"Royal Australian Corps of Military Police"

RACMP badge   This page are based on various Internet sites and magazine articles for which I am grateful. The original photographs are also taken from these sources.
History of the RACMP in Precis Form.

Australian Military Order 268 dated 13 June 1916 includes the order that "The Military Police of AIF will hereafter form a Corps, promotion in which will, as far as the extingencies of the service admit, be within the Corps and not within individual portions thereof"

In October 1916 the first recorded Australian Military Police Officer was appointed 2Lt J. Slack, who was seconded from the RAA to the "AIF Police Corps".

During World War 1 the AIF Police Corps originally consisted of servicemen who were either too old, or medically unfit for service with the fighting arms, and served in France, Gallipoli, Egypt and other overseas theatres. It was during this period that the Corps title was changed to "Anzac Provost Corps" AIF Order 496 dated 23 Feb 1917 approved the use of a navy blue coloured hat band and metal shoulder badges by the Corps. This is believed to be the first metal shoulder badge in the Australian Army.

On 26 June 1917 AIF Order 719 was issued and reads `members of the Anzac Provost Corps, stationed in the line of Communication Area, B.E.F. and at such other places as the GOC AIF may direct, will wear red hat bands in lieu of the blue hat band`.

On 27 July 1917 AIF Order 771 was issued and reads "No further appointments to the Anzac Provost Corps except of men who have served in a fighting unit in operations against the enemy will be made". By September 1917 the Anzac Provost Corps had been established with APMs at most AIF formation HQ down to DIV level.

In 1918 the Corps title was changed to the "Australian Provost Corps".

Sausage Valley - the main avenue for traffic in the pozier sector where Australian military police were responsbile for traffic control - August 1916
After WW1 a small band of regular soldiers, called "Provost Staff" were allocated in ones and twos to Area Offices throughout Australia. They did not perform police duties, but were mainly used for following up "call up notices" for compulsory Military Training. When compulsory Military Training ceased in 1928, the Provost Staff became almost defunct.

With the outbreak of war in September 1939, the Corps again expanded commencing with the raising of 6 Div Pro Unit. Australian MPs played a part in every major campaign of the 2nd World War and the "Divvy Provosts" came to be respected by the Australian Serviceman. In 1941 the first Corps Training Establishment was opened in Palestine, as a wing of Services Training Regiment. In the same year the first Provost Marshal of the Australian Army, Col G.F. Murphy CMG DSO, was appointed.

In 1943 with the return to Australia from the Middle East, and a large number of serviceman under sentence, approval was given for a new service to be raised. This was called "The Australian Military Prison and Detention Barrack Service.

This service was separate from the Provost Corps and had its own director. The Service was disbanded in 1946, and all responsibility was handed back to the Provost Corps, leading to the establishment of the 1st Military Corrective Establishment (1MCE) in Holsworthy, NSW in 1948.

With the capitulation of Japan in 1945 and the decision to send an occupation force to Japan, a Provost Company, the 34 Australian Infantry brigade Group Provost Company (34 Inf Bde Gp Pro Coy) was raised in February 1946.

Elsewhere the Corps wartime strengths were gradually reduced from 32 companies to little more than 2 platoons.

In September 1948 the prefix "Royal" was granted to the Corps by His Majesty King George V1.

Australian MP guards Japanese prisoners
During the 1952 Korean Campaign Australian Provosts served as part of the 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company (1 ComDiv Pro Coy). The men for this company came from Japan where they had served as part of the occupation force. A Special Investigation Branch, SIB, whose main function was the investigation of fraud, misappropriation, etc, and the more serious and complicated matters of investigation was also formed. With the conclusion of the Korean War, the strength of Provost in Korea and Japan was gradually reduced. In 1955 1st ComDiv Pro Coy was disbanded.

1951 saw the strength of the Corps increased to 15 Officers and 282 Ors. The 1950s and early 1960s saw a flurry of activity and diversification of 'new' units such as 1st Brigade Provost Coy (1 BDE Pro Coy), Eastern, Southern, and Western Command Pro Units and Lines of Communication Provost Units (L of C Comm Pro Unit).

In August 1955, 28 Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Group Provost Unit (20 Commwel Inf BDE Gp Pro Unit) was raised and deployed to Penang, Malaya in October 1955. Detachments were provided at Butterworth, Taipang and Ipoh. The unit moved to Singapore in 1969 where it remained until the government of the day ordered all troops out in 1973, although MPs remained until 1976.

On 11 January 1965, Papua New Guinea Provost Detachment (PNG Pro Det) was formed under the command of a WO2. This detachment became the PNG Pro Coy with an establishment of 2 officers and 6 Ors from Australia. Australian postings to this unit ceased in 1973 with the gaining of independence in New Guinea.

On 28 May 1965 a section of 1 Div Pro Coy (1st Division Provost Company) arrived in South Vietnam. This section was increased in strength and became AFV Pro Unit (Australian Force Vietnam Provost Unit), with a maximum strength of 4 Officers and 65 Ors from Australia, with RAAF Service Police, RNZ Provosts (Royal New Zealand Provosts), US Military Police and Regimental Police from various units attached. This unit was disbanded on returning to Australia in April 1972. 1 Div Pro Coy was again raised and stationed at Holsworthy,>
It was also during 1972 that a reorganisation of the Corps took place with the forming of companies and the Corps being given a charter and specific roles. "The Corps charter is to provide commanders with an essential element of command and control, to assist formations and units in their operational functions and to assist with the maintenance of moral and discipline within the Army". In war the Corps charter is achieved by providing specialist Military Police support for units deployed throughout the theartre from the forward area of the combat zone to the support areas. The Corps task are laid down in the new Manual of Land Warfare.

1975 saw many changes within the Corps. These being, the Corps name being changed from Royal Australian Army Provost Corp (RAA PRO) to Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (RACMP), which resulted in all Provost Companies having their names changed to Military Police Companies. Other changes made were that the headdress was changed from the slouch hat to the scarlet beret, the MP brassard was changed from red MP on black background to black MP on red background and the first females joined the Corps.

In April 1975 a Platoon (-) consisting of an SM, 2 SGTs and 18 CPLs commenced a tour of 2 years with the Royal Military Police (RMP). This platoon was on loan to the British Army and was split into 3 sections serving with 150 Pro Coy RMP (Catterick), 158 Pro Coy RMP (Bulford) and 160 Pro Coy (Aldershot). This tour did not continue when the platoon returned to Australia in early 1977.

(Adapted from an article titled "History of the RACMP in Precis Form" by WO2 A.E. Porter published in The Military Police Newsletter Vol. 5 October 1982 and published on Internet)

More about the history of the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police can be found here.
Organisation. The RACMP has a strength of about 50 officers and 700 other ranks. MP Companies are located with Headquarters 1st Division, Enogerra, QLD, and in each state. There is also
  • an Army Special Investigation Branch Unit (SIB) (which provides an investigative service);
  • an MP school; and
  • a Defence Force Corrective Establishment, (the corrective detention centre for the three services).
Jurisdiction. The role of the RACMP is to provide the Australian Army with its police force and the staff which runs the military corrective establishment to which members of all three services may be sent for offences against Service regulations. In wartime the RACMP help control convoys and other military traffic, traffic accidents investigation, contribute to the protection of military installations, the control and guarding of enemy prisoners of war, act as armed escorts and protect convoys, and prevent and detect crimes involving Army personnel. The Corps works closely at all times with civilian police departments. In peacetime, the Corps provides commanders with an essential element of command and control; assists formations and units in operations; the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; assists in maintaining Army morale and discipline; and looks after the security of military installations and property.
Duties. Specific tasks of the RACMP include:
  • Advice to commanders and staffs on military and civil police matters;
  • Traffic control;
  • Assistance with local defence of headquarters, installations and vulnerable points;
  • Assistance with the physical security of military installations and property, military ports, rail centres, depots and terminals;
  • Ceremonial escorts and protective security of VIP;
  • Light protection of convoys and security escort for weapons and ammunition;
  • Assistance with refugee control;
  • Control of stragglers;
  • Assistance with control and evacuation of prisoners of war;
  • Assistance with the maintenance of morale and discipline outside unit areas;
  • Prevention, detection and investigation of crime;
  • Investigation of military traffic accidents;
  • Investigation and apprehension of absentees and deserters;
  • Control and administration of detention facilities;
  • Exchange of police information with service police, allied forces, civil police authorities and other law enforcement agencies; and
  • Assistance to civil authorities in the event of a natural disaster or civil emergency.
Selection and Training. Enlistment in the RACMP is only possible to in-service personnel after a minimum qualifying period of 12 months service in another Corps. RACMP personnel undergo their training at the Army Military Police Training Centre at Ingleburn, New South Wales for a period of 8 weeks to complete their Initial Employment Training. After successful completion of their training, personnel are promoted to the rank of Corporal and are posted to MP units at major bases in Australia.
At present the Army MP Training Centre trains Army MP. The Naval Police School is also based at the Army MP School, but training is not given together with Army Military police because of differing Service Police requirements and attitudes. The Royal Australian Air Force train their own Service Police, known as the RAAF Security Police. The RAAF are the single service trainers of Defence Police Dog Handlers and train Army MP and RAAF dogs and handlers together.
International Missions.

Australian military police have been deployed in East Timor.
Military Police Vehicles.

Various types of vehicle are used by the RACMP

©Jim Bartok ©Jim Bartok
Suzuki motorcycle Toyota sedan Landrover 110
East Timor - Jan 2000
Honda XT600 VX Commodore Toyota Landcruiser
©Rohan Clapham In 1997 the Military Police field platoon based in Townsville had the opportunity to trial a new vehicle and assess its suitability for introduction. It was called a Long Range Patrol Vehicle (LRPV) and it had a range of 1600km on internal fuel. It had two traversable weapons stations for machine guns, with the rear station being able to support a .50" Browning MG if required. An off-road motorcycle could also be mounted on a bracket at the rear, the rider then became the rear gunner until required.
These pictures and even more RACMP pictures can be found at the Australian Police Vehicles Website
Military Police Weapons.

Not known.
Military Police Uniforms.  
Before 25th June 1995, members of the RACMP wore a red lanyard. After this date RACMP began to wear the red and black lanyard that had previously been worn by 2/4 RAR. This came about after the two RAR battalions were delinked, and the RACMP applied for authority to wear their lanyard.
Up until 14th March 1975, members of the RACMP wore the standard issue Australian Army "slouch hat" with the RACMP badge on the left side, and for general duty wear the option of the standard dark blue beret with the RACMP badge on front was worn as well. There was no distinctive headdress for Australian MP's prior to this date. On 14th March 1975 the RACMP began wearing a scarlet beret, but for ceremonial occasions the traditional hat khaki fur felt ("slouch hat") is retained.
In common with other military police organisations around the world, the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police wear brassards of which there are three different types, all worn on the right sleeve.

The first brassard is similar in size and colour to the British RMP brasssard, and is fastened by velcro. This is called the winter armband as it is only used when wearing pullovers or dress jackets in Southern Australia during the colder months. The second is called a Polyester Armband. This is made of two parts. The lower part is red reinforced cotton/polyester which is sewn onto the upper support which is light khaki coloured cotton/polyester. The lower section has the black letters MP while the upper, until recently, was where the wearers rank was sewn. The extension has a slit in it to slip the shoulder strap through, securing it to the uniform. It has a velcro closure to secure it to the arm. The third brassard is made of black cotton with red MP embroidered letters towards the bottom and with a Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform (DPCU) rank patch above them. This is referred to as the field armband and is only worn with DPCU.

Australian DOD Site
Cecil B. Smyth Jr. 1987. The Australian Army Today & Yesterday. Trading Post. Jul-Sep 1987:59-68.
RACMP Website
Unofficial Australian Military Police website compiled by Anthony Buckingham