109 PROVOST COMPANY CMP

To trace the war history of 109 Provost Company it is necessary to go back to those momentous

days in 1939 when war clouds were beginning to gather over Europe. Hitler, by subterfuge, had
gathered Sudatenland into the folds of the greater German Reich, and not having any further claims to

Europe proceeded to annex the remainder of Czecho-Slovakia to prove his sincerity.

Britain at last woke up to the fact that war was imminent. Territorial Army was to be brought up

to strength.

Regular Army reservists were to be called up for training, and conscription was mooted; this

was March 1939. In that month 13 Territorial Provost Companies (on paper) were born – 12 for the

already existing Territorial divisions and one for a Mobile Division which did not exist.

The roots of 109 Provost Company are in that Mobile Div Provost Coy, which formed in May in

Regents Park Barracks, under command of the late Major Geoffrey Sebag-Montifiore MBE.

The 3rd Sept 1939 found the Company in small detachments at all the London railway termini

doing normal station duties. Also at the Tower where the first enemy, submarine and aircraft crews

were brought for interrogation before evacuation to permanent P.W. Camps; and Olympia, one of the first enemy civilian internment camps. But it still kept its title until in Oct 1939, it was ordered to mobilize for overseas.

It then became No 2 L of C Provost Company, the least mobile of any type of Company of that

period!

Like the mule, with no pride of ancestry and no hope of posterity, the mobile Division Provost

Company (TA) died; but it left one record:

April 1939 - On paper

December 1939- In France – the first TA Provost Coy with the B.E.F.

Sections of the re-formed Company were posted to Paris, Marseilles, Nante and Rennes and to provide the continuity between the Mobile Div Provost Coy (TA) and 109 Provost Company, it is now necessary to spotlight the section posted to Paris. This detachment expanded until it became a Company.   The “phoney” period, coupled with the attractions of that City, were more than a detachment could handle.

There it did good work, until, through circumstances beyond its control, it was compelled to

evacuate France through St Nazaire, and eventually found itself in Northern Ireland, where it became the Provost Coy for the British Troops Northern Ireland.

The Company was responsible for training many drafts for the Middle and Far East and finally the HQ and some sections were posted to Oxford to form the 2nd Army Provost Company under the command of Capt Corbett, when it was given the number 109.

The Company was then made up to 9 sections, two sections were with 2nd Army Main HQ, and

one section with Army Rear HQ. Company HQ and the rest of the sections moved to Tring,

Hertfordshire for intensive training. Whilst there the Company took part in many exercises including the secret trial of the new amphibious tanks and invasion exercises at Bognor Regis; also security duties during the trials of the rocket firing Typhoon at Swanage Bay.

2nd Army HQ sections moved meanwhile to Ashley Gardens, London for the invasion

conference.   In May 1944, HQ and six sections moved to Slinfold, Surrey for final preparation for the invasion.   The Company embarked for the continent at Gosport, and advance elements of the 2nd Army HQ sections landed in Normandy on “D” Day (6 June 44).   The remainder of the Company landed on “D” plus 4 on Green beach.

The duties carried out after the initial stages of the invasion were traffic control and the

maintenance of routes between the beaches and Corps boundaries. On the visit of H.M. the King and Mr Churchill, the Company provided escorts.   After the Caen battle and the break through, the Coy. moved forward to Falaise, and some sections were left to take up positions along the main route in 2nd Army area.

The next move was to Chambais, crossing the Seine at Vernon, then through Amiens into

Belgium, signing routes S. A 26 and 27, later known as 240 route. Company HQ was established at

Tournai, then moved to Hal near Brussels. Two sections were responsible for policing Brussels from

the first day of liberation until relieved by 120 Provost Company.

Moving onwards again, Company HQ became established at Louvain and carried out the usual

duties of maintaining routes to the forward areas, also policing Louvain. During this period a number of enemy agents and collaborators were arrested. Winter quarters were established at Sonis in  Belgium, with detachments at Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Hasselt, Diest, Durne and Neepelt.

During the enemy’s Ardennes offensive the Company was employed in the moves of Divisions

back from Holland into Belgium, and after the offensive moved back into Holland, crossed the Maas at Velo, and the German frontier at Bocholt. The Rhine was crossed at Xanton and Company HQ became established at Burgsteinfurt.

The general duties at that time were the establishment of order, displaced persons camps and

the safeguarding of routes. Two advanced sections were ordered to Belsen camp and arrived a few

hours after liberation, helping to maintain its isolation.

Luneburg Heath was the final HQ in active operations, where the enemy’s northern armies

capitulated.  The Company was addressed by Lt Gen Sir Miles Dempsey, 2nd Army Commander, who thanked them for the good work that had been done since the first week of the invasion.

The Company then drew back to Bunde where the 2nd Army HQ was finally disbanded. But not

109 Provost Company, it still had work to do.   Potsdam conference was next on the agenda, and the Company was ordered to move to Berlin on the 25 June 45, where it provided escorts for VIPs and security in and around the conference buildings.

At the conclusion of the Potsdam conference the Company was moved back to Minden, where it was reformed on a ports basis and seconded for duty with Control Commission. HQ was set up in Lubbecke, with detachments at Berlin, Minden and Bunde.

Photograph was taken on the 21st July 1945 at Babelsberg, near Potsdam and shows members of 109 Provost Company prior to escorting Mr Churchill, Mr Eden and party to Berlin victory parade. Captain Carter and Lieutenant Richardson seated.

             

Original document held by RMP Museum.

z\109 Provost Company went from  Normandy to Berlin and only suffered one casualty: 1791133 Cpl E T Burke, CMP who died from heart failure 9/9/44 and was buried in Ath (Lorette) Communal Cemetery, Belgium.   Below a photograph of his funeral.

Motorcycle escorts from 109 Provost Company, CMP.   Note peaks on motorcycle crash helmets and white infantry equipment.

Honours and Awards to 109 Pro Coy, CMP.

19/6/45 Lt E O Cemlyn-Jones (134265) Royal Welch Fusiliers awarded Mentioned in Dispatches, Italy.   11/6/45 became OC 109 Pro Coy.

4/4/46 Lt J B Heathcote (232402) Royal Artillery awarded Mentioned in Dispatches North West Europe.   26/10/44 109 Pro Coy.

4/4/46 Capt (temp) H E Elsmore (265934) General List mentioned in Dispatches, North West Europe.   26/9/45 APM 109 Pro Coy.

5/1/44 No. 5944431 WO1 (RSM) R Coulson awarded the C in C' 21 Army Group certificate of good service.

26/8/45 No. 2613377 Sgt D F Cook, awarded the C in C 21 Army Group certificate for good service whilst in command of section of 109 Provost Company at Rear HQ, 2 Army.

109 Provost Company, CMP, Germany 1945

The above photographs were taken from the photograph album of Sgt John Crosby, CMP.

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