Cpl. Thomas Raisbeck: Memorable Barracks Days Despite Hardships Of Training

Photograph of Cpl. Tom Raisbeck

 

 

For the RCMP Centennial in 1973, RCMP Veteran Thomas Grant Galloway Raisbeck provided an account of his time in the RCMP to the Edmonton Journal newspaper.  Tom’s story is provided below for your reading pleasure.

 

 

 

 

Background Details: Tom was born on June 14, 1910 at Taber Alberta and joined the Force on December 8, 1934 at Edmonton.  Upon completion of his training at “Depot”, he transferred to “F” Division until his discharged on June 15, 1946.  Then on September 1946, he re-engaged on September 20, 1946 at Regina and went no serve in both “F” Division and “K” Division until his retirement in March 13, 1955.  In retirement, Tom moved to Kelowna and joined the RCMP Veterans Association becoming a Life Members sometime thereafter.  On January 10, 1002, Tom passed away at Kelowna, BC.

Article:

In spite of the many so-called hardships that accompanied our training days in Depot Division, there were many memorable days spent in barracks.

These are the days we refer to mostly when looking back on our police career.

Maybe it’s because of the many pictures that were taken on the barracks square. I’d like to have a dollar every time those old cannons, relics of bygone wars, have been photographed. I dare say every recruit who ever went through Depot since the guns were placed there has stood beside one of them while the camera clicked.

Photograph of

1935 – Photograph of RCMP Recruit Tom Raisbeck standing beside one of the Force artillery pieces at “Depot” Division in Regina (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

I wouldn’t mind having a dollar for every time Scotty horse had his picture taken either. Scotty was the berst lookig horse in the stables at the time that I trained. On of the riding instructors somehow manged to ride him always during our training parades. Because of his beautiful appearance a lot of film was exposed on him, usually with some recrit on top of him. Scotty horse was a very spirited animal and the shots taken of him with a recruit standing beside him always indicted to me that the recruit felt safer on the ground.

Hours Of Drill

Our training consisted of many hours of foot and arms drill, phyical training, lectures in many police subjects, use of firearms, riding (equistation) and, of course, fatiques. We spent more time grooming and looking after the horses than we did riding them.

We had nicly got into the routine of things when Christmas and New Year holiday were on us. Of course, since I was a recruit, I was assigned to guard duty on both days. It was my first Christmas away from home and may I say the most lonesome I ever spent.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” ws a new song that year and Bing Crosby’s crooning voice was the thing to listen to as he say the latest hits. He’s still singing, so that means I can’t be so old at that.

One day as we wre about to parade to the stablers on fatique duty, our instructor announced that arrangements had been made by the upper brass that a group of 34 men and horses would start training immediately to put on the Musical Ride at the Calgary Stampede and at the Regina Exhibition later in the year.

Was Lucky

It was April and that meant we’d have about three months to put the thing into shape. There were more than 200 men in training at the time and I know everyone of them would have liked to have been picked.

While we were in the stables grooming horses that day, our instructor came to me quietly and told me I was to report later that day for special instruciton on musical ride training. I had been picked and I was glad. “What horse do you usually ride,” he asked me. “Scotty” was my prompt reply “when I can get him.” To my great surprise I was givent the OK.

While we were training for the Musical Ride, Fox Movie-tone News was treated to the complete show on the barracks square. I saw the two-reel short a couple of times latere and I was really pleased.

Before the actual show got underway, pictures were taken of the entire troop of 32 horsement, (two of the origianl 34 were spares) then it was narrowed down to a section of four. As we stood in troop formation, our instructor commanded “From the right tell off by sections.” We did and after given the command to prove, an offical from the section I was in to be photographed, then a half section and finally one horse and its rider. Scotty was the winner and I sat proudly on him having our picture taken for the movie short.

Duty Change

It was just a few days before we were to make our first appearance in show biz when our training came to an abrupt halt. A group of 3,000 unemployed men were taging the On-To-Ottawa march on freight trains. The RCMP were instructed to stop them at Regina.

Photograph of the

1935 Kamloops, BC – Photograph of the “On-To-Otttawa” trek members head to Ottawa (Source of photo – Wikipedia).

Instead of continuing our training for the Musical Ride during the last few days of June 1935, most of the troop were on stand-to duty waiting to see what would happen when the freights arrived in Regina with the On-To-Ottawa marchers.

Finally the freights came in right past the RCMP barracks. The box cars were covered with men, making the trains look like the limb of a tree covered with tent caterpillars.

The men from the train took up billeting of a short on the arena when they were told not to proceed east.

Two days later, the marchers met on the market square to discuss what further action would be taken. When the gathering was determined to be an unlaw assembly, the Riot Act was read and the conflict was on: The Regina Riot of 1935.  

Had Tin Hats

Just before the reading of the Riot Act, two troops of 32 horses had arrived at a point about a couple of blocks away. I was in that bunch that was all dressed up with tin hats (Helments from the First World War). As we turned the corner on Broadway Street in two troop lines we were givent the command to draw truncheons. Into the crowd we marked at the trot. Everything looked like a Sunday school picnicuntil we arrived at a point about 50 feet from the mob and then the barrage of stones, bottles, irn and all sorts of other missiles filled the air.

July 1, 1935: Regina Riot - Photograph of rioters and police during the Regina Riot.  Machinery at the bottom of the frame is the city's tar-making machine, parts of which were thrown at police during the riot (Source of photo - Wikipedia).

July 1, 1935: Regina- Photograph of rioters and police during the Regina Riot. Machinery at the bottom of the frame is the city’s tar-making machine, parts of which were thrown at police during the riot (Source of photo – Wikipedia).

July 1, 1935 - Photograph

July 1, 1935 – Photograph of the Regina Riot, showing Constable Alex Hill living the body of Detective Charles Millar.  Trekker Nick Schaack was the other fatality of the riot. (Source of photo – Wikipedia).

The initial defence was short-lived but it lasted long enough that most of our men were injured. One of th Regina city police detectives was killed just before we arrived with the horses. After hours of breaking up the main mass and later smaller masses, the rioters returned to the areana, all but the few that were taken to hospital with injuries. Some of the police boys also were treated in hospital.

The days that followed saw the On-To-Ottawa marchers disperse and make their way home. We saw some of them later at the Calgary Stampede parade. We recognizd them by the bronx cheer we got as we went by.

After training for the musical ride for three months, first inside the riding school and later outside, we were starting to look pretty good. The horses knew their position well and most of the riders did too.

Some of the movements wre made at the walk, then the trot, to the cantor, and finally the dead gallop. At first we would go through the whole drill without music and then at the last they turned on an old gramophone with march music blaring. My Scotty knew the routine so well that he would never break his pace. Somethimes when we were forced to lag a bit in a trot movement, I could spur him one as much as I liked but he’d never break into the cantor.

It was really something to see him stretch those legs out at the trot. Conversely, if during a movmement at the cantor,m we’d get a bit piled up, there was my gallant steed going through the motions of the gallup while making no headway. Check out more details regarding this riot here.

Won Cheer

When we reached Calgary the night before the Stampede started, our sergant major decided on a workout infront of the grandstand. The five or six thousand people who watched us go through our dress rehearsal made our ears ring with applause. I wondered how they filled grandstand the next day could possible create more noise, but it happened. I had never heard such applause as when we went into the Star movement that Monday night during our opening show.

1935 Calgary Stampede with the RCMP members from "Depot" Division performing the Musical Ride." (Source of photo - University of Calgary).

1935 Calgary Stampede with the RCMP members from “Depot” Division performing the Musical Ride.” (Source of photo – University of Calgary).

The applause we got during the Stapede parade was something terrific also, everywere that is except along the route to 2nd-4th streets east on 7th Avenue, the ara where some of the rioters from Regina had congregated. At least there were no rocks this time.

We put the sow on at Regina during the exhibition week but this was the Home of the Mounties and I guess they were just a little too used to us to rein their lungs chering as they did in the Foothills city.

Tom Raisbeck went on to write three more articles about his experiences in the Force.  These stories will be posted to our website – one article per week for the next three weeks.

If you have other old newspaper articles that we could include in a forthcoming webpage, please email Ric Hall at rshall69@telus.net.

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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