WWII Military Police in Europe by Larry Selman
Image Area: 14 x 16
Giclee Canvas Edition: 200 Signed and numbered
Keep traffic moving safely, "echoed MPs in basic training." Give this duty top attention, for tactical success often hinges on this factor." And MPs gave all they had... Combat teams looked on armored MPs as friends, willing to lend a hand when the going was hot. Sometimes, MPs rode the backs of tanks with a task force. Once posted, the traffic MP accepts a tremendous responsibility. Proper movement of traffic demands that he never once neglect his duty. Rain, snow, mud, enemy patrol, tank fire, strafing, artillery bursts, mortar—nothing must budge him. His post is sacred ground which he must preserve, even if he must give his life. During emergency periods, the most effective means of checking vehicles and individuals was the road block. Identification of personnel was of utmost importance. Acting as valves, efficiently operated road blocks regulated the flow of authorized traffic. Hundreds of thousands of "Supermen" were collared in west-central Germany during March and April, 1945. Immense trailer trucks, jammed with prisoners, rolled away from cages daily. This made exciting press headlines, but told only half the story. Transfer of prisoners from front lines to rear was a mission of great significance. These bedraggled, beaten members of the "master race" easily could constitute a back-breaking burden to swift, mobile Armies. Through a foolproof evacuation system, Military Police scraped up the PWs, by handfuls or by thousands, dispatched them to the rear, clearing Army areas for future captures. Provost Marshals and MP units perfected a chain of evacuation that withstood countless heavy loads thrown at it. When the haul of prisoners was unusually large, tactical units assisted in escorting and guarding. More than 10,000 MPs, stationed in Germany, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, guarded runways, hangars, bomb dumps and aircraft at all Air Corps installations. The almost complete absence of theft, tampering and sabotage testify to effective security methods. MPs detailed to crash-trucks pulled airmen from wrecked and burning planes, stood guard as enemy strafers shot up fields, and more than once battled flames that threatened hangars, planes and vital equipment. The mission of aviation MPs seemed routine but actually was of top-flight significance. Whether working on a freshly-carved airstrip or patrolling a London airdrome, these MPs were part of the insurance which enabled USSTAF to carry out thousands of missions that helped to bring Germany to its knees. The day of the heavy-handed MP was gone. In his stead was the specially trained World War II MP, an expert in tact, common sense and diplomacy.