Many allegations of Military Police misconduct on the Western Front have surfaced over the years. As the nation commemorates the First World War, Regimental Secretary and Director of the Royal Military Police Museum, Colonel Jeremy Green OBE, contends that now is the time to set the record straight.
In my 35 years of service, I have become quite used to being called names, simply because I am a Royal Military Policeman. In fact, it is now something of a badge of honour to be teased about one’s profession. But I have always felt that the record of my cap badge’s forebears during the First World War has been treated most unfairly by many commentators; both social and historical, professional and amateur.
The Military Police began the First World War as a tiny corps of 508 Regulars, boosted by 253 former Military Police soldiers who had been ‘re-called to the Colours’. By the end of the conflict, they numbered over 18,000 and had been deployed on every front. Their duties included traffic control and enabling manoeuvre on the battlefield, the handling of prisoners of war, the prevention and investigation of crime, and close protection duties.
Over the past 100 years, there have been various allegations levelled against the Military Police, including charges of shooting their own kind in cold blood without due process. However, the credibility of many of these can be questioned. As a trained detective I look for facts and, during my time researching this particular aspect of my unit’s history, I have found surprisingly little or no evidence to support the assertions made.
I think it is of vital importance to take a balanced look at the evidence. So I am very grateful to the National Army Museum in giving me the opportunity to discuss my findings and to start to set the record straight.