Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer Chapter XX page 5

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Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir

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To enable Hare to have a few hours’ rest, I attended to all necessary matters until the arrival of the special night train from Melbourne , with sub-inspector O’Connor and his Queensland boys. This train reached Benalla after midnight , and contained besides these Mrs. O’Connor and her sister, as well as Messrs Melvin, McWhirter, G V Allen, Carrington, and another whose name I have forgotten, all representatives of the Melbourne press. I do not know how these gentlemen came to know what was afoot, but there they were. The plan was that the police should leave the train at Beechworth and take up the tracks at Sherritt’s hut, as already stated. Sergeant Steele, at Wangaratta, was instructed to report to me by telegraph the arrival of the special train there, and similar instructions were given to the police at Beechworth, and after seeing Hare’s party off from Benalla, about 2 am , I turned in, first arranging that any messages received at Benalla should be at once brought to me.

The first message to come in was from Wangaratta, saying that the police train was approaching; then followed another message soon after to say that this was an error; the train the police heard approaching was a special coming from Beechworth to Wangaratta. The next message, which reached me some little time later, was also from Wangaratta, to the effect that the police train had not yet reached that town, adding that the sound of rifle firing was heard from the direction of Glenrowan, a station about eight miles distant from Wangaratta towards Benalla. Before I was fully dressed followed still another report—that the Kellys were shut in at Mrs. Jones’s hotel at Glenrowan, that Hare was wounded, and that nine of the police were knocked over. This last piece of news was brought by the driver of an engine that had just returned to Benalla, bringing Hare back for medical attention. Serious as this piece of news was, my first impulse was to kneel down beside my bed and thank God that He had given the enemy into our hands. It was not that I thought less of the loss of these police, but rather that I thought of the prospect at any cost of ending the horrid uncertainty that had oppressed us all so long.

As I was hurrying to the railway station at Benalla I met Hare just as he reached the telegraph station. I saw that he was bleeding from a wound in the wrist, and after a few words urging me to see that Mrs Jones’s hotel was surrounded by the police, he fell fainting on the floor. And no wonder, for the kindly pressman who bandaged his wound on the ground, had made the mistake of placing the ligature below instead of above the severed artery. It was clear that in the condition in which he then was, Hare could take no further part in the fight.

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