The Royal Military Police (RMP) is the corps of the British Army responsible for the policing of service personnel, and for providing a military police presence both in the UK and while service personnel are deployed overseas on operations and exercises. Members of the RMP are often known as 'Redcaps' because of their ubiquitous scarlet-topped peaked caps, or scarlet coloured berets.
The RMP origins can be traced back to the 13th Century but it was not until 1877 that a regular corps of military police was formed, with the creation of the Military Mounted Police (MMP). This was followed by the Military Foot Police (MFP) in 1885. The Military Mounted Police first engaged in combat in 1882 at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir. Although technically two independent corps, the two effectively functioned as a single organisation. In 1926, they were fully amalgamated to form the Corps of Military Police (CMP). In recognition of their service in the Second World War, they became the Corps of Royal Military Police (RMP) on 28 November 1946 under Army Order 167.
The RMP and their forbears have been deployed to most significant conflicts of the 20th Century, and more recently have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the British commitment in those countries.
Non-commissioned members of the RMP receive their basic training as soldiers, at the Army Training Centre at Pirbright in Surrey. They then receive further training at the Defence College of Policing and Guarding. RMP commissioned officers are trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, as are all other British Army officers.
The regimental march of the RMP is "The Watchtower" or "Hoch Heidecksburg" originally a German Army marching tune from 1912 by Rudolf Herzer. The RMP motto is Exemplo Ducemus, Latin for "By example, shall we lead".
First World War
In 1914 the Corps of Military Mounted Police and the Corps of Military Foot Police had a total establishment of nearly 5000 men. When the British Expeditionary Force was sent to France in that year, each division had one Assistant Provost Marshal in the rank of Major and several NCOs. The Provost Marshal was a Colonel until 1915, and a Brigadier thenceforward.
During the retreat from Mons the MPs were busy dealing with soldiers who, through exhaustion or the general confusion of battle, had either become lost or detached from their units. By operating stragglers posts, the MP were able to return soldiers to their units. These posts were also well placed to pick out deserters and those Absent With Out Leave (AWOL).
Second World War
At the beginning of the Second World War, the CMP had several branches:
- Special Investigation Branch (SIB);
- Red Caps, who were responsible for general policing;
- Blue Caps (Vulnerable Points), responsible for security of static locations and establishments;
- White Caps (Traffic Control); and
- Field Security Wing (Green Caps), which was separated from the CMP in 1940 to form the Intelligence Corps, and who wore the CMP cap badge, but without the scroll.
By the end of the war the Red Caps had replaced the Blue and White Caps. The CMP provided support to the British Expeditionary Force in France and these units were also involved in Operation Dynamo. The CMP took part in several major operation of the Second World War, including: Operation Overlord, Operation Market Garden and Operation Varsity.