Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

Photograph of NWMP cap badge on map

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

January 18th

1899– #2353 / O.185 Inspector Kristjan Fjeldsted Anderson arrived back at Fort Saskatchewan after traveling with two dog teams from the Fort to Peace River via Athabasca Landing & Lesser Slave Lake and then returning with the mail. The mail patrol covered over 800 miles. 

1953 – Monogram Pictures releases their newest movie “Fangs of The Arctic” The movie has nothing to do with the Arctic but instead has two undercover Mounties, Corporal Rod Webb (Kirby Grant) and Constable Mike Kelly (Robert Sherman), along with Chinook the Wonder dog. Together they travel to Blackfoot Crossing country to find the killer of a trapper Antonie Dubois and investigate reports of illegal deals in beaver pelts. Monogram releases another classic; Yukon Vengeance” a year later.

1961– A United States Air Force C-47 en route to Frobisher Bay NWT transporting 12 people encountered engine problems and was forced to crash land on the ice. The pilot managed to send out a “mayday” to the nearby radar station before the plane crashed. Miraculously everyone aboard survived the crash, but all twelve-people had to flee the wreckage and brave the nearly 50 below zero weather because the ice beneath the plane began to breakup. Aboard the plane was a Canadian Air Commodore, eight American Air Force personnel and three USO performers, Betty and Jean Amos and Judy Lee Schreiber. The 12 survivors huddled in a circle in a futile attempt to stay warm and waited in vain expecting to freeze to death before a rescue team could find them. 

Fortunately for them RCMP pilot #15969 / O.633 Robert Lorne Fletcher flying a twin-engine Otter with skis was in the area and managed to locate the downed aircraft and safely landed his plane on the ice nearby. When the survivors realized that only nine of them could fit in the rescue plane and that the plane would not be able to come back until daylight the next day they refused to get aboard if they all could not be rescued then. 

Fletcher then piled all twelve into his plane and with American Colonel Victor Milner acting as co-pilot he revved up the engines and began taxiing in circles on ice to gather up enough speed, so they could lift the severely overloaded aircraft from the ice. As the plane lifted off, they nearly crashed when one of the skis collided with an ice boulder and ripped the ski off the plane.

Fletcher managed to keep the plane airborne and began circling to gain some altitude before flying ten miles to the Resolution Island radar station. As the Otter approached the air strip Fletcher realized he was going to have to make the landing of his career because the runway was very short and had a 200’ drop off at the end of it. With everyone aboard whispering prayers, he brought the plane safely home on one ski. 

On March 2, 1961, Lorne Fletcher was presented a Scroll of Appreciation from US Consul General for his courage in rescuing the twelve survivors.

January 17th

1941– The fourth reinforcement draft to the Provost Corps is called.

1986– Mounties seldom rest. While off duty #27058 Sgt George W. Mallett arrests a fraud suspect that had eluded the Nepean Police and receives a commendation. 

1993 – With only two years’ experience #43661 Constable Bruce Grant Pitt-Payne successfully negotiated the release of eight hostages who were being held gunpoint in the Health Centre, in Brooks, Alberta. Constable Pitt-Payne convinced the deranged gunman who was armed with AK47 to release the hostages and then convinced him to surrender. For his actions he was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for bravery.

January 16th

1886– On this day Northwest Rebellion veteran #985 Constable Joel Julest was injured (ruptured) while riding a bucking horse at Calgary Alberta.

1899 – #2830 Cst Harry A. Lee (served 1892 – 1900) is one of several members to receive a good conduct badge. In the early days of the Force the “Good Conduct Badge” was a gold star signifying five years of service and good conduct. Back then the star shaped badge was worn on the lower right sleeve, whereas no the service stars are worn on the upper left sleeve. Relatively few members earned the good conduct badge because very few men stayed in the NWMP for more than five years and even fewer managed to avoid service court!

1927– A three man dog sled patrol including #O.195 Inspector Theodore Victor Sandys-Wunsch, #9261 Sergeant John Rowland Paton and  #9587 Constable William Arthur Cooper left the Liard Detachment to take winter mail 160 miles south to the nearest post office at Porter’s Landing on the Dease River. Battling extreme cold weather Sgt. Paton developed badly frostbitten hands while breaking trail for the dog team resulting in gangrene setting in. To save his hand Inspector Sandys-Wunsch amputated part of one of Sergeant Paton’s fingers.

1939– The third Sgt. Renfrew movie “Crashing Thru” is released by Monogram starring James Newill and Jean Carmen.The plot; six people are in on a gold robbery and half of the crew double-cross the others. Sgt. Renfrew goes after them alone after his partner Kelly is wounded.

 1941– #10941 Sergeant Earle Carter Clendenning received a commendation for recapturing an escaped mental patient. 

2004– #41748 Constable Desmond R. Burridge came to the aid of the Highways Department in a severe winter storm and assists in evacuating the area adjacent to Hampden Newfoundland where the sea was washing over the highway.

January 15th

1962– The RCMP Musical Ride placed on permanent, full-time basis.

1991 – After responding to a complaint of a woman walking on the ice of the Ottawa River Constables #42623 J.I. Demers and #41721 M.F. Zito located the woman after she had fallen through the ice. The two members crawled out on the ice and succeeded in pulling her to safety. In recognition of their selfless act, both men were awarded Commanding Officers Commendations for bravery.

January 14th

1982– Serial killer Clifford Robert Olson, of Coquitlam, BC is sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder of 11 children. His murder spree from November 1980 to August 1981, results in the deaths of three boys and eight girls, aged nine to 18. In an effort to solve the case and recover the bodies the RCMP agrees to give Olson’s family $100,000 if he told them where he had buried the bodies.