The Constabulary School
Training difficulties arose at the Constabulary School because of the shortage of instructors and the lack of appropriate texts to issue to the students.
- Capt. Dee W. Pettigrew, Historian, U.S. Constabulary School, July 1946
To replace the inactivating divisions on occupation duty like the 88th, the United States European Command organized the United States Constabulary. Heavily armed, lightly armored, and highly mobile, the Constabulary were enforcers of law, support to authorities and would serve as a covering force in the event of renewed hostilities. In January 1946 the Third U.S. Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Lucian Truscott, gave the task of organizing this force to Maj. Gen. Ernest Harmon. Harmon was given until July to have this force readied to carry out its assigned tasks and would be headquartered in Bamberg. Early in the planning stages the need for a Constabulary school became evident. The Constabulary trooper needed to not only know the customary duties of a soldier, but police methods, how to make arrests, and how to deal with the local population.
The return of units, divisions, and skilled combat veterans to the United States had plagued the theater with an abundance of minimally trained and unhappy soldiers. The majority of military personnel in Europe were re-enlistees or freshly inducted troops, with some lacking even the most basic training. The 1st and 4th Armored Divisions were selected as the nucleus to form the Constabulary and Harmon set out to instill a Constabulary spirit that would reflect the pride and importance of their duties. Harmon directed that a school be established and Col. Harold G. Holt was selected as the first Commandant. A group of training cadre instructors was assembled in Bad Tölz, and Harmon outlined the mission of the school, the subjects to be taught, and the standards that would be met.
In February, the former Adolf Hitler Schule, located at Sonthofen, was selected as the site for the Constabulary school. The 2nd Cavalry Squadron began preparation for the school's early operation and was replaced in February by the 465th Anti-Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion, redesigned the Academic Troop, Constabulary School Squadron. By March 4, 1946, the first class of 129 officers and 403 enlisted men reported to Sonthofen. Harmon explained the need for training on graduation day to this first class that:
"The Constabulary School is more than a
place of instruction. It is a cradle, so to speak, in which we hope to
establish the character, the espirit de corps, high standards of
[sic] conduct, and appearance of the Constabulary. As most subjects
here are entirely new to the soldier and the normal training of
it was felt necessary to obtain as quickly as possible the maximum
of graduates to act as instructors to their units and to spread the
"The Constabulary School is more than a place of instruction. It is a cradle, so to speak, in which we hope to establish the character, the espirit de corps, high standards of personnel [sic] conduct, and appearance of the Constabulary. As most subjects taught here are entirely new to the soldier and the normal training of soldiers, it was felt necessary to obtain as quickly as possible the maximum number of graduates to act as instructors to their units and to spread the Constabulary standards."
The decision was made after the first course was completed to separate the officer and enlisted students to devote specific training hours to each group. By 1947, every month special trains began at the extreme end of the U.S. Zone heading towards Sonthofen and picked up students along the way. In January 1947 the 7719 Theater School (Special) was consolidated at Sonthofen and the Constabulary School began to lose its identity. A theater-wide Non-Commissioned Officers Course, designed to train NCOs and potential NCOs in their basic duties, was established at the school on June 30, 1947. This course emphasized basic subjects, supply, and administration.
Later, the Sonthofen School offered courses called for under War Department Circular No. 9. The school trained students from around the theater, not only from the Constabulary, but also from the European Command and Trieste, Italy. Besides the NCO basic and enlisted man's courses, the school also taught a Sergeants Major and First Sergeants course. In mid-1948 the school was closed and the former Hitler Schule became the headquarters for the Field Artillery Group.
Written by Daniel K. Elder