The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (54)
On one occasion, while watching Kellys’ homestead on a moonlight night, the police heard someone playing the concertina, and noticed several horses tied up at the yard and the house lighted up. Suddenly the dog barked, and as suddenly the music ceased and the lights went out. Men were seen moving about. In making a hasty retreat, one of the police, Constable Graham, tripped over a log and dropped his rifle, which he did not wait to pick up. He feared the Kellys were after him, and consequently time was more precious than the rifle; it was the essence of the “contract.”
Constable Fitzpatrick’s Dismissal
Shortly after the passing of the Outlawry Act Constable Alex Fitzpatrick was transferred to the police depot, and from there he was sent to Lancefield, where he was under Senior-Constable Mayes. After being only nine months in Lancefield, Fitzpatrick was charged by Senior-Constable Mayes as follows:—
“That he was not fit to be in the police force; that he associated with the lowest persons in Lancefield; that he could not be trusted out of sight, and that he never did his duty.”
As the result of these charges Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the Victorian Police Force.
When giving evidence before the Royal Commission on July 6, 1881, Fitzpatrick was cross-examined as follows:—
Question—How long were you in the police force? (RC12895)
Fitzpatrick.—Over three years.
Question—Did you plead guilty to charges of misconduct during that time?
Fitzpatrick.—I did, foolishly.
Fitzpatrick—I could not tell you how many times, but they were very trifling offences.
Question—Did you plead guilty to neglect of duty during the three years?
Fitzpatrick—Yes, for missing the train once or twice in Sydney.
Question—Are you aware that the Inspector-General of Sydney wrote to complain of your misconduct in Sydney?
Question—Were you never told in Sydney, by any officer of police there, that they complained of your conduct?
Question—You had the opportunity of answering the charge at Sydney?
Fitzpatrick—I did write out a report in reference to that. In completing his answer to another question, Fitzpatrick said:—“There are many constables in the force who have done more serious things than I did, and have remained in the force and got promotion.”
In this latter statement, Fitzpatrick was corroborated by Ned Kelly, who stated that there were men in the police force who were not fit to be there.
From the time Mr C H Nicolson took charge in July, 1879, the only activity on the part of the police was among the police spies. The Kellys handled the police spies very wisely, and through their friends kept them supplied with something new. This was an easy matter, owing to the bitterness of the quarrels which continued between the heads of the police department engaged in the Kelly hunt.
In July, 1879, Supt Hare returned to Melbourne a broken man; he was completely baffled by the outlaws. The blacktrackers were the only section of the Kelly hunters who were taken seriously by the outlaws. But as the Kellys put in their time between their old home on Eleven-Mile Creek and certain week-end resorts of camping places which they had established in the ranges, they were not troubled by the Queensland blacktrackers. Still, the outlaws held a somewhat exaggerated idea of the tracking powers of the blacks. These trackers were kept under close police supervision, and the Kellys, not being able to get in touch with them, were unable to square them. The sympathisers did not know enough of the habits of the Queensland blacks to attempt to get in direct touch with them. Otherwise the Kellys would have secured their services just as effectively as the services of many spies who joined the “spy brigade” for the purpose of supplying the outlaws with most reliable inside police information.
The Greatest Man in the World
Aaron Sherritt regarded Ned Kelly as the greatest man in Australia for clean dealing as a mate and for his extraordinary powers of endurance. Supt Hare, giving evidence before the Royal Commission, said of the endurance of Aaron Sherritt and the outlaws:—“I say he (Aaron Sherritt) was a man of most wonderful endurance. He would go night after night without sleep. In the coldest nights in winter he would be under a tree without a particle of blanket of any sort, in his shirt sleeves, whilst many of my men were lying wrapped up in furs in the middle of winter. This is an instance that occurred actually. I saw the man one night, when the water was frozen on the running creeks and I was frozen to death nearly. I came down, and said, ‘Where is Aaron Sherritt?’ and I saw a white thing lying under a tree, and there was Aaron without his coat. The men (police) were covered up with all kinds of coats and furs and waterproof coatings, and everything else, and this man was lying on the ground uncovered. I said, ‘Are you mad, Aaron, lying there?’ and he said, ‘I do not care about coats.’ (RC1282)
I said to him (Aaron Sherritt) on one occasion, ‘Can the outlaws endure as you are doing?’ He replied, ‘Ned Kelly could beat me into fits.’ He said, ‘I can beat all the others; I am a better man than Joe Byrne, and I am better than Dan Kelly, and I am a better man than Steve Hart. I can lick these two youngsters to fits. I have always beaten Joe, but I look upon Ned Kelly as an extraordinary man; there is no man in the world like him—he is superhuman. I look upon him as invulnerable; you (Supt Hare) can do nothing with him,’ and that was the opinion of all his (Aaron Sherritt’s ) agents. Nearly every one in the district thought him invincible. When the police had a row with any of the sympathisers they would always finish off by saying, ‘I will tell Ned about you; he will make it hot for you some day’; never speaking about the others at all.”
(Is it any wonder that the police, on “double-pay,” instinctively avoided coming into contact with this Napoleon of the Southern Hemisphere?)
Commissioner to Supt Hare:—
Question: Did you ever ascertain what those traces were on the Warby Mountains??—No, never to this day; and I believe it was the men (Kellys) flying before us. They were as wonderful as everyone said they were; they could fly before us; but if we had had some of Mr O’Connor’s men on that day we could have got them, I believe.
This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view
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