A retired Toronto Police Service (TPS) officer, who served in the Second World War, has died just weeks shy of his 100th birthday.
Melvin Bartman, who would have celebrated the milestone on March 9, died peacefully on February 20 at the Huntsville District Memorial Hospital with family and friends by his side.
An Imperial Oil tanker operator/fireman when the war broke out, he joined the Royal Canadian Signal Corps 5th Canadian Artillery Unit in 1941 and was dispatched to Scotland before being transferred to Sicily and elsewhere in Europe.
Back home after the war, Bartman rejoined Imperial Oil before going to Nipigon to cut trees for a pulp and paper mill company.
Following the footsteps of older brother and World War II veteran Gordon Bartman – he passed away in 2010 on his 94th birthday – who was a staff sergeant at Traffic Services before retiring after 33 years, Bartman joined TPS in 1947 and retired in 1978.
Four days after his 99th birthday last year, Consts. Juan Carlos Delgado and Nam Le of the 52 Division Community Response Unit visited Bartman at Chartwell Rogers Cove Retirement Residence.
They presented him with a copy of the TPS history book, a plaque, mug and challenge coins.
The veteran regaled the officers with stories of his time in Europe, including riding motorcycles during the battle to relay messages in person and a close call when an artillery shell hit a building in Europe that he was in with other soldiers and exploded.
Starting his law enforcement career at #2 Division at Bay and Dundas Sts. where he spent 15 years, Bartman said the beat was busy dealing with bookies and prostitutes.
He recalled a bullet whizzing past his head while he and other officers were trying to apprehend five ‘Walkie-Talkie’ gang members in the Yonge and Bloor Sts. area who were trying to crack a giant concreate-embedded vault containing $600 from a post office.
“It was such a pleasure to meet a man who did so much in his life,” said Le. “To this day, I still think about that meeting and it so sad he didn’t make it to 100.”
Bartman was assigned to #1 Station and then 54 Division. He retired after working six years at Old City Hall Court.
Julia Libling, Bartman’s daughter who resides in Arizona with her family, said her father was proud to Service Toronto Police and his country during World War II.
“Over the years, he told us many stories and has greatly influenced his three daughters to always be respectful of the law and all the officers who serve every city and country,” she said. “He was a very proud Canadian. I vividly remember the care he always took with his uniform, shoes etc. and can still see him leaving and returning home from work in his uniform.”
A memorial service celebrating Bartman’s life will take place in early summer.