Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of RCMP Chapel Trumpeter (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)





The achievements and contributions of the Force have been built upon the individual contributions of many past Veterans. These contributions have largely been forgotten.




Veteran Sgt. Larry Burden ( #35982) served in “E” Division for 20 years has spent over ten years researching and summarizing these achievements by specific date. Nearly every day, Larry sends out an email message with a selection from his work in progress manuscript “This Day In The RCMP” to individuals interested in these historical notes.

In an effort to share his research to a large group, Larry has agreed to permit us to develop a webpage on our website. Each webpage will post Larry’s historical notations over the past week.

If you wish to contact Larry Burden or provide additional information about his research, please email him at

December 12

1899 – An Order in Council finally grants a life pension of 30¢ per day to #992 Sergeant William Perrin who had been invalided on June 30, 1890 with locomotor ataxia.

1955 – Honour Roll Number 90.

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at "Depot" Division in Regina (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles).

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at “Depot” Division in Regina (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles).

#O.385 Inspector David James McCombe died from exposure while on patrol near Cutknife, Saskatchewan.

#10294 / O.385 Inspector David J. McCombe was the Officer Commanding North Battleford Sub-Division and had left his office to drive to 35 miles to Cutknife Detachment around noon. The weather was clear when he departed but en-route the wind picked up and one of the worst winter storms in history blew in. Before he could make it to his destination, Highway # 40 became impassable due to the blinding snow and heavy drifts. Only two and a half miles from Cutknife Inspector McCombe’s car slid into the ditch and became stuck. Abandoning his car he made an attempt to walk to shelter but the blinding snow prevented him from getting very far. Upon his return to his vehicle he discovered that he had lost his keys and had to smash a window to get into the vehicle where he curled up in the back seat in attempt to preserve his body heat in the sub-zero weather.

When the severe storm suddenly occurred the members of Cutknife detachment became concerned for the Inspectors safety and Corporal J.K Bird and Constable R.E. Sondergaard made separate attempts to find him on the highway but the driving conditions were so bad that they had to turn back. A third attempt to find him was made at 2:15 pm when Constables A.F. Squair, and C.C. Young went out in a tow truck driven by Mr. Duncan Crone. In their attempt they became stuck in a snowdrift and had to abandon their vehicle and walk to a nearby farmhouse. On the way they rescued a stranded family of four who became stuck in the ditch and the entire group had to spend three days at the farm waiting out the storm.

At 5:00 pm #13370 Corporal Eugene V. Matchett, accompanied by Constables #17675 Lester Wall, #18058 James A.J. Laking and #18255 Clarence P. Miskiw headed out in a Bombardier tank tracked vehicle borrowed from the Department of Natural Resources. Even then the driving was so bad that the constable’s had to take turns walking in front of the vehicle with a high-powered flashlight to illuminate the road. After four hours of searching they finally found the missing car and Inspector McCombe’s frozen body in the back seat of the car.

David J. McCombe had joined the RCMP in 1927 after a short spell with the Royal Irish Constabulary in his home city of Belfast. He received a huge funeral in North Battleford and was buried at the RCMP Cemetery in Regina. One of his sons H. Barry McCombe later joined the RCMP and rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant before retiring in 1994.

1970 – Roy Spencer, father of Toronto Maple Leaf rookie Brian ‘Spinner’ Spencer was shot and killed by the RCMP outside a Prince George, BC, TV station after he had forced it off the air at gunpoint because it was not carrying a game between the Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks and a interview with his son; Brian Spencer was himself shot and killed in June 1988 in Florida.

December 16

1919 – The first member of the Mounted Police to be Hanged for Murder!

Photograph of

Photograph of Sergeant John Wilson (Reg.#6020) (Source of photo – “The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson:A True Story Of Love & Murder” by Lois Simmie)

On this day former Sergeant #6020 John Lindsay Wilson was charged with the murder of a wife nobody knew he had. In 1912 Wilson left his home and family in Scotland to come to Canada to seek a new life after he had been caught embezzling money from the business he co-owned with his in-laws. He had promised his wife Molly (“Polly”) Hutchison and their two children that he would send for them once he was established in Saskatchewan, he never did. After drifting through a variety of jobs he enlisted in the Royal Northwest Mounted Police on January 8th 1914 and was posted to F Division (Saskatchewan).

Eventually Wilson stopped writing his wife and family and in 1917 contracted tuberculoses and was sent to the military corps hospital for treatment. There he met and fell in love with Miss Jessie Patterson. For the first time in a long time, life was going along rather pleasantly for him. He had recovered from his illness, been promoted and was making a new life with Jessie, things were pretty good until Polly decided to come to Canada and find her husband.

When she arrived unexpectedly from Scotland and phoned him he didn’t have the courage to tell her the truth so he began living a double life for nearly six months keeping his women separated in different communities and embezzling fine money from the Mounted Police to cover his expenses. When his wife Polly became pregnant he decided that it was time to end their relationship.

On September 27, 1918 Wilson took Polly for a drive in the country and then shot her in the head with his service revolver and buried her body under a culvert near Waldheim Sask. As he drove his car back onto the road he crashed into the ditch, so he burned the vehicle to destroy the bloodstains and any other evidence of the murder. Later the same day he obtained a marriage license and he and Jessie Paterson were married the next day. In an attempt to create the perception that Polly was still alive, Wilson continued to write letters to his in-laws in Scotland. Eventually her family became suspicious and asked the RNWMP to investigate.

Meanwhile the Force became suspicious of Wilson’s activities and investigated him for fraud and on November 7, 1919 he was charged and demoted. While serving his sentence in the Regina Guardroom he attempted suicide and was rescued by the Provost Constable #5833 Constable Ernest Pascoe. After serving his term he was dishonorably discharged from the Force.

By then the Force had assigned #4754/ O.0190 Sub-Inspector Charles John Prime to investigate the Hutchison family concerns and when Polly’s body was discovered Wilson eventually confessed to his crimes. He was convicted and hanged on April 20, 1923. He was buried in the South Hill cemetery in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

In 1994 the story of Wilson’s exploits were recorded by author Lois Simmie in her book “The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson.

Book cover of "The Secret Lives Of Sgt. John Wilson: A True Story Of Love & Murder" by Lois Simmie

Book cover of “The Secret Lives Of Sgt. John Wilson: A True Story Of Love & Murder” by Lois Simmie

1976 – Dorval Police Dog handler Constable D.R.J. Jean and his partner “Smokey” were asked by the Canadian Bomb Data Center to assist the National Public Archives Photography section in locating photographic negatives containing a dangerous substance. The problem was the Public Archives collection consisted of over 5,000,000 items in over 10,000 boxes and the negatives containing nitrocellulose base emitted a highly explosive gas when they deteriorated. After providing a sample for the bomb dog to sniff Constable Jean and Smokey conducted a seven-hour search and identified every box containing the potentially dangerous negatives.

1981 – Honour Roll Number 169.

Photograph of Constable

Photograph of Constable Barry McKinnon (Reg.#31787) (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database).

#31787 Constable Barry Flynn McKinnon age 27 was killed in a police motor vehicle accident, near Hamilton, Ontario.

Constables Barry McKinnon and #33242 James Stavert of the Toronto Drug section had been conducting surveillance in a rental car in Brantford Ontario and McKinnon had just dropped his partner off at his home in the Village of Burtch, and was headed home at the end of his shift. As he drove north on Highway #54 he encountered a flat bed tractor-trailer that had run out of gas at the bottom of a blind hill near Cainsville. Constable McKinnon was unable to stop his vehicle in time to avoid colliding with the truck and trailer because another oncoming car was passing the truck in the southbound lane. Unable to steer to the ditch because the shoulder of the road was lined with a crash guard made of three-foot posts and steel cables, he slammed into the back to the flat deck trailer and was propelled through the windshield of his car to his death.

Barry McKinnon was raised in Moncton, New Brunswick and was one of four children from the same family to join the RCMP. He joined the Force in 1974 and was married but had no children. He was buried at Wallace, Nova Scotia.

1982 – North Vancouver member #33603 Constable Dave Senay responded to a report of a distraught man at a bus terminal armed with a hand grenade. During the 45-minute conversation Senay listened to the man’s extensive knowledge of military weapons and tactics. He eventually succeeded in convincing the man to surrender and when he was searched he was found to be unarmed. For his patience and tack in dealing with a potentially dangerous situation Constable Senay was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation, by the Deputy Commissioner T.S. Venner, CO of British Columbia.

December 17

1906 – Life in the remote bush can be extremely hard but even more so if you are not equipped with some common sense and basic necessities. After receiving a complaint that a family was destitute and near starvation #O.138 Inspector John Genereux, #1747 Constable Charles Tasker and a Native guide hiked from Battleford Saskatchewan to Tramping Lake to investigate. When they arrived at the run down cabin they found Mr. James Tait, his wife, his sister and seven children near starvation. They had no food, no firewood and didn’t even have an axe! Leaving all of their supplies the trio hiked back to their detachment and upon arrival on December 27th

Constables #3069 William Burke, #4150 Donald Foster and #4482 Horace Townsend were sent back with additional provisions and clothing so the family could survive until spring.

1964 – Honour Roll Number 127.

Photograph of Constable Robert Weston Amey (Reg.#22240) - (Source of photo - RCMP Gravesite database)

Photograph of Constable Robert Weston Amey (Reg.#22240) – (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database)

#22240 Constable Robert Watson Amey, age 24 became the second Mountie to be killed in Newfoundland when an escaped convict shot him.

Early in the morning of December 17th,Winston Churchill Noseworthy, John Snow, James Thorne and Melvin Young escaped from the Penitentiary at St. Johns Newfoundland and made off in a stolen car.

Forty miles away near the village Whitbourne, they ran through a roadblock that had been set up by Constables #21018 David Keith, #22164 Garry Cluley and Robert Amey. After a high-speed pursuit the fugitives abandoned their car and ran for cover in the village and were cornered by the policemen but refused to surrender. While Constable Amey returned to his patrol car to use the radio to call for help the four men rushed Constable Keith, overpowered him and managed to grab his revolver. When Amey rushed back to assist his partner, 19-year-old Melvin Young fired three shots and hit him in the chest killing him instantly. After murdering Constable Amey, Melvin Young fled into a nearby grocery store and took the owner hostage. By then Constable Keith had grabbed his dead partner’s revolver and arrested the three remaining criminals who stayed at the scene. After handcuffing the trio he attended to Melvin Young and eventually convinced him that he had no chance of escaping and to give himself up.

The four men were returned to the penitentiary and were charged with escaping custody. Melvin Young was convicted of murder and was sentenced to die by firing squad, but had his sentence commuted to life in prison. He only served eight years before he was released on parole.

Robert Watson Amey had only been in the RCMP for five years. His body was returned to his parents at his home in Pondville Nova Scotia near Arichat where he was buried at the Anglican Church Cemetery.

1971 – Sergeant Allen James Richards was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation for perseverance and dedication to duty after he went undercover to win the confidence of known bank robbers. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was held-up by four men who stole over $81,000. A few hours later Corporal Gary A. Loeppky and Constable H.W. Summerfeldt arrested one of the suspects.

Though he was well known to the local criminal community because of his years of work in the safe blowing squad. Sergeant Richards agreed to go undercover and pose as a bail bondsman and try and win the confidence of the bank robbery suspect in hopes that he would be led to the rest of the crew and the missing money. Suspecting that the police were watching him and not knowing Richards background, the suspect led Richards around Vancouver taking him into several hotels and bars where he figured Richards cover would be blown if he was a cop. Sergeant Richards was able to play his role so well that he succeeded in winning the confidence of his target and was able to gather enough evidence to arrest the other three robbers.

1973 – Three Medals of Bravery are earned by #19778 Sergeant Thomas Charlton and Constables #25637 James Adam Bell, and #24636 Brian Leicht.

Photograph of the Canadian Medal of Bravery

Photograph of the Canadian Medal of Bravery.

The three policemen responded to a bank robbery at a shopping centre in Burnaby BC, and decided to try and apprehend the robbers without getting into a shootout and endangering bystanders. The officers waited at the side of the bank and when the robbers left Sergeant Charlton pounced on them and grabbed hold of one of the robbers. The second man then pulled his gun and shot at the police, wounding Constable Bell and nearly hit Constable Leicht. Before any other shots could be fired the policemen knocked the men to the ground and subdued them. Constable Bell was rushed to hospital and later recovered from his wound. In recognition of their bravery in apprehending the two violent criminals without injury or loss of life to the public present all three men were awarded the Medal of Bravery.

December 18

1961 – Honour Roll # 115

Photograph of

Photograph of the grave marker for Constable Joseph Thompson (Reg.#18200) (Source of photo – RCMP Gravesite database)

#18200 Constable Joseph Thor Thompson age 27, died at Selkirk, Manitoba as result of injuries he received when his police car was crushed by the wheels of an aircraft landing near at Lethbridge Alberta. See September 26, 1957.

1979 – After responding to a motor vehicle collision near Milestone Saskatchewan #33551 Constable Michael J. Boyce rescued two men from burning car that had collided with a tractor-trailer. As he was attempting the rescue the gas tank exploded forcing him to back away from the car. He then rushed back to the vehicle and succeeded in the rescue of the occupants. On My 5th 1981 Assistant Commissioner R.J. Mills, CO of “F” Division presented him with the Commanding Officers Commendation for Bravery.

Photograph of

Photograph of Assistant Commissioner W.L. Holmes receiving a ceremonial eagle feather headdress (Source of photo – RCMP Quarterly).

1992 – Assistant Commissioner W.L. Holmes was the recipient of a very special honour when Native Elder H. Healy of the Blackfoot Nation bestowed Holmes with a ceremonial eagle feather headdress and gave him the native name of “Chief of all Chiefs” in recognition of his commitment and contribution to Aboriginal Community relations.

2002 – 53 year old #27513 / O.1540 Superintendent Dennis Massey was driving from a Calgary City police station to the RCMP office at Springbank Alberta. While he was traveling west on 16th Avenue, Northwest he encountered an eastbound truck and flat deck trailer loaded with a large propane tank. As the truck approached the propane tank broke free from the trailer and careened across the centre line and crushed Massey’s police car. Superintendent Massey had to be cut from the wreckage and succumbed to his injuries in hospital later.


Photograph of RCMP Superintendent Dennis Massey (Reg.#27513) (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Superintendent Dennis Massey had 33 years service with the force and was survived by his wife, mother, a brother and a sister. He is not on the Honour Roll.

December 19

1964 – Honour Roll # 128

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at "Depot" Division in Regina (Source of photo - Sheldon Boles)

Photograph of the RCMP Cenotaph at “Depot” Division in Regina (Source of photo – Sheldon Boles)

#23499 Constable 3rd class Reginald Wayne Williams drowned, while on patrol, when his police car skidded off of a wharf and plunged into the water. While on routine patrol on the icy streets of Sooke British Columbia Cst. Williams drove onto Government dock and skidded off the end, dropping 18 feet into the frigid water. Although his vehicle was pulled out from 12 feet of water within 15 minutes he had died from drowning. 21-year-old Cst. Williams had joined the RCMP only eight months earlier. He was buried in his hometown of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba at the Hillside Cemetery.

1968 – Four teenagers were cruising the icy roads of rural Prince Edward Island when their car left the highway and over turned in five feet of water in Fullerton’s Marsh. Constables #22436 D.R. MacLeod and #24551 D.D. MacDonald responded to the scene and rushed into the water and managed to remove three of the occupants to safety. The driver, Clifford Smith couldn’t be removed because he legs were trapped and was suffering from shock. So the two policemen took turns entering the car and holding the victims head up in an air space. After an hour in the icy water the vehicle was raised using a crane and the driver was removed. Constable MacLeod had to be treated in hospital for hypothermia. Both constables were awarded Life Saving Certificates by the Honorable J. George MacKay, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.