The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (68)
“We went back again and said to Dan Kelly, ‘I wish to heaven we were out of this.’ Byrne said, ‘Mrs Reardon, put out the children and make them scream, and scream yourself; and she was coming past the rifles in the passage, and one of the rifles tangled in her dress, and Dan Kelly said to Byrne, ‘Take your rifle, or the woman will be shot’; and I came out and she screamed, and the children, and they came out. The fire was blazing and a policeman called out - I thought it was Sergeant Steele - ‘Come this way’; and he still kept firing at her—at my wife with the baby in her arms. (He was not covering her.) Firing at her and covering her are two different things. She has a shawl with a bullet hole through the corner of it which she can show you. I heard a voice saying, ‘Come this way.’ Constable Arthur was standing close to Sergeant Steele, and he said, ‘If you fire on that woman again, I am - if I don’t shoot you, cannot you see she is an innocent woman?’ These were Arthur’s own words, and I did not believe that the man would do that. Then I had to return back; there were bullets flying at me, and I crept on the ground, and went back to the house with the children, and as my son returned he got wounded in the shoulder, and fell on the jamb of the door, and he has got the bullet yet, and he is quite useless to me or himself. I would sooner have seen him killed. He is getting on to nineteen. I returned back to the house then and lay down among the lot inside, and put the children between my knees, when a bullet scraped the breast of my coat and went across two other men, and went through the sofa at the other end of it.
We remained there expecting every minute to be shot, until we heard a voice calling us to come out, about half-past nine in the morning (Monday). We got ten minutes. I think it would be Mr Sadleir’s voice, to the best of my belief. I cannot say for certain. Mr Sadleir was the first I recognised after I came out. We all came out. I was the last, for I had the two children, one in each hand, and as I was coming down there was a constable named Divery, and he said, ‘Let us finish this - lot,’ or something like that. Then the terror of that drove me - I ran to the drain. A blackfellow there cocked his rifle at my face, and I did not know what to do with the children, and I ran away up to where Mr Sadleir was.”
By the Commission.—That was hot work.—Hot work! You would not like to be there, I can tell you.
“Byrne had been shot at the end of the counter, going from the passage. He was standing still. I only heard him fall. I heard him fall like a log, and he never groaned or anything, and I could hear a sound like blood gushing. That was about five or six in the morning; but when I was coming out, the other two (Dan Kelly and Hart) were both standing close together in the passage, not a move in them, with their armour on, with the butt end of their rifles on the ground (floor). They were struck while I was there; I could hear the bullets flying off the armour several times. Their lives were saved for the time being by the armour. They fired many shots before that in the early part, but I believe from the time it became daylight they did not fire but very few times that I could notice.”
Question by Commission — At the time that Steele, you say, was firing upon you, and your wife escaping, were the outlaws firing from the hotel? — No, I am positive they were not. (RC7684)
Question — Why? — Because they were standing still, and I could hear if they did. They (Dan Kelly and Hart) said they would not fire until we escaped. Sergeant Steele told me and several others that he had shot my son.
. . . . .
Sergeant Steele seemed to be too intent on shooting at women and children to take command. At about six o’clock Supt Sadleir arrived from Benalla with reinforcements, and he was from that hour in supreme command. There was no order or discipline among the fifty policemen and several civilians who were assisting the police. At about seven o’clock a figure like a blackfellow appeared up in the bush. Someone called out, “Look at this fellow.” Senior-Constable Kelly called out to Guard Dowsett to “Challenge him, and if he does not answer you, shoot him.” Ned Kelly, who in armour and helmet looked like a blackfellow, pulled out a revolver and fired at Constable Arthur. Three or four constables fired at him, and he advanced. On coming towards the house in the direction of Jones’ there were several shots fired at him; they had no effect. Constable Kelly sang out, “Look out! he is bullet proof.” Ned Kelly was coming towards the position which Sergeant Steele had taken up. Dowsett fired at him with a revolver.
Ned Kelly was behind a tree, but one hand was projecting outside the tree. Constable Kelly fired at the hand and missed; he fired again and hit the hand. Ned still advanced and moved over to a fallen log at Jones’ side of the log. Ned was coming from the Wangaratta side of the hotel, and was coming from the direction of the Warby Ranges. Several policemen fired at him. Senior constable Kelly said, “Come on, lads, we will rush him.” Ned was firing under great difficulties. He appeared to be crippled; he was holding up his right hand with his left hand; consequently his shots fell short and struck the ground half-way. Steele now came close up behind Ned and fired at him. Constable Kelly fired two shots, and Steele also fired, and Ned Kelly dropped on his haunches. Steele ran and caught him by the wrist and under the beard. The helmet was on. Steele had one hand on his neck. Constable Kelly pulled the helmet off and said, “My God, it is Ned!” Constable Kelly threw Ned over on Steele.
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
See previous Chapter / next Chapter ... The Complete Inner History of the Kelly Gang and their Pursuers ... Index