~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
720th MP Battalion Motorcycles

This Page Last Updated   23 February 2012
   The history of 720th MP Battalion Motorcycles can be documented during post World War II in occupied Japan. The first mention is in April 1947 and ends in the 1950's. If anyone can provide any information on Battalion motorcycle use before or after Occupied Japan (1945 to 1955) please pass it along.
History of the Army Motorcycles of World War-II

   With American involvement in World War II on the horizon in the late 1930s, the U.S. War Department knew exactly what it wanted in a military motorcycle.

   In 1938 the War Department officials asked American motorcycle manufacturers to design a 500cc motorcycle that could ford streams, not overheat at idle or during slow running, and sustain 65 mph.

8th U.S.
General HQ
Service Command
720th MP

  Times were tough, and both Harley-Davidson and Indian designed machines in hopes of securing the military contract.

   Indian followed the military specs perfectly, producing the 500cc Model 741 that was based on its civilian Junior Scout. William Harley at the Motor Company, however, balked at producing a 500cc machine, to the point of confrontation. He was adamant that the military needed a 750cc (45 cubic inch) motorcycle for war.

   In the end, with war imminent, the Army approved purchase orders for both the Harley and the Indian. In practice, though, the Harley was the preferred machine, and more than 90,000 were produced before war’s end.

   Though eventually overshadowed by the multi-use Jeep, military motorcycles found a niche in reconnaissance, traffic control and dispatch duties throughout WW-II.

720th MP Battalion ~ Occupied Japan ~ 1945 - 1955

   In the spring of 1946 C Company, formed the first 720th MP Battalion Motorcycle Squad at Camp Burness, Nakano, Tokyo. The patrols used the Harley Davidson WLA 750cc (45 cubic inch) side-valve V-twin, three speed, hand shift, model. The motorcycles were used for traffic control duties, mail, emergency medical and VIP escorts.

SGT Don Scholten NCOIC of the first 720th MP Battalion MC Squad.
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