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1946 Timeline
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This Page Last Updated  27 August 2015
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8th U.S.
Army
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720th MP
Battalion
720th
Bulldogs
     All major theater improvements, Cold War events or incidents, including those leading up to the Korean War that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in blue American Typewriter Font.
     To better understand the situation in Occupied Japan that affected the mission of the battalion, one must also be aware of the diplomatic, political and civil climate of the United States, world and Japanese theater of operations at that time.
Cold War Influences

     The American people were tired of war and wanted their troops brought home, so to them the immediate task was the demobilization of our military. The wishes of many of the political and military leader’s who assembled our vast war machine during the war, and, who also had the foresight of the approaching spread of communism, would acquiesce to the short-term wishes of the people in bringing home the troops, while at the same time try to address the long-term goals to maintain occupation troops in conquered and liberated territories to protect our worldwide national security interests.

     The Soviet "iron curtain," drawn across the European continent successfully, and quickly, drew eastern Germany, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Albania behind it, and formed the Soviet Warsaw Pact.

     In France, the communist labor unions were making political inroads in the National government and disrupting the country’s economic recovery.

     In Greece, where political and economic disorder led to civil war, the communist rebels received support from Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia.

     In the Near East, the Soviets kept a grip on Iran by holding troops placed there during the war beyond the time specified in the wartime arrangement. They also tried to intimidate Turkey into giving them special privileges in connection with the strategic Dardanelles, a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart, the Bosphorus, both strategic naval & commercial shipping lanes.

     In Asia, besides insisting on full control in northern Korea, the Soviets had turned Manchuria over to the Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong (Tse-tung), and encouraging him in his renewed effort to wrest power from U.S. supported Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist (Kuomintang) government on Formosa (Taiwan).

     The impulse behind the Soviet drive, whether a search for national security or a desire to promote Communist world revolution in keeping with Marxist doctrine, their strategy appeared to be one of expansion. The United States could see no inherent limits to the outward push. Each Communist gain served as a springboard from which to try another. The American response was a policy of containment, of blocking any extension of Communist influence. But, viewing the European continent as the main area of Soviet expansion, the U.S. at first limited its containment policy to Western Europe and the Mediterranean area, while attempting other solutions to the problem in Asia.

     While confronting the communist movement in Europe and the Mediterranean, throughout many other smaller undeveloped third world nations in other parts of the hemisphere, the Soviets, and later the Chinese, either through promises of economic or military aid, or work by their millions of Marxist supporters in the labor movements, were trying to kill the free word, not with one massive blow, but with thousands of tiny cuts.
Supreme Commander Allied Powers & Japanese Government

     A decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, implemented by appropriate Supreme Commander Allied Powers (SCAP) action, to utilize the Japanese governmental agencies for the execution of Allied policies made the task of Occupation in Japan much easier than in Europe. By preserving the Emperor system, the Allies continued an acknowledged head of the Japanese people, whose traditional influence permitted immediate governmental control. Although stripped of his former power, the Emperor still commanded the respect of the Japanese masses who obeyed implicitly his order to cooperate with the Occupation forces. These factors determined the method under which Military Government was to operate in Japan.

     Since the Japanese civil government was capable of operating, Occupation authorities were relieved from directly administering a "conquered" country; instead, they were charged with seeing that the Japanese Government complied with SCAP's directives. Military Government was also to advise Japanese officials on matters in which they had no previous experience under a totalitarian regime. In effect, there was no "military government" in Japan in the literal sense of the word. It was simply a SCAP superstructure over already existing government machinery, designed to observe and assist the Japanese along the new democratic channels of administration.

     The Eighth Army, under GEN Robert L. Eichelberger, assumed responsibility for the organization, activities, and proper functioning of Military Government in all Japan. His mission on this level was to oversee the Japanese in executing the general directives of GEN MacArthur. To accomplish this, local operational directives designed to implement the policies, plans, and directives of the SCAP were issued to tactical units as well as Military Government (MG) teams.

      Tokyo came under the jurisdiction of MG Team No. 32.

Military Government Zones

Personal Reflections

     “My Dad, who was commissioned in the field in France in WW I and was called back in WWII, was a friend of the commander of Fort Hamilton (near our home). The Commander invited our family to the Polo matches held at the fort, and to watch from his private box.

     The officer-in-charge of the box back then, and who wiped the seat for each of the commander’s guests, was a young lieutenant by the name of Robert L. Eichelberger.

      In 1946 that same young lieutenant was now my commanding general of the 8th Army in Japan. I had the satisfaction of stating to my fellow soldiers that "GEN Eichelberger is no big deal, he used to wipe my seat when I was a kid."   PFC Sigurd J. "Sig" Arnesen, Jr. Able Company, 1946-1947.

GEN Eichelberger
PFC Arnesen

     Several of the most controversial directives from SCAP General Order No. 1 were:

     the release of thousands of civil political prisoners, and the reestablishment of the labor unions banned by the Japanese controlled military government

     forbidding any former high ranking leaders of the military, and the civil bureaucrats involved as heads of the repressive government agencies from holding any positions of power or running for elective office;

     allowing women to vote and hold elective office;

     separation of the state sponsored Shinto religion from all educational text books and governmental processes;

     strict U.S. military censorship of media outlets and every form of public communication that involved government and education.

     Each resulted in unintended consequences, some good, and some bad. Of the thousands of new labor unions formed, the vast majority were directly influenced by the Japanese Communist Party, formed in 1922, who, even though they owed their newfound freedom to GEN MacArthur, would use the censorship issue and the systematic dismantlement of Japan’s war factories to foment continued unrest.

     The former military and governmental leaders, who were not prosecuted for crimes, were now free to take advantage of the new freedom of speech, which many used to foment tensions.

     Editors Note: The SCAP regulations on media censorship, suppressing unfavorable stories of SCAP and Japanese relations,extended to U.S. media agencies in Japan. To this day its results hinder historians in obtaining stories from the era on conflicts between the Japanese people and occupational forces, the meat and potatoes of what military police were confronted with on a daily basis.

     Statistics compiled by today’s historians from SCAP records show that during the first few months of the occupation, U.S. and Allied troops, to put it mildly, acted like bulls in a china shop. Assaults, robberies, thefts, and rapes by drunken troops occurred daily, while assaults, thefts and sabotage of Allied equipment and facilities perpetrated by the Japanese also occurred on a daily basis until commanders and the military and Japanese police could finally get a handle on the crime wave.

     The primary cause of the shared exchange of conflicts was a direct result of revenge, a feeling of superiority over a concurred people, black marketing of scarce food stocks and supplies, and the clash of eastern and western cultures.

     Although substantially slowed as the occupation progressed, the conflicts were to continue by a much smaller percentage of the troops and people, primarily by those with criminal intent seeking personal enrichment or to support their illegal radical causes.
Occupation Duty, Tokyo, Japan
January

     At the start of the year the 720th Military Police Battalion and its organic units, HQ & HQ Detachment, Able, Baker, Charlie Companies, and a Medical Detachment was now permanently headquartered in Nakano, and performing occupation duty in Metropolitan Tokyo, Japan.

     The battalion, commanded by  MAJ Jackson, was assigned subordinate to the Supreme Allied Command, 8th U.S. Army, 1st Cavalry Division, Tokyo. Once the military police occupation mission was set up, the battalion’s operational missions, would be directed by the area provost marshal.

     Records of January 1946 indicate that there had been four battalion commanders in the preceding two months. The end of the war created an intense period of reassignments for units and their field grade officers. The few available battalion records for this time period identify three new commanders, but do not specify their appointments or departures.
Camp Burness at Nakano, Northwest Tokyo

     The battalion’s first permanent cantonment in Japan was in Nakano on L & 48th Streets near the Nakano railway station in the northwestern corner of Tokyo. The cantonment was named "Camp Burness” in memory of SGT Frederick A. Burness, Jr. of Baker Company, the battalion’s first casualty and to this day their only soldier missing in action. The compound was a former Japanese Army Communications Lineman’s School until 1937, and then became the covert Japanese Military Intelligence Training Center, or Nakano “Gakko” School until the end of the war.

     The entire compound, with the exception of the HQ building, were old wooden two story structures that were in disrepair and like many of the former Imperial Military buildings throughout the country, could be best described as firetraps.

     For additional photographs of the cantonment and battalion personnel at Nakano, click on the Camp Burness photograph to the right.  >

     The battalion’s primary mission was discipline, law and order and combined Japanese Police security duties in the Metropolitan area of Tokyo. There was also an extensive training program initiated to teach military police duties to the constant influx of new personnel being transferred into the theater from other branches of the Army that were being thinned by stateside rotations.

Cantonment
 
Tokyo
 
 

     Tokyo had been divided into four patrol zones for enforcement purposes. One lettered company was assigned to each zone, and each company maintained its own military police Desk/Police Station, Desk Sergeant, and communications system.

     Duty assignments consisted of: Traffic control at various main intersections; Jeep patrol of the various occupational forces recreation sites; beer halls, dance events, etc.; the train stations at Tokyo Central and Ueno (the main hub for all northbound rail traffic); Ginza area (main business district) foot patrol; the officers sales store- a former Japanese distillery; the Honshu Apartments where the USO entertainers stayed; the Post office; and physical security details at SCAP Headquarters in the Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo's Marunouchi District.

     Routine civil issue were handled by their Japanese police patrol partners, incidents involving us citizens or military were handled by the battalion patrols as well as any violations of SCAP Directives by Japanese or other country nationals.
     Editors Note: Life in the capital city wasn’t as pleasant as SCAP presented it. Unemployment and homelessness was rampant, the displaced persons, many of them children, slept in the rubble of destroyed buildings, the floors of train stations and in cargo crates under the city bridges. Many froze to death without proper clothing, shoes, food, fuel or shelter during the harsh winter of 1945.

Personal Reflections

    “A detective received information that a former Imperial Army soldier, a former guard in the notorious Omari POW camp, was hiding out in a British Army facility. The former guards reputation was built on beating allied prisoners with a bullwhip, and was wanted by the occupation authorities for atrocities committed on American POW’s.

     My partner and I apprehended the man after climbing four flights of stairs to a small room at the top of a church belfry. We quietly entered the room and found him sleeping; he was awakened and apprehended without incident.”   PVT (2LT Retired USAR) Billy T. Gaddis, Able Company, 1945-1946.

PVT Gaddis
 

Personal Reflections

    “Once, some of our boys tried to stop a quartermaster truck from speeding, and we damaged some jeeps and street cars by hitting them during the chase.

     We figured by stopping the truck maybe we’d end up eating stew for a while.”   PFC Palmer L. Larson, Charlie Company, 1945-1946.

PFC Larson
     Even with the battalion being over strength at 600 enlisted men and fifty-six officers, they had a tough time in filling the slots for their multitude of new occupation assignments. A high rate of turnover of experienced MPs also aggravated the problem.

Exact Date Unknown In the spring CPT J. F. RaZor, Commanding Officer of Charlie Company, asked 1LT Edward J. Meyers to query the MP’s of the company to find out if any had civilian experience in operating motorcycles.

     PFC Donald H. Scholten met the requirements, and he immediately found himself receiving a promotion to the rank of Corporal, and the NCOIC of the newly formed battalion “Motor Cycle Squad.” CPL Scholten was assigned six other MP’s, and the training sessions began.

     Their newly acquired Harley Davidson WLA 750cc (45 cubic inch) side-valve V-twin, three speed, hand shift model was the best the Army had in its inventory at the time.

     The squad spent the next month training in the large drill field behind headquarters. CPL Scholten, described the area as, "room enough so they would not hurt anyone." Once the MP’s mastered the first hurdles of balancing and operating the powerful motorcycles, they moved onto the streets of Tokyo and practiced weekly on their escort formations.

     CPL Scholten would take the lead and the six-squad members would follow behind in pairs of two abreast. He blew on his whistle to signal the formation to break into single file and prepare to park curbside. CPL Scholten said "there was very little traffic then, due to the fact the Japanese had very few cars." The motorcycles were used for traffic control duties, mail, emergency medical and VIP escorts.

     The maintenance on the motorcycles was performed by the motor pool, and when not on cycle patrol, the squad performed regular desk duties, escorts and patrol.

 

     The train was the primary mode of transportation in Tokyo. What few motor vehicles owned by Japanese were mostly fueled by charcoal. There was also a vast scarcity of bicycles, now so expensive most people could not afford to buy or repair them. The MP patrols were assigned to conduct regular checks of the train stations and on the passenger trains themselves.

      Each passenger train had a special car or cars depending on its size, attached to the rear that was identified by a white horizontal stripe along its side. The car was designated for ‘allied military personnel only.’ The allied military were not permitted to ride in any other cars and the battalion’s patrols strictly enforced the regulation.

     Editors Note: The special cars were also an issue of animosity with many blue-collar working class Japanese. There was always a shortage of passenger cars, and they would be left standing at the station awaiting the next train as they watched the empty special cars pass by.
 

19 January GEN MacArthur announced the establishment of the International Military (War Crimes) Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), and a few weeks later selected its eleven judges from names submitted to him by the governments sitting on the Allied Far Eastern Commission. Twenty-eight high-ranking Japanese political and military leaders were indicted on fifty-five counts of crimes against peace, conventional war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

     During the trials in Japan, a select group of soldiers from the 720th Military Police Battalion provided security for the judges, security for the courthouse facility, and provide escort vehicles for the buses transporting the war crimes defendants to and from the Sugamo Prison complex for the duration of the trials.

     From October 1946 until April 1948, they continued to extend their tours in order to complete the assignment. After the trials were completed, approximately fifty members of the battalion detail were assigned to Sugamo to provide security until the Tribunal sentences could be carried out.

     The inmates at Sugamo consisted of those condemned, those sentenced to long-term imprisonment, and those undergoing trial.

February

13 February The main advance parties of headquarters British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF), British Command Base and the 4,000 members of the 34th Australian Infantry Brigade Group arrived in Japan. They served subordinate to the operational control of the U.S. 8th Army Headquarters, and subject to SCAP rules and regulations.

     At the same time, other military police contingents were arriving from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and India to serve along side the Australian Provosts as part of the BCOF Military Police presence. Like their U.S. MP counterparts, the Provost Forces also had total civil and military jurisdiction involving military and civilian violations of the Occupational Directives from SCAP Headquarters. Their detachments would eventually be established in Kure, Hiro, Tokyo, Kobe, Kyoto, Kaitaichi, and Eta Jima. The BCOF Provost Force would continue to serve with distinction in Japan until their deactivation in 1956.

     With Tokyo being the premiere destination for Commonwealth troops on leave in Japan, and later for those taking R&R from Korea, the battalion would find itself at times working joint patrols with a composite Provost Force of MP’s from Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and India.
 
April

7 April Rallied by the labor movement, approximately 20,000 left wing Japanese and Korean demonstrators marched on the Imperial Palace in Tokyo demanding the resignation of Japanese Premier Kijuro Shidehara. Many hurled rocks at his residence. They were protesting the shortage of rice rations. Their petition was presented and later rejected as Communists propaganda by George Atcheson, Jr. the U.S. delegate to the Allied Council of Japan.

     The Tokyo Police and Emperor’s Imperial Palace Guard provided on site security during the demonstration, as U.S. Army intelligence agents closely observed, and the battalion’s reaction force acted only to support the civil authorities and prevent occupation troops or their dependents from entering the area.

8 April Representatives of Japan’s Popular Front political parties, led by Japans Communist Party (JCP) chief Kyaichi Tokuda, confronted Premier Shidehara at the climax of a cabinet conference in Tokyo during which his resignation was demanded after being questioned on food shortages, and the problems of farmers and laborers. When the premier stood to leave without reply to the Communist questions and demands, he was rushed and manhandled by the angry JCP crowd. Cabinet secretaries had to surround him and ease him safely from the crowded conference room.
10 April The first truly democratic general election in decades was held. The Voter turnout was 72.1 percent (67.0 percent for women and 78.5 percent for men) and resulted in a blow to the Communist movement and a victory for the Liberal Party, which won 148 of the 464 seats
 
May

1 May The Communist dominated labor movement supported by the Social Democratic Party of Japan threatened national strikes at the first May Day rally in eleven years being held in front of the Emperor’s Palace in Tokyo, one block for SCAP Headquarters. The rally coincided with the May Day parades first ordered in 1945 by Premier Joseph Stalin in Communist Russia. They demanded that the right-wing Liberal Party step down to allow them to take over the rains of government. The peaceful crowd of an estimated 400,000 participants maintained their orderly rally despite the political rhetoric being thrown about by both Parliamentary parties.

     Battalion MP’s were present along with members of the SCAP Public Safety Division’s U.S. Army 441st Counter Intelligence Corps, and thousands of Japanese Police. In addition to keeping a watch on the crowds during the May Day speeches and festivities, they were also looking for Hideo Tokayama, a former member of the feared Japanese wartime Secret Police agency and head of a Communist inspired gang in the capital city. Tokayama and his followers had access to pistols and grenades and threatened to assassinate GEN MacArthur during his daily motorcade. MacArthur refused to be intimidated and maintained his daily schedule, and without any additional security measures.

     Tokayama was not apprehended at the rally, and no significant major incidents were reported.
     The battalion over-strength was reduced to its proper TO&E strength, as were their duty commitments. Much of the off duty time was spent in the upgrading of the battalion’s living quarters and recreational facilities.
3 May The International Military Tribunal for the Far East began the War Crimes trials were convened at Ichigaya Court House, the former headquarters building of the Imperial Japanese Army in Tokyo.

Personal Reflections

     “I was transferred from the Philippines to a replacement depot at Atsugi, Japan. From there I was assigned directly to the IMTFE. We never had any contact with any of the rest of the battalion, so I don't know anyone who served in downtown Tokyo.

     The highest-ranking NCO in our unit was a buck sergeant. There were two corporals; several PFC's and the rest were buck privates. We were told that those downtown were taking all the better grades, which led to some resentment. We were stationed at the trial building with six to a room.

     The food and lodging was pretty good. Some of us were assigned to the courtroom and others transported the prisoners from and to Sugamo prison. Occasionally, when Tojo wanted to meet with his attorneys, I would be assigned to guard him. Although I could have I never discussed anything with him. Some got his autograph, but I wouldn't give him the satisfaction by asking for it. I was only 17 at the time and often think that MacArthur would have gotten in trouble with Truman sooner had he escaped while I was guarding him, but I was watching him closely looking for the opportunity to shoot him.

     Little did I know at the time that I would eventually be an attorney or I would have paid closer attention to the courtroom proceedings? While there I was promoted from private to PFC which was a big deal.”   PFC Ralph McKenna, IMTFE, 1947-1948.

Personal Reflections

     “They picked a bunch of us to go down to guard the war crimes prisoners, as part of the International Military tribunal of the Far East (IMTFE).

     I was a guard in the courtroom and stood right beside Tojo. There’s a photograph of me on duty when the court was in full session. He [Tojo] signed a five-dollar bill for me, in Japanese and in English too. He spoke English about as well as he could speak Japanese.

     There were also some big naval officers on trial. One of them was ill and they brought him in to the courtroom on a stretcher. One day he didn’t show up and I asked the MP’s who used to bring him down there on the bus, what happened, and they said he died that night in the prison [Sugamo]."   PFC Raymond C. Goode, Company A & IMTFE, 1945-1947.

13 May Carrying their red banners, over 100 Japanese women and their young children boarded two trucks and headed for the Imperial Palace to protest continuing food shortages in the city. The group was part of the Communist Party rally attended by approximately 1,000 people organized by Sanzo Nozako, a party spokesman.

     Upon arrival at the palace gates the protesters forced their way inside the grounds and to the office of the Imperial household to speak with representatives of the Emperor. After delivering their pleas the group departed without further incident.

19 May Elements of the U.S. 1st. Cavalry Division to include their organic 545th MP Company were deployed to the area of the Imperial Palace as more than 150,000 Japanese demonstrators under the direction of the Japanese Communist Party were paraded past GEN MacArthur’s Headquarters building and forming at the Imperial Palace gates to protest the food shortages. The crowd was singing Communist Party songs and displaying their party flags and signs as well as a few Russian flags. Besides protesting the massive food shortages, the crown was denouncing the current Premier and his cabinet.

     The entire Tokyo Police Force of 3,000 was deployed by the Japanese Home Office to cope with the crowds.

 

31 May CPT Charles J. “Johnny” Benge supply officer of the IMTFE and a battalion officer, departed Japan to return stateside for separation from active duty.

 

20 May Concerned that the demonstrations and threat of accompanying violence was getting out of hand, GEN MacArthur issued a public statement cautioning the Japanese that,

     “the growing tendency toward mass violence and the physical process of intimidation under organized leadership is a menace not only to orderly government, but to the basic purposes and security of the Occupation itself.”

     SCAP took action, drafted an ordinance, and ordered the Japanese government to enact it.

     On 12 June, the Prime Minister’s cabinet issued Imperial Ordinance No. 31, creating prohibitive fines and prison terms of up to ten years at hard labor for engaging in acts prejudicial to Occupational objectives, to include: violations of orders given by U.S. commanders and all Japanese laws and ordinances promulgated to implement SCAP directives.

 

26 May An American serviceman’s body was discovered floating in the moat of the Imperial Palace and battalion patrols responded, the cause of death and circumstances of how the serviceman’s body ended up in the moat still remain unknown. SGT Mark P. Kusanovich of HQ & HQ Detachment was summoned to operate a 10-ton wrecker with winch to facilitate the removal of the body from the moat.

     SGT Kusanovich was later presented a citation from the battalion for his actions. The citation read, “SGT Mark P. Kusanovich not only operated the 10-ton wrecker with superior skill which made the removal of the body possible, but also displayed a high degree of initiative and coolness. His actions were exemplary and extremely praiseworthy.”

 
June
Personal Reflections
    “It was June of 1946, and both VE and VJ Days were a year in the past, and I was a seventeen-year-old lad fresh out of Boston Latin School. Having enjoyed ROTC-type military drill in high school and looking for a new adventure, I suggested to my parents that I be allowed to enlist in the Army. My mother was hysterical, but my father, remembering how much such a stint in the Prussian Army after the Franco-Prussian War had benefited his Uncle Heinrich, decided it was not such a bad idea. So, with parental approval, I enlisted in the Regular Army with dreams of Signal Corps duty in Germany.
     I went through my preliminary induction at Deer Island outside Boston and was soon on a train heading for Camp Dix in New Jersey, there to be outfitted in an ill-fitting, old-style uniform with brass buttons as, for some reason known only to the Army, they did not have a more up-to-date “Ike” jacket in my size.
     At Camp Dix I also underwent a painful series of shots and classification tests, and it was there that I also received my first equally painful introduction to Army "efficiency." I had been told that by enlisting, I would be allowed to select both my arm and theater of service. Rather than the Signal Corps, however, I was ultimately shipped off to Camp Lee in Petersburg, Virginia, for Quartermaster Corps basic. After six weeks of training under the hot Virginia sun, I received my second shock, rather than being sent to Germany as I had also requested, I was to be shipped to South Korea as a Quartermaster replacement.

     All through a most restful delay-in-route at Daytona Beach, Florida, where my father was working as the auditor of the Sheraton Hotel there, I kept wondering how things could have gone so wrong. These sad thoughts continued as I traveled by civilian trains though the deep South to New Orleans, Louisiana, and from there by a most uncomfortable troop train journey to Camp Stoneman outside San Francisco, California, through whose portals, it was said, passed “the Best Damn Soldiers in World.” It was there that fate finally tossed the dice in my favor, and I was included in a company-size group that, for some unknown reason, was singled out as military police replacements in Tokyo.

     We were all then jammed aboard a regular San Francisco Bay ferry for our short trip to the vessel that was to take us on our 14-day journey to Japan, the USMT “General W. G. Haan,” a 3,000 passenger WWII troop ship. On the way to the dock, however, we were almost dumped into the bay as our ferry passed Alcatraz Island. When someone called out that we going by the famous prison, there was a stampede to the port side, and the ship tilted sharply to the left. The frantic crew and our officers managed to beat most of the gawkers back to the starboard side, and the tub returned to an even keel. This sort of thing was to happen again aboard the “General Haan” just outside Tokyo Bay, but in that instance it was a typhoon that caused the listing.

     Even though the first leg of our “cruise” from San Francisco to Honolulu experienced calm seas, virtually every GI aboard suffered from severe seasickness. Since I had sailed to Bermuda by ocean liner as a child without any ill effects, I thought I would be immune to a case of mal-de-mer. Being cooped up in the humid, ill-ventilated hold, however, with four tiers of sick soldiers above me quickly convinced me that my trust was sadly misplaced, and I too joined the sea-sick ranks all the way to Hawaii.

     Upon docking, I immediately set out to obtain some fresh, Hawaiian pineapple juice to try and sooth my tender stomach. I soon learned, however, that most Hawaiian pineapples were only for export, and all I could find was some stateside-made canned juice.
     While still pretty much of a frontier town, my three-day stay in Honolulu was most refreshing, and got me in good shape for the second leg to Japan, this time though, I spent most of my hours on deck. Aside from the typhoon off the coast of Honshu, the rest of the trip was boringly uneventful except for a fanciful ceremony, complete with an elaborate certificate, when crossing the International Date Line, as well as a most politically incorrect minstrel show in which many of the GI's, myself included, participated. I remember performing a rather off-key rendition of “Old Black Joe.”

    After docking late at night in Yokohama in early September, we were immediately packed into trucks and transported to the 4th Replacement Depot at Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture, the former Imperial Army Academy that was called by most Americans Japan's "West Point." While the old buildings there may have been fairly imposing at one time, they were in quite bad shape by 1946. However, we only spent a day or two there before boarding a rickety old Japanese train, again at night, for our final destination, the 720th Military Police Battalion camp in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, a place the Japanese called “Nakano Gakko” that had once served as the intelligence training school for the Japanese Army. It was on this journey that I received my first introduction to the typical Japanese toilet.

     Having to relieve myself, I spotted a door marked “W. C.” [water closet] which I knew indicated a public toilet. Upon opening the door, however, I found not a toilet, as I knew it, but rather a simple receptacle flush with the floor that opened out to the tracks below. Since my legs do not bend in the Japanese manner, I still have trouble with the traditional models.

    Upon arrival in Nakano later that night, I was initially assigned to “D” Company. Thus began my very fondly remembered police service with both Dog and Baker Companies, as well as serving as a telephone operator with Headquarters Detachment, of the 720th MPs, and my most eventful, almost two-year tour of duty in Tokyo.”  PFC John E. “Jack” Marquardt, Dog & Baker Companies, 1946-1948.

PFC Marquardt
 
September

30 September It was “Conversion Day” in the Pacific command. Military Payment Certificates (MPC) were used to replace the dollar as the form of currency used overseas by U.S. military personnel when its use was not permitted by a host country, or when the U.S. State Department determined that use of U.S. currency was not in the best interest of the U.S. Government.

      In Japan the military issued what were known as “B” Yen notes in Yokohama, followed by “A” Yen notes in Tokyo, used in place of U.S. denominational currency. They were printed in denominations from 10 to 100 yen, identified with the printing of “Military Currency” on the top or bottom, and had a large A or B printed in the center of smaller notes, and lower left corner of larger denominational notes.

     The “A” Yen notes in use were converted into the new MPC series 461, and issued in both U.S. dollar and fractional dollar amounts.

"A" Yen Note
MPC Series 461

     Over the decades of its use, MPC was given many common and at times humorous and not so humorous nicknames by the U.S. troops; script, Monopoly money, funny money, and Mickey Mouse money, just to name a few.

     When the issued series of MPC was compromised by hoarding by unauthorized foreign nationals or troops from black market activities, or counterfeited to a degree where it would hurt the monetary stability of the host country, it was secretly changed and without announcement an exchange day would be called for. Limits on the dollar amount each soldier or dependent could exchange for the new series rendered the old series worthless.

     There were five Conversion Day’s (C-Day) of Military Payment Certificates while the battalion served in Japan from August 1945 through February 1955, they were held on 30 September 1946, 10 March 1947, 22 March 1948, 20 June 1951, and 25 May 1954, and at times the battalion was assigned specific duties related to the exchanges as overnight bank security guards of the new MPC supply before its distribution, and security duties at various military finance and currency exchange outlets during its distribution.
Personal Reflections
    “I had recently arrived in "D" Company in 1946 when the first conversion day was held on September 30, and I guess it was the new Series 461 MPC we received that payday. Like all the newer replacements, I did not have any old money to convert that day, only greenbacks, and I still have one of the MPC ten-cent notes of series 471.
Marunouchi District

      I did, however, have a very personal experience in connection with all the new money. Prior to it being issued, the notes were stored in large wooden crates in a Japanese bank at the corner of Avenue "W" and 5th Street in Marunouchi (it may have been the former Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank building, the one that had large columns at the entrance).

     Shortly before the conversion day, PFC Dave Bushong from Canton, Ohio, and I were assigned all-night guard duty at the bank, and I remember vividly spending the whole night gazing at the millions of dollars piled up in the back of the bank . . . so near, and yet so far.

     The crates were securely nailed shut and bound with steel bands but they were not in the bank's vault, just piled up on the floor with only the two MPs and their .45 Colt pistols to guard it all.

    The "official" exchange rate for yen currency at that time was 50 Yen to the dollar, but you could get a bit more illegally by exchanging scrip off base. The real exchange medium, however, was a dollar carton of cigarettes. Most shops in Nakano would give you up to 500 Yen a carton . . . and if you went to end users in places like Yoshiwara [red light district], you could get up to 2,000 Yen a carton. I must confess that most of the guys in the 720th, myself included, dabbled in this illicit trade at times since the legal 50 Yen would buy little more than a few bicycle taxi rides.”    PFC John E. “Jack” Marquardt, Dog & Baker Company’s, 1946-1948.
 
December
24 December
Personal Reflections
     "It was Christmas Eve when a fellow MP, Peter Ulick from Browerville, Minnesota, and I shared guard duty at an officers’ club in Tokyo. We had a fire going in the cold night, and occasionally Japanese policemen would stop by to visit with us and warm themselves.
      During the course of the evening a soldier driving a weapons carrier came to the club entrance looking for General Ferrin’s driver. I informed the soldier that the general’s driver was not there, and he drove off. Half an hour later he was back, asking the same question.
     About this time, a car’s headlights appeared and the soldier looked and recognized the car’s driver. Without any more ceremony, the soldier shouted at the driver, “Hey Ed! You &#@%! Where’ve you been?” Then he immediately put his carrier in gear and sped off, nearly butting me in the process. Almost simultaneously, GEN Ferrin came out of the back end of his car and bore down on me. In no uncertain terms he proceeded to chew me out, demanding to know why I had not stopped the soldier who had shouted the obscenities in the direction of his car.
     The general pointed out that I was armed and that I should have used my gun to bring the offender to heel. But I replied that a gun was not something I could use in this incident, not for a thing like that. Most people can spend a lifetime and not get chewed out by a general and here I was, a private, with less than ten months of Army service. So it goes."  SGT Louis Thares, Dog Company, 1945-1946.
 
1946 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1946 that have yet to be directly linked to any specific Battalion Timeline event. If you can date any of the events depicted, or identify them as part of a specific event, operation, exercise or special duty assignment, please use the Email Link on the photograph or this page to notify the History Project Manager.
A "?" preceding the photo number denotes further identifications are needed, and an Email Link is provided.
A0109
 The sign that greeted all personnel departing Camp Burness, at L and 48th Street, Nakano Tokyo   .
A0111
 PFC Sig Arnesen at the A Company sign, Camp Burness, at L and 48th Street, Nakano Tokyo.
A0112
 PVT’s Hampton, Banks and Hansen outside A Company barracks, Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0114
 A Company Mess Hall, Camp Burness, at L and 48th Street, Nakano Tokyo.
A0116
 Cherry trees were in full bloom at Camp Burness, at L and 48th Street, Nakano Tokyo.
A0119
 Gene Austin, unidentified, and LT Parks of A Company at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0121
 PVT Al Moyle of A Company, with Japanese employee at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0122
 Lou Carnaviri of A Company, at the Motor Pool at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0123
 SGT Norman Ek of A Company, at the Motor Pool at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0124
 PVT Eugene Hansen of A Company, outside his barracks at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0125
 PFC Franklin of A Company, outside his barracks at Camp Burness, Nakano Tokyo.
A0178
 MP directs traffic at the intersection of Avenue Z and Ginza in Tokyo.
A0179
 Battalion Motor Pool Building at Nakano.
A0181
 Gate at Camp Burness, Nakano.
A0229
 PFC Julius P. Long, Jr.