During World War I there had been Port Police attached to Protection Companies of the Royal Defence Corps at all major ports in Great Britain.  These NCO’s wore green cap covers and were nicknamed the “Bloody Irish”).

At the start of World War II the mobilization programme in 1939 provided 2 Provost Officers and seventy CMP for port duties.   An APM and 30 other ranks were allocated to Southampton and the remainder to other UK ports.   By VE day the War Establishment for Port Provost Companies was 28 Officers and 1,371 other ranks.

Due to the alarming amount of thefts and pilfering at UK Ports it was decided to form Port Companies, the first of which was formed in 1941.   In January 1942 a Special Investigation Section was formed under Capt. J W Rignell at the Ports HQ at Blundellsands, Liverpool.   A further SIB section was formed on 15 November 1943

The APM Ports was Major R G Ruttledge with his HQ at Preston, Lancashire.

Locations of Port Provost Companies CMP 

Company numbers were allocated in March 1942.

APM Port Provost Headquarters was located at Bank’s Hall, Brotherton, Preston, Lancashire.

APM Special Investigation Branch (Ports) was located at ‘Inveralt’ Nicholas Road, Blundellsands, Liverpool.

North East Ports later 174 Ports Company was located at Newcastle upon Tyne, Tynemouth, North & South Shields, Sunderland and Middlesboro Hull and Immingham.   HQ, 76 Fern Avenue, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Bristol Channel Ports later 175 Ports Company was located at Swansea, Port Talbot, Barry, Penarth, Cardiff, Newport, Avonmouth and Sharpness.   HQ, The Barracks, Newport, Monmouthshire.

North West Ports later 176 Ports Company was located at Silloth, Barrow, Workington, Heysham, Preston, Holyhead, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Bromborough, Ellesmere Port and Manchester.   HQ at ‘Inveralt’ Nicholas Road, Blundellsands, Liverpool.

Scottish Ports later 177 Ports Company was located at Glasgow, Greenock, Faslane, Stranraer, Leith, Dundee and Aberdeen.   HQ at King George V Dock, Shieldhall, Glasgow, SW1.

South Coast Ports later 178 Ports Company was located at Southampton.   HQ at Atherley School, Hill Lane, Southampton.

179 Ports Company (Overseas).   Proceeded to North Africa

180 Ports Company (Mobilized).   HQ at 15 Park Circus Place, Glasgow, C£.

181 Ports Company (Northern Ireland Ports)  was located at Belfast, Larne and Londonderry.   HQ at Victoria Barracks, Belfast.   This Company was mobilized in April 1943 and sent to Italy.

182 Ports Company (Southampton).   HQ at Atherley School, Hill Lane, Southampton.  

Consisted of HQ and 8 Port Sections.

The Port Provost Companies also contained sections of the CMP Vulnerable Points Wing.

The Port Provost Companies main role was the prevention and detection of pilferage of stores in the course of shipment abroad, the escort of military prisoners from abroad and Prisoners of War and security.   The number of arrests by Ports Provost during the war are as follows: 1942 796, 1943 671, 1944 1,210, 1945 771.   40% were Merchant Navy, 30% Armed Forces, 30% Stevedores.

11 Ports Companies were raised for service overseas, 11 Companies raised from existing UK Companies.   2 were formed from surplus Sergeants, mainly from the Royal Artillery.   These two Companies were very successful and were part of the British Liberation Army in North West Europe.   2 served in North Africa and later Italy, 3 in Italy, 3 with the British Liberation Army and 1 in Singapore.

CMP Ports Companies did not wear any distinguishing badges or uniform apart from the normal red cap cover and MP armlet.