The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (70)

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From her we learnt that the outlaws were still there, and at the back part of the house, but she was too much excited to give any definite information.  About 8 o’clock we became aware that the police on the Wangaratta side of the house were altering the direction of their fire, and we saw a very tall form in a yellowish-white long overcoat, somewhat like a tall native in a blanket.

He was further from the house than any of the police, and was stalking towards it, with a revolver with his out-stretched arm, which he fired two or three times, and then disappeared from our view amongst some fallen timber.  Sergeant Steele was at this time between him and the house, about forty yards away, Senior constable Kelly and Guard Dowsett nearer to him on his left, and Constables Dwyer, Arthur and Phillips near the railway fence in his rear.  There was also someone at the upper side, but I do not know who it was.

Shortly after this a horse with saddle and bridle (Ned Kelly’s bay mare) came towards the place where the man (whom we had by this time ascertained to be Ned Kelly) was lying, and we fully expected him to make a rush for it, but he allowed it to pass, and went towards the house.  Messrs Dowsett and Kelly kept all this time stealthily creeping towards him from one point of cover to another, firing at him whenever they got a chance.  The constables in his rear were also firing and gradually closing in upon him.  At last he laid down, and we saw Sergeant Steele, quickly followed by Kelly and Dowsett, rush in upon him, and a general rush was made towards them by the spectators and other police who had been engaged in surrounding him.  When I reached the place, probably two minutes after he fell, he was in a sitting posture on the ground, his helmet lying near him.  His face and hands were smeared with blood.  He was shivering with cold and ghastly white, and smelt strongly of brandy.

He complained of pain in his left arm whenever he was jolted in the effort to remove his armour.  Messrs Steele and Kelly tried to unscrew the fastenings of his armour, but could not undo it on one side.  I then took hold of the two plates, forced them a little apart, and drew them off his body.  While doing this we were fired at from the house, and a splinter struck me in the calf of the leg.  He was then carried to the station, and I examined and dressed his wounds.  Mr Sadleir came after Kelly was brought to the station and asked him if he could get the other outlaws to give in, but he said it was no use trying, as they were now quite desperate.  After dressing the wounds I saw Mr Sadleir, and he asked me whether I thought he was justified in making a rush upon the house.  I said to do so against men in armour, such as we saw, was certain to result in several men being severely, if not mortally, wounded, and as the day was young it would be best to wait some time before attempting anything, as there was no possibility of their escape.  I then said: “It is a pity we have not got a small gun with us; it would made them give in pretty quick, as their armour would be no protection to them, and the chimney would be knocked about their ears.” Mr Sadleir said that Captain Standish was starting from Melbourne and would be up a little after mid-day, and he would immediately telegraph to him and mention the matter; but as no time could be lost he would send a telegram at once.  The telegram was sent about five minutes after the gun was first mention.  Possibly if there had been time for mature consideration it would not have been sent at all.

Mr Sadleir was particularly cool and collected all the time I saw him, but events were not under his control.  The crowd which had collected made anything like order utterly impracticable.  The position was one of great difficulty, and I do not thing anyone would have managed much better.  The place might have been rushed, but to unnecessarily risk men’s lives would have been foolhardy, however brilliant it would have looked.

I attribute most of the want of concerted action on the part of the police to Mr Hare leaving the ground before Mr Sadleir had arrived and relieved him.  There was evidently no necessity for his doing so, because he would not wait at my residence to have his wound dressed, which he would undoubtedly have done had it been at the time greatly inconveniencing him.

I have known Mr Sadleir for several years, and have invariably found him a painstaking, trustworthy and capable officer.  I may add that a great deal of my knowledge of his character has been obtained in my capacity as Justice of the Peace.  And I make this declaration conscientiously believing same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of Parliament of Victoria rendering persons making a false declaration punishable for wilful and corrupt perjury.


Declared before me at Benalla on the 16th day of September, One thousand eight hundred and eighty-one.

—Robt. McBean, JP

The Secret of the Green Sash

Dr Nicholson failed to mention anything in the foregoing affidavit about the “green silk sash,” with a heavy bullion fringe, which Ned Kelly wore inside his outer clothing when captured at Glenrowan. The doctor removed the sash when he was stripping Ned Kelly, and it was secreted by the officials who had seen it. Reference to this very valuable sash did not appear in the press for the simple reason that the looters, whoever they might have been, intended to retain it as a great trophy. It is believed to have been sent later to England, where it presumably now is.

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