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The Australian Military Police in the Korean War 1952 - 1956

Reference: AWM 52,18/02/197, 1 COMWEL DIV Pro reports 52-56.

In June 1950 the invasion of South Korea by North Korea was a seen as a challenge to Western democracies. Assistance to the South Korean government was provided by the United Nations Security Council and troops of various UN countries were committed. Australia pledged support to the UN and offered a Battalion Group, which was then serving with the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) in Japan for immediate deployment to Korea.

Australian military police served in Korea between the years of 1952 and 1956. They were members of the Royal Australian Army Provost Corps (RAA PRO), and were part of the 1st Commonwealth Division and its Provost Company, the 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company. The men were all volunteers and "signed on" as members of the new Australian Regular Army (1950), with no restriction of service or enlistment impediments as was the case from the last war.

This was the first conflict for the newly formed Royal Australian Army Provost Corps. The Corps' title was changed from Australian Army Provost Corps in 1948, when the King approved the use of 'Royal' in the title in recognition of the services provided by the Corps during World War Two. A new Corps badge was instituted; uniquely Australian in design (depicting the crossed swords of justice) it has been worn proudly by Australian military police ever since.

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The badge of the

Royal Australian Corps of Military Police.

Australia sends troops to Korea

Australia announced that a volunteer force (K Force) would be provided as part of Australia's contribution to the UN. In September 1950, the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), then stationed in Japan as part of the BCOF, would join with other British Commonwealth units to form the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade Group. Other Commonwealth forces were already present in Korea, including a Canadian Brigade Group and a British Brigade Group. The three Brigade Groups operated as Independent Brigades.

As a consequence, Commonwealth troops, despite their vast experience in WW2, found themselves occupying the status of minor units only, and denied any say in the operational planning at any level above the Brigade. Therefore the decision to amalgamate the three Independent Brigades into a single Division was to give the military forces of the Commonwealth, autonomy and status among the many countries that served along side them in Korea.

The 1st Commonwealth Division is formed

By June 1951 the Staff of a Divisional HQ started to assemble in Japan from all parts of the British Commonwealth. By the end of June the newly assembled HQ subsequently moved by ship to the port of Pusan in Korea, and then by road to a suitable location North of TOKCHONG, a valley that provided good cover from the air.

Near TOKCHONG at midday on 28th July 1951, a short ceremony was held to mark the formation of the 1st Commonwealth Division. Here for the first time a Commonwealth Division flag was flown alongside flags of Commonwealth countries and the UN.

In addition to the Staff of HQ, it was decided, in order to minimize overlapping and to save manpower, to integrate as many units as possible serving two or more Commonwealth countries and was designed to meet the needs of all components. This took some time to bring about, as the approval of the Chiefs of Staff Committee in Australia, and the authorities of the Commonwealth countries concerned was necessary. Eventually twenty-two units became integrated and entitled to the proud prefix "British Commonwealth - ". Examples of these were an Engineer Regiment, a General Hospital, Base Ordnance Depot, Base Workshop and Base Provost Company with British Commonwealth placed before each type of unit e.g. British Commonwealth Base Provost Company.

The formation of an Integrated Provost Company

As a result of the above policy the Commonwealth military police soldiers serving in Korea were formed into the 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company. It was an integrated provost unit comprising British, Australian and Canadian MP divided into three Sections. The British were No.1 Section, the Australians No.2 Section and Canadians No.3 Section. No.2 Section was maintained as the Australian Section until 11 August 1953 when the Section had Royal Military Police members integrated within it. Most Australian MPs who served in Korea were rotated through this Section. The Section comprised one SGT and up to 10 CPL.

In keeping with the Commonwealth flavor many positions in the Company were integrated, with Australian, British and Canadian MP Officers and SNCO filling various command and administrative positions within the Company and HQ structures. These positions were also rotated throughout the conflict and continuously filled by their country MP or swapped with other country MP where required. This was administered by the Deputy Assistant Provost Marshal British Commonwealth Forces Korea (DAPM BCKF).

The Australian MPs were able to take their place within the Division because when the 1st Battalion, RAR, arrived in Korea in April 1952, an Australian commander, BRIG T.J. Daily, DSO, OBE, took over the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade from a British Army commander. This meant that Australians were then allotted a proportion of the postings to Brigade HQ and an Australian Provost Section was also attached to the Brigade and subsequent dual role of No.2 Section of the 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company.

Some of the men also served in the Provost Section based in Seoul for policing the troops on leave in the major city of Korea. There were also Australian SIB personnel serving in Korea, stationed in Seoul and not connected with the Company who belonged to the HQ British Commonwealth Special Investigation Section Korea.

They were rotated in place and positions swapped by the different country MPs where required. At least two Australian SIB personnel were attached to the SIB Section at any time. An entry dated 8 November 1952 in the war diary mentions SIB:

Investigation carried out by SIB Det re a member of 3 RAR involved in shooting of American soldier fatally wounded

This story is about No.2 Australian Section and taken from the official war diary of the Unit 1952 to 1956, currently kept at the Australian War Memorial Canberra, file number AWM 52 18/02/197 1 COMWEL DIV Pro reports 52-56. The pictures with this story are from the RACMP Museum, Eastern Command Photo Album and are scanned copies of the original pictures taken by the MP who were there.

Japan to Korea

The Australian MP presence in Korea actually started from Japan where Australian MPs serving with the BCOF Provost Company were asked to volunteer to serve in Korea. It must also be remembered that at this time, the new Australian Regular Army was being formed with the requirement that all soldiers in the Army by 1950 must sign on as regular soldiers with the obligation of service "anywhere and anytime" at the discretion of the Australian Government. This was a completely new concept for soldiering in Australia, moving away from the volunteer AIF concept that served Australia in times of war previously.

The following entries from the BCOF Japan Provost Company War Diary states:

27 July 1950

Radio Australia says that Australia will send a ground force to Korea

28 July 1950

List of volunteers for Korea obtained from BCOF Provost Unit

30 July 1950

Muster parade held to obtain volunteers for Korea. 3 Officers and 38 ORs sign forms volunteering for service wherever required

1 August 1950

OC addresses members who had not volunteered for service where ever required on their responsibilities - total volunteers now 3 Officers and 47 ORs

21 October 1950 Kure

Return of volunteers for service anywhere compiled. 63.2% of unit volunteered.

7 May 1951

Recommendation submitted to BCOF HQ requesting approval for Australian MP to be detached to Korea for duty

27 August 1951

Approved for 1 Australian MP to be sent to FMA BCCFK

Approval granted for APM to visit Korea

1 September 1951

APM depart for inspection tour of Korea

CPL Hill depart on attachment to RMP in Korea - RMP Det 262 Base Provost Coy FMA Korea

1 November 1951

Visit from APM BCFK to discuss establishment of Integrated Provost Coy

As can be seen from the above entries CPL Hill was one of the first Australian MP NCO to enter Korea on 1 September 1951 on attachment to the RMP already serving there. From this time on, one or two Australian MP were permanently rotated through Korea for a couple of months each time from the BCOF Japan Provost Company then back to Japan for reposting or return to Australia. This was the case for the Australian MP until 14 July 1952.

An Australian MP Section is formed

On 14 July 1952 at Kure, Japan, half of the BCOF Australian MP Section was interviewed by DAPM HQ BCFK reference some personnel moving to Korea for permanent attachment to the newly formed 1st Commonwealth Division and its Provost Company, the 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company.

  • The Section selected to go consisted of:
    • SGT: SGT O'Connor
    • CPL: Cockram, Curphey, Munachen, Powell, Hill, Smith, Sullivan,
    • Driver: PTE Wren
  • The following entries were recorded in the War Diary as the Section prepared to deploy to Korea:
    • 14 July 1952 Kure, Japan
      • Section draw kit from 1 RHU. Medical and Inoculations completed
    • 15 - 18 July 1952
      • Packing in readiness to move
    • 17 July 1952
      • Farewell party given by ORs Britcom Base Pro for AustSection
    • 18 July 1952
      • Embark SS OTARU Maru. Depart KURE at 1800hrs
    • 20 July Korea 1952
      • Arrive Pusan disembark 0830 hrs. Met by Lt Slater who took men to BRITCOM SUB Area Transit Camp.
    • 21 July1952
      • Rest
    • 22 July 1952
      • Depart by train for Seoul.
      • Arrive at 1800. Stay night at FMA Detachment Britcom Base Pro Coy
    • 23 July1952
      • Depart by MT to DIV Area. Arrive at HQ 1 Comwel Div Pro Coy (1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company) and meet OC MAJ AMIRAULT. Lunch at HQ. Proceed to No 2 Section 1 COMWEL DIV Pro Coy and met by Section SGT (Sgt Bright RMP).
    • 24 July 1952
      • Sgt O'Connor and Bright on extensive tour of BDE area. Supplied 4 NCO for special duty with Coy HQ. New Pintail bridge over IMJIM River open.
  • SGT O'Connor was to take over from SGT Bright after a handover and familiarisation was conducted between them over a few days. Unfortunately SGT O'Connor did not posses the depth of experience or leadership required for the job and after much counseling and serious morale crisis within the Section he was removed from the position and sent back to Japan. The war diary states:
    • 19 October 1952
      • Morale in section declining. Section Sgt seems to be the falling off of Section Efficiency. OC spends morning with SEC and interviews all Aust members personally.
    • 30 October 1952
      • Sgt O'Connor relieved and sent to Japan for repost to Aust. CPL Clode assumes appoint of NCO I/C Sec. DAPM 1 COMWEL DIV visits Section.
    • 4 Dec 52
      • SGT 1/221 G.Sayeg arrives to take over as 2 Section IC.

Morale of the Section and unit discipline

  • From this time on morale was excellent with the Section performing very well on all tasks. Morale was so good that some members of the Section did not want to go home when their tour had finished. Many inquiries were made by the men about extending their tours and the matter was raised and mentioned in the war diary on 3 occasions. The following entries from the war diary clearly show the men's morale:
    • December 7 1952
      • Ministerial inquiry - CPL Hollibone wife wants him home. Member not want to come home until finish tour. Section SGT working well morale high.
    • 5 March 1953
      • Personnel due for release from Korea in near future, some personnel are desirous of serving another term here, official ruling will be asked on the subject.

The war diary does not mention a reply to the above inquiries. There was one case of a unit member being charged in November 1952. CPL Fisher was charged under Section 19 (Drunk), and Section 40 (Create a disturbance), of the Army Act. He was found guilty and reduced to the rank of Private.

Evidence suggests that the men spent 12 months in Korea with an entry in the war diary stating the first replacements of personnel:

Replacements, Training and Duties of the Section

7 June 1953

The section trying to settle down with new replacements.

The new replacements "hit the ground running" with on the job training where possible as many men had no formal or limited MP training. Often men were recruited for the MP from other Australian Army Corps and Units based in Japan or Korea with no chance to attend a formal training school. The following war diary entry noted:

7 June 1953

Some trg done 2 members gained licenses, now all have limited knowledge of map reading. Every opportunity is made for trg. Training of replacements was done on the spot.

Experience was to compensate for any training deficiencies within the Section with the Section performing many "policing blitzes" on 1st Commonwealth Division personnel. Often check points would be established where personnel were checked for IDs, driving licenses and correct vehicle documentation, adherence to Unit Standing Orders reference wearing of steel helmets or carriage of weapons and equipment, etc. Many offence reports were submitted for contravention of above orders and regulations.

As from May 1953 a Korean MP accompanied the Section to check Korean Army personnel known as KATCOMS, (Koreans attached to Commonwealth Divisions).

Signs and signposting were a major task of the Section. All roads to and from the Brigade HQ and roads in the AO were required to be signed. When the Brigade HQ moved the signing activity was at a "frenzied" pace with all unit personnel involved in signing. Signing was often hazardous with the Section under constant danger of shelling or enemy small arms fire especially in daylight hours. An entry in the war diary of 12 April 1953 noted:

Section signing patrol working in "Bowling Alley" was subject to enemy shellfire today, no casualties. In future will sign this area at night

There were many problems encountered with signing and a large effort was maintained by the Section to maintain sign integrity. Initially the MPs did not make there own signs with signs having to be produced at the Company signing shop and then brought to the forward areas. This quite often took considerable time especially when the MPs had to compete with all Brigade elements to have signs made. Also the large quantity of signs required made the job of producing signs even longer. Often when materials where in short supply the MPs resorted to using bits of timber or flat iron for making signs and putting them up on trees or any other suitable place. This situation was fixed once it was realised that a UK member of the Company was an ex sign writer and signs were now produced locally. The standard and quality of the signs greatly improved after this time. In fact signs were so good that the Company often suffered the loss of them, not because of wear and tear or damage but to "souvenir hunters" from the Brigade and Division who felt they were worthy of being stolen and hung up in the boozers. An entry from the war diary records such incidents:

8 Sep 53

It is believe worthy of note that attractive signs have been erected by this Coy at 38th Parallel and most units have seen fit to abscond with these signs when leaving this theater

Signs were also produced for the Battalion areas of 1 and 2 RAR. Many of the signs became hard to see at night or during the bad weather in the winter months despite the quality and large size of the signs. To overcome these problems the Section borrowed the idea from the Canadians of using luminous "Scotchlight" type signs and set about making them instead. As our logistic system did not have this type of material it was borrowed from the Canadians when required and found to be plentiful and excellent for signing purposes. Sign maintenance was a continual problem with mud and dirt constantly making the signs unreadable. The war diary entry of 22 November 1952 states:

Sign maintenance is a full time job for 2 NCO daily

Often signs were required to be erected in areas close to the front lines. Signs like "Steel Helmets must be worn" for personnel or "No lights line" for vehicles. Often these signs were not adhered to forcing the Section to do mobile policing patrols of these areas enforcing the regulations. This was not to be the only case of mobile policing patrols and discipline duties

Other Duties performed by the Section were, policing duties for concerts at the Brigade theater, cash escorts to the Australian Cash Office staff to SEOUL and return and escorts of heavy engineering equipment.

Special duties at Company HQ were often undertaken with the Section performing many "policing blitzes" on 1st Commonwealth Division Personnel. Often check points would be established where personnel were checked for IDs, driving licenses and correct vehicle documentation, adherence to Unit Standing Orders reference wearing of steel helmets or carriage of weapons and equipment etc. Many offence reports were submitted for contravention of above orders and regulations.

As well as the front lines the rear areas were required to be policed as well. Often the Section checked Commonwealth personnel in the towns and villages. Many offences were detected, one of the most common being vehicles left unattended. Vice raids were common with up to 20 or more prostitutes operating illegally who after being checked for credentials were handed over to the Field Security Units that contained Korean Police for handling. Operation POLICECAT was conducted often and concentrated on black-market and vice raids of the rear areas and involved elements of the Korean Police, Korean MP and the Section to achieve very good results. It was noted that cases of VD were well down in these areas. As from May 1953 a Korean MP accompanied the Section to check Korean Army personnel known as KATCOMS, (Koreans attached to Commonwealth Divisions).

On occasions members of the Section were required to participate in Divisional or to a lesser extent Company parades. One such parade in October 1952 rated a mention in the war diary:

GOC MAJ GEN AR West CB DSO spoke personally to each member on parade impressed with length of service and experience of each member.

Another important duty performed by the Section was convoy escorts from the rail head at TOKCHONG up to the forward areas. At the front lines the Battalions were relieved in place and the importance of getting the relief troops to the right location was vitally important. The Section supported the Australian Battalions relief often, but due to the nature of the Commonwealth influence they did support units of other Commonwealth countries in this task as well. Many times the Section was congratulated by the Brigade Commander for "outstanding" performance. An entry in the war diary dated 26 June 1953 noted:

Support 2 British Units moving into the front line. Weather so bad that an MP had to walk in front of vehicle to guide to location - walk for 1/4 mile.

When ammunition was to be destroyed the Section would deploy Pointsman to stop traffic moving into the danger area. When the Brigade was on the move the Section provided the convoy escorts, TCPs, check points, pointsman and info posts as well as all the signing, with RMS and Francos necessary to make the move a success. Brigade HQ commented favorably on the standard of signing and the support provided by the Section for these moves. The first Brigade move caused a few problems with the MPs moving at the same time. The following war diary entry dated 5 October 1952 states:

Section to new LOC. Section moving as same time as BDE poses problem for manpower to carry out TC duties as per mov instruction. In future section will move 24 hrs before BDE HQ.

After this incident no other major problems with the Brigade moves occurred again. Once the Brigade had settled in their new location the Section was involved in signing the Brigade area. This was a big job and one that occupied much of the Sections time when not providing Provost support to other Units or locations. Also the Section had to set up tent accommodation for themselves and the Company and sign these areas as well. Constant beautification and sign maintenance of all areas was a continuous problem.

As of the 5th of October 1952 the Section was responsible for maintaining a Police Post at TEAL Bridge. TEAL bridge was taking the MSR left of Brigade. This bridge was vitally important to the logistic support of the Brigades fighting at the front lines.

A sandbagged-tented area was established with some defensive positions created.

On the 26th the bridge was subjected to light enemy shelling, but the Section remained in place to carry out their duties. The war diary noted:

TEAL bridge area subject to light enemy shellfire.

This Police Post turned into an essential information post that was indispensable to the Brigade. The Section was to man this post for some months. On the 5th of February 1953 the Section commenced duty at the UN traffic post on Route 33 near the Newcastle Road House. This post was manned by MP of the Commonwealth Division as well as US and ROK MP, checking personnel and vehicles from their own country forces. The duty was for about a 24 hour period and was conducted frequently by the Section with the various countries MP. The traffic post was also manned during Brigade moves or Exercises.

Truce talks get some results

By July 1953 truce talks were finally yielding acceptable outcomes even though talks had been ongoing since July 1951. The main point of disagreement for both sides was the exchange of POWs. Indications were that the North Koreans were vying for time as attacks and small battles were common during this period. As part of the truce both sides agreed to swap POWs. The following war diary entries detail the situation:

12 Jul 53


All sections engaged in signposting for MP aspects of OP HOMEWARD BOUND the Commonwealth version of BIG SWITCH return of repatriated POWs.

13 Jul 53

Briefing about above if it should happen.

24 Jul 53

OC to conf mention of a possible MP role should a truce be signed.

26 Jul 53

O gp called at 2100 on action by MP if truce is signed.

27 Jul 53

Shells fell in the DIV area throughout day. One shell landed in 3 sect area at 2015 hrs and failed to detonate due to the time fuze being too wet to explode.

28 July 1953

Truce taking effect all units pull back to their positions.

29 Jul 53

Units pull back to KANSAS LINE salvaging all material that may be useful for construction etc. of line. Provost commitment reduced for OP HOMEWARD BOUND.

In August of 1953 further signing and special signs were created for "ambulance" roads for OPERATION HOMEWARD BOUND. The operation was complete by early September and all signs were then removed.

The static war

The KANSAS LINE was the name for the position that the allied forces occupied and were to hold in the event of hostilities starting again. The Section was now to move and perform the duties of a Base Provost Company. The Section ceased to look after TEAL Bridge. The war diary comments:

31 Jul 53

All secs areas reallocated preparing to assume role of BASE PRO COY in maintain law and order in villages behind stay back line. Aust Sect cease look after teal bridge.

During 1953 the war diary noted some "notable" events:

25 January 1953

Whilst participating in a pistol shoot, CPL Cockram's pistol had a faulty shell remaining in the barrel after being fired, a second round was fired without knowledge of the first one still being in the barrel resulting in the second round splitting the barrel and forcing its way out.

3 June 1953

CPL Powell was promoted to SGT. The war diary noted 1st person to be promoted to SGT in the Section in Korea

18 Jul 53

Today marks the anniversary of the founding of the Aust Sect and integration with RMP and Canadian

28 Jul 53

2nd anniversary of forming Comm DIV.

August 53

3 pers depart for Aust for detach with Royal Visit car Coy. All recom from 2 Aust Sec were accepted for this special duty and we are justifiable proud.

And on 11 August 1953 the Section had RMP members integrated within the Section:

No2 sect becomes integrated with Brit and Aust pers.

From this time on the Section was involved in maintaining discipline and policing duties of Commonwealth troops. As such the Section was forced to conduct mobile policing patrols of certain areas. Because the fighting had ceased and a "rear area" mentality had been adopted by the troops, discipline and procedures became slack. Because of the static situation and the fact that unit areas could now be established on a more permanent basis, and often near villages, the opportunity for theft was rife among the local population with American units being worst hit. Lack of security by personnel was seen to be the biggest problems. Black-markerteering, vice, theft and blatant disregard for orders were becoming all too common and the Section was engaged in a permanent policing activity. As the troops became complacent, some soldiers were reluctant to carry weapons, carry field equipment, correct vehicle documentation etc. and the Section was forced to conduct discipline patrols of these areas.

Truce violations were occurring on a frequent basis by Allied troops. The war diary of 7 Aug 1953 stated:

No.2 Sec moves to South of River IMJIN at MR 254057. Daylight patrols cut by 25% and night patrols increased. Curfew regs enforced as numbers of pers observed wandering around by night on MSR subsequent to truce.

The IMJIM River was to become a well known location to the Section. Smoke round trials were being conducted at the PINTAIL bridge which went over the IMJIM river and the Section was required to man the bridge for the duration of the trials. The Section established a police post at the bridge. PINTAIL Bridge was taking the right Brigade MSR.

Vehicles and Logistics

Vehicles and logistics were a major problem for the Section. Upon arriving in country in 1952 the Section inherited their vehicles from the RMP. The vehicles were left overs from WW2 and comprised a mix of USA and British vehicles. Indications are that the jeep was the mainstay of Section TPT with all of the MP signing work and other tasks carried out using the jeep. It seems that the trucks used were of British origin around the 1 ton category. The Company owned 2 of these type vehicles. All the vehicles had been poorly maintained and the war diary notes the problems the Section was having until self help and initiative of the men improved the situation:

2 October 1952.

Section TPT in poor condition, replace and maintenance of MT in this theater is a major problem. Standard of section MT has improved considerably since vehicles were taken over from previous UK section.

8 October 1952

Sec TPT in serious position, only 2 jeeps being serviceable at present time.

22 October 1952

SEC MT position still unchanged 2 jeeps still only serviceable. COY MT position becoming more serious.

29 October 1952

Sec TPT inspected by Coy Tpt Sgt. Sec Tpt is still a major problem.

7 November 1952

Sec TPT position improves, now have 3 jeeps serviceable. MT ramp constructed in Sec Area.

18 November 1952

Sec Tpt improved with 4 jeeps and two 1 ton trucks now serv. Tpt position improved only by initiative and self help of the men.

19 November 1952

MT repainting program commence

22 November 1952

Veh painting continue, 2 jeeps completed.

24 November 1952

One new reconditioned jeep issued to Sec. 1st veh replacement since arrival in Coy during Jul 52

26 November 1952

All sec jeeps now repainted and in good working order.

29 November 1952

All Section trailers no repainted.

The vehicle situation was to remain stable for the remainder of the time that the records cover the Section. It was noted that when rotations of personnel occurred and the new replacements had no MT mechanical knowledge the vehicle situation started to flare up again. Driver training and "hands on" lessons where required to fix these problems.

Uniforms were another problem the Section faced. The Australian Battle Dress uniform was found unsuitable for the Korean winters and approval was granted for the Australian Section to wear British Battle Dress. Uniforms were standard Australian Army issue or British when necessary; the slouch hat was worn as duty headdress with Corps badge on the left side brim turned up and white webbing and gaiters worn to indicate MP. The MP armband was worn on the right arm. The badge of the 1st Commonwealth Division was worn on both shoulders and shoulder titles embroidered 'Royal Australian Army Provost Corps' with a white border around the writing worn as well. White traffic sleeves where required to be carried and worn when performing traffic control duties. Initially in short supply uniforms were a priority for the MPs and the following war diary entries indicate some of the problems:

16 October 52

COY changes to Battle Dress, Australian type BD not considered suitable for service in this theater, approval given from HQ 28 BRITCOM INF BDE for personnel to wear UK type BD. To be issued when available from Coy HQ.

23 October 1952

Winter clothing issue to all personnel.

6 November 1952

Battle Dress issued to UK members of Sec. Supplies at present are inadequate for issue to Aust personnel.

An interesting uniform note was the following entry dated 23 May 1953:

Red scarves issued to all personnel. Scarves will be worn officially as part of duty dress from now on.

Summer clothing was 2 sets of OG clothing and AB Boots. Initially there were not enough OG uniforms to allow 3 per man and more were to come from 3 RAR Q in due course.

Towards the end

As the years went by in Korea the Australian contribution to the Company was growing smaller each year until about 1954/55 the Section was down to just 2 Australian MP NCO only.

The following entries trace the evolution of the Company and ultimately the Section:

  • July 1952
    • Australian Section - 1 Commonwealth Division Provost Company (COMWEL DIV PRO COY)
  • 14 October 1954
    • Reorganisation of Company 1 COMWEL DIV PRO COY to change name to 1 Commonwealth Brigade Provost Detachment (1 COMWEL BDE PRO DET)
  • 7 November 1954
    • 1 COMWEL DIV PRO COY Non-Operational
  • 16 January 1955
    • Name change to 1st Commonwealth Division Independent Provost Company (1 COMWELDIV IND PRO COY)
  • 15 May 1956
    • Commonwealth Contingent Korea Provost Section (2 Australians serving in Section only)
  • 14 June 1956
    • 1st Commonwealth Division Independent Provost Company disbanded
    • HQ AUSTARM Component (1 or 2 Australian Provosts attached to a Brigade Provost Section in BCFK)
  • 1957
    • End of Australia's involvement in Korea and Japan - all Australian troops return to Australia

Looking back

The 1st Commonwealth Division; although the establishment and organisation of the Division was normal by the standards of the day, nevertheless it was a unique formation for the following reasons:

  • The permanent units and personnel come from no fewer than six different countries, namely, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. In addition, for the last six months the Division has had over one thousand South Korean soldiers serving and fighting in its ranks.
  • The Division has fought under the operational command of the United Nations, as opposed to any individual country, and this has necessitated its becoming an organic formation of an American Corps, on exactly the same footing as other American Divisions in the Corps.
  • Except for two months and the odd day, the Division has spent the whole of the first two years of its existence actually fighting in the front line.

Over the course of the 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company many changes were made among the Sections and Company personnel; but the Division's and Company's truly Commonwealth character was not altered, and the Commonwealth spirit was maintained throughout. The 1st Commonwealth Division Provost Company was the most successful integrated Unit that served in the 1st Commonwealth Division no thanks to the skill, determination and brotherhood of MPs all over the world.

The Australian MPs in Korea represented the Corps well. Many and varied tasks were performed by the men, often in trying and dangerous conditions and they proved, once again, the great asset of a Military Police presence when on operations or active service. These glory days of the Australian MP were soon to end. With the withdrawal of Australian troops from Korea and Japan, the end of National Service in Australia and post war reductions of the Australian Army the Corps was seriously reduced in numbers and equipment.

Story written and researched by Antony Buckingham from Australian War Memorial documents AWM 52/18/02/197 1 COMWEL DIV Pro 1952 - 1956.


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