"And they [the Military Police] always took a great deal of pride in their own personnel appearance. [...] even under the worst conditions of dust and smoke and rain and everything else."
The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] had a bit of a history with the Provost Corps [the military police corps of the Canadian Army] and when I was in recruit training, we had instructors for PT [Physical Training] and foot drill and academic subjects and so on and at that time, it still wasn’t too long after World War II, some of our instructors were Provost Corps members. That is they were members of the army, our physical training instructors, foot drill instructors, shooting instructors, driving instructors even were members seconded from the Provost Corps to the RCMP for training purposes, both in Regina and in Ottawa. So there’s a bit of an association there.
Now, to get back to your original question, I served on detachment in British Columbia after I was posted out here in 1950 and the Korean War had started [in June 1950]. But in 1952, I was up at a little town called Port Alice, the northern end of Vancouver Island is a policeman up there and word came out from our headquarters in Ottawa asking for volunteers to serve over in Korea as part of the Canadian Provost Corps because they were short of personnel over there at that time. So myself and three other RCMP members from Vancouver Island, we volunteered for Provost Corps training and in September of 1952, we went to Camp Borden [Ontario] for one month’s training. We went down there by train and lived in barracks down there, we were issued with army uniform, berets and the whole bit and battle dress, tunic. And as insignia for our cap badge, we didn’t wear the Provost Corps cap badge, we took our own RCMP hat badge, which we wore on our berets.
So in Camp Borden, we had four weeks training. The first week, we lived in the barracks there in the Canadian Provost Corps section of the barracks. And during that month, we had one week of lectures about army organization and so on. We had another week of weapons training, different kinds of weapons that the military used. And a third week was on maneuvers, both day and night field maneuvers. And a fourth week training on motorcycles. Because the Provost Corps did a lot of dispatch riding and had to be relatively mobile for their duties overseas. So we had a week of motorcycle training as well down at Camp Borden.
And after that, we returned to our own detachments and then in 1953, there was another 90 personnel, they went to I think Camp Shiloh in Manitoba for a month’s training for the Provost Corps for Korea. But as it turned out, the Korean War wound down [by the signature of an armistice on July 27th, 1953] and was concluded before any of us got called to go over to Korea.
When we were in Camp Borden undergoing our training at the Provost Corps School, we became quite aware of the esprit de corps amongst the Provost Corps company. Very much of a pride of service there because although they didn’t actually, the Provost Corps didn’t actually function as policemen, they were very much involved in traffic duty on the war front, because they would be at the intersections of crossroads showing the advancing armies which way to go, which way the front was and so on.
And they always took a great deal of pride in their own personnel appearance. They had their webbing equipment, their white webbed belts and putties and so on were white and they always had a great pride in keeping themselves neat and clean and tidy, even under the worst conditions of dust and smoke and rain and everything else. And I’ve heard from other military members that while they didn’t really like the Provost Corps members during peacetime activities, that when they were in fighting the war, it always gave them a sense of comfort and pride to see these guys out on point duty and riding their motorbikes, running dispatches and so on, in the war zones. So this, this pride of service was very much evident down at Camp Borden.
When we were in Camp Borden, there were 90 of us that went there, 90 RCMP members that went to Camp Borden in September of 1952. And we were split up into three companies of 30 men each. Well, two of the Provost Corps company staff at that time had been drill instructors for me when I was at depot. One was now a sergeant major and the other one was a second lieutenant, although they had both been sergeants when they were instructing us in Regina in recruit training. So it was quite a coincidence and quite a nice renewal of friendship in 1952 to see these two fellows again.