Vehicles used to help in construction of the Adelaide Airport being escorted down the Mt Barker Road by Bruce Furler. Vehicles were driven from Melbourne.
The Guest Speaker at our monthly meeting held on the 1st July was Sergeant Cheryl Brown of SAPOL Forensic Services Branch
Cheryl was involved in the Victim Identification of bodies, as a result of the Asian Tsunami earlier this year. Cheryl used a graphic power point program to highlight her talk and about 40 members
were provided with a valuable insight into the difficult work still being performed as a result of this awful tragedy. Her photo’s included a warship washed ashore & another substantial vessel many miles inland, but the most dramatic must be the photos of the blue body bags placed under the shade of trees topped with dry ice.
Cheryl & her team faced a difficult task under the most trying conditions & explained in detail just how they went about the gruesome task of identification.
It was a very rewarding talk, giving those present a better understanding of what is still happening in that area & her praise of the local people who volunteered their time to provide food, drinks & massage to the workers.
Cheryl was presented with a certificate of appreciation & a copy of “Tales of the troopers” with applause from a grateful audience.
Tony Kaukas was earlier presented with a certificate of appreciation for his involvement with the museum project highlighting his technical information, contacts & work with the History Trust in moving towards museum accreditation.
Next month on Friday the 5 of August
Michael Newberry will be the speaker and his subject will be early Adelaide history & in particular the history of Holy Trinity Church.
Work on the FJ continues with Rex now working on the bumper assembly preparing for chrome work. Our gratitude goes to the Pat Roberts from the Roberts family for their generous donation which will be of great assistance to the F.J. project.
Other certificates of appreciation have been prepared for the sponsors,
featured in last month’s newsletter, who have provided goods and services to assist the society. We urge members to patronise our sponsors where possible for their services.
Women Police in South Australia (Cont’d
Celebrating 90 years
Compiled by Elees Pick
In August 1934 Kate Cocks finished active service with the Police Department. The person selected to fill Kate’s shoes was Mary Maud Wilcher who had joined the branch seven months after its inception. A thirty five year old English born widow with a six year old son.
Mary had become a trail- blazer, not only with the work undertaken by women police, but also within the force itself. She had been the most vocal woman police officer in 1918 when the entire Women Police Branch joined other sections of the force & resigned in protest against poor working conditions & pay. Mary testified that her salary was 9/6d per week, plus an annual ₤9 in lieu of uniform allowance. After paying house rent of 15/- per week, child care of 5/- per week, plus electricity, food & other household expenses, she had only 10/- per week to purchase clothing & other incidentals. She also pointed out that the work was arduous & extremely heavy on clothing & in particular shoes (in later years she was apparently hampered by very painful bunions). She also unsuccessfully attempted to have ranks introduced into the Women Police Office & was the first to sit for & pass police examinations.
Because of the increased number of staff (13) Mary assumed a supervisory role rather than an active one. Her strong disciplinary methods, especially towards juniors, caused her to be intensely disliked at times, but still held in respect.
One of Mary’s first duties as principal was to supervise the opening of a cell block for the reception of female prisoners. The new cell block contained five cells, one of which was padded & used for violent prisoners, an office & a small exercise yard.
Access was through the male cell block with a heavy door between male & female sections. The male cell guard had the only key & to gain access the women guards were required to either bang on the door or telephone out.
Additional staff were required to assist Mrs. Moulden, the female searcher, & it was decided that cell duty would provide an ideal training ground for women police recruits.
To this end, Alvis Brooks & Phyllis Carrison were appointed as wardresses. Not only were they required to carry out court & guard duties they were also expected to scrub the cells, type for the senior officer & accompany women police on patrol.
In 1936 a breakdown of figures submitted to the Commissioner Police by Mary Wilcher showed the diversity of their work. They assisted male members of the force by taking statements and/or accompanying them on enquiries regarding carnal knowledge, incest, gross indecency, rape, bigamy, abortion, demanding money by menaces & breaking offences. In the lower court they assisted in cases of indecent exposure, lewdness, offensive language, assault, drunkenness, larceny, unlawful possession, illegal gaming, prostitution, keeping brothels & offences against the Second Hand Dealers Act. Without assistance they had arrested 25 women as mental defectives & 4 on attempted suicide charges. 70 children were arrested on ‘welfare’ charges of being uncontrollable, neglected or destitute.
13 absconders from government institutions had been returned to the place from whence they had escaped & 152 adults & children were voluntarily placed in institutions 2,811 enquiries were made for the Public Relief Department & 185 distressed people helped through the Police Charity Fund. Employment was found for 134 women. Over 4,000 other enquiries were conducted, including domestic crises, missing persons, lost children & persons warned regarding their behaviour.
307 interstate & country trains were met, parks & beached patrolled & all places ‘where persons of Ill repute congregate’ were kept under observation.
The women police were prepared to tackle any type of work regardless of their safety.
During Mary’s first four years as Principal very few changes were made as to the work & working conditions of women police. However, in 1939, after Australia found herself involved in the Second World War, it was felt that it would be a good idea for some police officers to learn to read, write & speak Japanese. The women police were one group selected & each officer was required to purchase books at her own expense & to attend at least one lesson per week, usually in time off in the Adelaide Women Police Office. Very little was achieved by the women mainly due to the lack of time for study.
On one occasion, however, Alvis Brooks was called upon to use her ‘vast’ knowledge of the language. In January 1941 a Japanese Army Major arrived in Sydney on a two month Australian visit. Newspaper journalists were advised that he wanted to see all he could of military training & industrial methods of the country. The Australian public was assured that he would not be inspecting military fortifications.
The Major & his travelling companion booked into the South Australian Hotel & the following day met up with an Adelaide man who accompanied them for most of the time in our city. Wherever they went, detailed reports of their movements were provided to senior police officers.
On the fifth day the three men lunched at a city cafe & Alvis Brooks was immediately sent to the tearoom. Although she was unable to pick up much of the conversation she was able to guess their destination through two words spoken in English “Mount Lofty”. The Officer in charge of the Special Branch was advised the she believed that the threesome were heading for Mount Lofty Summit. A motor cycle officer was sent post-haste to Adelaide’s highest point to remove the coin in the slot telescopes
The trio took a taxi to the foot of the mount, and then set off on foot for the remaining two miles to the peak. On arrival at their destination they were most disappointed to learn that the telescopes had not been placed out for public viewing that day, thus restricting their view of the nearby army base. Alvis was highly praised for the enquiry & her knowledge of Japanese but, in fact, it was the only two words spoken in English “Mount Lofty” that saved the day.
In 1940 Mary Wilcher retired at the age of 60 years & shortly after her retirement, at the suggestion of Commissioner Leane, was responsible for the setting up of the first Women Police Auxiliary Service in Australia. The specially selected group of 50 city & 200 country women was originally trained in preparation for any emergency. Although they were never required to act in a disaster they did, however, work in many welfare areas, thus lightening the heavy load placed on women police.
This article was once again compiled with assistance from “To walk a fair beat” Limited copies are now available from the Society.
The Prisoner who remained detained.
By Chas Hopkins
During late 1968, it was necessary for police to convey an aboriginal prisoner from Adelaide to the Court at Port Pirie. He had an extensive criminal record including escaping from police custody.
At that time it was the normal practice for police to escort prisoners to courts & return them at the conclusion of the hearing. Due to this prisoner’s history it was deemed necessary to secure him in handcuffs & to transport him to the court in a “cage car” & that an escorting member accompany the driver.
The cage cars at that time were Holden utilities & they had a “cage bolted down over the tray of the vehicle which enabled prisoners to be securely seated inside the cage & also give them protection from the elements. At the same time the driver could view the interior of the “cage” through a mirror.
The drive to Port Pirie was uneventful & after the Court hearing it was the intention of the members to travel back to Adelaide. However, just before they left, they discovered they had a flat rear tyre which necessitated them calling in to a local garage where a new tyre & tube was fitted.
On returning to Adelaide on the main highway & nearing Redhill, the new tyre suddenly exploded causing the vehicle to veer off the highway & roll several times before coming to rest in an upright position.
The driver & escort were uninjured but shaken badly. After they had sorted themselves out, they looked through the rear window to check on their prisoner & to their amazement discovered that the “Cage” was no longer attached to the Vehicle.
Naturally they became very alarmed &, on leaving their vehicle, which was some distance off the road, began to search for the ‘cage’. On walking back to the bitumen road they saw the ‘cage’ in the middle of the road about 50 yards away, also in an upright position. Fearing the worst, they looked around the area nearby but could not see their prisoner. On approaching the ”cage” he was found, still inside & laying on the bitumen road surface. He was unhurt but could not release himself from the “cage” because whereas the tray of the utility became the floor of the ‘cage’, so did the road surface when it became dislodged from the vehicle.
A Departmental investigation was conducted in an endeavour to ascertain the cause of the blow out & it was discovered that the tube was ‘pinched’ when it was inflated at the local garage in Port Pirie. The road surface vibration & the misfitted tyre finally caused the tyre to explode. In the course of overturning several times, the ‘cage’ was wrenched from the vehicle & landed in the middle of the road.
The prisoner could have been killed or at least badly injured but, apart from a severe shaking, he was unhurt.
The garage Proprietor at Port Pirie was found to have been negligent & eventually he had to pay all the costs of repairs etc.
No Kissing in Court
We sincerely thank member Doug White, of Moonta Mines for the following article
On coming to Australia from London in 1993, Dr GH M’Swinney liked to think of himself as a very modern medico even though he had decided to practice his healing arts at the very end of the earth. For the twelve years after he set up in practice at Stanmore, Sydney, he kept himself as up-to-date as possible by reading meticulously the latest medical literature from England.
By 1895 English doctors had become abnormally germ-conscious & were seeing deadly bugs everywhere. They wrote long treatises on the subject & Dr M’Swinney, way out in distant Australia, read them all with an ever-increasing horror. A day came when the good doctor came across a paper that set his very marrow quaking. Experts in England had decided that the age-old practice of kissing the Bible when taking the oath in court was absolutely dicing with death. Countless people with contaminated lips kissed the very same book, passing on goodness knows what of their germs to innocent victims.
The mind boggled at considering that most people hauled in to court were a pretty low-down lot, heavy with sin & not likely to pay much attention to hygiene. Dr M’Swinney went into a cold sweat because he was much used as an expert witness in Sydney Courts & was forever taking oaths & kissing the Court Bibles as the law required.
He immediately promised himself that he would never kiss a Court Bible again & was confident that any Judge would understand his objection when he stated it.
After all, if one couldn’t accept expert medical opinion on a medical matter what could one accept?
On 20 May 1895, Dr M’Swinney went in to the witness box in the Supreme Court (Divorce Jurisdiction), Sydney, to give expert evidence. He rattled off the oath with practised ease, & all that remained to complete his swearing-in was that he should follow the traditional ritual of kissing the Bible in true Christian fashion. A Bible was presented to him. In a round, ringing voice he proclaimed, “I will not kiss that book!”
Things had been dull in the Court up to that moment, but his refusal to kiss put a bit of electricity into the proceedings. Mr Justice Simpson sat bolt upright in amazement on the Bench. He could sense that something sensational was afoot. “And just why do you refuse to kiss the book?” he asked cautiously.
Dr M’Swinney had anticipated this question & had the answer all polished up & ready for delivery. “Because medical science has discovered the dangers that lurk in the oath as administered to Christians in British Law Courts!”
The judge reeled before such heresy & while he was off balance Dr M’Swinney got in another traditional-destroying blow by saying, “I ask the Court’s permission to make an affirmation instead of applying my lips to a book that has been kissed by all sorts & conditions of men and women”.
Mr Justice Simpson, who knew nothing of germs & had no fear of them at all, thought he could see through the queer doctor’s little game. The fellow had apparently turned atheist! “What is your religion?, he asked cunningly.
“I am Church of England”, cried the doctor. “I do not object to taking the oath. I only object to kissing the book.”
The judge assumed an outraged attitude and Barrister Armstrong, who had called the doctor as a witness, saw his case might suffer from the situation
Seeking to soothe all parties the barrister jumped up & announced that he had heard it was proper overseas for Christians to take the full oath in British Courts by simply holding the holy book in one hand & holding the other hand above his head. This was said to be a “corporal oath”. Could not Dr M’Swinney take a corporal oath?
The doctor chopped in to say he would be happy with that arrangement & added that he was sure it was acceptable overseas.
That roused Mr Justice Simpson who was convinced that an attempt was being made to tear asunder the whole British legal fabric, the product of countless centuries of careful development. “Never mind what they do overseas”, cried Judge Simpson. Then, calming down he began quizzing Dr M’Swinney with great care. “If you had a nice new Bible no one else had kissed would you kiss that?” he asked cautiously.
“Then I take it you only object to kissing a book that everyone else has kissed?”
“That is correct.”
The judge by this process of deadly logic had discovered what attitude the witness had adopted & why. But he now found himself in what he considered to be a terrible position. He was being asked to be the first judge in British legal history to alter the traditional method of oath-taking in Court. No, no, NO!
While Mr Justice Simpson was thinking such thoughts Barrister Armstrong rose & said he had remembered seeing a report of an English Witnesses’ Protection Society which suggested it would be a good thing if all witnesses objected en masse to kissing the book when taking the oath.
That did not please the judge one bit & he cried indignantly, “That may be a good thing from a medical point of view, but it would not be a good thing for getting on with the business of this court”.
Dr M’Swinney wasn’t prepared to let the judge get away with that bit of out-dated nonsense. He hopped in for his chop again & told the Court, “Nearly all the medical men in England object to kissing the book when sworn”.
“Never mind what they do in England”, snapped Mr Justice Simpson,
“Medical men have a lot of fads!”
That legal thrust hurt Dr M’Swinney who happened to be very touchy about the dignity of his profession. “This is no fad”, he cried.
Mr Justice Simpson decided that the time had come to rethink the whole situation. He felt that sweet reason & logic properly applied should be able to solve the unhappy impasse. He started deliberating all over again hoping an escape hole would suddenly pop up. “Now let us see. The question before us is whether the doctor can make an affirmation when his objection to taking an oath is not on conscientious grounds.”
Unfortunately, at that very moment, when the judge was nice & calm, Barrister Armstrong started firing more shots of his own invention from the body of the Court. He claimed that in the case of Dallon v Colt as recorded in Roscoe’s Nisi Prius Evidence it had been held that a person could be sworn in by holding a bible in one hand with the spare hand held above the head. No kissing was necessary at all.
His Honour fell upon that assertion like a hungry greyhound on a tin hare & tore the skin off it. He said he wasn’t going to be influenced by some ancient case no one really knew anything about. Then, regaining his composure once more, the judge sought to influence Dr M’Swinney through that good man’s sense of pity. If the doctor had never objected before during countless occasions in Court, why had he picked this particular day & this particular Court to take his world-shattering stand against kissing the good book?
Dr M’Swinney said, “Because I now object to running the risk of getting an infectious disease”. And then, in kindly fashion to his Honour, “We know a lot more about germs these days than we used to”.
Mr Justice Simpson sighed heavily & repeated that he really did wish Dr M’Swinney had picked someone else’s Court in which to make historic objections. This created a sentimental note & Dr M’Swinney looked as though he was weakening. But suddenly he had his wits about him once more & he declared his only regret was that he had not objected ages before, considering the dreadful risks he had been running. Goodness only knew how often he had risked life & limb in the cause of justice!
Judge Simpson swung back to the attack. The law insisted that a Christian had to take the oath & kiss the Bible. If Dr M’Swinney was allowed to dodge this hallowed legal point then every Tom, Dick & Harry would be up to the same legal lurk & before you knew it, the whole legal system on which British justice was based would be collapsing.
Religion was the key to the whole thing, the judge claimed. Now, had the doctor been a Chinaman there would have been no objection to his taking the oath by blowing out a match or breaking a piece of crockery. If he had been a follower of certain other eastern cults he could have got away with killing a chicken or something exotic like that. But being “C of E” there was no alternative but to kiss the book & that was final. As a rider, the judge snapped that doctors as a group were prone to talk a lot of nonsense even though they did say wise things now & then.
This comment was a bad tactical error. Dr M’Swinney gathered all his professional dignity about him & a thousand judges couldn’t have squeezed one little kiss out of him. Deadlock!
It was Mr Justice Simpson who suddenly produced a solution. He said sourly to Barrister Armstrong, “if you want the evidence of this doctor in this Court you had better send out & invest in a brand new Bible. Bibles are cheap enough goodness knows”.
The barrister sent someone away post-haste on the recommended mission. A brand new Bible was brought in to Court & Dr M’Swinney kissed it generously, showing no sign of fear of contracting a deadly infection.
Seeming madness suddenly touched Barrister Armstrong & he began addressing the Bench in nagging fashion, “I would like to press on Your Honour that the doctor has a right to take a corporal oath...”
What the judge then said halted further discussion on that delicate point in no uncertain manner & the case, hours behind time, continued on into history.
As the papers of the day reported, the simple matter of kissing a Bible in Court had caused “no little sensation”.
· Port Adelaide Constable John Head was dismissed from the service due to drunkenness. A memorial presented to the Commissioner by the business people in the district in an effort to reverse the decision was not successful.
· Constable Spinks took a woman who was under the influence of drink to the Adelaide Gaol. Mr. McGill the Turnkey, took particulars of the woman and she handed over money from her pocket. Spinks took the money and said he would look after it with other property he had of the prisoner. He also endeavoured to persuade McGill to give the prisoner a bottle of wine. Spinks was eventually dismissed from the service due to his indiscretion.
· Trooper Irwin of Clare advised that due to the poor condition of the cell, a prisoner knocked a hole in the wall and escaped.
Corporal Ewens of Port Lincoln advised that his bedroom is above the cells which has a wooden ceiling. There have been six prisoners in the cells for several weeks and he has been unable to occupy the room due to the stench.
Trooper Howe of Angaston was the subject of a complaint to the Commissioner of Police because his fowls and ducks were causing damage to a neighbours crop of barley.
Trooper Besley of Overland Corner reported on the dilapidated condition of the Police Station, pointing out that the thatch was quite rotten and leaking, the windows in a poor condition with many panes broken, no locks or bolts on the doors and the floor had sunken by 9 inches.
Friday 5th August, 2005 At 8.00 pm
Speaker : Sergeant Michael Newbury
Subject: Early Adelaide History
Likes to be called Chas, but the press often called him “Horatius” when he “held up the bridge” between marchers and counter-demonstrators in 1970.
He joined the police service on 2nd October 1939, serving in many areas - particularly the CIB before retiring in 1983 at the rank of Senior Chief Superintendent.
Many years ago when we were at North Adelaide & about to computerise our records, Chas put his hand up to assist. Every Thursday he would attend at North Adelaide & take home up to ten boxes of paper records, note the contents, & then pick up another batch of boxes the following week. His handwritten notes were then placed onto our present database. He went through about 550 boxes over quite a few years.
He then turned to writing stories about his own exploits and deeds, & those of others. He wrote 30 or 40 articles, ranging from the history of transport, communications, murders & the like. He decided to put them all together and write his first book, which was titled “South Australia Police 1838 to 1992” a history of the development & operations of the Force from its establishment.
This was the first time anyone had written such an in-depth account of the Police Force. Not content to be standing around idle, he then wrote the second edition of the book, taking it up to the year 2003. In the meantime, he wrote up the contents of our “press cuttings” books for computerisation, & is still writing stories of incidents which occurred during his most distinguished police career.
Chas, who is a well-deserved life member of our Society, was recently presented with the Premier’s Certification of appreciation for his services to the Society.
Chas. has contributed more than just writing stories, he was an inspiration to others to do similar things, & as a result, we now have a great team of volunteers, all following the footsteps of this remarkable man.
Thank you Chas!
The “HUE & CRY” is Published by the
South Australian Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539