Cookson, 13 09 1911 5

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13 September 1911

(full text transcription)


DONE BY NED KELLY'S OWN INSTRUCTIONS "Another thing that I have come to Sydney to ask you to clear up," said Mr Grovenor, "is that matter of the stopping of the special train. I do not wish to detract from the courage and resources shown by Mr Curnow, when, on the night of that battle at Glenrowan, he escaped from the inn, stood in the middle of the railway line, and, holding a light behind a red handkerchief, saved a couple of hundred people from almost certain destruction. It was a brave act, and it was cleverly performed. At any rate it served its purpose. But not all the credit is due to Mr Curnow.

Just before he died Ned Kelly told his mother that, as he hoped for mercy, it was his act that had saved that train from the destruction he had intended it to meet. I thought,' he said, 'that they were only sending up a party of police. That was all right, I know it had to come to a fight with the police sooner or later, and we were prepared for it. We had been fighting the police nearly all our lives, but I got news-never mind now -that there was a big crowd of civilians on that train. Men with whom we had no quarrel. Also that with them were women. It was by my permission and suggestion, which none of the other boys had over heard of, that Curnow left the Glenrowan Inn that night. I not only let him go. I told him what to do. I said; "You go out and stop that special somehow; the best way you can." And he did.'


"Now," said Mr Grovenor, "I will give you the true account of Ned Kelly's movements on the night of Glenrowan. All sorts of accounts have been published. Some of them are fairly accurate, but not one of them is strictly true. Let me tell the story as Ned Kelly told it himself a day or two before he died. And let me say, at once, that had the outlaw chieftain been desirous of escaping that night there was nothing that could have prevented him doing so. Had there been any cohestoh of idea, or impulse among the quartet during the siege of the inn, the result would have very different. But whilst Ned Kelly remained sober and quite cool and collected, his associates had been making the night a wild one. Joe Byrne was drunk, and would do nothing but keep on drinking. Hart and Dan Kelly had been fortifying themselves pretty freely also. They were all badly scared. Ned said so himself. That is to say, they were so scared as to be desperate. They were men who knew that their lives might be forfeited at any moment, and when, in the midst of his carousal, Byrne was slain by a stray bullet as he stood up at the bar, glass in hand, the two younger members of the gang seemed to have lost their heads altogether.

"It was very evident, however, that the police were in no sense eager to come to close grips. Ned Kelly he quickly realised that they intended to prolong the siege at least till daylight. Not knowing what to do, he went cut by the back door clad in armor, mounted his grey mare, and rode three or four hundred yards in the direction of Mount Morgan, which overlooks the old battle-ground. Here he dismounted and reviewed the situation at some length. There was still firing of a desultory nature down on the flat where the hotel building was, but not being apprehensive of any immediate disaster, and being, as he admitted, pretty desperate of the ultimate consequences, and extremely exhausted, Ned lay down on the ground, and fell asleep.

"On awakening, an hour later, he found the siege still going on, and rode back to the hotel, or inn.

"He told his associates there that it was no use fighting any longer-that there were too many of the police for them to beat, and that they had better follow him and get away. This was before Byrne was shot. Full of the courage that emanates from whisky. Byrne yelled out: 'Oh, - the police! We can do them yet; let's fight them,' Ned said; 'It's no use talking like that; there are too many of them. You follow me, you fellows; I'll clear the way, and we'll be all right.' The other three positively refused to leave, saying that they'd fight the - police to the end. Then Ned had to decide whether to save himself or stay and die with his mates, who had, as far as he could see, abandoned all hope or wish of surviving. His decision was soon taken. 'If you won't go,' he said, 'I'll stay with you, and we'll fight them together and die together.'

"There was a hurried consultation, as the result of which Ned Kelly said he would go out and see what police there were there and how they were posted. Still clad in his armor of proof, the big bushranger left the inn by the back door. It was then almost daylight. Kelly carried a revolver and a Colt repeating rifle with the barrel sawn in half. He walked fearlessly among the police outside, giving shot for shot where ever opportunity presented, but it was not long before Steele brought him down with two or three charges of heavy slugs in the legs. You know what happened after that. When he was picked up Ned was found to be wounded in the knee, in the arm, and in the wrist and fingers of one hand."

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