The Canadian Provost Corps
1939 - 1946


England circa 1941. Provost present their Smith & Wesson revolvers for inspection.
PAC Photo


While on duty outside Canada, Provost were armed with a variety of weapons. Handguns were normally carried on duty, Provost were also issued rifles and submachineguns for PW escorts and in forward areas.


Revolvers were the standard issue up to late 1944, these were mostly American made .38 calibre Smith & Wessons and British Enfield No2 Mk1s.

Military .380 revolver ammunition was a rather anemic round by today's standards. The issue military load had a copper jacketed lead bullet weighing 200 grains, and was known as the .38/200. To avoid confusion with the longer and more powerful .38 Special cartridge then in common use in North America, the designation 38/380 will sometimes be found stamped on the barrels of American made revolvers.

Beginning in late 1944 revolvers on issue to Provost were withdrawn and replaced with Inglis Browning semi automatic pistols, the Hi-Power was not completely standard issue until early 1945. The Inglis was a Canadian made version of the Belgian P35, and was an immediate success. It proved to be very reliable and saw service with the Canadian military for more than 50 years.

Canadian military issue handguns are often found marked with the C Arrow denoting Canadian ownership, but this was by no means universal.

Smith & Wesson Military And Police

The Smith & Wesson Military And Police revolver (S&W M&P) was first produced in 1905 as the .38 Hand Ejector model. It was availible in 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch barrel lengths. Purchases by Canada began in 1940 and eventually totalled over 118,000.

In late 1944, revolvers held by Provost were withdrawn and replaced by the Inglis Browning. Of interest, the Smith & Wesson Military And Police revolver saw long postwar service with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In .38 Special calibre, it was known as the Smith & Wesson Model 10.



Left and right views of an early Canadian acquisition Military & Police revolver. Typical features are the checkered grips and good quality blued finish.



Left and right views of Military & Police revolver with smooth grips.

Detail of the C Arrow stamp denoting Canadian military ownership.

Enfield No.2 Mk 1


Large numbers of Enfield No2 revolvers were used by Canadian Provost from 1939 to late 1944. British made, it was a 6 shot single or double action revolver in .380/200 calibre.



Detail of an Enfield No.2 Mark 1 as originally produced.


Detail of the double action Enfield No.2 Mark 1** showing the lack of hammer spur.

Browning Hi-Power


By early 1945, most of the Enfield revolvers and other handguns on issue to Provosts had been withdrawn and replaced by the Canadian manufactured Inglis Hi-Power pistol. A copy of an FN Browning design, the Hi-Power was a 13 shot, 9mm semi automatic pistol. It proved immensely popular and was so successful it became the standard Canadian military sidearm for the following 50 years.


For more detailed information on Canadian military pistols, Canadian Military Handguns 1855 - 1985 by Clive M. Law is highly recommended. It is availible from Service Publications


Submachinegun, Thompson M1928 And M1928A1

Considerable numbers of Thompson submachineguns were purchased by Canada and the United Kingdom early in the Second World War. The M1928 Thompson was familiar to Canadians as it appeared in dozens of gangster movies in the 1930s. It had a distinctive vertical foregrip, and like it's successor the M1928A1, it could use a 50-round drum or 20 or 30 round stick magazines. The M1928A1 variant entered mass production in 1941. Changes included a horizontal forend omitting the foregrip, and military sling swivels. Although fairly heavy, the Thompson was a popular Infantry weapon and also saw limited issue to Provost.

Right side view of the Thompson M1928. Note the cocking handle on the top of the reciever.

Thompson M1928 with the butt removed and a 50 round drum magazine.

Right side view of a M1928A1

Left side view of a M1928A1 with the sling fitted.

Note the "C Broad Arrow" stamped on the pistol grip indicating Canadian ownership.

Length:33.5 in (851 mm)
Weight:10.8lb (4.9kg)
Operation: blowback, semi or full automatic
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rd stick mag; 50 or 100 rd drum mag.
Rate of fire:800 - 1200 rpm

Submachinegun, Thompson M1 And M1A1

The M1, formally adopted as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1, was a result of further simplification. The bolt was modified and rate of fire was also reduced to approximately 600-700 rpm. The M1 utilized a simple blowback operation, the cocking handle was moved to the side, and the ajustable rear sight replaced with a fixed aperture peep sight. The reciever was modified by removing the slots for the drum magazine, 20 and 30 round stick magazines were the only magazines used with the M1. The buttstock was non removable and the bolt was simplified.

Length:32 in (813 mm)
Weight:10.6 lb (4.8 kg)
Operation: blowback, semi or full automatic
Magazine capacity: 20 or 30 rd stick mag.
Rate of fire: 600 - 700 rpm

Machine Carbine (Submachinegun) Sten Mark II

Nicknamed by soldiers the "plumber's nightmare" is probably the most familiar Commonwealth submachinegun of the Second World War. The major weak point of the Sten was it's single feed magazine which was prone to jamming. In addition, the cocking handle could be caught on clothing or equipment and could be drawn back far enough to strip a round from the magazine and fire it. A number of severe wounds and some deaths were caused by accidental discharge in this manner.
The magazine housing can be rotated to cover the ejection port when not in use. Sights were non-adjustable and fixed at 100 yards.
The Sten was inexpensive and simple to make and in general, if properly used and maintained, a reasonably reliable weapon. 133,000 Stens were produced by Long Branch Arsenal during the Second World War. Beginning in 1955, the Sten was replaced in Canadian service by the SMG C1, but stocks were still held in some Reserve armouries as late as 1970.

Length:30 in (762mm)
Weight:6 lb 8 oz (2.95 kg)
Operation: blowback, semi or full automatic
Magazine capacity: 32 rd stick. (Normally loaded to 30).
Rate of fire: 550 rpm

Right and left side views of the Sten Mk II.

Sten with the action cocked and the cocking handle in the safety slot.

The major component parts, showing the two patterns of butt. The magazine housing has been rotated to cover the ejection port.

Typical markings of a Sten MK II made in 1943.

The major weak point of the Sten was it's double column, single feed magazine (right). The feed lips were prone to damage and jamming. Contrast that with the staggered feed magazine for the Sterling SMG C1 on the left.

After 4 or 5 rounds were loaded into the magazine it became very difficult to load further rounds by hand due to the pressure of the magazine spring. Several patterns of magazine loaders were adopted, the version on the right is the most commonly encountered.

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