Cpl. Norman Turner Conradi – #4114

Photograph of Cpl. Norman Conradi (Reg. #4114) (Source of photo - RCMP Quarterly - July 1968 edition).

 

 

 

 

There are many amazing stories of heroism with the ranks of the Force.  Here is the story of young Norman Conradi.

 

 

 

At 20, Norman Conradi had probably led a more adventurous life than many men twice his age.  He left his native New-Castle-on-Tyne, England, shortly before his 16th birthday and made his way to Nova Scotia.

There he worked for a time cutting timber in the woods and during non-working hours he was a member of a rowing crew in Halifax.  The lure of the sea was strong and he signed up on the crew of a sailing vessel plying the Atlantic between ports in Nova Scotia and South America.

After three years at sea, young Conradi decided it was time to have a look at other parts of Canada.  Arriving at Moosomin, N.W.T., he secured farm work in the Cailmount area and later became a store clerk in Moosomin.

Early photograph of Moosomin NWT.

Early photograph of Moosomin NWT.

Eight months after his 20th birthday, Conradi decided to join the North-West Mounted Police.  Cst. Norman Tuner Conradi signed on for five years at Regina on November 18, 1903.  He was given Regimental Number 4114.

Not a big man by Force standards – in fact he was almost two inches shy of the five-foot eight-inch minimum – Constable Conradi was destined two years later to perform one of those acts of courage which are a byword in the history of the Mounted Police.

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After recruit training, Conradi was sent to Battleford early in 1904, then “C” Division headquarters.  In the summer of 1905 he was selected to open a new detachment at Wardenville – a place that no longer exists on the map.

On October 5, 1905 – a Thursday – Constable Conradi had just finished dinner at the home of settler Clifford E. O’Neil of Manito Lake, Sask.  Emerging from the house, the two noticed a large prairie fire about two miles to the east,  advancing in a westerly direction at about nine miles an hour.

Directly in the path of the blaze were the tents of a new settler, G.T. Young, his wife and ten small children.  Although warned against it by O’Neil, Constable Conradi immediately saddled up and galloped toward Young’s holdings.

When he arrived, the fire was about a mile away.  Young had his four horses hitched up and had plower an area about 300 yards in circumference around his tents and haystack.  Conradi took over the plower and managed to get one more furrow completed before the fire was upon them.

The policeman instructed Young to unhitch his horses and turn them loose.  His own mount was grazing inside the fireguard.  Conradi grabbed a pail of water and a sack and started a backfire on the east side.  Looking up, he noticed another blaze approaching from the north, so he raced to that end of the fireguard and set a second backfire.

But the effort was fruitless and the flames were right on top of the constable.

Overcome with smoke, he was dazed for a few minutes, but upon recovery ran for the tents to perceive the welfare of Mrs. Young and the children.

One tent was on fire and when Young saw this, he seemed frozen to the spot.  Conradi yelled at him, asking the whereabouts of his family and Young snapped out of it long enough to say they had disappeared.

The policeman began a search and finally located Mrs. Young and the children trying to take refuge in a small slough – but the fire from the north was almost on top of them.  Conradi grabbed up the two youngest and instructing Mrs. Young and the others to follow, dashed into the unburnt tent.  At that moment, Young came running in, announcing that all the horses had perished.

Photograph of a prairie grass fire.

Photograph of a prairie grass fire.

Conradi was surprised to hear this and ran outside to have a look.  He found Young’s four horses and his own tied to a wagon.  The saddle on the policeman’s horse was on fire so he uncinched it and cut the bridle.  The horse remained prone for a few minutes, then rose to its feet and ambled away.  Conradi also unhitched the other horses.

He rounded up his own again, and finding it badly burned around the head applied axle grease, then let it roam after the others.

After salvaging some of the family’s effects from the burned tent and seeing O’Neil approaching, Constable Conradi walked back to his place, borrowing a saddle horse and rode to Poundmaker’s Reserve to report to Cpl. C.S. Harper.  Conradi returned to the scene of the fire at five the following afternoon and eventually located his horse standing in a bluff.

The sicker animal had its jaws wide open, was completely blind and apparently deaf.  Hesitatingly, Constable Conradi drew his service revolver and put it out of its misery.

Later a grateful Young sent a letter to Conradi’s Commanding Officer in Battleford, Supt. A.C. Macdonell:

…his pluck and endurance I cannot praise too highly, fighting till he was near suffocated, his hat burned off his head, his hair singed and vest on fire.

My wife and family owe their lives to Mr. Conradi and I feel, with them, we shall never be able to repay him for his brave conduct.

In a report to the Commissioner at Regina, Superintendent Macdonell recommended Constable Conradi be promoted for meritorious conduct.  For his excellent service on this occasion, Commissioner Bowen Perry praised the actions of Constable Conradi and promoted him to the rank of Corporal with only two years service in the Force.  Conradi  left Battleford in January 1906 to attend a corporals’ class, and was promoted on April 1.

Photograph of Corporal Norman Canradi (Source of photo - RCMP Quarterly Magazine).

Photograph of Corporal Norman Conradi (Source of photo – RCMP Quarterly Magazine).

Corporal Conradi returned to Battleford following the class and that summer was sent out to relieve Corporal Harper at Sounding Lake detachment, actually in Alberta, but under the jurisdiction of Battleford headquarters.  Upon Harper’s return, Conradi was transferred to Lloydminster, Sask.

On October 14, 1906, Cst. H.R. Handcock of Lloydminster detachment walked into the stables and found Corporal Conradi lying on the floor in great pain.  He had been kicked in the groin by a horse.  Conradi was treated  by Dr. W.W. Amos and seemed to be on the mend, but four days later developed cystitis and Dr. Amos immediately confined him to hospital.  He was eventually released November 8, but unfit for duty.  He returned to Battleford.

As soon as he regained his health, Corporal Conradi acted as a patrol NCO ranging west and south of Battleford area and in August 1907 he took charge of Sounding Lake detachment until replaced in February 1908 by Cpl. George Sheppard.

Corporal Conradi had run afoul of certain rules and regulations and was reduced to the rank of constable on April 1.  The incident related to this demotion was a situation where Corporal Conradi kept a private horse in the detachment stable at Sounding Lake Detachment and permitted a civilian to live at the Detachment.  Then on June 25, 1908, he was back in Service Court for allowing a prisoner to escape.  Consequently, he received a fined of $19.20 and 6 months of hard labour.   He was not re-engaged when his term expired on Dec.  10, 1908.

After leaving the Force, he moved to Vancouver where he passed away on September 25, 1910.  He is buried in the Old Section of the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, B.C.

Photograph of RCMP stetson and gloves (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)

Photograph of RCMP stetson and gloves (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles)

The above article was extracted from the April 1968 edition of the RCMP Quarterly Magazine.

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