SECOND UNITED STATES CAVALRY – A HISTORY
Compiled, edited and published by Historical Section, Second Cavalry Association
Maj. A. L. Lambert and Cpt. G. B. Layton, 2d Cavalry
On 1 Jan. 1946 the Second Cavalry officially assumed duties as the District Constabulary, Eastern Military District (Third Army Area).
The Constabulary was viewed as a potential elite force, dependent on the highest caliber personnel and efficient communications network. Its mission was that of maintaining general military and civil security and assisting in the accomplishment of the objective of Military Government in the U. S. occupied zones by means of an active patrol system backed by a mechanized striking force in reserve.
The District Constabularies were regarded as an interim force during the time USFET [United States Forces European Theater] was submitting plans for a more extensive organization.
The Theater plan of organization proposed a Zone Constabulary composed of three Brigade Headquarters at the German Land or state level, each to include an Air Reconnaissance Squadron and varying numbers of Cavalry Groups; twelve Constabulary Group Headquarters; forty-eight Squadrons with 192 mechanized recon troops, 48 tank companies, and 48 Headquarter and Service troops. The total strength was to approximate 38,000 troopers.
Paralleling the planning and development of the United States Constabulary from its origin to the operational date of July 1, 1946, was the Mobile Security Control of the U. S. occupied zone (as we have already stated) by the District Constabularies. The Second Cavalry Group was shortly joined by the Sixth and Fifteenth Cavalry Groups to accomplish this.
It was the Second Cavalry that designed the distinctive “Lightning Bolt” shoulder patch with the primary colors of yellow, blue, and red, yellow for Cavalry, blue for the Infantry and red for the Artillery. (Fondly called the “Flying C Ration” by members of the Constabulary.)
To this was added the well chosen motto “Mobility, Vigilance, and Justice”, which concisely states the mission of the Force.
General Harmon inspects the 2nd Constabulary Regiment (click on photo to enlarge)
On January 10, 1946, Major General Earnest N. Harmon was appointed the commander of the U. S. Constabulary.
“Hell on wheels”, “Old gravel voice”, or “That old so and”, as he is privately referred to, is a General Officer of exceptional force and drive, hailed by many as a second Patton. Possessor of a brilliant combat record, commanding the 1st Armored Division in the whirlwind Tunisian Campaign, and the 2nd Armored Division across Europe, General Harmon was later appointed XXII Corps Commander in Czechoslovakia. Possibly more important to Second Cavalrymen is the fact that he commanded a Squadron of the Second in World War I.
Bringing the same drive and insistence on perfection to the Constabulary, he was able to move his planning staff from Bad Tolz to Bamberg by the 15th of February and the Constabulary prepared to open for business on 1 July.
In the meantime the Second Cavalry was establishing the Constabulary School at Sonthofen on 15 January for the purpose of training officers and NCO’s in the policies and procedures essential to accomplishing the missions of the Constabulary.
Because no tactical organization used during the war was exactly suited for employment in the Constabulary as a police and security force, reorganization and specialized training was necessary. The initial proposal for an organization consisting of Cavalry Groups was modified, based on a recommendation of the Theater General Planning Board to revert to regimental organization. On February 7, by direction of Headquarters USFET, the T/O’s for the Constabulary were forwarded to the War Department for approval.
They basically provided for the present set up of a Constabulary Headquarters, three Brigade Headquarters, nine Regiments and 27 Squadrons, each consisting of a Headquarters and Service Troop, three Reconnaissance Troops, and two “Mechanized” Troops (Eds note: The Second Cavalry’s Rifle Troop “D” was used as the model for mechanized troops).
The Tank Troop was kept under regimental control (and as ever, the First Sergeant of the Second Cavalry Tanks is the perennial 1st Sgt. Eugene “Pappy” Greene).
An innovation is the Regimental Horse Platoon which in the Second has been commanded by Lt. Daniel Boone, an able horseman of the Second Cavalry back in 1936.
From February 15 to March 20, units to become Constabulary organizations were released to join and reorganize. A glance at the crack units will explain the efficiency of the Constabulary. The VI Corps Headquarters which fought in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, became the U. S. Constabulary Headquarters. Almost all the hard charging 4th Armored Division and parts of the 1st Armored Division, together with the traditionally elite Cavalry were welded into a smart unit under General Harmon.
One of the Fourth Armored units, formerly the 66th Armored FA Battalion, joined the Second Cavalry on 22 February 1946 to become the 66th Constabulary Squadron under the command of Lt. Col. F. W. Hasselback, and moved to Vimy Kaserne, Freising, Germany.
On Feb. 26 the 2nd Squadron, which had laid out the Constabulary School at Sonthofen, was returned to Second Cavalry control when the troops designated as the School Squadron were able to assume their duties. Troop A 2nd Squadron remained at Sonthofen to break in the new school troops until 23 March when it rejoined the rest of the 2nd Squadron, now under Major Milliken, at its new station in Lenggries, Germany.
The month of March was spent by the Regiment in reorganizing under the Constabulary tables of organization.
A Constabulary Regiment consists of three Squadrons, a Regimental Tank Troop, a Horse Platoon and Motorcycle Platoon in the Headquarters Troop, and a Service Troop.
The Squadrons have a Headquarters Troop (Service elements now all at Regiment), three Reconnaissance Troops, (A, B & C), and two Mechanized Troops (D & F); Troop F of the 42nd became the Regimental Tank Troop, and Troop F of the 2nd became Troop D of the 2nd Constabulary Squadron. The 6981st Rifle Company (Old Troop D) became Troop D of 42nd Constabulary Squadron. All Medical Detachments went to Regiment, and of course both E Troops lost their assault guns to become mechanized. The 66th Armored Field Artillery Battalion underwent complete reorganization to become the 66th Constabulary Squadron and after initial training moved to Deggendorf near Hitler’s old stomping grounds at Berchtesgarden.
By 1 April all units had been assigned and inspections and practice alerts came fast and furious. Lt. Col. Joe Ahee had taken over the 2nd Squadron and Capt. Freihube, a former Second Cavalryman, was assigned to the 66th Squadron.
But could the Second still march? Could they shoot? Those may be questions that the old Second Cavalrymen will ask.
One question was answered on a Saturday afternoon early in May when men of the 42nd Squadron were out playing baseball; many had gone to town and were scattered among the various clubs. Then we got word from Brigade to concentrate at a place 120 miles distant.
For the next hour there were troopers flying every which way rounding up the absent troopers, loading vehicles, checking equipment.
Everything might have seemed very confusing to an outsider, but if there was any question that the mobility of the Cavalry was being carried on by the Constabulary one only had to be at our destination six hours later, 120 miles away. For we mounted up, rolled down that road and closed in our concentration area without the loss of a single vehicle just six hours after we had been alerted. Such a move would have been a credit even to trained Cavalrymen in combat.
And as for shooting, the Second Regiment came close to making a clean sweep of the Brigade Marksmanship matches later on at the Freising range.
Both the pistol and rifle matches were won by the Second which lost out in the sub-machine gun matches when a S/Sgt. from the 11th Regiment nosed out Pfc Edward H. Tenant of the Second by 3 points.
In the pistol matches we swept the first four places with 1st Sgt. Edwin Mitchell of C Troop 66th Sq, T/Sgt. Colbert Caldwell C Troop of 2nd Sq (who fired a 197 out of a possible 200) and Sgt. Harry Hirchag of E Troop 42nd Sq leading the field. The rifle match was won by Pfc Ernest Kennedy of Troop D 2nd Sq – yes, they can still shoot.
The operational date 1 July 1946 found an already efficient outfit on the job. The Second Cavalry on this day redesignated as Constabulary carried on in the Cavalry tradition aiming at perfection in every detail.
They utilized frequent surprise raids in uncovering underground activities, black market racketeers, criminals, and loot not authorized. At intervals a “show of force” was put on to impress the Germans that American armor and efficiency are still on the job at the same old stand.
Among the most important raids was “Operation Weasel” on July 24, a simultaneous search and seizure operation against approximately 250 persons suspected of illegal dealings in uncancelled stamps. Of the 97 suspects in the Second Constabulary Regiment’s Sector of Southern Bavaria 74 were picked up in the early morning swoop, and thousands of dollars worth of stamps confiscated.
In August the outstanding event was the marked alertness of Lt. Walter J. Kosel’s Platoon of Troop C 42nd Sq stationed in Ingolstadt which broke an inter-zonal black market ring operating from Hamburg in the British Zone.
On 10 August the office of the food commission in Ingolstadt was broken into and several thousand meat and bread ration stamps stolen together with two thousand German marks.
A few days later a C Troop patrol noticed a man enter a house carrying a suspicious looking suitcase. Immediate investigation showed the suitcase to contain black market items.
The house and the four occupants were searched revealing a portion of the stolen ration stamps. Lt. Kosel was called and with his civilian police interpreter he learned that another part of the gang was in a nearby inn. Hot on the trail, the platoon raided the next building locating three additional gang members and several suitcases of loot. There they also found a lead to still another building which uncovered five more criminals with their share of the Ingolstadt haul.
Long hours of grilling broke a few of the gang members, and when Major A. L. Lambert, 42nd Sq Provost Marshall arrived in Ingolstadt to check on the case, Lt. Kosel presented him with the name of the ring leader living in Hamburg. It appeared that this character had train tickets and forged passes to the Russian Zone, and that he said he would leave on the 11 p.m. train on the following day if the rest of the gang did not join him. Already the gang had waited one day due to the illness of a woman member, and had fallen prey to the sharp eyed C troopers.
Further questioning disclosed the location and names of the forgery ring which operated illegal printing presses in the cellar of a bombed out building in Hamburg–Altona.
One of the men who had been captured also had arranged to contact two men from the Munich black market, one of them in a dope ring, at 2000 that same night.
Things started popping. Major Steinmetz of Regiment notified the Hamburg authorities and a British Major ran a swoop on the printing establishment and the Ingolstadt gang leader.
Back in Freising, Major Lambert cleared with the MP’s in Munich for permission to raid in their territory and with Lt. Col. M. W. Frame, the newly assigned 42nd Sq Commanding Officer, were joined by Lt. Kosel a few minutes later at about 1900 as the latter arrived from Ingolstadt with a few selected troopers, two German policemen in plain clothes, and the prisoner who had a date.
At about 10 minutes of eight the party dismounted near the Munich Bahnhof, a few blocks from the black market rendezvous. The handcuffs were removed from the prisoner but he was acutely aware of the Army 45’s the civil police were carrying.
One of the plain clothes men cased the joint and Kosel’s men were oriented to cover all the exits from the building.
The plain clothes men separated and sauntered toward the building, one of them talking casually with the prisoner. As they disappeared into the Cafe Rheinland the C Troopers, moving some distance behind in the darkness, closed to their positions covering the exits prepared to support the police if there was any gun play.
Some men brushed by hurriedly; shades of upstairs windows were raised slightly. The Germans sensed a raid almost immediately.
However, the Troopers did not close in. An hour passed with no result. Once the prisoner came out for about 15 minutes talking to one of the policemen then went inside again.
Col. Frame learned that the Munich man had failed to keep the appointment and decided against a full scale raid on the chance of a late arrival. Pretty soon the prisoner and plain clothes man, now accompanied by another man, strolled out of the cafe, and after chatting a few minutes moved out to the spot where the vehicles were located. There we learned that the dope ring contact failed to show, but the police felt they had enough information to locate him in a routine dragnet.
The new prisoner was whisked away to Ingolstadt and the grilling continued. They all talked and received appropriate sentences.
Later word was received from the British that their swoop was entirely successful and Lt. Kosel was dispatched to Hamburg to show the British authorities our files on the case and to learn the disposition of the gang leader. He found out that both rings had been cracked wide open in Hamburg and the British had enough on the gang leader to occupy a couple of life times, so case Y392 was marked closed.
On 28 September 1946, the Third Platoon Detachment of the 2nd Sq C Troop at Murnau rounded up a gang of seven Polish DP’s which had been robbing and murdering in the Murnau sector.
Since the 4th of September, the Third Platoon with the two German policemen attached to it, had been looking for the criminals involved in the robbery and murder of a farmer at Murnau. With no possible leads or assistance, the platoon seemed beaten. The farmers wife was unable to give any information because of the shock caused by the death of her husband.
In the early morning of 24 September, a robbery was reported to the platoon. A doctor in Eschenlohe, 3 kilometers from Murnau reported that four men had entered his house by means of a ladder through a window, and that large amounts of clothing had been taken. In searching the house, the handle to a traveling bag was found. The doctor identified it as being the handle to a traveling bag belonging to him and taken by one of the thieves. Sgt. John D. May and the Detachment immediately started a search in hopes that this last robbery would lead to the murderer and in turn to the persons responsible for the numerous robberies that had given C Troop so much trouble.
A continuous search was initiated and the first worthwhile information received was on the night of the 25th, from the station master of Murnau. He reported that two persons carrying large bundles were seen in the railroad yards, and after a short chase a patrol caught the two men and took them to the Command Post for questioning. A close examination revealed that the handle fitted the traveling bag carried by one of the Displaced Person’s. In exactly fifteen minutes of interrogation, the Poles revealed that they were involved in both robberies. Further investigation and interrogation of a third Polish DP brought to the CP from the Murnau DP camp showed that one of the wanted men had a wife in the camp. As Sgt. May put it, “I’ve been up all night listening to these jokers when right at my finger tips is a woman, and if I know women, she’ll talk.” He was right, for after five hours of questioning, the wife of Michal Garbas broke down and stated that she had been taking food for her husband who was staying in a barn behind the DP camp.
At 0100, 28 September, the troopers and the German police surrounded the barn. Garbas’ wife called to her husband to surrender. There was a long silence, and then Sgt. May ordered the platoon to open fire. There was a volley of shots, and Garbas came from the barn nursing a shoulder wound. He stated Kubala, who was the leader of the gang, would not be taken alive. Sgt. May determined to do this though, and with Sgt. Gordon C. Gibson, Sgt. Marvin Fritsch, and a member of the German Police, he entered the barn. There was a single shot, and the troopers outside the barn wondered who had fired it. Unfortunately, it was Kubala who had fired and wounded Sgt. May in the chest. Sgt. Gibson took May from the barn, and ordered the troopers to smoke Kubala out. 2nd Lt. Frederick Manheck, who arrived at the scene, realized that there was important evidence in the barn, and securing a 10 ton wrecker from the 288th Engineer Battalion disassembled the barn. They found Kubala in the loft with a bullet through his right temple. He had been wanted throughout the occupation zone, and now he lay dead, killed not by his pursuers, but by his own hand.
Sgt. May was given first aid by the Platoon Medic, T/5 Harold Grischkowsky and was rushed to the 58th Field Hospital in Garmisch. His condition was reported as being serious. However, Lt. Col. Joe Ahee, the Squadron Commander, returned from Garmisch and reported that May’s condition was improving.
It was suspected that there were more persons involved and through interrogation of the prisoners, three more were added to the list and picked up. This made the total 8. One dead, one wounded, plus four men and two women who had been pillaging the Southern part of Germany. They were all turned over to Military Government at Weilheim to face the charges for their various crimes.
Sgt.’s May, Fritsch, and Gibson, were all awarded the Army Commendation Ribbon for their outstanding actions in this case.
The French Force in Austria invited the Second along with other British and American units to participate in an inter-allied horseshow held at Innsbruck, Austria in the first days of October.
It was a beautiful setting for a show against the majestic backdrop of the Algau Alps, and a fair sun shone down on the colorful crowd lining the steeplechase, polo and jumping course.
Although the famous Draufganger, See Adler, and Soldat were no longer in the Second Cavalry string, Major Krampitz on Time, Lt. Murphy on Ace High, Lt. Col. Frame on Arena and Sgt. Leonard on Darling came away with ribbons.
One of the surprise jumps, new even to Lt. Col. Frame, a veteran military horseman of note, was the stall and bar. It looked like a double oxen with one side open forming a chute. The horse galloped in between the two long bars and jumped out over the short bar. It was like threading a needle to get the horse between the long bars after a turn. Surprisingly enough this jump caused little difficulty to the Second Regiment horses.
On the evening following the first day of jumping there was a late dinner held by the French Commanding General in the celebrated French fashion. And on the second evening there was an official ball, very impressive to us “foreigners”, approached between long lines of fierce Moroccan guards in colorful turbans. It was strictly a continental atmosphere and proved to be very enjoyable.
Col. and Mrs. Reed were present at this occasion, as well as Major and Mrs. Fraser, and Major and Mrs. Andrews – all veterans of the Second Cavalry.
Hardly had the Second Regiment contingent returned to Freising when word was received that General Eisenhower, U. S. Army Chief of Staff was due in Munich on 15 Oct. The Regiment prepared to turn out for him in Munich and arranged for the rail reconnaissance and train guards to escort the General to Munich on 13 October, a Sunday. The date for the parade was moved up to the 14th, which resulted in some scrambling for position, but a night march by all Squadrons, the 66th from Deggendorf, the 2nd from Lenggries, and the 42nd from Freising found all elements of the Second Regiment attending the parade (operational troops remained in the field) drawn up for inspection well before the arrival of General Eisenhower. The General walked down the long front line of troopers dismounted in front of their armored cars, jeeps and tanks, stopping now and then to talk to an enlisted man.
Following the inspection the troops mounted up and led by Col. Reed and his Staff on horse back paraded through Munich, past General Eisenhower’s reviewing stand in the Koenigsplatz.
The General congratulated General Harmon, Gen. Gay (II Brigade Commanding General) and Col. Reed on the appearance of the Constabulary. [For an interesting story on this parade, click this link: GIVING UP THE GHOST]
But all is not spit and polish. Real discipline is still present in the Second as evidenced by the month after month that the 42nd Sq has turned in a negative report on VD cases. This at a time when the nation is alarmed at the extremely high rate for troops in Europe.
A brief glance at the operations reports of the various Squadrons for November and December gives a good idea of what the Second is doing at this time.
First a look at the 42nd Squadron releases. A murder was reported in Sonnenhofen, LK Erding, at about 2100 hrs. on 21 November. SIS (Special Investigations Squad) men from the 42nd jumped into a jeep and darted over, contacting the local police. The scene of the crime was a horrible sight, a quadruple axe murder. In a downstairs room Karl and Elizabeth Dilman, both 47, were soaked in their own blood. Upstairs, Marianne Nader, 27, was smashed beyond recognition, and in the next building Karl Kosok, 20, also lay dead. There were no witnesses. A German civilian had knocked and received no answer. He looked in and saw one dead man and ran for the police. Lt. Ux and Sgt. Clemens accompanied the criminal police to the scene and made the preliminary investigation. Another crime to solve.
Now what is the 66th doing? On 3 Dec. an alert patrol from the 66th Sq’s B Troop stopped 3 men in Kraiburg for a routine check. They immediately uncovered 700,000 Marks ($70,000) in their luggage.
Since there was no satisfactory explanation – the three, quite young men claimed to have sold some property – the troopers turned them over to Capt. Emerson. Here a closer check proved that the men were guilty of illegal entry and they were turned over to a Military Government court for trial.
Let’s take a case from the 2nd Squadron: twelve heavily armed civilians jumped two Polish guards at 0230 0n 13 Dec. at the UNRRA Sanatorium in Gauting LK Starnberg and tied them up with parachute cord. An investigation by Sgt. Hand of B Troop and an UNRRA man showed that one man entered through a window, suffered a cut hand, and let the others in by the door. They stole thousands of dollars worth of food, possibly for the black market, and carried it away in a U.S. 2 1/2 ton truck. Investigation continues.
A late flash; 42nd Sq reports that two suspects, Viadimtow and Schernisch, Ukrainian DP’s, who formerly worked for Dilman (murdered) were picked up. These men, after considerable prompting, put the finger on two Polish DP’s, Backer and Malcov, and after days of grilling Backer admitted a part in the quadruple axe murders. He implicated the others, and the case is marked closed as they go to trial at the end of December.
Yes, the Second Cavalry is still carrying on – under a new name, but the same old banner, and looks eagerly into 1947 for new opportunities of service, ever mindful of its motto “TOUJOURS PRET”.