Cookson, 03 09 1911 2

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3 September 1911

(full text transcription)

THE MAN WHO STOPPED THE SPECIAL TRAIN

MR CURNOW LIVING UNDER AN ASSUMED NAME

It is a matter of history that the bushrangers rendered desperate by consciousness of impending retribution, and with appetites for the slaughter of those whom they had made their enemies to the death, whetted by their sharp and decisive defeat of the police in the Wombat Ranges, determined to annihilate the special force of police sent to encounter them at Glenrowan. Their arrangements for the wrecking of the special train were nothing short of terrible in their completeness. Nothing could have saved the train from an awful disaster had it been permitted to reach the embankment just beyond Glenrowan, at which the outlaws had had the rails torn up. The courage and self devotion of one man alone prevented that calamity. Mr Curnow, the schoolmaster, knew of the outlaws' dreadful intentions. Taking his life in his hands he left the inn in which he and the other people were prisoners to frustrate them. He was successful in stopping the train, and in preventing the contemplated massacre, and was, beyond question, by that act responsible in a very great measure for the bringing of the bushrangers' long and sensational career to a close.

After the destruction of the gang Mr Curnow disappeared. He received a liberal share of the reward offered by two Governments for the apprehension of the outlaws. But thenceforward he vanished from human ken. It is presumed - has been presumed for years - that this plucky school teacher is dead. That belief is only partially correct. As Mr Curnow he has certainly ceased to exist. But the man himself is still alive - or was very recently. Living under another name, old but still active, Mr Curnow was until lately teaching a small school in the wilderness of Gippsland. Tall, grave of features, his long beard now almost white, the man who saved the special train is a very prominent figure in the small community in which he has chosen to immune himself. His secret is not unknown. When on rare occasions he makes a visit to the principal town in the district on some business of compulsion, he is pointed out occasionally by the few who know him as the hero of the Glenrowan fight; the man who risked his life to save the lives of his fellow men. But his new home is a long way removed from the scene of his memorable exploit. And there is no likelihood of the fact of his identity becoming known involving him in any of the trouble which, rightly or wrongly, he anticipated as the result of what he did on that fateful night. There are none in that region who have any sympathy with the notorious outlaws or their fate. To the people there the whole story of the gang and its exploits and destruction is a memory only. Those who know the old school teacher him for his great exploit - but they respect his wishes by seldom or never alluding to it. And so, in the placid serenity of his autumn of life Mr Curnow gores on with the work that he has always followed ; the instruction of the young. And a wise and capable instructor he has proved himself.

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the previous day / next day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index