I am a little embarrassed to admit that this is my first President’s Report for the Hue & Cry for this year. Due to pressures of work I have not been able to complete my report on time. However, the communication flow has been excellent due to the great efforts of our Vice President Geoff Rawson and other members of the Executive. My sincere thanks to Geoff and all who have contributed so much.
Geoff and Heather are currently away travelling and enjoying some well earned rest. In his absence I promised Geoff that I would submit a report – so here it is.
The year as usual is very much moving along at a hectic pace. Due to my heavy work commitments I have not been able to attend the Executive meetings and I have also missed some of the regular monthly meetings. However, in my absence the Society is performing very well due to the dedication and commitment of the Executive Committee, to whom I am extremely grateful. In particular I acknowledge the excellent work of Vice President Geoff Rawson, Secretary Owen and Treasurer Tony.
Although work on the ‘old driving wing building’ continues to progress at a slow pace, the painting of the Society’s meeting room has certainly provided a much fresher environment.
September will involve two activities for the Society. The first being the International Police Tattoo where a small group of members are providing a police historical display in the Entertainment Centre foyer along with the Chrysler Royal and some of the Society’s historic police motor cycles. My thanks go to Bill Rojas who is organising the historic display and Rex Greig the motor vehicles. On September 29 the Society will also be represented at the National Police Remembrance Service to held at Fort Largs Police Academy. As I will he officially participating in the Service in my police capacity, our Vice President Geoff will lay the wreath on behalf of the Society. As in the past I hope to see Society members at the Service.
I am also aware that Jim Sykes is organising a visit to Kapunda on Saturday 1st November. The Society has been invited to a Kapunda Historic field day. Jim will provide further details in due course.
Finally the guest speaker for our Friday 3 October meeting is Margaret Zweck who will talk on the history of buttons. One of our members recently heard Margaret speak at a Probus Club and he reported that she held the audience (including the men) attention at all times and was extremely interesting.
I look forward to seeing you at the National Police Remembrance Service and at the October meeting.
ARMS OF THE LAW
“Those dreadful Policewomen in funny hats who bother people in the Parks “ (Agatha Christie)
Contrary to what you may have heard around the barracks this is not a photograph of Dorothy Pyatt reprimanding Women Police Cadets!
THE NEW ONE CHASES A SCAMPER OF SMALL BOYS ALONG THE SERPENTINE.
She took them by surprise the first time – that boiling summer’s day in 1921 just after the Women’s Police Force was formed, when she bore down upon them with a rustle of heavy serge skirts and a swish of her stinging cane. Now she’s just part of the fun.
W.P.C. ANNIE DOROTHY MATTHEWS (1890-1966)
First generation policewoman who served for 30 years.
Originally a housemaid at Glamis Castle, Annie joined the Women Police Service, and in 1918 became one of the first unattested Metropolitan Women Police Patrols (WPP No. 27, Warrant No. 64) In 1920 she and WPP Annie Pomery (subsequently the first WPO to marry while in service), received a commendation for their part in helping two detectives arrest three cocaine traffickers. (Most probably the occasion described in several memoirs and committee reports, when an unnamed policewoman posed as a streetwalker and infiltrated the distribution of cocaine in the underground lavatories at Piccadilly).
She resigned in July 1922 (the year of the “Geddes axe” economies disbanding the patrols), but rejoined in December and was attested the following year (Warrant No. 179). She failed her sergeant’s exam in 1925, and never re-sat it.
At 183 cm (6 ft) tall she was nicknamed ‘Big Ben’, and quickly became a familiar figure patrolling Hyde Park. Among her duties was preventing swimming in the Serpentine prior to 1930, and this activity so aroused the ire of a cranky member of the public that he pushed her into the water on one occasion. Annie, who could not swim, stood waist deep in the Serpentine, shouting to her fellow patrol WPC Winifred Gould to hold the man, after which she scrambled out, arrested him and marched him to the Police Station.
After Annie retired in 1950, she was described as ‘the perfect policewoman who embodied strength, wisdom and an immense charity in a rugged exterior’
Courtesy: The Official Encyclopaedia of Scotland Yard 1999.
The writer of the following article, Mr. Tony Rudd, is a member of the Military Historical Society and an avid collector of Military Medals. He came to us seeking information.
About 20 years ago he gave a talk to our Society on the following materialDorothy Pyatt
W Y L I E N A T I O N
SOLDIER & CITIZEN
GROWING UP (1877-1900)
The Nation family arrived in South Australia from Leicester, England around 1840 and by 1850 had settled at Eastwood, now an inner suburb of Adelaide. In those days the area was sparsely populated and surrounded by dense bushland which was gradually cleared as the town of Adelaide grew.
It was natural that John Nation, Wylie's father, should choose to live near his family when he married Martha Boath about 1870. The Boaths originally came from Forfarshire in Scotland but the time of their arrival in South Australia is uncertain.
The family home at No. 36 John Street, Eastwood still stands and it was here that Wylie, John and Martha's second son was born on 26th July, 1877. Today Eastwood is a most sought-after area in view of the close proximity to the central business district of Adelaide. Number 36 John Street is typical of many houses in the neighbourhood. It is modest in size, built close to the street and has a large backyard with a lane at the rear. The present owner had meticulously restored the house although the original covered verandah has been removed. Its condition suggests it will last another hundred years.
A boy growing up in the 1880's in Adelaide would have had many opportunities for adventure, perhaps not unlike a country boy today. To be sure school was made compulsory by 1883 but there was still time for fun. Wylie attended Parkside Primary School and Way College (since closed). Education normally stopped at the end of primary school and it was common to enter a trade as an apprentice. Wylie became a butcher in this way but evidently yearned for more excitement. His elder brother John was said to be "of a roving disposition" so perhaps the trait ran in the family. John senior and Martha had twelve children in all although three died in infancy.
Wylie was twenty-two when war broke out in South Africa between the Afrikaners, who were predominantly of Dutch extraction, and the English. As many of the Afrikaners were farmers, they were referred to as "Boers" from the Afrikaans word. Although Wylie was a tall (6 ft. ½ in.) strong young man, a craving for adventure was not enough to earn him a place in the contingent sent by South Australia. At a time when pride in the British Empire was a way of life, the flood of volunteers greatly outnumbered the vacancies.
The first group of 125 officers and men had all seen previous service in the army or the militia and when they left for Cape Town late in 1899, it was generally thought that they would be lucky to get there before the war was over. In the event, the Boers proved to be an unexpectedly tough foe and Britain soon called for more men from its far-flung empire.
After the departure of the second contingent (which included "Breaker" Morant) the citizens of the various Australian colonies decided to send a third contingent, funded by public subscription. By then it was realised that the British infantry were unable to cope alone with the Boers who, being mounted, were able to elude their opponents with ease. The call went out for experienced bushmen that could match the Boers at riding, tracking and shooting.
The third contingent left early in 1900 and yet more volunteers continued to arrive at the recruiting depots. Among them was Wylie Nation, butcher, aged almost
23 years, tall, strong and ready to serve his Queen. In due course he passed the medical examination and the riding and shooting tests. It is not known how and when he learned these skills because they were by no means common among young men who lived in a major city at the turn of the century. The number of eager hopefuls who failed the tests indicated that Wylie was an unusually active person who loved the great outdoors.
The fourth contingent, South Australian Imperial Bushmen, consisted of 12 officers and 222 non-commissioned officers and men. As with the previous groups, they went into camp on the old Exhibition ground, where the University of Adelaide now stands. One month's training was considered sufficient in those far-off days and so by the end of April, 1900, the men were pronounced ready to face the Boers.
SOLDIER of THE QUEEN ~~ (I9OO-19O1)
No war is fought for one reason alone and so it was with the Boer War. The causes were complex and it is sufficient here to say that there were faults on both sides. On the one hand the Boers possessed the world's largest reserves of gold which were a magnet for big business speculators, miners and adventurers generally. On the other hand the Boers treated the miners, whom they called “uitlanders" (outsiders), with blatant disregard for their rights by denying them citizenship of the Transvaal.
The Transvaal's sister republic, the Orange Free State was drawn into the war by a mutual defence treaty it had signed with its larger and more populous neighbour, The other two regions, Cape Colony and Natal, remained openly loyal to Britain but there was considerable covert support for the Boers among sections of the population.
As ever, the war began with the Empire ill prepared and the Boers invaded both the Cape Colony and Natal in force. However, by mid 1900, weight of numbers was beginning to tell, the Boers were driven back in a series of pitched battles and the major towns in the Orange Free State and the Transvaal were occupied.
Meanwhile, the fourth contingent of South Australians left Port Adelaide in the transport "Manhattan" on 1st May, 1900, which had previously embarked 122 Tasmanians at Hobart. The ship called at Fremantle to collect 127 Western Australians and proceeded to Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony, where the troops disembarked on 19th June. The three contingents joined to form a composite regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel J. Rowell of South Australia.
The men were quickly in action and by the 23rd June were escorting a large supply convoy in the Orange Free State. On the morning of the 26th June, the Boers suddenly attacked but were driven off. The Australians formed the rearguard and were hotly pressed by the enemy all the way to their destination of Lindley which they reached on the 29th June. On the 3rd July the South Australians suffered their first casualties when recapturing several guns which the Boers had earlier secured in a furious attack.
There was no time to rest between actions and by 7th July the Australian Bushmen had taken part in a successful assault on the town of Bethlehem (O.F.S.) Pursuit of the fleeing enemy was a tiring and dangerous task. Long hours in the saddle every day combined with the ever-present danger from Boer marksmen would have satisfied any young man's lust for adventure.
Intelligence reports told of a concentration of Boer forces in a large valley near the Basutoland (now Lesotho) border. The valley was known as the Brandwater Basin and was surrounded by a range of high mountains called Wittebergen (White Mountains), from which the ensuing action was named. The British forces proceeded to garrison the several escape routes and thus trap the Boers. After a number of fierce actions in which the more resolute among the enemy escaped, the remainder surrendered. The tally of losses was considerable being 4,314 fighting Boers captured together with about 6,000 horses, almost two million rounds of small arms ammunition and large numbers of sheep and cattle. It was a bitter blow to the enemy and marked a point in their conduct of the war.
It had been dawning on these humble farmers that they were no match for the superior numbers and equipment of the Empire forces. However, several of their more aggressive leaders had been successful in the hit-and-run tactics of guerilla warfare. Just when the war seemed over, the flames of resistance flared all over the two republics. The British authorities were congratulating themselves on a job well done; indeed, the first medals struck for issue to the troops were dated "1899-1900", and had to be hastily withdrawn. The Boers may have lost possession of their major towns but their forces were largely intact and spoiling to continue the fight.
Guerilla warfare calls for great skills in tracking, ambush and use of cover, precisely the attributes of the bushmen from the sparsely-populated colonies such as Australia. Increasingly, the British infantry were confined to garrison and line-of-communication duties where mobility was unnecessary. Thus the war became a series of hunts across the vast African plains chasing an elusive enemy who rarely stood at bay.
During the remainder of July and August the Australian Bushmen were occupied pursuing a Boer commando led by General Christiaan DeWet who was the outstanding guerilla fighter of the war. The troops took part in the relief of the small force of Australians besieged at Eland’s River who won undying fame for their gallant stand.
By November, 1900 the men were operating in the Transvaal where they ranged far and wide in pursuit of their foe. In this brief account it is not necessary to detail the various actions. However, the troops were almost constantly in the saddle during daylight and took part in a number of major and minor actions. The constant casualties suffered speaks more eloquently for their involvement than does any factual account.
In February and March of 1901, the Bushmen operated in the Cape Colony against small enemy commandos which were endeavouring to foment revolt in rural areas. From there the troops moved northwards through the Orange Free State and the Transvaal travelling thousands of kilometres over the hot dusty African veldt. They captured many prisoners, wagons and guns and earned the commendation of the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Kitchener.
On the 5th July, 1901 the contingent embarked in the transport "Britannic"At East London, Cape Colony and, after discharging the Western Australians at Albany on the 20th, finally arrived at Port Adelaide on the 27th. The unit was disbanded within a few days and the men paid off.
For his services in the South African War, 151 Trooper Wylie Nation, 4th South Australian Imperial Bushmen was awarded the Queen's medal with four clasps, namely, "Cape Colony", “Transvaal", "Wittebergen", "South African 1901". The last clasp was issued separately after the war ended in May, 1902 and was still with the medal when I acquired it. It has now been riveted to the other clasps as originally intended.
OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE BOER WAR
At least three other members of the Nation family served in the South African War.
Wylie’s eldest brother John Boath Nation, who had previously served five years in the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery in south Australia, volunteered for the Australian Army Medical Corps. He sailed for South Africa in the "5.5. Manchester Merchant" in February, 1902 and reached Durban on the 17th March.
The corps was first posted to Newcastle, Natal and later to Klerksdorp, Western Transvaal where a stationary hospital of 100 beds was established and remained until the end of the war. The men embarked for Australia in July, 1902. It is believed that corporal John Nation's South African War medal, had two clasps, “Transvaal" and "South Africa 1902".
Henry Albert Nation and Percy Eastwood Nation both served as troopers in the Fifth contingent; South Australian Imperial Bushmen from February, 1901 until March, 1902. During that time they saw almost continuous action throughout South Africa and trekked an amazing 5320 kilometres (3825 miles). It was said that it was a rarity for the men to be dismounted longer than a day or two.
The troops operated most frequently in the Western Transvaal and were opposed by most of the more energetic of the Boer leaders. There were numerous bitter engagements fought and twenty-one officers and men died in South Africa.
However, the men's efforts resulted in many enemy being killed or captured and perhaps this helped to shorten the war.
Most of the contingent received five clasps to their medals namely, 'Cape Colony", "Orange Free state", '”Transvaal", '”South Africa 1901", "South Africa 1902". It is presumed that the two Nations qualified for all clasps.
LOOK FOR THE FINAL EPISODE
“WYLIE NATION – CITIZEN 1901-1937
IN THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF THE HUE & CRY!
AUGUST MYSTERY PHOTOGRAPH
Mystery Photo – August
WHO IS THIS Cadet operating emergency switchboard and alarm board Operations Room 1966?
Last month’s Mystery Photo is still a mystery!
A HUMOROUS DUEL
From the Australian Chronicle
Port Phillip 1843 – Though our few duels have been undistinguished in all respects a recent affray has held the ‘satisfaction of a gentleman’ up to such ridicule that it must surely lead to the end of duelling.
The matter arose from a challenge issued against Hon. Gilbert Kennedy by George Demoulin Esq., and arranged to be held in open ground within the area of the Settlement.
When shots were exchanged the challenger cried out, feeling his face covered with and unpleasant substance he mistook to be his own blood. It proved, however, to be jam.
The seconds of both parties, heartily disapproving the duel, agreed to load the pistols only with powder, to which Hon. Kennedy’s second secretly added a quantity of jam.
The duellists joined the general laughter had at their expense.
NED KELLY AND HIS GANG BROKEN AT LAST
(from the Australian Chronicle)
A WILD CAREER
Police – Brave or Brutal?
Melbourne November 11th, 1880
The infamous outlaw, Ned Kelly, was hanged at Melbourne today.
His last words were, “Such is life.”
Kelly was captured by police at Glenrowan on Monday June 24th, after a fierce battle in which many shots were exchanged.
After being 16 months in hiding, some of Kelly’s gang went to the hut of a former friend, Aaron Sherritt, & shot him dead because they believed he had entered the pay of the police.
The murderers rode 40 miles to join Kelly and a confederate Steve Hart, in taking possession of Glenrowan township where about 30 people, women and children among them, were imprisoned in the hotel owned by Mrs. Ann Jones. The outlaws then force fettlers to remove sleepers from a nearby railway line to wreck a train bringing police to Glenrowan. The loss of the train was averted by prompt action on the part of Tom Curnow a schoolteacher.
When police arrived and rushed the hotel, Kelly was wearing armour weighing 90 lb., comprising headpiece, breastplate, backplate and apron. Despite this protection he was shot down after a fierce gun battle and arrested.
Mrs. Jones’s hotel was burnt during the fray.
The Kelly Gang, as it became known, comprised of youths who had criminal records from an early age. Kelly, the leader, was arrested for assault when 14, and gaoled for a similar offence a year later.
Both Ned Kelly and his brother Dan were wanted for wounding a policeman on April 15th, 1878. They “went bush” and a reward of ?100 each was offered for their arrest.
Perhaps their most spectacular holdup was at Jerilderie, New South Wales.
On Saturday night, February 8th, they locked up two policemen, donned police garb and on Monday morning robbed the Jerilderie branch of the Bank of New South Wales of ?2,141.
They detained about 60 people ion Jerilderie’s Royal Hotel.
Following the exploit a reward of ?2,000 each was offered for the capture of the gang members. It was then that they went into hiding.
Ned Kelly as well as his associates made frequent allegations of police brutality. The average decent citizen does not question the bravery of the men in uniform who ended the wild career of the reckless and brutal outlaws.
Photo Dorothy’s Birthday
Dorothy recently bought herself a new bed and judging by this photograph it was not before time!
On the 26th August Dorothy (she says we can call her “Dolly”)
Will be 85 years young. Congratulations Dorothy we all wish to a very happy birthday and a healthy and happy year to follow.
29th September 2003
All members of the South Australian police Historical Society
Are invited to attend the National Remembrance Day memorial Service, in memory of police officers who were killed in the execution of their duty.
The 40 minute Service will be followed by morning tea served in the Academy Mess.
Parking will be available in the Academy's Gym Car park located immediately to the right, after entering the main gates.
In case of wet weather, the service will be relocated to the Academy's Auditorium, located upstairs in the Mess building.
Enquiries to: Bill Rojas, Assistant Secretary, Tel (w) 8204 2229
& CRY” is published by the
South Australian Police Historical Society Inc.,
C/- Box 1539
GPO ADELAIDE 5001
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