INSIDE THIS ISSUE
Blast From the Past
Volunteers in Action
Next Month's Meeting
NEW EXECUTIVE TEAM
FOR 2009 .
L –R Back Row: Max Griffiths, Bob Boscence, Allan Peters, Kevin Johnson, Kathryn Woodcock, Bill Prior
L—R Front Row: Tony Woodcock, Kevin Beare, Geoff Rawson, Owen Bevan
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POLICE HISTORICAL SOCIETY INC.
32nd ANNUAL REPORT
Presented b y President Geoff Rawson
SAPHS Annual General Meeting
Friday 6th February 2009
It is with much pleasure that I present the 32nd Annual Report of the South Australian Police Historical Society for the year 2008-2009, my fifth annual report as President of the Society.
This year’s Annual Report provides a detailed overview of the many activities of this Society over the last 12 months and will include ambitions for the future.
As in the past 30 years, the strength of the Society has been in the enthusiasm, dedication and strong commitment by its members and in particular our volunteers without whom little could be achieved. The following is a list of many of the positive outcomes achieved.
This last year’s work was severely hampered by the building renovations which prevented us from using the Museum and our meeting room for nearly 4 months from November 07 to March 08. Our upgrade of the Badge room could not proceed until March and as a result this put the Museum team under considerable pressure to try to complete the room for the first tours. The team has done an excellent job under very difficult circumstances and I acknowledge the work by our previous President John White with the display of patches which have transformed the room
Given that our tours did not commence until March it is surprising that our financial situation continued to improve and as you will see from the Treasurer’s report the new Executive Committee will be able to continue their work with our new budget which will see considerable expenditure to provide technology and improved equipment for the Society.
Some highlights of this past year include:
- Police Foundation Day – 28th April –Official opening of Line of Duty display
- National Police Remembrance Day – 29th September at the Academy
- Open Day
- Police Anzac Day 23 April.
- Tour down under
- Police Tattoo involvement
- Public Sector Day
- Involvement with the Bay to Birdwood run
- Attendance at a variety of special celebrations at Country Police Stations.
- Christmas party
As in previous Annual Reports, I recognise the outstanding contribution made by the “Thursday Group” of dedicated volunteers.
- The Transport Group led by Kevin Johnson, has achieved a great deal in the past year, with never ending work on maintaining our older vehicles in a safe working condition and continuing to attend the many parades and displays. The FJ revealed some additional problems of a minor nature and should be on the road early this year. The EJ is having the bodywork cleaned and repaired of rust etc., when complete it will need to be painted powder blue. It is anticipated that this vehicle will be a static display only and not required to be taken on the road.
- The Hue and Cry, which continues to improve thanks to the hard work by our editor Elees Pick and the support of the many contributors, together with Colin and Joyce Beames who prepared the magazines for postage.
- Photographic collection led by Dorothy Pyatt, with Kate Woodcock and Audrey Wallace - the collection now exceeds 23,000 photographs.
- The uniform collection led by Dave Aylett assisted by Jim Sykes, doing an excellent job of maintaining the uniforms, working toward the gradual reduction of the uniforms to a more manageable level.
- The Museum group, with Kevin Beare, Bob Bosence, Tony Kaukas, Holger Kruse and Max Griffiths continue with the very difficult, time consuming task of re-establishing our museum. Following the loss of Holger to the Victorians, Max Griffiths has risen to the challenge & is a much valued member of the group.
- Bob Ward, indexing the new artifacts and documents.
- Data entry of newspaper clippings by Isabel Brooks prepared by Shirley Hayward.
- Helen Ward continues with the onerous task of transferring our video collection to DVD.
- Maps and Plans with Alf Jarvis, Audrey Walker and Peter Malpas. This team has managed to preserve and identify a large percentage of the maps and plans held by the society, most of which are now suitably stored and indexed on computer.
- Alan Hyson continues his work with videos & films.
- Isabel Brooks & Jim Sykes undertook the re-organisation of the Society’s Library system with great success.
- Stewart Munro has been busy ensuring our stationery supplies have been maintained and supervising the ground floor area. Stewart also acts in the unenviable position of Society telephonist.
- Research by Alan Peters. Alan has had an extremely busy year and has performed his tasks admirably.
- Tony Kaukas deserves a special mention this year for his success in applying for various grants which have amounted to approximately $20,000.00 providing for a significant assessment survey, preservation of uniforms, upgrade of our software, & a conservation & preservation survey. The preservation survey is a particularly important one for the society as many of our artifacts are in need of specialist care.
- Speaking engagements for various organisations by Kevin Beare, Bob Boscence and myself, including our first speaking engagement in the country at Whyalla.
- Memorabilia Sales by Holger Kruse and Max Griffiths assisted by Allan Peters.
Our Treasurer Tony Woodcock, continues to serve and manage the financial affairs of the Society, under the eagle eye of our honorary Auditor Stewart Munro.
Secretary Owen Bevan has provided us with a wonderful selection of speakers over the past year. Our monthly meetings have been well attended with an average of 50 members attending each month. Thanks to Elees and Peter Pick for organising the raffles which raised almost $1,100.00 this year.
Kevin Beare has provided great support as Vice President, taking over the reins during sickness and holiday breaks.
I sincerely thank all the executive team for their outstanding efforts & support throughout the year.
I have kept a spreadsheet of the various tours to the museum during the past year and have the following summary:
Total Volunteers used for tours 126 Total number of Visitors
482 Entrance Fees
$2,676.00 Tea and Coffee $89.00 Devonshire Tea
This is an excellent effort from all those who assisted, amounting to almost 500 hours of volunteer time. A special thank you must go to the members involved with the Devonshire Teas, making scones and preparing and serving them to our very appreciative visitors.
A special highlight for the year was finally achieving the placement of the Women Police Monument in Cathedral Park adjacent to Victoria Square on Tuesday the 3rd February. This has been a 4 year drama, where delay followed delay in the completion of works in Cathedral Park for various reasons.
Our first 5 year plan expires this year and I have begun to draft a plan for the next 5 years for the Executive to consider. It is interesting to note the number of matters completed. Most plans of this type include many wish lists of things that it would be good to achieve, but I was thrilled to realise that, in fact, 90% of our list has been achieved including the re-opening of the museum.
The next 12 months will provide real challenges for the new Executive and our volunteers with the museum proving to be more popular resulting in many more requests for tours, and the ongoing work in the museum to keep refreshing exhibits, the preservation of our uniforms, and the work in maintaining our fleet of vehicles.
by Life Member Jim Sykes.
I spoke to Nita endeavouring out what had happened to her child and her husband. She was reluctant to answer my questions and appeared terrified that something was still going to happen to her. She eventually confirmed that her son Dennis "Might bin dead little bit". She was obviously pregnant and I asked her what she was afraid of and she said, " Tink me bin dead lot." When I asked her about her husband all she would say over and over again, "Tink him all dead." In response to questions about who had killed her child she repeated several times "Kurdaitcha men" and then remained silent.
As the day was still relatively young, I left the station together with Nita and arrived back at Marree very late the same night. As the local post office was closed I had no telephone connection (the switchboard was operated by the postmaster 9am to 5 am Monday to Friday) so I could not communicate either to Leigh Creek police or the detectives at Port Augusta to ask for assistance. It was just as well because I was very tired after two days on the road and several rather frightening experiences with the natives.
Nita was put to bed in the station office on a spare mattress, being tended to by my wife, first with food then a shower of still quite hot water and finally clean clothing. My wife, because of communication problems, was not aware of any of my activities or that I was bringing a native girl back to the station.
But like many a wife of a policeman at a one man station, she rallied to the occasion. My boys too wondered what their father was doing bringing a native girl into the house resulting in such upheaval.
The next morning at 9 a.m. I was able to contact Detective Constable Alex Palmer at Port Augusta. I told him the story to date and was advised that a party would travel to Marree that day to investigate the matter.
I tended to some routine matters during the day during which I found Pony Mick back in his camp at the rear to the station. I asked him where he had been and was amazed when he said he had been on a little "walkabout" because he didn't want to go to Anna Creek where there was “Big Trouble”. He knew of the corroboree somehow and believed a child had been killed and the mother and father had disappeared. How he became aware of this so quickly before me even, I'll never understand. I told him I had brought Nita Smith to Marree and she was in the police house. He looked very uncomfortable. In trying to allay his fears I told him that the "Kurdaitcha men" were all at Anna Creek and he had nothing to worry about. He went away mumbling to himself about "Too much trouble boss, too much trouble."
Later the same day Detective Constables Alex Palmer and Colin Lehmann together with Woman Police Constable Dorothy Pyatt arrived at the station after a long and hot road trip from Port Augusta. That night we made plans to go to Anna Creek the next day. As usual, visiting police officers at remote country police stations stayed at the station. This meant my wife and I had to provide accommodation, food and other resources to enable them to start out early the next day.
Constable Dorothy Pyatt found the heat very oppressive and the journey from Port Augusta very demanding. Fortunately there was only space for three people in the Land Rover cabin and Dorothy was selected to remain at Marree and question Nita Smith. She was able to do that first thing in the morning but Nita said very little except that she had seen a man near her child just before he died. She thought he was a native named "Alamba Jack" and he could have been a "Kurdaitcha man". She was however, uncertain of the man’s identity. After this interview which revealed nothing else of interest, Dorothy, like everybody else soon found the oppressive heat of that day too much and retreated to the cellar with the rest of the family which included the cat, the dog and the budgerigar.
With the two detectives I travelled to Anna Creek station arriving late in the afternoon where the detectives spoke at length to Nancy McLean and Dick Nunn the manager of the cattle station. Both of these had spent many years in the outback and were well aware of native traditions, rites and the consequences generally administered to those who broke tribal laws. Both Nancy and Dick on my previous visits to the station had often related stories and rumours about aboriginal rites and various systems of paybacks and punishment" within and between various tribes. The tribal Elders always followed the directions of their Kurdaitcha men and that involved in some cases bone pointing and singing to bring about harm or death to another person who at the time, could be hundreds of miles away and totally unaware of the bone pointing etc.
In many corroborated instances, death or serious illness befell that person. I was beginning to understand Pony Mick’s absence from the police station when I first received the fragmented story from Nancy McLean.
We were going to return to the corroboree site and being unaware of the attitude of the natives since I removed Nita Smith from the singing circle, we arranged for the assistance of the Oodnadatta police to have a rendezvous at a creek crossing about 5 miles from the corroboree site the next day.
Sleeping at the station overnight was a new experience for Alex and Colin. The beds were rough, the night was cold (freezing cold nights and 100°F. temperatures during the day, are commonplace in the South Australian far North and Central Australia) the station dogs invariably got up on your bed and scratched themselves all night. Consequently when you arose in the morning, apart from the lack of sleep, you found you had inherited a few fleas. The detectives after an uncomfortable night came to the breakfast table to be confronted with piles of huge cuts of beef, eggs, bacon and thick slices of damper (a very heavy bread usually cooked in the coals of an open fire). Then followed huge pots of very black strong tea. Not to be daunted they both hopped in and we all had a massive breakfast interrupted occasionally by some desperate scratching episodes made in an effort to get rid of a couple of fleas. Like me, I believe they will remember that episode for the rest of their lives.
Heading out we arrived at the rendezvous point and travelled across the Creek through soft sand and gravel to reach the other side about 300 yards away. There we waited for the Oodnadatta police who arrived about an hour later. I realized they would have difficulty in making the crossing because they were driving a Ford Freighter utility which did not have four-wheel drive.
As we did not have any communications, apart from waving, we could not warn them to attack the creek crossing with speed. I watched in dismay as they started to cross at a leisurely pace.
As I feared, they became hopelessly bogged in the middle of the dry creek bed. The Land Rover was backed part of the way to the utility and a long steel cable laid out and hooked to the front.
With a lot of frustration which turned the air blue at times, the Oodnadatta police vehicle was towed clear of the creek. Constables Bruce Evans and Bill Jacobs then joined our party.
The detectives interviewed many aboriginals of the 200 or so present at the corroboree site in an endeavour to ascertain whether there were any grounds for the allegations made by Nita Smith that her child had been killed by a Kurdaitcha man. Many of those who were spoken to either refused to answer or said that they did not know. Some of them did respond by agreeing that Nita, her husband and child were to be killed because she had married contrary to the wishes of the tribal Elders.
After considerable inquiries, three aborigines, Hoppy Mick, Jimmy Booth and Alamba Jack were further questioned but all denied that the child had been killed because of any default against tribal custom or other reason. So far as they were aware the child died from natural causes or because it was not receiving enough milk. This was the first admission by any of the natives that the child was dead.
As an aboriginal named Alamba Jack had been mentioned by Nita Smith as the Kurdaitcha man dressed in Kurdaitcha shoes and headdress as being seen standing near the child on the night of Thursday the eighth of November 1956, it was desirable that he be taken to Marree so further inquiries could be made. Also Jimmy Booth and Hoppy Mick both of whom were believed to be associated with the administration of tribal punishment were required for further inquiries at Marree.
As we had only a short time before, established the fact that the child was dead, apart from insinuations and conjecture, we had to search for a possible burial site.
None of the natives at the camp would assist until we were told one of the Oodnadatta Police trackers was somewhere in the camp. Constable Bruce Evans thought he was on a walkabout and probably came to the corroboree.
He soon located him but at first did not recognise him in his ceremonial dress.
Finally his tracker, Tiger was told to find the missing child. He tracked over several hundred yards of sand hills and said, digum here and pointed to a spot in front of him. The body of Dennis Smith was finally located and exhumed. The grave was only about two feet deep and the tiny body was found in a cocoon of fresh green leaves and twigs from nearby acacia bushes.
The body, after being recovered from the grave was placed in a box and later taken to Marree in company with the three adult aborigines in the Ford Freighter driven by Constable Jacobs from Oodnadatta.
On arrival at the Marree the three aboriginals were further questioned and then left in the yard at the side of the police station. It was not surprising to find that my Tracker Pony Mick had again disappeared from his camp. Nita Smith was brought from the Marree Hospital where the sister in charge had been caring for her and she viewed Hoppy Mick, Alamba Jack and Jimmy Booth through the window of the police station office. She identified Hoppy Mick and Jimmy Booth but claimed she did not know Alamba Jack. She stated that the person whom she had seen standing near her child prior to its death was not there. Later, however, after she was hidden from the view of the three aborigines she stated that the man she had seen standing near her child on Thursday evening the 8th of November was Alamba Jack, the man with the green hat on his head and who was sitting between Hoppy Mick and Jimmy Booth in the station yard. Nita Smith, after viewing the three aborigines was returned to the hospital.
An endeavour was made to have a post-mortem examination performed at Leigh Creek Hospital so that in the event of any evidence of violence being the cause of the death of this child, the result of the examination could be put to these men before they were returned to Anna Creek station, however the doctor there was unwilling to conduct the examination.
Next Month: “Why spoil a good story by telling the Truth.”
Confrontations and Danger.
I was posted to Whyalla in 1944 when I was twenty one years of age & lacked practical experience, but I soon had an opportunity to learn. On my second day in town I was involved in a violent altercation with a local identity. He was under the influence and for some unknown reason had boarded and taken up a seat in a passenger bus due to leave for Adelaide. He refused top leave on request. A violent struggle ensued and numerous punches were exchanged, much to the interest of a large crowd which had gathered. He was eventually secured and arrested.
At that the time police were often engaged ion brawls and scuffles in Whyalla when endeavouring to maintain law and order. Most of the permanent residents were peaceable and law abiding, but there was a preponderance of males, most of whom were employed by the B,.H.P. (Broker Hill Proprietary Company). Although there was a shortage of alcoholic beverages elsewhere, the government authorised a quota for Whyalla because so many men were employed in industries essential for the war effort. In addition many overseas ships came, and there was invariably trouble when the sailors came ashore.
Given the ready supply of alcohol and the nature of the population, it was no surprise that there was plenty of work for the police. Arrests were made almost daily, and in most cases excessive consumption of alcohol was a contributing factor. Inebriated seamen would leave the hotels at closing time (6 pm) with wheat bags filled with quart bottles of beer.
It was usual for police to convene courts each night at 7 pm so that after the hearings sailors could be released into the custody of personnel from the shipping companies in order to avoid delays in sailing schedules.
On one occasion six seamen from a Pacific island were involved in a violet confrontation with police, and it was a considerable time before it was quelled. The fracas attracted a large crowd of onlookers, who were very vocal of their support of the offenders. Only one man came to assist, and he was a local alcoholic, who frequently ‘boarded’ in a police cell. His assistance was greatly appreciated.
When the offenders were finally arrested and taken to the police cells, a large crowd gathered and tried to climb over the iron fence surrounding the police yard. In trying to prevent entry one police officer hit the top of the iron fence with his baton, and as a result one of the would be entrants, Joseph Olds had his fingers amputated.
Apart from these kinds of experiences, dealings with the local residents were usually amicable. There was no class distinction and almost all were known by their first names. The police were on friendly terms with many of the permanent residents. After residents were charged and appeared in court, mainly for minor offences, it was not uncommon for them to invite police to a celebration if they happened to be arranging one.
In another confrontation with seamen, an offender of powerful stature lifted a 14 stone (89 kg) police officer, Murray Treloar, above his head and tossed him into the gutter.
Some of these conflicts led to protests from trade unions in the town, but in these situations, the police were usually confronted by a much larger group, many of whom intervened in support of an offender or offenders.
During the war years there was a shortage of trained Australian seamen, and the crews of many vessels calling at Whyalla were of many nationalities. Moreover, many of the ships were of very poor standard and the conditions under which the men worked were often appalling. In these circumstances it was not unexpected that there were frequent disputes. When we responded to a request from the captain of one ship we discovered guns, knives, steel rods and so on under the sailors’ pillows and some had knuckle dusters on their hands. Hence it was difficult to deal with some of these situations.
At times we would be called by the captain of a vessel at the port’s anchorage because of a disturbance of criminal offence. Most of these calls were received on nights when there was a strong wind blowing. It was necessary to board and leave by climbing a rope ladder, while at the same time the pilot’s launch which carried us to and from the ships would be pitching and tossing in the rough seas. These exercises were fraught with danger, particularly because, due to the rolling of the ship, the ladder would swing against the side of the ship and then several feet out. We felt that this was much more dangerous than dealing with problems on board.
Leaving the ship always seemed to be more difficult than boarding, but this could have been attributed to the hospitality of the captains who were keen to express their appreciation of our assistance.
The police were not always the ones in danger. The first speedway event in Whyalla took place in the early fifties and attracted motor cycle riders and drivers from various clubs to compete on a circuit formed especially for the occasion. A permit to sell liquor at a booth was obtained and a large crowd attended.
At about noon I received a report that several people had been shot while watching one of the races.
A bullet had passed through a child's stroller from which the child had been taken a few moments earlier, and had then passed through three unoccupied cards before striking the back of the knee of a man who was sitting at the side of the next vehicle.
The missile had then continued on and struck the man’s wife, who was sitting on the opposite side. The bullet penetrated the skin of her chest, striking one of the rib bones and leaving near the spine. It seemed that by the time she was hit, the bullet was nearly spent; otherwise it would have entered the chest.
I discovered that a competing motor cyclist from Port Pirie had injured his foot and was sitting in the back of the family car resting the foot, which had brushed against some firearms lying on the floor. A.303 rifle was discharged and the barrel was in a slightly elevated position, which determined the direction taken by the bullet.
The holes in the vehicles were about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, and the steel from the car doors splintered and scattered like shrapnel. This caused further injury to the victims.
There was pandemonium at the scene. A taxi driver fainted when he saw the flow of blood, and it was thought at first that he too had been shot. Those nearby tried to render first aid, but the St. John Ambulance personnel, who were in attendance, were active in treating competitors for injuries at that time, and when asked to assist replied “We are too busy to be bothered with drunks”.
The end result was that the man (Mr. Fox the proprietor of a delicatessen in Whyalla) suffered a permanent disability; his wife was more fortunate—she made a complete recovery.
38 Members braved the very hot conditions to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Society on Friday the 6th February.
The following members were elected to the Executive committee:-
Geoff Rawson – President
Kevin Beare OAM – Vice President
Owen Bevan APM – Secretary
Tony Woodcock – Treasurer
Alan Peters – Committee
Kate Woodcock – Committee
Bob Bosence RFD– Committee
Bill Prior – Committee
Max Griffiths BM – Committee
Kevin Johnson – Committee
Several members tendered their apologies, some of whom are recovering from surgery or illness, including Allan Cliff, Alan Hyson, & Dave Rostan. We look forward to seeing them up and about very soon.
The Raffle raised $79.00 and Kevin Johnson advised that the BSA Motor cycle club had kindly donated $250.00 towards maintenance costs on our BSA bikes, they had also provided two fully qualified motor bike mechanics to assist with this maintenance.
The vehicle team participated in the 13th Yesterdays Power Rally at Milan on the 24th & 25th January and were rewarded for their efforts with a medallion to recognize their involvement.
They were also awarded an impressive trophy for the most original Motor Cycle, donated by the Milang Lakeside Caravan Park.
Tony Woodcock was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation for his service as Treasurer and his input and assistance in other areas. For once Tony was lost for words.
Tony presented his Financial Report for the year and I presented my President’s Annual Report which is included in this issue.
On Tuesday the 3rd February at 6-00am the plaque on the “rock” was placed in its long awaited resting place in Cathedral Park adjacent to Victoria Square. The plaque was dedicated to the Women Police and faces Wakefield Street. Whilst reading the plaque the new building is directly behind the monument and this building stands on the site of the original building which housed the women police.
Our next monthly meeting will be held on Friday the 6th March 2009 which will feature Assistant Commissioner Tony Harrison who will speak on Organised Crime & the SA Bikie Group Legislation.
This promises to be a very interesting evening and I look forward to seeing you there.
Volunteers have been extremely busy this month with the very successful Tour Down Under. The Chrysler Royal was used as a pilot vehicle following the official tour Down Under pilot vehicle for the City circuits. The VN Commodore was used for the other circuits. Our vehicles created a great deal of interest over the seven days and we sincerely thank the following volunteers for once again flying the flag on behalf of SAPOL & the Society.
SUNDAY 18th JANUARY:
Down Under Classic—Adelaide
Kevin & Wendy Beare
Max Griffiths & Bethany Boettcher
TUESDAY 20th JANUARY:
Norwood to Mawson Lakes
Ernie McLeod & Kevin Johnson
WEDNESDAY 21st JANUARY :
Hahndorf to Stirling
Kevin Beare & Mark Dollman
THURSDAY 22nd JANUARY:
Unley to Victor Harbor
Dennis & Dot Irrgang
FRIDAY 23rd JANUARY:
Burnside to Angaston
Ernie McLeod & Kon Reintals
SATURDAY 24th JANUARY:
Snapper Point to Willunga
Ernie McLeod & Kon Reintals
SATURDAY 25th JANUARY:
Adelaide City Circuit
Max Griffiths & Bethany Boettcher
The “HUE & CRY” is Published by the
South Australian Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- G.P.O. Box 1539