Force: The Generations!

 

Recently it was announced that members of the RCMP Veterans’ Association will be able to purchase, along with serving members of the Force, a Generational and/or a Territorial Service Insignia. It has been my pleasure to coordinate the applications for the Vancouver Division.   We all know that there are many family generations connected to service with the NWMP through to the current day RCMP.

 

 

In processing the applications I have been able to talk with relatives of former members of the Force and hear their stories.

Thanks to Veteran Dave Murdoch, Regimental # 27934, I learned the story of his great-grandfather Ernest Joseph Camies another one of those unsung Canadian heroes.  It is men like his great-grandfather who forged the way for all of us who followed and built the lasting legacy that the Force is built on.

Photograph of RNWMP Inspector Ernest Joseph Camies (Reg.#1572 – O.144)

Ernest Joseph Camies was born on the Febuary 6, 1867 in Winchester, Hampshire, England. His father was St. John Camies (born 1823, died 1882) and his mother was Mary Ann Camies (nee Divers -born in 1841, and passed away in 1900).  Like many young men from the United Kingdom of the time he immigrated to Canada and the promise of adventure while only 18 years of age.

In 1881, at the age of 14, Ernest was apprenticed to his father as a carpenter. In his father’s will Ernest received a share (as did his mother and brother Sidney) in a washhouse at No. 9 Upper Stockbridge Road, Winchester, and of land adjoining, part of Upper Rogers Meadow, Fulflood (a suburb of Winchester). In July of 1883 Camies was a volunteer private in the 1st Hants Rifle Company at Camp Barrassa Hill, Camberley, Surrey. He immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1884, with his future brother-in-law William (Willie) Preston. In May of 1884 he and Willie obtained work in Perth Ontario cutting wood and clearing land for the railway. A condition of that job was that they also had to build their own accommodation as the job required they work in the bush some miles outside of the town.

In the fall of 1884 Ernest returned to Toronto (alone) and soon after arriving he joined the Queen’s Own Rifles (as a volunteer reservist). In March of 1885 with the 2nd uprising of Louis Riel requiring reinforcements in the Saskatchewan region Camies was shipped west via the CP Railway with the contingent of military and police reinforcements under the command of Major General F. Middleton. From the CPR line in the south they marched north to encounter the rebels near Fish Creek and Battleford. At Batoche they captured Riel’s HQ and the insurrection was soon over.

The Queen’s Own Rifles returned to Toronto in July of 1885. Shortly after arriving back in Toronto, Ernest resigned from the QOR and moved to Hamilton where he joined the NWMP on the August 14, 1885. To become forever Regimental #1572.

Photograph of NWMP Constable Earnest Joseph Camies (Reg.#1572).

 

In June of 1886 upon completion of training Cst. Camies was transferred to “D” Division in Fort Macleod via Battleford area then under the command of Superintendent Sam Steele.

Fort Steele – July 1887 – in British Columbia; Responding to increased friction between Indian and European settlers the Canadian Government ordered the NWMP to establish a strong detachment in the Kootenay area of British Columbia. Superintendent Sam Steele and a detachment from D Division consisting of 75 men set out from Lethbridge, Alberta and eventually built a fortification at Kootenay Post (later renamed Fort Steele) at the confluence of the Kootenay River and Wild Horse Creek, in British Columbia.

Ernest Camies was a constable among those men of the NWMP that went to Kootenay Post.

Although the packing in of supplies from Golden B.C. and the building of the fort was arduous work, the endeavour was successful and good relations between all inhabitants of the region were established. After dismissing criminal charges against two Ktunaxa men and mediating the land problems, and the odd rebellion by workers building the CPR railway, it was clear to the police that peace had returned to the area. All this occurred within a year of the divisions’ arrival at Kootenay Post.

Leaving a small contingent of constables Steele gathered his remaining men and on August 9, 1888 marched away from Kootenay Post travelling eastward through the Crowsnest Pass. After nine days the force reached Fort Macleod. To honour the Superintendent for his services the citizens of Kootenay Post voted to rename their town Fort Steele.

After returning to Fort Macleod from Fort Steele Cst. Camies was granted leave to return to England so he could marry.

He married Elizabeth Preston December 27,1888 in Parish Church of St Michael, County of Southampton. She remained in England and Ernest returned to Fort Macleod where with help of fellow members of the NWMP he built a house on the south side of 20th Street (west of 5th). She arrived in Lethbridge, Alberta in July 1889. At that time the railroad did not reach Fort Macleod. Ernest met her in Lethbridge they travelled to Fort Macleod via buckboard (which Ernest had borrowed from the NWMP).

Transferred to Willow Creek – The Leavings: In1890 Ernest was transferred to a place called The Leavings at Willow Creek, approximately in 30 miles north west of Fort Macleod. The term ‘Leavings’ indicated a place where a trail ‘left’ a water supply, from which travellers could obtain supplies of water and wood.

After Fort Calgary was established in 1875 there were regular supply (‘bull’) trains and stagecoaches from Fort Benton in Montana to Fort Macleod and on to Calgary. The Leavings was one of four spots between Fort Macleod and Calgary frequently chosen as a camping ground by these trains and stagecoaches. Originally the headquarters of the Oxley Ranch, in 1884 the owner of the Oxley had the ranch buildings dismantled and moved further north. The one remaining log cabin was supplemented by a large sandstone barn built into the hillside and this is where the NWMP established a field garrison. The North West Mounted Police took advantage of this important location of the Leavings by manning an outpost from the site, sending patrols north and west through the Porcupine Hills.

During this period, the NMWP rented the house and barn. After the completion of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, however, traffic on the trail declined and the garrison moved to Claresholm.

The photo above is believed to have been the home of Ernest and Elizabeth Camies at the Leavings, Willow Creek, Alberta and the NWMP detachment. The house and stables at the Leavings (Oxley Ranch) are among the oldest structures in southern Alberta, and rare surviving evidence of a NWMP outpost. Photo courtesy of Canada’s Historic Places web site.

Ernest Camies was stationed at the Leavings Detachment of the NWMP from 1890 to 1894. Camies was promoted to Corporal on February 6, 1892 and remained in charge of the Leavings until 1894. The men had difficult and dangerous duties due to the activities of the whiskey traders and Indians. For example, one night Ernest Camies rode out on his sentry beat. It was very dark and all was quiet until his charger reared up. On dismounting Camies found that his horse had come down on an Indian equipped with a tomahawk and Bowie knife, and who was intent on seeking his life, no doubt. His faithful horse saved his life.

But the women also had their share of great hardship and bravery. Like many others Mrs. Camies came as a bride to this new and strange land. She found friendly people here to welcome her. She was not frightened of the Indians but often felt, as they came with their berries for sale, that her husband’s red coat which hung on the door was protecting her. The Indians were very curious and liked to see how white people lived. At the Leavings she was very lonely and said if she could have only seen another chimney top it would have helped. Bread making in winter was a problem and Mrs. Camies sometimes put the pan of rising bread in the bed. Once a month the police Inspector came though from Fort Macleod. On one occasion he complained that there was no beef (only green bacon and beans). She informed him that they were not rationed with fresh meat and this was all the provisions they received from Fort Macleod. He expressed surprise that no fresh meat was available especially since they were situated in the middle of a cattle ranch! After that she had plenty of beef and sometimes cooked two roasts a day for the meat hungry men.

One Christmas Ernest Camies had gone to Fort Macleod for Christmas provisions – a turkey, parcels and mail as well as his silver spurs won in a contest. A blizzard came up and grew worse and worse. Cst. Camies had to leave his load on a high piece of ground and it was all he could do to return home. Upon going back everything was gone. The stage coach from Fort Benton, or more likely roving Indians, had taken it. It was a slim Christmas at the Leavings that year.

In 1894 (it is unknown exactly when) Ernest Caimes was transferred from Willow Creek back to Fort Macleod. On July 01, 1896 in Fort Macleod, Ernest Camies was promoted to Sergeant.  Macleod Times- April 27, 1922 – noted that Ernest was i/c of the policing for the town of Fort Macleod (the dates however are unknown but it’s felt this was after his promotion to Sgt.). A quote from the article “Mr. Camies is not a stranger to Macleod nor its people, having served in the ranks of the Mounted Police as far back as 1885. For some time he was in charge of the old town patrol, being entrusted with the safety of the town and proved to be a thorn in the side of the evil doer”.

On May 28, 1897 an article in the Fort Macleod newspaper stated; “Sgt Camies has nearly completed a concrete wall around his property”. This is believed to be the 2nd house he built that is located at 121 20th St., Macleod. This house stands today on the north side of 20th Street. It was subsequently occupied by Ernest’s daughter Elizabeth Annie and her husband Charlie Murdoch. Family stories included the Murdoch children playing with the children of Jerry Potts who lived across the street. Apparently, Jerry frequently had some of his Indian friends visit which often scared Elsie by their appearance.

On December 29, 1899 at Fort Macleod, Sgt. Camies signed up for military service in South Africa. Documents show he was a Sergeant in NWMPolice with 14.5 years’ service.  Summary of medical exam; “sound & in good training, fit for active mounted work”. Ernest commenced service in the military on January 6,1900 at Fort Macleod. He was engaged with the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles-Special Service with the rank of Sergeant and military Regimental number of 63.

In the Boer War (1899 to 1902), the British troops were experiencing many setbacks. It was a non-traditional war. The Boers were gaining successes with their guerrilla tactics. The North West Mounted Police, with some 750 personnel, could field more trained mounted men than the regular army. For the Boer War, Commissioner Lawrence Herchmer offered to raise a mounted military unit consisting of handpicked police, ex-police and cowboys. The police were keen to sign up and fight in the South African War where their discipline, horsemanship and survival skills made them welcome additions to the fighting force.

The Canadian government accepted this offer. Members of the Force were given a ‘leave of absence’ to serve in South Africa. NWMP members were recruited with the promise that their position and rank in the NWMP would be theirs upon cessation of hostilities, or, upon honourable discharge. 217 NWMP members volunteered for the two Canadian regiments heading to South Africa: the Canadian Mounted Rifles and the Lord Strathcona Horse. The Commissioner would become the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Mounted Rifles. Mounted Police members made up 40% of the battalion which consisted of 750 troopers. The NWMP force members in these two battalions (CMR’s and Strathcona Horse) had considerable experience with counter insurgency tactics. This experience had been gained in the 1885 North West Rebellion.

These counter insurgency tactics surprised the Boers and the regiments gained many successes. Consequently these regiments earned a reputation as fierce fighters who distinguished themselves for their bravery, courage and leadership. Members of the NWMPolice filled thirteen of the twenty officer positions and made up roughly forty percent of the other ranks.

The battalion was originally named the 2nd Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) but this was later changed to the 1st Battalion CMR. In May of 1900 Sgt. Camies was seconded to the Australian Mounted Pioneers (‘Flying Sappers’) with the rank of Sgt. Major and would be one of two senior NCO’s in this unit. The commander of the Australian Mounted Pioneers, a new (and at the time innovative) unit was Lieutenant-Colonel Parrott, of the New South Wales Corps of Engineers.

For his service in South Africa Ernest Camies was awarded the Queens South Africa Medal and clasps for Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Cape Colony and Orange Free States campaigns. Upon his return to Canada, landing at Halifax, he was officially discharged from service in the military on February 14, 1901.

While Ernest was in South Africa his wife Elizabeth and his two daughters (Elsie & Nellie) remained in Forth Macleod. Elizabeth had to write to Ottawa to ask for funds to support her and her children. Several months passed before she was provided with a very small monthly sum (it was 0.60 cents per day) with which she had to buy food, clothing, etc. Such was life in those days.

On December 01,1902 Ernest was promoted to Staff Sergeant and in April 1904 he was promoted to Sergeant Major in Fort Macleod.

Sometime in September 1905 Camies suffered an injury from a horse kicking him. As a result he subsequently suffered from a form of Synovitis (joint lining inflammation-swelling, stiffness and limited motion). He was Off Duty Sick till October 1905 then on Light Duties until November 1905.

On October 01, 1905 Ernest was promoted to Inspector (O.144) at Fort Macleod. He was the 4th person to be commissioned in the recently renamed Royal North West Mounted Police. He was ordered transferred to Maple Creek, Sask (A Div)) but that move was rescinded for health reasons due to him being kicked earlier by a horse. He did make the move there however returned to Ft Macleod shortly after.

Photograph of a newly commissioned Inspector Ernest Camies – got to love the moustache!

Maple Creek from Fort Macleod; Annual Report of Supt. Primrose, Commanding ‘D’ Division. “On this date the OIC of the Pincher Creek sub-district has been transferred. Insp. Camies will replace him. This sub-district comprises Pincher Creek, Kootenay, Frank, Blairmore and Coleman. The headquarters will be at Blairmore with the officer in charge stationed there. It is important that the officer should be in a central place from where he can keep in easy communication with his other detachments.”

Authorization from the Privy Council for Sergeant Major Camies
to be promoted to be promoted to an” Inspectorship” signed by Wilfred Laurier.

At the time this occurred there were no quarters for the sub-division headquarters – they would have to be built! It is not known if Camies family took up residence with him in Pincher Creek or Blairmore.

In April of 1906 H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, he was later to become the Governor General of Canada, visited Gleichen and southern Alberta;

In the Annual Report of Supt. Primrose, Commanding Officer of D Division (Alberta) he wrote to the Commissioner of the RNWMP the following: “In April, 1906, at your directions, I proceeded to Gleichen to receive, representing the force, H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, on his visit to the Blackfoot Indian reserve, and I was accompanied by Inspector Camies, and a travelling escort and 4 four-in-hands for the purpose of driving H.R.H. and suite to such points as they desired to visit. Their visit passed off very successfully, and I was complimented upon the smart appearance of Camies’ men and horses. I wish to express to you my regret at losing the services of Inspector Camies, who was transferred from the Crow’s Nest Pass district to the Peace River-Yukon trail, as after eighteen years’ active experience in police work his services were very valuable.”

Transfer to Fort St. John, B.C. (March/April 1906) to work on the Peace River And Yukon Trail. Camies was initially transferred to Fort St John where he assisted Supt. Constantine with the acquisition and distribution of supplies, etc., necessary for the construction of the trail and maintenance of the men so employed. His family remained in Fort MacLeod.

Whenever the Government found a peculiarly difficult task to perform in the Canadian West, it seemed that someone in authority would decide to turn it over to the Mounted Police. Whether or not the task was one that would normally be assigned to a police unit made little difference. Orders were orders, and the Force never claimed the right to question Government decisions. The Police were not surprised, therefore, when they were ordered in 1905 to build a pack trail from the Peace River to the Yukon providing access to the northern gold fields by the famous “backdoor”. The Government wanted a trail “suitable for pack animals” and so constructed that “at some future time it may be made into a wagon trail”. The trail through timber was to be eight feet wide, bogs and marshes were to be made passable by heavy layers of brush, streams were to be bridged, rest houses were to be built every thirty miles, and the whole route was to be so well laid out and so clearly marked that “it can be followed by any traveller without a guide”.

To reach the distant scene of operations with the equipment required was not a simple matter, and to maintain a construction party in the remote mountain wilderness where the work would be would be called for a highly effective organization. On June 5,1905 construction on the trail began. It was exhausting work, and the monotonous winter that followed, spent by the men in dreary quarters or in the arduous work of bringing up supplies provided a test of the detachment’s morale. On July 27th, 1906 at Ospica River, at about the 173rd mile point of the trail, Inspector Ernest Joseph Camies (who had been in Fort St John assisting Constantine) took over command of the work party from Inspector Richards whose deteriorating health necessitated his return to Fort St. John.

On July 28, 1906, after crossing the Ospica, which is a considerable stream 200 yards across, the trail ascended to the summit of the Herchmer pass, this was at the 180th mile post. This possibly was the hardest work yet, the country for miles being dead fall timber. it is named Devil’s Canyon, and the Camies party moved. Fort Graham was reached by the party on August 11, 208 measured miles from Fort St. John. The last twenty miles being one continuous stretch of spruce, jack pine and burnt upstanding and downfall timber. From Fort Graham a small party was sent across the Finley River to commence the trail which was to head out towards the telegraph line and cabin No. 4 situated north of Hazleton. This party cut through about twenty miles of country to a group of small lakes. The country was found to be very rough indeed, far rougher than any yet encountered. The party returned to Graham on the 30th of September to assist in putting up quarters which were still in course of erection and prepare for the winter. The last report was received before winter set in which Inspector Camies stated he had completed the trail 20 miles west of Fort Graham towards Bear Lake.

Two buildings were erected at Graham, one for a barrack-room and the other for a mess-room and kitchen. They were built of logs. That winter they had to do without cooking stoves and instead used open-fire places made with mud.

The party at Fort Graham consisted of one officer (Camies), three non-commissioned officers and eleven constables and one special constable (cook) with fifteen horses. It was reported that they are comfortably quartered (!) and well supplied with provisions, but in serious want for clothing. Under Inspector Camies the work continued in the summer of 1907 and on September, 25th, 1907 they completed the trail to Bear Lake. Camies’ men then proceeded to cut through to Cabin Four on the Telegraph trail towards Inspector Mc Donell’s party, who had been previously deployed to Fourth Cabin via Hazelton (located just to the south) . From here the trail was to swing north to the Yukon. Camies was “agreeably surprised” by how easy it was to build the trail from Bear Lake to the Skeena: He wrote “The country west of Bear Lake, to an Indian Bridge over the Bear or Sustut River, is very easy to travel. The bridge, was built before the memory of any living Indian. It is a true cantilever, very old and frail and unsafe, though it has been repaired from time to time. The Indians use it…The Bear lake Indians do not travel or hunt west or north of this point, and do not know anything of the country at all. The Kispiox Indians claim the country from the bridge west. The work, after crossing comes somewhat heavy. The willows and underbrush could only be cut by the use of heavy knives and hatchets. The underbrush was the worst feature we met with during the entire season. Men worked very well. On the 22nd, I crossed my party to Inspector McDonell’s camp and turned over to him the party, etc. I cannot conclude this report, without expressing how well the party I had the privilege to command behaved and worked under somewhat trying circumstances at times, without complaint…there was no breach of discipline from the regular men of our forces. I was agreeably surprised with the conditions met with in building the trail from Fourth Cabin to crossing of the Skeena River. From Bear Lake to Skeena, it is easy country for a trail. 153 miles of trail built this season, distance of 377 miles from fort St. John”.

Both Inspectors Camies and Richards had nothing but praise for the Non-Commissioned Officers and men. Inspector Camies said: “There have been no breaches of discipline; they are active, willing, and well-behaved; they work well, and without a murmur at the hardest of work, there is no shirking, although the men are often wet through in minutes after leaving camp in the morning for their work, and returning in the same condition at night.”

Life on the Peace River-Yukon Trail. The road that ended nowhere and completely useless!

By this time the most difficult part of the trail had been built and the goal was almost in sight. Three years of herculean effort, it seemed, would soon meet with success, and the “back door” to the Yukon would be flung open as the Government had ordered. But to the bitter disappointment of the Mounted Police, success was denied them when it lay within their grasp.

Unable to negotiate an agreement on costs with the Province of British Columbia, the Dominion Government decided that the scheme must be abandoned (at the 4th cabin). Accordingly, the police detachment was withdrawn and the 357 miles of trail, ending nowhere and completely useless, stood as a monument to a splendid effort, deserving of success no doubt, but crowned only by mocking failure. Failure, through no fault of their own, was the fate of the police employed on the Peace River-Yukon Trail.

Camies is relieved and returns to Fort Macleod via Hazleton in October 1907, his health ruined. The health issues he suffered were from a heart condition and from synovitis (a knee joint condition causing pain when the joint is moved), due to being kicked by a horse in 1905 at Fort Macleod. It is thought that these ‘health issues’ lead to his retirement from the RNWMP in 1910.

For more on the Peace River-Yukon Patrol 1910 check it out here.

Upon his return to Fort Macleod, Camies was appointed as the OIC Claresholm and the district magistrate. He is also tasked with managing the policing of Fort Macleod pending the appointment of an OIC for that area. He took up residence in Claresholm and ‘commuted’ often between the two places. In 1909 he requested a leave of absence, no further information was obtained as to when, why or for how long. However, there is an article in the Frank newspaper dated May 13, 1909 stating that he left Claresholm for England about the 6th or 7th of May 1909. No reason for the trip was given.

It is known that Ernest Camies had requested from the Commissioner that he be able to retire. He felt that due to his health issues he could not carry out his duties properly as expected of him. The Commissioner advised him to attend a Medical Board. Camies did. In his submission to the Medical Board he stated: “About December of 1907 (shortly after his return from the Peace River project) a doctor diagnosed and confirmed that Camies had a heart condition. He suffered from shortness of breath, heart palpitations, insomnia, weight loss and a loss of strength on his left side. In addition to the preceding he also suffered two attacks of typhoid fever and has generally felt unwell.” The Medical Board recommended that Camies be retired as unfit for further service. Note: in situations like this when a Medical Board recommends retirement the individuals pension is not taxed.

In August of 1910 Camies decided to retire and consequently began to divest himself of civil positions which he held. Consequently, he was presented with a gold watch in recognition of his services by the mayor and school board of Claresholm. The Claresholm Review of September 22, 1910 made reference to a farewell gathering held to honour Insp. Camies and mentioned the complimentary comments of the mayor, magistrate and chair of the School Board plus the interesting subsequent comments of Camies. I would loved to have heard what he had to say!

Ernest Joseph Camies retired on September 26, 1910 at Claresholm, Alberta and was granted a life pension $850 per year. He and his family departed Canada and arrived in England on October 6, 1910 and settled in Winchester, Hampshire, England.

Ernest Camies stand in front of his residence in Claresholm around 1909.

Ernest Camies’ service to his country was not done. After his retirement from the RNWMP, and now living in England, in September of 1914 Ernest joined the Royal Engineers in the Territorial Force Reserve as a temporary Lieutenant. Because of his past rank and experience in the NWMP he was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant. In October 1915 he was transferred from the Territorial Force Reserve to the regular army (Royal Engineers), and appointed to the rank of Lieutenant and sent to France (Flanders).

Photograph of Lt. Ernest Camies in the uniform of the Royal Engineers. However, his hat bears the officer cap badge of the RNWMP. The mustache has now become a little more regimental!

It remains unknown how long he was in France but sometime before the war was over he was transferred back to England for health reasons and was stationed in various places, Theford, Norfolk, Winchester and Christchurch, Hampshire and London. While in London it is believed that he was employed at the British Military Headquarters which was then located where the Horse Guard Regiment is now headquartered. He had some involvement with the Horse Guard Regiment and a year after his retirement he was invited back as a guest of the regiment for a parade before the King.

On February 4, 1920 in London, England, Ernest was released from further military duties as his service time had expired. He was given the honorary rank of Captain and issued with a Protection Certificate and discharged. Each soldier and officer received one. The certificate was proof to the police that he was not a deserter, etc. His final leave began the day after he was discharged. He was allowed one month of leave.

Lieutenant Ernest Camies’ Protection Certificate for Officers

 

For his service Camies would be able to wear the North West Canada Medal, For service in the Boer War (1891), the Queens South Africa Medal with clasps for Belfast, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Johannesburg, and Diamond Hill). For service during WW I with the British Army the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. In 1935 he also received the RCMP Long Service Medal.

From the web site http://www.greatwar.co.uk/medals/ww1-campaign-medals.htm the following was learned about the three British medals of WW I. The medals Ernest received were often called “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”. These are the affectionate names given to the three WW I Campaign medals. These medals were primarily awarded to the ‘Old Contemptibles’ of the British Expeditionary Force, and by convention all three medals are worn together and in the same order from left to right. They are most likely to be found among family heirlooms.

The 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal And the Victory Medal (a.k.a. ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’)

When the WW I medals were issued in the 1920s it coincided with a popular comic strip published by the Daily Mirror newspaper, written by Bertram Lamb and drawn by A.B. Payne. Pip was the dog, Squeak the penguin, and Wilfred the rabbit. It is believed that Payne’s batman during the war had been nicknamed ‘Pipsqueak’ and this is where the idea for the names of the dog and penguin came from. For some reason the three names of the characters became associated with the 3 campaign medals being issued at that time to many thousands of serviceman….and they stuck.

For his service in WWI Ernest was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. It is interesting to note that regardless of how many battles a soldier fought in, the greatest number of medals he could receive (other than for gallantry) was three (3). The majority of those who served in the war received only two medals (called Mutt and Jeff which consisted of the British War Medal and the Victory Medal). To qualify for either of the “Stars” one had to be serving abroad BEFORE the 1st of January 1916. Camies qualified for all three.  Much of Camie’s Military Records were destroyed by fire from bombing in WW II. However, according to his ‘Medal Sheet”, he was transferred to France (and probably Belgium/Ypres area) during the latter part of 1915.

In retirement the mustache is not quite as full and considerably whiter!

Ernest died on the 18th of January 1935 at Lyndale Bosley Way, Christchurch, Hampshire, England (Age: 68). Ernest Joseph CAMIES was buried in Boscombe East Cemetery, Bournemouth, Hampshire. Plot 6, row N, # 192. Below is a photo of his gravestone.

Photograph of the grave marker which states “In loving memerance of Ernest Joseph Camies Late Royal Canadian Mounted Police who passed away 18th January 1935 ‘Tho’ Lost To Sight To Memory Ever Dear'”

Ernest Joseph Camies service in the NWMP & RNWMP from 1885 to 1910:

Regimental # 1572/Officer No. 0.144

Date Joined – August , 14,1885

Date retired – October 1, 1910 with the rank of Inspector

He was the OIC of Claresholm, Alberta and a District Magistrate at time of his retirement

He did service at the following postings:

  • Regina (Depot Division), Saskatchewan,
  • K Division (Alberta) Fort MacLeod,
  • E Division (B.C.), Fort Steele,
  • K Division Fort MacLeod and The Leavings at Willow Creek,
  • South Africa War,
  • K Division Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass Sub-Division,
  • E Division (B.C.),
  • Peace River-Yukon Trail,
  • K Division, Fort MacLeod and Claresholm

Place of Birth: Winchester, England

Date of Birth: 02 June 1867

Date of Death: 18 January 1935

A family history of service:

  • From 1885 to 2007 there has been either a Camies or Murdoch in military or police service to the Queen.
  • Ernest Camies (our great grandfather) served in the Riel Rebellion in 1885 and in the North West Mounted Police & in the Royal North West Mounted Police from 1885 to 1910, in the Boer War in 1900-01,and in the Royal Engineers during WWI (France & England).
  • Charles Norman Camies (our great uncle) – for service in the British Navy in WW I and in the British and Canadian Merchant Marines and in the Canadian Department of National Defence during WW2 and up to 1949.
  • Charlie Murdoch (our grandfather) served in the Canadian Army during WW I (France).
  • William M. Walshe, our Great Uncle, served in the Canadian Army during WW I (France, Belgium and Germany).
  • Ernest Charles St John Murdoch (our father) served in the Canadian Army during WWII (Italy, France, Holland, Germany), the Korean War, and the Vietnam conflict (with the UN Peace Mission).
  • Sgt. Charles Merideth St John Murdoch, Reg # 23918 and Sgt. David Bruce Murdoch, Reg # 27934 (sons of Ernest C. Murdoch) served in the RCMP from 1965 to 2007.

A very special thank you to Veteran Dave Murdoch for sharing his great-grandfather’s story and photographs.

Photograph of Retired Sergeant Dave Murdoch – Reg # 27934.

If you have Force photographs and stories that you wish to be included in one of our forthcoming webpages, please email Ric Hall at rshall69@shaw.ca

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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