Cpl. Sidney Floyd (Reg. #9254): A Story Within The Story!

Photograph of Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

 

 

 

 

An old friend from “K” Division days, Veteran Mike Weightman (Reg # 34172) introduced me in  July 2013, to Kay Rawlings, 91 years of age, who is the daughter of a former member of the RCMP.  Her father was Corporal Sidney Floyd, Reg. # 9254.

 

 

Kay lives in a living assisted complex in Chilliwack in her own apartment.  Mike and I were met at the door by Kay who is by all appearances doing very well for her age and still has a good sense of humour, although admitting to some memory lapses.   The first thing you notice when you enter her apartment is the pictures on the walls and lying about her apartment.  

Photograph of Kay Floyd - daughter of RCMP Veteran Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Kay Floyd – daughter of RCMP Veteran Sidney Floyd (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

In the entry way there are many of her father in his uniform while he served during WWI and the days he served in the RCMP. 

There is a picture on the wall that is well known within “E” Division, a panoramic photograph of RCMP members on horseback, taken in front of the stables of Fairmont Barracks, April 28, 1921.   Those that have seen it, or have their own copy, know that there are 73 members and out front four officers all on horseback.   All the horses are dark in colour except for the lone member on an all-white horse on the extreme left flank.   The junior member perhaps?  

1921: Photograph of RCMP members at Fairmount Barracks in Vancouver, B.C.

1921: Photograph of RCMP members at Fairmount Barracks in Vancouver, B.C.

Kay does not know which member in the photo is her father but she says he is in it based on stories her father told her. 

1920: Photograph of RCMP members on horseback at "Depot" Division with "A" Block in the background (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

1920: Photograph of RCMP members on horseback at “Depot” Division with “A” Block in the background (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

She also has a group photograph of members on horseback, in Review Order, carrying lances, dated 1920, in the background, in the upper left of the photo, is the coroner of “A” Block at “Depot” Division in Regina.  She knows exactly which member is her father and clearly the picture was taken during his time in training after joining the Force.

Early photograph of Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Early photograph of Sidney Floyd (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

This much I can tell you about Corporal Floyd.  He was born in Hartfordshire, England, December 07, 1889.  He joined the RCMP on April 06, 1920 at Toronto.

Photograph of the 2nd King Edwards Horse Regiment - British Cavalry Regiment during World War I (Source of photo - Rich Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of the 2nd King Edwards Horse Regiment – British Cavalry Regiment during World War I (Source of photo – Rich Hall’s Photo Collection)

Photograph of the 2nd King Edward Horse Cavalry Regiment cap badge (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of the 2nd King Edward Horse Cavalry Regiment cap badge (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

 

 

Prior to coming to Canada he served with 2nd King Edward Horse, British Expeditionary Force, September 22, 1914 to October 30, 1919 as a private soldier, Regimental # 1098.   He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and General Service Medal (Army) 1918.

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph of Sidney Floyd's First War Medals, Jubilee Medal and RCMP Long Service Medal (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Sidney Floyd’s First War Medals, Jubilee Medal and RCMP Long Service Medal (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

Apparently, he did service in Ireland during and after the war keeping the peace.

1920: Photograph of RCMP "Depot" Division's "A" and "B" Block (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

1920: Photograph of RCMP “Depot” Division’s “A” and “B” Block (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

Upon moving to Canada and joining the newly created RCMP, he was posted to “Depot” and was also employed in mending tents.

1920 - Photograph of Constable Sidney Floyd's troop dorm on the top floor of old "C" Block which overlooked the parade square at "Depot" Division (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

1920 – Photograph of Constable Sidney Floyd’s troop dorm on the top floor of old “C” Block which overlooked the parade square at “Depot” Division (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

There is no indication of when he completed training and was posted to “E” Division, but we do know that he married his sweet Irish lass, Helena May Victoria McNeely (nee Kennedy) May 14, 1921 in Vancouver, BC, who he met during his service in Ireland.

Photograph of Private Sidney Floyd and Helena McNelly taken in Ireland before Sidney left to immigrate to Canada and join the RCMP (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Private Sidney Floyd and Helena McNelly taken in Ireland before Sidney left to immigrate to Canada and join the RCMP (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

It is known that he was made a detective in May of 1924 on the newly created CIB unit in Vancouver.

Photograph of RCMP Detective Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of RCMP Detective Sidney Floyd (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

1933 Vancouver RCMP "CIB" Staff and includes the photograph of Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Vancouver Division of the RCMP Veterans' Association)

1933 Vancouver RCMP “CIB” Staff and includes the photograph of Sidney Floyd (Source of photo – Vancouver Division of the RCMP Veterans’ Association)

In 1935 he received a Commissioners Commendation for the successful investigation of a case.  In September of 1937 he was awarded the King George VI Coronation Medal.

According to his daughter, Sidney Floyd never wanted to be promoted due to his war time experiences, but her mother kept prompting him to take a promotion as it meant more money in the pay cheque, which was pretty slim in those days.   Sidney was promoted to Lance Corporal on June 01, 1938 for his long and faithful service.  He was promoted again, to Corporal, on April 01, 1942.

 

Photograph of RCMP Corporal Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of RCMP Corporal Sidney Floyd (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

In 1946 he was posted to Washington, DC, as orderly at the Canadian Embassy.   He was the first member posted to such duty in Washington.   He remained in Washington for only a short period of time before a transfer back to Canada and retiring to pension in July of 1946.

After his discharge he re-engaged as a Special Constable (S9205) in September of 1946 and it seems he served intermittently till 1951 as a property guard.   In January of 1951 he was engaged full-time as a Special Constable guard at Fairmont Barracks and also employed as a Mess Stewart.  On May 03, 1951 the Commissioner granted permission for him to wear the brown uniform of the Force.

In April of 1958, a precedent with one restriction, relating to Orders of Dress was created when the Commissioner granted this Special Constable permission to wear the significant uniform (Red Serge and boots and breeches) and Walking Out Order of Dress, this was allowed for formal private occasions but was not to include public occasions.   In March 31, 1959 he was discharged from the Force due to ill health and being overage.

He passed away in April of 1960 at Vancouver, BC, his daughter recollects that she and her husband took her father to see his first Canadian hockey game and after the game Sidney Floyd collapsed and died in her arms.

His daughter recalls that there were many happy occasions at Fairmont Barracks as a child growing up, when families gathered together, particularly at Christmas time when the kids would run wild in the basement of Fairmont.  When you see photographs of Fairmont Barracks through 1920 to 1940s you can see why it would a great place for families to gather it was still settled in a rustic setting, opposed to today and the urban sprawl that is Vancouver.   While snooping my way through her pictures I noticed a torn and yellowed newspaper clipping mixed in with her collectibles.

Photograph of RCMP Veterans including Sidney Floyd (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of RCMP Veterans including Sidney Floyd (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

The clipping details the gathering of members of the RNWMP Association, “A” Division, in the picture is Henry Larsen and Corporal Sidney Floyd.   Unfortunately, there is no date on the article.

Photograph of RCMP Veteran Sidney Floyd's uniform kit (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of RCMP Veteran Sidney Floyd’s uniform kit (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

Kay Rawlings still has her father’s riding gauntlets, Red Serge and breeches.  The quality and weight of the material is certainly much heavier than the uniforms of today.   That probably has much to do with them being worn more often while on horseback and in all types of weather.

While I was checking out Cpl. Floyd’s rack of medals when I flipped over his WW I 1914-1915 Star his name was not on the back of the medal, but rather the name of Pvt. W.J.  McNeely, Reg # 49465.

Photograph of Sidney Floyd's 1914-1915 World War I Star (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Sidney Floyd’s 1914-1915 World War I Star (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

The question of course is why is Cpl. Floyd wearing McNeely’s medal.   Then I discovered Floyd’s 1914-1915 Star in the chocolate box that had a bunch of odds n sods in it.   Why did he not have his own Star on his medal rack?

When I looked through Kay’s small family album of her father’s photos I discovered a wedding picture and assumed it was Cpl. Floyd and his wife’s wedding photo.

Wedding photograph of Helena and Willy McNeely (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Wedding photograph of Helena and Willy McNeely (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

Upon checking out the pictures to see if there was information written on the back, sadly most of them did not have any info regarding dates, etc.    But one really got my attention….the wedding picture, it was not Cpl. Floyd’s wedding but rather, it was the wedding picture of “Willy McNeeley.”   It is noted on the back of the picture Willy married Helena May Victoria Kennedy.

The marriage lasted a week-end, it was noted he was “killed upon return to France.”  He was killed on his first day back in France.  So many stories and this is just another one that has been untold.

I do not think it is a quantum leap to assume that the medal of Pvt. W.J. McNeely is the same Willy McNeeley (different spelling) in the wedding photo.   One has to ask why did Cpl. Floyd have Willy’s medal.  Were they good friends and Cpl. Floyd wore Willy’s medal to honour him and left his own discarded to a chocolate box?  It is also noted that when Cpl. Floyd married, his wife’s last name was McNeely (nee Kennedy).

Upon further checking with Cpl. Floyd’s daughter Kay, in fact, Helena did marry Willy McNeely prior to him being killed in France.  Helena and Willy had been school chums and he wanted to marry her before heading “over there.”   She was a reluctant bride however gave in and married Willy.  What we will never know is whether Willy and Sidney were friends prior to Willy’s death and thus the reason for Sidney wearing his wife’s first husband’s medal.

And then there is another story within the story.

I started out to try and do a small story on Corporal Floyd, like so many others before and after him, there are so many stories of members of the Force that never get told.   Thanks to Mike Weightman, we have some details of Sidney’s life before the RCMP, but as his daughter said to us, there is more to her father than we will all know.   I quickly came to realize that there was a story within the story I was looking for.  Corporal Floyd’s daughter, Kay, and her husband Bill, are two of those true unsung Canadian heroes in their own right.

Photograph of Kay and Bill Rawlings during World War II (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Kay and Bill Rawlings during World War II (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

In July of 1942 the Royal Canadian Navy created the Women’s Royal Canadian Navy Service (or Wrens); almost one year after the army and air force had women serving.  By the end of the World War II some 6,000 women had served in the WRCNS.

Photograph of Kay Rawlings in a Canadian World War II recruiting posting to promote WRCNS (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Kay Rawlings in a Canadian World War II recruiting posting to promote WRCNS (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

A twenty-year old Kay Floyd was in the first wave (pun intended) of women to join the WRCNS.  Her Regimental # was W741, which found to be very advantageous, particularly when it came to pay day…having a low number she was one of the first to be paid!  She served her war years in Halifax.

Throughout her apartment there is a host of memorabilia related to her service in the Wrens.  She has a large framed poster with the WRCNS badge proudly displayed on her wall, books and photos abound and she even has a Canadian Naval Ensign flying on her balcony, which Kay gives a salute to as she passes by.

There are a series of black and white photographs showing Kay in uniform on ships, talking with sailors.  She explained that she was constantly being pulled from ranks and being taken to have her picture taken.   There is a note on the back of one of her pictures that indicates that these photographs were used for the purpose of recruiting more women into the Wrens.   I suggested to her that the reason they kept using her was she was a pretty hot chick back in the day!   And still is!

Photograph of the NMCS Battleford - K165 Flower Class Corvette (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of the NMCS Battleford – K165 Flower Class Corvette (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

Kay Floyd met her future husband William (Bill) Rawlings while he was serving as a Seaman in the RCN.   On her apartment wall are pictures of Bill and his shipmates who served on the HMCS Battleford during WW II.

Photograph of the HMCS Battleford during World War II (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of the HMCS Battleford during World War II (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

HMCS Battleford, K165, was a Flower Class Corvette, with a crew of 85.   The ship was laid down in September 1940 and commissioned in July 1941 at the Collingwood Shipyards, ON.  HMCS Battleford did convoy escort duty between Newfoundland and Northern Ireland and return.  August 08, 1942 German U-Boats sank three ships in convoy and 104 survivors of the three ships were picked up by the crew of HMCS Battleford.   The following day they picked up another 40 survivors of another ship sunk by a U-Boat.    One can only imagine the drama of a ship built for a crew of 85 having an additional 144 sailors who have just been pulled for the sea,

On December 27, 1942 the HMCS Battleford and three other Canadian Corvettes and one Canadian destroyer shared credit in the sinking of U-Boat U-356, by depth charges, in the North Atlantic, north of the Azores.   All hands were lost.  U-356 was credited with the sinking of three ships.   The commander of U-356, at the time of her sinking, had only been with her 24 days.

In 1944 Kay Floyd married her sailor, Bill Rawlings.  They returned to BC and lived in Chilliwack, BC.

Another side bar story, Kay Rawlings told me that Henry Larsen was attempting to get her husband to join the crew of the St. Roch based on his war time service in the navy.   Bill declined.

Kay recalls that during her time in Halifax during WWII, she and her boyfriend, later her husband, went to the 1936 movie version of “Rose Marie”, with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.   The theatre was full of people in uniform. 

Photograph taken from the  Rose Marie movies starting Nelson Eddy leading a group of RCMP members (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph taken from the Rose Marie movies starting Nelson Eddy leading a group of RCMP members (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection) 

At one point in the movie Nelson Eddy is leading a group of Mounted Police and in the lead of those members was her father.   She jumped out of seat yelled “that’s my dad!”   This was much to the consternation of her boyfriend who was pulling her back into her seat and telling her to be quiet!   Apparently her father got one of those bit parts in the movie and tried to keep the details of the RCMP uniform and horsemanship intact, safe from Hollywood glorification….like that really worked!

There so many similar stories of people who have served this country.   I went seeking the story of one individual and found inter-connected stories of one extended family.

Photograph of Kay Rawlings (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Photograph of Kay Rawlings (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

 

I have to thank my new friend Kay for sharing her memories and my old friend Mike Weightman for bringing Kay’s story to my attention.

If you known of individuals with old Force photographs and a story to tell, please contact Ric Hall at rshall69@shaw.ca

Author banner for Veteran Ric Hall

 

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