SA Mounted Rifles

During 1911 it was decided to reorganize the police forces of the newly formed Union of South Africa on the lines of that used in the former Cape Colony. With effect from 1 April 1913, (Act 14 of 1912), two police forces were formed within the Union of South Africa:

  • South African Mounted Rifles (SAMR). The SA Mounted Rifles was formed by the amalgamation of the Cape Mounted Police (CMP), Cape Mounted Rifles (CMR), Natal Police (NP) and Transvaal Police (TP).

  • South African Police (SAP). The SA Police was formed from all the other pre-Union police forces with the exception of the Borough police from Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

The latter was, in terms of the Police Act, to be the regular police force of the Union, but its men could also be used in time of war. In the same way the SA Mounted Rifles was to be the first Permanent Force of military constabulary, which in peacetime was to undertake policing duties in areas mainly occupied by the Black population.

SAMR Cap BadgeThe SA Mounted Rifles comprised five regiments based around the Union. The 1st Regiment (CMR) was based in King William's Town and patrolled the Transkei and part of the Eastern Cape. The 2nd and 3rd Regiments (NP) were at Pietermaritzburg and Dundee respectively. The 4th Regiment (TP) was based in Pretoria, whilst the remaining unit, the 5th Regiment (CMP) was based in Kimberley. In addition to these regiments, an artillery brigade of five batteries was attached to the SAMR.

SAMR Helmet PlateIn 1916 provision was made for Military Police in the personnel strength of a unit, and from 1916 until 1922 a detachment of Military Police was placed on the strength of the SAMR. These Military Policemen carried out their specialised duties from a police station. At Roberts Heights a detachment of 14 men apparently existed for some time. This detachment consisted of a Sergeant, a Corporal and 12 Lance Corporals. A staff officer to the O.C. Troops at Roberts Heights was appointed as both OC Military Police and as Superintendent of the Detention Barracks. It is believed that details of military police were to be found in the garrison centres of the Union at this time, for example, Cape Town, Potchefstroom and Durban.

Shoulder title - 1 Provost CompanyShoulder title - 2 Provost CompanyDespite this it would appear that from 1914 until 1918, at least two companies were carried by the Regiment stationed in Pretoria, 4th Regt SAMR. They were distinguished by the use of metal shoulder titles 1MP and 2MP in place of the usual SAMR-ZABS titles.

SA Military Police, as opposed to the SA Military Constabulary, are mentioned in the "Official History of the Great War 1914-18" in a reference to four members of the "SA Military Police" killed on active service, probably in German South West Africa.

In 1920 the five SAMR regiments were disbanded. Twenty-six officers, 196 NCO's and 1022 men were transferred to the SA Police, leaving the remainder to be formed into a single regiment still stationed in Pretoria at Roberts Heights. This last regiment was to remain until 1926.

SAMR Harness Martingale Plate


In addition to the military establishment of the SAMR, a police establishment also existed within the SAMR which provided foot police and prosecutors. Both groups wore the SAMR uniform, but the badges were different, the police establishment wearing SA Police helmet plates, PFP-PMP shoulder titles ("Permanent Force Police - Permanente Macht Politie") and an interlocking belt buckle using the wording "Permanent Force Police - Staande Macht Politie".


Military Constabulary shoulder titleAn organisation known as the 1st Military Constabulary was employed on German South-West Africa. This unit was distinguished by shoulder titles of their own.