Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir
These records are not wholly given up to such tragedies. There is an entry dated 11th May, 1847 - I give the precise date so that any curious antiquary may look up the directory of the period if he so cares - referring to a sick trooper who was sent to Melbourne for medical treatment. It could not have been a serious case, for the trooper returned to his station without treatment, reporting that ‘all the faculty were drunk.’ This fact points to the great improvement that has taken place in this respect in later years. Our Melbourne doctors do not now all get drunk together on the same day.
As early as 1850, coming events began to cast their shadow before. On 5th January I find that Mr La Trobe, who is now Lieutenant-Governor, visits the Pyrenees with a party of police. He pays other visits to the same place, the purpose of which is not stated. Now the name Pyrenees stands for the modern Ararat and district, one of the earliest places where gold was found. It is only conjecture, but I fancy these visits had something to do with those rumours of gold discoveries that were then in the air. We know that the Government were anxious to prevent rumours of this sort spreading about, to the unsettlement of business. Circumstances, however, proved too strong for them, for we find in the following year, 1851, police stations formed at Pyrenees, Buninyong, and Castlemaine diggings. In fact, what I take to be references more or less explicit to the Castlemaine goldfields appear in January, 1851, six months, before the people of Melbourne fully recognized what was happening.
On the 13th of this same month appears, in the hand-writing of Henry Dana, this short entry: - ‘Mr William Dana shot on parade ground by Mr Walsh.’ This is the Sub Inspector Walsh already spoken of as one of Henry Dana’s assistant officers. Jealousy was the trouble, but the circumstances of the moment appear to have afforded no justification for so violent a deed. Mrs Walsh had just returned to camp on horseback with her husband, and it was as Dana was helping her to dismount that Walsh shot him. A plea of insanity was set up for Walsh, who was lucky enough to get off with seven years imprisonment. William Dana got out of a sick bed to say what he could on behalf of the accused. Dana carried the bullet to his grave fifteen years later. He had been shot through the chest, and, strangely enough, after a year’s rest he seemed to suffer no very ill effects.
During this year - 1851 - there is frequent mention of the goldfields, of the white police having caught the gold fever and leaving the service, of the great increase of bushranging, and of the landing of escaped convicts from Van Diemen’s Land , so that Henry Dana and his troopers must have had a very busy time.
The last entry from the Dandenong records is dated 24th November, 1852 , and is as follows: - ‘ The Commandant of the Mounted Patrol, H E P Dana, Esq, J.P, departed this life at the Melbourne Club at 2 am. Deeply regretted by the officers and men of his corps.’ Henry Dana died of pneumonia, the result of exposure while he was in search of a gang of bushrangers. With this death, or very shortly after, came to an end the Corps of Native Troopers.
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