509th Military Police Battalion European Path with First U.S. Army World War II


Colorful image of the operations of the 509th Military Police Battalion.

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A running joke among the U.S. Infantry described the Corps of Military Police (MPs) as the soldiers who posted “Off-Limits” signs in France, even before towns were liberated. In reality, the battalions that made up the MP force was responsible for a host of duties such as directing traffic, guarding prisoners of war, and cracking down on a surprising number of Army profiteers. Several battalions, including the 509th, were attached to the U.S. First Army as it fought through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

This map shows the route taken by the unit on the campaign and includes the names of numerous towns in which its forces were stationed. I’m unable to find a definitive explanation of the “fire eater” illustration that features prominently in the center of the page, but it may represent the coolness under fire exhibited by MP forces while on the landing beaches at Normandy.

The map was printed in Belgium by Gerard & Co while credit to the its creators, Cpt. Leonard J. Bloomenthal, T/Sgt. Alwin T. Nikolais and PFC Richard H. Thiel, can be seen in the lower right.


Dyer, George. XII Corps, Spearhead of Patton’s Third Army. Printed by Military Press of Louisiana, Inc., 1947.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1945

Author: Captain Leonard J. Bloomenthal

Sheet Width (in): 19.50

Sheet Height (in): 15.00

Condition: A-

Condition Description: Some wear and minor crinkling along the upper and lower edges of the sheet, otherwise excellent.