Elements of all three wings of the Corps of Military Police were planned to land with the assault forces on the first and second tides of D-day, They comprised:
• Three Divisional Provost Companies (each of HQ and six sections) whose task was to regulate and control traffic of the assault and follow-up brigades,
• Six Beach Provost companies (each of HQ and four sections) and several traffic Control Sections, which were responsible for control of traffic and signing of routes in the beach transit and assembly areas.
• Ten sections of CMP (VP) who were responsible for guarding PW, detaining suspect civilians and Constructing cages.
• Two Corps Provost Companies who were deployed to control the area between the beaches and the forward divisions.
During the build-up the provost strength in the beach-head increased by the addition of :—
• A provost company for each division phased in after the assault.
• Four provost companies, four TC companies and one VP company for each of the armies.
• Seven provost, seven TC and three VP companies for L of C areas. L of C Provost were phased in earlier than planned, to assist in the main problem of organising traffic.
With the exception of beach provost companies who had more work than four sections could adequately handle, the allotment would have been sufficient had it landed according to plan, but owing to the failure of the Rhinos and the rough sea conditions, only divisional and corps provost companies arrived on time.
The result was that there was no proper supervision of assembly areas on the morning of D+1 and the narrow exits from the beaches were inadequately controlled.
On the afternoon of D+1, when the LSTs were beached and a flood of delayed traffic was released, there was considerable congestion on the beaches and far too few Provost to control it.
By D+2, however, more Provost had landed and the situation was greatly improved.
By D+3, although the volume of traffic was steadily increasing the forward and return routes in the BMA were working satisfactorily. With minor alterations the original‘ traffic circuits were found to be successful.
During the subsequent build-up the problem of 'maintaining an easy flow of traffic was complicated because a modern rnechanised army was attempting to manoeuvre on a system of narrow and badly maintained roads which had been designed to carry the slight traffic of an agricultural area. Within a few weeks of landing, the beach-head, which at that time measured only a little more than twenty miles broad and ten miles deep, contained 115,000 vehicles.
At one check post 18,836 vehicles passed by in one day, giving an hourly average of 785 vehicles, or nearly one vehicle every four seconds of the night and day. The policy at this time was to accept any vehicle on the road at any time, and the general object of all concerned was to keep traffic moving at all costs. Despite every effort the towns of COURSEULLES, BERNIERES, LA DELIVRANDE and BAYEUX quickly became bottlenecks.
The problem was eventually partially solved by:
• Building tank tracks, lateral cross country roads and by-passes.
• Instituting a system of movement control. In the absence of a firm plan for traffic control, movement tended to take place during the hours of daylight, leaving the roads relatively free at night, but after the institution of movement control all operational traffic was timed to take place during the hours of darkness, when administrative traffic was less heavy.
Although each provost company carried into the beach-head a reserve of signs and signing material, so that there would be little delay in laying out routes, the task was so tremendous that each company had to resort to improvisation at an early stage.
During the build-up period the congestion of formations, depots and installations in the beach-head produced a confusing multiplicity of signs. To make the system of signing uniform, Provost became responsible for co-ordinating all route signing. Each company set up a sign factory operated in the initial stages by its own personnel but later by Pioneers, civilian carpenters and sign writers.
Each corps and army was allotted a CMP (TC) signal section which proved to be invaluable, for by operating their own network of signal communications the police were greatly assisted in their problem of controlling traffic.
There was little crime recorded during this phase, but it is difficult to say how far this was due to the fact that everyone was busily occupied and how far to the fact that the time and attention of the Provost was almost entirely taken up with traffic control.
One Special Investigation Section was allotted to Second Army and during the build-up was fully occupied in investigating cases of looting and illegal disposal of WD stores.