Who Is This Member? Part II

Over the past few years I have found some interesting photos of members of the Force.  Generally, they are of members doing some form of Red Serge duty.   I have sent them out to our readership, testing their memories and asking “Who is this Member(s)”? Often, I get back one or two responses or none at all.   But I tried again with the picture above of the member on horseback.  I found it interesting in one respect, it is not often you find photographs of a member on horseback carrying a truncheon and wearing brown serge, opposed to the many photographs out there of a member in Review Order and carrying a lance.  I believed the photo was taken at “N” Division and based on the undress ribbons on the rider’s chest he probably served during WW II or the Korean War.

The response to this photograph has been astounding.  I received many messages identifying the rider as Eddie Hill a riding instructor at “N” Division, at the time of the photo.   Many of the replies came from long retired members who went through training at “N” Division in the early 1950s, and recruits later at “Depot” in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s.  Also, from some who were on Musical Ride tours with Eddie Hill.  To say the least, Eddie Hill left a lasting impression on the many members he trained and was on the Musical Ride with.   Many of the stories told of member’s experiences with Eddie Hill shall be left to be told around the table enjoying a cup of coffee or some other form of social libation.  Let sleeping dogs lie, comes to mind.  

From the RCMP Quarterly Vol. 52 No.4 1987:

“Edward (“Eddie”) Cornelius Hill, D.F.C., Reg # 14813, was born in 1924 at Glasgow, Scotland and died July 1987.  He served in the RCAF from April 4, 1943, until September 1945, during which time he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.   He joined the Force on January 31, 1947, at Toronto and after training at “N” Division, Rockcliffe, was posted to “D” Division, serving at Winnipeg, Dauphin, Flin Flon and Ashern.   In 1949, he was transferred to “N” Division where he served on the Equitation Staff for the remainder of his service.  He participated in Musical Rides in 1949, 1953 (Coronation Ride), 1956, 1957, (tour of Great Britain) and 1962.  In September 1958, he was transferred to “Depot” where he served as the Riding Master until his retirement on October 16, 1965.

From the RCAF 419 Squadron; Edward Cornelius Hill – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.419 Squadron – Award effective 5 April 1945 as per London Gazette dated 17 April 1945.  With the outset of World War II, he volunteered for the Canadian Merchant Marine as a seaman.  In 1943, Ed’s ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank shortly thereafter.  The crew members and Ed were rescued and transported back to Halifax.  Hill enlisted at Halifax, April 28, 1943and trained at No.6 ITS (graduated August 7, 1943) and No.9 BGS (graduated October 29 1943). He was commissioned August 1944.  No citation other than “completed…numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost courage and devotion to duty.”  There is a recommendation dated November 28, 1944 when he had flown 32 sorties (182 hours ten minutes), May 27 to 6 October 6, 1944. 

“Pilot Officer Hill has completed a tour of operations which involved many attacks against the enemy’s most heavily defended targets. He has invariably shown great keenness to attack the enemy and the high example he has set has been an inspiration to all. During the course of his tour, his aircraft has, on three occasions, been attacked by enemy night fighters but, primarily due to this officer’s alert search and the precise manner in which he has given instructions to his pilot, his aircraft has not been fired on. I consider the coolness, courage and high efficiency shown by this officer fully merits the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.” He was awarded the D.F.C.  

Eddie Hill passed away from pancreatic cancer alone in a hotel room in Kitchener, ON, July, 1987.  Ironically, at the same time former members of the Musical Ride were gathering in Regina for a re-union to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Ride.

Cpl. Hill on the cover of a 1954 issue of the RCMP Quarterly – “He was a poster boy for the Force on his horse in Red Serge for many years”.   (Retired member)

It seems that the horse Eddie Hill is riding in the photograph also brought back memories for many retired members.   The horse has been identified as “Bobbie”.   Those who knew “Bobbie” quickly identified him by the shape of his head and the two distinctive white socks on his rear legs.  “Bobbie” had a long career with the RCMP starting off being ridden by recruits in training at “N” Division in the 1950s and finishing up his career on the Musical Ride in the 1970s.  For a period of time he was the horse ridden by Officer in Charge of the Musical Ride.

“Bobbie” at Expo 67 – rider Cst. Don Buchanan 
“Bobbie” postcard perfect – rider unknown – note the blue and white pennon (see – http://www.rcmpveteransvancouver.com/ric-halls-rcmp-lance-pennon/ )

I am sure there are a million stories out there from former Musical Ride members about their experiences while surviving on the back of a horse.   Veteran Don Buchanan who was riding “Bobbie” for opening of Expo 67 in Montreal recalls the following:

Some last minute changes were made to our stabling and accommodation plans.  Instead of a dedicated building near the Canadian Pavilion, we used stalls at the rear of the Montreal Police stables beneath the Jacques Cartier bridge and we were housed downtown at “C” Div. HQ.  The ride from the stables, on St. Helen’s Island, to the Canadian Pavilion, on Ile Notre-Dame, was about 2 1/2 kms.  They had constructed an elevated sand box beneath the flag pole at the pavilion in which we were to stand for 2 hour shifts.  We were there several days prior to the opening, brought the horses down as a group and had no issues with entering, exiting and standing in the box.  I was the first up on opening day for the 10 till 12 shift.  On my way to the pavilion the turnstiles opened at 9:30 and the occasion was celebrated by a barrage of mortars being fired all along the nearby river channel bringing Bobbie to his tip toes.  I just had him settled down and into the box when the Golden Centennaires aerobatic team flew low directly over our heads.  I think Bobbie concluded that was enough excitement for the morning.  The following hour was like bronc riding trying to keep him in that box, spending most of the time up on his hind legs.  The NCO i/c eventually appeared and sanctioned exiting the box.  You will note he is standing in sand in the photo.  That was the only hour we spent in the box during the entire 6 months and thereafter were down on the plaza among the crowds. 

“Bobbie” and Don Buchanan in the sandbox – Expo 67 – Montreal

Ric Hall – 24394/O.1330

Photograph of retired RCMP Superintendent Ric Hall (Source of the photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)