Military Police gathered in Canberra in April to celebrate 100 years of military policing in the Australian Army, Cpl Sebastian Beurich reports.
MILITARY police from across Australia converged on Canberra from March 31 to April 3 to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police (RACMP).
The celebrations kicked off on a solemn note when members of the corps and the public gathered at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to commemorate Cpl Alfred Harston, of the Anzac Provost Corps, who was killed in action during WWI, at a Last Post ceremony.
During the ceremony RACMP RSM WO1 Ken Bullman read about Cpl Harston’s life.
“It was an honour to be involved in the Last Post ceremony and to highlight the service and sacrifice of one of our founding members,” he said.
“As a result of ab-initio recruiting, our soldiers are generally much younger now compared to when I joined, but even though some have only been in the corps for a short time, they all understood they were part of a bigger, respected, longserving organisation.”
WO1 Bullman said many things had changed over his career with RACMP, but the role had stayed the same.
“Military policing command and reporting chains have changed significantly over the past 25 years. We used to have independent companies under the military district arrangement in each state,” he said.
“While we have been built on tradition, we have restructured for the future with improvements in training, equipment and structure to meet operational and domestic challenges.”
As part of the centenary celebrations committee, WO1 Bullman had been involved with the planning and preparation of the weekend’s events for more than three years.
“While the only activity I had an active part in was the reading at the Last Post ceremony, I had oversight of the numerous activities to ensure they represented the corps in an appropriate way,” he said. On the morning of April 2, members of the corps gathered at the AWM and were joined by the Governor-General Gen Sir Peter Cosgrove, VCDF VAdm Ray Griggs, CA Lt-Gen Angus Campbell and dignitaries from state and territory police forces.
OCDCoy,1MPBn,MajBen Williams was the parade commander for the event.
“The significance and importance of the event wasn’t lost on me, however, I only focused on it after the parade was completed,” he said.
“I deliberately didn’t spend much time thinking about who was attending the parade – but the comments from unique and enjoyable experience,” Maj Williams offered a view on the significance of the weekend’s celebrations for the members who attended, both serving and former.
“The centenary activities had an impact on many people – they left a lot of us feeling a renewed sense of pride and respect for those who have served in the RACMP over the last 100 years,” he said. “While the focus and training of the corps has evolved over time, our fundamental tasks have been a constant since the corps was raised at Gallipoli. “I believe as RACMP continues to modernise, we will also maintain these traditions through our links to the past.” The Governor-General said a century ago the soldiers of the AIF at Gallipoli were revered for their bravery and courage, but were not always respectful of authority.
“It was in this environment that more than 100 mounted military policy served – albeit without their horses,” he said. “They maintained order as best they could. They ultimately played a critical role in facilitating the evacuation of 20,000 troops from that ill-fated peninsula.”
He said the work of MPs was difficult and not always popular.
“But it is essential,” he said. “You are universally respected. And your value and importance is quickly recognised by those you help and serve.
“Here today we have the largest gathering of current and former military police in living memory.
“This is a day for reflection and camaraderie. For those who have served, and those who currently serve, it is also a day for great pride and honour.” The Governor-General said the centenary parade was a tribute to military police and the contribution they had made for 100 years.
“You do your forebears proud,” he said, “and I know you will continue to serve our ADF and our great nation with distinction.”