The “Hue and Cry” this month was edited by and produced by a small group of volunteers owing to the resignation of Jan Hutchin as editor after a long spell of some 15 years. Last months magazine was the last that Jan produced and on behalf of all members I congratulate Jan and thank her for a job well done.
We are looking for a volunteer to act as editor for the future. As a result the next few months “Hue and Cry” may look a little different as we try a few new ideas to make the magazine easier to produce using formats by other magazines. We rely on feedback from members for new ideas as well as the things you would like.
Police Foundation Day this year at Bordertown was a great success and congratulations to all those involved. A full report is included in this issue.
On Friday the 3rd May our monthly meeting was held with Assistant Commissioner Graeme Barton our speaker for the evening. Graeme spoke about his experiences whilst he was on exchange with the Kent Police.
His talk was very interesting, with great interest in the differences between policing in high density areas compared with our much lower density. This was obviously a benefit to all parties as information and ideas are shared between the two organisations. Congratulations to Graeme for his presentation which was enjoyed by all.
The Society has taken possession of a new portable video projector, which will be of great assistance in the future. This projector has a 2000 lumen lamp, compared to our current 600 lumen machine and the picture is sharp and visible in normal light.
Work on the museum building is proceeding, but appears to be very slow. Hopefully there will be a lot of work done this month to bring the project to completion on time. There will be more challenges for us in July when we restock the museum and plan for an official re-opening this year.
Our next months meeting is scheduled for Friday the &“ June when the speaker will be Errol CHINNER who’s subject will be the History of Port Adelaide.
I hope to see you all there.
June 1947. Return to Thebarton Barracks of the 5 SAPOL secondees to the Northern Territory Police.
Left to Right Mounted Constables John Donegan, Peter Delderfield, Bruce Evans, Kevin Breen.
The Commissioner of Police Malcolm Hyde APM and Chairman of the District Council of Tatiara, Mrs
Diana Penniment AM unveiling the plaque for
Approximately 1000 people attended at Bordertown for the 150th celebration of policing and the Foundation day ceremony.
The location in Tolmer Park was ideal as was the perfect weather for the occasion.
On Saturday the 2(11 a glittering ball was held and although I was unable to attend, I understand it was a fantastic event held with typical country hospitality and all the trimmings.
At 1030 an Ecumenical service was held in the park and was well attended with standing room only.
The Police Band performed for the Ball and during
the Sunday events and as usual were magnificent.
The Concert at 3-OOpm on Sunday was a highlight
of the day. The audience thoroughly enjoyed this
performance especially the Elvis Priestly impersonation.
Prior to the Foundation day ceremony there was a re-enactment of the Gold Escort with special guest Richard Tolmer, the great grandson of Alexander Tolmer. Richard presented gold bars (no not real ones!) to Mr Hyde for S.A.
Police, Mrs Penniment for District Council of Tatiara, and Ix John White for S.A. Police Historical Society.
Richard, wearing the uniform of his famous great grandfather was later presented with a gold bar of his own by Mr Hyde. The Chrysler Royal, was driven to Bordertown by Ernie McLeod and Mark Dolman and was on display with other vehicles including the Society's spring cart. In the old courthouse a large number of photographs were on display including some of the society's photographs, memorabilia, including the medal awarded to Tolmer by Queen Sophia of Portugal.
This was arguably one of the biggest Foundation day ceremonies and thanks are due to the many organisations involved, including the District Council of Tatiara, Bordertown 1 50 committee, Bordertown Police and all the volunteers who were involved from the South Australian Police Historical Society.
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
IT IS WITH REGRET that I must hand over Editorship of the HUE & CRY to a new Editor.
Due to heavier family commitments I find myself having to spend a lot of time at Gawler.
1 am also beginning to experience eye problems which have not been helping me.
I hope to get to some of the monthly meetings and will look forward to receiving future copies of the HUE & CRY.Janice Hutchin
Sergeant Bruce Freebairn Evans.
(by Ray Killmier)
1941 Thirteen members of P Troop marched in to the Port Adelaide Police Depot. Collectively it was the youngest Junior Constable Troop in the history of SAPOL, ages ranging from 14 years 10 months (J. P.O’Shea) to 17 years, with representation from both city and country.
These members soon bonded in the face of the strict discipline, the almost primitive living conditions, wartime inconveniences and the bastardisation practices of the time. Only 5 of the Troop (M.J. Peters, P. J. O’shea, W.P. Tippins, W. B. Budd and P. F. Killmier) were to serve to retiring age.
1943 saw the transfer of the Troop to the Thebarton Barracks to improved conditions, and an introduction to equitation. A member of the Troop was Bruce Freebairn Evans, whose police career was about to take an unusual turn.
Bruce was born at Cleve, Eyre Peninsular on the 4th October 1925. His father, a Middle East, Light Horse veteran of World War 1 had been allotted a War Service block there. Unfortunately two of Bruce’s siblings developed polio, causing the family to relocate at Salisbury in 1934, for their medical treatment.
At Cleve, Bruce attended a one room school near the family farm until Grade 5. In Adelaide, he continued his education at Salisbury Primary School and Adelaide High School (1937-1941), joining SAPOL, on 6th October 1941.
Early in 1945, the Superintendent of the Northern Territory Police, Alf Stretton requested the secondment of five SAPOL trainees to that Force, for a period of two years. The Commissioner, W. F. Johns who had served in the Northern Territory, acceded to it. Many Junior Constables applied, the successful five being Bruce Evans, Ron Huddy, Peter Delderfield, Kevin Breen and John Donegan. Sadly, only two, Evans and Breen, survive today. (2003)
The group departed for Alice Springs on the “Ghan" in April 1945. Bruce Evans performed duty at Alice Springs and Darwin. At various times he was sent out to accompany other officers on patrols. At that time, most of these were performed using horses or camels as transport. His equitation training was being put to practical use.
One particular experience was seminal for him. Posted to the Daly River Police Station, he accompanied the famous Northern Territory Police Trooper, Tas Fitzer on a protracted horse patrol lasting several weeks. “Fitz” in the 1930s, stationed at Timber Creek had achieved fame in tracking down and arresting the notorious aboriginal murderer Nemarluk, who had eluded capture for a considerable time.
In July 1946, he was sent to Finke to accompany Trooper Ron Brown1 on a camel patrol to the Musgrave Ranges and the Ayers Rock area. It was these experiences which shaped his love of the outback and his self reliance in remote situations. It also contributed to his understanding of the aborigine culture of those largely nomadic people of that period. This, with his subsequent experience was to make him in his time, the most knowledgeable and informed SAPOL member on this subject.
In April 1947, Bruce and the other seconded members returned to the Thebarton Barracks where he performed mounted and country relieving duties. In 1948 he was posted to Gawler, remaining there until 1955, having married during this term. This was followed by a relatively short time at Mount Gambier.
In July 1955, he was transferred to the “one man” station at Oodnadatta. His “beat" comprised an area of about 130,000 square miles of country, stretching some 600 miles to the Western Australia border. Patrols commonly took 14 days to complete. This area, scantily peopled by nomadic aborigines, only boasted one small settlement at the Ernabella Mission. Some mining exploration was occurring in the North West Aboriginal Reserve which necessitated police patrols to the area. It was not uncommon to arrest aborigines stealing from these mining camps. This could mean a long journey returning to Oodnadatta with these prisoners, with little sleep, watching them at night.
Prisoners being transported to Oodnadatta were secured with neck chains to each other. While seen as inhumane today, it was in fact a relatively humane way, allowing plenty of movement, with hands free for each prisoner, in the trying conditions of the outback. Despite the reality of this in situations which saw a sole constable as the escort, Bruce regarded the practice as degrading and proposed an alternative to the Police Department which was rejected on the grounds that the safety of the escorting police officer could be jeopardised. Prisoners sentenced to more than 14 days imprisonment had to be conveyed from Oodnadatta on the “Ghan” to Port Augusta, often involving a round journey of 7 days. At this time there was only one weekly train service.
Initially, patrols were performed in a Ford Freighter utility, without 4 wheel drive. Roads, where they existed, were primitive and weather conditions could range from prolonged droughts and extreme heat, to sudden downpours rendering travel mostly difficult, and impossible at the worst. Of necessity the vehicle was over-laden with extra fuel, camping gear and other supplies; often with the addition of a number of prisoners. In 1959, the station was issued with a four wheel drive, 4 cylinder, side valve Land Rover. While better adapted to the conditions, it lacked carrying capacity, and on one occasion there was a serious mechanical breakdown between the Everard and Musgrave Ranges.
By today’s standards, communications were primitive. The base radio set at Oodnadatta police station was largely ineffective, particularly in the very hot weather. A Traeger set was carried on patrol. On lengthy patrols, it had to be worked through the Alice Spring’s Flying Doctor network. For much of the time, Alice Springs was in closer range than Oodnadatta.
At the time of his posting to Oodnadatta, the police uniform was the same as that of the metropolitan police. Subsequently, Bruce obtained a Northern Territory khaki uniform from Alice Springs and sought permission to adopt this for every day dress.
1 Later author of the book, ‘Bush Justice,” which describes aboriginal ceremonies in some detail.
This was approved by his Divisional Inspector, Keith Sparrow, and in time became the standard uniform in northern, and some other country areas.
The remoteness of the area saw him responsible for burials, not a pleasant task in the heat of the outback. Coffins were not stocked at the station and had to be sent from Alice Springs in knock down form, requiring assembly before their use. It follows he was required to perform the graveside burial service.
Some years later, a visit by Deputy Commissioner McKinna resulted in the welcome posting of an additional member in the form of Constable Bill Jacobs, along with the enlistment of the aboriginal Police Tracker, “Tiger.” Bill Jacobs was an experienced country police officer, ably complementing Bruce. Most of their duties involved dealing with aborigines, but eight fettlers’ camps along the railway line from Abminga, 110 miles north of Oodnadatta to William Creek 130 miles to the south also created work for them. Bruce also pays tribute to RT. “Tiger" who was always loyal to him, especially in his dealings with natives. Bruce relates;
‘During my two terms at Oodnadatta, aborigines living in the Everard and Musgrave Ranges and west to the WA/NT borders were still living a semi nomadic life and tribal laws and totemic influences were still very strong.
I had the utmost respect for their tribal society, and the influences which controlled their daily lives. As a result, and with the interpretation of such, as explained to me by the various Police Trackers, I was able to become involved. As mutual respect developed, I was allowed insights into aspects of their corroborees and other ceremonies, a unique experience. It was explained to me that previously there had been a general fear and antipathy towards police because of various incidents which had occurred over the years.
I attended many of their rituals by invitation, including initiation and sub-incision2 ceremonies. I was shown many ceremonial rites which were considered sacred to their “dreaming.” The relationship established in this way made policing of the areas a much easier task. As a result when leaving Oodnadatta at the completion of my first tour of duty there, I was asked to attend a corroboree at Granite Downs, approximately 150 miles west. At its conclusion I was presented with two Tjurungas which had been used in the ceremony. I kept these under security according to their wishes, and on my return to Oodnadatta in 1963, 1 was able to return them to the men. This was much appreciated and helped to further cement relations.
In December 1957, the Sundown murders with three victims occurred on the old Stuart Highway, about 250 miles north west of Oodnadatta. Logistics were a real problem in such a remote location. Police aircraft did not exist 3, and homicide detectives from Adelaide and other personnel had to make the long journey by car, then a journey of nearly 3 days. In the meantime the media had arrived in aircraft and Bruce had the unenviable task of securing the crime scene and the bodies of the three victims, from reporters and others, in the 50C heat. Raymond John Bailey was subsequently hanged for these murders.
2 Not to be confused with a circumcision ceremony, this being the final manhood induction rite. Tiurungas were artefacts considered sacred by the natives.
3 Immediately following this investigation, as a member of the Country Superintendents I submitted a report to Commissioner McKinna, costing and outlining a scheme involving leased aircraft with police pilots. This did not eventuate until 1970, when the introduction of the Police Award, made the proposal much more economically attractive. It was a welcome development for remote police. (R.E.K.)
Chas Hopkins, the lead investigator in this protracted investigation writes, "I spent several months in his company during this enquiry, travelling and camping in this desolate area: He acknowledges Bruce’s special knowledge, skills and affinity with those remote areas and its people. Bruce he relates, “was welcomed everywhere.” He was also impressed with the meticulous care Bruce paid to the maintenance of the patrol vehicle and his ability to negotiate the hazards of the outback tracks.
Bruce’s assistance in this investigation was recognised by the award of a “Special Mention” by the Commissioner of Police, Brigadier Mckinna.
A significant physical feature in Bruce’s “parish” was Mount Woodroffe, the highest mountain in the state. Bruce sometimes took colleagues to its summit. Dorothy Pyatt recalls, “When we had been on the road for 7 days we took a Reg Day Off. Tracker Tiger remained in camp, he couldn’t see any sense in climbing the mountain just to see the view. It took just under 4 hours to get to the top with Bruce leading all the way, and three hours to get down. The view from the top was magnificent.”4
In 1960, Bruce was transferred to Edithburgh, a pleasant contrast to the heat and flies of Oodnadatta. However in 1963, the 0.C’s position at Oodnadatta was upgraded to Sergeant 3rd Grade. He won the position, which today he and his family believe proved to be the best years of their lives. He records, “There is something about life in the bush that transcends city life.”
It was this realisation that bush life was his métier, which led him to seriously reflect upon his police future in 1966. He enjoyed outback policing and had built upon his first posting at Oodnadatta, achieving the respect of aborigines, pastoralists and the white population. This, in a way which harmonised the community, and avoided many of the tensions emerging elsewhere, from the divide between white and black. His calm personality contributed, but also his recognition and ready acceptance of the wider police leadership role required in this type of community.
But with 1966, came the realisation that his “Bush” tenure would soon come to an end. At that time Oodnadatta was the only SAPOL Far Outback station with a Sergeant as Officer in Charge. In his time in the outback he had acquired a good knowledge of the many pastoral runs in the Far North of the State. When a Pastoral Inspector position became available within the State Pastoral Board, he applied and won the position. No doubt his familiarity with the outback and his reputation throughout the area was the principal factor in his success.
The job entailed inspecting Pastoral leases, having regard to the terms and conditions of the leases and environmental aspects concerned with stocking levels. It meant long absences from his home and he pays tribute to the role of his wife, who had the main task of bringing up their five daughters. Not surprisingly, his work in this area was successful, to the point where he was elevated to executive rank as a member of the Pastoral Board itself. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1985.
In April 1986 he was asked by the South Australian Government to work with the Native Vegetation Branch in the Department of Environment as an investigator.
4 See her “Recollections of an Undistinguished Career’, Police Journal January 1984, which graphically and often humorously describes the challenges and difficulties then associated with northern policing. As the sole policewoman in the area, her contribution was greatly valued by her male colleagues.
This involved enquiring into breaches of the Act relating to illegal clearances of native vegetation. During this period he was successful in obtaining convictions of several prominent landholders for illegal clearances, resulting in heavy penalties. Obviously his previous police experience and knowledge of the land were valuable assets in this task. His changed career was also testimony, complemented by the successful careers of others, that policing experience often confers transferable skills.
Bruce voluntarily went into well deserved retirement in 1991. Today he lives quietly in his immaculate home at Plympton enjoying his family, gardening and tending his extensive aviaries where he breeds a variety of birds, including the rarer bush specimens. He still maintains contact with former police colleagues, and takes pride in his Police service.
Bruce has often been asked why he chose not to further his police career. Those of us who were his contemporaries have no doubt as to his ability to have done so, as his subsequent record confirms. He attributes this to a particular set of circumstances. Having passed the Third Grade Sergeant’s examination he fell victim to a bout of poliomyelitis which he relates caused him to lose the “spark” for further study. Fortunately he recovered completely. For him it was ironic that three members of the his family, albeit many years apart, fell victim to this malady.
Bruce Evans was amongst the last of a few hardy outback police officers of that period, providing a model for those who followed. While remote area policing still offers a challenge, the advent of advanced four wheel drive vehicles, satellite communications, G.P.S navigation systems, the use of aircraft and improved medical facilities, along with other infrastructure, including the provision of overnight habitation in many places, has done much to facilitate the nature of the police task. Other advances have included the sealing and re-alignment of the Stuart Highway, as well as the opening of the strategically located Marla Bore Police Station in 1984. A further significant move has been the introduction of Aboriginal Community Constables in the 1980s. Nevertheless, it is equally true, that even today, remote policing demands a special type of self reliant police officer.
Chance often plays a role in a police career. No doubt Bruce’s posting at an early age to the Northern Territory was the principal factor in shaping his. He reflects; “The beauty and serenity of the deserts have held a fascination for me over many years, which I still retain to this day.” Those of us who have experienced such phenomenon as the brilliancy of the unpolluted night-time skies, and the outback’s other attractions will not question that view.
On the cover of this magazine.
June 1947. Return to Thebarton Barracks of the 5
SAPOL secondees to the Northern Territory Police.
Left to Right Mounted Constables John Donegan,
Peter Delderfield, Bruce Evans, Kevin Breen.
July 1946. Commencement of combined N.T/SAPOL
patrol from Finke, Northern Territory. Bruce Evans
(secondee from SAPOL) AT LEFT. Alec (Chum)
Collins O.C. Oodnadatta at right.
C. 1963. On patrol with the Oodnadatta Landrover M.C.
Bruce Evans at right. Detective David Hunt at left.
Meeting of Oodnadatta Ford utility and the Maree Landrover near William Creek. Party comprises Bruce Evans, Jim Sykes, Colin Lehmann and prisoners. Note prisoner changing the wheel.
Port Macdonnell Rocket Apparatus Crew c1900
Used for sea rescue
O.C. MTO Const William Mowbray of Port Macdonnell in charge of crew 5th
from left (standing)
OLD RAGS DEPARTMENT
Our stalwart volunteers who slave away with pistons and spark plugs as they restore the old vehicles are in need of a quantity of cleaning cloths. If you can spare some of thos which you have hoarded away they would be much appreciated.
There were a total of 52,776 motor vehicles stolen in New South Wales in 1982-83, an average of 144 every day. Of these 44,794 were recovered, a success rate of 85 percent. Unfortunately arrests were made in just 10 per cent of the cases
Published by the South Australian
Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/- Box 1539 S.A. 5083
G.P.O. Adelaide 5001