1942 Timeline
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This Page Last Updated   27 August 2015
720th MP
     All major World War II events or incidents that affected the 720th MP Battalion’s force allocations, training, operations, deployments, morale or history are shown in blue American Typewriter Font.
The world is at War!
January 1942
The Axis Powers In Europe
     The United States Armed Forces until that time were concentrated in fighting the combined German-Nazi and Italian-Fascist forces in North Africa, and training and stockpiling men and materials in England preparing for a major offensive in Europe (D-Day).
Adolph Hitler
Nazi War Flag
Benito Mussolini
Italian War Flag
The Axis Power In The Pacific and Asia Theater

     Between 8 December 1941 and 20 January 1942, the Japanese launched successful attacks in Thailand, Malaya, Hong Kong, Luzon Island (Philippines), Wake Island, Netherlands New Guinea and Burma. The U.S. Armed Forces until that time was planning for their eventual offensive against the combined German-Nazi and Italian-Fascist forces in North Africa, while training and stockpiling men and materials in England preparing for a major offensive in Europe (D-Day).

     The Southwest Pacific Theater of War in early 1942 at best could be described as a speed bump operation. The undermanned and under equipped Allied forces were attempting to slow down the surge of the Imperial Japanese Military Forces throughout the Southwest Pacific.

     However in January 1942, when the Japanese war machine posed a serious threat to Australia and New Guinea, the U.S. Armed Forces had no options but to become serious about taking an offensive posture and fighting the “second front” in the Pacific.

Hideki Tojo
Japanese War Flag
The "Big Three" Allied Powers In The Pacific and Asia Theater
Franklin Roosevelt
United States
Winston Churchill
Great Britain
Robert Menzies
Click on Radio Tower or Record icons to play any of the audio files on this page.
8 December 1941 President Roosevelt addressed the Congress and the American People, "A date which will live in infamy."
8 December 1941 President Roosevelt asks Congress  to declair war on the Empire of Japan.
"Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition," was a popular song at the time. This audio file page also includes the history and origin of the song inspired on 7 December 1941 during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
     The Japanese Road to War     Click on projector icon. This is not a U.S. propaganda film. It  is a fair, honest  and at times shocking documentary produced by Japanese in 2012 that examines World War II from the perspective of the Japanese people who lived it. The documentary utilizes newly discovered original Japanese war film, and historical letters and diary entries written by Japanese soldiers and civilians during the war.
     On 10 December 1941 Japanese forces landed in the Philippines eventually overrunning the undermanned and equipped U.S. and allied forces.

     During the early months of 1942 the Japanese were on the offensive everywhere in the Southwest Pacific and their military seemed to be invincible.

     Throughout the history of the U.S. Army the Military Police Corps was its "red headed stepchild." Being formed only when needed at times of strife, and when the threat was overcome, once again it was relegated back to the dustbins of military history. With the onslaught of the German, Italian and Japanese Axis victories in Europe and the Pacific, it was once again called upon to support the troops and protect the Nation.
Thus begins the proud history of the
720th Military Police Battalion
Zone Of The Interior (ZOI)
Editors Note: The Zone of the Interior (ZOI), the land area comprised of the forty-eight contiguous Continental United State’s. The then U.S. territories of Alaska and Hawaii had yet to apply for statehood.
     During World War-I (1914-1918), the American people never experienced the fear of invasion of their homeland. Yes there were German U-Boat patrols shadowing and attacking our merchant and later naval shipping convoys in the North Atlantic Ocean, and rumors of 5th columnist stalking our military debarkation facilities, but what was absent was the capabilities of air power. The use of airplanes in warfare was in its infancy, and none were yet capable of transatlantic flight. And, even those used in the war were not technically advanced enough to transport troops or proficient enough in accurate aerial bombardment, even on a small scale. The end result was national security measures were put into effect but on a much smaller sale than those that would follow in WW-II.
     In 1939 with the German U-Boat attacks of our merchant shipping in the North Atlantic, and their repeated sightings along our southern coastline, soon followed in 1941 by the attack at Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese landings on the Aleutian Islands in western Alaska, national security measures were enacted on a level never before seen. This was the age of war conducted with mighty battleships and their long range guns, huge aircraft carriers, high performance fighter craft, long range bombers and troop transports capable of unloading their bombs and paratroopers hundreds of miles inland.
     For a nation focused on turning around the economic devastation of the Great Depression, overnight we became an armed camp and looked suspiciously at anyone that acted like a sympathizer of the Japanese, German or Italian governments. Out military bases, industrial zones, farmlands, utilities, airfields, ports, harbors and transportation lifelines had to be guarded from “Fifth Columnist.” New military units were formed and old ones reactivated, civil security increased and interior and costal watch groups formed to look for approaching enemy air and sea forces.
Editors Note: The term Fifth Column (saboteurs) was in wide use in the early years of the War. It was a term coined by Spanish General Emilio Mola Vidal, a Nationalist commander in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). He commanded four army columns attacking Loyalist-held Madrid. In a public statement he referred to Nationalist supporters in Madrid as his "fifth column" which would attack the Republic's defenses from within. The term thus became used to describe secret sympathizers of Fascist armies intent on sabotaging a country's defenses from within.
     As new military units were brought on-line for service, they spent much of their staging time utilized for ZOI security while awaiting overseas deployment orders.
10 January The Military Police Board was formed at Fort Myer, Virginia. The members were charged with the duties of conducting examinations, research, investigations and inspections on various subjects such as organization, activation, uniforms, arms, equipment, transportation, communication, and training for the improvement of the Corps.
     That same day the 720th Military Police Battalion was constituted by letter, War Department, file AG 320.2. Subject; Activation of Military Police Units, dated 10 January 1942.
Editors Note: The 720th is one of the three oldest and still active continuous Regular Army Military Police Battalions in the United States Army.
     At the time the War Department tactical command functions were the responsibility of General Headquarters, U.S. Army, and the field armies were separated from the corps areas. Corps areas were limited to their Zone of the Interior (ZOI) functions as service commands, including training, and the field armies were responsible for the control of all tactical units. Under the 1st Army area there were three Corps areas; the I Corps, II Corps and III Corps which included the District of Washington, and Fort Meade, Maryland.
1st U.S.

14 January The Military Police School was first formed at Arlington Cantonment, Fort Meyer, Virginia in December 1941 but was not in full operation until after 1 February 1942.

     The schools formal name was changed to the Provost Marshal General’s School. The course of instruction included basic training for future military policemen and a five-week course, (increased to 13-weeks in May) in four departments: Military Law, Traffic Control, Police Methods and Criminal Investigation. The first two graduating classes consisted of officers. The 720th MP Battalion would be one of the first, and last to be trained at the facility. Plans were already underway to establish a large facility at Fort Riley, Kansas.

     On the same day, 1LT Robert C. Dalrymple and 2LT Winston E. Wallace were transferred from the 703rd MP Battalion, Arlington Cantonment, Virginia, and assigned as the first officers (training) and only members of the new 720th MP Battalion.

U.S. Army
MP Corps
WANTED: Photographs of the camp MP training facilities and 1LT Dalrymple. Contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
Personal Reflections

     “I was borne and grew up in New Castle, Craig County, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1940, when the war in Europe was starting to command ever increasing concern in the U.S. I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the infantry through the ROTC program, but remained in civilian life for about a year teaching vocational agriculture at a high school in Willis, Virginia.

     Orders to active duty came in July 1941, and my first assignment was to the 703rd MP Battalion, Arlington Cantonment at Virginia where I served as a company officer until January 1942. My company commander was 1st Lieutenant Robert C. Dalrymple, who had about one year of service with an infantry regiment before joining the battalion.

     Early in January 1942, I was told that due to my military police experience I had been selected to assist in the activation and training of a military police battalion. When I heard that part about “experience,” I wondered if they knew something I didn’t know. I thought about this for several days, and it sounded better each day and I gradually began to believe it myself. Lt. Dalrymple received similar instructions, and I was delighted to learn that we would be going together. Our original orders, dated 14 January 1942, were simply to III Corps area headquarters, in Baltimore, Maryland, where we would receive further orders.

     We left Arlington Cantonment, each driving his own car. Having been raised on a farm in southwestern Virginia, I was not accustomed to the heavy traffic of the Washington-Baltimore motorways. Indeed, I was intimidated by the volume of traffic. Lt. Dalrymple was from the Philadelphia area and accustomed to driving in traffic. It was decided that he would drive in front, pioneering the trail, and I would follow. This worked fine until we came near a busy intersection in Baltimore where everything went wrong.

     I still don’t know what happened, but I think I might have been a contributor to the problem. There was a policeman directing traffic in the intersection; he blew his whistle, stopped all traffic and made an announcement in a loud voice. While I can’t remember exactly what he said, it was something like this: “We have two lieutenants here this morning. I will try to find out where they are going and get them on their way; then I will try to get the traffic back to normal.”

     We arrived at III Corps headquarters without further incidents and received orders to report to Fort Meade, Maryland, and assignment to the 720th MP Battalion for duty, when the battalion was activated.

     Headquarters at Fort Meade gave us a warm welcome and assured us of their support in our endeavor. At the Personnel Office, we were show the facilities which the 720th would occupy. Personnel gave us access to the Form 20’s (these forms - actually index cards - outlined a man’s basic personal and professional experience) and told us that we could select the men to be assigned to our battalion. We spent almost the entire night going through more than 5,000 Form 20’s and selected approximately 700 men. Our criteria for selection, in general, were experience, training, interests, and education.

     Bedding equipment had already been issued and was in the barracks, and one morning we were told that we could expect 250 men after dinner that same day. Furthermore, breakfast the following day would be our (the 720th’s) responsibility and it was necessary for us to draw mess hall equipment and rations. Lt. Dalrymple typed the requisitions and we both went to the Quartermaster at about 4pm with our shopping list. We were informed that the requisition was not properly prepared. An urgent appeal to headquarters for help resolved the problem, and the Quartermaster was persuaded to assist in meeting the emergency.

     Two hundred and fifty men arrived at 7pm, and we had the battalion’s first meeting. Lt. Dalrymple and I were the only officers and, as I recall, there was a total of one corporal in the noncommissioned officer ranks. No men were identified as cooks. We promptly made some acting NCO’s and started to look for cooks, selecting candidates based on their past experience and interest - both military and civilian. The cooks went to the mess hall and started planning meals for us for the next day, on equipment that had never been used. The food was excellent, including breakfast.

      In the days that followed, many more officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates of very high quality were assigned (many of whom had served with the Pennsylvania National Guard), and began their training. All of the officers except me, and the commanding officer, Lt.Colonel H.D. Furey, who was from New England, were from Pennsylvania. As the lowest ranking officer in the battalion, I was the subject of much good-natured ribbing. It was done in fun and I enjoyed the assignment very much.

     Lt. Dalrymple was assigned as the Battalion Adjutant [administrative assistant to the commander] and I was the Assistant S3 [operations]. As I recall, Captain Anderson [George R.] was the S3. The training period lasted about six weeks. Our battalion was highly motivated, had excellent morale, and enjoyed many valuable and relevant experiences. These factors made training effective and pleasant, and I don’t recall any disciplinary problems. One fellow missed the bus and got home late; that was the only infraction when the battalion was formed. In due course, Lt. Dalrymple and I were transferred to another battalion to assist in its training. I was impressed with the esprit de corps and efficiency of the members of the 720th and I wanted to go with them when they left Fort Meade. I will always remember them and consider it a privilege to have served with this battalion - even if it was for a short time.”  2LT Winston E. Wallace (COL Retired), 720th Military Police Battalion, 1942.

2LT Wallace
CPL Knoll
Personal Reflections

    “My mother saved every letter I wrote to her during my service days, and they have become a priceless heritage and something to pass on to my grandson some day.

     My service number was 33081888, Tech. 5th grade (corporal). I enlisted on 7 June 1941. My civilian employer was Bethlehem Steel, so with U.S. Army logic my first assignment was to Company C, 3rd Engineer Training Battalion, ERTC, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, though I knew absolutely nothing about being an engineer.

     Basic training lasted until 26 September, when I was placed on the enlisted reserve list due to my being 29 years old at the time.” “I was called to active duty on 16 January 1942 after Pearl Harbor, and assigned to Company D, 720th Military Police Battalion, and took basic training again at Fort Meade, Maryland.

     I left the United States with the battalion in late July, 1942, and came back home in October, 1945.”  CPL Stanley V. “Dyke” Knoll, Dog Company, 1942-1945.

20 January  The battalion was activated at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, III Corps, 1st U.S. Army, Zone of the Interior (ZOI) on Special Orders No. 17, paragraphs 77 & 78, dated 20 January 1942, HQ III Corps Area, Baltimore, Maryland.

    1LT Robert C, Dalrymple and 2LT Winston E. Wallace who were transferred from the 703rd MP Battalion, Arlington Cantonment, Virginia on 14 January, were assigned as the first officers and only members of the new battalion.

     Both officers spent their first night at the personnel office at Fort Meade reviewing over 5,000 form 20’s (index cards), containing a recruits basic personal and professional experience. From those cards they selected approximately 700 troops to report.

     Several days later they were informed that 250 troops would be arriving that evening. Since there was no mess equipment or rations assigned to the new battalion, they both spent the remainder of that day preparing requisitions and drawing the needed supplies.

1900 hours The 250 new troops arrived at the battalion cantonment. Of the new troops there was only one noncommissioned officer (NCO), a corporal, and there were no cooks. After the first Battalion meeting 1LT Dalrymple and 2LT Wallace appointed some acting NCO’s and cooks.

     In the days that followed, more officers, NCO’s and privates started to arrive and fill out the ranks for training. Many of the new troops were very experienced soldiers having served in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

     One of them was FSG Lewis Greene, Jr. of Cherry Tree, Pennsylvania who was assigned as the first First Sergeant of Baker Company.

     Another was 28 year old PVT James Grundy of Riverview, Pennsylvania who was assigned to Dog Company. Grundy spent five months training at Camp Wallace, Texas before his transfer to Fort Meade and assignment to the battalion.  

22 January LTC Larry D. Furey was assigned to, and assumed command of the new battalion. The battalion was organized under TO&E 7-126 (Tables of Organization and Equipment), dated 1 November 1940, which authorized twenty-nine officers and five hundred and eighteen enlisted men.

   LTC Furey assigned CPT Anderson as the Operations Officer (S-3), 1LT Dalrymple as the Battalion Adjutant (S-1) and 2LT Wallace as the Assistant Operations Officer.

LTC Furey
     Relative to Special Orders No. 17, paragraph 77 issued 22 January: the following officers were relieved from III Corps Area Service Command, Indian Town Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania and assigned to the 720th Military Police Battalion, Fort George Meade, Maryland for permanent station and assignment to duty on 22 January 1942: MAJ Robert L. Potts; CPT’s Gustav Blind, George R. Anderson, Lester Moffat; 1LT’s Orion F. Adams, Stephen F. Kossler, Robert S. Craig; 2LT’s Richard C. Graham, Francis W. Zabicki, William H. Weber, Jack H. Townsend, and Horace L. Keebler.
     Paragraph 78: the following officers were relieved from III Corps Area Service Command, 1322nd Service Units, Station Complement, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, to the 720th Military Police Battalion: CPT’s Robert R. Stormer and Edward C. Howser; and 1LT Rennie Robbins.
WANTED: Available background information and photographs of LTC Furey and any of the other officers. Contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
     The enlisted personnel were assigned from the reception center at Fort George G. Meade and consisted for the most part of men over twenty-eight years of age who had been placed in the Enlisted Reserve Corps in the autum of 1941 and recalled to active duty following the outbreak of war.
     The officer personnel were for the most part from the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Organized Reserve Corps who were over age in grade.
1 February The battalion was brought up to strength and engaged in training in military police duties.
     At the conclusion of the six week training period 1LT Dalrymple and 2LT Wallace were transferred from the battalion to another MP training assignment.
5 February 2LT George H. Berkheimer of Abbottstown, Pennsylvania arrived for duty at Fort Meade and assigned to Baker Company. 2LT Berkheimer was the pastor of the Arendtsville-Flohrs Lutheran Church, originally trained as an infantryman, and was recalled to active duty from the Reserve Officers Corps.
15 February, South Pacific Area: The British Forces at Singapore fell; within a month the Netherlands Indies were conquered. Then the attack shifted farther to the southeast, and from Rabaul in New Britain, which had been occupied on 23 January, the Japanese High Command planned a two-pronged drive.
     One prong was to strike for control of southeastern New Guinea; the other was to thrust through the Solomon Islands to cut the supply line from America to Australia.

23 February, Stateside: In one of his continuing radio 'fireside chats' President Roosevelt informed the Nation on the Progress of the War. Amid an atmosphere of pessimism and defeatism, Roosevelt attempted to reinstate confidence in the American people. In response to calls for an Asia-first policy, Roosevelt demonstrated to the American people the importance his administrations war strategy and the Europe First Policy.

Editors Note: The "fireside chats" were a series of thirty evening radio addresses given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1944. The presidents fireside chats were the first media development that facilitated intimate and direct communication between the president and the citizens of the United States.
23 February  Four battalion officers, 2LT’s Bierne, David Crossett, Locknane, and Francis W. Zabicki, with four officers of the 721st Military Police Battalion, were assigned to attend the Maryland State Police School in Pikesville. There were also sixth civilian cadets in the class. They studied civil law, military law, hygiene, first aid, unarmed combat, photography, care and firing of side arms, crown control and other related subjects. The nearby Edgeworth Arsenal (Chemical Warfare Service), provided instruction on tear gas and the proper fitting and use of gas-masks to counter it.
Deployment to Pennsylvania (ZOI)
12 March, Philippine Islands: Fearing his capture by the approaching Japanese, President Roosevelt ordered GEN Douglas MacArthur to leave the Philippine Islands for Australia. His successor in command was Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, who remained behind to organize the defense of the island chain.
20 March The battalion departed Fort Meade by motor convoy to Pennsylvania. At time of deployment the battalion's officer staff were:

     LTC Furey commanding, MAJ Potts executive officer, CPT Foote S-1, 2LT Weber S-2, CPT Anderson S-3, 1LT Anderson S-4, 1LT Locknane Personnel & Recreation Officer.


     CPT Moffett commanding, 1LT’s Martin and Kossler (assigned but not joined, 2LT’s Dotson and Sheppard (confined at hospital).


     CPT Blind commander, 1LT Burdette, 2LT’s David Crossett and Graham.


     CPT Robert W. Stormer commanding, 2LT’s Francis W. Zabicki, George Dennis and George H. Berkheimer .

     CPT Holmes commanding, 1LT’s Beirne and Lesh, 2LT Wachel B. Williams.
     CPT House commanding, 2LT’s Townsend, Henry and Bernheim.
     In the afternoon while Dog Company arrived at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the remaining contingents arrived at Pittsburg.
     Battalion Headquarters, HQ Company and Able Company were stationed at the Logan Armory, Pittsburgh, in the vicinity of the Cathedral of Learning; Baker Company at McKeesport (south of Pittsburgh), and Charlie Company at Coraopolis (northwest of Pittsburgh) on the Ohio River; Dog Company was quartered at the National Guard Armory in Harrisburg.

     Harrisburg, the state capitol and county seat of Dauphin County, is situated on the Susquehanna River. Pittsburgh is the county seat of Allegheny County located where the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio River.

     McKeesport is located twelve miles southeast of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, and situated at the confluence of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers. It was the home to several steel mills that produced shell casings and armament for the war effort. The 250 acres of Renziehausen Park on Eden Park Boulevard, was used as a troop cantonment. The company provided security detachments at the Elizabeth Water Works, Duquense Power & Light, the Duquense Building, and several dams in the area.

     Coraopolis is a small borough located fifteen miles northwest of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, on the Ohio River. During the war it was a major industrial community.

Personal Reflections

    “Before going overseas in World War II, we were sent to Pittsburgh and pulled guard duty guarding the railroad, the waterworks, the airport and other important places. Tensions were high all across the whole country, with fears of Nazi saboteurs and fifth columnists. U-Boats were sinking ships right off the U.S. coast. We carried loaded guns.

     Our headquarters were across from Pitt Stadium, at the University of Pittsburgh, in a building shared with the FBI. It was interesting going in there, passing agents in the hallways." T/SGT Rudolph Facynic, Headquarters Company, 1942-1945.

21 March The Battalion relieved the 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division, and assumed the duties and responsibilities of guarding reservoirs, pumping stations, power plants, dams, railroad facilities, and other public utilities and industrial installations in the industrial "rust belt" of Pennsylvania.

     During this period all battalion troops not actually on duty were held in their quarters as an alert force and were required to sleep on their weapons. During weeknights a small percentage of the troops were granted evening passes until midnight, but from Saturday noon until Monday morning no personnel were permitted to leave, except on duty, and then only under arms.

     No general military police duties such as town patrol, traffic control, or prisoner guard were performed by any of the units while stationed in the ZOI.

29th Infantry
Exact Date Unknown Joining the battalion was a recent transfer from the MP School at Fort Meade, PVT James Grundy of Riverview, Pennsylvania. He joined Dog Company at their detachment in Conestoga, Pennsylvania.

     Conestoga in Lancaster County was situated on the Susquehanna River home to the Safe Harbor Dam and Hydroelectric Power Station of the same name on Lake Clarke

     The Safe Harbor Dam is situated between the banks of Lancaster and York Counties on the Susquehanna River, 262 miles southeast of Pittsburg. At the time the hydroelectric power station generated 230 megawatts of electricity to service the heavy industries in the area.
30 March Baker Company moved from McKeesport to South Park, Pennsylvania.
     South Park is a large county park that was used as the county fairgrounds and served as a troop cantonment area, full of exhibition halls, stone buildings, a stadium, and a wooded area that served as a wild animal park.
8 April Charlie Company moved from Coraopolis to North Park, about 10 miles north of downtown Pittsburg.
     North Park is also a large county park that had a seventy-five acre man-made lake, and a two million gallon swimming pool that was considered at the time to be the largest in the world. They troops stayed in the field house, and when not performing their duties, conducted infantry training in the fields and woods around the park.

9 April, Philippine Islands: The U.S. troops of Bataan in the Philippines had been reduced by hunger, disease and casualties to the point of military helplessness, their commander, MG Edward P. King, Jr., surrendered his forces to the Japanese.

18 April, Australia: GEN MacArthur assumed command and established his General Headquarters (GHQ) at Melbourne, Australia. The forces assigned to him were organized into five subordinate commands designated as Allied Land Forces (ALF), Allied Air Forces (AAF), Allied Naval Forces (ANF), United States U.S. Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA), and United States Forces in the Philippines (USFIP).


28 Aprl, Stateside:l Suffering losses in the Pacific and facing uncertainty in Europe, during his fireside chat with the Nation, President Roosevelt called on Americans to sacrifice and maintain their resolve during the war. Roosevelt particularly addressed the economic concerns of inflation with a seven point program designed to stabilize the economy to meet the country's war needs.

     Also that same evening PVT John Bukowski an immigrant from Poland 26-years ago, and now stationed with Baker Company in South Park, took advantage of a new streamlined naturalization law for service members permitting citizenship upon application to any members of the U.S. armed forces serving anywhere in the world. Overnight he was able to not only legally change his last name to Beck, but also take the oath of allegiance in the local Federal District Court.
Southwest Pacific: The Japanese launched a new offensive, moving to Tulagi from the northern Solomon Islands, after which they began building an airstrip at Lunga Point on Guadalcanal Island. From there they hoped to disrupt the Allied line to Australia by seizing New Caledonia, the Fiji and Samoa Islands. At the same time, to give added protection to their area headquarters on Rabaul, they moved into western New Britain and northeastern (British) New Guinea at Buna, Gona, and Sanananda.
6 May, Philippine Islands:  LTG Wainwright surrendered the remainder of the American forces on the island of Corregidor and elsewhere in the Philippines.
9 May Able Company moved from Logan Armory in Harrisburg to South Park.
     Small detachments from Able and Baker Company were stationed at Aspenwall, Cheswich, and Lattrobe, Pennsylvania. Another detachment from Charlie Company was stationed at Neville Island and detachments from Dog Company were stationed at the Safe Harbor Dam and Harrisburg airfield. Each company also had the responsibility of guarding numerous other installations scattered over a wide area in and about the city of Pittsburg.
     Aspinwall, a small borough less than one-half square mile in size in Allegheny County on the northern bank of the Allegheny River that separated it from metropolitan Pittsburgh. They provided security for the Allegheny County Airport. The airport was constructed through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to defend the industrial assets of the area and provide a training base and stopover facility.

     Cheswick is a small borough in Allegheny County on the northern bank of the Allegheny River fifteen miles north of Pittsburgh

     Latrobe is a small borough in Westmoreland County, forty miles southeast of Pittsburgh, a major railroad hub.

     Neville Island, a Township in Allegheny County situated in the Ohio River, fifteen miles northwest of Pittsburg. The island is five miles long and four-tenths of a mile wide and heavily industrialized on its east bank.

     Harrisburg Airfield (Middleton Air Depot) was adjacent to the Borough of Middleton, eight-miles southeast of Harrisburg. Originally build for use by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, in 1942 it was under operational control of the Air Service Command, and used by the 2nd Troop Carrier Squadron. Possessing an abundance of engine and airframe shops and a supply distribution system made it a significant facility. Numerous transport and reconnaissance units were organized and formed there, and once equipped, they were reassigned to other ZOI training bases.

22 May LT P. G. Marenna of Lockwood, Pennsylvania was transferred from the 703rd MP Battalion at Arlington Cantonment to battalion headquarters at Logan Armory in Pittsburg.

     Marenna had previously served in the Army from 1929 to 1936 before resigning his commission to join the Pennsylvania Motor Police. He was called back to active duty on 7 July 1941.

LT Marenna
Exact Dates Unknown
     PVT Joseph R. Mayk of Baker Company, stationed at South Park, was promoted to the rank of PFC.

     In early June the battalion was instructed to reorganize and expand pursuant to revised Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) 19-55, dated 1 May 1942. Simultaneously Headquarters Company received verbal notice that the battalion was scheduled for overseas deployment, with no final destination specified.

     The new TO&E abolished Headquarters Company, and replaced it with a Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment (HHD) with a total of twenty-six personnel consisting of: fourteen enlisted men; commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel with a Major as the executive officer; two Captains- one as an intelligence officer and the other his assistant; two First Lieutenants as the S-1 (personnel) and S-4 (logistics) officers; a Second Lieutenant as the assistant S-1 (personnel adjutant); a Medical Detachment with one Captain commanding, and a First Lieutenant as the dental officer.

     It increased each of the four letter companies to 170 personnel each, commanded by a Captain, assisted by three First Lieutenants and one Second Lieutenant. The battalion strength was increased from 518 to 720 enlisted personnel, and twenty-nine officers.

     The 26 troops of the dissolved HQ Company were assigned to the new HQ Detachment with the remainder distributed among the four letter companies.
15 June 1LT David Crossett of HQ & HQ Detachment S-3 was promoted to the rank of Captain.
16 June 1LT Francis W. Zabicki was promoted to the rank of Captain.
19 June Headquarters III Corps, letter orders dated 18 June 1942 were received directing the movement of the battalion to the San Francisco, California, port of embarkation and assigning code number 1126-A.
4-6 June The Japanese fleet moved to strike and occupy Midway Island in the Pacific. The island was the last bastion of U.S. forces in the Pacific, with Midway under their control the Japanese could attack Hawaii. The U.S. Troops were greatly outnumbered, and what was predicted as a fatal blow to the U.S. forces became a crushing defeat for the Japanese Imperial Navy.
19 June Headquarters III Corps, letter orders dated 18 June 1942 were received directing the movement of the battalion to the San Francisco, California port of embarkation and assigning code number 1126-A.
23 June Replacements began to arrive from various other military police units, primarily the 702nd, 721st and 722nd. The new troops were distributed among the battalion’s letter companies. Many of the replacements were excellent soldiers who had volunteered for overseas duty, but a substantial minority were apparently the undesirables of the organizations from which sent.
     Samuel Smith of Accident, Maryland and Orner Sullivan of Little Orleans, Pennsylvania were transferred to the battalion from the 721st MP Battalion located in Norfolk, Virginia.
     CPT Packard and LT Donnis proceeded to the San Francisco Port of Embarkation as liaison officers for the new TO&E.
3 July  The battalion assembled at the Pennsylvania Railroad Station in East Liberty, a suburb of Pittsburg, and boarded the trains. The movement was made with two-trains, with HQ&HQ Detachment and Able and Charlie Companies in the first train, and Baker and Dog Companies in the second.
     The movement began at 2300 hours, and the panned route included stops along the way in Chicago, Kansas City, El Paso, Phoenix, Yuma, Los Angles, Bakersfield, with their final destination being Camp Stoneman.

     At the time of deployment to Camp Stoneman the battalion officer's staff were;

     LTC Furey, commander; MAJ Robert Potts, executive officer and S-3; 1LT Bush Locknane, S-1 and commanding officer of the detachment; CPT William Foote, S-2; CPT F. R. Packard, assistant S-2; 1LT David Crossett, S-4; 1LT Lesh, adjutant, CPT Lambert, battalion surgeon; 1LT Michael, battalion dental officer.
     CPT George Anderson, commander; 1LT’s Stephan Kossler, William Niedlinger, and Richard Graham, and 2LT Joseph Kempfer.
     CPT Robert W. Stormer, commander; 1LT’s Francis W. Zabicki, George Dennis and Leo D. Yunker, and 2LT George H. Berkheimer .
     CPT John F. Holmes, commander; 1LT’s S. Handzel and Richard Beirne, and 2LT’s Wachel B. Williams and Jack Denton.
     CPT Edward C. Houser, commanding; 1LT’s Edward Hall and Jack Townsend, and 2LT Henry Hoffman.
4 July In the morning the trains, traveling on the CB&O lines, arrived at Chicago, Illinois. Later, after their arrival at Quincy in Adams County, the battalion was invited to participate in their 4th of July celebration before continuing on across the Mississippi River.
5 July The battalion once again marched, this time in Liberal, Kansas. Although the reason was not mentioned, it’s believed it had to do with their extended weekend long celebration of the 4th. From Liberal the trains passed through Oklahoma, with a short layover in El Paso, Texas.
6 July The trains made two stops, Yuma and Phoenix, Arizona.

7 July In the early morning they stopped at Fresno, California and arrived late that evening at Camp Stoneman located in Pittsburgh, California 40 miles north of San Francisco were they were housed and fed.

     Their stay would last until the 23 during which time they engaged in training, and further processing in preparation for overseas duty. They received their final medical and dental examinations and any required corrective work was done. Their clothing, equipment and records were put in proper order, to include finances, life insurance and a last will and testament. Additional training and theater orientation that was needed was provided. Their TO&E vehicles and any heavy equipment were loaded onto the ship Boche Fontane.
Papua Campaign 
23 July 1942-23 January 1943
21 July MSG John A. Lasky, who joined the battalion at Fort Meade from the Regular Army, received a direct commission as 1st. Lieutenant.
23 July The battalion entrained at Camp Stoneman in the morning arriving at the piers of San Francisco in the afternoon, and boarded the troop ship USS Mount Vernon (AP 22), formerly the SS George Washington.
     The 738 MP Battalion was among other units that boarded the troop ship.
24 July, 1100 hours The USS Mount Vernon departed sailing from San Francisco Harbor, California into the southwestern Pacific Theater of War. Their destination of Sidney, Australia would not be made known until they were out to sea. Stops to fuel and reprovision along the way were scheduled at the ports in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand.
In Transit
Southwest Pacific Theatre Of War

     To the average sailor, airman, soldier and marine of the American military, the Pacific theater of operations during World War-II appeared as a vast and what seemed like endless expanse of sea engulfing thousands of small and large island nations of every known geographical description. The Pacific Ocean encompasses a total of 63.78 million square miles. From blue water oceans, hot sunny tropical beaches, thick marshland, savannah plains, dry waterless deserts, temperate forests, steamy triple tiered jungle, grassy plateaus, steep rocky cragged top ridges, to cold glacial mountain peaks shrouded in thick white clouds. From afar they were postcard perfect, up close and personal they could be foreboding and deadly. The people inhabiting the islands were just as numerous and diverse in language and culture.

     The ebb and flow of the fighting would take them into sleepy fishing villages, small farming communities, urban towns, costal harbors, and large metropolitan cities.

     Of the hundreds of thousands that served, only a small percentage saw the savage nature of face-to-face no quarter combat. Many were killed, wounded and disabled in action, yet many more died of the ravages of exotic diseases caused by their exposure to the unclean waters, and insect and vermin infested environments to which they were not properly vaccinated, acclimated or accustomed.

     To compound it all, from 1941 through 1943, they were often undermanned, equipped and were playing catch up with a well trained determined and ruthless enemy so militarized, that they believed that to surrender was an act of cowardice requiring the penalty of execution.

     Unlike in Europe, the fighting in the Pacific islands was not a true linear battlefield in the sense that more-often-than-not, the majority of the major engagements were small scale regimental sized battles, scattered throughout the many island chains, often at the same time.


     Since the battalion was an U.S. Army service and support branch for the General Headquarters, (GHQ) South West Pacific Area (SWPA), that would become their place in the order of battle.The battalion’s tour in the Pacific would take them to three of the worlds largest island nations of Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines during the period of hostilities.

     They were called to fall-in directly behind the infantry units to provide Prisoner of War (POW) detainment, roadway security, rear security and order once the major fighting ceased, and as plans were made by GHQ to advance further.

Battalion Australian Duty Stations
Papua Campaign

        With the Japanese forces firmly entrenched at the door step to Australia and New Zealand, the U.S. and its Allies pored thousands of troops and equipment into Queensland Northern Australia. The formerly sleepy cities and towns along the coast were transformed overnight into busy military training, logistical, and air bases to support the upcoming allied offensives in New Guinea (Papua), an Australian protectorate.

6 August The Mt. Vernon arrived at the harbor in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, where a brief short leave was granted. Fearing a possible Japanese invasion, the city had already established several cantonments for their national troops as well as U.S. troops sent to bolster their defenses. Available records do not reflect if any other U.S. troops aboard disembarked for temporary or permanent duty in New Zealand.

     New Zealand, an island country consisting of two main islands, north and south, and a number of smaller islands in the southwestern Pacific, is situated 1,200 miles southeast of Australia.

     The large cities of Wellington, on the southeastern coast, and Auckland, east-central coast, were both part of the smaller northern island. New Zealand entered the war against Germany by declaration simultaneously with Great Britain in September 1939, and Japan on 8 December 1941. Their Army, Air Force and Navy fought in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and throughout the Pacific Theater.

8 August The Mt. Vernon departed Wellington proceeding to Auckland, and berthed in the city harbor the next day where additional shore leave was granted.

11 August The Mt. Vernon departed Auckland, and headed into the Tasman Sea on their final leg of the journey to Sydney, Australia.
Boots On The Ground In Australia & Papua New Guinea

     Through its early colonial history explorers of Spain, Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Australia and Germany claimed the island. At the time of the Japanese invasion in early 1942, the political territorial control and security was divided between two counties, the Netherlands and Australia.

     The western half was called Netherlands New Guinea, the eastern half was divided into two regions north and south. The northern half was North East or British New Guinea, and the southern was called Papua (Australian) New Guinea.

      The many small tribal groups that populated the island supported the Allies during the offensives to drive out the Japanese.

     A central east-west mountain range over 1,000 miles in length dominated the islands geography. The highest mountains rise up to 16,024 feet and ensure a steady supply of rain from the equatorial atmosphere to feed mountain streams and lowland triple canopied jungle and swamps. The tree line is around 13,100 feet elevation, and the tallest peaks contain permanent equatorial glaciers. Other smaller mountain ranges occur both north and west of the central ranges. Except in the high elevations, most areas possess a warm humid tropical climate throughout the year, with some seasonal variation associated with the northeast monsoon season.

     During the early stages of the war, New Guinea was known by the Allied forces as “the island without roads.” The unpredictable equatorial weather, rain forests, swamps, lack of roadways and steep mountainous terrain created a tactical and logistical nightmare for both the Japanese and Allied forces.

     Only sixty miles to the northeast of New Guinea was the island of New Britain, a part of the Territory of New Guinea. Located on the northern tip was the port city of Rabaul, the forward base of the Japanese Pacific forces. Five hundred miles to its east were the Solomon Islands containing Japanese bases and airfields used to support their attacks on New Guinea.

     With the loss of their bases on New Britain and threat of Japanese attack to Australia in early 1942, the Australian’s made a strategic decision to evacuate all their small bases along the northern coastline of North Eastern (British) New Guinea, concentrating them in the ports of Papua New Guinea, at Port Moresby on the southeastern coast and Milne Bay on the southeastern tip, denying the Japanese a direct jump-off point to their northern State of Queensland.

14 August The 22-day voyage came to an end when the Mt. Vernon reached the harbor of Sydney located on Australia's southeast coast of the Tasman Sea where the battalion disembarked and were transported by train to Warwick Farms, a railway station in the southeastern suburbs of Sidney.
     The nearby Warwick Farms Racetrack was used as a military camp under the names, Camp Warwick and HMS Golden Hind to house and stage Australian, American and British troops during the allied buildup.
18 August The battalion was alerted, and preparations were undertaken for further deployments.
20 August, 0400 hours The battalion departed Warwick Farms by troop train for Brisbane, the capital of the State of Queensland located 610 miles north up the coast. Stops were made for meals along the way at Newcastle, Taree, and Kempsey.
     Queensland is one of six states and three Territories of the mainland continent of Australia, occupying the northeastern section. It’s bordered on the east by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. It is Australia's second largest state by area, following Western Australia, and bordered by the Northern Territory to the west, the State of South Australia to the southwest, and State of New South Wales to its south.

21 August, 0500 hours The battalion arrived at Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, were loaded onto truck and motor convoyed to Camp Ascot. Camp Ascot was established on 14 December 1941 as a U.S. troop cantonment situated on both Eagle Farm and Doomben horse race tracks, adjoining the U.S. airbase at the Eagle Farm airfield outside of Brisbane.

Personal Reflections

      “After we settled at Ascot Race Track, we got passes to town, but I broke out with German measles and was admitted to a field hospital where I stayed for seven days. During my absence, Company C moved out, and I was sent to Mt. Isa.” SGT Joseph F. Butchko, Charlie Company, 1942-1945.

     They staged and received orders for further movement as follows; Headquarters and HQ Detachment, Medical Detachment Dog Company and the 1st Platoon of Able Company to Townsville; 2nd Platoon of Able Company to Cairns; 3rd Platoon of Able Company to Charters Towers; Baker Company to Mt. Isa; and Charlie Company to Post Moresby, New Guinea.

1 September Charlie Company departed from Brisbane, Australia aboard the Dutch merchant ship Bontekoe (Spotted-Cow) for Port Moresby, New Guinea.

     The 4,688-ton Bontekoe was built in 1923 and saw constant duty as an Allied troop and cargo transport. It survived the war and was scrapped in 1959 in Hong Kong.

6 September The Bontekoe, with Charlie Company aboard, made a port call of twelve days in Townsville in northeast, Australia where it was delayed because of unfavorable sea and enemy naval action in the Coral Sea.

Personal Reflections

     Editors Note: 2LT Berkheimer was recalled to active duty from the Army Reserve Officers Corps. At the time of his activation he had been the pastor of the Arendtsville-Flohrs Lutheran Church since 1935.

     “We have been in Australia for a little over three weeks and already we have mail from home. We want to pay tribute to the U.S. Mail Service. Considering the fact that we are about 11,000 miles from home and remembering how many hands our mail must go through, that record is what we of the U.S. Army call real service.

    Naturally our letters from home were the most precious. We handled them and caressed them as though they were sacred documents. They are the ties between us and our loved ones.

     Among my mail was a copy of The Gettysburg Times for July 23rd. How I appreciated reading it! Since called into the service on February 5, 1942, I have been stationed at Camp George G. Meade, Maryland; McKeesport, Penna.; Camp Stoneman, California; and now Australia. Every place I have been The Gettysburg Times had faithfully followed me. I want to express to your entire staff my sincere appreciation. As soon as I had finished reading the issue received I took it into the city, about three miles from our present camp, and gace it to Joseph Kepner. You folks will remember him as being a resident of Gettysburg. We wandered into each other, quite by accident, the other day here on this vast continent. I would have also given it to William Mickley [SGT William B. Mickley was a 1932 graduate of Gettysburg College and a geography and English teacher at Heidelsburg Township Schools in Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania], also of Gettysburg. We belong to the same battalion. His company, however, had moved on to their final destination before the mail arrived.

     We are not yet at our base of operation. We still have about 1,600 miles to travel. This last part of our trip will be made by train. To get there we have employed three means of transportation. We came from Cap Meade to Pittsburg by motor vehicle, from Pittsburg to California by train; from California to Australia by boat; we have already traveled 600 miles by rail in Australia and the remainder of our trip will also be by rail. We haven’t as yet decided by what means or by what route we will continue and conclude our trip around the world.

     You may wonder why we were not taken directly to our final destination in one trip immediately after disembarking. Such would have been possible in the U.S. but not in Australia.

    Here each state has a different gauge railroad, (thank goodness there are just six states). You can easily see how that impedes transportation. Whenever a train (passenger or freight) comes to the border of a state it must stop and the entire cargo must be reloaded onto cars corresponding to the particular gauge railway that state operates. That accounts for our battalion company part of the way and then going into camp while all of our equipment is being reloaded.

    Their rail equipment is not so modern. The capacity of their freight and coal cars is 25,000 pounds as compared with our which carry four times that amount. A train of twenty-five to thirty cars is considered a load. From that you can picture the size of the engines.

    I don’t want to paint a dark picture of this continent. To do so would be erroneous. Their transportation, methods of transacting business and forms of entertainment are behind the times as compared with the U.S. But they are not behind the times with the finer things of life, the things that really matter; their thinking, their hospitality; their cooperative spirit, and their devotion to country, God, and king.

     We can readily excuse their failure to have the material advantages that we possess. Picture, if you can, whet the U.S. would be with a population somewhat less that New York City. That is the situation here. Australia is almost as large as the U.S. in area but in population it has only around 7,000,000. But what they lack in numbers they make up in kindness and consideration for the needs of others.

     Perhaps I speak as one who has been here for three years rather than three weeks. I don’t feel that my opinions have been hastily formed not m I basing my opinions on casual contacts with one or two people.

     One of my many duties as a company officer is that of mess officer. As such I purchase the food for our company. That brings me into immediate contact with businessmen, wholesalers and retailers, with bankers, with clerks, and I rub elbows with other customers. So far we have been in two large cities and I have made these contacts in both places and found them all the same. They are really wonderful people, just like we have back in Adams County, if you show yourself willing to play the game with them.

     Some of my other duties are: Transportation officer, custodian of the company fund and company censor.

    Of all my work I count as most important which I do in addition to my regular duties. Our battalion is not attached to any large organization and therefore we do not have a chaplain. It has been a source of great satisfaction to me to be able to help the boys, not only by conducting services each Sunday, but also with their personal problems and anxieties.

     My letter has revealed a characteristic of a preacher. I have forgotten when to stop. Let me close by giving you a brief description of the place where we are going to perform our duty. Naturally I can’t reveal its name but it is in Australia. We spoke with two officers recently who had just returned from a 10,000 mile tour of inspection and instruction in U.S. Army camps throughout Australia.

     Concerning the place we are going they said: “We don’t want to discourage you but --- is the worst place we have ever seen. The first month you are there you talk to the lizards, the second month the lizards talk to you and the third konth you just sit and listen.” Sounds interesting, doesn’t it.

     We are looking forward with keen anticipation to our arrival there. But we are not discouraged nor downhearted. We are all in the best of health, eating fine food and a lot of it, sleeping soundly at night, and realizing that we are here to do a job and we are determined to see it through successfully.

    We miss our families more than words can express. A lump rises in our throats whenever we think or speak to them. We miss our many friends back home. We miss our work in which we were so happy. But we firmly believe that we are on God’s side and in His time the forces of righteousness and justice will be victorious.

    Keep up the work back home. Remember us in your prayers and we will do our part here.” 2LT George H. Berkheimer, Baker Company, 720th MP Battalion, 1942-1943.


9 September HQ & HQ Detachment, Dog Company and three platoons (1st, 2nd & 3rd) of Able Company departed Brisbane for Townsville by railway, arriving on the 11th. One Able Company platoon (2nd) continued on to Cairns.

    At Cairns the 2nd Platoon performed town patrol, traffic control and stockade security duties.

    Cairns, North Queensland, is Australia's northern-most city. Before WW-II it was a sleepy, sugar-growing center and fishing port, and during the war it became an important railhead and operational center for American and Australian ground, air and naval forces in Southwest Pacific.

     The region was pivotal during the naval battle for the Coral Sea despite concerns that the Japanese could invade. The city harbor was also the home base of the famous Catalina flying boats that flew small transport missions, laid naval mines, provided anti-submarine screening, and the torpedoing of enemy shipping.

     Cairns was now being readied for the new U.S. Papuan Campaign against the Japanese bases along the coast of Papua New Guinea. Activities at the airfields, docks, and military hospitals increased with the arrival of new troops, armaments, supplies, transports, and aircraft.

10 September The 3rd Platoon of Able Company departed for Charters Towers by railway where they performed town patrol and interior guard duty at the airfield.

     Charters Towers in Northern Queensland was a sleepy gold mining city located eighty-five miles inland (southwest) from Townsville. The city was quickly militarized in the event Townsville were to come under attack. Four airbases, and numerous fuel and ammunition depots were constructed in and around the city that hosted up to 10,000 troops training for the defense of Queensland, and servicing the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Army 5th Air Force bomber and fighter squadrons stationed there. It was also home to the 116 Australian General Hospital.

     The Australian and U.S. Military ran regular logistical ground convoys and medical transports between Charters Towers and Townsville.

     Charters Towers was also the location of a “top secret” joint Australian and U.S. Military program (headquartered and operated by the Chemical Warfare Physiology School of Melbourne that was moved to Townsville) involving the operation of a local mustard gas artillery shell replenishing station where massive stockpiles of mustard gas munitions were also stored.


11 September HQ & HQ Detachment, Dog Company and the remaining platoon of Able Company moved to Queens Park at Townsville located in the State of Queensland.

     Townsville is a major port situated on Cleveland Bay, 714 miles north of Brisbain. In late 1942 Townsville was the principle port for those allied troops serving in the New Guinea campaign and Cleveland Bay between Magnetic Island and Townsville, was an important assembly point for shipping.

     Queens Park was one of three large Botanical Garden areas in Townsville that were converted to camps for thousands of Australian and U.S. troops. The camp at Queens Park also contained an underground command center for the U.S. Army.

     The Australian forces chose Townsville as their Area Combined Headquarters for the North East Area, while the American forces used Townsville as the headquarters of the U.S. Army Base Section-2 (the northern Queensland component of the U.S. Army Services of Supply Organization), and the 4th Air Depot of the U.S. Army Air Force.

     It became a garrison city with approximately 100,000 U.S. troops based in the district, and was used as a staging point into the Southwest Pacific Theatre.

    In Australia, the country was divided into seven numbered Base Sections. The State of Queensland was separated into two sections. Northern Queensland, where the battalion conducted most of their duties was Base Section-2, and southern Queensland was Base Section-3.

     LTC Furey was immediately appointed as Provost Marshal of Base Section-2 replacing LTC James L. Patterson who would later become the next battalion commander. MAJ Potts (executive officer) was assigned additional duties as the Base Section Prison Officer.

     Dog Company was assigned town patrol duty, traffic control and dock and ship security work, while the 1st Platoon of Able Company was assigned to stockade duty at Base Section-2.

    HQ & HQ Detachment carried on its normal command functions, and in addition, assisted in the military police duties as much as possible.

Personal Reflections
     “By the time we crossed the Pacific Ocean and landed in Australia, the novelty of war eased up some. Australia was friendly territory and so our guns, radios, and ammo were taken away except when we were on guard duty. There were fifty or sixty guys from northeastern Pennsylvania in the battalion, and we used to sit around and talk about home."  T/SGT Rudolph Facynic, Headquarters Company, 1942-1945.

12 September Baker Company moved from Brisbane to Mt. Isa by railway, arriving on the 16th Mount Isa was located in Northwestern Queensland 800 miles west of Townsville and was a large mineral mining town. It became an inland garrison city playing host to U.S. troops, logistical supply storage facilities with a rail link to Townsville and roadway links to northern territory coastal port towns. There was also a Royal Australian Air Force, base and airfield.

     The town also had an underground hospital built in the mines after February 1942. The Medical Superintendent of Mount Isa Hospital asked Mount Isa Mines to help build it to protect patients in the event of any Japanese air raids. The hospital provided services for routine medical outpatient care, and maternity and surgical operating theaters. Local miners, who volunteered to work in their spare time and on weekends, constructed it. Baker Company performed garrison duties to include: town patrol; stockade duty; and establishing outposts at Croomoweal Road, and in Cloncurry. One outpost included a climb of the approximately 1,000 steps to the top of an outcropping observation post where their duty was to report all aircraft sightings.

     The company also provided convoy security for the Birdum and Darwin supply convoys of the U.S. 48th and 29th Quartermaster Truck Regiments from the end of the railroad up to the port city of Darwin. At that time there were no blacktop surface roads in the territory.
18 September The Bontekoe departed the port at Towbsville for Port Moresby.

21 September The Bontekoe and Charlie Company finally arrived at their destination of Port Moresby on the coast of southeastern New Guinea, where they set up their headquarters at the Koki Mission area and were assigned to town patrol. The capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby was a costal city nestled in a protective cove on the Gulf of Papua on the southeastern coast. It was home to U.S. Sub-Base D, the main Allied cantonment on the island in 1942. It had a protected waterway, 5 miles long by 3 miles wide, with a sand and clay bottom affording excellent holding ground for anchorage. Temperatures were relatively mild, with rainfall uniform in distribution and not excessive.

     The southern section was called Port Moresby Town, which included Paga Hill, Ela Beach and the main wharf. To the north were two small communities. The northern-most was in Konedobu at Fairfax Harbor, a dock at Tatana Island. The southern-most closest to town was Kaevaga, home to the Governor Generals House, the Barune (garbage) Dump, and the 116th Station Hospital, which by 1943 would be the largest of its kind in the region. Northwest was the Allied airfield known as 5-Mile (Wards) Drome.

     Due east on the coast was Koki in Joyce Bay, a small outcropping also known as 2-Mile Hill. On the small peninsula there was a mission that was converted to a temporary hospital until late 1943.

     There was also two Catalina (PBY) Flying Boat Bases in the bay, one at Fairfax harbor and one moored by the wharf at Port Moresby.

     The 1st Platoon under SGT Bugle of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania was assigned stockade security duties; the 2nd Platoon set up along Ella Beach Road to direct traffic from both the Australian and American dock at Tatana Island, and prevent pilferage at each.

     The 3rd Platoon, under SGT Clairborne of Washington, D.C., maintained road patrols, traffic control, and road security for the trucks of supplies headed for 5-Mile Drome (Wards Airfield).

     Charlie Company also worked in harmony with the Australian U.S. Army Provost (military police), establishing a good relationship with them.

     Their arrival preceded that of the U.S. 32nd Infantry Division, and they became the last line of defense during the ongoing two-pronged Japanese offensive during the Papuan Campaign. One prong was a combined Japanese Marines landing force and Imperial Navy supported attack against Port Moresby, the second land attack of Port Moresby by the Japanese Army came over the Owen Stanley Mountains and was met by Australian and U.S. forces.

28 September Japanese planes carried out air raids nightly at the Wards Drome airfield’s at Port Moresby. GEN MacArthur flew in from Brisbane and set up a temporary headquarters wanting to see for himself the conditions at the Australian lines in the Owen Stanley Mountains. Charlie Company was tasked with his motor security.

     SGT Leroy Moser of Reading, Pennsylvania and a detail of nine MPs guarded MacArthur’s temporary headquarters during his first four day stay, and a detail from the 3rd Platoon guarded him while on his visits to the front lines north of the city. Both details later received letters of commendation from the general.

5 October With the issuance of Special Orders Base Section-2,   LTC Larry D. Furey  was relieved of the duties of provost marshal of the base and as commander of the 720th MP Battalion, and replaced by LTC James L. Patterson. Shortly thereafter, MAJ Potts (executive officer), CPT Foote (S-2) and 1LT Lesh (adjutant) were relieved of duties with the battalion, and CPT Howser (Dog Company) was moved to HQ & HQ Detachment as the new battalion executive officer.

12 October During a fireside chat President Roosevelt summarized his perception of optimistic American attitudes after a two week, nation-wide trip, which left him in good spirits.

    The president addressed a variety of subjects, including women in the workforce, the need for peace after war, drafting eighteen-year olds, and war crimes trials for Axis leaders.

     Although the Allies were making advances in both Europe and the Pacific, there was still no guarantee of a complete Allied victory. President Roosevelt’s routine of always speaking in positive terms, was to maintain a high morale at home and abroad.

LTC Furey
LTC Patterson
WANTED: Photographs of LTC Furey and LTC Patterson, and background information on their history. Contact the History Project Manager via the Email Link at the top of this page.
27 October Baker Company departed Mount Isa by railway for duty at Townsville. CPT Stormer relieved CPT Packard, who had succeded MAJ Potts as the Prison Officer of Base Section-2
     CPT Robert W. Stormer of Baker Company relieved CPT Packard, who had succeeded MAJ Potts as the Prison Officer of Base Section-2 .
30 October Baker Company arrived at Townsville and relieved the 1st platoon of Able Company of stockade duty so they could proceed to Cairns, North Queensland, Australia to augment their 2nd platoon.
Exact Date Unknown MAJ Edward C. Houser (executive officer) was appointed Prison Officer of Base Section-2 succeeding CPT Stormer.
6 November General Headquarters (GHQ), South West Pacific Area (SWPA) moved from Brisbane, Australia to Port Moresby, New Guinea where GEN MacArthur commandeered, as his residence, the Commonwealth Governor General’s House located on a hilltop at Kaevaga on the western edge of the city.

11 November A platoon from Baker Company commanded by 1LT Francis W. Zabicki, with SGT’s Frederick A. Burness, Jr., Joseph W. Schmidt. Allen G. Taylor and 48 enlisted men departed Townsville by water transport aboard the ship Khoen Hoea, to Portland Roads, Australia.

     Located on the mid-eastern coast of the Cape York Peninsula, twenty-four miles north of the Lockhart River, Portland Roads (Weymouth Bay) was the area supply port for the allied offensive efforts on New Guinea and Australian homeland defense. There was a jetty that was built just before the war to service the local gold mining activities in area. During the war the mining operation was ceased, and the jetty was used to support the war effort. It was 810 feet long to reach the deep water. A tramline ran out to the 60 x 30 foot wharf at its end.

     The detachment performed guard duty of supply depots, military installations, docks, and hatches of supply ships in the harbor, and the road from the port to the Iron Range area to the southwest that was home to several airfields.

     Several Baker Company MP’s also took turns at an outpost along the coast spotting and reporting on the movement of any ships passing their location.

Personal Reflections

“From Mt. Isa I was sent to Portland Roads [with Company B] along the Coral Sea, where I did duty at an outpost and reported back to Command all ships passing a certain point. This is where I had my first big scare.

     One early morning at about 0300 hours, it was still very dark; I was on guard duty along the beach guarding the tent where the rest of our people were sleeping. I had just reported by field phone to Command that everything was quiet and left the tent to go outside when I heard a grunting or snorting noise behind me. I turned, my rifle ready to fire, my heart in my throat, my mind asking, how did these sonabitchin Jap’s get this close to my area? But before I could fire, two wild horses galloped past me and disappeared into the jungle.

    After my heart went back to where it was supposed to be, I finished my shift and all other duties in a state of highest alertness. Thereafter, I could confidently say that whenever I was on duty an ant could not get to my position without me challenging it. I also thanked the good Lord that it was horses and not the Japanese, but to this day I can’t figure how those horses go so close without me hearing them. Later I rejoined Company C in New Guinea.” SGT Joseph F. Butchko, Charlie Company, 1942-1945.

16 November The Papuan Campaign (The Buna-Sanananda Operation), The Japanese High Command planned a two-pronged offensive drive. One prong was to strike for control of southeastern New Guinea (Papua); the other was to thrust through the Solomon Islands to cut the supply line from America to Australia.

14 December The 3rd Platoon of Able Company moved by railway from Charters Towers to Cairns to further augment the military police forces at that point

     In Townsville HQ & HQ Detachment, Baker and Dog Companies deployed military police detachments to perform duties in the towns of MacKay, Ingham, Ayr and Charles Towers.

     Mackay situated on the eastern coast of Queensland was approximately 603 miles north of Brisbane. The city was a popular seaside resort so the U.S. Army, and the American Red Cross jointly operated the Mackay Rest Leave Area, a rest and recreation (R&R) center for American troops assigned to combat units in Papua New Guinea. The center was operated out of the Grand Hotel on the northeastern corner of Brisbane and Victoria Street’s. Planeloads of troops from the island were regularly carried on the four-and-a-half hour flight from Port Moresby to the local airfield

     Ingham is located in north Queensland approximately sixty-eight miles north of Townsville, and 893 miles north of Brisbane. The area is part of the defensive line in the event of a Japanese landing to attack along the north coast of Queensland to capture Townsville. The majority of the residents were Italian immigrants, and all of them were held in Australian detention centers until the war ended.

     Ayr located in Queensland, is a town near the delta of the Burdekin River, 180 miles north of Mackay and fifty-four miles south of Townsville. Like most small towns in the area, it was part of the defensive line in the event of a Japanese landing to attack along the north coast.

     Able Company at Cairns sent detachments to Mareeba, Innisfall and Atherton; and Charlie Company, at Port Moresby, operated separate detachments at Ela Boach.

     Mareeba is located in north Queensland on the confluence of the Barron River, Granit and Emerald Creeks, thirty-nine miles west of Cairns. Australian and U.S. troops used the Mareeba (Hovet) airfield as a staging post for battles in New Guinea and the Pacific.

     Innisfail, a rural township in Queensland is forty-three miles south of Cairns. It is at the junction of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, about two miles from the ocean. It served as an Allied training area and part of the costal defense ring.

     Atherton is the capital of the Tablelands area in north Queensland, nineteen-miles southwest of Cairns. Some 20,000 Australian and American troops were stationed in and around the town. It also served as an important jungle training and holding area.
Charlie Company at Port Moresby, operated a separate detachment at Ela Boach. During the war Ela Beach, Paga Hill and the main wharf area was the original town area of Port Moresby.
1942 Miscellaneous Photographs Index
This Index contains miscellaneous photographs from 1941 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.