The Argus at KellyGang 19/10/1881 (4)

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Royal Commission second report, Protest

2. It is proved in evidence that Mr Hare, after the murders at the Wombat, was zealously engaged at the depot in Melbourne in selecting the best men and horses, and sending them to the north-eastern district.

3. When informed by Captain Standish that the outlaws intended sticking up one of the banks, he at once took steps to protect those in his district, viz., Seymour, Avenel, Nagambie. See questions Nos. 1,244, 1,245, and 1,246.

4. After the Euroa bank robbery Mr Hare was sent to the North-Eastern district with Captain Standish, and Mr Nicolson, who had been up to that time in charge, returned to Melbourne . He remained there for about seven months, but no reliable information was obtained as to the whereabouts of the outlaws. During the greater part of that time he pursued the same system as that followed on previous occasions in this colony when the police were in search of bushrangers, by keeping search and watch parties continually scouring the country. With these parties he took his full share of the hardships endured, and by so doing insured the confidence and support of the men under his charge. During this time he was 25 days and nights with his cave party watching Mrs Byrne's house. The result of all this arduous work told on his constitution, and he broke down under it, and asked to be relieved from duty in that district. This was conceded, and he returned to Melbourne , being relieved by Mr Nicolson.

5. In April, 1880, he was informed by Captain Standish that he would have to again resume charge of the North- Eastern district. Against this he strongly protested, but was told by the chief commissioner of police that he must go. He then requested an interview with Mr Ramsay, the then Chief Secretary. At this interview he again protested, and asked that one of his senior officers should be appointed to undertake this special duty. His appeal was of no avail. Mr Ramsay told him that the subject had been under the consideration of the Cabinet, that the Ministry had full confidence in his ability, and they thought him the best officer in the force to undertake the duty, and that he must go, and if he should succeed in the capture of the out- laws he would be duly rewarded. (See question 1,434 )

6. Mr Hare went to Benalla on the 2nd June, 1880 , and from all the information then obtained, the police were as far off the capture of the outlaws as they were when Mr Hare left the district 11 months before. After two or three days looking round and interviewing the officers and police stationed in the district, he took steps to stop supplies by friends and relations of the outlaws. (See question 1,477)

7. He then visited the watch party that had been stationed by Mr Nicolson at Aaron Sherritt's house, and found it far from satisfactory.

8. On the 27th June, 1880 , he received information of the murder of Aaron Sherritt. (See question 1,500)  

9. He at once sent telegram to Captain Standish, asking that Mr O'Connor and his black trackers might be sent back at once. (See question 1501)

10. Captain Standish replied that Mr O'Connor would be sent by first train on the following day, Monday.

11. Mr Hare was not content with this reply, being thoroughly determined that no chance should be thrown away in his endeavour to secure the capture of the out- laws. And as this was the first reliable information he had obtained of their whereabouts during the whole time he had been in charge of the district, he felt that no time should be lost. He therefore sent another telegram to Captain Standish - "That if Mr O'Connor and his trackers did not come that night it would be no use their coming on the Monday." To this he received reply that Mr O'Connor and his men would be sent that night by special train. Mr Hare then made all necessary arrangements for the police and horses to be ready to go on by the special coming from Melbourne , also providing for a pilot engine. And on the way up from Benalla he took every precaution against surprise from the outlaws, such as sending the pilot engine in front, stationing his men on the engine, and in every way acted as an active, intelligent, and determined officer. When the train was stopped by Mr Curnow, he appears if possible, to have taken extra care until their arrival at Glenrowan station, when, from the statement made by Mr Curnow to the man on the engine, he expected that the outlaws would be at some distance. He ordered the horses to be taken out of the train, and whilst this was being done, a light was seen in the station master's house, to where he proceeded, and from what he heard there he thought the outlaws had taken to the Warby Ranges . On his return to the railway station, Constable Bracken made his appearance, having just escaped from Jones's Hotel, where he had been kept a prisoner by the gang. This was the first information Mr Hare received that the outlaws were so near. I think his conduct at this time is worthy of all praise, for he at once started direct for the hotel, ordering his men to let the horses go and follow him. When within 10 yards of the building, they were fired on by the outlaws. The firing was returned by the police, and kept up by them until the gang retired into the hotel. In the first fire he received the wound in his left wrist, but still he stood his ground, and fired several shots. From the evidence there can be no doubt in this first engagement both Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne were wounded.

12. The warder at the gaol says that Ned Kelly told him that Joe Byrne received a wound in the first engagement with the police, and this is corroborated in the declaration made by Constable Phillips, where he states "I heard a conversation between Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne, shortly after taking up my position around the hotel, in which both admitted being wounded." It is known that Ned Kelly had a bullet in his foot, another through his arm, and his thumb badly cut with shot when he was captured.


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