Larry Burden’s This Day In The RCMP

 

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 larryburden8@gmail.com

 


January 25th

1935 – RCMP veteran #5694 Sergeant Major Frederick Andertonis made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

1968– #16974 S/Sgt Guy Houde received a commendation for assisting Scotland Yard, in the arrest of 33-year-old Charles Wilson at Rigaud Quebec.  

Charlie Wilson was a notorious underworld figure and one of the masterminds behind one of the greatest robberies in British history “the Great Train Robbery” when over £2.5m was stolen from a Royal Mail train on August 3rd, 1963.

Wilson along with twelve other accomplices were identified and eventually rounded up by police as a result of their finger prints being left at a farmhouse. Sentenced to 30 years in prison he made his escape on August 12, 1964 after serving only four months when a gang of three men who broke into the jail in the early hours of the morning.  With a stolen ladder they broke into the grounds of a mental hospital next to the prison and used a rope ladder to scale the 20ft (6.1 metre) high prison wall. After his escape he fled to Canada and hid out for four years before Scotland Yard was tipped off when his wife made the mistake of telephoning her parents in England. After his capture in Canada Wilson returned to jail in the UK, where he served out the rest of his sentence. When he was eventually released from prison he moved to Spain and was shot dead by a hit man on 23 April 1990 as he relaxed by his swimming pool.

The criminal exploits of Charlie Wilson were detailed in the 2004 book “Killing Charlie”: The Bloody, Bullet-riddled Hunt for the Most Powerful Great Train Robber  
by Wensley Clarkson.

2004– Fraser Valley Traffic Services member #47796 Cst. Chad William Greig was on highway patrol duties in the town of Hope British Columbiawhen he encountered a suicidal woman on the bridge over the Fraser River. Backed up by Cst. Kevin Page he succeeded in getting close enough to the woman to grab her by her jacket as she attempted to jump into the raging river. In the process Cst. Grieg was nearly dragged over the bridge railing by the woman who repeatedly beat on him in an attempt to free herself from his grasp. Fortunately, two other police officers rushed in and as the woman continued her struggle, the policemen were able to pull her back to safety. In recognition of his courage Cst. Greig was awarded both the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery and on October 13, 2006 he was presented the Medal of Bravery.

January 24th

1904–Escaped murderer Ernest Cashel was captured and taken back to jail. Cashel escaped from jail on Dec 26, 1903 after his brother slipped him two loaded revolvers. His escape resulted in three constables being sentenced to serve hard time and then be dishonorably discharged. (See January 7th)   

1964 – Child birth has always been a challenge but when there are complications and you are in isolated locations such as Grise Fiord NWT it can be deadly. 

After the wife of S/Cst Peeyameenie delivered her baby she began was hemorrhaging and was in danger of dying. Due to the fact that there was no medical help available locally the detachment contacted United States Air Force base at Thule, Greenland by radio. Following the instructions from the base doctor relayed by Cst. #21791 Smith, Constable #20799 Robert C. Currie cleaned the placenta off the uterine wall with a kitchen spoon.  After the operation Mother and baby were later flown to Winnipeg where she recovered fully. #O.865 Robert C. Currie joined the RCMP in1959 and retired an Assistant Commissioner in 1994.

1979– For their roles in the planning of XI Commonwealth Games at Edmonton Alberta #19702 Sergeant Ronald G. Easton and #23148 Staff Sergeant Colin E. Killam received the Commanding Officers Commendation and #17912 / O.949 Inspector Ronald A. McIntyre was awarded the Commissioners Commendation for outstanding service.

1997– #32523 Corporal Barry Gray Shannon is awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Corporal Shannon served as a Police Monitor for the UN Protection Force Civilian Police (UNPROFOR CIVPOL) in Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia from November 1992 to May 1993. While working at the Civilian Police Station at Sarajevo Airport, Cpl. Shannon and his associates were subjected to constant heavy shelling. In January of 1993 Corporal Shannon risked his life on two separate occasions, while dodging artillery fire, he went into harm’s way to the rescue UN monitors who had become disoriented during sniper attacks. With his assistance, the monitors were led back to safety.

January 23rd

1941– German prisoner of war Franz von Werra escapes from a train near Prescott Ontario and evades the RCMP and military personnel and he makes it back to Germany, only to die in action a year later. Franz von Werra the only German POW to make a successful escape in Canada.

1956– A newly created Mace is presented to the tenth session of the Council of the North-West Territories by Governor General Vincent Massey and is carried into the House of Commons by #12763 Sgt. James N. Reid who acted as Sergeant-at-Arms and presented it to Mr. R.G. Robertson, Commissioner of the North-West Territories. The Mace was commissioned by the Governor General and given as a gift to the people of the North-West Territories and presented to their legislators as a symbol authority. The 5 ½ foot high mace though similar to the traditional emblems found on other maces used in the Parliaments of Canada and England is unique in its workmanship and the materials used in its construction. The Mace or “Anaotalok” the great clubwas made by nine Inuit artists from Cape Dorset (Oshawetuk Ipeelie, Lutka Qiatsuk, Kovianaktuliak Parr, Ashevak Ezekiel, PeterPitseolak, Nungoshuitok, Qavaroak Tunnillie, Moses Tauki and Kovianatuliak Ottokie)who were paid $70 each and wasmade with a variety of materials from across the territories. The shaft is made from a narwhal tusk from the Foxe Peninsula. It includes free cooper from the shores of the Arctic Ocean, and pure gold from the mines of the Mackenzie District in the design of the crown. Musk-ox horns and carved whalebone decorated with porcupine quillwork from Yellowknife support the crown and orb. The foot of the mace is made from a piece of oak recovered from the Sir William Parry’s ship “HMS Fury” that was wrecked on Somerset Island in 1825 and found by the crew of the RCMP St. Roch. Governor General Vincent Massey requested that the mace be carried by a member of the RCMP because of the long association the Force has had with the north. This was a very special privilege that bestowed on the Force and for Sergeant J.N. Reid a veteran of several years’ service in the north, a truly great honour. The original Mace became too fragile to continue being used and was replaced with a replica in 1959 and is now stored at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre.

1978– Honour Roll Number 155.

#32104 Constable Dennis Anthony Onofrey age 27 was shot and killed at a motel, in Virden, Manitoba, while investigating a suspected stolen motor vehicle.

Cst. Dennis Onofrey had just over three years’ service when he was murdered and three of his comrades were injured in a shootout with two criminals from British Columbia. While working night shift in Virden, Cst. Onofrey cruised by a local motel and ran the licence plates on the vehicles in the parking lot and got a “hit” on a van with British Columbia plates. Suspecting that the vehicle was stolen he made enquires with the Motel office and learned that the room was registered to a Mr. and Mrs. Crystal. He then called for backup and when #25435 Cpl. Russ Hornseth and Constables #34034Candice Smith and #28827 John O’Ray arrived the members went to the hotel room and knocked on the door. At first the lights came on but were then suddenly turned off and Onofrey became cautious and pulled his revolver out of his holster and pointing it at the door knocked on the door several more times. 

When a man partially opened the door, Cpl. Hornseth told him to step outside, so they could talk to him. Before Cst. Onofrey could react the man produced a shotgun and shot him in the chest from killing him instantly. As Cpl. Hornseth ran for cover the gunman continued to shoot and hit him in the face imbedding several pellets in his forehead and destroying one of his eyes. Constable Smith found herself pinned up against a wall managed to fire a few shots before she was shot twice in the abdomen and rendered unconscious. Cst. O’Ray quickly dove over a snow bank and then circled around neighboring houses and came back to help Cpl. Hornseth as the two fugitives ran out of their room and tried to get into one of the police cars. O’Ray fired and hit the woman in the back but she was dragged into the patrol car and they sped away.

The pair then stopped at three different farmhouses and changed vehicles and took a hostage who they forced to take them to the local doctor’s house. Shortly afterwards the RCMP surrounded the house and agreed to take the wounded fugitive Dorothy Malette to the hospital. The standoff continued for another four days when H. Bruce Arthur, finally gave himself up. 

Both were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison with no chance of parole, but Arthur died in 1991 of complications from surgery and Malette received parole after serving 15 years.

Dennis Onofrey was buried in Assumption Cemetery in Winnipeg Manitoba leaving behind his wife Paula who was six months pregnant and their two-year-old daughter.

January 21st

1900– #2821 S/Sgt Frank (Old Sex) Sexton a veteran member of the 2nd Canadian contingent to the Boer War died this day while serving at Lethbridge of “ashmatical bronchitis”. He was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Lethbridge Alberta in the Mounted Police section in Section P1-17, Row1, Lot 1N. 1974– After receiving a complaint of an overdue hunter Frobisher Bay detachment members #21351 Corporal Carl A. Lentowicz and Constables #27694 David I. Gallant, and #25081 Ken Munro organized a search party of local volunteers and at 0430 a.m. headed out on snowmobiles in the -35-degree weather to search for the man who was 80 miles away. At 10:45 a.m. #23607 Staff Sergeant Dan Hickey the pilot of CF-MPF located the missing man and dropped him a note advising him to stay where he was because a search party was coming for him. Hampered by engine problems with their new snowmobiles the search party finally reached the hunter at 1:30 p.m. and began treating him. The hunter had walked all night in an attempt to prevent his feet from freezing, but by the time the rescue party arrived large portions of his feet and fingers were frozen. The rescuers then headed back to Frobisher Bay but several of them ended up walking the final seven miles because the snowmobiles had broken down again. All of the rescue party finally made it back safely well after midnight, wishing that the Force had not replaced sled dogs with snowmobiles.

1985– Montreal Drug Squad member #30610 Constable Mike Fletcher was named the “Police Officer of the Year” by The National Association of Chiefs of Police of the United States. He was honored for his distinguished public service and dedication and work with the “Blue Knights Motor Cycle Chapter in Detroit Michigan. Cst. Fletcher is the first Canadian peace officer to be elected President of the 7000-member international law enforcement motorcycle club.

1988– #33667 Cst. Al R. Malcomson earned a Commanding Officers Commendation after he disarmed a dangerous, unstable man who had barricaded in house in Port Alberni BC. Constable Malcomson calmly negotiated with the suicidal man and convinced him to surrender and come out of his home.

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