments into NATO. This was the age of “atomic troops” and with that came a concomitant need for more “special” weapons storage, maintenance and transportation facilities. It was the Military Police Corps that was called upon to provide security and protection for special weapons sites all over Europe. There were many.

     The on-going influx of both nuclear and special weapons into NATO resulted in the 558th Military Police Company being re-activated in 1962 at the Kreigsfeld Special Weapons Depot.

     By the 1980’s the World superpowers had re-examined their relationships with one another. Many European countries grew recalcitrant with the NATO versus Warsaw face-off at the German frontier. The concept of “mutually assured destruction” became intolerable and negotiations between the superpowers to reduce nuclear armament became a reality. Glasnost and perestroika became terms familiar to all.[2]  The resultant treaties, along with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the demise of both the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact all combined to reduce the need for an “atomic army” in NATO. Specifically, the United States signed treaties that required the removal of all nuclear-biological-chemical weapons from Europe. These agreements also eliminated the need for military police companies that guarded the system.

      It was this final set of circumstances that led to the de-activation of the 558th Military Police Company and the closure of the installation known as Northpoint.

     The history of the 558th Military Police Company is not necessarily unique. Hundreds or military police units were either activated or created to handle national emergencies. When the crisis passed, most of these units cased their colors until called upon to once again serve their country.  This is the story of just one of them. It is the story of an individual Army unit and its lengthy service to the United States, the people of America and to the countries that it called home.



[1]  David W. Hogan Jr., 225 Years of Service: The U.S. Army, 1775-2000,  (Washington, D.C.: Center for

     Military History, 2000) p. 56.

 

[2]  Thomas M. Magstadt, “Gorbachev and Glasnost-A New Soviet Order” Policy Analysis, March 1989

     p. 27. Glasnost is defined literally as “openness” and applied particularly to both public and political 

     discussions. Perestroika is defined as “restructuring” and applied mostly to economic reform in Russia.







CHAPTER II

CREATION

                                                          

Constitution

 

     The 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company (MPEG) was constituted on June 25th 1943 at Fort Custer, Michigan. [1] The unit was activated on the same day and established in accordance with Table of Organization and Equipment (TO/E) No. 19-47.[2] Configuration as an “escort guard company” specifically designated those particular military police companies as prisoner-of-war processing units. At the time the 558th MP Co. was activated, Fort Custer was the location of both a combat training facility and the Provost Marshal General’s School.[3]   The Provost Marshal General’s School was, for all intents and purposes, the Military Police School.

     When the 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company began active service it was assigned to and received training from the Provost Marshal General– Unit Training Center (PMG- UTC) staff.[4] The 558th was one of many companies assigned to the Third (3rd) Battalion, Second (2nd) Provisional Training Regiment or what was known as the Military Police Escort Guard (MPEG) section. All of these units were subordinate to the Sixth Service Command whose headquarters was located in Chicago, Illinois.  Lt.Gen. Henry S. Aurand was the commanding officer of the Sixth Service Command and Col. P.C. Kallock was the MP school commandant.[5]

      Once activated, some of the initial MP training that the 558th received was from members of the 728th Military Police Battalion. The 728th MP Battalion had previously been activated at Ft. Custer also and was conducting both combat training of inducted soldiers in general and military police training of newly constituted MP units in specific.[6] Many soldiers of this unit had previous civilian law enforcement experience and those skills were drastically needed at the PMG School. The 728th MP Battalion had been delegated the dual mission of both training troops while serving on “alert status” prepared to provide protection to the war production industries in and around Detroit.[7] The 558th MP Co. will cross the path of the 728th consistently throughout this narrative.

      When the 558th MP Company was activated it was assigned a conglomerate of personnel. Although research did not reveal who the initial Commanding Officer was, official records did reveal some information pertaining to the type of personnel assigned. The 558th was assigned a “Commander”, a headquarters “detachment” and four (4) guard sections. [8] The company, immediately upon activation, was



[1]  Sixth Service Command, General Order No. 131 dated June15, 1943.  AG 322 (June 11, 1943) OB-I- 

     SPMOU-M dated  June 12, 1943.

 

[2]   War Department, Basic Field Manual. F/M 19-5, Chapter 14, Section 176. (14 June 1944)  TO/E 19-47 

      authorized the company three (3) officers and 132 enlisted men.

 

[3]  Center for Military History, American Military History (Washington, D.C.: 1988) p. 467.

 

[4]   Fort Custer News, Vol. 3, No 27, p. 7.

 

[5]   Ibid.

 

[6]  Wright, Jr., Military Police, p.210.

         The 728th MP Battalion was constituted on Jan. 10th, 1942 and activated on Jan. 19th, 1942. The

    558thMP Co. would eventually serve alongside this former mentor during the Korean War and would

    eventually be absorbed by the 728th MP Bn. at Yongsun in 1954.  [See Chapter 4]

 

[7]   Approximately 64 MP Battalions were created by Dec. 1942 and they were assigned to

       protect the national industrial complex, militarily known as the Zone of Interior [ZI].

 

[8]  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 338, Subgroup 4.6, Sixth Service 

     Command, 1943.

 







assigned both experienced officers and senior NCO’s who were transferred into the company from other units. Around this core of personnel, the 558th was eventually filled with equal numbers of inductees, veterans and volunteers. They came from infantry, artillery, paratroopers and other MP units.

       Each guard section of the company was divided into three (3) squads.  These squads were supervised by a Sergeant and consisted of one (1) rifle, one (1) shotgun and one (1) machine gun section. The machine gun squad was armed with Thompson .45 caliber sub-machine guns.

 

                                        

 Fort Custer, circa 1943.  Birthplace of Military Police Units activated for service in WWII.

Photograph courtesy of Willard Public Library, Augusta, Michigan.

   

 

 

      In addition, many members of escort guard companies were “limited service” personnel. Designated as “LS”, these individuals were deemed unfit for combat due to a physical limitation, age, a prior wound or they were recuperating from a battle injury. Escort guard training lasted for approximately eleven (11) weeks.  The school used numerous ex-civilian law enforcement personnel as instructors. These individuals, once inducted, found that their skills were in great demand with the newly created Military Police Corps. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

      A review of the official Fort Custer newspaper for a two-week period in August 1943 revealed some interesting information about the school. At any one time approximately 40 MP companies were in various stages of training at the installation. Both the type and extent of MP classes was widely reported. Individual units were tracked throughout their training schedules and member names as well as hometowns were frequently printed. Unfortunately, the few remaining copies of the newspaper that survived revealed little information about the 558th MP Co.[1]

 



[1] Fort Custer News, Vol. 3, No. 27-28. August, 1943. 

        These newspapers are archived at the Bently Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

    They were published by the US Army, Public Relations Office every Friday from Feb. 1941 until 

    Oct. 1944. Unfortunately, the year 1943 is missing. The Aug. 1943 copies used here were provided to

    the author by Mr. George Suttle Jr. who went through the MP school at that time.







Fort Custer Fort Custer

 

Fort Custer, MP Barracks, circa 1943.

These barracks will look exceedingly familiar to the MP’s who went through MP School at Fort Gordon some 20 years later.Picture   Postcard courtesy of Mr. Gene Herbener .

 

 

First Assignment – Detroit Riots

 

     In June of 1943, military police personnel at Fort Custer, including those who became the 558th, received their first tactical assignment. At that time, MP units throughout the country were assigned to assist civilian authorities in suppressing race riots that had begun occurring throughout the United States. The riots began occurring in Detroit in June of that year. On June 20th a confrontation at an amusement park named “Belle Isle” soon escalated into citywide violence. It became evident the next day that the city police and state troopers were unable to quell the emergency. The then Mayor of Detroit, Edward Jeffries Jr. along with Governor Harry Kelly, requested President Roosevelt to immediately dispatch Federal troops.[1]

 

 

Fort Custer, circa 1940’s

Here an MP assigned to the MPEG School learns how to drive a jeep on the driving course.  Picture postcard courtesy of Mr. Gene Herbener.




     The response order went out to most Army facilities located in or near Detroit.[2]  Fort Custer was requested to provide a thousand (1000) military police personnel.[3] By midnight June 21, 1943 most of the Fort Custer MP units, including the 728th MP Battalion and many members of what would become the 558th MP Company, were assigned to riot control in Detroit. Although the 558th was not “officially” created until after the initial riot, the company began riot duty the day following constitution. The assignment was the first tactical operation for both units.

 

      Initially the MP’s patrolled city streets in both armored cars and jeeps and were equipped with automatic weapons. They performed perimeter security and crowd control functions; dangerous work by any standard. During the first 36 hours, a total of 34 civilians had been killed and thousands of injuries were reported to and by police, troopers and soldiers.[4] The MP companies, along with other Army units, eventually supplied a total of 6000 personnel for duty in Detroit.

 

      The 558th and 728th MP’s remained on riot duty intermittently for several weeks. During that time, the 558th patrolled the city sporadically while still continuing training at Fort Custer. By the middle of January 1944 President Roosevelt released Army personnel from duty in Detroit.  However, by that time the 558th MP Company had been given both a new assignment and station.

 

     Although the 558th did not receive any awards for service in Detroit - others did. As a testimonial for the 728th MP’s service in Detroit the battalion’s Unit Crest received a “red bendlet” (a diagonal line) on their

insignia. That designation reportedly symbolizes the Rouge River of Detroit “running red with blood”, a result of those turbulent times.[5]

 

 

 

Detroit riots, June 21, 1943. View is of Woodward Street.

Photograph courtesy of the Detroit News

 

 

     State side duty- Camp Como

 

      During July and August of 1943, the 558th MP Company continued training at Ft. Custer. Following this training, the unit remained at the post for most of September 1943 conducting both garrison duty and occasional patrol of Detroit.  Then, on September 25th, 1943, the company received orders for a “permanent change of station”.[6]  The 558th was ordered to move to the Prisoner-of-War Internment Camp at Como, Mississippi on Sept. 28th, 1943. Once on-site, the company would be assigned to the Fourth Service Command.  The unit departed Ft. Custer on the 28th and arrived at Camp Como the next day. 

 

     Camp Como was located two (2) miles south of the small southern town of Como, Mississippi in Panola County. The location was some 40 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee and known for the extensive production of a cotton crop.  The camp had been constructed in 1942-1943 by the Corps of Engineers and was used to house prisoners of both the German Afrikakorps and the Italian Army.[7]  Camp Como was a “branch camp” of Camp McCain, also located in Mississippi.  Camp Como had a population capacity of 3901 individuals and it’s hospital building had 100 beds.[8]. Prisoners began arriving at Camp Como during September and October of 1943. The POW’s were delivered there by a detachment of the 413th Military Police Escort Guard Company.

 

      The 558th MP Company was not the initial MP unit assigned to Camp Como. The first MP’s to arrive at Como were three (3) platoons from the 413th MPEG Company. This unit departed Ft. Custer on May 7th, 1943 and arrived at the POW camp the next day. The remaining platoon, referred to in official records only as a detachment of the 413th, had departed Fort Slocum, New York in route to Africa to transport POW’s to

the US.[9]  By October 19th 1943, this detachment had completed three (3) Atlantic crossings transporting POW’s to the US mainland at which time it then re-joined the parent unit at Camp Como. The entire 413th was transferred out of Como on November 28th 1943 and moved back to Fort Custer for a short training period preparatory to assignment to the European Theater. 

 

       The 558th was only one of several Army units that was assigned to the POW camp. Other groups included engineers, quartermaster, intelligence and a medical detachment. However, the 558th was the only Army unit assigned to Como that had been given the direct responsibility of “guarding the prisoners-of-war”.[10] The records of the 558th did not make a distinction between either guarding the camp perimeter or guarding the prisoners on work details. However, on November 8th 1943, the duties of the company were officially changed to that of “functional duty- without change of station”. [11] That terminology is believed to mean that the troopers were then used to perform general law enforcement duties on post and to guard the site perimeter.

 

 

      Prisoners were assigned to both agricultural service (picking cotton) and to construction projects that were supervised by the Corps of Engineers.[12] The prisoners liked their guards, worked cooperatively with them and enjoyed their time in America. Many did not want to go home when the war ended.[13]  The POW’s realized by the time they reached America that capture and imprisonment had saved their lives. Actually, their social standing became somewhat enriched. Many prisoners learned either a skill or trade. Many others took advantage of available schooling. Most camps, including Camp Como, instituted undergraduate college programs for the benefit of the prisoners. Specifically, the “University of Como, Mississippi”, the extension school at the post, was sanctioned by not only U.S. colleges but by the Reich Ministry of Education as well.[14]  Many of the prisoners interred at Como returned to their homeland with college degrees in hand.

 

     The Commanding Officer (CO) of Camp Como eventually established several temporary, satellite “work camps” throughout the lower Mississippi agricultural area. These somewhat dispersed facilities alleviated the POW’s and their guards from returning to Como every night. Members of the 558th were assigned this field duty on a rotating basis.

 

     The guards at Camp Como had only one known incident involving prisoner disturbances. These “hazing” incidents occurred in 1945 and were the result of ethnic conflict that spread throughout many of the POW camps. Some veterans of the battle-hardened Afrikakorp had begun a series of injurious attacks perpetrated against newly arriving prisoners, mostly Italians and Poles, who had expressed contempt for the Axis Powers. As a result, camp commanders were authorized to segregate prisoners by nationality.  Italian prisoners were transferred to camps located in Memphis, Illinois, Idaho and Colorado, while Camp Como continued to house only German prisoners.

 

      De-activation at Camp Como

 

     During late 1943 and early 1944 the US Army had completed assignment plans for the military police units that would be needed in the Pacific Theater.[15] The planning process had revealed a need for MP companies with experience in both site security and POW practices. That experience would prove to be indispensable for operations on Pacific Islands. As a result, many active, stateside units were re-assigned, re-designated, reconstituted or otherwise allocated for overseas duty. 

 

     Large numbers of Army units, including the MP companies then serving at the continental POW camps were alerted for potential movement. The reasoning, at the time, was that any depletion of the POW camp units could be offset with MP personnel that were then training at Ft. Custer. Units with operational experience could therefore be given overseas assignments. Army plans went awry almost immediately.

 

     The reassignment plans resulted in the 558th being “disbanded” on April 15, 1944 at Como, Mississippi.[16]  On this date, the Provost Marshal deactivated all MP units assigned to POW Camps throughout the various Service Commands of the continental United States.  Strangely, this action resulted in the disbanding of the 558th and the technical removal of the unit number from the rolls of the US Army. Reasoning for this action was cited as “economy of manpower.”[17]  However, because the 558th members were “limited service” individuals and unable to serve in combat, as well as the fact that War Plans had scheduled the 558th for overseas duty, the Army apparently decided to not only de-activate, but to disband the company. 

 

      As that action was being undertaken, the Commanding General of the Fourth Service Command was authorized to retain the personnel from the remnants of the 558th so as to “perform essential MP duties and avoid interruptions in the guarding of prisoners-of-war”.[18]  The personnel of the “disbanded” 558th then became known as the “Station Compliment Guard Detachment, POW Camp, Como Miss.” [19].  The troopers were placed in two units known as Section I and Section II. These two sections received personnel transfers into the unit from the POW Camps at Picayune, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. By September 1945, the MP’s at Como had been re-designated as the 1462nd SCU (Service Command Unit).  Most of the soldiers of the disbanded 558th did in fact remain on-site until camp closure in 1946.

 

     Research indicated that the unit number 558th MPEG had been identified and designated for overseas assignment as early as July of 1944. However, massive troop movements were occurring all over the world in order to meet demand and reassignment did not occur until February of 1945.  Apparently, during those somewhat confusing times the disbanded 558th MPGE became “lost” for several months. An Army report submitted at the end of the war discusses at length the problem of misplaced, forgotten and unused personnel and units.[20] Although never really corrected at the time, the 558th must have been re-discovered in approximately February of 1945. That month, the 558th MP Company was re-constituted for use in the Pacific Theater.

      The unit would never again see its homeland.    



[1]    The Detroit News, June 24th, 1943

 

[2]   Gen. Aurand actually ordered troops into Detroit at the request of the Governor of Michigan and prior 

      to the issuance of a Presidential Order. See: U.S. Army, Senior Officer Debriefing Program, Interview

      conducted April 6, 1974. Written transcript filed 1977 at the U.S. Army, Military History Institute. p.

      169-170.

 

[3]   Ibid.

 

[4]   Ibid.

 

[5]  Wright, Jr., Military Police, p.210.

 

[6]   SPX 370.5 (24 Sept. 43) OB-S-SPMOT-M dated 25 Sept. 43 (r).

 

[7]  John R. Skates, “German Prisoners of War in Mississippi, 1943-1946”, Mississippi History Now,  20:

     12 (1994) p. 3.

 

[8]  US Army, Station List  (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1945) p. 211.

[9]   OB-S-SPOPT-M dated April 16, 1943.

      The 413th MPEG Detachment made the trips to Oran, Africa to pick-up and guard POW’s for their  

      journey to the US. The record does not indicate which specific camp/s they were transported to- only 

      their destination – the town of Sardis, Mississippi- located approximately four (4) miles south of Camp 

      Como.

 

[10]   Ibid.

 

[11]   AG 322 (3 Nov. 43) OB-I-SPMOU-M dated 6 Nov. 43 (r).

 

[12]  Merrill R. Prichett and William A. Shea, “The Enemy in Mississippi, 1943-1946,” The Journal of 

      Mississippi History, (November 1979) p.7.

 

[13]  Terrance J. Winschel, “The Enemy’s Keeper” The Journal of Mississippi History, 47:4, (1995) p. 326.

         Many German ex-POW’s have returned to the U.S. for reunions at the place where they once were

     held as prisoner. However, most camps have long since disappeared. Camp Como today is an

     overgrown brush field with a few remaining dirt roads.

 

[14] Glen A. Sytko, “ German POW’s in North America.” German U-Boat Men in Captivity.  Uboat.net,  p.6.

 

[15]  Col. Paul F. Freeman, a veteran of numerous Far East missions prior to WWII, worked in War Plans at

     the War Department and was instrumental in planning large segments of the Philippines campaign in

     1943-1944.

 

[16]  Commanding General, Fourth Services Command, General Order No. 3, Headquarters POW Camp, 

     Como, Mississippi. 15 April 1944.

 

[17]   Office of the Provost Marshal General, World War Two, A brief History  (Headquarters Army Service  

      Forces, Office of the Provost Marshal General. January 15, 1946) p. 388-389.

 

[18]   AG 322 (4 April 44) OBI- SPMOU-M dated 6 April 44 (C)

 

[19]   Ibid.

 

[20]   Maj. Bell I. Wiley, Preparation of Units for Overseas Movement , Study 21, US Army Ground Forces,

      Historical Section, (1946)

 







New Page 1

 

CHAPTER III

THE PHILIPPINES - WWII

 

     The Eighth Army was activated in the U.S. on June 10, 1944. The “Amphibious Eighth”, as it became known, was sent to the Philippines for the planned invasion and put under the command of General Robert L. Eichelberger.[1]  In addition, General Walter Krueger’s Sixth Army was also part of the invasion force and had been slugging its way through the South Pacific for several months prior to the Philippine invasion.  

     The liberation of the Philippine Islands began with the invasion of Leyte on October 20th, 1944 and lasted until July 4th, 1945.[2] During that time, soldiers of both the Eighth and Sixth Army battled their way through the archipelago eventually taking in excess of 22,000 POW’s. On December 26th, 1944 General MacArthur transferred control of operations on Leyte and Samar to the Eighth Army.[3] Although Japanese forces no longer posed a threat to Allied forces on Leyte, mop-up operations continued until May 8th, 1945.[4]

      The invasion of Luzon began on January 9th, 1945. General Krueger’s Sixth Army along with the 11th Airborne of the Eighth Army landed at Lingayen Gulf and several units headed for Manila. On March 4th, 1945 the city was liberated[5]. On June 30th, General Krueger’s Sixth Army was relieved of operations on Luzon by the Eighth Army. It was the Eighth’s task to mop-up scattered Japanese positions on the island.[6] Military Police Companies had been requested for assignment to handle not only POW administration but also the security functions for the constantly moving command facilities and for guards at the numerous bases taken over by US forces. This need for Military Police personnel resulted in several hundred companies being assigned throughout the Pacific Theater.[7] The 558th was one such unit.

 



[1]  Stephen J. Lofgren, Southern Philippines,  (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History,

    1991) p. 6-7.

 

[2]  Robert R. Smith, Triumph in the Philippines, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1963)

     p.302

.

[3]   Charles R. Anderson, Leyte: The US Army Campaigns of World War II, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army

      Center of Military History, 1995) p. 30.

 

[4]   Ibid. p. 30.

 

[5]   Manila, one of the largest cities in the Philippines, was known as the “Pearl of the Orient”. The city was

     devastated in the liberation campaign. Many sources report that damage done to the city was greater

     than that suffered by Cologne, Hamburg or even London.

 

[6]   Dale Andrade, Luzon 1944-1945, (Washington D.C.: U.S. Army Center for Military History, 1999)

      p.29.   Mop-up and small unit actions continued until Gen. Yamashita and his remaining forces

     surrendered at the end of August, 1945

 

[7]  U.S. Army, History of Provost Marshal-Pacific Ocean Area, 1946. This report, issued shortly after the

     war, referred to MP strength in the Pacific from 1943 to 1945 as “totally inadequate.” Installation

     security needs had been greater than anticipated. Eventually, a large POW population materialized when

     Yamashita’s forces surrendered. 







Re-Constitution

     The 558th MPEG was “reconstituted” on Feb. 14th, 1945 in accordance with Table of Organization and Equipment (TO/E) No. 19-47. Reconstitution restored the 558th MPEG to the rolls of the Army and the unit number was assigned to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). Organizationally, the company was allotted to the Military Police Command (MPC) located at Hollandia, New Guinea. Upon being re-constituted, the 558th MP Co. was authorized personnel strength of three (3) Officers and 132 Enlisted Men[1]. A note in the company record indicated that the action of being reconstituted was concurrent with the disbanding of the 137th and 139th AAA Gun Battalions.[2]  Research revealed that these battalions, originally Reserve units from New York State, were de-activated at Camp Haan, California and the personnel from them were eventually transported to the Philippines and used to fill MP units.

     It is unknown if any of the members of the guard force who remained behind at Camp Como were transferred into the newly constituted 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company. It is doubtful. First, the company had been disbanded, which defined it as removed from the rolls of the Army. Second, it was almost a year later when the unit was re-constituted and re-activated. Personnel from the Camp Como would in all likelihood have either remained there or been assigned elsewhere. Third, most continental MP units were filled with “limited service” personnel and unable to perform a combat mission.

     Speculation notwithstanding, the following month, March of 1945, the 558th MP was re-activated in the Philippines. This posting was the first foreign assignment as well as the first combat theater for the 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company.

 

  Activation

     The 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company was re-activated and placed in service in the Philippine Islands on March 18, 1945.[3]  The re-activation was at the request of the Commanding General of the United States Armed Forces- Far East (USAFFE). The site of activation was the city of Tacloban, located on San Pedro Bay, the eastern shore of Leyte Island. Tacloban, at the time, was a large marshalling point for US forces. The city was also the headquarters for the Service of Supply (SOS), which, in conjunction with the Military Police Command (MPC), controlled most military police staffing, equipping and assignments. It was at Tacloban that the 558th was supplied with personnel and outfitted for duty. Several members of the now officially “disbanded” 137th and 139th AAA Bn. were assigned to the 558th MP Co. (as well as to the 608th, 630th and 720th MP Battalions and the 216th and 557th MP Co.)[4]

Unit Assignments

     The 558th MP Co. was stationed at Tacloban for only a short period of time. However, while it was there the company was given the temporary assignment of guarding several facilities in and around the city. One such facility was the Tacloban Airdrome, the largest airstrip on Leyte. In addition, the unit provided a guard force for both the seaport and for a small POW confinement stockade located at Tacloban.



[1]   AG 322 (10 Feb.45) OB-I-SPMOU-M dated 14 Feb. 45. (S)

 

[2]   Ibid.

 

[3]    Commanding General, USAFFE, Hollandia, N.G. General Order No. 78, Headquarters,  US Army  

       Service of Supply (SOS) dated 12 Mar. 45.

 

[4]   Charles A. Stern, Battery “A” 137th AAA Gun Battalion History, Unpublished manuscript. (2001) p.1.

       The 137th and 139th AAA were de-activated in Nov. 1944 but personnel from the unit did not reach

       Tacloban until March of 1945.







 

 

 

 

Tacloban, Leyte, circa 1945.

These illustrations show the Tacloban Airfield as it appeared when the 558th MP Co. took up station as the security force of the airstrip. The facility was used by the Fifth Air Force as a base for both fighter planes and B-25 “Mitchell” Bombers. The city of Tacloban was just East of the airfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment to the Eighth Army

 

    On April 10, 1945, the 558th was assigned and transferred by the Military Police Command to Manila, Luzon. On that day, both the Armed Forces Pacific (AFPAC) and the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) personnel established an operational “command post” in the city.  When the Eighth Army established a satellite headquarters in Manila two days later, the 558th MP Co. took up station as one of the Headquarters Corps guard companies. It would be both a long and war-torn association.







     For the next twelve months, the 558th moved around the suburbs of Manila fulfilling whatever mission the Eighth Army Headquarters assigned to the unit. Convoy, site security and POW handling were just a few of the functions that the men of the 558th performed.[1]  Frequently, they were assigned at multiple locations.

 



   The metro area of Manila, Luzon, 1945. This photograph shows US forces removing bodies from the extensive war damage done to the city.

 Photograph courtesy Trish S. Carden, Swallows family, Nashville, Tenn.




     The records of the 558th report numerous changes of station while assigned in Manila.[2]  When initially assigned to the city, the unit worked primarily as a guard force for the Eighth Army and other associated headquarters command facilities. Then, on September 15, 1945, the 558th is reported assigned to Muntinlupa, a small town approximately six (6) miles Southeast of Manila and the location of the New Bilibid Prison. By October 15, 1945 the company is listed as assigned to a duty station at Cavite, a suburb on Manila Bay. Finally, on December 23, 1945 the unit is again listed as located in downtown Manila, where it apparently remained until “de-activation”. There, the 558th was billeted at the Ateneo College, where the engineers had erected an MP Camp.

      The reasons for the various movements of the 558th have not been revealed in Army records. Doubts exist that the reasoning behind the station re-assignments will ever be revealed. First, considering the fluid situation present in the Philippines at the time the war ended, it is not surprising that most units were rapidly moving throughout the area. Second, the rapid surrender of Japan no doubt had an effect on unit assignment. Finally, many Army records were destroyed and the surviving documents seldom contained reasons for unit movement.

    Research has revealed, however, some of the tasks that the 558th MP’s performed while in and around Manila. When the unit was stationed at Muntinlupa some personnel were assigned as part of the guard force at both the original Bilibid Prison and also at the New Bilibid Prison. The original prison was located on the south bank of the Pasig River within the city limits of Manila and had been used by Imperial forces to incarcerate Allied POW’s. Ironically, it became the holding facility for the Japanese Army commanders while being tried for war crimes. The 558th supplied personnel to both of the Bilibid prison facilities to assist with site security and movement of prisoners to and from the trial location.



[1]  U.S. Army, Report of Commanding General Eighth Army on Luzon Mop-up Operations, 1945. p.40.

 

[2]  On May 8, 1945 the unit was reportedly returned to Leyte. Then, on July 19th the company is reportedly

     back at Manila (This is believed to be an incorrect entry in the records of the US Army).







 

 

 

 

Manila and vicinity

The above map shows the locations of Cavite City (Naval Station) and Sangly Point where the seaplane base was located.  The original (Old) Bilibid Prison (photograph below) is located on the Northeast side of the Manila Metro area – approximately where the small line enters the shaded area of the city.

Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Naval Museum. (From a 1940 postcard)

 


 







 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavite and Sangley Point, Manila Bay

These photographs show Sangley Point and the Cavite Naval Yard following US liberation. At top, Cavite is the city in the upper left portion of the top photograph. (1945) Below- Sangley Point, a seaplane base during the war, would eventually have an airfield constructed where the Quonset huts appear. (1947)

Photographs courtesy of the US Naval Museum

                         

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 







 

   

 

 

POW’s in Manila, 1945.

     These two photographs show US soldiers at work handling POW’s in and around Manila. In the top photograph prisoners are being transported to “collection points” (Manila) by Infantry troops. They were turned over to the MP’s (photograph below) who can be seen holding the Thompson sub-machine guns and wearing MP brassards.  The MP’s are preparing to march the POW’s to the holding facility.

The MP unit in the photograph was not identified in the record.

Photographs courtesy of the National Archives and Records Service. 

 

 

 

 

 





 

       During the final year of the Philippines Campaign, the islands- particularly Central Luzon- were plagued with an internal conflict between the Hukbalahap forces (Peoples Anti-Japanese Army) and suspected enemy sympathizers. Known as the “Huk Rebellion”, it pitted guerrilla veterans, mostly farmers, against the elite landowners and privileged class who had been suspected of collaboration with the Japanese military.[1] The insurrection interfered with surrender, repatriation and occupation plans of the Armed Forces in the Pacific (AFPAC). In 1945, Gen. MacArthur ordered U.S. forces, including most MP Units in and around Manila to disarm and disband the Huk forces.[2] MacArthur had Luis Taruc, leader of the Huk forces, arrested and jailed in San Fernando.  The 558th MP Co. provided some troopers for this assignment and they assisted in guarding Taruc until MacArthur authorized his release.[3]

     The war ended in August 1945 following the nuclear attack against Japan. The resulting surrender altered all pending war plans. While many units were dis-banded, de-activated or returned to the United States, the Eighth Army would remain in the Pacific Theater. Their new assignment would be the occupation of Japan.  As a result, the Eighth Army rapidly moved out of the Philippine Islands.  On August 26th, 1945 the Eighth Army closed its command post on Leyte and opened it on Okinawa. It remained there for four (4) days. On August 30th the command post closed on Okinawa and moved to Yokohama.

     For the Eighth Army, the occupation of Japan had begun. One of the units left behind in Manila was the 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company. Literally overnight, the 558th MP Co. became part of the occupation force of Manila and it’s suburbs.

      One of those suburbs was Cavite City, the location of the US Naval Base serving Manila. In October of 1945, the 558th was stationed at Cavite and was assigned the task of providing security for the ships, planes, and supply depot. The 558th did not stay long at the naval base. For this reason, it is believed that this assignment was of a temporary nature. In December 1945, the unit was again moved to downtown Manila where it was given the familiar assignment of guarding command installations and providing law enforcement as an occupation force.

       According to Army records, the 558th MP Co. remained in Manila for almost a year after the war ended. The unit was providing occupation forces needed in the city until civil government could be established. In addition, the “Manila War Crime Trials” required the services of several military police companies and the 558th as well as the 720th MP Battalion assisted in that assignment.[4]

     The trials were convened and conducted under the auspices of the War Crimes Commission and they were held in Manila. They began in October of 1945 and lasted through February 1946. The 558th MP Company was one of many MP units that supplied personnel to the location. MP’s were tasked with the responsibility of guarding and transporting POW’s that were tried as war criminals.

     The press reported daily on both the proceedings and the “infamous” defendants. General Yamashita, the Commanding Officer of the Japanese Army in the Philippines and who was also associated with the “Rape of Nanking”, was convicted of numerous war crime violations. He was hung on February 23, 1946 at Razil Stadium, Manila. Lt. Gen. Homma, the “Beast of Bataan” was also convicted by the tribunal and was executed on April 2, 1946.

 



[1]   Ronald Spector, Eagle Against the Sun  (1985)

 

[2]   Major Lawrence M. Greenberg, The Hukbalahap Insurrection, (Washington, D.C.: Government

     Printing Office, 1986) p.33.

 

[3]   General Headquarters U.S. Army Forces Pacific, Military Intelligence Section, The Guerrilla 

      Resistance Movement in the Philippines, Vol. 1 (1946) p.39.   Taruc was released 22 days later only to

      be re-arrested and held at Iwahig Prison on the island of  Palawan.

 

[4]   General Headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces Pacific, GH USAF PAC, Chronology of the Occupation, 

      No. 8-5.1, AB, (U.S. Army Center for Military History. 1946) p. 2.

 






 

De-Activation

 

      The 558th was de-activated in Manila effective June 15, 1946.[1] This action was based upon the request of General Headquarters, United States Armed Forces Pacific.[2] The personnel of the company were transferred to other assignments and other locations. Veterans who had enough “points” for discharge were returned to the US. Some personnel of the “de-activated” 558th remained on Luzon and were used as fill-ins for active MP units. Other members were sent to Japan where military policemen were needed for occupation duty.

     Advanced elements of the Eighth Army began arriving in northern Japan in August of 1945. By January 1st 1946, the entire country was under the jurisdiction of the Eighth Army as an occupation force. However, as world events would eventually dictate, this assignment became somewhat of a temporary respite. With the invasion of South Korea in 1950, both the Eighth Army and the 558th MP Company would again be reunited on the battlefield. It would become the second combat theater for both units. 

      Although the 558th MP Co. was active in the Philippines for a relatively short period, it received several awards for service there. The 558th MP Company was given credit for participation in two Pacific Campaigns, the first one on Leyte and the second on Luzon.[3] In addition, the 558th MP Company was eventually awarded the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation for its service on the islands.[4]  The unit citation does not discuss individual unit accomplishments. Rather, it awards all the units who served in the Philippine liberation with praise for “service above and beyond the call of duty”.[5]  The official Philippine citation criteria is as follows:[6]

 



[1] AG 322 (29 May 46) AO-I-E-M dated 4 June 1946.

 

[2]  Headquarters, USAF PAC, General Order No. 155 dated 5 June 1946.

 

[3]  Headquarters, USAF PAC, General Order 136 dated 26 Aug. 1945.

     War Department, General Order 12 dated 1 Feb. 1946.

 

[4]   Department of Army, General Order 47-50, dated  28 Dec.1950.

 

[5]   Ibid. p. 18.

 

[6]   U.S. Army, Personnel Command, TAGD/TIOH (Ft. Belvoir, Va.)

 







 

PHILIPPINE REPUBLIC PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION

 

 

Description: The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches in width and consists of 1/2 inch Ultramarine Blue; 3/8 inch White; and 1/2 inch Old Glory Red. The ribbon is enclosed behind a gold color metal frame.

 Criteria:  The Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation was awarded to certain units of the Armed Forces of the United States in recognition of participation in the war against the Japanese Empire during the periods 7 December 1941 and 10 May 1942 and 17 October 1944 to 4 July 1945.

 Background: a. The Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation ribbon is authorized for permanent wear only. Personnel assigned to the organization during the period cited may wear the emblem. Only one award is authorized for wear.

b. Organizations that have been awarded the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation may display a streamer on the organizational flag. The streamer is the same pattern as the ribbon. The inscription is as indicated on the unit's lineage and honors.

 

     The awarding of the Philippine Citation took several years to accomplish. The citation was given to the 558th MP Company, as well as many other units, for service in the Philippines during 1945. However, the Army did not distribute the awards to recipient units until December of 1950. By that time, the 558th had been re-activated and placed back in service in the war-torn country of Korea.

     The journey to Korea for the 558th Military Police Escort Guard Company was a circuitous route both in time and distance.  It began in 1949 at Camp Sendai, Japan. The 558th had been reactivated at Sendai and it was from there that the unit would eventually be reunited with its parent organization as a Headquarters unit of the Eighth Army.

      The official Army records of the 558th MP Company activity in both Manila and Japan are negligible. During the several years of research for this manuscript, only a few official documents have been discovered that demonstrated that the 558th was actually placed in service in Japan. One of them is the “Directory and Station List of the US Army”, published monthly by the Adjutant General.[1] This document lists only the unit numerical designation, the station assignment and APO address.[2]  An examination of the directories revealed that the 558th Military Police Company was activated at Sendai Japan in August of 1949 and was stationed there until July of 1950. The “Directory” is one of only three (3) official records discovered to-date that report service by the 558th MP Company in Japan. The remaining records are two (2) Company Commander’s monthly reports on file at the National Archives in Washington D.C.[3]  One of the problems associated with obtaining and reviewing Army records from this time period is that many are still restricted. For example, the “Directory” was not declassified until March 2nd 1999.

     Exactly why the number 558th was chosen for reactivation at Sendai can only be a matter of conjecture. As previously discussed, the 558th was left behind in Manila as the Eighth Army Headquarters moved to Japan to implement occupation operations. The rational approach for the Headquarters staff would have been to take the 558th along to Japan. However, as we now know, this did not happen and the “why” will probably remain a mystery. Although, part of the reason certainly must have been that with the end of the war, the Army wanted to deactivate and return stateside as many units and soldiers as possible.

     The lack of official records and documentation concerning the unit’s service in Japan was somewhat negated in March of 2003 when the search for a veteran who was assigned to the 558th while at Camp Sendai finally produced tangible results. It was discovered that Mr. William Cherry of Jacksonville Florida served with the 558th MP Company at Camp Sendai beginning in 1949 and he was with the unit when it was ordered from Japan to Pusan during the opening days of the Korean War. He was able to provide answers to the lingering questions of what was the mission of the 558th at Camp Sendai and what were the circumstances involving the units movement to Korea.

 

 

 

        JAPAN

 

     Sendai Japan is a small fishing village on the East Coast of the island of Honshu. In 1949, Camp Sendai was headquarters to IX Corps and duty station to units of the 7th Infantry Division.[4] These units were subordinate to the Eighth Army, headquartered in Tokyo.

     In 1946, the 622nd MP Company had been assigned to Camp Sendai as the post law enforcement unit.[5] However, the following year the 622nd was moved to Nogoya Japan.[6] At that point, post policing duties were reassigned to the relatively small MP Platoon of  IX Corps, which had been previously established as a security guard detachment for Corps Headquarters and personnel.

 

      In the summer of 1948, the 11th Airborne Division was preparing for departure from Camp Sendai for return to the US. The 11th Airborne MP Platoon had been assigned law enforcement duties in the city of Sendai. When the 11th departed Japan, the IX Corps MP Platoon was also assigned all the police duties once performed by the Airborne MP unit. The MP troopers of the 11th Airborne who did not have enough time to rotate stateside, along with some volunteers, were transferred into the ever expanding IX Cor



[1]  US Army, Directory and Station List of the US Army (Washington D.C.: Adjutant General Office)

      These listings were published every month of the year and are an invaluable resource to any 

      researcher/writer attempting to either find or document the movements of particular units. 

 

[2]  US Army, Directory and Station List of the US Army No. AGAO 1-461 (Washington D.C.: Adjutant

     General Office, 1949) p. 47.

 

[3] National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 331, Sub-group 37: Unit Monthly

    Reports: MPCO 558.

[4]  National Archives, Record Group 331, Sub-group 35, Allied Operational and Occupational 

     Headquarters.

 

[5]  Directory and Station List of the US Army, April 1946.

 

[6]  Directory and Station List of the US Army, November 1947.

 







 

Platoon. As the Platoon’s mission and personnel roster continued to expand, it became evident that unit would have to be redesignated as a full Company.

     The 558th Military Police Company was reactivated on August 1, 1948 by Eighth Army Headquarters and was ordered to become operational no later than November 1st 1948. The unit was organizationally placed under the command of the 7th Infantry Division and was eventually assigned most of the in-place MP personnel then assigned at Camp Sendai.[1] The mission originally delegated to the 558th was that of maintaining the guard force for both IX Corps Headquarters and Camp Sendai.[2]  However, once the 11th Airborne MP Platoon departed Camp Sendai, the 558th would be required to take over military law enforcement in the city of Sendai.

 

     Therefore, the reactivation of the 558th Military Police Company at Camp Sendai Japan was the result of the following three (3) factors:

 

                              1.   The relocation of the 622nd MP Company to Nogoya Japan

                              2.   The expansion in both duties and personnel of the IX Corps MP Platoon

                              3.   The return of the 11th Infantry Division to the US

 

       By 1949, the 558th MP Company had grown to 147 enlisted men and 6 officers. Their duties included providing a guard force for both Camp Sendai and IX Corps Headquarters as well as providing law enforcement to the city of Sendai. The Commanding Officer was Captain Hotaling.

        Work schedules consisted of six (6) hours on duty and twenty-four (24) hours off. At the completion of four (4) shifts the MP’s had a day off.  The men of the unit referred to their assignment to what William Cherry described as “Paradise”.[3]  He was able to provide the following narrative about his experiences while at Camp Sendai.

 

                           Those of us serving in the MP’s originally were assigned to the IX Corps

                     Platoon. Our duties were to guard Camp Sendai and IX Headquarters… When

                     the 11th was sent back to the states, our little platoon started to grow so we could

                     police the city in their place…it was then they reactivated the 558th to accommodate

                     our size. [142 of us] I do not remember any POW Camps…but we had a contingent

                     of communists in the city and a couple of times we were called upon to quell riots

                     during their May Day celebrations.[4]

 

     Mr. Cherry reported that he had intended to spend as much time in Japan as the Army would allow. The “rest of my life” is a direct quote.[5] However, as events dictated, it was not to be. The conflict in Korea exploded onto the world scene, virtually overnight, and altered all plans and assignments.

     In March of 1950, the 558th had actually been scheduled for deactivation. This was at the same time that IX Corps was being scheduled for disbandment.[6]  Ironically, orders were found in the record that actually deactivated the 558th with an effective date of June 30, 1950.[7] Research revealed that the Eighth Army Headquarters staff had actually typed the orders to deactivate the 558th once IX Corps had officially been demobilized at Camp Sendai. The IX Corps was deactivated at Sendai on March 28th 1950 and the 558th was ordered to remain “in place” for ninety  (90) days with the additional assignment of providing security for departing personnel and equipment.[8] The records clearly revealed that the 558th MP Company should have been, for all intents and purposes, both deactivated and removed from Camp Sendai by the end on June 1950.

     However, the deactivation instructions were quickly cancelled when the North Koreans invaded South Korea on June 25th 1950. Amazingly, by July 1st 1950, the new Commanding Officer of the 558th MP Company, Capt. Theodore S. Tausek, reported that the unit personnel consisted of six (6) Officers and 129 enlisted men.[9]  Many of these individuals would be transferred to other units that were then being assembled in Japan for service in Korea. By the end of the following week, the 558th had been reduced to three (3) Officers and seventy-six (76) enlisted men available for duty.[10]

     Then, on July 9th 1950, the 558th Military Police Company received “secret” orders to move from Camp Sendai Japan to Pusan Korea and on the same order was relieved from attachment to the 7th Infantry Division.[11] The unit departed Sendai on July 10th and on July 11th the 558th arrived at the port city of Sasebo Japan for transport to the war zone.

      The journey to into the war zone can best be described in Capt. Tausek’s own words. He wrote:

                    

                            The organization  remained at Sasebo…until 13 July 1950, when further

                        orders were received by the Commanding Officer to sail on a LST for

                        Pusan…by water. No casualties occurred on the LST during the trip on the

                        14 July 1950. During the daylight hours, 15 July  TO/E equipment and

                         personnel consisting of three  (3) Officers and seventy-six (76) enlisted

                        men arrived at Pusan Korea.[12]          

 

   The troopers of the 558th were some of the first Military Police assets to reach Korea following the outbreak of hostilities. It would be the units second combat assignment.

 

 


[1]  Both the personnel and duties of the IX Corps MP Platoon were absorbed into the 558th at this time.  The

     IX Corps  itself would be deactivated at Camp Sendai on March 28th 1950 only to be reactivated at Fort

     Sheridan Illinois on August 10th 1950 for service in Korea.

 

[2]  National Archives, Record Group 331, Sub-group 35, Allied Operational and Occupational 

     Headquarters.

 

[3]  William Cherry, Written Narrative, March 6th 2003.

 

[4]   Ibid.

 

[5]  William Cherry, Written Narrative, May 5th 2003.

[6]  National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 331, Sub-group 35.

 

[7]  SCAP, Eighth Army Hdqt. General Order No. 60-12, dated 1 May 1950.

 

[8]  Ibid.

 

[9]  Captain Theodore S. Tausek , Headquarters 558th Military Police Company, Unit Historical (Monthly) 

     Report, dated 5 August 1950.  p. 1

 

[10]  Ibid.

 

[11]  Eighth Army Operational Order, No. 2, dated  8 July 1950.

 

[12]  Captain Theodore S. Tausek , Headquarters 558th Military Police Company, Unit Historical (Monthly) 

     Report, dated 5 August 1950.  p. 2.

 







 

 

 

 

Camp Sendai, Japan    Circa 1954

  This photograph shows the main gate entrance to Camp Sendai, Japan.

Photograph courtesy of  (Sgt.) Abraham Lincoln and  Sendai-shi web-site.

 

 

     

 

 

 

While reading the history of the Point, I found a few minor time discrepancies.  I also included some info on our duty schedule

Ed Trax

    The conversion from 11 towers and 1 walking post to 8 towers and 1 walking post took place 1969-1970, not 1974.  At that time there were 3 new approximate 30 foot towers built and 5 of the original towers were used but their numbers changed.  Towers 1 and 2 were new.  There was a walking post between tower 2 and tower 3 at night.  Old tower 5 became tower 3, old tower 6 became tower 4, old tower 7 became tower 5, old tower 8 became tower 6, old tower 9 became tower 7, and a new tower was built for tower 8.

   At that time there was a new phone system installed with the switch board control in the alert shack just outside the exclusion area fence.  The alert squad and SAT team stayed in the alert shack, while on duty.

   During the winter of 1969 – 1970, we had no heat in the towers.  The heaters were there but were not powered up.  It was very cold. 

    Originally the MPs worked 3 eight hour shifts.  While one platoon pulled tower duty, another was on alert and the third was off.  This went for 3 day cycles while two platoons worked, one was on break.  So you basically worked 3 days, had a day off, worked another 3 days, had a day off , worked another 3 days and then had 3 days off.

   This later changed to two 12 hour shifts per platoon.  While 2 platoons were pulling tower and alert duty, the third was on break.  You worked 3 hours tower, 3 hours alert, 3 hours tower, 3 hours alert, during your 12 hour shift.  You were then relieved by the other platoon that was working and they did their 12 hours.  After 3 days on duty, you got not quite a day off, and then were back to duty.  After your second 3 days you got a 3 day break and then the cycle repeated.  

    The use of the 131st MP detachment took place in 1970, not 1974.  The reason I know this is that I was assigned to it approximately midway thru my tour of duty at the Point.  I was there from April 1969 thru September 1970.

    The patch also changed during this time from the classy ‘white arrow’ (AWSCOM) to a 6 sided patch with the sun rise up top and a key with a star in it, crossing over a wrench on the lower part of the patch.  I sent a picture of them to you.

   The new patch that we sewed on our fatigues was black and OD, but I think the colored version was yellow, orange and red.  It was not as nice as the original AWSCOM patch.

 

 

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