A Canadian Provost Corps Icon
Lieutenant Colonel B. W. E. LEE
LCol (Retired) James D. (Jim) Lumsden
Coordinator, Canadian Provost Corps Virtual Association
(25 May 2008)
Lieutenant Colonel Bernard William E (Bill) Lee, CD, was born 29, August 1919 at Portsmouth, England; He died
14 January, 2007 at Nanaimo, BC. He was predeceased by his wife Ellen (Terri).
Bill was one of the original members of the Canadian Provost Corps. He was serving in London as a Military Policeman when the Corps was formed and he became a member of 6 Provost Company. He served throughout World War II in the United Kingdom and Northwest Europe and among other assignments commanded 2 Provost Company.
Among his tasks hew as assigned as a member of the lead escort accompanying King George VI on the King's visit to the Continent. At the conclusion of the Monarch's ffollowing the usual formal greetings King George VI walked over, unaccompanied, to where Lee and his mate were standing to attention. He shook the hand of each, inquired of their homes in Canada, commented that the Canadian Provost Corps cap badge was the same as his own (the Royal Cipher)..As an aside to having been honoured by the duty and the King's action it is reported that both Lee and his mate for months to come, attempted to supplement their normal pay by offering anyone, for a fee of ten shillings, to "Shake the hand that shook the hand of the King"..
It is of interest to note that in addition to his WW II service in Europe he retuned, to Europe in the rank of Major as the Assistant Provost Marshal and Officer Commanding 27 Brigade Provost Platoon.
Bill has been described as an Icon of the Corps. This designation arose from his participation in the first Provost Marshal's Conference held in the Regular Army at Camp Borden 16-19 March 1949. This conference described has been described as the most significant event in the resurrection of the Corps. It was chaired by the then Provost Marshal (Army) Lieutenant Colonel James R Stewart and included the 9 senior officers with vast experience in the tasks and functions of the Corps including Bill Lee. The agenda covered a wide range of subjects including establishments, specific units, training, mobilization planning, channels of communication, wearing of side arms, Corps accouterments and many other concerns essential to the long term development of the high standards of performance and service which were the hallmarks the Canadian Provost Corps attained. Bill Lee was thus a major contributor to the laying the foundation for the resurrection and continuing existence of the Corps in the Canadian Army (Regular). Post WW II
He held the appointment of Head of Corps in 1965. Bill's most noteworthy contribution was as Commanding Officer of the Canadian Provost Corps School on two separate occasions (As a Major 1946 to 1951 and as a Lieutenant Colonel 1962 to 1965).
Bill had a reputation as a good athlete. He participated as a member of the combined C Pro C School/12Service Detention Barracks softball and volleyball teams in the Camp Leagues. In addition to his prowess on the sports field Bill was a voracious reader. In particular he appreciated military history. And contributed regular book reviews to the Canadian Army Journal.
Bill retired from the Canadian Forces in 1970. In his civilian role he developed the Security faculty at Georgian College, an Ontario Community College in Barrie, Ontario and surrounding locales.
He was an avid poker player and his evenings at the mess poker table with Captain H M Childerstone in the early 50s are the stuff of legend. Corporal Al Hollnigsworth was Col. Lee's driver for over two years. Al describes Bill as a true gentleman and who treated him (Al) with the greatest respect.
The development of Stewart Square was an undertaking of the Canadian Provost Corps. That endeavor, both in the genesis of the idea for such a memorial and the leadership required to bring it to fruition wast of Lieutenant Colonel Lee. It was thus appropriate that his ashes were spread at the Square in May 2008.
Stewart SquareThe development of Stewart Square was an undertaking of the Canadian Provost Corps. That endeavor, both in the genesis of the idea for such a memorial and the leadership required to bring it to fruition. Was that of Lieutenant Colonel Lee?
Stewart Square is named in honour of Lieutenant Colonel James Reginald Stewart MBE, CD, Provost Marshal (Army) April 1946 to July 1954, The Square, located within the lines of the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy (CFMPA), was originally a memorial to members of the Canadian Provost Corps. That remembrance has been expanded to memorialize the Royal Canadian Air Force Security Branch, the Canadian Forces Security Branch and the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branches. Plaques have been placed on the Cairn representing each of these entities.
The Memorial Cairn built on the Square was dedicated on Sunday, 13 June 1965. It was unveiled by Mrs. Grace Stewart, Lieutenant Colonel Stewart's widow. This ceremony was attended by over two hundred and fifty serving and retired members. Colonel P A Piuze and Colonel L H Nicholson (the first and last WW 2 Provost Marshals (Army)) respectively) presided over the ceremony and unveiled a plaque to all fallen Members of the Canadian Provost Corps.
Stewart Square is an officially approved site for the spreading of ashes. This status and the ceremony attached to it were initiated by Lieutenant Colonel Don Johnson during his tenure as Commandant CFSIS in 1992. At that time the protocols for doing this (spreading of ashes) were researched through the office of the then Protestant Padre at CFB Borden, and through Padre McLennan who was attached to CFSIS at that time. It should be understood that the authority sought was not to inter ashes, as the area thus becomes cemetery. Instead Padre MacLennan conducted a service of consecration of a token amount of ashes that were spread in the grass near the foot of the memorial in Stewart Square.
It is not known can it be established that authority for this token and symbolic gesture was recorded with the Ontario Government, but it certainly was recorded with the office of the Protestant Chapel at CFB Borden. A scroll or parchment was to be designed with appropriate wording commemorating the spreading of memorial ashes and the particulars of the deceased member who was honoured. The intention was that this parchment would be framed and displayed in the CFSIS Headquarters, and the details of each successive ceremony duly recorded. It has not be determined whether this recording was action was fully completed in keeping with L col Johnson's direction, as his subsequent posting precluded his seeing this project through to completion.