October 1953 Issue By Allen P. Johnston
The 1212th Military Police Company was activated in March, 1943, at Miami Beach, Fla., where all of the original personnel had their basic training. First Lieutenant (later Captain) James H. McHenry was Commanding Officer. Other company officers included 1st Lt. Doggett, 2nd Lts. Chesser and Bartolec. Sgt. Almon A. Bonesteel was First Sergeant. Basic training was continued through the end of May 1943. The unit then entrained for Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. The change from luxurious hotels on Miami Beach to squad tents was an indication of our future military life. It was here at Ft. Harrison that we really settled down to some rough training. Lt. Bartolec gave us bayonet training until our arms would sag, while Capt. McHenry and his staff were plotting an 18-mile hike for the following day. One bright spot we looked forward to during the hikes was the break at the old swimming hole. Since Capt. McHenry could outswim and outmarch any man in the outfit, we were permitted to dunk ourselves before starting the long trek back to camp. We were now growing out of the recruit stage and were given more freedom. Most of the men spent their off hours in Indianapolis and found the city to be a serviceman's paradise. After about two-and-a-half months of hiking, shooting, and other phases of advanced training, the outfit started its world tour. During the latter part of August 1943, the company boarded troop trains at Ft. Harrison and a few days later steamed into Camp Anza, Calif., the Port of Embarkation. Several days were spent here for shots and orientation on "How to survive at sea." The morning of Sept. 6th found us loading into GI trucks for the docks at Wilmington. Arriving, we boarded the troopship, "George Washington." We were joined by 7,000 more GI roommates. Replacing Lt. Doggett who had been reassigned was 1st Lt. Burnside. With this exception, all other members were aboard. Capt. McHenry was Provost Marshal of the ship and several other members of our company were directed to do police duty for the entire voyage.
History of the 1212th Military Police Co.
The George Washington weighed anchor Sept. 7th and we were not to see land again until Sept. 28th, at which time we docked at beautiful Hobart, Tasmania, at the extreme end of Australia. After refueling, and being permitted to go ashore only in military formation, we again cast off and headed out to sea. One more stop was made just off the shores of Perth and Freemantle, Australia. After about 24 days of rolling around, the George Washington pulled into the harbor of Bombay, the Gateway to India.
OFFICERS AND MEN of the 1212th Military Police Company. Photo taken at Barrackpore Air Base.
Our C.O. at this time received orders to split our company into five parts. The HQ group consisting of about 25 men were transferred from the George Washington and boarded a British ship (the Nevaza) for an exciting 14-day trip to Calcutta. The name Nevaza will long linger in the memory of many CBI-ers. Two detachments of equal size and two of smaller size were assigned to other bases in India. Their mode of travel was by rail but no less exciting and uncomfortable. Capt. McHenry received orders at Bombay to report to New Delhi. We did not join him again until the Nevaza docked at Calcutta in the early part of November 1943. We loaded into GI trucks and had our first tour of native sights enroute to the Bengal Air Depot. We were assigned quarters and given a brief talk by Major Petersen, Base Public Relations Officer. More troops and supplies poured into the depot and the small M.P. unit was kept busy day and night enforcing security measures. Fever, dysentery and other tropical ailments were striking a hard blow at company personnel. Rare was the time when several members were not hospitalized. In the early part of May 1944 the biggest shift of personnel took place. One of the original units was replaced by a group under the direction of Lt. Stanley L. Seligson (Lt. Seligson was later Assistant Prosecutor for the Japanese war trials). At this same time a small group of men were ordered to Barrackpore as a security unit under the direction of Lt. Seligson. Until mess personnel were assigned to Barrackpore, this group was trucked to Bengal Air Depot for regular rations and medical care. Much like the Depot, the air base at Barrackpore became a bee hive of activity. The outfit at both locations was gradually supplemented by Gurkha guards and at the peak of activities numbered several hundred. Changing of unit officers now seemed to be the order of the day. Late spring of 1944 saw us bidding farewell to "the old man", Capt. McHenry. He had received orders to report to a unit in China and was being replaced by Capt. John R. Gordon. Hardly had this change taken place when Lt. Seligson was ordered to return to the U.S. for special training and future assignment. The changes from then on out resembled a baseball game . . . Capt. Gordon was replaced at the Depot by Capt. John Meekan. He in turn replaced Lt. Seligson at Barrackpore as Base Provost Marshal. Only temporary changes were made after this and most of the company saw the end of the war either at Barrackpore or the Bengal Air Depot. Early morning of August 15, 1945, news was received of the end of the conflict. The first group to receive stateside orders moved out early in September. Others followed rapidly. -THE END.
GURKHA GUARD UNIT at Barrackpore Air Base, photo taken during Saturday morning inspection.