Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Arnold Friberg's RCMP painting

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 20th

1878 – #18 & 23 Sergeant Edward Carr had to get his rifle and shoot two bears that forced their way into the barracks square at Fort Saskatchewan. Carr had two different regimental numbers because he was issued number “18” when he joined the NWMP in 1873 and was issued the new number “23” when the Force organized its records and renumbering took place in 1878. 

1933– #11201 Constable Thomas Paulreceived commendation for difficult patrol with two dog teams from Fort Chippewyan to Embarrass Portage, Alberta.  

1946– Four German prisoners of war were hanged at the Lethbridge Provincial Jail for the murder of fellow prisoner Cpl. Karl Lehmann at the Medicine Hat POW camp in Sept. 1944.  Note: If you would like to read the in-depth article on this case, send me an email, and I will forward it to you. Larry

2003 – Constable #38731 Cameron Jan Joseph responded to a complaint of a home invasion in Terrace BC where an elderly man was assaulted. While en-route he received a radio description of the suspects involved and then observed a man fitting the description attempting to hide behind a dumpster. As Constable Joseph exited his police car to investigate, the man suddenly rushed him and attacked him with a 6-inch hunting knife slashing him below the chin. Bleeding profusely Constable Joseph fought back and knocking his attacker off balance with the car door he attempted to restrain and disarm him. When constables Barnhill and Lofroth arrived on scene they found Joseph struggling valiantly with his enraged attacker. The man was then quickly subdued and the two policemen applied much needed first aid to their partner and rushed him to the hospital. There he received over 20 stitches to close the 13-cm gash that nearly cut his jugular vein.

On July 15, 2004 in recognition of his bravery and tenacity in the arrest of the extremely violent subject Constable Cameron Jan Joseph was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for bravery. 

December 19th

1964– Honour Roll # 128

#23499 Constable 3rdclass 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 overturned 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, managing to remove three of the occupants to safety. The driver, Clifford Smith, couldn’t be removed because his legs were trapped and he was suffering from shock. So, the two policemen took turns entering the car and holding the victim’s 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.

December 18th

1961– Honour Roll # 115

#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 5th1981 Assistant Commissioner R.J. Mills, CO of “F” Division presented him with the Commanding Officers Commendation for Bravery.

1992– Assistant Commissioner #19209 / O.844 W.L. (Les) 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 Masseywas 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 center line and crushed Massey’s police car. Superintendent Massey had to be cut from the wreckage and succumbed to his injuries in hospital later.

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 10th

1996– After responding to a complaint involving a knife wielding at the Nanaimo BC Ferry Terminal, Constables #30652 James Porteous and #41437 Gary O’Brien are confronted by a man high on drugs. When the suspect rushed Constable O’Brien and attempted to stab him with the knife, O’Brien shot him once fatally wounding him.  A Coroners Inquest cleared both officers and ruled the shooting was in self-defense.

2001– While off duty traveling in his own car near Dundas, Ontario #39112 Constable J.P.G. Bourbonnais observed a vehicle hit black ice and skid off the road and roll over into 2-4 feet of water in the ditch. Constable Bourbonnais ran to assist driver but could not open the vehicles’ doors to get to the unconscious driver whose head and upper torso was submerged.  Recognizing that he could not rescue the victim by himself, he solicited the assistance of three bystanders and they succeeded in wrenched a door open and then cut the unconscious driver from seat belt.  Constable Bourbonnais then gave revived the victim using CPR and first aid and then provided warm clothing and comfort after he was revived. In recognition of his professionalism and quick thinking in the rescue Constable J.P.G. Bourbonnais was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for outstanding service.

December 9th

1878– #O.35 Surgeon Robert Miller along with Constables, #293 William Robertson, #294 William Ramsay, #299 John Wymerskirk, #301 Harry Keenan, #302 Joseph Hanafin, #307 William Davis, #308 Harry Walker, and #355 William Latimer opened the first detachment at Prince Albert Saskatchewan.

1938– In recognition of his excellent work on murder investigation in Saskatchewan, #12838 Constable William McKayseff received a commendation.

1969– Constable Stephen William Hryciuk responded to a complaint that a deranged man was threatening a woman with a knife in downtown North Vancouver. When he arrived on scene and found the man walking down the street with his two small children. When Hryciuk approached the man, he began running and then suddenly grabbed his daughter and holding a knife to her throat told the policeman to leave him alone. As he attempted to reason with the man and move closer to him, Constable Franciscus A.E.M. Naaykens arrived on scene and momentarily distracted him. Taking advantage of the distraction Constable Hryciuk pounced on the assailant grabbing for the knife. A struggle ensued in which he received superficial knife wounds to his hand but with the assistance of Constable Naaykens they succeeded in subduing the man. Constable Hryciuk was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1989– Honour Roll numbers 214 and 215.

Pilot #S/3367 (**formerly #33112) Special Constable Nancy Marie Puttkemery age 34 and #S/1969 Special Constable Vincent Norman Timms were stationed in Edmonton Alberta at the time of their deaths. They were working in an aerial surveillance project and were returning to Edmonton in their Cessna 182 after the weather conditions began to deteriorate. Due to the limited visibility and heavy blowing snow, S/Cst. Puttkemery decided to return to Calgary and land there. As she made a left turn at low altitude, the left wing of her plane struck a wire on the Cantel Radio Tower near Crossfield, Alberta. The plane plummeted to the ground and was completely demolished and both officers were killed on impact.

**Nancy Puttkemery was born in Beloit Wisconsin and had originally joined the RCMP as a civilian member in 1975 and later that year converted to a regular member. In November 1986 she was transferred to Air Division and as a pilot converted to a Special Constable. (For specialty pay scale reasons pilot’searned higher rates of pay than various ranks)

Vincent Norman Timms was a native of East Ham, England and joined the RCMP “Special O” surveillance section in 1978.