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After a lovely trip overseas with my wife Heather, we arrived home just in time to attend the monthly meeting on Friday 7th October and hear an entertaining talk by Errol Chinner.

 Errol is a former speaker who addressed us several years ago about the history of Port Adelaide, and his subject on this occasion was the history of Semaphore.  It was another very interesting talk and Errol demonstrated his wonderful memory for facts and names.  He finished off his talk with a series of early photographs of Port Adelaide and Semaphore which entertained a smaller than normal audience.

 The Adelaide Arcade display closed during the month, and was very successful thanks to the efforts of Jim Sykes, Dave Aylett, Holger Kruse, Alan Hyson, Elees Pick & Pauline Elshaw.  The exhibition raised much interest by the public with follow up sales of our books and photographs.

 Remembrance Day was celebrated at the Academy with thanks to Dorothy Pyatt for laying the wreath in my absence on behalf of the society, and Alan Peters, Rex Greig, and Tony Woodcock for representing the society at the Riverland Service.

 The Christmas party for members will be held on Friday the 2nd of December in the Meeting Room Thebarton Barracks and information is attached to this issue with details.  As there is limited space this will unfortunately be on a first come first serve basis so if you wish to attend, please send your application promptly.  Money will be collected on the night.  The SA Police jazz band will be entertaining us on the night so it will be another memorable celebration 

   Geoff Rawson




We Welcome you

Our intrepid band of volunteers has been very busy throughout  September  with a variety activities aimed at promoting our Society to the general public.  Just some of these events are as follows-

Adelaide Arcade 125 year celebration.

Bay to Birdwood Royal Show Woodcutting Centenary

Strathalbyn National Trust Open Day

West Torrens Historical Society Visits to the Museum by Police Rangers
3 classes from the Paralowie Primary School

Police Remembrance Day

Women police in South Australia

Celebrating 90 years

Compiled by Editor Elees Pick

Constance McGrath was appointed successor to Mary Poole in 1953.  Connie’s father was a policeman &, as a consequence, she spent much of her early life in Police Stations throughout the state.  Her father persuaded her to join the force in 1932.  She saw service in Adelaide, Port Adelaide & Mount Gambier.  Shortly after being appointed Principal she was made a Member of the British Empire.

Connie had always been extremely fond of youth & made moves to recruit three women aged in their early twenties into the force.

    Gwen Parker            Gwen Bliss         Connie McGrath         Pauline Russ

 Pauline Russ, Gwen Parker & Gwen Bliss joined the force in 1953, when it was decided that women should undertake the same training as the men & the trio joined the next three month training course at Thebarton Barracks. They gained a greater insight into the general police work, such as coronial enquiries, the Second Hand Dealers Act & a wider understanding of the offences & felonies contained in the Police Offences & Criminal Law Consolidation Acts.  The on the job experiences in offences involving women & children together with the study of dairies of work done by the women police.  This resulted in the women being trained in a shorter time & in a wider field.  From then on selection was made of the best applicant for the job with age no longer being a consideration.

Connie encouraged ‘her girls’ to dress to a high standard & they became known as the “Glamour Brigade” with Kate Cocks’ ruling of practical clothing & “never frivolous hats” becoming a thing of the past. 

In September 1958 the Adelaide newspaper ‘The Truth’ reported “entries from everywhere in current beauty quests but none from the body which boasts some of the best lookers to be found in this city or any other.  We mean the women police”  -  women police became well known throughout the Community as stylish dressers.  In fact, during the 1954 Royal Visit, with women police working from early morning until the royal couple completed the day’s engagements, there was no time to hurry home to change into appropriate clothing. As a consequence, racks of clothing were stored in the Women Police Office. 

However, it was not all glitz & glamour  -  in 1953 the Bodgie-Widgie cult hit South Australia, indulging in acts of free groupie sex & perversion.  Ages ranged between 13 & 17 years and members of gangs could be easily identified, with bodgies wearing very tight dark coloured stove pipe trousers, suede shoes, two-tone pullovers & long greasy hair.  Widgies wore black tight skirts, skin tight sweaters & had push back ‘widgie’ hair cuts.  These gangs became known by names such as The Saints, The Eagles, Vampires & the Black Dominoes & based their behaviour on their American counterparts.

The Anti-Larrikin Patrol was formed in an effort to clean the streets of the gangs who hindered, assaulted or used indecent language to passers by. Both men & women officers were involved & it was hoped that by nipping it in the bud the problem would not reach the epidemic proportions of the eastern states & overseas.  (See Hue & Cry September 2004)  Fortunately the cult only last three years  & many theories were offered as to the reason for its demise including the fact that the police were able to weed out the ringleaders & the hangers on just drifted away.  Once the gangs ceased to exist very little trouble was experienced with individual members.  When released from juvenile detention centres they seldom came under the notice of the police again.

In the 1950s a few widgies were able to get their own back when teams from both girls’ reformatories – Vaughan House & the Home of the Good Shepherd played against the women police basketball team, inflicting many bruises from well aimed elbows.

In the 1960’s a huge man hunt was mounted to attempt the capture of an alleged rapist “the Phantom of Elizabeth”.  A number of young teenage girls had been assaulted or raped as they returned home after alighting from a train or leaving a shopping centre.  Each offence became more violent than the one before & women & teenage girls were terrified to venture out at night.  The fears were compounded by the wide publicity given in the daily newspapers.

Detective Sergeant D.A.K. ‘King ” O’Malley, who was the officer in charge of the Elizabeth CIB called for assistance from the Adelaide CIB & Women Police.

A route was mapped out in the area where most of the offences occurred, passing through parks, paddocks. Along the railway tracks, through dimly lit lanes & streets.  At dusk male plain clothes officers hid in positions which enable every inch of the route to be kept under surveillance.  During the evening, women police dressed in teeny bopper gear walked the route with a baton up one sleeve & a police whistle strung around the neck.  Their only comfort came from the muffled whispers of ‘good day’ from odd looking beings perched in trees, lying on front lawns or hidden in bushes.  The offences were committed over a number of months but just as mysteriously as the “Phantom of Elizabeth” appeared his exploits stopped.  He was never caught!

During Connie McGrath’s years as Principal, Women Police Offices were established at Elizabeth, Renmark, Port Lincoln & Kadina & the staff at Whyalla was increased to two.

Constance McGrath’s term as Principal saw the Women Police numbers increase, in line with the unprecedented increase in population, from 17 women police officers in 1953 to 43 at the time of her retirement in 1965.

Gil Aspley, a former policewoman, described Constance as
“an unforgettable character  ..  She was capable of emotionally picking up an audience of from six to six hundred, charming it, amusing it, rebuking it, & then re-charming every person present.  Nevertheless, as one could bask in her charm, it was equally possible to feel the sting of her wrath, & many a grown man & woman suffered some inner tremblings before being called into her office”.



'Ugger’ our hero in blue.

Courtesy Sunday Mail (Back Chat) 25.9.05

One of the state’s most famous post-war police officers, Robert Park ‘Ugger’ Giles, has died aged 84.

Mr. Giles was perhaps most famous for his heroic role in rescuing Monica Schiller who was taken hostage by three Cadell Prison escapees as they tried to flee the state via the Birdsville Track in 1970.

Advertiser photographer Ray Titus, then working with the News took the award-winning photo of the kidnappers lying on the road after being arrested at gunpoint by Mr. Giles & other officers.

Former head of major crime Ken Thorsen said “Ugger was a great policeman.   I give him credit for isolating the pattern of missing persons that identified the Truro murderers. “ But less is known that Mr. Giles flew Halifax bombers over Europe during World War II.

Wife Tricia said “Robert was simply a community hero.”  As for the origins of his nickname? It’s a secret he has taken with him.

NEXT MEETING:   4th November,  2005.


Sergeant Ian Crammond

The history of the Police Photographic Section.

Bar divider

Chinaman's Well

Compiled by Allen Cliff


In the early days of the Coorong and the southeast of South Australia there were numerous wells built along the track leading to Mt Gambier and through to the gold fields in Victoria, where hundreds of people of all nationalities treked on foot and with wagons and on horseback,to find wealth and new lands. Among them were many Chinese people. Along the way many of them stopped at some spot and created a wine shanty to fill the thirsts of weary travellers.

Some built water wells,[a strange thing was that you could dig for water very near to the salty Coorong and get fresh water] many of the wells were only ground level types with muddy surrounds and many animal droppings and were not that healthy, but were still used regularly by passers by.
Chinarnan's Well, situated some twenty miles south of where Meningie, was later built of a different construction and is the only one along the way that was called Chinaman's Well although many others were built by Chinamen. There was even an eating house there and it is believed a small market garden run by Chinese.
The well differed from the usual shallow hole dug by Chinese in that it was ten to twelve feet deep and constructed of cut stone. The well was circular and the stone work rose two to three feet above the ground and was fitted with a round stone at the top to stop the dirt and animal droppings fouling the water.
The wells were made in the 1 850-60s and over the years the great majority have disappeared but, Chinaman's Well still remains. A number of years ago a group of men on the Highways department maintenance, rebuilt the well to its original construction and cemented their names on the top, It still remains there and is signposted as a tourist attraction along the Princes Highway.

did you know    Jim Sykes

                                                                                                                                        By Jim Sykes
    In 1890

    In 1892

    In 1893

    In 1894

    In 1897

    In 1898

    In 1899
    In 1901

    In 1902

           The following item appeared in the September 1990 Hue & Cry & with the current interest in the Police Switchboard we thought appropriate to reprint this article.        

The Old Detective Office

By Ernest Kirk


I have been detailed to verbalise on that old monster. 

Well, in 1926 Fritz Altmann & I were detailed to operate the board alternately 7 am – 3 pm & 3 pm – 11 pm.  We were given spells of training then to become operational.

The board was the dropping  (numbered), levers & cords.  There were eight Central lines, 63 inside lines to offices.  We were not permitted to relax at the board – no reading, knitting crocheting or nose picking.  Of course we had other duties at the same time, such as typing, folding & labelling Police Gazettes each week, & each day, folding Second Hand Dealers’ lists for suburban stations.

Our Inspector, ‘Greasy’ Mick McMahon was in charge of the Detective Office.  He used to lurk around to see that us Junior Constables were busily employed on the board.  His phone was on Extension 37, and some prior malefactor had coloured that number in red. When that ball dropped, you jumped.  Mick had a nice way of training a new operator.  Down would drop 37, you would jump, say ‘yes Sir’ into the mouthpiece & Mick would yell ‘GET ME MR. BROWN’ and immediately hang up.  There you would be scanning the lists for Mr. Brown, taking other calls, thumbing through the pages of Browns in the telephone Directory, & wondering how much longer your job would last.  Down would drop 37 again, & Mick would intone “GOT ME MR. BROWN YET?” No sir, I’m trying to find the number.  Then he would intone “GIVE ME A LINE”, & you’d plug him into Central.  No doubt he would ring one of his mates to tell them about the dopey Junior Constable he had operating the board & how he was scaring the daylights out of him.  
The first day operational I handled the board like a veteran from 7 am to 9 am.  Then everything went mad.  Balls dropping all over the place & cords going everywhere.  I got in a mad mess. 

Dud. Abei came to the board, swept all the cords away & said, “Let them start again”.  So they called again, Dud handled them with aplomb & then gave the board back to me.  I learned a lot that day.  
You could please yourself whether you used the handset or the breast plate.  Fritz Altmann was a clever junior & in quiet times took off his boots, rested back & operated levers & cords with his stockinged feet.

We would get “all station” messages to impart.  Get as many as possible on the Central lines holding on until the message was read at the one time.  We overworked the City Watchhouse, for that number was 43.  If you had difficulty in understanding a caller, plug it into the Watchhouse.  The Sergeants were clever & they would call back where to place the inquirer.  Sometimes they would get a bit testy & ask you to break their calls down.  When I was on the board plughole No. 43 got sloppy & the Watchhouse was transferred to No. 63.

A very astute Advertiser reporter named Kennedy used to prowl around the D.O.  One night young Geoff Leane told me
that if I saw any sign of Kennedy I was to furfey a call through the board.  At last I saw Kennedy’s hat appear & dramatically took a call, a real humdinger involving both Civil Ambulances.  Gradually Kennedy took off when I gave the scene as “Unley Road, Parkside”
& I was congratulated by Geoff on my perspicacity.

On morning shift there was a frequent call from an elderly female who unfortunately had lost her powers of reasoning.  Take the call & let her talk.  Pick up the handset sometimes & say “Yes” or “No” & let her talk on.  In the meantime get on with other required duties.  She would occupy the line for 20 to 30 minutes, then hang up, apparently satisfied at having spoken with the police.

Ray Whitrod was a young detective at this time.  One morning he sat at the typewriter
impersonating Percy Bourke by words & actions.  He was rubbing his hand through his hair, just as Percy was wont to do & quoting Percy’s sayings, when in walked that gentleman himself to fly into a Bourke-like rage at being impersonated.

I put in my six months on the switchboard & do not regret a day of having worked it.  With Jack Colmer we were given to Mr. Kappler, the Chief Clerk, as typists to assist the two female civil servant typists; but that’s another story.


Audrey Wallace

Audrey Wallace has been a volunteer with the Thursday group for many years assisting with the photographic collection. 


She previously worked in the records section of SAPOL as secretary to the various Officer in Charge including the now Deputy Commissioner John White. 


Audrey is happy to assist in any function held by the society and currently is helping Dorothy Pyatt in the arduous task of sorting duplicate photographs, which have found their way in the collection. 


She has always been involved in police activities including her early days in Darwin when she worked for the N.T police and is a survivor of Cyclone Tracey.

Audrey is very popular with the rest of the volunteers and her support is greatly appreciated 


Thankyou Audrey for a job well done .

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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