Vet of the Month: March 2010
Reg.#5953, Cst. William Bennett Holtsbaum, RNWMP
by David A. Guy, Insp. (Ret'd)
From the very beginning, William Bennett Holtsbaum would prove that he was a very special person. He was a Christmas baby -- born at Clonakilty, County of Cork, Ireland on December 26, 1893. Our Vet of the Month also demonstrated a wide interest in true public service -- in a varied police career, in Canada's Armed Forces, in local politics and a dep committment to community involvement. He also raised a family and today his children are very, very proud of their Dad. It's an honour to record the life of our March, 2010 Vet of the Month.
William 'Bill' Holtsbaum arrived in Canada in 1913. Shortly after arriving in Canada, he joined the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) on August 27, 1914. He served and patrolled in the Territories, (Northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba) at such places as: Hudson's Bay Junction, Cumberland House, Pine Bluff, Sturgeon, Schist, Duck, Coal, South Deer, Phantom and Beaver Lakes, Flin Flon, Pelican Narrows, Lac Du Brochet and Le Pas.
At the time, there was fear of World War I. Thus, the RNWMP underwent re-organizational changes with the provincial police forces. These changes to the police provided an opportunity for Bill to join the Saskatchewan Provincial Police (SPP) in 1917. He served the SPP at Rosthern, Turtleford and Cumberland House. Bill then requested and was granted his discharge from the SPP on January 2, 1918 and he engaged in the Royal Flying Corp which was newly formed during World War I.
William Holtsbaum joined the R.F.C. Cadet Wing on February 6, 1918. He completed training and was discharged on January 3, 1919 at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He never saw active duty as World War I ended. His discharge papers read "in consequence of being surplus to R.A.F. requirements."
William Holtsbaum then joined the Alberta Provincial Police (APP) on December 19, 1918 and after training, he was posted to Wainwright, Alberta where he was put in Charge of the Detachment. While at Wainwright he met his future wife, Christine Jonason. The couple were later married in Edmonton, AB on August 9, 1922.
On December 11, 1920 Bill was transferred to APP Headquarters in Edmonton, AB. On June 22, 1921 he was transferred again to assume Charge of the Provost Detachment. Little did Bill know that Provost would become the place he would eventually call 'home' for the remainder of his life. Bill resigned from the APP and he purchased his discharge effective July 31, 1928. He had accepted the position as the Postmaster at Provost.
Monday, February 4, 1929 marked the beginning of Bill's involvement on the Village Council where he was declared elected by acclamation to the office of Councilor for the term of three years. Before this term was up he was appointed Mayor in 1931. He was again elected Mayor in 1934. From 1928, Bill also served his province in the capacity of Police Magistrate until his death in 1958, and Coroner until he resigned in 1947 because of ill health.
In July 1940, an announcement was made that a troop of Alberta Dragoons was to be stationed in Provost. Bill was awarded the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, 19th Alberta Dragoons, Active Militia on October 5, 1940 and he was appointed the C.O. and Recruiting Officer and received orders to accept for enlistment, every man between the ages of 18 and 45 years who wished to volunteer. Bill enlisted in the RCAF in July 1941 and was engaged with a commission at the rank of "Pilot Officer."
He held the rank of "Flying Officer" on August 23, 1941 and on January 21, 1944 he promoted to Flight Lieutenant.
During the war he was stationed at Trenton, St. Thomas, ON and Sydney NS where he was on active duty flying in bombers escorting convoys bound for England. He was also the Deputy Assistant Provost Marshall in charge of the Security Police at the bases where he was stationed. Bill was honourably released from the RCAF on October 4, 1945 and transferred to Class E of the General Section of the RCAF Reserve.
On November 1, 1945, Bill had again taken over his duties as Postmaster at Provost. In 1949 he was recognized for his 21 years of service as the Postmaster at Provost. On May 10, 1954 Bill was awarded the "Queen's Coronation Medal" after a recommendation by the Provost Town Council to the Lieutenant Governeor of Alberta citing his worthiness as a citizen and listing his many and varied community contributions and activities.
RNWMP Cst. William Holtsbaum died on April 22, 1958 in Provost, AB. He is buried in Provost Cemetery, Provost, ABRIP
In March, 2010 let us recall the life of Reg.#5953, Cst. William Bennett Holtsbaum, RNWMP and the memorable and meaningful contribution he made to his country -- in the RNWMP, the SPP and APP, in Canada's Armed Forces and Reserves and to his community. We offer him a tip of the Stetson during March, 2010.
The notes above were provided to me by David A. Guy, Insp. (Ret'd) P.O. Box 360 Edgerton, AB. The comments represent excerpts taken directly from a book on William Holtsbaum entitled, "William Bennett Holtsbaum: The Biography of a Unique and Honorable Man! 1893-1958 "Our Bill." The book was authored by Mr. Holtsbaum's daughter Lois Holtsbaum Reid and his son William Brian Holtsbaum. We also thank you!
Photo of the Queen's Coronation Medal Credit: Veteran Affairs Canada. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/cmdp/mainmenu/group10/qeiicm
Reporting from the Fort,
J. J. (Buffalo Joe) Healy