The Argus (45)

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The Argus continued with its report of the KellyGang

see previous


Police Department,

Superintendent's Office,

Benalla, 1st July, 1880.  

Sir,—I have the honour to furnish the following report, for your information, of such of the proceedings of 28th ult, in relation to the capture of the Kelly gang, as occurred whilst I was in command of the party of police carrying on the attack :—

"I was first made aware of the encounter with the gang by Superintendent Hare's return, at about 4 am; and after exchanging a few words with him as to the position of affairs, proceeded to Glenrowan by train, accompanied by the whole of the reserve on the Benalla station.

"Immediately on reaching Glenrowan, and on dispersing to take up the best positions we could find around the building, numerous shots were fired from the direction of the house, striking the ground and fences close to us. After finding Mr O'Connor and learning what I could from him of the positions of the men, I made myself assured that the buildings were surrounded by the police, and in this I was greatly assisted by Constable Dwyer, 2,507, who was always willing to run the gauntlet under fire from one post to another.

"It was not, however, until the capture of Ned Kelly, and then only from his statements, that there was any assurance that some of the gang had not passed through our lines, as the prisoner himself had done. We had occasional firing from the outlaws within the house, and could hear them calling out and rapping on their armour, but after this arrest the remainder of the gang slackened their fire greatly, and only a shot at intervals was heard.

"About 10 am I called on the persons kept prisoners by the gang to make their escape, and allowed 10 minutes' grace before recommencing firing and soon after the word was passed on by the posts nearest to the front of the building a general rush was made by these persons, and no further shot was fired by the police until they had all been examined and passed out of the lines.

" We had ascertained from these prisoners that the two outlaws, Dan Kelly and Hart, were still alive, and that Byrne was dead. These two survivors were called on several times to surrender, and on their failing to do so several of the police repeatedly appealed to me to let them rush the building. This I would not permit for various reasons, chiefly that the party rushing in could not be supported by those outside, that a long narrow passage through the house had to be traversed before the outlaws – whose exact position in the buildings was not known – could be reached, that they could not be knocked over, on account of the armour, until the police actually had their hands on them, that I knew they still had large supplies of ammunition, that there were yet several hours' daylight, and that the final capture or destruction of the two outlaws was a matter of certainty. I therefore held to the determination though under considerable difficulties, to sacrifice no life in this way if it could be avoided.

"I think it was about 3pm when Senior-constable Johnson, 764, volunteered to set fire to the building, and after a short consultation with Mr O'Connor and some of the senior members of the force present, arrange- ments were made accordingly. A strong firing party was placed under cover in front of the building, and another at the end to be fired, and protected by their fire the senior-constable was able to carry out his work and return in safety. This precaution was con- sidered necessary, as a few minutes before it was reported that the two outlaws were seen at one of the windows.

"It was known at this time that Martin Cherry was lying wounded in a detached   building, shot by Ned Kelly early in the day, as it has since been ascertained, because he would not hold aside one of the window blinds and arrangements were made to rescue him before the flames could approach him. This was subsequently done.  

"When the fire had taken, the Rev Mr Gibney, a clergyman of the Church of Rome, with great bravery passed towards the building, in spite of all remonstrance, and the constables and myself, with a view of stopping him, rushed forward, and this movement immediately changed into a general rush for the building, when, as I have stated, Cherry was removed, as well as the body of Byrne, the latter from the burning building.

" It was found impossible to reach where the other outlaws were, and it is clear from the Rev Mr Gibney's statement that these were dead when the fire took place, and it is impossible to say whether they had been killed by our last volley or had shortly before taken their own lives.

"Before proceeding briefly to refer to the conduct of the police under my command I wish to call attention to that of Mr Jesse Dowsett, an employee on the railway, who, armed with a revolver only, stood manfully to his ground in the capture of Ned Kelly. His conduct has been specially commended to me by the members of the force who witnessed it.

I understand also that Mr Charles Rawlins, of Lake Winton, was also in Mr. Hare's   company at the first encounter, but that offfier will be in a better position than I for describing what his conduct was."I have also to acknowledge the readiness with which Dr John Nicholson, of Benalla, accompanied my party to afford any professional assistance that might be necessary, and his services were at once afforded to Ned Kelly when captured.

"The conduct of every member of the police force engaged was completely satisfactory. 

"From Sub-inspector O'Connor I had throughout the day continual assistance and advice, and with regard to the membes of the Victorian force, my only difficulty was in restraining a few too eager spirits.  "I have already alluded to the conduct of Senior-constable Johnston. He did the special work sought by him in the face of special danger, as all then supposed.  "I am assured—for I was not present on the spot—that the men who captured Ned Kelly had a difficult and dangerous business for the short time it lasted.  "I find that Sergeant Steele(1,179), Senior-constable Kelly (1,925), Constables Bracken (2,228) Dwyer (2,507), and Montiford (2,697), were the men concerned. I find, also that Constables Arthur (2,971), Phillips (2,745), and Healey (2,886), were all more or less directly assisting in the arrest of Ned Kelly.


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