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L-R  Adelaide Club  - Institute - Armoury Buildings - Barrack Master’s

Residence & Orderly Room on the eastern side of the Barrack Square

                                                                    photo     Courtesy Mortlock Library.


We mourn the passing of two members this month.  Shirley Waye the wife of the late George Waye & Ern Sparrow & send our sincere condolences to their families.              

At our monthly meeting on Friday the 5th August about 38 members braved the cold weather to hear Sgt Michael Newbury who spoke about Charles Beaumont Howard & the Holy Trinity Church in Adelaide.

Holy Trinity Church was a very important focal point for the early settlers & it was fascinating to hear this story about Charles Howard & the establishment of the church.  Michael left with the society a copy of his honors thesis & was presented with a certificate of appreciation &“Tales of the Troopers” after which there was some lively questioning from the audience. The drawing of the raffle (which raised $59.00) was followed by supper.

Thanks to the efforts of Rex Greig we are now in possession of a magnificent stone which is being cut & polished prior to the plaque, from this year’s foundation day ceremony, being mounted & later positioned in Cathedral Park Victoria Square.  More news in the next month’s issue.

Our next meeting will be on the 7th October when the speaker will by Dean Solomon relating his experiences with the Tip Top Bakery.  Hope to see you there!

Next  meeting

2nd September


Dean Solomon.


44 years of Tip Top Baking.

   Geoff Rawson


Ern Sparrow                                              Shirley Waye

                     13.1.1919 –21.7.05.                                                                        26.7.29-7.8.05.

                          Earn Sparrow

Valued members of the South Australia Police  Historical Society.

Women Police in South Australia
Celebrating 90 years  (continued)

Compiled by Elees Pick.

In our last edition we told of the protest by Mary Wilcher against poor working conditions & pay. Mary would certainly have been even more vocal if her salary had been, as we advised, 9/6d per week when in fact it was 9/6d per day!

Upon Mary Wilcher’s retirement in 1940, Daisy Rose Curtis was appointed Principal of Women Police.


It would appear that Daisy was destined to become a member of the Women Police.  Many years earlier Miss Kate Cocks’ nephew Arthur apparently misbehaved to such an extent that it was necessary for his teacher, Miss Daisy Curtis, to discuss her young student’s misdemeanours with his father Arthur Cocks Snr.  After the discussion Daisy confided in Arthur Snr that it was her desire to join the women police.  Arthur arranged a meeting with his sister Kate & the rest, as they say, is history.

 In 1923 Daisy, together with Isabella Eunson, opened the Port Pirie Branch of the Women Police. Then in 1925 she was the recipient of the Catherine Helen Spence Scholarship in An award that was instigated in 1912 to financially assist women students of political & social reform in gaining first hand knowledge in their chosen field, both at home & abroad.

Daisy’s application for the scholarship had been lodged at the direction of Kate Cocks, who in a letter to the Director of Education & the chairman of the selection committee pointed out –

 “The advent of women into the non domestic world of industry has created conditions unknown in previous centuries & to meet the new conditions it has been found desirable to have women acting in co-operation with the constabulary. It is necessary if South Australia is to keep in the van of progress that her women police officers shall be the best possible.  Our idea is that if a police woman were appointed Spence Scholar she would return better equipped to the service of women & children.”

 In 1927, following a request from the Secretary of the League of Nations Committee in Geneva Switzerland regarding the traffice of women & children, It was reported that 

“She (Daisy) considers the South Australian Women Police are among the leaders in their work & considered it a credit to South Australia that her Government realised the necessity & value of Women Police so early & leads the world by giving a woman commission to enquire into women police work”


The members of the Spence Advisory Committee were obviously well satisfied with the way Daisy had used her scholarship when the chairman advised her, whilst she was still overseas,....   the committee was impressed with the serious & intelligent manner in which you are making of your experience abroad.’ her findings & evaluations were later adapted by other government departments for use in South Australia .

It was claimed that
was gifted with a sixth sense, able to instantly assess a situation, extremely co
nscientious & dedicated.  Junior officers hated patrolling with her, as they knew it would involve a long brisk hike with many people being questioned about their behaviour.  Whilst on patrol, however, Daisy managed to pass on valuable information which resulted in detectives clearing up many serious offences.

Daisy disapproved of too much frivolity before or after work or even during meal breaks & in an effort to curb such behaviour she introduced the “thought box”.  The box contained biblical verses & proverbs which the offending officer was directed to read & report on the next day. The main ‘offenders’
Joan Maittlen, Effie Anderson & Alvis Brooks
decided something needed to be done about the dreaded box and decided to amend the sayings ie “It’s an early bird that catches the worm” had “please pity the early worm”.  The box was subsequently withdrawn from service.    

Although a tough disciplinarian Daisy had a softer side – Each Christmas day she insisted on having lunch with those rostered on duty.  She could never work out how the trifle served always taster better than any she had ever made.  Nobody dared to reveal, to the strict teetotaller, that it had been enhanced with alcohol “donated by one of the police women’s ‘clients’.    Often a patrolling officer would come across a slightly intoxicated female & would confiscate her bottle advising her it could be reclaimed at the Women Police Office the next day.  Occasionally an unopened bottle was impounded & not claimed, becoming the flavouring for the Christmas trifle. Daisy would have been appalled as she considered drinking liquor to be degrading.

Daisy applied to the Commissioner of Police, in 1944, to re-organise staffing within the Women Police Office.  She felt that young women, in their early twenties had opted for marriage  rather than taking up a career as a police officer.  The system of recruiting women aged 28 years plus had been more successful, as from 11 recruits only 1 had left the department.  She further suggested that, as a result of suitable applicants in this age group being unavailable, older women should be appointed as wardresses.  The request was considered by the Cabinet & in August 1944 Mrs. K.O. Dennison became the first wardress.

Formal training for women police officers was commenced in January 1945 when newly appointed recruits received instruction at the Gouger Street Police Training Depot.

In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s ‘social service workers’ were appointed to Government Departments which eased the load on women police.  However, many cases were handed back to the police women for them to check the homes of those believe to be neglected.

In 1951 Daisy retired to make way for her twin sister Violet Eliza to become Principal.

Violet had joined the Women Police Force, some l6 months after Daisy, ib May 1922 & although she did not possess the leadership abilities of her sister it was believed that her gentler & more compassionate nature certainly stood her in good stead both with her colleagues & members of the public.

 Women police commenced training at the Police Training college at Thebarton in 1951.  Instructions were given on a one to one basis.  However in 1953, in a cost cutting exercise, the women police were included in a 6 week training course with their male counterparts.  Drill & physical training were not part of their course.  They were, however, given driving instruction & Joyce Richardson was the first to attend the course which included not only driving lessons but also practical instructions on how to pull an engine apart & reassemble it!

 Between them the Curtis twins gave a total of 60 years service.  On retirement Daisy returned to teaching for 5 years and then became matron of the Colebrook Home for Aboriginal children.  Violet retired to the sanctuary of her home & garden.

Kevin & Kay JOHNSON .............................................................  We welcome you.

           Letters to the Editor

As follows are excerpts from  letters received during the month

Dear Elees,

             Congratulation on your “Open Day” my niece & I really enjoyed the day.  The exhibits were so well

presented & the horses, dogs & the band were interesting & enjoyable.

             I had intended to tell you what our family here believed for many years concerning ‘Policemans Point’ I recently read a book covering the Gold Escort Route which says ..

John Reynold Ewens was one of James Chambers’ mail riders on the Coorong in 1852.  A family booklet claims that he was the person intercepted at  Policemans Point by his elder brother, William, who was in the first escort & told to carry on to the
Governor, advising of Tolmer’s approaching return. 

Hence the name Policemans Point.

Billie Ewens.

(See Len Coghlan’s story on the Ewens family.this issue   Ed. )


Dear Elees,

I was most interested in the front page photograph of our “Hue & Cry” Magazine of June 2005 (internees from Loxton during World War 1). 
I married into a Barossa Valley Deutsch family & over the years I was privy to stories Involving the detention of persons (Lutherans) during the 1st & 2nd World Wars & the subsequent problems it caused for the families involved.
As a young boy I witnessed Australian Soldiers raiding a shop during World War 2 – The owners of the popular local corner grocery shop at Parkside was owned by an aged German couple – the shop was closed & the couple were taken away under escort in an Army Vehicle.  I have never forgotten this event & although the war created exciting times, although mistakenly for young boys.  The photo in the Hue & Cry made me reflect on what I had seen as a young boy, coupled with stories told by persons bearing German family names.
I would urge all readers of the Hue & Cry to read a booklet titled “Persecution, Detention & Internment of Lutherans (In South Australia) in Two World Wars a dark spot in Australia’s Centenary of Federation” by David O. Paech Past President Lutheran Church of South Australia July 2001.

Thank you for many interesting reads

Val Harvey.

(Val has since donated a copy of David Paech’s booklet to the Society which will now be added to our Library.Ed.  )


By Dorothy Pyatt

The following article appeared in the May Edition of the Historical Society of South Australia’s Newsletter.

The genesis of the South Australian Police Historical Society could be said to have begun in a schoolroom at Millicent, where a schoolboy was enthralled by the stories of early police history as told by his teacher, wife of the local police officer.  In 1977 the boy from Millicent, now Constable Robert Clyne with a B.A. Hons degree, was still imbued with the romance of the long police history of the state since its inception on 28th April 1838.

An approach to the then Police Commissioner, Harold Salisbury, for permission to establish a Police Historical Society received warm approval.

In 1978 the South Australian Police Historical Society was formally launched by a group of people long interested in helping to record & preserve the pageant of past events.  Now commenced the steady stream of donations of long cherished photographs & items of interest.

The Society was provided with temporary accommodation in spare rooms at Police Stations, first at Port Adelaide then Hindmarsh & North Adelaide  ..  always like some hermit crab struggling to find a bigger home, having outgrown the last.  Loyal volunteers carried the burden of all the moves.

Published in 1987, Robert’s book Colonial Blue gave the history of the South Australian Police from its provincial days under Governor Hindmarsh until 1916.

Since 1966 the Society has made its home at the Police Barracks, Gaol Road, Thebarton, spreading its wings over several buildings ... & still searching for more room.  One building is in the process of becoming a Police Museum. A large outbuilding is the home of an enthusiastic group dedicated to restoring old Police vehicles.

Each year on 28th April we celebrate our Foundation Day with the unveiling of a plaque in honour of some significant event.

The Society has over 300 members, many of them regular volunteers.  A monthly newsletter, the “Hue & Cry” is produced for members.

Meetings are held at the Barracks at 8 pm on the first Friday in the month.  Visitors are welcome & parking is available.  For enquiries phone (08) 8207 4099 Website: www.sapolicehistory.org/

Bar divider
               A Blast from the Past

By Len Coghlan

Lucky are those police who challenge the Commissioner of Police and survive. Mounted Constable Bert Ewens did but his son Lance and nephew Bob were more discreet.

Some time ago I wrote an article recommending that if any officer was seriously going to challenge the Commissioner of Police he should realise that the best he could hope for was very slow future promotion or in a disciplined force a rapid change of occupation could well be their destiny.

One of my friends of yesteryear, one Sergeant Bert Ewens of Clare, once generously gave me many hours of advice. At 23 years of age I went to that beautiful town to relieve this most entertaining, competent and calm character. [Thank God I didn’t realise how little I knew about running a busy country police station efficiently]

Before ever meeting him I was well aware of his reputation as a most capable officer who had won the respect of not only his fellow ‘mounties” but of the people of the various towns in which he had served.

So you can imagine the shock I received when after telling me how best to handle local police problems he smilingly said, “Did you ever hear the story of how I got sacked by General Leane.” Naturally I thought he was joking. This General Leane was without doubt the most severe disciplinarian of the 7 Commissioners I encountered in the 42 years in the Force. One didn’t need to be close to his office to distinctly hear the tongue lashing he could give to any transgressing member.

Bert went on, “Well Len you can imagine things were pretty desperate to line up in front of the General and I certainly know that my career as a country mounted constable could come to a sudden end. It was like this. I joined in 1910 and realised that after a year I was lucky to be sent to Swan Reach, and later Quorn, so I didn’t mind later being transferred to Innamincka for a short period. You can imagine that after a year or two my wife didn’t enjoy having little social life and very little company in that outback town. I spend a lot of my time shooting dingoes and patrolling that vast police district. By the way, I got 5/- for each dingo scalp. 

I had an old T model Ford and sometimes went as far as the Oontoo Crossing Customs House ruins between Innamincka and Nappamerri Station near the Queensland Border.”

Bert also had kept a record that 6 weeks. After Christmas the house and office were 109 deg [F]  most nights and 123 to 126 deg. in the daytime for the next 3 weeks, so you could imagine the thoughts of his devoted wife].

“So after many requests to my Inspector for a transfer to some more hospitable and less lonely area, all to no avail, my wife and I decided to take some positive action. On the 18th March 1920, 8 years and one months after arriving at Innamincka, I presented myself at the door of the Secretary of the Police Department at 4.40 p.m. and demanded an interview with Commissioner Leane. Naturally I was first refused but I got the message though that an interview was vital.

Eventually I got inside the inner sanctum and was greeted with a cold blooded, “Ewens. I’ll give you three minutes. Why are you here?”I said, “I’d like you to look out the window Sir.” Leane, “Don’t be smart. What’s this nonsense?” I said “I’m sorry Sir. If you look out the window you’ll know why I’m here.”

The Commissioner angrily looked out into King William Street.

I said,“That truck has my furniture on Sir. My wife and I have just driven down from Innamincka and we can’t go back. After 8 years Sir, after many applications for a transfer we can’t stand it any longer.” Leane, “Did you have permission to leave your station Ewens?” I said, “No Sir.” Leane, “Well this calls for the sack.” I said, “I thought that might happen Sir.” I don’t  recall the tirade that followed but the Commissioner eventually said, “Get out of my office Ewens. Come back in the morning and I’ll decide what to do with you.”

At 9 next morning the interview was short and to the point.

Leane, “Go back to Barracks Ewens and I’ll decide what we should do with you.”

So for the next 10 days I groomed and exercised the horses as I did as a rookie when I joined in 1910, each day hoping for news of my fate.

I couldn’t believe my luck when still expecting to be sacked or at least be charged I got my marching orders. “Mounted Constable Ewens will be transferred as Officer in Charge of Ardrossan as from the 30th of March, 1920.”

The Sergeant never looked back and his last 10 years of his career he enjoyed two of the most picturesque towns of our State, Port Lincoln and Clare and showed what a competent officer he was. In 1928 he gained his first Honourable Mention for outstanding work at Gladstone as well as 3 more while Sergeant in Charge at Tailem Bend.

So I was fortunate 23 years after he thought his career was over, to enjoy the benefit of his wise counsel when I relieved him for 6 weeks in the beautiful Clare Valley.

Bert retired in 1947 and lived to the ripe old age of 87 years..



Bert & Lance Ewens

Bert whilst in Port Lincoln was able to convince his son Lance that the Police Force could bring rich rewards and so Lance arrived at the Police Depot in 1936 and stayed for 20 years. Lance was the 5th generation of the Ewens clan and the 10th member of that family to serve in our Police Force.

Members of C, D, E and F Troops would remember Lance well and at one time he recalls riding with the popular and highly respected champion wrestler Police Officer and later Army Captain Alby Marr. Like his dad, Lance also served in Gladstone under the direction of Vic Schneider who later became well known to many of us as our country inspector.

Lance was always immaculately attired on or off duty although more reserved that his father, earnt the respect of his work mates and the towns people in the towns Wirrabara, Manoora and other areas.

Like his father he enjoyed country life and was pleased to receive a Special Mention for his work at Gladstone in 1944.

In 1952 he passed his Sergeants examination and in 1956 through ill health, had to give up the Force. He then spent many years as a valued member of the South Australian Housing Trust retiring when he was 55 years of age.

During his 20 years service he received two commendations and established a Commonwealth record and possibly a World record, for family long service in the Police Force particularly when more relatives joined after  him.

Lance joined the Adelaide Caravan and Touring Club and in 1979 whilst visiting Moorook on a camping trip he decided to build a house with a view of the river. He was a dedicated family man and in his retirement, he spent much time planting and maintaining his little park of native trees and his three children and eight grand children were a constant source of pleasure. He was an active Freemason and very keen on bowls. He was extremely proud to be presented with Life Membership from the Moorook Bowling Club.

Sadly he died only a few weeks ago {about September 1996] and as well as leaving a large gap in the lives of his wife, children and grand children and those of us who joined in the late 1930’s, all will remember him with respect and affection. He was buried in the Moorook Cemetery and his many friends paid tribute to this outstanding family man and exemplary citizen.

Those of us who joined in 1936 and 1937 will well remember our happy go lucky Bob Ewens who was a cousin of Lance. He was best remembered for his practical jokes when he was “Cook” at the Police Depot at Port Adelaide.

When he realised that some of the better trenchermen wanted more than their share of the more appetising meals, he had his own way of dealing with gluttons. He would sometimes hand out some “tea towel” soup doctored with spices and sauces as their fare and the language was at times choice when the would be glutton discovered that the water from our appallingly dirty tea towels were boiled in was the base of what they were eating. Witchetty grubs too from the wood heap were often a delicacy which Bob would leave floating in the bowl of our greedier friends.

Tragically Bob was one of the many sailors who died on the H.M.A.S. Sydney. This is the 56th year of its sinking and we still remember the jovial Robert Underdown Ewens.

We all used to speak of the Noblet, Giles, Schwerdt, Hansberry, and the Copeland families who had many members who enhanced the reputation of our force. Most of us put them high on our list of those whose families played important roles in our force, but few of us ever realised what an incredible number of policemen the Ewens family contributed, thirteen in all. It must surely be a World record. The first member of this family joined the South Australia Police 148 years ago in 1849 and  twelve others followed in his steps.

I only had the pleasure of knowing Bert, Lance and Bob about whom I have written but the family is unique and I will leave the full details of the Ewens dynasty in the hands of the doyen of our historical writer, the indefatigable pen of Jean Schmaal whose father affected for good the lives of every one of us who knew him well.

For those of us whose parents followed William and his family who arrived here at Holdfast Bay in 1839, we can admire their courage and depth of sadness knowing they would probably never see their homeland again.

The Ewens family came from the beautiful city of Chichester. Having spent a great holiday there with the one time Mayor of Elizabeth, Joyce Eastland, who was so good to all our police at Elizabeth, we can imagine the feelings of grief which they and many of our forbears felt at leaving the many magnificent parts of England, knowing they may never return from whence they came.






Profile of a Volunteer

Bill Rojas



Bill is the Protocol Officer (public servant position) with the SA Police Department & has had a long & much appreciated association with the society as a member, volunteer & member of the Executive Committee. 


There are very few photos of Bill in our collection, because he is usually manning the camera & is often very happy to be behind the scenes.


His extensive knowledge & understanding of Police ceremonial procedures has proved inestimable over the years. His assistance in our major events, including Foundation day etc, is invaluable, particularly when he provides so much of his own time outside of the department.


Bill is often asked to step in as secretary at both general & executive meetings and is always on the look out for innovative ways for the society to move forward.


Well done Bill.

The “HUE & CRY” is
  Published by the
South Australian
  Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539 
Adelaide 5001
S.A. 5083



Elees Pick........

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