Royal Commission report day 23 page 11

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The Royal Commission evidence for 31/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 23)

Sgt Steel giving evidence

8990 You were under the impression on the 2nd November, from information you obtained, that those were the tracks of the outlaws?— I believed it was then, but the police were aware of it before at Wangaratta.

8991 I am only dealing with your case; you were there with a number of police?— Yes.

8992 Have you anything further to say before we come to Glenrowan?— No, I have nothing further to say except in reference to when I received information of the murder of Sherritt.

8993 What did you do then?— I received information at one p.m. , 27th June 1880 , from the police at Beechworth.

8994 Was it on the Saturday or Sunday?— The Sunday. Sherritt was shot on the Saturday night. It was about one o'clock , and I could not get the Benalla telegraph office at the time, so I sent a messenger to the railway station telegraph, who communicated with the superintendent at Benalla; told him to go to the office, that there was important information on the line. We were told then to carry out instructions previously supplied by Inspecting Superintendent Nicolson.

8995 What were they?— To watch all the crossings and fords and so forth about the bridges, and to report at two a.m. in the following morning, to take up our different stations. I attended the office as directed and reported all correct. My station was about the last that answered, I believe, on the line I remained in the office to hear the result from the different stations. There was a telegram came from Mr. Sadleir to Mr. Hare, which I took down to the railway station, as I wished to see Mr. Hare's men as they were passing up; I knew he was coming up by special train. When I got to the station; it was about five minutes to three when I got to the station at Wangaratta. I learned here about the train coming, and I got anxious about five minutes past three about the train.

8996 Did you hear any information?— No, but you can hear the train down the line for nearly seven or eight miles coming, but I could not hear it, and I asked Mr. Lang to telegraph what time it left; the reply was, “Five minutes past two.” I remarked to Mr. Lang, “There must be something wrong,” and I ran down to the One-mile bridge, down the line.

8997 How far?— About 200 or 300 yards. When listening there for the train I heard a volley fired.,

8998 How far was this from Glenrowan?— I suppose about ten miles from Glenrowan. Then I heard an occasional rifle shot; single shot. I ran back, and Mr. Lang desired me not to be in a hurry he said it might be something in the trucks. I listened again, and about a minute or so after I heard another volley, and a rifle shot occasionally. I told Mr. Lang to get the Beechworth engine ready. The engine was there under steam at the time, and I told him I would run up and get the men and run them down on the engine. Before going away I went into the office and told the station master to send a special messenger to Mr. Sadleir's private house, there was heavy firing down the line, or words to that effect, as near as I can recollect. I mentioned it to the operator at the machine; I told him what to say verbally, and he repeated it. I think I requested him to go to the town office, as I started for the town office at once. When I was leaving the station, Morgan, the engine driver, called me and said, “I think I hear a horseman coming on the sleepers.” I listened, but could not hear, and I continued on towards the station, when he again called to me and said he could hear a horseman coming on the line. I then heard a horse distinctly striking the sleepers occasionally, and I went down and ran about a mile down the line and waited some time, and I could hear a horse coming in the distance. It was Constable Bracken; he was coming to Wangaratta. He was then on the metal and I was between the line, but he recognized my voice as I called; and he told me Mr. Hare was wounded, and that they were all down at Glenrowan blazing away at the police. I got on his horse, and I rode on into Wangaratta and got the men up and went to the office to Mr. Sadleir. Mr. Sadleir had got to the town office at this time; that is, in Benalla, because he was speaking to me in the office when it was announced on the wire. They said that Mr. Hare had just arrived at Benalla.....

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