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About the Corps of Military Police
The existence of a provost or policing service within the British Army is almost as old as the British Army itself, although the Corps of Military Police was formed only in 1926, In 1661, there was a Provost Service, although it only operated in wartime. A Staff Corps of Cavalry was formed on the 21 April 1810 during the Peninsula War, in order to control raping and pillaging by troops, It was disbanded on the 25 September 1814, only to be reformed on the 10 August 1815, It was disbanded again on the 24 December 1817.
On the 21 August 1854, the Mounted Staff Corps was raised in Ireland for service in the Crimea for the duration of that war, on the 13 June 1855, the Military Mounted Police was formed at Aldershot with twenty-one non-commissioned officers drawn from the 2 Dragoon Guards, 3 Light Dragoons, 15 Hussars and 17 Lancers, The Mounted Staff Corps disbanded on the 6 October 1855, but the Military Mounted Police continued in existence, The Military Mounted Police gradually grew in size, to be recognised on the 1 August 1877 by becoming the Corps of Military Mounted Police.
A Corps of Military Foot Police was formed in 1885 from a nucleus of foot police formed in Egypt, This situation with a separate mounted and foot police persisted throughout the First World War and On until the 27 February 1926 when these two elements were merged to form the Corps of Military Police.
The Headquarters and Record Office for the new corps was established at Mytchett Hutments, Ash Vale, Aldershot. A school of instruction was also located at Mytchett Hutments under command of a captain. All the officers in the corps were seconded from other regiments and corps, usually for a two-year long posting, however, many decided to extend their service with the Corps of Military Police beyond the initial two years, It was not until 1953 that officers were directly recruited into the corps.
The members of the corps were known by various nicknames, the most popular being ‘The Redcaps’ on account of the crimson top worn on the khaki service cap. Their duties were various, including enforcing military discipline and law within the British Army, investigating crimes committed by military personnel and against military establishments (such as theft and looting), guarding prisoners-of-war, traffic control, route marking and providing security at vulnerable points.
Throughout the Second World War, men of the Corps of Military Police served wherever the British Army served. They were on the front line, landing soon after the initial wave at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Normandy for example. In addition, they had to deal with issues of behaviour of British troops, such as the riot in Cairo by men of the 78 Infantry Division following their arrival from Italy in 1944. They served in Burma, Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore, alongside men of the Corps of Military Police (India).
During the Second World War the Military Police grew from 4,121 all ranks to over 50,000 all ranks within six major branches of specialists:
Special Investigation Branch – The S.I.B. was first formed in 1940, with 19 detectives from the Metropolitan Police transferred to the Army for deployment in France. From this small beginning the Branch expanded into numerous Sections which were deployed both in the U.K. and overseas, providing the Corps with its own Criminal Investigation Department to conduct more detailed and protracted investigations into organised crime and serious offences such as murder.
Provost Wing – Responsible for general policing. Provost Companies were included in the order of battle of Home Commands, Armoured, Infantry and Airborne Divisions, as well as at Army and Corps level and with independent Brigades. From 1942, "Ports Provost" Companies were raised, consisting of a mix of Provost and Vulnerable Points Sections, which were deployed on security and policing duties within ports and docks.
Vulnerable Points Wing – Formed in 1941 to provide security of static locations and establishments. They were known as "blue caps" from the Oxford blue cloth covers worn on their service dress caps. Originally intended to act as static Companies and detachments, VP Coys were later deployed in North West Europe, guarding prisoner of war camps and other static installations. The VP Wing was quickly phased out at the end of the war, but re-appeared briefly in the Supplementary Reserve/Army Emergency Reserve between 1950 and 1961.
Traffic Control Wing – Formed in 1941, TC Coys were deployed throughout the United Kingdom, releasing Provost Companies from the tasks of traffic control. TC Coys were later deployed in the Middle East, Italy and North-West Europe. The Wing was phased out of the Corps by 1946.(Many sources over the years continue to erroneously state that personnel of the Traffic Control Wing wore white cloth cap covers. This is not the case. CMP (TC) personnel did not wear cap covers when on duty, unless they had undergone a basic course in police duties, in which case they were authorised to wear red top covers as per the Provost Wing).
The granting of the prefix ‘Royal’ with effect from the 28 November 1946 recognised the service of the Corps of Military Police in the Second World War, so the title became the Corps of Royal Military Police. After the Second World War, the depot of the Royal Military Police moved to Inkerman Barracks in Woking. Later it moved to Roussillon Barracks in Chichester, Sussex; the former depot of the Royal Sussex Regiment. With effect from the 6 April 1992, the corps was absorbed into the Adjutant-General’s Corps as the Provost Branch, but retaining its own cap badge.
On 6 April 1992 the RMP amalgamated into the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC), under whose overall command they form part of the AGC's Provost Branch alongside the also pre-existent Military Provost Staff Corps and the later-formed Military Provost Guard Service. Although they lost status as an independent corps, they were permitted to retain the Royal Military Police title and cap badge.
Exemplo Ducemus - By example, shall we lead.
The regimental march is The Watchtower (Hoch Heidecksburg)