U.S. Constabulary School, Sonthofen

The information presented on this page is meant to provide some historical background on the formation and operation of the U.S. Constabulary School in Sonthofen, Germany. If anyone has additional information, corrections or stories relating to the school, Sonthofen military community or any other aspect of their service with the U.S. Armed Forces during the early years of the Occupation in Germany and Austria - please contact Walter Elkins.

The image above stems from a Photo Album published c. 1948 by the US Constabulary School, Burg Sonthofen, Bavaria, Germany.
Primary Sources:
(1) The Establishment and Operations of the United States Constabulary, 3 October 1945 - 30 June 1947. Historical Sub-Section, G-3 Section, HQ U.S. Constabulary, 1947.
(2) History of the U.S. Constabulary, 10 January 1946 - 31 December 1946. Historical Division, HQ European Command, 1947.
(3) The United States Constabulary - A History. William M. Tevington, Turner Publishing Co., 1998.

u The Third U.S. Army Constabulary Planning Board was formed at Bad Toelz in early January 1946 to develop an organizational and operational plan for the US Constabulary. Early in the planning stage the Board recognized the need for a Constabulary School that would train both officers and enlisted men in the methods required to perform the new Constabulary mission.

u On 15 January 1946, the 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, part of the District Constabulary already in operation at the time, was ordered to Sonthofen were they replaced 3rd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment which had been performing occupational duties in that sector. Upon its arrival in Sonthofen, the 2nd Cav Recon Sq assumed control of the former Adolf Hitler Schule and immediately began preparing the school plant for operations. This school was located in a winter sports area of Upper Allgaeu, at the foot of the Bavaria Alps. It had originally been constructed as a school to train youthful candidates for positions of leadership within the Nazi party.

u On 12 February 1946, the 465th Anti-Aircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion, Self-Propelled, arrived at Sonthofen to relieve the 2nd as School Troops. The 2nd Cav, minus A Troop, returned to 2nd Cavalry Group control on 26 February and reassumed their District Constabulary role. A Troop remained at Sonthofen until 23 March to break in the new school troops. The Troop then rejoined the rest of the 2nd Squadron at their new station in Lenggries.

u In accordance with preliminary tables of organization developed for the School Squadron in late January 1946, the 465th was redesignated as U.S. Constabulary School Squadron and organized as follows:

Headquarters Troop
Service Troop
Instructors Troop
Demonstration Troop 1)
Guard & MP Troop
Medical Detachment

1) it appears that the Demonstration and Guard troops were combined at some point to form the Demonstration & Guard (D&G) Troop. Anybody have details about this?

u The School Squadron strength comprised 122 officers, 6 warrant officers and 820 enlisted men.

u The emphasis in creating a curriculum for the Constabulary School was placed on those subjects believed to be peculiar to Constabulary operation but not part of the standard training of a soldier. The curriculum included instructions in the geography, history and politics of Germany. The technical and specialist training for the Constabulary trooper included the theory and practice of criminal investigation, police records, self-defense, riot duty, raids and searches and the apprehension of wanted persons.

u The original material presented to the first classes represented an educated guess of the subjects believed essential to the operation of a mobile occupational police force. Modifications to courses of study were made with the passing of time as the District Constabulary and later the US Constabulary gained operational experience in the field and new requirements were determined. Also, some courses such as communications and intelligence were soon eliminated because they duplicated those taught at Theater schools, such as Ansbach (Theater Signal School) and Oberammergau (Theater Intelligence School).

Departmental Organization

u The curriculum of the school was organized by grouping courses of instruction by related subjects and placing them under functional departments of the Academics Division. The division, under the supervision of the Assistant Commandant, was comprised of:

Headquarters, Academics Division
Training Aids Department
Department of Geopolitics
Department of Public Safety
Department of Tactics
Department of Motor Transport
Department of General Subjects 2)
Department of Weapons 3)
Communications Department 4)
Student Squadron

2) discontinued effective 20 September 1946
3) established 1 February 1947
4) discontinued effective 23 November 1946

Headquarters, Academics Division - supervised and coordinated the activities of the Academic instructional departments and the student squadron.

Training Aids Department - supported the instructional departments with charts, graphs and other training aids. In addition, the department operated the training film library and projection and public address equipment.

Department of Geopolitics - provided the student with a knowledge of the historical, geographical and psychological background of the German people and nation.

Department of Public Safety - originally designated as Department of Police, was responsible for all instructions relating to police work, the greatest single operational task performed by the Constabulary.

Department of Tactics - presented a balanced course of instruction consisting of normal military operations dealing with both Motorized Infantry and Mechanized Cavalry tactics as well as Constabulary operations. With increased experience in the field, the focus of this course shifted more towards specific Constabulary functions such as border control, raids and searches, and providing more demonstrations and practical work. To aid in the presentation of intelligence subjects a control room was constructed modeled after the one maintained by Constabulary Headquarters. This room provided an up to date picture of intelligence developments and Constabulary operations throughout the US Zone.

Department of Motor Transport - was primarly involved in instructing officers and enlisted men in first echelon motor maintenance. On 1 January 1947, the course of instruction of the Third U.S. Army Aircraft and Engine Mechanic School was added to the department with the transfer of this school from Bad Reichenhall.

Department of General Studies - taught unarmed defense, intelligence subjects, map reading and key German words and phrases. Effective 20 September 1946, this department was discontinued and its courses transferred to other departments.

Department of Weapons - instructed troopers in weapons with the objective of improving individual and group marksmanship, developing competent instructors and promoting the safe handling of firearms.

Communications Department - provided general communications, wire communications, radio and radio operations training. This department was discontinued on 23 November 1946 because of duplication of courses taught by the Theater Signal School in Ansbach.

Student Squadron - incoming students were assigned to the squadron for purposes of control, administration and discipline. The Squadron was organized into a headquarters consisting of the Sqduadron Commander, Squadron Executive, Sergeant Major, clerks and orderlies. In addition to the permanent staff, a squadron staff composed of student officers assisted the Squadron Commander. Troops were organized under student officers and non-commissioned officers. Each troop was headed by a faculty advisor who assisted the Squadron Commander in the execution of inspection and in administration.

Consolidation and Closure

u In January 1947, Theater Headquarters decided to consolidate the 7719th Theater School (Special) located at Seckenheim and the Theater Military Police School 5), at Nellingen, with the US Constabulary School in Sonthofen. The consolidation became effective 20 January, when the 7719th was transferred to Sonthofen. This school retained its separate identity and continued to function as a Theater School. With the consolidation, the US Constabulary School began to take on the character of a Theater school. By 30 June 1947, the Constabulary was teaching five concurrent courses. Two of these were Constabulary courses, the other three were on a Theater-wide basis. 370 of the 750 students were from non-Constabulary units or commands.

u In the spring of 1948 the U.S. Constabulary began to reorganize as a tactical force. The process of relieving the Constabulary of many of its police-type activities such as border control, highway patrol and other law enforcement functions and of returning these duties to the reconstituted German police was in full swing. The focus of training shifted from internal security to combat readiness. With the establishment of the Tank Training Center in Vilseck, the Constabulary began the process of converting the old police-type units to armored combat organizations. The need for the Constabulary School at Sonthofen had ceased to exist and it was closed in June 1948. Personnel from the inactivated school were absorbed into the new 7732nd Field Artillery Group which was formed on 20 July 1948 at Sonthofen.

5) The Theater MP School was not moved to Sonthofen until early 1948. It staid there as part of the U.S. Constabulary School for only two months. In May 1948 it was consolidated with the Theater Intelligence School in Oberammergau, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Military Community

u On 29 April 1946, the first U.S. military dependents arrived in Europe. By the end of June of the same year, Theater Headquarters had subdivided the U.S. occupied Zone into 53 military communities where in-theater military dependents would live. These small posts were operated by station complement units 6) responsible for receiving, storing and issuing the supplies required to sustain the military and dependent population; performing all but major maintenance services; and operating local medical and hospitalization facilities.

u The military community site for Sonthofen was established at Oberstdorf about eight miles south of the School. A commissary, post exchange and dispensary were established at Oberstdorf and began operations on 20 July 1946. By the end of 1946 there were seventy dependent families living in the military community.

u The Women's Army Corps (WAC) detachment established at the School in September 1946 was also billeted in the town. The WAC detachment was assigned to help alleviate the critical shortages of administrative personnel. Personnel from this detachment worked in various headquarters sections and in the Academic Division, wherever shortages were most critical.

u Arrangements were made to provide transportation to the School for personnel living in Oberstdorf. A night and day bus service was soon supplemented by a morning and evening train service between Oberstdorf and the Constabulary School.

6) As far as I have been able to determine, a detachment of the 7815th SCU out of Augsburg was responsible for operating the Sonthofen military community.