The Coronation Of King George V

 

 

 

 

A Royal North West Mounted Police contingent made up of seven officers, seventy-five NCOs, men, and eighty horses, attended the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, led by Commissioner Perry.

 

 

 

The men were selected from the whole Force. A few men had been selected from the Yukon but they had died in the ill-fated MacPherson-Dawson patrol earlier in the year.  

King George V has a special place in Force history as he signed off on the creation of the RCMP Long Service Medal (LSM) and Good Conduct medal in 1934.   With the first Long Service Medals being presented in 1935.

The first RCMP LSM medal with the effigy of King George V on the obverse and the badge of the RNWMP on the reverse with “For Long Service and Good Conduct”

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal was established by royal warrant on March 6, 1934 by King George V. It is the oldest continually awarded honour within the Canadian honours system, and the first created specifically for Canadian service within Canada.  Initially proposed by the Royal Northwest Mounted Police Veterans’ Association, it took more than ten years for the proposal to be realized. The determination of the veterans was aided by the interest of CommissionerCortlandt Starnes and Sir James Howden MacBrien and Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.

The medals awarded and those produced up to December 1937 bore the effigy of King George V, despite the fact that he died in January of 1936. His successor King Edward VII, reigned only until December 11th of that year at which time he abdicated the throne.

For more detailed information on the RCMP Long Service Medal see Christopher McCreery’s book “Maintiens Le Droit – A history of the RCMP Long Service Medal.

 

The LSM with the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. The Queen first appeared on the LSM in 1954. The effigy of the Queen has not changed to this day.

 

Source of photo – RCMP Vancouver Division’s Scarlet & Gold magazine.

In 1924 then Inspector Cecil Henry Hill M.C., Reg # 4750/O.189 – retired as an Assistant Commissioner, meets King George V at Wembley while attending the British Empire Exhibition.

Back to the coronation.   Probably for most of the members selected, coming from the far reaches of Canada, having to pack up their kit bag, dust off the boots, uniform and travel across the sea to London must have been quite an adventure.   It would appear prior to departure there was a need to bring the members back to “Depot” for some re-refresher training on horsemanship.

 

Above a ride past the Officer’s quarters at “Depot” – photo from “Depot” Historical Unit – Below – formed up on what is now the Parade (Sleigh) Square. The tents were no doubt preparing the members for their accommodations in London.

Members and horses are loaded on to the Canadian Pacific Railway cars for the trip from Regina to Montreal to begin their voyage to London.

The RCMP contingent for the coronation of King George V lead their mounts through the Isle of Dogs.   I am taking a quantum leap here. Many of the early docks of London were located on the Isle of Dogs and the RCMP contingent may have just unloaded from the ship that brought them from Canada to England.

It is hard to see but if you look closely you can make out rifles strung across the members back and a haversack to carry all their necessities hanging on their left side.

It is thought that the Isle of Dogs name originated in the 16th century. Nobody really knows where this name came from, but there are plenty of theories. Some say that the name was given to the area because of the number of dead dogs that washed up on its banks. Others think that the modern name is a variation of other names given to the area, such as the Isle of Dykes or the Isle of Ducks. The area went through a major redevelopment program under the management of the London Docklands Development Corporation starting in the early 1980s. The corporation created the financial centre at Canary Wharf that now dominates the area.

Over 50,000 troops took part in the festivities, marching in the procession and lining the route.  Special camps were set up around London to accommodate them – in Hyde Park and Kensington Park for the British troops; Alexandra Park for the Dominion troops; and at Hampton Court Palace for the Indian troops.

RCMP parade past reviewing stand.

A couple of Canada’s finest standing in front of their “palatial” accommodations in Alexandra Park, London. They are probably wondering what their per diem is and where the officers are staying.

Another photo taken from the Scarlet and Gold magazine shows Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier preparing to inspect the RCMP contingent.   It would be interesting to have overheard the conversation knowing that PM Laurier wanted to disband the Force.   Certainly, he must have thought positively of the Force’s participation in the coronation, for the good citizens of the United Kingdom and the rest of dominions, thought very highly of the Canadian Mounted Policeman, their horses and of course the dashing red uniforms.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier is one of the great political characters in Canadian history. He served as Prime Minister for 15 consecutive years from 1896 – 1911, the longest continuous service on record. During these years, his relationship with the Northwest Mounted Police, as it was known at that time, was often marred by conflict and squabbling. As a matter of fact, the official RCMP website notes that; “by 1885, the Force had grown to 1000 men, but in 1896 its future was threatened by the newly elected Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who decided to reduce and eventually disband the NWMP.” Laurier…argued that it [the NWMP had served its purpose: Canada’s claim to the West was well entrenched.’ Certainly, Commissioner Herchmer would not have been pleased to learn that it was the desire of Prime Minister Laurier to unravel the very Force which Herchmer had been appointed to lead.

The Force nearly vanished off the prairies in faster time that it takes for a piece of brass to melt. Happily, public support of the NWMP prevailed. The Prime Minister did not get his way. Support for the Force in the West was strong, and getting stronger as it built on its reputation by policing the Klondike Gold Rush. Laurier had to back down, but his intentions had been made known. He did not make friends in police circles.

Photograph of RWNMP members in England for the correnation of King George V (Source of photo - RCMP Historical Collections Unit - "Depot" Division).

Photograph of RWNMP members in England for the Coronation of King George V (Source of photo – RCMP Historical Collections Unit – “Depot” Division).

Below is Canadian artist and commercial illustrator Arthur H. Hider’s, (1870-1952), painting of the Royal Procession and the RNWMP passing by the carriage bearing Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Seated behind Laurier is Lord Strathcona with a full white beard. This was to be Laurier’s last year as Prime Minister.

At least there is no members left who attend the coronation of King V to tell me where I have erred.

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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