Cookson, 24 09 1911 1

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24 September 1911

(full text transcription)




Steve Hart and Dan Kelly both perished in the final tragedy at Glenrowan. Everyone acquainted with the facts knows that. Their fate is beyond all dispute. Escape was impossible, because the police surrounded the house and poured in volleys from back and front. The bodies of the dead outlaws were seen on the floor of the hotel before it was quite destroyed.

The report of this part of the siege, written for the Melbourne "Age" by Mr Joseph Melvin, a pressman of recognised capacity and reliability, is as follows:-

"The police opened up a heavy fire on the hotel from the front and rear. This was done in order to cover the operations of Senior-constable Johnston, who rapidly approached the house on the north side with a bundle of straw, which he placed against the weatherboards and set fire to. It was known that Martin Sherry, an old man, was still in the house, and when the last prisoners had escaped he was alive, though badly wounded. The thought that the unfortunate man would be sacrificed, and perish in the flames with the determined bushrangers who had made so long a stand, caused a feeling of horror to pervade the crowd.

"Kate Kelly at this juncture came upon the scene, but the only expression which escaped her lips was the one uttered in heart-broken accents, "My poor, poor brother." Mrs Skillian exclaimed, "I will see my brother before he dies," and then sped towards the hotel, from the roof of which by this time tongues of flame were beginning to ascend. The police ordered her to go back, and she hesitated.

"Father Tierney emerged from the crowd, saying he would save Sherry. The brave clergyman was encouraged on his mission by a cheer from the spectators. He walked boldly to the front door, was lost to view amongst the smoke, and directly afterwards a mass of flames burst from the walls and roof of the dwelling at the same instant. A shout of terror from the crowd announced the fear that was felt for the safety of the courageous priest, Constable Armstrong, with some other policemen, rushed into the building from the rear, and a few seconds afterwards their forms, with that of Father Tierney, were seen to emerge, carrying with them Sherry, who was in a dying state, and the dead body of the outlaw Byrne.

"On reaching a place of safety they stated that Dan Kelly and Hart were lying upon the floor apparently dead. Nothing, however, could be done to rescue their remains from the fire. Soon afterwards the building was completely demolished, and on a search being made amongst the ruins, two charred skeletons were raked out from the smouldering debris. Wild Wright, Hart (the brother of Steve), and other well-known friends, were witnesses of this terrible scene. All the bushrangers were clad in the same kind of armour as that worn by Ned Kelly, which weighed as much as 97lb., and had evidently been constructed by some country blacksmith out of ploughshares. The marks on Kelly's armour showed that he had been hit 17 times with bullets.

"The unfortunate man Sherry died soon after being rescued from the burning building. Ned Kelly was brought on to Benalla by the evening train, and lodged in the lock-up, to await the inquest to be held in the morning."

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