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Canadian Provost Corps

Canadian Provost Corps

Created: 15 June 1940

Replaced by: Security and Intelligence Branch of the Canadian Forces 1 February 1968

The Canadian Provost Corps was an administrative corps overseeing Canadian intelligence units from 1942 up to the time of Unification.

Lineage

The Corps of Guides was formed as a corps of the Militia in 1903 and served until absorbed by The Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in 1929.

  • The Canadian Provost Corps created 15 June 1940

  • Merged with the Canadian Intelligence Corps and equivalent services of Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force to form the Security and Intelligence Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces as part of Unification on 1 February 1968

History

The Canadian Provost Corps was created in 1940 as a corps of the Canadian Army.

In September 1939, acting on a recommendation from the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Minister Of Justice granted authority to form a "Provost" company from RCMP volunteers. No. 1 Provost Company (RCMP) provided military police support for the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.

Additional provost companies were mobilized along with subsequent divisions of the Canadian Active Service Force, along with other units formed for senior formations such as Canadian Military Headquarters (CMHQ) in London, as well as I Canadian Corps and II Canadian Corps headquarters, as well as the Reinforcement Units. As well, a Detention Barracks, training depot, and special investigation sections were created, and 18 companies of the Canadian Provost Corps served in Canada at Military District headquarters, as well as at the headquarters of Pacific Command and Atlantic Command. A training facility called A-32 Canadian Provost Corps Training Center was also established.

On 15 June 1940 Privy Council Order 67/3030 declared that the Canadian Provost Corps would be the body responsible for all who were assigned police duties as their primary role in war. As the Corps developed, that role included duties, wherever Canadian soldiers served, to include:

  • Movement plans both in forward, rear and lines of communication areas

  • Provision of advice on:

    • the capacity and adequacy of routes

    • the degree and type of traffic control required

    • resources required and whether available resources were adequate

  • Supervision and enforcement of discipline outside unit lines

  • Operation of the formation prisoner of war cage

  • Movement of prisoners to prisoner of war camps in Canada

  • Control of refugee movement

  • Collection, control and disposal of stragglers

  • Operation of Detention Barracks

  • Liaison with other civilian and military police

The Corps grew to a strength of 6,120 men in 1945. The first combat employment was to Hong Kong, where a detachment of one sergeant, 1 corporal and six lance corporals accompanied the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Royal Rifles Of Canada. All eight survived the fighting, but three died while prisoners of the Japanese.

The Corps was also represented at Dieppe, where 41 Provost members were tasked to provide control on the beach and secure prisoners of war. Of the 41, 25 had been wounded; 22 returned to the UK; 18 were been taken prisoner and Lieutenant Peter Oliver was killed in action.

Aside from these two disasters, service with the Corps in the rest of the war was marked by routine, followed by rapid demobiliation. The 6,000+ men of the Corps were reduced to an establishment of 117.

Military expansion was brought about once again by the Korean War and the birth of NATO in response to the Cold War. The scope of policing on Defence establishments in Canada was increased, and Provost Corps troops saw themselves madated in a municipal role in addition to their military tasks. The operation of military prisons and Service Detention Barracks also fell to the Provost Corps, as well as aid to the civil power missions and assistance to Federal Penitentiaries. Individual members of the Corps also served on United Nations missions.

Rapid expansion of the Corps in the 1950s led to a simultaneous expansion of training, under the auspices of the Canadian Provost School where recruit, trade, specialty and leadership training was conducted. Canadian Army Manuals Of Training (CAMT) were developed from 1957-1962 to codify doctrine, methods and techniques, much of which would remain in effect throughout the remainder of the century. The School served as a focal point for members of the Corps and engendered pride and a wider sense of affiliation, furthered by Army-wide competitions. Growing responsibilities among Militia Provost Units also marked the post-Second World War period.

The Canadian Provost Corps was combined with police units of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force into the Security and Intelligence Branch taking effect 1 February 1968, as Unification combined the Canadian Army with the other two services.

Insignia

The badge of the corps was officially described as follows:

The Royal Crest resting upon a riband bearing the inscription "CANADIAN"; below the riband, a scroll inscribed "PROVOST CORPS".1

Cap Badges

Badge at far left brass Other Ranks badge, badge at right bronze officers badge, courtesy Dwayne Hordij.

Notes

  1. The Regiments and Corps of the Canadian Army (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON, 1964) p.32


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