Looking Back: No. 2 Provost Company at War—Part 2
This is the second part of a historical article, written by Superintendent Henry Christopher Forbes, which was first published in The Quarterly magazine of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Forbes joined No. 1 Provost Company as an RCMP volunteer in 1939 and was later commissioned in the Canadian Provost Corps. He commanded No. 2 Provost Company from March to November 1944 and on promotion to Major in February 1945 was appointed Assistant Provost Marshal of the 2nd Canadian Division. After the war, Forbes returned to the RCMP and retired from that force on 12 June 1968. In 1947 he was invested as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his wartime provost service.
The Canadian Military Police Association is gratefully to the Board of Trustees of The Quarterly, which is now published by the RCMP Veterans' Association, for granting permission to republish both parts of this article on the CMPA website.
Below, reprinted with permission, is Part 2 of Forbes' article (originally published in The Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 1, Winter 1986, pp. 8–29). Note: Accompanying images that were not included in the original The Quarterly article are annotated as such in the caption.
Part 1 of this article can be viewed here (originally published in The Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 4, Fall 1985, pp. 20–41).
MILITARY POLICE AT WAR: THE NO. 2 COMPANY CANADIAN
PROVOST CORPS IN ENGLAND AND FRANCE
by Superintendant H. C. Forbes (retired)
The first half of this two-part article by Supt. H.C. Forbes (retd) was published in Vol. 50, No. 4, the Fall 1985 issue of The Quarterly. Footnotes are by Dr. William Beahen, RCMP staff historian. Ed [View Part 1 online here]
Spies and Pigeons
It was about this time that Sgt. Manveiler became suspicious of a café near Capellan and decided to watch it. At about 1900 hrs. one evening a fellow entered the café carrying a wicker basket. He set the basket down on a bench at the side of the cafe and went over to the bar and bought a drink. He paid no more attention to the basket and after several more drinks and at about 2000 hrs. he left the café without the basket. A few minutes after he had gone a man came out of the living-quarters at the back of the café and picked up the basket and carried it into the back of the café. Sgt. Manveiler, or “Mannie” as he was called by the boys, had heard what he presumed to be pigeons shuffling about and cooing in the basket. He waited. At about 2200 hrs. a man came out of the back of the café carrying a wicker basket which he deposited where the former basket had been. He immediately returned to the living quarters at the back. Mannie noticed that the basket again seemed to contain pigeons. In about fifteen minutes time, the man who had carried the first basket into the café, re-entered and went direct to the bar and bought a drink. He ignored the basket completely, but after a couple more drinks and about half-an-hour lapse of time he casually strolled over to where the basket was, picked it up and walked out into the night. Manveiler was very, very suspicious and told a convincingly suspicious story with the result that the field Security Section were sold as well as Company HQ. A raid was organized and with what far-reaching results! A pigeon-loft full of carrier pigeons was found in the back of the café. Records were also found revealing the names of approximately 20 spies operating behind the Allied lines in the Antwerp area.
Army HQ published warnings for all troops to be on the lookout for behind-the-lines pigeon services. Mannie had needed no prompting from Army HQ to be on the alert. It was a nice piece of work and Mannie was justly proud of his contribution to the war effort.
On October 21st Major Norm Cooper, A.P.M., 2 Corps, phoned 2 Company and gave instructions for Greg Embury to proceed immediately to 4 Provost Company and take over command. Greg was very attached to 2 Company and hated to leave but finally decided to go.
On October 22, 1944, 5 Brigade were taken off the seaborne landing operation on the Scheldt. A liberation dance was organized in Berendrecht by the Dutch and a few of the boys who weren’t working enjoyed “tripping the light fantastic.” Nearly every soldier at the dance carried a revolver, some visibly, others tucked secretly under battle dress tunics with only a slight bulge to indicate their presence. No incidents developed but the potentialities were frightening, to say the least.
October 24, 1944, saw the field general court martial of two members of No. 2 Company. Andy was prosecuting officer and presented his case in a very efficient manner as a result of which each was sentenced to five years imprisonment. They had not been with 2 Company very long and when stationed in Antwerp the temptations to make a little on the side were almost overwhelming—at least for them. They had entered a café with a White Brigade volunteer evening and warned the proprietor and his wife to fix their blackout. At approximately 2300 hrs. they returned to the same café with the same White Brigade volunteer and found it open in spite of the 2100 hr. closing regulation. They immediately ordered all soldiers and civilians out of the café. Then they ordered the proprietor and his wife to give them 5000 francs or they would have the café license cancelled. They also searched the living quarters and found a few tins of Allied rations and immediately threatened the proprietor with imprisonment if he did not pay up at once. The proprietor produced and gave them 1000 francs and convinced them that that was all the cash that he had on hand. They took the money and left. Bright and early the next morning the proprietor and his wife were in Andy's office with their complaint and unhesitatingly identified the culprits. The whole Company as first shocked, and later ashamed, to find that two of their members had stooped to racketeering.
October 24, 1944. The weather was getting very bad and the days were getting shorter. It was imperative that the Scheldt estuary be cleared quickly so that Allied ships could enter and be unloaded at the huge docks in Antwerp. Everyone was imbued with the urgency of the operation and carried on magnificently in spite of the Jerries stubborn resistance and the bitter weather. The P.O.W. cage was sited too far forward actually, but Cpl. Nault could not find suitable accommodation anywhere else. His P.O.W. cage staff actually captured and imprisoned a Jerry night patrol! Andy and his men were very busy with traffic control arrangements for an infantry and armor attack on the isthmus leading to South Beveland. However, it was an ill-fated plan for at dawn, after working all night under shell and mortar fire, they found all vehicles stuck mud at the side of the dykes. The attack had to be postponed and the plan changed due to the impossible road conditions in that area.
October 27th found Company HQ at Rilland in South Beveland with the P.O.W. cage just across the road. Everyone was very intrigued with the old-fashioned Dutch dress being worn in this area. The Company were honored by a visit from Col. Cameron, D.P.M. at this location. The Col. arrived with Hap Harris and made a lot of enquiries concerning the welfare of the Company and the work that was being done. He visited the P.O.W. cage across the road to have a look at the beaten, dishevelled and motley crowd of German prisoners on hand. Sgt. Mitchell was doing a terrific job of work in the forward areas at this time and almost met his Waterloo at the canal west of Rilland. A bullet passed through the windshield of his jeep and straight through the back of the jeep, directly between him and Chapman.
A false report at Division HQ on the 28th that the Cameron Highlanders were across the canal caused quite a flap and a quick recce for the bridge that they had allegedly crossed on nearly had disastrous results. The recce party from 2 Company arrived at the canal just after the area had been shelled and mortared only to discover that there wasn’t any bridge; that the Camerons weren't across the canal; that the recce party was in the forward infantry positions with approximately 100 Jerries on the opposite side of the dyke; and that their presence there only served to give away the infantry positions! The recce section returned immediately and reported the true facts to Division HQ. It was then discovered that the Camerons had not received the new objective allotted to them by Division, but had reported being on their objective, which to them had been the dyke on the canal bank, but to Division had meant 1000 yards across the canal.
October 29, found the engineers endeavoring to build a bridge across the canal on the main road to Goes with 2 Company standing-by, waiting to take over transport control. Company HQ was in a barbershop at Kruiningen. Dispersement of vehicles was impossible due to the flooded conditions in the area and convoys were lined up on top of all the dyke roads in the area. That evening a lone aircraft which, in the bright moonlight appeared to be a British Mosquito, circled the bridge assembly area. Some stupid machine gunner opened fire on the low-flying aircraft. The aircraft circled round and wiped out the machine-gun post. It then flew across Kruiningen and dropped a flare. The flare came down like a ball of fire as its parachute did not have time to open. Sgt. Manveiler, who nearly ran into it in an attempt to get away from it, immediately smothered the burning mass with the assistance of some of the other men who were nearby. The aircraft, which was plainly visible in the moonlight, came back and strafed the main drag of the village. Recognition flares were shot up from all areas at this time but the aircraft crew failed to interpret them, did not see them, or chose to ignore them. It circled back again and came down the main road with all its guns firing into the artillery convoy of 52 Lowland Division that was lined up waiting for the completion of the bridge. All was chaos, the wounded were screaming in pain, vehicles were burning, and ambulance vehicles were dashing about everywhere. The aircraft disappeared for a very short interval and then returned and dropped a couple of bombs on the engineers and 2 Company men on the bridge site. A quick survey revealed that 2 Company had miraculously escaped any casualties. One gun-tractor of 52 Division had over 50 bullet holes in the windshield and four gunners in the vehicle had been killed instantly. Nothing more was heard of the marauding Mosquito which apparently got away scot-free. It was a revelation to witness the killing, devastation and confusion created by one lone strafing Mosquito. All of 2 Company were thankful to know that the RAF were on their side—most of the time.
The infantry had received new armoured 15 cwt. vehicles for this operation and they were moving very fast, in spite of bad weather, enemy mines, and physical obstacles. The forward sections of the Company were working night and day posting signs on various and routes and directing traffic on busy intersections. 2nd Division’s objective was to capture the peninsula of South Beveland. One Company of the 8th Recce group captured the island of North Beveland while protecting the north flank of the Division. North Beveland netted approximately 300 prisoners for the P.O.W. cage. They provided quite a strain on 2 Company P.O.W. facilities as prisoners were coming in considerable numbers at this time. Making a landing on Walcheren Island proved to be quite an undertaking and this task was allotted to two divisions. No. 2 Provost Company moved the P.O.W. cage well forward. On October 31, 1944, Lt. B.W.E. (Bill) Lee arrived at the Company to be 2 i/c.
On November 1, 1944, good news arrived at the Company. The Division would be pulled out of action for 48 hours rest in the Antwerp area. The only worry was the V-2s falling on Antwerp. At least that was the first worry, until it was learned that 2 Company were to be broken up in order to patrol the towns in the various brigade areas. The Company had dared to hope that they were going out to rest! Sgt. Brown and his section moved 4 Brigade to Contich at 0600 hrs. Sgt. Ford moved 6 Brigade to Willebrock at 1130 hrs. Andy moved to Antwerp to liaise with A.P.M. Major Cowis about moving traffic through that area.
On November 2, 1944, Company HQ moved to a little village named Aertselaer just South of Antwerp. The Belgians extended a very hearty welcome to the Company. They actually queued up at HQ office to offer accommodation to the men. They explained that it was the least that they could do for their liberators. They tried to outdo each other in extending their hospitality.
One tragedy on the move out of the line marred the happy out-of-contact-with-the-enemy mood of the Company. Some of the liberated Dutch patriots in South Beveland had been loaned a Bren gun carrier for the purpose of arresting collaborators. They were speeding down a country lane and crossed the main highway leading to Goes without slowing down. L/Cpl. “E” happened to be travelling on this route at that time, and as the carrier sped across the highway he was unable to avoid a collision with it. One of his legs was cut off by the carrier. He was rushed to hospital but died there due to shock and loss of blood. “E” was not afraid of anything or anyone he was one of the “hard” men of the Company and his loss was keenly felt. He had always been very popular and the liberation fever of the Dutchmen was roundly cursed for being the cause of the death of one of the best men of 2 Company.
During the next few days the Company were very busy cleaning and renewing equipment and servicing vehicles. As many men as could be spared from street patrols were given passes to Brussels and Antwerp. It was prefer-red that they go to Brussels because Antwerp was getting pretty hot with V-1 and V-2 rocket bombs. One V-2 fell very close to Aertselaer. It broke many windows and blew off many roofs. The men helped the villagers to make hasty repairs. Many V-1s, or buzz-bombs as they were called, passed over Aertselaer on their way to Antwerp. A fine place for a rest—but the men that were able to get a pass enjoyed renewing old acquaintances in Antwerp. Not many of them visited preferred Brussels as they had made many friends in Antwerp during the battle and they wanted to know how they were getting along during the rocket siege. Fancy coming out of the line for a rest and then spending precious leave in rock-et-bombed Antwerp—but, what were a few rockets compared to the front line! On Saturday night, November Ath, the villagers of Aertselaer organized a dance for 2 Company. It was a very gala affair, and everyone enjoyed it immensely. No. 2 Company appreciated the friendly gesture of Aertselaer very much. Dancing with lovely Belgian girls was a very welcome change to dodging enemy fire and enduring the extreme cold and loneliness of night point duty. A good time was had by all.
On Monday, November 6, 1944, Chris Forbes was kicked upstairs to be deputy assistant provost marshal (D.A.P.M.) 1st Canadian Army. And Bill Lee took over command of 2 Company. Chris did not want to leave 2 Company but like Greg before him it was not his decision to make.
No. 2 Company moved again. This time the end of the trail was the Nijmegen salient. Winter quarters were obtained by billeting the men with patriotic Dutch families. The men settled down to routine town patrols and point duties and 48-hour leaves to Brussels, 7-day leaves to England, and 30-day rotation leaves to Canada!
On December 18, 1944, Field Marshal B. L. Montgomery presented medals to 2 Division including the Military Medal to Cpl. Barton—the one he had won near Caen.
The next few weeks saw the holiday season come and go and preparations commenced for operation “Veritable.” Andy was transferred to England. Lt. Ray Lawler joined the Company on January 15, 1945. Major Hap Harris left for Canada on rotation leave. Happy had won a mention-in-dispatches. He was a very popular A.P.M. and all the men were sorry to see him go but wished him Godspeed and a safe re-turn to his wife and family. Major Howard German became A.P.M. after Happy Harris left. He had an unfortunate jeep accident in which he sustained a fractured pelvis and was flown to England for treatment. Chris Forbes returned to 2 Division to be A.P.M. at 1335 hrs. February 8, 1945, just one hour and twenty-five minutes prior to the opening of the largest artillery barrage that had ever preceded an attack. No. 2 Company P.O.W. cage was soon busy handling Jerry P.O.W.’s. One section of 2 Company was still employed on the bridges at Mook.
There was an attack by enemy bombers in the evening. February 10th found an investigator from 2 Company making enquiries at the ordnance dump in regard to the murder of Private Morrow. Never a dull moment.
On February 11th Lt. Blackie Paige returned off leave and joined the Company in the fight. Blackie was a very popular officer and was always on top of his work. The Company were relieved of the Mook bridges on February 12, 1945.
The next few days witnessed terrific fighting in the Reichswald Forest. Cpl. Royston left for Canada on rotation leave on February 15, 1945.
On February 16, 1945, Company HQ moved into Cleve (also spelt Kleve), Germany. The Company moved 4 Brigade and 10th Canadian Armoured Regiment through the Reichswald Forest into Cleve. Everyone was interested in the history of Cleve because Henry VIII's beautiful wife, Anne of Cleves, came from there. Our guns poured a terrific barrage into the enemy lines. Traffic problems were increasing by leaps and bounds. A recce of Cleve revealed unbelievable damage by the heavy bombers of the RAF. Houses had completely disappeared and huge gaping holes remained. The engineers soon filled these up with their bulldozers and opened up the roads. Most of the German civilians fled but here and there a German family chose to disobey der Fuhrer’s instruction and remained on their property. They were moved to the hospital installations at Bedburg which the RAF had not bombed. German border signs and non-fraternization signs kept the paint shop crew working overtime. One non-fraternization sign in the form of a cross with “Lest We Forget—Don't Fraternize,” painted on it was photographed and published. The task of enforcing non-fraternization was added to the many and varied duties of the Company.
On the 17th and 18th, 6 Brigade and 5 Brigade were moved into Cleve. No. 5 Brigade moved up after dark, far behind schedule due to dense fog and heavy traffic.
On February 19th, the German guns across the Rhine pumped shells into Cleve all day and the pointsmen were kept busy regulating traffic through the barrage. Towards evening pointsmen from 13 Company relieved the 2 Company men.
On February 20, 1944, the P.O.W. cage was sited just beyond Bedburg and was handling many prisoners. Forward infantry were still collecting German civilians and sending them back to the cage for interrogation in spite of instructions to leave them alone unless they were offensive.
On February 21st we saw the new German jet planes skimming noiselessly over our lines like swallows. They made a Spitfire look like it was standing still. One of them dropped its bombs within 500 yards of 2 Company P.O.W. cage.
In February the new divisional axis markers were put up. These signs enabled one to travel to Canadian military groups in the area without a map. It would be impossible to estimate the amount of travelling time saved by the use of this system of route marking. Five corporals were given the responsibility of looking after the routes. It was their duty to erect and maintain the axis markers and to change them whenever a particular HQ moved. As Division HQ moved often, it meant that all the signs had to be taken down and moved to the new routes, showing the way to the new Division HQ site. For this system to be of any value the signs had to be changed very quickly and the corporals had to be accurate map readers in order to find, and sign, the shortest routes quickly and efficiently.
On February 23rd the whole Company was employed on traffic control for the purpose of clearing traffic from the roads to allow the free passage of a D.V. (distinguished visitor), viz. Field Marshal Montgomery, commonly referred to as Monty. In spite of orders from the War Office that he was not to go forward of Division HQ, Monty visited 4, 5 and 6 Brigade HQs which were well within range of the enemy’s guns. Monty’s aide-de-camp was a very worried man, but everything proceeded according to plan and Monty arrived safely back at Division HQ. No. 2 Company outriders escorted him back to Corps HQ.
No. 2 Company HQ moved to Qualburg on February 24. Qualburg was on the east side of Cleve, on the Cleve-Kanten road. It was not demolished like Caen and quite a few German families were still living in their own homes. They were very subdued and beaten, thankful to be alive and out of the war. They willingly carried out all the orders and instructions that were given to them by the Civil Affairs staff officers. All Germans when they were first overrun tried to be friendly. Our men were also, but that only got the troops in trouble for fraternizing—contrary to Army regulations. Cattle, chickens and hogs were in abundant supply in this area and it was not an uncommon sight to see dressed carcasses hung up near all the messes. No. 2 Company discreetly managed to share in the luxury of fresh meat.
On February 25, No. 2 Company was busy preparing for operation “Blockbuster.” No. 2 Division was obliged to travel on a dirt road which the engineers built as the Division advanced. It created a terrific traffic problem, and it was almost impossible to avoid having traffic jams from time to time. However, the Provost worked very hard and cleared the jams quickly. A forward collecting post for prisoners was established for operation “Blockbuster.”
“Blockbuster” began at 1430 hrs. on the 26th and the big drive from the Reichswald Forest to the Hochwald Forest was on. Unfortunately, it started to rain and the whole area soon became one big mudhole. The engineers feverishly hauled rubble from the demolished homes in the area but they found it impossible to keep the roads in repair. Sgt. Lang and his men were exceptionally busy as the tanks of 4 Canadian Armoured Division had gone into the attack with 2 Division. The operation was sticky in more ways than one, but at 0830 hrs. a flurry of lighter fighting vehicles went into the attack and roads became almost impassable. Cold rain was beating down across the battlefield but the attack went on and results were soon seen in the P.O.W. cage into which a beaten stream of prisoners flowed. The Siegfried Line in this area consisted only of earthworks, no concrete tank obstacles or gun emplacements, as the Germans were relying on the nearby Rhine River for defence. The German guns across the Rhine kept up a harassing fire throughout the battlefield area. The attack and the rain continued on the 27th.
On February 28th, No. 2 Company HQ moved to a crossroads just outside of Kalkar. This was a hot corner as Jerry was continually ranging his Rhine guns on it. On March 1, 1945, the roads gave out completely and were abandoned. A quick change in plan necessitated a switch over to traffic control on the Kalkar-Uedem roads. The rain stopped falling in the p.m. Spitfires took on one of our tank harbours near 2 Company HQ by mistake. Recognition flares were shot up but the whole squadron came back in single file and strafed the parked tanks. Several casualties were caused.
March 2nd found Capt. Bill Lee working on a complaint of rape made by a German woman against two Canadian soldiers. The soldiers did not deny the act but maintained that the woman had willingly submitted and then made a false complaint of rape. The soldiers were convicted of fraternizing at their court martial held at a later date. The sun was shining again and the whole Company was busy drying themselves out for the first time in days—weeks it seemed.
The infantry was fighting a nightmarish war in the Hochwald Forest at this time and 2 Company men were very busy trying to keep tracked vehicles off the trails and roads leading through the forest. The P.O.W. cage staff shot a deer that fled the forest in the fury of the attack. Venison was the order of the day! It was in this battle that Major Tilston of the Essex Scottish won the V.C. The Hochwald Forest battle continued for the next two days. Sgt. Chapman and his section were working in the forest.
On March 7th a plan was drawn up for the speedy capture of Xanten south of Kalkar. No. 2 Company 8th Recce and Signals held a coordinating conference at 1700 hrs. We established a forward P.O.W. collecting post on the south side of the forest.
Traffic control posts with wireless equipment were set up across the front so that wherever a breakthrough was made all traffic could be diverted to the spot and poured through into the enemy’s area. Sgt. Brown and his section were detailed to handle the area where the breakthrough was anticipated. Sgt. Chapman decided to move his men out of the dampness of the Hochwald Forest onto a hillside where they could get dried out, but he moved to a spot that was under enemy observation. The section was only there a few minutes when the Jerry guns opened fire on them. L/Cpl. Russell was wounded, and as they carried him away on a stretcher a shell screamed in very close and a piece of shrapnel cut him across the behind. That was like hitting a man when he’s down, only worse. Sgt. Chapman moved his section back into the damp Hochwald Forest, smartly!
Jerries’ shellfire was too hot for much advance to be made. The right flank where the breakthrough had been expected was abandoned and so the left flank was exploited. The attack was made at 1915 hrs. with 5 Canadian Infantry Brigade being carried into Xanten in Kangaroos. Lt. Blackie Paige and some of his men were in three different houses in Xanten that received direct artillery hits. They emerged from each one shaken, but unhurt.
Early in the morning on March 9th, No. 2 Company recce’d the town of Xanten, regardless of mines, booby traps and snipers, and signed traffic routes through the rubble-strewn streets. The capture of Xanten was the end of that operation for 2 Division west of the Rhine.
March 11th brought movement orders for 2 Division to retire to the Reichswald Forest to rest and refit for the next attack. The engineers and artillery moved back immediately.
No. 2 Company HQ moved back through Cleve to the northwest corner of the Reichswald Forest astride the Dutch-German border on March 12th.
Pointsmen were put out on duty enforcing one-way traffic circuits in the area. The battle line northwest of Cleve was sealed off and 2 Company had to place pointsmen on all roads leading into the area.
On March 15th L/Cpl. Pavlos, Pte. Quevillon and Cpl. Nault left for 72 hours leave in Paris. What a break! From action [on] the Siegfried Line to gay Paree!
Crossing the Rhine
The Company were very busy getting their kit and equipment in shape for the Rhine crossing. Company HQ was in a Siegfried Line dugout and the men were under canvas in the Reichswald Forest. All axis markers and route signs were repainted.
Blackie Paige and George Oakes vied with each other on their hunting prowess, but Blackie had it all over Oakes and scored the first kill—a deer. On March 19th, 1945, Col. Pocook became adjutant and quartermaster and he took a very keen interest in the Company.
Saturday March 24, 1945, was D-day for the Rhine crossing. No. 2 Division was amongst the follow-up troops. Pavlos, Nault and Quevillon returned from Paris. They said that there was nothing on earth like it—simply wonderful.
On Monday, General Matthews said that he would inspect 2 Company. Bill Lee, Blackie Paige and Ray Lawler decided that nothing but the best would do for 2 Company. The men cooperated very well and worked like Trojans.
Tuesday the 27th, the engineers sent a bulldozer up to the Company to level a parade square. One of our section[s] was detailed to stand by for a rush move of the 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade and the 18 Canadian Armoured Car Regiment who were going to try and make a crossing at Emmerich that night.
They did not get across at Emmerich, however, so the section was told to stand down on March 28, 1945. The Rhine crossings at Rees were very successful with the result that General Matthews cancelled the inspection of the Company HQ and two sections moved across the Rhine in the evening. They moved too far along the road towards Emmerich, with the result that they were shelled during the night and had to move back into 2 Division area in the early morning. March 31, 1945, found 2 Provost Company handling traffic on the Arnholtulft highway.
Company HQ moved into Ulft, Netherlands on April 1, 1945. The enemy broke that day and by evening recce elements of the 29 Armoured Car Regiment were on the Twente Canal.
On April 2, 1945, the Division was pretty well stretched out with forward elements following the fleeing enemy very rapidly and the rest of the Division clearing up left-behind enemy pockets of resistance. One of these pockets was in Doetinchem, an old Dutch fortress city. A company of young German paratroopers, armed to the teeth, held the sturdily built town hall in the centre of the town. No. 2 Provost Company signed a route through the suburb of the town and maintained traffic control points within a few blocks of the heavy street fighting. Company HQ was not moved forward until such time as the rear area was cleared as a lot of control was needed to move the clearing parties forward as soon as they finished their tasks.
[The] Doetinchem paratroopers were wiped out during the night and 2 Company HQ moved north to Vorden on the 3rd. Nelson Bridge and the ferry site were being heavily shelled by Jerry. Engineers with bulldozers cleared routes through the rubble in the heart of Doetinchem.
Everyone was very busy on April 4th getting ready for the Twente Canal crossing. No. 2 Company had special traffic control posts, established and manned. Work continued throughout the night and at 1530 hrs. on the 5th traffic started rolling across the Twente Canal. Enemy mortars falling in the area could not stem the flow of traffic. Le Regiment de Maisonneuve which was in the attack contributed 29 prisoners to the P.O.W. cage. A light falling rain accentuated the blossoms of the fruit trees and made the new leaves appear greener than ever. Life was becoming very attractive in spite of the difficulties of front line living conditions.
Lots of traffic rolled across the Twente Canal on the 6th and moved northwards through Laren towards the Shipbeck Canal. Ray Lawler spent the day recceing new routes for use across the Twente Canal. Capt. Lee received a message at approximately 2300 hrs. that he was to go on rotation leave first thing in the morning. Blackie Paige took command of 2 Company.
On the morning of April 7, 1945, Sgt. [Don] Fife was i/c of the leading section of 2 Provost Company. Capt. Lee had intended to go up to the Shipbeck Canal in the early morning to determine whether the engineers had completed the bridge they were building or not. However, when Lee received word to go on leave, R.S.M. George Oakes went up in his place. Oakes picked up Sgt. Fife and they drove their jeep up to the canal. The engineers had been delayed by enemy action and had not even started to build the bridge. Oakes and Fife noted this and decided to back up and turn around. In doing so the left front wheel of the jeep fell off the hard surface of the road and ran over a Teller mine. The jeep was blown completely upside down and landed on the opposite side of the road. Sgt. Fife was killed. R.S.M. Oakes was badly wounded and pinned under the jeep. Some engineers saw the explosion, proceeded to the scene, and rescued Oakes who lived to tell the tale. The jeep almost landed on another mine, and when the wreckage had been cleared away a Churchill Tank blew up on that mine. The engineers, when clearing the mines from the area, apparently missed it as it was under the jeep. Oakes truly lived on borrowed time—having been previously wounded at Dieppe. Fife was buried (temporarily) on the north side of the Shipbeck Canal. Oakes returned to Canada under medical care. Oakes and Fife were both very popular in the Company and their loss was deeply felt by all.
Cpl. Gouldie was promoted to Sgt. and took over Fife’s section. Sgt. Manveiler was promoted to R.S.M.
Ommen To Groningen
The chase continued on the 8th and 9th and 10th with the enemy fleeing north into Ommen where they apparently intended to make a stand. Company HQ moved to Hellendoorn on the 10th. Lt. Lawler and a section of Provost were placed under command of Brigade, which was to make a flank attack on Ommen from the east after passing through the Polish Armoured Division’s area. They were to move off at 0600 hrs. on the 11th but due to a change in plan they moved off earlier at 0100 hrs. and forgot to notify the Provost. They didn’t get far before the air waves became jammed with 6 Brigade howling for their Provost section to lead them to their destination. The section was duly despatched. The Poles had not cleared the roads in their area as promised, with the result that 6 Brigade were seriously delayed by traffic jams. In the meantime, the enemy decided not to defend Ommen with the result that the Black Watch overran the town during the night and continued the chase to the north. Six Brigade and their Provosts finally came tearing into Ommen from the east only to find the town already captured.
April 12, 1945, was a clear sunshiny spring day. No. 2 Company were busy controlling miles and miles of road from Ommen to north of Bielen. It was at the approaches to Bielen that Sgt. Gouldie heard of a wounded engineer officer lying by a building close to a demolished bridge. He had gone ahead of the Infantry to recce the bridge site. Field Medics and the Infantry had not yet reached the place. Sgt. Gouldie proposed to Lt. Lawler that they go in and get the officer out. They did. Gouldie was later given a Dutch award. He did not know what fear was.
The attack from Bielen to the outskirts of Groningen was a matter of building bridges and controlling movement over them. The task allotted to 2 Company was very heavy and no relief could be obtained from Corps due to the speed of the advance and the miles and miles of supply lines.
On April 13th, 14th and 15th we approached Groningen amid heavy street fighting. The town blazed furiously from uncontrolled fires in the marketplace. Many Germans gave up the fight and poured into the P.O.W. cage. Recce elements, speeding through the outlying areas, were constantly radioing for Provost assistance in handling P.O.W.’s, but none could be sent as everyone was just too busy. The town was finally captured and Sgts. Gouldie and Brown with their sections moved in on the 16th to try and maintain some semblance of discipline. The town was in a “freedom” mood and really threw their doors and hearts open to the Canadians. The result: lots of drunks, squabbles, fights, and accidents for us to handle. No. 2 Company was as busy or possibly busier than they had ever been before. Reports about the Canadians’ behaviour, and spies, and left-behind Germans being hidden by their Dutch girl friends, poured into 2 Company office.
The heart of Groningen was encircled by a canal and could only be entered by crossing one of ten bridges. It had to be placed out-of-bounds due to the battle and fire damage. To do this Provosts were required on all of the bridges. Control was established on April 17th.
On April 18, 1945, 2 Company provided traffic control around the market square for a very colorful and picturesque ceremony when General Matthews Officially visited the burgomaster of Groningen in the town hall.
Following on the heels of the ceremony came orders for 2 Division to move back into Germany and protect the left flank of 51st Highland Division who were attacking Bremen.
On to Bremen
Each of the sections in 2 Company was allotted a section of the route to sign and control. They each had approximately 15 to 25 miles according to the number and size of towns in their area.
The first elements of 2 Division moved into Haselunne, Germany, on April 19, 1945, and the balance arrived during the next two days.
Contact was made with enemy troops north of Wildeshansen, about 40 miles east, so a P.O.W. cage was opened. No. 2 Division was not pushing the enemy hard as their role was more or less a holding one, protecting a flank. On April 25, 1945, the welcome news came through that the Americans and Russians had linked up. No. 2 Company had a lot of work to do in connection with slave workers the Germans left behind, and displaced persons. Local Germans were complaining of the slave workers stealing, looting, murdering and roaming the country at will. All complaints were handed over to the Military Government unless Canadian troops were involved. The Military Government established displaced-persons camps to which all slave workers were directed. They were very difficult to control as they did not want to remain in camp but preferred to travel homeward in gangs, wreaking vengeance on the Germans en route.
A Provost recruiting drive was commenced in 2 Division that lasted until the Company was officially disbanded. All recruits obtained were transferred to, and trained by, 2 Provost Company.
On April 30th, Company HQ moved to near Falkenburg. Bremen had just fallen and word was received that Canadian troops were looting in the city. A recce to Bremen did not find any Canadian vehicles or Canadian troops there, and the British Provost in charge of the city stated that the report must have been based on rumour as Canadian troops had not given them any trouble. A control post was established at Delmenhorst and a few Canadian vehicles heading in the Bremen direction were turned back each day. Lt. Bernard left for the United Kingdom on leave.
It was at Falkenburg that a brutal rape was carried out by a Canadian soldier. At 1400 hrs. this soldier entered a German home and at the point of a gun ordered the whole family into one room. He then forced a young 16-year-old girl, as pretty as a doll, to accompany him into another room. She would not submit to him so he struck her over the head with his pistol and made a wound over her eye which bled down the front of her dress.
Whilst the girl was almost unconscious, he raped her. Evidence was produced at the trial to prove that the man, at approximately 1600 hrs., took the girl out onto the street and said to a couple of his pals in the regiment, “Look what I’ve got.” The young girl at this time had a gash in her forehead and her dress was torn and bloody. She only had one torn and bloody stocking on and no shoes. These soldiers did not report him. He raped the girl several more times during the afternoon and evening. Finally at 2100 hrs. one of the family escaped and reported [the crime] to Sgt. Nault of 2 Company.
Sgt. Nault took a L/Cpl. with him and proceeded to the German home. When the soldier saw him he pushed the girl into a bedroom and followed her in, locking the door behind him. He threatened to shoot Nault. A few of the soldier’s pals, including his platoon sergeant, crowded around Nault and ordered him to leave. Sgt. Nault remained firm and sent the L/Cpl. to get an officer from the regiment. Nault remained in the house, alone, in spite of many violent abuses and threats hurled at him. The men said: “If the lieutenant comes we are alright as he will stand by us but if the captain comes we've had it.” Fortunately, the captain arrived and dispersed the men and the soldier was taken into custody. The girl was removed to hospital for treatment. The man was later sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for rape and discharged from the Army with ignominy.
Two down, One to Go
On May 1, 1945, the German radio announced that Hitler was dead. British Intelligence later issued a statement to the effect that they were satisfied that Hitler and Eva Braun were dead.
On May 2, 1945, the officers and sergeants of 2 Company had a farewell dinner for Blackie Paige who was leaving for Canada on rotation leave the next day. Blackie shot his 5th deer in Germany that day. He was indeed a mighty hunter and a mightily popular company commander. Joviality, good food and wine contributed to the success of the party. The forward elements of 2 Division had reached Oldenburg during the day the Yanks and Russians linked up; and to crown it all news came that the German armies in Italy had surrendered unconditionally. Everyone sensed that the battle would soon be over.
On May 4, 1945, a Provost company was patrolling the streets of the city of Oldenburg, enforcing a strict civilian curfew and keeping all troops out except those on duty in the city. A company of infantry were put under the command of 2 Provost Company and were allotted beats throughout the city. No civilians or soldiers were allowed on the streets until such time as civilian police forces, fire departments, and town councils were organized by the Military Government staffs. Capt. Ball, Division Liaison Officer, was loaned to the company to assist Lt. Ray Lawler in the multitudinous duties that fell upon the company at this time. Official word was received at 2300 hrs. that no further offensive action was to be taken and that all Forces, enemy and Allied, would “cease fire” at 1800 hrs. on May 5, 1945. It was a relief to know that the killing was over, but the advent of peace brought a flood of work to the Provosts; so much work in fact that the company was almost swamped.
During the rush and excitement of May 6th, Lt. Tomalin and Pte. Newton of 8 Provost Company returned from Wilhelmshaven where they had been held as prisoners of war. They reported in and continued on their way with some Air Force lads who had promised them a plane ride to England. Gee, they were glad to be alive and free.
On May 15, 1945, 2 Company handled traffic control for 2 Division's party. The Oldenburg-Bremen Highway was closed and all traffic had to be diverted for the Canadian march past, “Farewell to the Guns.” The artillery traffic had to be marshalled and dispersed in such a manner as to ensure a constantly moving stream past the saluting base. Everything proceeded according to plan, and a letter of commendation for their excellent work was received by 2 Provost Company from the brigadier commanding 2 Division Artillery.
On May 16th the Essex Scottish Regiment was scheduled to return to its unit after completing its tour of armed street patrols in Oldenburg. No. 2 Company laid on traffic control for the final parade through town. A ceremonial parade with the pipe band in attendance was drawn up in the market square and the old buildings in the heart of Oldenburg rang with the skirl of the pipes and the roll of the drums as the Essex played their Scottish airs. The Essex kilts fairly swaggered as the men marched through the city. The German populace looked on quietly, most of them appeared impressed, all of them were very interested.
On May 17th, Company HQ handed over to 13 Provost Company and moved to Aurich, Germany, where they took over from 4 Provost Company.
No. 2 Provost Company was now responsible for controlling all Allied troops in the German concentration area north of the Jade-Ems Canal including the cities of Emdem and Wilhelmshaven, and several large towns south of the canal including Varel and Brake.
On May 23rd, 1945, No. 2 Company laid on traffic control at the Sportplatz in Brake where Brigadier Megill of 5 Brigade handed over the West Bank area of the Weser River to Brigade General Sands of the American Infantry Corps. A very colorful ceremonial parade and march past was held, complete with brass bands.
All German troops who surrendered to the Canadians were concentrated north of the Jade-Ems Canal and two divisions were charged with the responsibility of keeping them there until such time as they could be checked over and demobilized. Certain crossings were open on the canal and these had to be signed in German and English to assist the guards at those posts. No. 2 Company was called upon to do this work, and R.S.M. Manveiler’s knowledge of German came in very handy. Mannie was a native of Luxembourg. This signing was started on the 24th. A search party from 2 Company and 2 Division HQ searched the surrounding area for one Private Dugas who had been missing for four days. He was never found—most mysterious.
Sgt. Lang moved “C” Section out to 4th Brigade area on the 25th, the same day as Capt. Jack Tweddle arrived to take command of 2 Provost Company.
Capt. Tweddle visited all outlying sections on May 26, 1946. He also contacted Brigade (British) in Wilhelmshaven and satisfied their demands for Provost personnel by promising to send them Provost NCOs to train their men for provost duties. No. 2 Company’s responsibilities were so heavy that many places were not policed by them.
A thanksgiving-for-victory church service was held by 2 Provost Company on May 27, 1945, in Aurich, Germany.
Due to the large area 2 Company was endeavoring to cover at this time it was decided to train men in each brigade to handle their respective areas. Accordingly, on May 28th, 15 men arrived at 2 Company HQ from 4 Brigade for Provost training by 2 Company NCOs.
On May 31, 2 Company was requested to make sports field signs for artillery HQ.
On June 1, 1945, 2 Company lost a softball game played against officers from 2 Division HQ: score Provost 2, officers 10.
Special Investigations Section (S.I.S.)
On June 8, 1945, 4 Brigade advised that a murder had been committed in their area the previous evening. Sgt. Paul Clearwater S.I.S. made the preliminary investigation which revealed that a Russian slave worker had returned to the farm of his former German employer and murdered him and his wife. As Canadian troops were not involved, the whole case was handed over to Military Government authorities.
A lot of work was encountered during this period with the surrendered German troops arriving daily from Holland. On June 10th, the Ordnance Corps held a big church service in Aurich and 2 Company had to coordinate the traffic of that service with the movement of the surrendered Germans.
On June 13th, volunteers for the Far East left 2 Company Aurich, Germany to have a go at the Japanese.
On June 14, 1945, Company HQ moved to Oldenburg, Germany and took under command two sections from 13 Provost Company and one section from No. 11 Company, in order to control the whole Canadian occupation area. At this time 2 Division HQ moved to Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, and had under command approximately 66,000 troops, Canadian and British, who were controlling the whole Canadian occupation area. No. 2 Division came under command of 30 Corps (British) which brought 2 Company under command of Col. Drake.
On June 21st, Lt. Ray Lawlor left for the Far East. L/Cpl. Elliott was arrested the next night by Capt. Bloomfield of 821 Military Government Detachment for fraternization. Elliott was in the act of taking a complaint from a civilian when arrested. Capt. Bloomfield tendered official apologies to L/Cpl. Elliott. Lt. Tom Reid arrived as official advance officer of the occupational Provost company.
On June 22nd, Sgt. Paul Clearwater arrived to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a soldier at Aurich. The man had been seen drunk near the Jade-Ems Canal from which his battered body was later removed. After an extensive enquiry and medical examination it could only be assumed that he was struck by a fast-moving vehicle and died as a result of the injuries. It could not be established where the accident occurred or how or when his body was taken to the canal.
Sgt. Paul Clearwater did some wonderful investigations on rape cases in the Canadian occupation area. His masterpiece was the case in which one Sgt. Liddicott was involved. Paul submitted a 32-page report, including translated statements. Sgt. Quail, S.I.S., also carried out some very good investigations. At Aurich, over 20 Canadians were held in the division HQ guardroom, accused of rape. All were convicted of either rape or fraternization and drew sentences ranging from two to 15 years.
On June 23rd, Capt. Tweddle and Lt. Reid visited 2 Company's outlying sections.
On the 29th and 30th, No. 2 Company was very busy signing routes into the airfield at Bad Zwischenahn for the 2 Division Mardi Gras on July 1.
No. 2 Company beat the officers 9-6 in a softball game on the 29th. No. 4 Brigade reported another rape on the 29th. The Provost Company float had to be repaired on the eve of the 30th—still not good.
Mardi Gras And Feestviering
On July 1, 1945, No. 2 Division held a big Mardi Gras at Bad Zwischenahn featuring a real Canadian midway, a rodeo, races, picture shows, stage shows, a parade of floats, an exhibition of rocket-firing Typhoon fighter planes, one-man German submarines and German large-calibre guns, duo fireworks and swimming and boat races. A real first of July celebration! General Matthews requested that as many men of 2 Company as possible should have the day off to enjoy the sports, so men on duty were cut to the bare minimum. The Provost float collapsed near the end of the route and the men mounted on the motorcycles on the float were injured.
The softball game between Division HQ officers and 2 Provost Company on July 3rd wound up in a technical argument and had to be played over on the 4th when 2 Company scored six runs and the officers only got four.
No. 4 Company (Occupation Provost) started moving into the area on July 5, 1945. They assumed responsibility for the occupational area of Germany on July 9, 1945.
No. 2 Company sent two sections of Provost to Apeldoorn, Holland, on July 12th to participate in the Provost Corps ceremonial parade. General Crerar of 1st Canadian Army inspected them and took the salute at the march past.
Cigarettes in Holland at this time were worth a guilder (40¢) each. No. 2 Company stationed in Amersfoort were constantly on the alert for illegal sales of cigarettes and kit.
On August 3rd, No. 2 Company held a dance in their own hall. The Sun-Glo Orchestra played for them and a most enjoyable time was had by all.
On the 18th a vehicle check was made of all jeeps on the highways. This was a 24-hour check, from 0900 hrs. on the 18th to 0900 hrs. on the 19th. No. 2 Company ran five check points in their area.
On September 1, 1945, the R.S.M. and sergeants of 2 Company held a very nice dance. No. 2 Company were very busy at this time, signing all roads to Soesterburg Airport for a Feestviering on Monday. The Feestviering turned out to be a big affair. Thousands of troops and civilians enjoyed the horse racing and sports and air show and rodeo and midway and fireworks and parade of troops and floats provided by 2 Division. No. 2 Company was very busy all day handling all the traffic and crowds.
Part of General Matthew's personal kit was stolen from his caravan a couple of days later. Lt. Doug Mitten took some men from 2 Company and carried out several searches, and although he found a 3-ton lorry loaded with kit and equipment, he did not find the general’s [kit]. Dutch police cooperated willingly but they could not recover it either. No. 2 Company had to send men to Soesterburg Airport again to control traffic at the horse races.
On September 7th, one of our NCOs had to be sent to Basingstoke psychiatric hospital in England. He had been a wonderful man in action with R.S.M. Oakes looking after him, but as soon as the battle was over he went to pieces and started to drink. When he drank, he went wacky and fired off his pistol and did all kinds of silly and dangerous things.
Two sections of 2 Company were sent to No. 1 Company at Nijmegen, Holland [Netherlands], on September 11, 1945, to control 2 Division troops passing through the repatriation depot there en route to Canada.
On September 13th, No. 2 Company picked up an abandoned jeep and turned it over to the ordnance unit moving to Canada. Many abandoned, surplus vehicles were picked up by 2 Company highway patrols and handed over to ordnance.
A few days later No. 2 Company was obliged to send one section to Utrecht to help in controlling the town, as a riot occurred there between Canadian troops and Dutch civilians. Dutch police dispersed the rioters by firing their pistols in the air. No. 2 Company Officers moved into a new mess—lovely spot—a private home. A civilian administrator attached to the army was picked up in Amsterdam for selling 80,000 cigarettes that he should have distributed to the troops. He had a couple of diamond rings, some watches, cameras, and a $1000 southern U.S.A. railway bond! Cigarettes were then selling for 15 guilders each. It was rumoured that six places in Amsterdam were dealing in Sterling, exchanging guilders for £1 notes—S.I.S. investigated.
On September 24th, Col. Ball, D.P.M., spoke to the men of 2 Company on repatriation. Up to this time no Provost personnel had been released for return to Canada and some of the men were beginning to wonder if they would ever get home. No. 2 Company men had a lot of questions to ask and Col. Ball answered them all.
On October 13, 1945, 2 Division HQ closed. Major Chris Forbes, A.P.M., left for repatriation to Canada. No. 2 Provost Company ceased to exist as an independent company on October 15, 1945. The personnel were either repatriated or transferred to other Provost companies.
The deeds of 2 Company men will long be remembered by those who shared them, and the participation of RCMP members in the Provost Corps during WW II will remain a proud part of our history.
In this rare wartime colour photo, several members of No. 2 Provost company are shown taking part in a 2nd Canadian Infantry Division commemorative service at the Canadian war cemetery in Dieppe, France, September 1944. This photo did not appear with the original article published in The Quarterly (DND/LAC/ZK-907-1)
17. Capellan is just north of Antwerp.
18. The period November 8, 1944, to February 8, 1945, was the only prolonged period during the campaign in northwest Europe when the Canadian troops were not involved in a major operation.
19. In “Operation Veritable,” British and Canadian troops of the First Canadian Army crossed over from the Netherlands into Germany to clear the area west of the Rhine River. German prisoners captured during the initial assault of the operation reported that the artillery barrage referred to was so intensive that it broke their will to resist.
20. Born on May 17, 1913, at Lennoxville, P.Q., Lyman Wellington Paige, joined the RCMP Reserve when this auxiliary force was formed in July 1937. He engaged in the regular force in November 1938, and after training at Regina, performed with Depot Division’s musical ride. He joined No. 1 Provost Company at its formation and was granted a wartime commission as lieutenant and later attained the acting rank of captain.
Upon return to Canada, Constable Paige once again served with the Force in Saskatchewan until 1957, and then in Alberta. He was promoted to corporal in 1952 and sergeant in 1958.
An expert marksman, as is indicated in Supt. Forbes’s text, Paige was a frequently successful competitor at shooting matches and for a time was a small arms instructor at Depot. In 1953 Corporal Paige was sent to Great Britain with the RCMP contingent participating in the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Sergeant Paige retired from the Force in 1963 to accept a post with the Alberta provincial government.
21. “Operation Blockbuster” was the second stage of the battle for the Rhineland for British and Canadian forces. These troops pressed east through the Hochwald Forest and drove surviving German soldiers across the Rhine River. By March 11, 1945, the British and Canadians linked with the U.S. Ninth Army which had fought its way northeast to the Rhine. The Allies now prepared for the final thrust into German homeland.
22. A Kangaroo was a tank-like armoured personnel carrier.
23. After crossing the Rhine, the Canadian Army pressed northwards, re-entering the Netherlands and clearing that country of German forces.
24. Colonel George W. Ball was an experienced soldier and policeman. Born in 1894 in Dublin, Ireland, Ball was a part-time soldier in the British Territorial Army from May 17, 1911. During the First World War he served with the Royal Canadian Field Artillery, was mentioned in dispatches, and rose from the ranks to be commissioned a lieutenant. After the war, he came to Canada and after trying his hand as a longshoreman and at ranching and farming, he joined the C.P. Railway Police in 1925. In 1929, he joined the Alberta Provincial Police and was stationed at Calgary and Innisfail. When the A.P.P. was absorbed by the RCMP in 1932, Ball continued in service in Alberta at Innisfail and then Edmonton and was promoted to corporal in October 1933.
Corporal Ball was one of the originals to join No. 1 Provost Company and, because of his military experience and his efficiency, he quickly won promotion. Ball was made regimental sergeant major of the Company before it left Canada, was commissioned early in 1940, and before the end of the year was in command of the unit. He then rose in rank with the expansion of the Provost [Corps] with various staff and command responsibilities, including officer commanding the Canadian Detention Barracks at Whitley, England—the equivalent of a penitentiary. At war’s end, Ball was a full colonel, deputy provost marshal of the Canadian Army, and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.). Ball chose not to remain in the service of the RCMP after the war and took his discharge on April 1, 1946, at the rank of sergeant. He died in Victoria on August 19, 1965.
25. Paul Wellington Clearwater was born on April 9, 1908, at Cannington Manor, Saskatchewan and engaged in the Mounted Police on July 12, 1933. Before and during the early days of the war, Cst. Clearwater served in various detachments in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. He joined the Canadian Provost Corps in June 1941 and rose to the rank of company sergeant major. When he returned to Canada at war's end Cst. Clearwater was again performing detachment duties, mostly in the west. In July 1946 he was made corporal and dispatched to Dawson, Yukon for three years.
In 1953, Corporal Clearwater retired to pension with 20 years service. He then took a position as a highways inspector with the attorney-general’s department at Red Deer, Alberta. He died suddenly on February 16, 1955, at the age of 46.
26. Arthur John Quail was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on November 16, 1915. Before joining the Force he worked at jobs ranging from salesman to miner and lumberjack. He considered himself primarily an author, selling some short stories to magazines. He engaged in the RCMP on November 11, 1940, and was sent as a volunteer reinforcement to No. 1 Provost Company in April 1941. Quail’s service in the Provost Corps was varied. He held NCO posts in a field punishment camp, an instructional cadre, and as an investigator with 1 Canadian Special Investigation Section. His term of engagement in the Force ended on November 10, 1943, and he did not re-engage.