The CMPC in New York
As previously stated, the CMPC’s primary mission was to enforce conscription. In New York, the first head of station ensured that the media, and the American public, believed his mission was broader. The British Assistant Provost Marshal meant to apprehend fakers, deserters and other “undesirables”. That first head of station was Lt. Col Frederick Fraser Hunter, who arrived in March, 1918.
The British Assistant Provost Marshal (B.A.P.M) headquarters was located near Battery Park, New York City with 50 personnel assigned. This placed the headquarters well south of the BCMR’s main office on 681 fifth avenue, but within easy reach of the main recruiting office on 280 Broadway. Canada and Britian split funding for the B.A.P.M. Additionally, USA, Canada and Britian entered into a tri-party agreement on authorities. The B.A.P.M was the first foreign law enforcement authorized to operate in the United States. Moreso, the United States supported and assisted the B.A.P.M.
From various newspaper articles, The B.A.P.M prosecuted at least four cases. One case involved two Americans who volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Corps. They were declared deserters when they returned to Viriginia after the dissolution of the Air Corps in 1916. (Note: The Air Corps was reconstituted in 1917.) However, most of the cases were fakers.
Fakers posed as British officers with great military deeds and attempted to cash large cheques from Canadian banks. Usually, the faker would get a free meal, a free night’s stay, and some of the cash. The newspapers ran a few stories about these fakers and how they were caught by the B.A.P.M.
As for Col. Hunter, he led a storied and controversial life. Born in 1876 in Dunham, Ontario, Canada, he traveled the world in service of the empire. Hunter earned distinction during his survey mission in India and during his time with the South Perisan Rifles. Because of his Canadian background, he was the B.A.P.M. until April, 1919 when most of Canada’s war aparatuses were dismantled.
In 1919, the B.A.P.M. transitioned from Canadian to British hands. Besides the name change to British Army Provost Marshal, the replacement head of mission became Col. Norman G. Thwaites. Oddly enough, his courtship and marriage to Elleanor Whitridge Greenough made significant news. Unfortunately, not much appears to have been written about the B.A.P.M. under his direction.
The CMPC office in New York requires more research. Considering LtCol Hunter traveled most of the eastern seaboard of the United States, a question lingers about his true purpose. Additionally, what was the effectiveness of the New York office. Exact numbers on prosecutions were not listed in the Report on enforcement of the Military Service Act (MSA). However, the report on the Overseas Mission explicitly called out the MSA enforcement numbers as unverifiable. As result, I am unable to confidently determine the effectiveness or exact mission of the B.A.P.M. and Lt Col Fraser Hunter.
To note, Col Fraser died in Dunham, Ontario in 1959. Itt appears he married a Kate Upper in New York around 1903. More of his story can be found in the book “Kipling’s Canadian: Colonel Fraser Hunter, MPP, maverick soldier surveyor in ‘the Great Game'”.