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Importance of Mr Hugh McClement Burch

I was the fireman of the pilot train to the siege at Glenrowan

Links to the KellyGang below, Early Years , Glenrowan Siege , Reward Board , Later service , Family , Photograph

Links to the KellyGang

Glenrowan Siege 28/6/1880 Special train leaves Melbourne to go to Beechworth - follow up on death of Aaron Sherritt

I was the fireman of the special train from Melbourne to Benalla. (Argus2/7/1880)

Train arrives at Benalla

I volunteered my services as the fireman the pilot engine driven to Glenrowan by Mr Alder. (Argus2/7/1880)

Arrive at Glenrowan

I arrived at Glenrowan by train at about 2.30 am on the morning of the siege and we saw Curnow with his light.


I sent a letter that included the following to my parents in 1881:

"The next merciful escape for me I expect you have heard its surroundings without knowing that your son was implicated in it, viz. the capture of the band of brigands known as the "Kelly Gang". These scoundrels, after murdering and robbing and defying the authorities for close on two years, were at length brought to bay amidst a scene of carnage and death which I have witnessed never to be forgotten. On the Sabbath night I was just come in from church and having had a bad hand, the Mrs was dressing it prior to my going to bed when a rap came to the door and a man informing me that I was urgently required to run a fast special train. I did not know whether to go not as my hand was bad, but I suspected the errand which I was wanted for, and thinking that it might be construed into cowerdice, concealing from an anxious wife the dangers which I suspected would meet me, on going to the station I went for instructions as to what was expected of me, but was informed that I would be under the guidance and instructions of the chief Commissioner of Police, to use every care and precaution, the rate of speed to be at my own descretion. Information had been received that the gang of outlaws had come out of cover and we at Glenrowan amongst their friends, which is about 140 miles from Melbourne. On passing through a station 17 miles from Melbourne, the train going at high speed, I went to steady the Engine by applying the tender brake until she until she would be clear of all points and crossings. Knowing the road perfectly, as I felt her going over the last pair, I had just taken it off and was going over to the other side of the Engine when I felt a crash and found myself knocked up into a corner. I found on gathering myself together that I had gone through a heavy pair of iron gates which had been left across the rails from the carelessness of the person in charge. This accident carried away my tender hand brake, also the gear of the automatic brake, leaving leaving me almost helpless as too stopping power with the exception of reversing the Engine and using the steam against her. However I accomplished the journey to Benalla, a distance of 122 miles, in 2 hours and a ¼. On getting there they put [some men] on the train with horses for the troupers. I then objected to go any further with the train as considering the condition of my engine and being unable to stop in a proper manner that it would be highly dangerous life. There was another Engine ready on the Station for the purpose of going ahead it being night if possible to prevent the police from falling into an ambush. Considering the importance of the case, I got this Engine to take charge of the train as she would have the brake power to stop it which if required and that I would go ahead about a mile with my Engine as pilot and give the warning if possible, of danger. I accordingly, proceeded with the utmost care and caution - I fully suspected they would tear the rails up for the purpose of upsetting the Police - I never remember such a feeling before in life, as suspecting danger and death and not knowing what form it would come, however I remember that my mate and I shook hands with each other, each consoling ourselves with the thought that if the worst happened, our wifes and family would be provided for. "

The National Library noted that minimal punctuation had been added, and repetitions and spelling transcribed exactly.

Photograph Kelly Reward Board

Following the meetings of the Reward Board in December 1880 I recieved a reward of about £104



Parents ? ... wife Sarah Eliza Morris nee Ballard (Her parents were Robert Morris and Sophia Mary Ballard.) children Mary Gertrude b1877, Henry Ballard b1878 ..

I died in 1881.

What happened to Mr Burch's family