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'The Burma Military Police is a semi-military force intended to perform at the cheapest possible cost :

a. Frontier Watch and Ward duties

b. Deal with minor insurrections amongst the less civilized hill tribes

c. transport treasure

d. guard and transport long term prisoners to and from jail.

Thus writes Barry Renfrew in his sparse coverage of the Burma Military Police in his book Forgotten Regiments : Regular and Volunteer Units of the British Far East.

I am researching the Burma Military Police and invite other interested Members to contribute with information, images of and citations for awards to the regiment, insignia, uniforms and anything else. As the regiment fought serious battles and supplied drafts to various theatres during the Great War I feel that the topic is better suited to this forum rather than the colonial police forum.

I will put up the images I have such as the above photograph of the officers and colours of the 9th Burmah Battalion plus notes that I have collated. There are five more photos that I have extracted from an 1896 edition of The Navy and Army Illustrated.

On the very interesting web page: http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/burma/bmp.htm

a book: The History of the Burma Military Police by Colonel S.F.C. Peile is shown.

Does any Member know of the whereabouts of a copy of this book?

Harry

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NCOs representing the different classes recruited for the Burma Military Police

In 1886 the British authorities wished to reduce the cost of garrisoning Upper Burma and the Burma Military Police was raised to replace regular Indian Army units.

European Officers were seconded from the Indian Army (and sometimes from the British Army) and Indian Officers and men were recruited from the Punjab and Nepal.

Favoured classes were Gurkhas, Pathans, Garwhalis, Punjabi Muslims, Kumaonis and Dogras.

Pensions could be received after 15 years service.

Non-Indians were first recruited in 1909 when Chins were accepted in some units. This was followed by the recruitment of Kachins and other hill tribes, with very few Burmans being enlisted.

Another definition of duties, but for frontier battalions rather than those in the large towns, was:

The duties of the force on the frontier are :

Policing the frontier.

Repelling local raids.

Providing escorts to civil officers.

Furnishing columns for such work as the slave releasing in the Triangle and Hukawng valley and punitive columns.

Intelligence.

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During the Great War the B.M.P. sent drafts to Indian regiments, especially to the Gurkha regiments. There are 662 BMP casualties shown as attached to Indian Army units, including the 14th Sikhs, 85th Burma Rifles, 120th Rajputana Infantry, the Guides Infantry., and others I believe the great majority were Gurkhas. sent to Gurkha regiments.

Michael

Edited by Michael Johnson

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Menin Gate Memorial to Burma Military Police

Thank you for the comment Michael.

Looking at the Menin Gate Memorial above you are right for France & Flanders.

However looking at the three following images from East Africa a different picture emerges.

British & Indian Memorial, Nairobi, Kenya

British & Indian Memorial, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, a

British & Indian Memorial, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, b

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Indian General Service Medal to a British Army officer serving with the BMP

I.G.S. 1854, 2 bars, Burma 1885-7, Kachin Hills 1892-3 to Lieut. E.L. Williams, Liverpool Regiment, wounded Burma 19/6/1886 during an affair with Dcoits at Nepah, near Menboo, killed in action Kachin Hills, 11 February, 1893. From ‘Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India, The Kachins’ ‘Early in February news was received at Namhkam of the gathering of malcontents on the Chinese frontier to the north-east, and fifty men were sent to occupy Se-Lan, thirteen miles from Namhkam. Not withstanding this precaution a large number of marauders crossed the Wanteng and settled at Man Hang, a Kachin village in the hills above Muse. A patrol of thirty five men, under a native officer, was shortly afterwards attacked at Muse by the inhabitants of Man Hang, who were, however, beaten off with the loss of thirteen killed. In punishment for this attack a party of seventy five military police under Lieutenant Williams, was sent to burn the village of Man Hang. The village had been successfully captured when Lieutenant Williams was killed by a chance shot, and the party then retired without burning the place or destroying the stockades.’ Ernest Llewellyn Williams, b. 1866 of Widdecombe vicarage, Ashburton, Devon. Commd. Liverpool Regt. 1885, Asst. Commandant Burma Military Police Battalion, Mandalay, 1892. With PRO copies of the telegram informing his father of him being killed in action Kachin Hills and a copy of the acknowledgement. Kachin Hills clasp loose on ribbon

(courtesy of British Medals website)

Two things are illustrated here:

a. British Army officers could apply for secondment to the BMP

b. The type of operations that the BMP had been hired to do

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It's interesting that all the names on the Menin Gate memorial are typical Gurkha names: Rai, Gurung and so on, while all of the names on the other memorials appear to be Muclim, presumably Pathans and PMs. That strongly suggests, as already mentioned, that the drafts sent to other unbits during the Great Wat were 'sorted' by ethnicity and/or religion.

Peter

Edited by peter monahan

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I took a quick sample from Geoff's search engine (although I think you can now do the same thing with CWGC). Obviously in 1914-15 there was an urgent need for Gurkhas in France, but I think all classes of the BMP were drawn on, although the only Burmese regiment was the 85th.

Incidentally, the record of the Assam Military Police is similar.

Michael

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Demonstrating fire positions. The bugler is there to sound 'Commence Firing' or 'Cease Firing'. He also raises the flag when firing is suspended.

A useful book for understanding the formation of the BMP is: The Pacification of Burma by Sir Charles Haukes Todd Crosthwaite.

It is freely downloadable here: http://archive.org/details/pacificationofbu00crosrich

XXXXXXXX

Thanks for the comments on drafts, obviously drafts were formed by class to reflect the class structure of the unit being reinforced.

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Bhamo Burma Military Police Battalion ready for inspection

As a battalion of the BMP was raised it was named after the town where its headquarters was located.

Bhamo is in the north-east of Burma, south of Myitkyina, in Kachin tribal territory.

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attachicon.gifMusketry training, BMP.jpg

Demonstrating fire positions. The bugler is there to sound 'Commence Firing' or 'Cease Firing'. He also raises the flag when firing is suspended.

A useful book for understanding the formation of the BMP is: The Pacification of Burma by Sir Charles Haukes Todd Crosthwaite.

It is freely downloadable here: http://archive.org/details/pacificationofbu00crosrich

XXXXXXXX

Thanks for the comments on drafts, obviously drafts were formed by class to reflect the class structure of the unit being reinforced.

Harry thanks for that,

Alas sad individual that I am I will certainly read the book as I have a few medals in my collection to the Burma Military Police.

Paul

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Shelling a hostile village - loading

Then here is another book that you definitely will want to download - the reading isn't difficult as it is full of photos!

There are some classic shots for the Empire historians - eg: one of the Lushai Frontier Police.

The Image of War or Service on the Chin Hills (1894) by Surgeon-Captain A.G.E. Newland, Indian Medical Service, 2nd Burma Battalion.

http://archive.org/details/imageofwarorserv00newlrich

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Thanks for that, interesting, a narrative photo album, I will have to see if I can download the book listed at the back "Dogs for a Hot Climate" I bet that's a right rivetting read.

Paul

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Here is a list of the BMP medals in my collection. Hopefully within the next month I will be able to get images of the pieces (work permitting "laborare morire est").


IGS 1854, 2 clasps, Burma 1885-87, Burma 1887-89 (Sepoy
Bugga Singh, Mily Police Bn. Pyinmana)


IGS 1854, 2 clasps, Chin-Lushai 1889-90, Lushai 1889-92
(Havr. Sueraj Chattu, Surma Valley Mil. Police)

IGS 1854, 3 clasps, Burma, 1885-87. 1887-89, 1889-92 (1066
Pte. Jowala Singh 11 Yamethin Mily. Police Bn)


IGS 1854, 1 clasp, Chin Hills 1889-92 (565 Indar Schwebo
Mil. Police Bn.)

IGS 1854, 1 clasp, Kachin Hills (1666 Sepoy Hazara Singh,
Chin Levy Mil. Police)

IGS 1854, no clasp (but Kachin Hills entitlement) (2161 Pte
Shah Hussain B.M. Police)

B.W.M. (Mochi Sundar Singh Myit Bn. B.M.P)

Victory Medal (Gunkahar Singh, C.H. Bn. B.M.P.)

The no clasp Kachin Hills is an amusing tale. It was in the DNW December 2007 auction with clasp, I was the underbidder, it was bought by a dealer who needed a Kachin Hills class to complete a very expensive officers group. After he had removed the clasp he
gave me the medal as a gift, which means I am hoping one day a Kachin Hills clasp will appear on the market so I can restore it to its former glory. If any member ever sees or hears of one I will be eternally grateful.

All the best,

Paul


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"Thanks for that, interesting, a narrative photo album, I will have to see if I can download the book listed at the back "Dogs for a Hot Climate" I bet that's a right rivetting read."

Sure! Right up there with:

New Manual of Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine. An Easy and Comprehensive Arrangement of Diseases, Adapted to the Use of Every Owner Domestic Animals, and Especially Designed for the Farmer Living Out of the Reach of Medical Advice, and Showing him the Way of Treating his Sick Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Swine, and Dogs. Boericke & Tafel, New York, 1880. 322pp + 16 pages advertisements. ;)

Edited by peter monahan

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Sounds like a book my father's family had: "What to Do Until the Doctor Comes". After reading it my father (as a boy) was convinced he was pregnant - he had all the symptoms. :unsure:

Michael

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I like this - a relaxed but very specific spot of field training, with a little local cultural exchange going on.

The Brit officer, quite rightly, is positioned off-centre stage.

The BMP signallers were excellent. This was a necessity because of the isolation of many posts.

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Ration issues had to be watched with the eyes of a hawk.

Measuring weights had to be regularly checked. A few pounds short here or there could easily lead to a 'buckshee' sack of flour for the storekeeper to dispose of privately.

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Three invaluable reference sources for your ongoing research into the Burma Military Police battalions would be;

1. Deeds of Valour: Performed By Indian Officers And Soldiers, During The Period From 1860 to 1925 (P.P. Hypher, Simla 1927)

Effectively a register of award winners of the Indian Order of Merit. The book contains in chronological order most of the dated Goverment Orders (GGO's) listing award details - and often the full recommendations - of the awards of the Indian Order of Merit (Military Division) gained by recipients who served with various Burma Military Police battalions between 1886-1921, including those BMP personnel who were attached to regular Indian Army regiments during the Great War

An extremely hard book to find for sale, but several copies are extant and held by some of the major national libraries in the United Kingdom, including the British Library

2. Honours and Awards Indian Army 1914-1921 (J. B. Hayward & Son, un-dated re-print of 'Roll of Honour Indian Army 1914-1921, originally published in 1931

The best - and only - single published source that contains listings of the respective British and Foreign Decorations, awarded to native officers and men of the Indian Army, included Burma Military Police during the period of the Great War and immediate post-war operations. Arranged by award, the respective listings show basic details of recipients i.e., number, rank, name, and force (as opposed to place) in which the award was earned. The book has no index, and cross reference of the different award listings would be necessary to establish whether a recipient earned more then one type of decoration.

3. The Lineages and Composition of the Gurkha Regiments in the British Service (J.L. Chapple, 1985 and several editions since by The Gurkha Museum)

This latter reference is probably the best single source explaining the origins and evolution of most, if not all, the numerous BMP battalions raised since 1886. There are also some useful notes and numerical abstracts relating to the Gurkha compositions of these battalions as of 1 January 1919 - indeed a tally of these latter figures shows an estimated total of 5,539 Gurkhas serving in 10 of the 13 BMP battalion then extant (the only BMP battalions not to record Gurkha classes were, the Shwebo, Mandalay and Toungoo Battalions BMP). The latest edition of this book by Field Marshal Chapple should be available from The Gurkha Museum

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Aberdonian

Many thanks for your informative reply - my response is tardy because I am travelling.

I have all but the elusive Hypher - maybe one day!

The problem (but an insignificant one when the amount of sunshine received is measured) of living on an island in the Atlantic is the difficulty of accessing references in London,

But that doesn't prevent some basic indexing being started, as you suggest. Thank you again.

Harry

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