Royal Commission report day 19 page 25

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The Royal Commission evidence for 13/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 19)

Sgt Whelan giving evidence

6520 By Mr. Hare. —You were asked, with reference to two systems of working, the one by searching the country, and the other by agents, do you think that by the system I adopted, in harassing the men and sending them into the back country, they would have had more difficulty in getting provisions than if left alone and watched by agents?— Yes, I should think so.

6521 I ask whether the system itself, of keeping the men in the back country and giving them difficulties in procuring provisions was not better than allowing them to remain near their friends and blood relations?— Yes; but so long as they had the banks' money they had a sufficient number of sympathizers and blood relations even to keep them away from you; but certainly it would entail more hardships.

6522 That would entail the provisions being carried a further distance?— Yes.

6523 And have to hire more agents carry them?— Yes.

6524 Take it that they lived on the Greta swampy one man could provide provisions altogether?— Yes, easily.

6525 But suppose they had to live on the King River , he would have to pass different places, and have to ride at night?— One man could not do it then.

6526 So it would take a large number of agents to convey provisions to the back country?— Yes.

6527 You said also they would be driven away and caught; do you think if they left this part they would have been caught immediately?— Yes, I know it too. I think if they were to leave their own den they would be caught very quickly, four men together.

6528 By Mr. Nicolson. —How long did Sergeant Porter remain up here?— He only remained one night, I think, and left the next morning.

6529 To instruct the men in the use of those Martini-Henry rifles. What was it, to instruct them in the shooting or the mechanism?— For the loading and use of the arm.

6530 Did he instruct them in marking, as a marksman?— No.

6531 There were some extracts read to you about the shooting of the men, their knowledge of the use of arms. Do you remember soon after I came up a class being formed of the men for shooting?— I do.

6532 Why was that done?— Because you used to send them out to the Reef to practice with the, Martinis. There were some times two parties here, and not much doing in searching, and they were kept practising at the Reefs.

6533 Did they require it?— Men always improve on practice.

6534 Were not some of those men ineffective, as far as actual practice went, though, they knew how to handle, the weapons?— The practice in the Martini is required, and is required frequently,

6535 By the Commission. —Were the men efficient in the arms. I said, and I understood you to say it was in the use altogether?— Good marksmen?

6536 Yes?— I used to go out with the men with the double guns, but not with the men to the Reefs, so I could not say which was the best. Afterwards Mr. Nicolson gave prizes, to see which was the best marksman; a man can be efficient with arms and practice them all his life and not be a good shot, but be efficient and use them thoroughly, and without danger to himself or anybody else.

6537 By Mr. Nicolson. —Are you not aware that one of the men, when a weapon of that kind was placed in his hands, at that very time, and he was sent out on that duty, stated he had never fired a gun in his life. One of the men, Phillips?— I think he was one of the party who used to go out for shooting.

6538 Yes?— I do not remember he ever said that.

6539 Did you not report that to me yourself?— No.

6540 That was the case, at any rate. Then with reference to that very rifle, the Spencer. A man opening it, and finding it had no cartridges in it—would not a man efficient in the use of that weapon know that?— I made that remark, with the exception of that.!

6541 Was not it a very gross error, showing great ignorance in handling that weapon, when he pulled the trigger, and, not seeing the cartridge, to say there is none in?— I made the exception with him and others. He should never have acted as he did. This particular man I mentioned.

6542 You spoke just now about the search parties in pursuit dispersing the outlaws. Are you not aware that in the Kelly country there are tier upon tier of ranges, and parties looking for those men they might go down one of those spurs and ride down among their friends ten miles behind the party pursuing?— Yes, but it kept them moving.

6543 Are you not aware of that?— Yes, within 100 yards of the party.

6544 Could they not have returned just where the police started from?— Yes, they could.....

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