Ovens and Murray Advertiser (9)

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The attempt on the train continued

The first attack of the police was a brilliant affair. They approached the house quickly, but stealthily. Their arrival, however, was expected, and they were met with a volley from the verandah of the hotel. Special trains were run during the morning between Glenrowan and Benalla, and Mrs O’Connor and her sister ― who may justly be called the heroines of the day, for they behaved bravely ― were taken on by one of them to Benalla in the forenoon. Ned Kelly after being secured quieted down, and became absolutely tame. He is very reserved as to anything connected with his comrades, but answered questions freely when his individual case was alone concerned. He appeared to be suffering from a severe shock and exhaustion, and trembled in every limb. Now and again he fainted, but restoratives brought him around, and in his stronger moments he made the following statements:―


“I was going down to meet the special train with some of my mates, and intended to rake it with shot; but it arrived before I expected, and I then returned to the hotel. I expected the train would go on, and I had the rails pulled up so that these —— blacktrackers might be settled. I do not say what brought me to Glenrowan, but it seems much. Anyhow I could have got away last night, for I got into the bush with my grey mare, and lay there all night. But I wanted to see the thing end. In the first volley the police fired I was wounded on the left foot; soon afterwards I was shot through the left arm. I got these wounds in front of the house. I do not care what people say about Sergeant Kennedy’s death. I have made my statement of the affair, and if the public don’t believe me I can’t help it; but I am satisfied it is not true that Scanlan was shot kneeling. He never got off his horse. I fired three or four shots from the front of Jones’s hotel, but who I was firing at I do not know. I simply fired where I saw police. I escaped to the bush, and remained there overnight. I could have shot several constables if I liked. Two passed close to me. I could have shot them before they could shoot. I was a good distance away at one time, but came back. Why don’t the police use bullets instead of duck-shot? I have got one charge of duck-shot in my leg. One policeman who was firing at me was a splendid shot, but I do not know his name. I daresay I would have done well to have ridden away on my grey mare. The bullets that struck my armour felt like blows from a man’s fist. I wanted to fire into the carriages, but the police started on to us too quickly. I expected the police to come.” Inspector Sadleir. — “You wanted, then, to kill the people in the train?” Kelly. — “Yes, of course I did; God help them, but they would have got shot all the same. Would they not have tried to kill me?”


When the first attack subsided, the outlaws were heard calling, “Come on you ——; the —— police can’t do us any harm.” The armour in which each member of the gang was clad was of a most substantial character. It was made of iron a quarter of an inch thick, and consisted of a long breast-plate, shoulder-plates, back-guard, and helmet. The helmet resembled a nail can without a crown, and a long slit at the elevation of the eyes to look through. All these articles are believed to have been made by two men, one living near Greta, and the other near Oxley. The iron was procured by the larceny of plough shares, and larcenies of this kind having been rather frequent of late in the Kelly district, the police had begun to suspect that the gang were preparing for action. Ned Kelly’s armour alone weighed 97lb, a considerable weight to carry on horseback. There are five bullet marks on the helmet, three on the breast-plate, nine on the back-plate, and one on the shoulder-plate. His wounds, so far as at present known, are:— Two on the right arm, several on the right leg, one on the left foot, one on the right hand, and two near the groin.


John Stanistreet, the stationmaster at Glenrowan, states:― ”About three o’clock on Sunday morning a knock came to my door. I live at the gatehouse, within 100 yards of the station, on the Melbourne side. I jumped out of bed, and thinking it was someone wishing to get through the gates in a hurry, I proceeded to dress, and after getting half my clothes on I went to the door. Just as I arrived at the door it was burst in. Previous to that, there was some impertinent talk outside to get me to open quickly. When the door was burst in I asked, ‘Who are you; what is this for?’ The answer was, ‘I am Ned Kelly.’ I saw a man clad in an overcoat, who walked in with me to my bedroom. Mrs Stanistreet and the children were there in bed. There were two little girls and one infant. Ned Kelly said to me, ‘You have to come with me and take up the rails.’ I replied, ‘Wait until I dress;’ and I completed my dress, and followed him out of the house on the railway line. I found seven or eight men standing at the gate looking over the line near Mrs Jones’s Glenrowan Inn. Ned Kelly, speaking to me, said, ‘Now you direct those men how to raise some of the rails, as we expect a special train very soon.’ I objected, saying, ‘I know nothing about lifting rails off the line. The only persons that understand it are the repairers, and they live outside and on the line.’ Ned went on alone to Reardon the platelayers house, which stands about a quarter of a mile along the line southward. I and the other men were left in charge of Steve Hart. Ned Kelly went on to Reardon’s house; Steve Hart gave me a prod with his gun in the side, and said, ‘You get the tools out that are necessary to raise those rails.’ I replied, ‘I have not the key of the chest.’ He said, ‘We’ll break the lock,’ and he got one of the men to do so. They took all the tools out of the chest, which lay in a back shed or toolhouse between the station and the crossing. Soon afterwards Ned and two of the repairers, Reardon and Sullivan, arrived. Ned, accompanied by these two men, proceeded down the line towards Wangaratta. We stood with Hart in the cold at the hut for about two hours. At last Ned Kelly and the repairer returned. Ned inquired about the signalling on the line ― how I stopped trains with the signal lamps. I told him white is right and red wrong, and green generally ‘come along.’ He then said, ‘There is a special train coming, and you will give no signal.’ Then, speaking to Hart, he said, ‘Watch his countenance, and if he gives any signal shoot him.’ He marched us into my house, and left us under the charge of Steve Hart. Subsequently other persons were made prisoners and lodged in my house to the number of about 17. They were the Reardon family, the Ryan family, Tom Cameron, son of a gatekeeper on the line, and others whom I don’t remember. We were locked up all day on Sunday, but we were allowed out under surveillance. The women were allowed to go to Jones’s Hotel about dark, all the men but myself and family went to the hotel soon afterwards. Steve Hart remained with us all night. During the night Dan Kelly relieved Hart, and he was afterwards relieved by Byrne. Just before the special train arrived this morning I was ordered by Hart, who was on and off duty throughout the night, to follow him over to Jones’s, and not to signal the train. I went into the back kitchen, and found there Mrs Jones, with her daughter about 14, and two younger children. There was also a man there named Neil McKean. By this time the train had arrived, and firing was going on furiously, and we all took shelter about the chimney. The house is a mere shell of a structure. The gang disappeared from me when the firing commenced. A bullet passed right through the kitchen, and grazed the temple of Jane Jones , aged 14, daughter of the landlord. She exclaimed, ‘I am shot,’ and as she turned to me I saw her head bleeding, and told her it was nothing serious. Poor Mrs Jones commenced to cry bitterly. I left the kitchen and went into the back yard, and passed the gang there. They were standing together at the kitchen chimney. I cannot say whether there were three or four of them. One of them said, ‘If you go out you will be shot.’ I walked straight to my house. Firing was going on, but I was uninjured. Of course I was challenged as I passed through. I omitted to state that on Sunday night Steve Hart demanded my revolver from me, and I had to give it up.”


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