Women Police Medal Parade 1960


Women Police Medal Parade 1960 -

 Melva Harris receiving her Long Service Medal - Thebarton Police Barracks, Gaol Road.

The colour photo shows the red white & blue bunting on the front of the Barrack Master’s Office and the Police Blue & White on the Driving wing & Traffic Division Offices .


I was fortunate to be able visit Cec O’Leary at Yankalilla to conduct an oral interview.  Cec knew Tracker (Alf) Ryan quite well, both as a youngster and again when he was in the Penal district at Glenroy Station.  He is quite a remarkable character and his stories about tracker are extremely interesting.  Some of these stories will be published in the coming months.
On 21st March Alan Hyson, Bob Ward, Rex Greig, Holger Kruse and Allan Peters attended the Fort Glanville open day in 1900s uniforms with the Black Maria and Bedford Prison Van on display. On the 21st May Frank O’Connor, Brenton Sullivan and Rex Greig displayed our BSA solo and Suzuki outfit motorcycles in the Arndale Shopping Centre with the Port Adelaide Police and Correctional Services display.  This was Brenton’s first outing with the Society and he is to be commended for his efforts.  Well done Brenton.
On Sunday the 23rd May Rex Greig Peter Moller, Gloria Greig and Rodney Stokes hosted 45 members of the Morris car club at Thebarton and their members were taken on a tour of the vehicle museum and the badge room.  It was a very successful visit by all accounts, with some $70.00 received in donations.
Congratulations to Rex and his team for the good work done recently in the garage area where spare parts and vehicle artefacts (including police radios) have been put into orderly storage and display.
The open Day at the Willunga Courthouse, on the 30th May, was another very busy day for volunteers Gloria & Rex Greig, Helen & Bob Ward, Holger Kruse and Allan Peters .  The SAPHS stall added a tidy sum of $251.00 to the Society’s coffers mainly from the sale of books. 
The painters have now completed their work in the museum complex and the former classroom upstairs which looks very impressive.  The carpet has been re-stretched and will be cleaned shortly.  Work on the “Dorothy Pyatt” gallery can then commence setting out various displays of the many framed photographs currently in storage.   Decisions are still to be made as to what exhibits will be placed in this gallery. The old hydro-therm has been replaced in the meeting room with a much smaller and modern type.

Our monthly meeting 4th June was held at Prince Alfred College as guests of the Historical Society of SA. 30-40 members attended with the very large crowd of about 100 History SA members to hear Denise Schumann give her talk entitled “The dream and the reality” an insight into the life of Captain Charles Sturt 1795-1869.
The talk delved into the private life of Sturt from a very young age when he was separated from his parents for 10 years and we were able to share his frustrations over promotion and the difficulties of life at that time.  This was a very successful night with many of our members mingling with SA History members during supper.


As a result of the shortage of storage space at Thebarton, we need to cull the large number of uniforms in our collection.  A recent OH&S inspection found that the area did not comply with the requirements of the act and action has been taken to alleviate the immediate problem.

Executive has approved the culling of modern style uniforms and members of executive will soon be identifying the best of the collection for retention  and a decision will have to be made on what to do with the rest. 

Any members who have donated a uniform to the society who would like them returned are advised to contact the society as soon as possible or by 30 June 2004.


Geoff Rawson

by The late Ralph Tremethick.

During my service in the Port Adelaide C.I.B. I became particularly interested in the investigation of fraud cases and as a result the rest of the C.I.B. staff there at the time were happy to leave those investigations to me. It naturally followed that any fraud work that came into the office ended up on my file. I found there was a need from time to time for the identification of handwriting and typewriting so it was necessary for me to seek expert assistance which I did.
I did not go into typewriting identification but in the matter of handwriting, I found there was a retired bank manager named Johnson who had assisted the police and he had been accepted by the courts as a handwriting expert.

When I had the need I sought his assistance and through him I began to study handwriting identification myself in about 1959. He referred me to several books on the subject which I was able to borrow from the Adelaide Lending Library and so began my study of handwriting identification.
I went to Sydney on an extradition matter and while I was there I made it my business to visit their handwriting section which had a full time staff of three people. I made friends with Sergeant Des Stuckey who showed me how they gathered and classified handwriting and maintained records. It was much the same as the fingerprint identification section and they trained their own experts.
I asked Des if it would be possible for me to attend a course at their section and he assured me that if I could get permission from our own Department to attend a course, they would be pleased to have me.
On returning to Adelaide I made an application to our Department to send me to Sydney for a handwriting identification course. After some problems which I will not mention here, I was sent to Sydney for a six week course at the Sydney Handwriting Section under the watchful eye of Sergeant Stuckey.
On returning to Adelaide I wanted to establish a Handwriting Section and it was then that I ran into trouble. To do it effectively, I needed to make it a part of the Fingerprint Section so that samples of writing

would be obtained from prisoners at the same time as their fingerprints were taken. The handwriting for
ms would be retained and classified and maintained in a similar way to fingerprint records. This is where I ran into trouble as the Officer in Charge or Sergeant in Charge as it was at that time. would not have any part of it. He claimed it was an unnecessary waste of time and manpower. So that was as far as it went as he had more “clout” than me.
However, I was in the Fraud Squad in Adelaide at that time and I continued with my interest. I had been studying the subject for about two years and that was in 1961. I subsequently gave handwriting identification evidence in the Supreme Court at Adelaide and having detailed my studies of the subject together with my course in New South Wales, I was accepted as an expert witness and my  evidence was admitted. I was considered the handwriting expert to the Police Department until I resigned in 1963.

For a while after that I gave evidence in a few private cases but I had to give it away due to the pressure of work as the Secretary of the Police Association and the Police Club.

At the time I left the Force, Don Gangel was studying handwriting and I believe he was subsequently accepted as an expert


Police Trooper James Higgins
(C) Allan L. Peters
Adapted from incidents as
reported in The South
Australian Register.
June 6, 1855

Police Trooper James Higgins returned to the Echunga Police Station late in the afternoon of May 31, 1855. With him was a man named Cochrane, whom he had taken into custody following a complaint from Mr. Robert Adamson, a property owner, who lived about a mile (1.6 Km.) from the town.

Echunga Station
Echunga Police Station Built 1850

By about 5 PM the prisoner had been secured in a cell and the preliminary paper work almost completed. Trooper Higgins then spoke to fellow Policeman, Constable George Elliott who was about to go to the Hagen Arms Hotel for a meal.  Higgins said that he had received a complaint earlier in the day from a Mrs. Leedham of Macclesfield and may ride over there, a distance of some 5 miles (8 Km.), to follow up the complaint.

About an hour later, Trooper Elliott, who had just completed his meal, was called out of the hotel by a man he knew as Joseph Collingridge. The man pointed to a horse that he said he had found fully saddled, wandering along the roadway just out of town. The policeman recognised it immediately as belonging to James Higgins.

Constable Elliott took charge of the animal noting as he tethered it to the hitching rail in front of the police station, that the bit was out of its mouth.  On opening the door of the station he called several times to his colleague but received no answer.  Suspecting that Higgins may have met with an accident, the policeman immediately instigated a search of the area leading to the Macclesfield road. 

Within minutes the trooper was found, lying unconscious alongside the main road, about 200 yards (200 metres) from the police station where he had obviously been thrown from his horse.

Calling for assistance, Elliott had his insensible comrade carried to the police station and made comfortable.  He then dispatched a rider to obtain urgent medical assistance.

Doctor John Foster of Little Hampton, was the nearest available physician, he arrived at the Echunga Police Station within about two hours. He later reported, “I found Trooper Higgins to be suffering from severe concussion of the brain. There was a puffy swelling at the back of his head indicating serious internal injury to the head.  He also had a small wound on the temple this however was only superficial. These injuries were in keeping with him having fallen from a horse.  I saw at once that the trooper would not survive, nevertheless I treated him as best I could. 

However, he died about forty five minutes after my arrival without having regained consciousness.”     

A coronial inquest was subsequently held to inquire into the circumstances of Trooper Higgins’ death.

The jury, having heard both Joseph Collingridge and Constable Elliott testify to the bit being out of the horses mouth when the animal was found, reasoned that the horse had bolted, and that the rider, having no control due to the displaced bit, was thrown, and later died as a result of injuries thus sustained. They therefore returned a verdict of accidental death.

On Saturday June 2, 1855, the body of Police Trooper James Higgins was interred in St. Mary’s Churchyard at Echunga.

His funeral was attended by a large gathering of residents from both the village and from the entire surrounding, gold-mining district.  Also in attendance was a large contingent of police personnel, all of whom wished to show their respect for a man, who, in the shortest possible time had earned their highest praise and respect, and would be sorely missed by all.


Any Project you tackle is always hardest
at the beginning–
like working up a swing.



Have you got what is called inner strength?
IF you can start each day without caffeine or pep pills.
IF you can be cheerful, ignoring all of your
aches and pains.

IF you can eat the same food day after day
and be grateful for it.
IF you can understand when loved ones
are too busy to give you time.
IF you can overlook it when people take
things out on you, when through no fault
of yours, something goes wrong. 
IF you can take criticism and blame
without resentment,
IF you can relax without liquor
IF you can sleep without the aid of drugs.
IF you can do all of these things ..........

Friday 2nd July at 8.00 p.m. in the Meeting Room at the Barracks –
Speaker Peter Magerl on …………..
“Policing in Cyprus” 
This promises to be a very interesting night and we look forward to seeing you there.




A conference is a gathering of important people
Who singly can do nothing, but together can decide that nothing
Can be done.



SELF SERVICE     One of a series of  'Believe it or not'  short stories 
by Jim Sykes

Jim Sykes 

was present at a Justices' Traffic Court at Plympton in the early 1950's. The Court was held in the public office and this room was only about 10' square. There was just enough space for the justices, the prosecutor, the defendant and a police witness. Everybody else stood on the verandah and waited to be called.

One of my cases came up next, and as I had been involved in the previous matter, I was still in the Court. The justices were busy jotting down figures on a large blotter in front of them, and did not see the next defendant enter. He had been sent in by the Court Orderly who had a list of the cases and the order in which they would be heard.
As the defendant stood quietly in front of the justices, one of them who had a speech impediment stuttered to his colleague, "We're not doing too good today. We'll have to hit this next bloke a bit more'. The poor man just stood there, too scared to say anything other than "Guilty your Honours" when the charge was read out and he was asked how he pleaded.

Having found the defendant guilty after the prosecutor read out the facts, our stuttering justice then passed sentence. "You are fined five pounds and you loose your licence for fourteen days".

With that, the defendant  who was a travelling salesman, pointed out that he would like to keep his licence as he would go out of business without being able to drive his car.

After a short muttered talk with his colleague, the Justice replied with, "I'll tell you what we'll do. You are fined five pounds and you loose your licence for fourteen days, or fined twenty five pounds and you can keep your licence. Which one do you want?".

The offender decided to pay the twenty five pounds, which was a significant amount in those days, and thereby keep his licence. When asked by the justice if he had anything further to say he replied, "I am going to appeal". "Appeal dismissed" shouted the Justice. The bewildered man left the Court shaking his head in disbelief while the Prosecutor, an 'old hand' at the game, called the next case without 'batting an eyelid'.

Access to Justice

It has been strongly rumoured that one of our members had, very recently, spent considerable time in gaol.

While seeking out the truth behind these accusations, our intrepid Hue & Cry editor visited the said gaol on the afternoon of May 22, 2004 and found that not only were the rumours true, but that the said member, Allan Peters, was in fact still within the confines of the penal establishment.

It appears that as the author of  Elizabeth Woodcock's biography, No monument of stone, Allan had been asked to act as adviser to a group of Flinders University Law Students who were taking part in the official Law Week re-enactment and retrial of Elizabeth Woolcock – the only woman hanged for crime in South Australia.

The event, held at the Adelaide Gaol attracted an audience of more than three hundred and fifty people and was spread over a period of six hours. All who attended were ecstatic in their praise for the manner in which the event was presented and many were overcome with emotion when the final verdict of the jury – who had been selected from the audience – was handed down.


Elizabeth Lilian Woolcock with husband
John & his son
Thomas John
Hanged for murder of her husband John 30/12/1873

In the year 1873 Elizabeth Woodcock's husband Thomas died under suspicious circumstances and due mainly to gossip and innuendo an inquest was held to help determine the cause of death.

The Coroner’s Jury, having been told by examining doctors that the body of the man showed, symptoms consistent with mercurial poisoning, Elizabeth was therefore committed to stand trial for having ‘wilfully and with malice aforethought poisoned her husband by the administration of mercury’.

The trial was swift – it lasted just three days – and consisted of the flimsiest circumstantial evidence imaginable and has been a source of controversy now for the past 131 years. An examination of the evidence presented against her really raises more questions than it answers, so much of the testimony being hearsay, so many questions left unasked. Even the expertise of some of the witnesses raises doubt. One such witness, Mr. Henry Allen, stated that he was present when the accused woman gave her ailing husband a drink of wine, the unfortunate victim said that the wine tasted peculiar, the witness claimed that he had then put a drop of the wine to his lips without swallowing any of it, and agreed that it did have a peculiar taste to it. When questioned by the lawyer for the defence – in one of his few displays of enthusiasm – the witness was forced to admit that he was not actually a connoisseur of wine, and could not really say for sure what type of wine it was, and then very embarrassingly had to admit that he was in fact a teetotaller.

Such was the essence of much of the prosecution’s case against the accused yet surprisingly the jury, after just twenty-five minutes deliberation returned a verdict of ‘guilty’, and the poor woman thus had the dubious honour of becoming the one and only woman to be hanged in South Australia.

Her body was buried within the confines of the gaol in an area between the inner and outer walls, sometimes referred to as ‘murderers’ row’. And like all the other grave-sites within that area her grave is identified only by her initials and date of death painted on the wall above it.

Visitors to the gaol in recent years, having sometimes learned of Elizabeth Woodcock's short but traumatic life and her untimely death, often seek out her resting place to leave a flower as a mark of respect.  

Was she the victim of the judicial system of the day?

Was the testimony presented, not ‘beyond reasonable doubt’?

And did she in fact have, access to justice?

These were the questions foremost in the minds of the organisers’ when they arranged to stage, firstly, the re-enactment of the 1873 murder trial using actors in the roles of lawyers and witnesses. And secondly a retrial, by 2004 standards, using law students to argue the case before a qualified judge and a panel of jurists drawn at random from the audience.

The event proved to be an enormous success, with all attendees spoken to agreeing that it was a well organised, and entertaining production.

As part of the production Allan Peters had the shameful task of being empanelled as a jury member for the re-enactment of the 1873 trial, and in keeping with the historical facts of the case found the poor woman ‘guilty’. 

The empanelled jury in the 2004 retrial however, unanimously found Elizabeth Woolcock, (who was portrayed in both trials by Allan’s daughter, Leeza Peters) to be ‘not guilty’ as in their minds the case against her was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.         

Having now been released from his labour at the gaol, Allan, has been forgiven, and is once again, back with us at the society.

Read the book that started it all!

“No Monument of Stone”

Available now from . . .
SA Police Historical Society at
:- special members’ prices -:


Secretary Owen Bevan presenting Certificate of Appreciation to Frances Bedford MP JP

Member for Florey- following her very interesting guided tour of Parliament House for
Our Meeting in March.


Don (we call him Ernie) McLeod will be well known to members as a very long serving Traffic Officer prior to his retirement.  He will also be long be remembered by a certain transport company who, because of his good work, finished up with a fleet of vehicles that were roadworthy and safer. 

He played football for the police team and was involved in the Cliff Rescue Section prior to the creation of the STAR force. The equipment used for this purpose will soon be on display in the vehicle shed.

Ernie has been a volunteer with the society for many years, with his main interest being the vehicle fleet, and in particular, motorcycles.  Recently Ernie was able to secure a former police BSA motorcycle to be on permanent loan to the society.

He has always been available to drive various vehicles for the society including the Chrysler Royal, Bedford van, motorcycles and the police bus and attends at most functions conducted by the society.

He has a rather unique vehicle which is halfway between a utility and small truck which he has frequently made available to the society when the need arises to move objects or transport artefacts, spare parts etc., accompanied by Rusty his ever faithful canine passenger/navigator.

His family history research of the McLeod Clan claims that he is a distant relative of Alexander Tolmer and, although his ancestors were Scottish, a DNA test revealed that their origins were apparently Viking!  This may explain his outgoing personality. Thank you Ernie for your continuing assistance.

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

Elees Pick....


Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Site map | Tell a Friend
© 2004  South Australian Police Historical
Society Incorporated.  All Rights Reserved.
This web site first established on November 23rd 2000.
Web development by Charlie Tredrea