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Owen

Early Mounted Military Police Photographs

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I thought some of you might be interested in these early (late 19th century) photographs of Mounted Military Police Officers, Warrant Officers and NCO's. I bought them very recently because, as a retired Military Police Officer, they had obvious appeal (and I have seen very few such early pictures), however, I knew nothing about them. For instance, who or what did F.G.O.S refer to?

A bit of research quickly identified that F.G.O.S. refers to a photographer called Francis Godolphin Osbourne Stuart (c.1843–1923), a Scottish photographer, who worked in Aberdeen and London, before settling up in Southampton about 1883. He then worked chiefly in the south of England and became well known for his post cards (Wikipedia).

Curious to know if the pictures could be FGOS originals, I went back to the seller (an antiques business in Swanage) and asked where they came from. She told me that they were from the private collection of a Robert J. Smith, who she described as a military author and historian (but she knew nothing more about him). She had other military subject photographs (mainly of Yeomanry), of the same period and from the same collection.

A bit of googling revealed that a Robert (Bob) J. Smith was indeed a military author and historian (contributed to military modelling publications as well), but (sadly) I also found a post, on another forum (dated 26 March 2012), in which the post author states that he had received a letter, from R.J Smith’s wife, announcing that he had passed away. The author of the post seems to have known R.J. Smith personally and mentions a collection of photographs held by Smith.

Anyway, at the time of his death, Smith lived in Swanage. So, the pictures turning up at an antique business, in the same town, shortly after his death, made it seem likely that these were from Robert smith’s collection. I mention all of this because I feel it lends some credibility to the likelihood that the pictures may indeed be original and by FGOS.

So, to the pictures. The first picture is of a Provost Marshal of the day. His name is Major J. L. Emerson and he was appointed as Provost Marshal Aldershot in 1896, so it seems reasonable to assume that the pictures are all of the Mounted Military Police in Aldershot. There is an interesting piece on Emerson here:

PMAldershot.jpg

Source: http://www.armynavya...tary_police.htm

I need to do some research on the individuals pictured, for which the Royal Military Police museum will be an early port of call (http://www.armymuseu...lice-Museum.htm). I will report back with anything of interest.

ProvostMarshal.jpg

RSMCpl.jpg

MountedMPSgt.jpg

MountedMP.jpg

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I think you've 'hit the jackpot' with these splendid old photos. Were there others in the collection ? I would agree with you

that they are almost certainly originals - and with the identifications - must be fairly valuable. I can see a pair for Egypt - but

can't see details. We must look forward to seeing more ? Mervyn

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Mervyn, thanks for your comment. There were more photographs - mostly Yeomanry, but also some others....I only bought the Military Police ones (but, I am beginning to regret that decision!). Since writing the above, I have found that the Provost Marshal pictured is not Emerson....rather, it is Emerson's predecessor, Major Charles Broackes. The men look similar, but it was your reference to his medals that gave it away (I promise to pay more attention in future!).

Broackes has an interesting history (for a Military Policeman!) - whilst there had been Provost Officers long before Wellington's 'Bloody Provost', Broackes was part of the then relatively newly formed Corps of Military Police - indeed, he is listed as No.3 on our corps roll! Sergeant Major Charles Broackes was commissioned into the Military Police, as a Quartermaster, on 13 March 1881...he served on campaign in Egypt for a period, as Provost Marshal of the Ismailia base, earning the Egypt General Service medal & Khedives Star...his EGSM is inscribed "Lt. C. Broackes Mil. Mtd. Police" and was the first medal to be awarded to a military police officer (and it rests in the Royal Military Police museum). He went on to become Provost Marshal of Aldershot.

Footnotes

1. A total of 59 military policemen received the EGSM medal and Tel-El-Kebir clasps...2 Officers and 15 men received the medal without clasp (Broackes being one of them).

2. The de facto birth certificate of the (now) Royal Military Police is regarded to be a Horse Guards letter, dated 13 June 1855, sent to all home serving Cavalry Units. The text of the letter reads:

"Sir,

The General Commanding in Chief, deeming it necessary to form a Corps of Mounted Police for the cantonment of Aldershot, and with a view to the internal organisation of a permanent Corps, desires me to call for a return of NC Officers and soldiers, not exceeding five in all, as you may consider fit for this duty. They should not be less than five years service, if of ten the better, of sober habits, intelligent, active and capable of exercising a sound discretion.

They will be organised into one Corps under an Officer, and subject to the immediate orders of the General Officer Commanding the Cantonment.

P.A. Wetherall

Adjutant General"

In July of that year, the personnel for the new Corps (all 21 of them) came from 2nd Dragoons, 3rd Light Dragoons, 16th Lancers, 7th Hussars and 15th Hussars. Troop Sergeant Major Thomas Trout (7th Hussars) joined in the October, was appointed Assistant Provost Marshal in the November...in all, he served with the Corps for 26 years and died whilst serving in the Office of Provost Marshal (our first Provost Marshal).

Source for much of the above is the book 'Bloody Provost', by Major R.A.J. Tyler RMP (pub by Phillimore & Co Ltd, 1980).

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A few weeks ago, I donated these photographs to the Royal Military Police Museum at Southwick Park in Hampshire. They have Major Broacke's uniform and medals on display, so it seems right.

I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the museum http://www.rhqrmp.org/rmp_museum.html

Regards,

Owen

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Thanks Mervyn, nice to be back! Although, given the pace of life here, I fear lots more absences...there are times when I realise weeks have gone by and I have barely seen the light!

As for the pictures, it was nice to have had them for a while...but, having them in my 'box of interesting things' was not doing them justice...so, it was the obvious thing to do for me. Pleased I have done it and it was jright to give back to a Corps who gave me my 'life'.

Best wishes,

Owen

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