Stories of the Highway Patrol
by William Mahoney, Staff Writer for the Stars and Stripes
White Mice Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in the feature
section of the Stars and Strips in the early fifties. I have had to
re-arrange the photos, sorry for the quality.
How Peter [HP] Seven stood by their shiny white Chevrolet sedan while the sergeant in charge inspected them and their car's equipment
How Peter Seven was ready to roll. It was 4:30 pm on a Sunday at the Munich headquarters of Det. G, 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol, and along with five other crews, the two-man crew of How Peter Seven stood by their shiny white Chevrolet sedan while the sergeant in charge inspected them and their car’s equipment.
Besides standard radio equipment, the cars carried a first-aid kit, a kit for minor auto repairs, a towing rope, and a filled 5 gallon gas can.
The crew, Sgt. Jack Matthews driving and Sgt. Curtis Smith on the radio, ate a quick lunch after the inspection and at 5 pm got into their car and by radio contacted headquarters--Charlie Dog Five. "How Peter Seven proceeding to autobahn," Smith said twice. He meant the Munich-Salzburg autobahn where Sunday evening traffic, returning to the city after a day in the mountains, or at lakes, often travels bumper-to-bumper in both lanes.
5 :25 pm--- W e arrived at the entrance to the autobahn. Matthews pulled the car to the side of the road, where it came under close inspection of approximately 20 young German Sunday traffic watchers, and began a routine spot check of traffic. For 10 minutes every American car, passing in either direction, was flagged down for a registration check. Today everybody's papers were in order and the worried looks on drivers faces disappeared quickly as they were waved on.
In a routine measure, Sgt. Jack Matthews checks registration papers of a
military driver to
We left the autobahn entrance and began to cruise eastward at about 35 mph, "We usually travel at this speed," Matthews said "except after dark when we pick it up to 40-45 mph because of the extra drain of the radio and lights."
5:45 pm---Matthews whipped the car to the side of the road at the Neubiberg Air Base bypass where two German policemen were assisting a German driver with motor trouble. He got out and began to direct traffic as it filed through on the lane left open . The stalled motor turned over, caught, the driver waived, the German Police waved, and Smith and Matthews waved as the road was cleared for normal traffic.
Both Smith and Matthews said that relations were excellent with both the Germans and Bavarian police. "We both speak enough German to get along," Smith said, "and that goes for most of the guys in the unit."
It was still sunny out and we were passing myriads of couples, their cars and motorcycles pulled off the autobahn, stretched out on the grass, either watching traffic or reacting to spring. "Do you have trouble with parker's or do you bother them, we asked. Both MP's said they generally didn't bother cars pulled off in parking places unless they thought the motorist was in trouble or something else was wrong.
How peter Seven was responsible for the autobahn from Munich to a point a mile West of Chiemsee. Another MR patrol from the Chiemsee station covered the autobahn from Chiemsee to the border. The patrols were in constant radio contact however and could cooperate if the situation demanded.
As we cruised along, Smith said he had spent 12 years in the Army, 11 of them in the Military Police. Matthews had spent five years in the Army Military Police and three years in the Navy as a Shore Patrolman. There was no doubt as to preference in Matthew’s’ mind. “I prefer the land life,” he said.
Smith and Matthews check the tires on the private car operated by M
Sgt. Robert F. Cordingly
6: 15 pm--- Matthews waved down a USF A Austin, missing a rear license plate. The driver had a good explanation-the plate had been ripped off, the bolts would no longer hold it in place. He had the license in the car and promised to have it put on at the first opportunity. He got no ticket.
We moved on and talk continued on military police life. Incidental information; Women are the worst at finding registration or, in some cases, even not knowing what it is. "One woman even began to look in her trunk for it," Smith said. Both men agreed that women's purses can be bottomless during a search. In cases, where wreckers are needed, it is always better to try and get an Army towing truck---German towing charges are extremely high.
6:35 pm---Three pretty German girls are pushing an old car up the hill; at the wheel is a man. We swing over. The battery is dead and we push them three consecutive times but each time the engine conks out after catching. Headquarters is radioed to send out a new battery. The man says his thanks and the girls smile theirs.
6:55 pm--- Smith reports our position to headquarters-Irchenberg Hill.
7:30 pm--- Coffee stop---signal 14 to the MP's. Over the coffee, Matthews says that speeders aren't very inventive when it comes to excuses. A favorite, he says, is for the driver of a car with a speedometer set for miles-per-hour to say he thought his speedometer registered kilometers-per-hour. Smith tells of the best one he ever heard: He pulled in a driver from France who explained: "This old clunk is to used to French gas that when it gets some of this good gas over here it just up and took off on me." He got a ticket.
8:00 pm--- We meet the Chiemsee patrol, after arranging the meeting by radio, and exchange
Two patrol crews set up a rendezvous point on the autobahn to compare
notes on their missions.
8:50 pm--- Driving West, we pass a C-Plate car, broken down. A lieutenant flags us. "I'm sure glad to see you fellows," he says. He has to get to Augsburg. We tow his car back to the Rosenheim turnoff to a garage. Smith finds a couple in the Snack Bar who are driving to Augsburg and arranges a ride for the stranded lieutenant, who was accompanied by his wife.
11: 10 pm--- After two uneventful hours, our lights pick up a C-Plate car stranded on the autobahn up ahead. As we pull up a major steps out. He is out of gas, Smith and Matthews pour the five gallons we carry into the major's car and he agrees to pay for the gas at detachment headquarters tomorrow.
Back on the road again, our radio crackles Charlie Dog Five orders How Peter Seven to report in. Neither Matthews nor Smith can guess the reason is except for some sort of special mission. On the way in we pick up the city patrol radio reporting a cafe fight.
Assisting motorist stranded on the autobahn is one of the prime duties
the patrol. By radio
11 :45 pm--- We report to the Munich downtown headquarters and Smith and Matthews are informed they are being sent to the Murnau station. The highway patrol is over. No crashes, no speeders, but plenty of help given.
This was a "normal
patrol," Smith says. "Our primary aim is prevention of accidents and
traffic violations," he says, "then assistance to those in trouble and
only finally, enforcement of traffic rules." The last seven hours proved
his statement of traffic rules." The last seven hours proved his
This story previously appeared in Volume # 4, Issue # 1, Jan-Feb 2001 edition of "The White Mice"