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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Memory of Reg.#5685, Cpl. Michael O'Leary

C A N A D A  


'Aside from all the criticism, some of which is truly deserving, the RCMP can justify it's proud history in Canada and in other places.' JJH

There are many, many acts of bravery performed regularily by RCMP members. Here, the career and the courage of Cpl. O'Leary is told by historian Sgt. Larry Burden of  St. George Detachment, 'J' Div. New Brunswick.

But first, a little background. Constable Michael O'Leary was, without any doubt, a facinating and very determined character.

He joined the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) in 1913. He served in Battleford, SK and 'Depot'. While in the Force, he had a wee dram of trouble with his supervisors and he appeared in Service Court.  In 1914, Cst. O'Leary 'allowed a prisoner out of his sight' and he was fined $C 2. Then he was off to war.

In 1920, prior to becoming the Chief of Police at Chrystal Beach, ON., Mr. O'Leary was caught smuggling liquor from Canada into the USA. He spent a night or two in the 'bar roon'. All this according to Historian and Vet. (deceased) Jack White's notes.

Now, the courage displayed by Corporal O'Leary...

by Sgt. Larry Burden, RCMP

[On this day in]...1915, like so many of his peers, Reg.#5685, Cpl. Michael O’Leary obtained a discharge from the [Royal North West Mounted Police] RNWMP so that he could serve in WWI with 'A' Company of the Irish Guards.
On this day, [February 1, 1915] while fighting at Cuinchy, France, twenty six year old Lance-Corporal O'Leary rushed a machine gun position and killed five Germans who were holding fast the first barricade. Then, he attacked another machine gun position 60 yards further on killing three more enemy soldiers and taking two other prisoners.

Corporal O' Leary's valour in action resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross followed by a promotion to the rank of Sergeant. Soon, he was transferred to the Connaught Rangers and promoted to 1st. Lieutenant. Later, Lieutenant O'Leary's heroism was again recognized when he was serving in Salonika. He was awarded the Russian Cross of St. George. 

Lieutenant O’Leary’s image and reputation were used to recruit Irishmen into the Army. At one pont, his father was also employed as a recruiter, however, he was dismissed after only one speech. While speaking in the Inchigeela district, Mr. O'Leary urged the young Irish men to join the British army stating; ‘If you don’t’, he told them, ‘the Germans will come here and will do to you what the English have been doing for the last seven hundred years.'

After ending the war at the rank of Captain, O'Leary eventually returned to Canada with his wife Margaret Hegarty. He became an Inspector in the Ontario Provincial Police. In 1925 the O'Leary's went to Michigan, USA, and he joined the Michigan Central Police.  Eventually, O'Leary returned to England.

In WWII, O'Leary served with the Middlesex, UK Regiment. He retired at the end of the WWII at ther rank of Major.

Major O'Leary died in England in 1961. He is buried in London's Paddington Cemetery.

'Maintain Our Memories'
Contributor and Appreciation: Sgt. Larry Burden

J. J. Healy

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