INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Blast From the Past
Volunteers in Action
Next Month's Meeting
A PORTION OF HARLEY DAVIDSON FLEET USED BY S.A. POLICE DEPARTMENT 1927.
First time uniform was worn for the Escort of the Duke and Duchess of York.
1: Inspector Hannan with Bill Chambers, 2: Thorsen & Brewer 3: Levi &Saunders
4: McConnell & Marr 5: Henning & Fry 6: Holloway & Herman
7: Thompson & Dennison
This report will be reasonably short as the Public Holidays both fell on a Thursday so there was a well deserved holiday for our hard working volunteers. Prior to the Christmas closure our regular volunteers were treated to a “Thank You” Barbecue (see photos this edition).
Shirley Hayward has been in hospital and had her bad leg amputated just prior to Christmas. She is in good spirits and back at Amity nursing home. She would be happy to receive visitors.
I am very pleased to report that we have received an email from the Catholic Church regarding the placement of the plaque for the Women Police in Cathedral Park adjacent to Victoria Square. It will be located on the corner of Wakefield Street and the Square, not far from the original building which housed the women police when they were formed. Arrangements will be made to move the monument to this location when I have had further discussions with the parties concerned.
There will not be a monthly meeting for January so our next meeting is the AGM on the 6th February. There are vacancies for Executive positions caused by the retirements by Holger Kruse (moved to Mildura Victoria) and Elees Pick our Editor and all round volunteer for everything, who will be assisting her daughter with her business.
The loss of Holger and Elees will be a major blow to the Society considering the amount of work and activities they have both been involved in.
I have considered my position again and have decided to nominate for the position of President for just one more year.
It is vital that we have people to fill these positions and I urge all members and volunteers to consider the executive committee positions and nominate using the appropriate form available from the Secretary Owen Bevan. Please advise by phone, fax or email of your intention as the nominations must be received by the Secretary 7 days prior to the meeting in accordance with the rules.
I look forward to another busy and exciting year for the Society and hope to see as many people as possible at the AGM on the 6th February at 8.00 pm and I wish you all a Happy New Year.
by Life Member Jim Sykes
I settled down in Marree and eventually travelled around my district visiting cattle stations, mustering camps and other places, getting to know the residents outside of the town including those at Finniss Springs cattle station and Aboriginal Mission, Birdsville (Queensland) Cordillo Downs, Innamincka and many other areas. I got on well with the people I met when on patrol which usually took from two to ten days to complete. On these occasions I would stay at cattle stations etc. instead of camping out in the open. My aboriginal tracker “Pony Mick” was my constant travelling companion.
During my absence on patrol, the town was without a policeman but strange as it may seem, the townspeople (all races) expected my wife to act as an ex-officio policeman during my absence. Problems were referred to her and she would advise the informant/offender that I would attend to the matter on my return. It was amazing how many troublemakers left town hurriedly just before I returned. Those few who ignored the “warning” and stayed in town, were dealt with and expressed regret that they had not taken advantage of the opportunity to move out of town for a few weeks.
The school being next door was very handy indeed as the children only had to walk about 30 yards to enter their classroom. The nursing sister at the hospital on the other side of the police station was a lovely lady well trained in her vocation and it was not long before I became the secretary of the Hospital Management Committee. This appointment was in addition to those I inherited with the police station. There were no government offices at Marree and therefore the local police officer had to act on behalf of many government departments in Adelaide. These were known as extraneous duties such as, Clerk and Bailiff of the local court, Clerk of the Police Court, Collector of Dog Scalps, Keeper of the Commonage, Inspector of Stock, Health Inspector, Sub Protector of Aborigines, Issuer of rations to Aborigines. Registrar of Motor Vehicles and representative of many other small departments. My only income from those extraneous duties was threepence for every dog scalp I collected (usually rotten) bagged and sent by rail to Adelaide for destruction. The destruction of dog scalps had previously been overseen by the police officer who collected them but that was changed when one policeman failed to destroy scalps presented to him by dingo hunters then resubmitted them in his own name and sent the papers to Adelaide for the royalty fee which was £1 a scalp. This was quite a lot of money in the late 1920’s to the early 1930’s. But that too is another story.
The beginning to the end of my "holiday" came on Sunday the 11th of November, 1956 when on the evening of that day I received a very garbled telephone message relayed to me through a single wire communication line used by the Commonwealth Railways. The call was from Anna Creek station some 170 miles north and adjacent to the narrow gage railway track Fettlers camp at Edwards Creek. The caller identified herself as Nancy McLean and with difficulty I was able to understand there had been a death of an aboriginal child and it was feared that he had been murdered. Because of the very poor communications I was unable to receive any more meaningful information but was satisfied that Nancy was terrified for the safety of some other person. I knew Nancy well as she was a companion of Dick Nunn, the manager of the Anna Creek cattle station.
Not knowing exactly what was happening, and as it appeared aborigines were involved in the matter I sought out my tracker Pony Mick but found his camp at the back of the police station deserted. This was very strange indeed as Mickie always advised me when he was going on "walkabout."
I set out early the next morning for Anna Creek station. The so-called road to the station was merely a narrow track which followed the railway line most of the way. It was very rough and slow going with many detours made to get around very sandy areas and in places boggy creek crossings. Extremely hot conditions make sand hills very difficult to cross. It was only about 100° Fahrenheit on that day but the Land Rover did not have air conditioning, and did not have a power winch to get the vehicle out of bogged situation which could easily occur. To make matters worse the tires on the Land Rover were very narrow and the treads were mainly for use on wet boggy roads. This of course made me very much aware that to get bogged down by myself on this track could have jeopardized my own safety. I had no radio communications in those days and at that time it would have been three days before the Ghan (train) came along. Sometimes that train was behind schedule by one or two days because of sand dunes which drifted over the tracks.
The Land Rover which was made for English climatic conditions, seemed to relish the heat. It never overheated even when driven hard up and over long treacherous sand hills It had one drawback however and that was it was built of steel panels and the dashboard and other exterior and interior components were made of metal. In the heat all metal parts became too hot to handle, consequently I had to wear leather gloves when driving. The steering wheel could almost take the skin off your hands and the gear change knob was little better. On such journeys it was not unusual to change gears several hundred times a day
I arrived at the station late that evening and Nancy related the following story to me. She said that there was a large camp of aborigines (about 200) close to the station and they had come from many areas in the north for a corroboree. She went on to say that a native girl Nita Smith, a house girl at the station with her husband Andy Smith, were in fear of their lives. Nita had a boy child named Dennis, about 10 months old and was again pregnant. Andy had disappeared several days ago and Nita had not come to the station the day before to perform her house duties.
Nancy advised that the word amongst the station natives was that the boy had been killed and was buried in the sand hills near where the corroboree was taking place. She was further told that Andy Smith would be killed if that had not already been done.
I asked Nancy why this was happening. Nancy, who was an expert in the aboriginal culture and traditions claimed that it was probably because Andy and Nita were from different tribes and they had not received permission from the tribal Elders to marry. The death of the child (if this had really occurred) would have been arranged between the tribal Elders and the "Kurdaitcha men" (medicine men) of the various tribes as punishment for this breach of tribal laws. It was quite possible that Andy had been killed or would be very shortly and that Nita if not already dead, would be the next to go.
As it was very late and I was exhausted, I stayed the night at the station. The next morning with Dick Nunn I drove several miles along very sandy bush tracks to the native camps surrounding the corroboree area. There were indeed several hundred aboriginals present and all were dressed in tribal ceremonial attire and armed with spears (held upright beside their body) and other native weapons. We looked around but could not find any trace of the two missing aboriginals nor of their child.
I had a talk with Dick about how we should handle the situation and we agreed that I should try to address the natives and tell them that the "Queen" of Australia was concerned about what they were doing and that she did not like it and that that they were to stop it right away. Now this may appear somewhat parochial, but there was an urgent necessity to establish that although we respected their tribal laws, laws of the "Queen "of Australia must be obeyed.
I felt quite vulnerable standing on the roof of the Land Rover and gathering the natives around to tell them that their laws were bad and the Queen’s laws came first. Finally after a lot of chattering between various speakers (I could not understand one word) some of the natives then placed their spears on the ground in front of them. This “peace” indication was followed by the others, one at a time.
Dick told me later that by placing their spears flat on the ground meant they accepted with some reservation that the "Queen" of Australia was recognized. He added that if they had not put their weapons on the ground, we would have been in deep trouble and the ultimate outcome for both of us could have been very difficult to say the least.
Personally I believe the main reason the natives showed no violence towards us was not because of the "Queen" of Australia, but because Dick Nunn and his family provided hundreds of natives with food and shelter. If they failed to except my "intimidatory remarks?" and became violent, they would lose the complete support of Dick himself and thus impose hardship on the tribes who lived in the district.
I told Dick of my thoughts but he just laughed it off with the remark, "You did a bloody good job. I was starting to believe what you were saying myself. I did think we were in a bit of trouble though until I saw them put their spears on the ground and then I knew we had won the day."
Having obtained somewhat fragile permission to apply the laws of the "Queen" of Australia, Dick and I decided to look around a little deeper than before to see if we could find any trace of Andy, Nita or the child Dennis. It was then that I remembered while standing on top of the Land Rover talking to the natives, the rest of the area was quite silent except from some distant barking by native dogs.
I vaguely recalled hearing something else & that was very faint singing & chanting far away.
As a consequence, Dick and I headed off in that general direction. It was extremely hot and after many false leads we climbed up to the top of a high sandhill and looked down into a small patch of flat ground in the centre of the towering sand hills. There I saw what we had been looking for over the past two hours.
In the centre of the open space about 30 old aboriginal women were sitting in a circle, chanting and clicking sticks of wood together in a rhythmic manner. They were swaying back and forth in time with the rhythm and the singing. Right in the middle of the circle there was a single aboriginal girl sitting down on the ground with head bent forward.
I recognized the girl to be Nita Smith as I had seen her during earlier visits to Anna Creek station. At that time I noted that she had long black hair. Now her hair had been cut off and all she had left was a few tufts here and there.
I had a talk with Dick and we decided that I would walk straight into the group and take Nita away from them while he kept watch for the men from his position. The women did not appear to be armed in any way. I marched straight down the hill, stepped over one woman and went through into the inner circle. I grasped Nita by the arm, pulled her to her feet, and told her she was coming with me. We walked back through and over the women amidst great screaming and yelling as I had apparently interrupted a ceremony of great secrecy and no men should have been in the area. Some of them spoke English and I was sworn at, spat at, screamed at and jostled as I led Nita away pushing a path through them.
Back we trudged towards the native corroboree area to reach the Land Rover which was our only means of getting out as quickly as possible. In the distance behind us we could hear the screaming and wailing going on right up to the time we reached the Land Rover. We thought we might have some trouble, if there was a change of attitude by the men, in getting clear of the area but that did not eventuate and finally we arrived back at Anna Creek station and safety.
Next Month : Was it the Kurdaitcha man?
Arson is one of the most difficult crimes to investigate because, even if it can be determined that a fire has been deliberately lit, it is often difficult to identify a suspect, and evidence at the scene which could be associated with such a suspect is usually destroyed. However, during my ten years of service with the homicide squad, I was fortunate to detect a number of persons who were subsequently charged and convicted for the offence.
In one case, a house at Trinity Gardens had been destroyed by fire. When I spoke to the owner, he told me that he suspected a previous tenant, who had been evicted because he was in arrears with rent. At interview, the suspect strongly denied any involvement, and claimed that this was the first time that he had heard about the fire.
However, later that day, when scanning the daily newspaper, I came across a photo which had been taken at the scene of the crime during the fire. It showed members of the Fire Brigade and a group of onlookers. To my surprise, I recognized the suspect as one of the onlookers.
Since he had previously denied having any knowledge of the fire, he was again interviewed, and after some time admitted that he was the offender. He was charged accordingly, and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment.
In another case, a woman living at Goodwood reported that clothes which she had hung out to dry had been sprayed with a flammable solvent and ignited. They were completely destroyed. She had immediately suspected a man who had been courting her, and stated that she had terminated their friendship. On making the usual inquiries, I discovered that the suspect had an extensive criminal record. He was subsequently interrogated, but naturally denied all knowledge of the offence or of being ion the area at the time. However, as in the previous case described, he had been thoughtless. Neighbours disclosed that he had indeed been in the area at the time, and had been carrying a steel container.
He was again interviewed, and admitted his guilt. He was charged, convicted and sentenced to five years imprisonment.
In many cases, lives are put at risk, and this was the case when a fire was deliberately lit at the Adelaide Show. It occurred one morning after two adjacent stall holders had had a disagreement. One was the proprietor of a boxing troupe and the other operated a children’s merry go round. The crime was soon solved: the proprietor of the boxing troupe had set fire to his neighbour’s tent. Weather conditions were extreme; it was very hot and there was a strong north wind blowing. It was very fortunate that the owner of the tent noticed the blaze at an early stage and had a fire extinguisher available. With this he was able to extinguish the fire before much damage was done.
If he had been unsuccessful in stopping the fire, it would have destroyed all of the tentage in the area, because of the strong wind. Furthermore, members of the public in the vicinity would have been in danger.
The offender was arrested, charged and subsequently sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.
The severity of the sentences imposed in these cases reflected the fact the arson is a very serious offence, particularly when, as well as damage to property, lives are put at risk.
Not all our volunteers were able to attend on the day, but we would like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who has assisted over the year, your efforts are greatly appreciated, our Society would not survive without your support & dedication.
This article from the Murray Pioneer comes to us from member Val Harvey,
LOCAL UNIONISTS AWAIT STRIKE BREAKERS ARRIVING BY PADDLE STEAMER AT THE RENMARK WHARF IN 1911.
The years 1919 & 1911 were stormy ones for the population of Renmark.
Workers’ strikes for more money occurred in both those years, but it was the heated meetings full of colourful rhetoric led by city union leaders in 1910 that provided the catalyst for the particularly ugly strike of 1911.
A regular visitor was Mr. J.M. Dale, organiser of the SA United Labourer’s Union. On one occasion he addressed a large crowd in front of the Renmark Hotel and the press was on hand to report on the proceedings.
“Mr. Dale said Jesus had been crucified by the Warrens, Downers and Mueckes of his time. He (the speaker) was on the side of the working man, right or wrong.
“When there was a strike he did not bother to ask whether the men were in the right, but sent along a subscription.
“He had come to Renmark to make them dissatisfied with their conditions. Why should they, who produced all the wealth of the world, eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table?.
“His remedy was to commit a crime & be sent to gaol and get three meals a day. There were many children crying for bread in Adelaide. Small strikes only played into the hands of the capitalists; they should down tools from Port Darwin toe Port MacDonnell.
“When on strike the worker had no friends but his own class; parliament, press and the churches were always on the side of the masters.”
Mr. Dale was described an having an intellectual face with an excellent flow of language, rendered with an earnest delivery.
A reference to local growers as ’parasites who toil not, neither do they spin, but sit on the shoulders of the working man until they have sucked him dry & then throw him away’ was greeted with heavy applause.
He had advice for his audience regarding non unionists:
“If one is wheeling a truck, put sand on his wheels. If he asks you for a light, strike a match, blow it out & put the box back in your pocket. Never speak to him. If you are shouting in a pub leave him out; if he is shouting leave yourself out.
“Don’t insult him or hurt him for that will only arouse sympathy for him, but if anyone else is punching he head don’t try to stop the. I know a lot of you would like to throw all non-unionists into the Murray, but don’t do that. Still, if you see one drowning don’t go to help him.”
The local press man deplored the lack of brotherly love which unionism was supposed to embody.
Mr. Dale retaliated the following week in a letter to The Renmark Pioneer in which he denied the newspaper’s accusation that he fomented strife & set class against class.
He wrote: “The division of society into the small class of capitalists owning the land & all the means of production on the one hand, & the great mass of workers, on the other, was a fact that was not of their creating. It was the result of hundreds of years of evolution. It was the duty of every worker to join class conscious unionism in the fight for better conditions.”
Re-dedication of the grave of William Hyde
on Sunday 4th January 2009.
The “HUE & CRY” is Published by the
South Australian Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539