GREAT BRITAIN

The First Military Police!

1812 - Cavalry Staff Corps
1855 - Military Mounted Police and Military Foot Police
1926 - Corps of Military Police
1946 - Corps of Royal Military Police

In 1809, Sir Arthur Wellesley (soon to be Viscount Wellington) commanded the British Army in Portugal. Although he was commanding the most victorious army at the time, he was far from impressed with the discipline of his army. His main problem with his army was the way which his army indulged in plunder. Drunkenness was also commonly found. In 1812, in the battle of Ciudad Rodrigo, matter got worse when the British Army gave themselves over to looting, rape and serious drunkenness. The British was totally out of control for three days. Wellington was even more determined to organise an efficient and tough military police force.

Wellington in 1815

The Calvary Staff Corps

In 1813, the authorities agreed to Wellington's request for the formation of a military police force, and the Cavalry Staff Corps was formed. Command of the Staff Cavalry Corps went to Lieutenant Colonel George Scovell. Despite the early effort of the military police force and the Cavalry Staff Corp, the involvement of soldiers in crimes was only eradicated in a small measure. This was mainly because of the size of the military police force and the Cavalry Staff Corp being too small to function effectively. However, there was not much more development for the military police force and the Cavalry Staff Corp for another 36 years.

Following the outbreak of war with Russia in 1854, a number of administrative corps were raised to support the fighting force in the Crimea, and the Cavalry Staff Corps was reformed as Mounted Staff Corps for Crimean War service. Their primary duties where policing duties; maintaining law and order among the troops as at this time the British Army was suffering from its' worst discipline ever and immediate measures were needed to be taken. Most of the recruits came from the Irish Constabulary. Unfortunately, the Mounted Staff Corp was destined to be ill fated and it suffered heavy casualties in the Crimea.

The Military Mounted Police and Military Foot Police

In July 1855, 21 NCO's and men drawn from the 2nd Dragoon Guards, 3rd Light Dragon, 15th Hussar and 17th Hussar were employed as a Corps of the Military Mounted Police. Their immediate duty was the preservation of good order and discipline in the army.

During 1861 Major Thomas Trout was commissioned from the ranks of the military police as Provost Marshal. This was an exceptional case, but in fact the next four Provost Marshals all appear to have risen from the ranks. There were Captain W. Silk (1881), Major C. Broackes (1885), Major J.L. Emerson (1894) and Major J.W.M. Wood (1898).

The spouse of Maj Broackes had such an interest in the provost that she saw the necessity for military police to stand out from other soldiers and to be recognisable from a distance. It is widely said that it was she who proposed the distinctive red cap cover, still in use by the RMP and other military police forces around the world

From the formation of the Military Mounted Police in 1855, the Military Mounted Police grew in number as well as in the scope of duties. In 1877, the Military Mounted Police became a permanent corps of the British Army.

1887 saw the establishment of the Military Mounted Police (MMP) for service at home and abroad, and in 1882 during the Egyptian War the Military Foot Police (MFP), manned by selected cavalry non-commissioned officers with experience as regimental police, was raised for service in Egypt. The MMP was similar to the "Cape Mounted Police" before the establishment of the Union of South Africa. The MFP did not, however, become a permanent corps for service within Britain until 1885 when the corps began to expand; and the MMP and the MFP became two distinct organisations, each with its own promotion rosters, but essentially all part of the same corps. During 1899 members of the MMP and MFP were sent to South Africa, where they earned three DCM's (Distinguished Conduct Medal) during the Second Anglo-Boer War.

Maj Campbell and three members of Military Police, Pretoria, 1881 - Photograph from UK National Army Museum

The above photograph, found in "The Anglo-Boer Wars 1815-1902" by Michael Barthorp purports to illustrate a Major Campbell (mounted) and three members of his military police at the Pretoria, South Africa garrison during 1881. At this time there were four companies of the 2/21st, one of the 94th and its mounted infantry, two Royal Artillery guns and some Royal Engineers.

The MP on the left has his buttons grouped in threes, whilst the other two have theirs grouped singly. Their belts are probably white leather, and they each have cuff embroidery.
The Corps of Military Foot Police was recruited from other corps and regiments of the British Army. The man had to be of good character and have at least one good conduct badge and have 4 years' service. There were no privates in the corps, each man transferred being raised to the rank of corporal.

On the outbreak of war with the Boer republics in 1899, nearly all Britain's 300 military policemen were dispatched to South Africa. They went from MP units in the United Kingdom, Malta and Egypt, to be employed under the Provost Marshal on a wide range of duties over and above their peace time tasks. These included the supervision of civil police forces; the care of prisoners of war in transit to prisons and camps; the provision of guards for important places; the issue of permits and passes, and the confiscation of arms and ammunition.

It can be assumed that each part of the Imperial Forces had their own Provost Marshal, since the Provost Marshal of the Natal Field Force, under command of General Sir Redvers Buller, was one Alan Cunningham.

When the British took the war into the Boer republics, the Boers forces responded by waging a hit-and-run guerrilla war. Ranging the countryside on sturdy ponies, the Boer 'commandos' proved difficult to defeat until Lord Kitchener devised new tactics which included destroying farms supplying the enemy, and the detention of Boer families in 'concentration camps'. The first move led to an outbreak of ill-discipline and looting, unofficially condoned, which the Provost Marshal and his forces found all but impossible to regulate. The situation was exacerbated by the conduct of the Boers, who were forced to loot to survive, and by the rumour that Kitchener had said that his troops should 'loot like mad'.

Blame for much of the subsequent misconduct fell upon the 'Colonials', mounted units raised in South Africa and the white colonies of the Empire. Serving in such a unit, the "Bushveldt Carbineers", was Lt. Harry "Breaker" Morant, convicted by a court martial in 1902 of the murder of Boer prisoners. The court tried Morant and four other officers of the "Bushveldt Carbineers" on 16 charges of murder, but the unit was thought to have murdered at least 6 other Boers, two of their own men, and an unknown number of blacks. Morant and another Australian officer were shot by firing squad. A third Australian officer was sentenced to life imprisonment. Their partial defence had been that they had been told that Lord Kitchener himself had ordered Boer prisoners to be shot. The court martial took the view that the Carbineers' duty had been to hand them over to the military police for escort to a prison camp.

The concentration camps into which Boer families were placed were not well-run, and disease and malnutrition caused the subsequent deaths of many thousands of internees. This continues to cause bitterness against Britain - even to this day.

The British army learnt a lot from the Boer War of 1899-1902,and subsequently improved its performance with new weapons, equipment and tactical doctrine. The Army ignored, however, the Adjutant General's recommendation that the duties of the Provost Marshal and the forces under his command should be clearly defined. This oversight was to put Provost services at a severe disadvantage in the great conflict that was to come.

Uniforms of the Military Foot Police
Military Foot Police Sergeant - 1904 Military Foot Police Corporal - 1904
Headress. The corporal shown above is wearing the regulation cork helmet covered in blue cloth. The helmet plate was the universal star plate surmounted by a crown and was die-struck in brass. In the centre was the Garter belt with motto, within which was the Royal cipher E.R. VII. The standard cap was of blue cloth and was worn with a red cover for the top, giving the corps their nickname of the 'Red Caps'. The badge design was of a laurel wreath surrounding the Royal cipher the whole surmounted by a crown. A scroll underneath bore the title "Military Police".
Tunic. The tunic was of blue cloth with scarlet collar and pointed cuffs; the leading edge of the tunic was also so piped in scarlet cloth. The tunic was fastened by 9 brass buttons bearing the design of the Royal cipher surmounted by a crown. Trousers were of blue cloth with a 2in scarlet stripe running down the outside seam of both legs.
Accoutrements. A brown leather belt was worn fastened with a brass buckle. A whistle and chain were worn, the chain attached to the second button from the top and the whistle fitting into a small pocket inside the tunic.
In August 1914, the unexpected Great War broke out and Britain mobilised her army. This included the total strength, 764 members in all, of the MMP and MFP as follows:
  • 3 officers
  • 508 other ranks (Regular)
  • 253 other ranks (Reserves) recalled to the colours.
It soon became obvious that many more military policemen were going to be needed, and that the peacetime standards of MMP and the MFP were considerably lowered.

Within months of its outbreak the war had developed into an entrenched deadlock in Belgium and France, with other theatres of war established as nations joined the fight, or as German overseas possessions were fought for. Britain was forced to massively expand the army, and in the atmosphere of crisis that prevailed, military police recruiting procedures to be drastically revised. Probation became a thing of the past.

A number of old soldiers were enlisted directly from civil life, as were civil policemen, and units of infantry and cavalry were transferred en bloc. The practice of temporarily 'attaching' men, or complete units, for police duties continued.

At first each divisional establishment included an Assistant Provost Marshal (usually a captain) and 25 NCOs of the MMP. Corps headquarters had a small detachment of MFP men. The APMs on lines of communications duties had even fewer men. As far as provost duties were concerned, no instructions existed as to what these might be, and they had to be defined and acted on as they became apparent. In France these mainly included the manning of 'stragglers' posts', traffic control, dealing with crime committed by British soldiers, the control of civilians within the battle area, handling prisoners of war, and patrolling rear areas and ports. Of these, perhaps the operation of stragglers' posts has become the least understood, giving rise to the legend of the Redcap, pistol in hand, forcing shell-shocked Tommies forward to certain death. The facts paint an entirely different picture. Stragglers' posts or battle-stops, as they were sometimes called, were collecting points behind the front lines where prisoners of war were taken over from the infantry, runners and message-carriers were checked and directed. Walking wounded from Regimental Aid Posts were directed to casualty collecting stations for evacuation, and 'stragglers' were dealt with. This last-named duty involved halting soldiers who were obviously neither casualties, signalers or runners, re-arming and equipping them if necessary, and sending them forward to rejoin their units, individually or in groups. With so few MMP or MFP men available, this type of work was mostly done by 'trench police' or 'battle police', men from a division's cavalry squadron or cyclist company, regimental police or corps cavalry, who also directed traffic in communication trenches. All worked under the direction of the divisional APM. Later in the war, a typical division in the line employed over 250 officers and men on provost duties within its area. They manned four straggler posts, provided an MP presence at the casualty collection post, operated various road traffic control posts and a number of mobile traffic patrols.

WW1 Military Policeman
Military police were familiar figures at Mons, the Marne, Ypres, and the Somme. In war-ridden France, British Military Police, that is the CMP, were used for the first time to control refugees and stragglers. The Battle of Ains was the first time that a traffic circuit was used, whilst the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915 was the first time that traffic posts were used. The importance of traffic control in the battle area was evident from the start of the war, but a planned approach to the problem of traffic did not emerge for some time. At first, divisional provost troops attended to the needs of their own formation, but this attitude frequently led to delays. Improvements were made, but not in time to prevent a serious traffic control problem at the battle of Loos in September 1915. After the start of the battle, two divisions, the 21st and the 24th, were called forward from reserve to exploit a breach in the enemy's line. Their approach march has been described by one commentator as like trying 'to push the Lord Mayor's procession through the streets of London without clearing the route or holding up the traffic'. The infantry of the two divisions arrived at the battle late and exhausted, and their attack failed. In the wake of the disaster the problems of traffic control were properly tackled and corrected.

Absenteeism and desertion became an increasing problem as the war progressed. It was the duty of military policemen to apprehend deserters and hold them for trial by court martial. Much has been written about the British soldiers of the Great War who suffered death by firing squad for the crimes of cowardice or desertion. More than 3,000 sentences of death were passed by British courts martial between 1914 and 1920, of which 346 were carried out;
  • 266 were for desertion,
  • 18 for cowardice,
  • 37 for murder,
  • seven for quitting post,
  • three for mutiny,
  • two for sleeping while a sentry,
  • six for striking a superior officer,
  • five for disobedience and
  • two for casting away arms.
Many of those shot were under suspended sentences of death and had re-offended. Against these figures should be balanced those of the 702,410 officers and men of the British forces who were killed in action. Assistant Provost Marshals and their men had the grim duty of supervising the executions of men sentenced to death. They themselves were not required to furnish the firing squads. Any serious offenders, if not sentenced to death, rapidly found their way to Field Punishment Centres or Military Prisons. These were run by men of the MPSC and by military policemen, while Provost Marshals had the supervision of the FPCs.

During the First World War,'Redcap' or 'Cherrynob' became the terms applied by British soldiers to any military policeman to the red cap cover which had been taken into use before the war to distinguish an MP on duty, when the blue uniform then worn resembled that of a civilian policeman. The practice of wearing red cap covers continued with khaki service dress, but was only worn by men of the MMP and MFP) Not all the men attached for provost duties were as efficient as the regular Redcaps, and their behaviour at times fell short of the standards of the corps. However, discipline in the British Expeditionary Force in France, and in the armies at home and in other overseas theatres was properly maintained throughout the war. The British suffered no serious breakdown of discipline like that in the French Army in 1917, and this was due in no small measure to the efforts of provost forces.

By the end of the war the strength of the forces under the control of the Provost Marshal of the BEF had grown to almost 15000 all ranks, while it has been reckoned that over 25,000 men served in a provost role during the war. Some 375 lost their lives and the corps won 477 decorations including 13 DSO's (Distinguished Service Order). Their achievements had a particular cost. The pre-war soldiers' respect for the Redcap had plummeted by 1918 to an all-time low, particularly within the ranks the 'poor bloody infantry', who saw the military policemen as the instrument of a brutal regime which had sent them into the line again and again and had savagely punished their weaker comrades. The constant Redcap presence, in the line and out, particularly that of a minority of over-zealous or bullying MPs, exacerbated the ill-feeling. This was a great pity, for the legend of the brutal Redcap devalued the achievements of British Provost forces, who had risen to the challenges of the war.

In the battle zone, where frequently they had to do duty in exposed positions under heavy fire and suffered severe casualties, the military police solved a important part of the problem of traffic control. In back areas the vigilance and zeal have largely contributed to the good relations maintained between our troops and the civilian population."

Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the BEF

In December 1918 a military police motorcyclist had the honour to be the first British soldier to cross the Rhine in the occupation of Cologne. It was entirely fitting that a Redcap should lead the way for a victorious 'British Army of the Rhine'.

The Corps of Military Police

In 1926 the MMP and MFP amalgamated to form the Corps of Military Police (CMP). Anti-vice measures became a military police task when in 1934 the British CMP were requested to institute such measures by the Bishop of Singapore. Between the Wars the Corps dropped dramatically in size, but with the outset of World War Two it again rose to many thousands.

The well defined tasks of the military police - maintenance of discipline, prevention and detection of crime, and traffic control - were employed to the full in all theatres, commencing with Expeditionary Force, to France, Italy, North Africa, the Far East and finally Germany itself. The provost were at Monte Cassino and Dunkirk; El Alamein and Malta; they dropped at Arnhem and they were the first on the beaches.

CMP - George V period
     
   
Disciplinary Patrol  
Traffic Control in Normandy Protecting Montgomery

"The military police became so well known a figure on every road to the battlefield that his presence became taken for granted. Few soldiers (as they hurried over a bridge that was a regular target for the enemy) gave much thought to the man whose duty it was to be there for hours on end, directing the traffic and ensuring its rapid passage."

"General Sir Myles Dempsey KCB, KBE, DSO, MC"

Until 1940 all criminal offences committed by British soldiers were investigated by civilian police. During January 1940 a Special Investigation Branch of the CMP was established.

As the war progressed the CMP divided into three distinct parts
  • Provost Wing. The famous "Red Caps".
  • Traffic Control Wing. CMP(TC) personnel were organised into armed companies each responsible for a specific area. Although they belonged to the Corps of Military Police they carried out all instructions issued by Movement Control.
  • Vulnerable Points Wing. It was the task of the "Blue Caps" to provide guards for installations and buildings that were seen as vulnerable points, such as ammunition and petrol dumps, docks, locks, bridges and power stations. They were organised into sections each with 7 privates under command of a lance corporal. They were armed with SMG's and batons, and used guard dogs during nights. Their primary duty was anti-sabotage.

Each wing wore differing insignia and dress items in order to make them distinctive from the normal fighting "Tommy".

Traffic Control and Vulnerable Points Wings
Distinctive Arm Badges
In addition to the white and oxford blue bands painted around the steel helmets of the TC and VP Wings of the CMP, these personnel were also identified by 1" square cloth badges worn just below the shoulder seam on each sleeve of the Service Dress jacket, the Battle-Dress blouse, the Khaki Drill jacket and the Greatcoat. After June 1943 the badges were worn below the corps designation and above the arm-of-service strip. For TC Wing personnel, the badge had red lettering "TC" whilst for VP Wing personnel the letters were "VP".

Traffic Control Wing Arm badge Vulnerable Points Wing arm badge
Traffic Control armlet
In 1943 an exercise, named "SPARTAN", was held in England between British and Canadian forces. The purpose of the exercise was to identify possible operational and administrative problems during the occupation of a foreign port. A result of this exercise was a decision that military police involved with the control of traffic should wear an armlet to increase their authority. This armlet was worn on the upper right arm by personnel from the CMP (TC) branch when utilised on traffic control duties.
Traffic Control

"The Battle of Normandy and subsequent battles would never have been won but for the work and co-operation of the Provost on the traffic routes."

Field Marshall B.L. Montgomery, 1945.

Uniforms and Insignia of the CMP

CMP NCO 1940 France ATS Provost NCO 1942 London CMP NCO 1942 London
CMP NCO 1943 Italy CMP NCO 1944 NW Europe CMP NCO 1944 NW Europe
Cloth Cap Covers. The red cap was probably the most distinctive feature of the CMP during World War Two. This feature was produced by means of removable cloth covers that were worn as follows over the standard Service Dress caps when members of the CMP were on duty:
  • Provost Wing - red.
  • Vulnerable Points Wing - oxford blue.

For a while CMP personnel serving with field formations did not wear the red cap, but had to wear a field service cap when they did not wear steel helmets. This instruction was revised in 1943 in terms of ACI 1641 of 1943.

Redcap
Cap Badge
Warrant Officers and NCO's of the Corps of Military Police wore the cap badge illustrated at right. Initially made in gilding metal, the badge was also made in plastic during the war when metal resources became scarce. The badge was characterised by the use of the Royal Cypher of the reigning monarch.
Corps of Military Police cap & collar badge - WW2 period 
Steel Helmet Bands. So that members of the CMP were still easily recognisable when personnel wore steel helmets it was decided during November 1940 that their helmets were to bear the regimental badge of white letters "MP" on a square blue background and a bright red band around the helmet. The square blue regimental badge was placed in the centre front of the helmet. By April 1944 helmets bands for CMP personnel had been authorised (ACI 494 dated 5 April 1944) and expanded to the following:
  • Provost Wing - red band.
  • Vulnerable Points Wing - oxford blue.
  • Traffic Control Wing - white.

These bands were also painted onto the standard pulp motorcycle crash helmets worn by the CMP.

CMP Helmet bands
Brassard of the Provost Marshal
Officers employed at the War Office in London wore horizontally divided red and black brassards with the Royal Crest in gilding metal worn on the red part. Just before June 1937, the Provost Marshal began use of such a brassard with the red letter "A".
Provost Marshal
Brassards of Provost Marshal staff officers
Officers at Command Headquarters wore red, black and red brassards. Provost Marshals wore red lettering "PM".

On 1 June 1940, the decision was made that all officers of the Provost Service would wear identifying brassards. Officers who held provost appointments such as Assistant Provost Marshal (APM) and Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal (DAPM) continued to wear brassards similar to that of Provost Marshal's of Command headquarters.
Provost Marshal staff officer brassard


Assistant Provost Marshal

Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal

Military Police Brassards
Regimental officers attached to units of the Corps of Military Police wore brassards that were identical to those worn by other ranks. When performing military police duties these brassards were worn on the upper right arm. This brassard was initially dark blue with red lettering, but this changed to black with red lettering during 1940. This brassard was worn on the right upper arm by every member of the CMP on service in the United Kingdom and on foreign service.
Pre-1940 CMP Brassard


1940 CMP Brassard
Garrison Military Police Brassards
Blue-black brassards with red lettering "GMP" were worn by members of the Garrison MIlitary Police when on service in the United Kingdom and on foreign service. When performing military police duties these brassards were worn on the upper right arm.
Garrison Military Police
Slip-on shoulder titles
Before 1939 the use of metal shoulder titles on the uniforms of other ranks was probably the most common manner of indicating the corps, regiment or formation of the wearer. In this way the Corps of Military Police used the letters "CMP"on Service Dress and Khaki Drill, but not on tunics.
When battle-dress was introduced in 1938 there was no intention that these metal shoulder titles were to be used. Instead slip-on titles with black letters on khaki cloth were to be worn not only on battle-dress but also on the Khaki Drill jacket and the Khaki Drill Once again CMP members used the letters "CMP" but not on tunics.
In September 1941, various regiments and corps serving at home stations were ordered to stop the use of these slip-on titles. The CMP were affected by ACI 1681 (6 Sep 1941) when distinguishing strips were introduced and the use of shoulderr titles was stopped. However barely a month later ACI 2091 (25 Oct 1941) authorised the retention of slip-on titles on battle-dress by the CMP (Provost Wing).
CMP Metal shoulder title

Another CMP Metal shoulder title

CMP Slip-on shoulder title

Arm-of-service Distinguishing Marks
In order to make officers more distinguishable from other ranks when battle-dress was worn and to clearly indicate the various arms of service it was decided to adopt the following procedure for units other than the Household Cavalry and the Foot Guards (ACI 1118 dated 18 Sep 1940).
  • On the battle-dress blouse shoulder straps officers were to wear a coloured backing to their embroidered rank badges of rank worn.
  • All ranks were to wear a 2" x 1/4" coloured material strip on each battle-dress blouse sleeve immediately below any corps or divisional sign worn. Personnel who wore battle-dress were also to wear these strips on their greatcoats. For the CMP and the MPSC this strip was red.
CMP arm-of-service strip
ACI 2587 of 1941 dated 27 December 1941 amended these instructions. The arm-of-service strips continued to be worn on each sleeve of the battle-dress blouse. Warrant Officers, NCOs and men of the CMP (Provost Wing) continued to wear the authorised shoulder titles on their Battle-Dress blouse, Service Dress or khaki Drill Jacket or Tropical shirt shoulder straps, except when ordered to remove them for security reasons during active operations by the local military authority . These titles were not worn on the greatcoat.

ACI 905 of 12 June 1943, combined all the changes previously introduced. In order to indicate the regiment or corps to which personnel belonged and at the same time to foster `esprit de corps', all ranks below that of Colonel serving at home were to wear a regimental designation at the top of both sleeves of the Battle-Dress blouse or, for other ranks only, on Service Dress jackets when applicable to the scale of clothing. This meant that the CMP now wore:

  • Shoulder titles with black letters "CMP" printed onto a red background
  • Red arm-of-service strips
  • Red backings for officers rank insignia
CMP Regimental designations
     
Other British Forces WW2 police insignia
Military Provost Staff Corps

MPSC Cap badge - George VI cypher
Military Provost Staff Corps
All officers and other ranks of the Military Provost Staff Corps wore black brassards with red lettering "MPSC". These personnel were not part of the Corps of Military Police but were however still controlled by the War Office Provost Marshal. During the war they manned Military Prisons, Detention Barracks and Field Punishment Institutions of the British Armed Forces.

Members of the MPSC also wore the cap badge illustrated at left. Like that of the CMP, it was distinguished by the use of the Royal Cypher, (G VI R).
Royal Air Force Police Royal Air Force Police
Other ranks of the Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) black & red brassards with red lettering "RAFP".
Pre-1940 Regimental Police

1940 Regimental Police

Regimental Police.
Personnel from units who were utilised as Regimental Police wore dark blue brassards with red lettering "RP". The background of this brassard was changed to black during 1940. Some units placed their cap badge between the letters whilst some even had the letters cast in brass.

The brassard was originally worn on the left upper arm, but in 1941 this moved over to the right upper arm. During 1943 in order to confusion with the MP brassards worn by the CMP, the position of the RP brassard was moved to the right cuff regardless of whether traffic control sleeves were being worn. This change in position was authorised by an Army Council Instruction (ACI 836) dated 29 May 1943.
Field Security Police Field Security Police
All officers and other ranks of the Field Security Police wore green brassards with black lettering "FSP". These personnel were not part of the Corps of Military Police

The Corps of Royal Military Police

The British Corps of Military Police of the WW2 period was made a royal corps by King George VI during 1946 in recognition of the sacrifices that military police had made during World War Two.

It was initially proposed that the corps be known as the Royal Corps of Military Police, but it was realised that the abbreviation for this title was already in use by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and it decided that the corps would be known as the Corps of Royal Military Police. King George VI made it known that he preferred the title of RMP only, and the Corps has been known by that title since then.

For a while the military police at Southern Command wore the formation insignia shown at right.

Southern Command
Traffic Control Member of Para Provost Airport Patrol
Traffic Control Para Provost Airport Patrol
RMP during the 1960's and 1970's
The collapse of communism within Europe and the fall of the USSR led to a review of the British Armed Forces during 1990-91 under a process named "Operations for Change"

During 1990 a decision was made by the British Armed Forces Minister to form a new corps, the Adjutant General's Corps, which would absorb the functions of six small corps within the British Army. The affected corps were
  • the Corps of Royal Military Police (RMP),
  • the Royal Army Pay Corps (RAPC),
  • the Royal Army Educational Corps (RAEC),
  • the Royal Army Chaplains Department,
  • the Army Legal Corps, and
  • the Military Provost Staff Corps (MPSC).
On 6 April 1992, the Adjutant General's Corps held its formation day parade at Worthy Down, Hampshire. At that time the entire corps comprised 6800 personnel. Despite their amalgamation into the AGC, it was however decided that members of the RMP would continue to wear their own RMP cap and collar badges, and not that of the AGC shown at right. The Military Provost Staff Corps became known as the AGC(MPS) and the RMP the AGC(RMP)

Colonel-in-Chief of the AGC is Queen Elizabeth II, with the Duchess of Gloucester and the Duchess of Kent as Deputy Colonels-in-Chief.

AGC Cap Badge
The modern Royal Military Police (RMP) is a police force that operates outside the normal chain-of-command of the British Army. They operate world-wide and perform the same functions as civilian police forces. In the United Kingdom, the RMP only deal with crime within the British Armed Forces crime, but in Germany they operate alongside the German Civilian Police and have to deal with all types of crimes and motor vehicle accidents.

The Royal Military Police is probably one of the best known corps of the Army and together with the Military Provost Staff they form the Provost Services of the British Army. The RMP, like the SACMP, have completely different functions in peacetime and wartime.

In peacetime these functions may vary from traffic control to the maintenance of law and military discipline. When war exists, the RMP are responsible for traffic control, route reconnaissance, handling of refugees and the rounding up of stragglers. To summarise the peacetime and wartime roles, the role of R.M.P. is to provide military police support that the Army requires, meeting operational demands and legal obligations. Implicit in this role are four main functions:
  • To provide operational support;

  • To prevent crime;

  • To enforce the law and assist with the maintenance of discipline;

  • To provide a 24-hour response service of assistance, advice and information.
RMP in Service Dress Duty Room

Operational duties

Foot patrol

SIB at work

Photos above - Crown Copyright

Members of the R.M.P. are first trained as soldiers at an Army Training Regiment, and then specialise as Military Police. Specialist training is carried out at the Royal Military Police School at Rousillon Barracks, Chichester. This training takes 20 weeks and includes further military skill, self defence,first-aid, driver training, police duties and the law.

Until 1955, officers were not part of the Corps, but were seconded from their own regiments for a tour of duty. Since 1955 officers have been allowed to directly enter to RMP. RMP officers complete the same military training as their counterparts in other Arms and Services, starting at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. After receiving their commissions, all officers receive training in the infantry for a year before they are finally placed in the RMP.

For some time, female military police were members of the former Woman's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) and were only attached to the RMP Provost Companys, but the WRAC was disbanded during 1992 and female "redcaps" are now members of the RMP in their own right.

WRAC member of RMP Member of 160 Provost Company in Falklands
All members of the RMP must meet strict height, weight and fitness standards and must have a spotless military record. After appointment, members of the RMP are segregated from other members of the army. The RMP has two main branches - the General Police Duties Branch and the Special Investigations Branch.

  • General Police Duties Branch. After a soldier has completed their initial training they are attached to the GPD branch. In this branch the soldier gains a basic insight into policing, signals, first aid and photography. He or she is trained as a driver and receives training in pistols and rifles. All soldiers in the GPD Branch are attached to a Provost Company. Members of the GPD Branch may apply to join the Special Investigations Branch of the RMP.
  • Special Investigation Branch. The primary task of the SIB is the prevention, investigation and detection of all serious crimes committed by, or against, the military, its property or its interests.

In addition to the GPD Branch and SIB, a small group of dedicated RMP officers and NCO's are utilised as Close Protection personnel. Wherever there have been people at risk, there have been bodyguards and for over 50 years these members have been stationed around the world guarding ambassadors, senior army officers, visiting politicians and even suspects in a court case. Methods of protection vary from a single N.C.O. with a pistol to a full protection team with armoured cars and automatic support weapons.
Regular Army Units
The Royal Military Police is made up of the following Regular Army units: -

  • 101 Provost Company R.M.P.
  • 110 Provost Company R.M.P. - (Sennelager, Germany)
  • 111 Provost Company R.M.P. - (Hohne, Germany)
  • 115 Provost Company R.M.P. - (Osnabruck, Germany)
  • 150 Provost Company R.M.P.
  • 156 Provost Company R.M.P.
  • 158 Provost Company R.M.P.
  • 160 Provost Company R.M.P. - (Aldershot)
  • 173 Provost Company R.M.P.
  • 174 Provost Company R.M.P. - (Donnington)
  • 176 Provost Company R.M.P.
  • 227 Provost Company R.M.P.
Three companies are joined together to form 1 RMP (1st Regiment RMP). 1RMP is based at Herford in Germany and is made up of 111 Pro Coy (Hohne), 110 Pro Coy (Sennelager) and 115 Pro Coy (Osnabruck). 2RMP (2nd Regiment RMP) provides a military police service including criminal investigations throughout the entire Northern Ireland. Its Headquarters are at Lisburn. It is made up of 176 Pro Coy and 254 Pro Coy R.M.P. (V) T.A.. There is also a 3rd Regiment, Royal Military Police based in Bosnia. 227 Pro Coy is one of its units.

Territorial Army Units
The Royal Military Police also includes the following Territorial Army units: -

  • Military Police Battalion Headquarters
  • 116 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers) - West Bromwich
  • 152 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 163 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 164 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 165 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 243 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 251 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 252 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
  • 253 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers) - London SW2
  • 254 Provost Company R.M.P. (Volunteers)
Unit members earn the same daily rates of pay as their full-time colleagues. The training commitment is three weekday evenings and one weekend a month but most unit members volunteer for more

 
Special Investigation Branch
The Army has its own fully professional detective force within the Royal Military Police to deal with criminal or sensitive investigations. It is called the Special Investigation Branch and is generally known by the initial letters of its title - the S.I.B. The Terrotorial Army RMP also has one SIB Section, namely 83 Section Special Investigation Branch R.M.P. (Volunteers)

In recent years members of the RMP have been stationed at the following places throughout the world
  • Permanent
    • United Kingdom
    • Germany
    • Belize
    • Brunei
    • Cyprus
    • Falkland Islands
  • Temporary
    • Cananda
    • Poland
    • United States of America
  • Operational Deployments
    • Bosnia
    • Congo
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Kuwait

Uniforms and Insignia of the RMP

Cap Badge
All members of the Royal Military Police wear the cap badge illustrated at right. Initially made in gilding metal, the badge in now manufactured in anodised aluminium. An embroidered version for officers also exists. The badge remains characterised by the use of the Royal Cypher of the reigning monarch. Despite their amalgamation into the AGC, the RMP continue to wear their own RMP cap and collar badges
Royal Military Police cap & collar badge
MP Brassard
When on duty the military policeman of the RMP is distinguished by a red brassard on the right upper arm, together with a red-topped service dress cap or beret, whistle and chain. The traditional red brassard can also be replaced by a camouflage version carrying a small MP patch and a disruptive pattern material (DPM) rank patch. Parachute wings are also often seen on these brassards.

MP wearing camouflage brassard RMP brassard

Camouflage brassard
Head-dress
As stated, the RMP are easily distinguished by the red-topped service dress cap or beret that they wear. During wartime it is believed that the redcaps are replaced by anonymous navy blue berets.

If the MP is armed, their pistol is carried in a white holster, belt and cross-strap.

Red beret Duty dress