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), who 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.

October 24th

1917– #3924 Sergeant Major Arthur Nevelson Nicholson was giving a demonstration of lance techniques from a horse at Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. While he demonstrated “tent-pegging” his lance slipped from his grasp. As he attempted to recover it, the butt of the lance stuck into ground, driving the point of the lance into his stomach, and throwing him off his horse. He died from the lance wound the following day.

Sergeant Major Nicholson joined the North West Mounted Police in 1902 and served until his death and is buried in Battleford, Saskatchewan.He is not on the Honour Roll.

He had started the journey from Pond Inlet on March 12th, 1943 with two dog teams of 35 dogs and thirteen hundred pounds of supplies and equipment. Accompanied by Special Constable Angnatsiak and Inuit guide Ehaksak their primary task was to investigate a murder at Fort Ross on Somerset Island NWT and visit several encampments to check on the welfare of the residents and then catch a ride back to Pond Inlet aboard the RMS Nascopie. 

1945– #13097 Constable Charles L. Delisle received a Commissioners commendation for completing a round trip dog sled patrol from Pond Inlet to Fort Ross, NWT (now Nunavut after a year of travel. The 151-day journey was completed without mishap and covered a distance of 3,551 miles. 

The group covered the first 240 miles across the Arctic By to Baffin Island in -45-degree temperatures in only twelve days. After an arduous journey they arrived at Fort Ross. After some time to rest and hunt for food and dog feed Cst. Delisle sent his guides back to Pond Inlet with most of the supplies and equipment before the sea ice broke up. He then conducted the murder investigation he had been dispatched to. He located the 21-year-old female suspect “Mitkaeyout” who readily confessed to shooting her husband “Kookieyout” and leaving the body at the scene. After taking her into custody Cst. Delisle travelled to Thom Bay and recovered the frozen body from a cache of rocks. After putting the cadaver in a wooden box several friends and family members climbed onto the makeshift coffin and rode it down the slope and onto the sea ice like a toboggan laughing and giggling the whole way.

Unfortunately for him the heavy pack ice prevented the Nascopie from reaching Fort Ross for a second year in a row and the community did not get the much-needed food and supplies she was carrying. When the ship failed to arrive, Delisle was faced with a choice of flying south on an American rescue plane or travelling back to Pond Inlet because the NCO in charge had gone south for medical reasons. He chose to return to the detachment by dog sled. He succeeded in hiring a local guide and wearing the summer dress he had arrived in they set out on October 19th, 1943. Because the previous route across the sea ice could not be made until freeze up the following February they decided to take the much longer land route. Building igloos to sleep in and low on supplies they were forced to live off the land most of the trek eating whatever they could find or get from other Inuit they met along the way. Two days after leaving their campsite on the ice of Lancaster Sound where they had been held up by a storm, the ice bearing their igloo broke off from the shore and drifted away. 

Despite all of the obstacles and hardship the air arrived in Pond Inlet on St. Patrick’s Day 1944. Commissioner Wood was so impressed with this outstanding patrol that he made special mention of it in his 1945 annual report and included a four-and-a-half-page detailed report of the patrol.

Constable Charles L. Delisle served in the Force from 1937 to 1959 and retired as a Corporal. He died in 2001 and is buried in Morrisburg Ontario.

1970– Newfoundland members, #23887 Constables Raymond E. Roddick and #25808 / O.1473 and W. Ross Black responded to a complaint of a man with a rifle. Upon their arrival a shot rang out and Constable Black fell to the ground seriously wounded. Taking cover behind a car Constable Roddick raised his head above the vehicle to survey the situation when his partner cried out for help. Suddenly the gunman fired shots into the vehicle, splattering fragments that hit Roddick in the face. Though wounded, Constable Roddick was able to return fire and succeeded in wounding the gunman in the abdomen and arresting him. Constable Black was rushed to hospital where he later recovered from his injuries.

At a later ceremony Constable Roddick was presented a Commissioners Commendation “for courage and determination” by Commissioner W.L. Higgitt personally. Both men had full careers with Roddick retiring as a Staff Sergeant and Black as an Inspector. 

1982– While working in Montreal, #27557 Constable Joseph Andre Richard Beaudoin heard shouts for assistance from an elderly woman, and saw a man running away with a purse. Constable Beaudoin ran after the thief and chased him for three blocks before catching him. A struggle ensued as the suspect resisted arrest, but Beaudoin succeeded in subduing him and holding him until the Montreal Police arrived. When the police opened the purse, they discovered it contained over $500. which was promptly returned to Mrs. Bouchard. In recognition of his courage and commitment to duty Constable Beaudoin was awarded a Commanding Officers Commendation.

1990– Commissioner Norman Inkster allows native members of the Force to wear braids on duty. The directive is in recognition of their traditional spiritual needs.

1990 – Honour Roll Number189.

17-year veteran, #30967 Constable Gerald Vernon Breese age 37, died as a direct result of injuries sustained from an RCMP motorcycle accident, at Penticton BC.

Constable Breese was responding to a reported stabbing when his motorcycle was hit broadside by another vehicle. He suffered serious head injuries and died on October 24th, 1990, five months after the crash, from complications related to his injuries.

Also see October May 19th

Gerry had recovered physically but suffered significant personality changes and battled bouts of depression.  After his death his wife Janelle Breese-Biagioni was inspired to write a book about the problems of brain injuries. “A Change of Mind” published by New Canada Publications. 

1995– After responding to a domestic dispute complaint in Prince Rupert BC, #36381 Constable Dennis Bauhuis found himself face to face with a despondent man armed with a knife who was threatening to harm his innocent children. For over five hours Constable Bauhuis calmly spoke with the suicidal man and succeeded in negotiating his surrender. For his courage and presence of mind Constable Bauhuis was awarded the Commanding Officers Commendation. 

October 23rd

1958– A coal gas explosion and rock surge in the Number Two Cumberland coal mine in Springhill Nova Scotia trapping 174 miners’ underground. On the first day of the disaster rescue crews were quickly assembled and were sent underground to look for survivors and bring 81 men up to safety.  The search continued for several more days as the rescue crews tried to find their way to the bottom of the 14,200’ mine and 12 men are found alive on October 30th, and seven more are found alive on November 1st. The last body is recovered on November 6thbringing the total to 74 men perished in the deepest coalmine disaster in North America. The coalmine is never reopened.

1960– While conducting a patrol for two career criminals who had been casing businesses at Whalley BC; #20015 Constable Robert William Rolph Smith, witnessed the suspects fleeing from the Legion at 04:15 am. He radioed for backup and then chased after the pair and found them hiding behind a bush, armed with a loaded handgun. Constable Smith, with revolver drawn, ordered the pair out, but one of the suspects ran off. 

The second suspect was then placed against the side of a building, but he became edgy and Smith decided to handcuff him. When he holstered his revolver and proceeded to handcuff him, the man wheeled on him and being much bigger overpowered him and began beating him about the head with his flashlight and handcuffs. Knocking the constable to the ground the suspect pulled his revolver from the holster and pointed the gun at Smith’s chest. As the attacker pulled the trigger, Constable Smith reached up and grabbed the revolver around the gun’s cylinder, preventing it from firing. The suspect then lost control of the gun and got Smith in a headlock and proceeded to ram his head into a brick wall. Though dazed and bleeding profusely, Constable Smith continued to fight and managed to grab his pistol that was suspended by a lanyard around his neck and fired a shot between the legs of his attacker forcing the suspect to surrender at gunpoint. Shortly afterwards a backup officer who had heard the shot arrived on the scene to assist. The second suspect was arrested later. 

For his courage and determination, Constable Robert Smith was awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation.

Robert William Rolph Smith retired in 1984 having attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.

1966– #23086 Constable Phillip Edgar Harrison Smith age 24 was posthumously awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for bravery and great devotion to duty in the attempted rescue of Oswald Schwanke on June 21, 1966 near Kelvington, Saskatchewan. 

At 11:05 am Constable Smith was advised that a man had fallen into a well and when he arrived at the scene he discovered that 71-year-old Oswald Schwanke had been working in a 35-foot-deep well when he was overcome by gas. Constable Smith descended into the well and found Schwanke still breathing, but as he tried to tie a rope around the man he became dizzy and called to the surface crew to haul him up. Ten feet from the surface he collapsed, but they managed to get him out and transport him to the hospital where he was revived and was released two days later.Shortly after the attempted rescue, Constable Smith was killed in a hunting accident at his family home in Dutton Creek, British Columbia. He had been a member of RCMP since May 1963