Royal Commission report day 32 page 2

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The Royal Commission evidence for 21/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 32)

[[../../people/peA/armstrongHPC.html|Const Henry Armstrong]] 'giving evidence'

12099 You were one of the cave party?— Yes.

12100 Did you believe that that cave party was kept a secret?— Well, every attempt was made, but I am thoroughly confident that it was discovered.

12101 The police made every endeavor, but it was impossible to do it?— Yes.

12102 Did a great many people connected with Sherritt's family know?— Yes, Mrs. and Miss Sherritt; they are the whole Sherritt family.

12103 And some of the family were going to school along with the Byrnes?— Well, Denis Byrne was going to school with a brother of Mrs. Sherritt’s, twelve years of age.

12104 They would naturally speak of the cave?— Yes.

12105 Your opinion is that it was known?— It was known.

12106 Do you remember a report before asked from you with reference to the cave party?— I do.

12107 What occurred with reference to that?— When I was leaving Beechworth, Ward had asked me to furnish a report along with the other constables. I made a report to say that I simply carried out Mr. Nicolson's instructions, and formed no opinion as to whether we were discovered or not. Ward asked me to report that we were not discovered, but I refused to do so.

12108 What did be say on that occasion?— He said, “Will not you report that we are not discovered?” I said, “No, I cannot.” I was leaving for my station then. Opinions were expressed in the cave by the men as to the reason for Ward keeping the party on. I had heard it said by one constable, Anthony Alexander, of Cashel, “It is my opinion that Ward is making a fool of the whole of the officers to put money in the pocket of a certain storekeeper at Beechworth.” The latter is a most respectable man. Ward and he were very intimate, and his bill, I believe, was £30 a month—about that—for provisions, spirits, and porter supplied to the cave party.

12109 You were very well kept while you were there?— Very well; but we had to put up with a great deal of hardship.

12110 The provisions were good, but the hardships very great?— We had no sleep hardly; about eight or nine days we used to remain there, and could not wash our faces; had to carry water two miles.

12111 It was without any result?— Yes; and it was the general impression we were discovered.

12112 Did you form any idea why Ward wished it to be said you were not discovered?— Well, I could not.

12113 Did he show any anxiety about keeping you there?— I can give Sherritt's statement to me. Sherritt told me he believed we were kept on to show we were doing something.

12114 Did Ward show a great desire that you should state that you were not discovered, in your sheet?— He did.

12115 Is there any other reason in your mind which would be the cause of Ward wishing for this special character of report except that?— I could not form any opinion, although there were other constables called to make reports at the time.

12116 Do you think it was to show he was efficiently discharging his own duty?— Well, if I gave any opinion, that is the one I would be inclined to express.

12117 Were you ever asked before for a report in any case?— No, but I was told before the cave party was discontinued that we would have to make reports.

12118 Were you aware of any other constables' reports being sent back to be amended?— Faulkiner and Barry made reports and, I believe, were told to make fresh reports.

12119 Do you know whether they did?— I believe they did. Constable McHugh and Dixon also made reports in reference to it.

12120 Did you hear that the fact of your being in the cave was known at the police depot in Melbourne ?— Well, I had heard that Constable Faulkiner lost a letter there, but that was after the capture. It was written to him from the police depot at Richmond , but it was lost accidentally out of his pocket.

12121 Lost where?— I have only the general hearsay of the men, and mention was made in the press as to it—that a letter to Faulkiner from the depot was found in the cave after we left there.

12122 In which it was announced that your presence was known?— I believe so.....

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