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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vet of the Month - Reg. #692, S/Sgt. W.J. Hall

Reg. #692, S/Sgt. William John Hall - Vet of the Month - May, 2010
by
Insp. Alain Bouchard, OIC Criminal Records
Good Afternoon Joe;

I became aware of your website from a recent article in the Front Line Perspective publication.

I served in 'F' Div. and I was stationed in Onion Lake from 1988 to 1991. During that time, I was responsible for the Annual Grave Inspection and Report.  I was pleased to see that the three members buried in Onion Lake (Hall, Burke and Lucey) were included in your data base.

I am surprised, however, that S/Sgt Hall's grave in unmarked. I recall on my first inspection that his headstone had been damaged and my report recommended that it should be replaced. I thought a new one had been ordered and installed prior to my departure in 1991?  S/Sgt. Hall's grave was in the same cemetary but was not adjacent to the other two members whom I've mentioned.

S/Sgt. Hall had an interesting and unusual career. He had to patrol the entire north west area of Saskatchewan by horse and he would leave the Detachment on extended patrol for months. He was also the first member at the Frog Lake Massacre. I once had the opportunity to meet his daughter -- she had in her possession several articles of the NWMP (ie: his issue lamp, some uniforms etc.) plus his diary describing the massacre scene as he saw it in Frog Lake.

I was able to learn from Jack White's history files that S/Sgt. Hall was born on June 8, 1859 in Brookeboro, Ireland and he spent three years in the North Irish Horse Regiment. After arriving in Canada, he joined the NWMP on April 17, 1882.

Jack White tells this story of S/Sgt. Hall. About 1901, an Indian named  'Mighty Hamlin' stabbed several people then fled to a dugout fort with a rifle. S/Sgt. Hall was alone so he rode for three days (120 miles to Battleford) to report the incident and get help. Afterwards, he returned to Onion Lake with Reg.#3571 McArthuer and Reg.#3261 Kennedy. Using a ruse of being drunk natives, they lured 'Mighty Hamlin' out of the fortress. 'Mighty Hamlin' was wounded but nevertheless place under arrest!

On another sad note, over a period of a month, S/Sgt. Hall was also responsible for retrieving many of the the remains of murdered victims of the Frog Lake Massacre and placing them in a temporary cemetery.

S/Sgt. Hall retired as the NCO i/c of Onion Lake Detachment on April 16, 1910. After he retired, he was granted a pension of $104.00 quarterly. For a while he farmed then he became the Post Master in Onion Lake. The job went to his wife after he died on February 14, 1926.

I would imagine that the difficulties and hardships which he encountered over his career probably never left his mind. Considering S/Sgt. Hall's contribution to the NWMP like so many others, I assume that members today are still doing grave inspections to ensure that the graves reflect the Force's respect for our deceased members.

I think S/Sgt. Hall truly deserves to be nominated as May's Vet of the Month!

In closing, I would like to congratulate you on a job well done!

Regards,

Insp. Alain Bouchard
OIC Criminal Records
alain.bouchard@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

'Maintain Our Memories'

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Dear Friends,

Thank you for your note. Please be assured that I will reply, but some e-mails require a little more research and time or reflection. If your comment hinges on policy for graves, the e-mail may have to be referred to the RCMP for an authoritative response.

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Yours truly,

BuffaloJoe
Reg.#23685