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CLAPP, Arthur

Arthur Robinson CLAPP joined the NT Police Force on 14/09/1925. He died on the 5th of November 1927 after receiving a gunshot wound occasioned as he was holstering his pistol after apprehending sly-grog sellers.


NTPMHS DossierCLAPP Arthur Robinson Mounted Constable Dob 1898 Appointed 14/9/1925 Died on duty 5/11/1927 Served at

  • Katherine

  • Maranboy

Extracted from office card:- Whilst patrolling construction camps near Mataranka M/C Clapp bailed up a couple of “Sly Grog Runners” at pistol point. When replacing the pistol in his holster the pistol discharged and the bullet severed the main artery in his leg. Without medical attention M/C Clapp bled to death. He is buried in Katherine Cemetery. Extract from page 655 of Mr McLaren’s book - Police Personnel and Changes The Commissioner in 1926, reported the outstanding action of Mounted Constable Clapp in swimming out to the auxiliary ketch John Alce and quelling a fire on board the ketch. Mention was also made of his work in the detection of trading in liquor with Aborigines. A.R. Clapp was appointed to the force on 14/9/1925. Page 709 - Other members of the police force who had served at Katherine included R.R. Bridgland, G.R. Wood, Richardson, Cheyne, R. Reid, Fitzer, Lovegrove, Clapp, Hall, and when the town quietened in 1929 and only one constable was required, Mounted Constable Rudd was stationed there. The Police contributed considerably in the development of the area. On 1st December 1926 Mounted Constable Arthur Robinson Clapp took charge of the Police Station at Maranboy from M.C. Cheyne . A report, shortly later, stated Pages 711/2 – “There has been for some time an unruly and undesirable element at Maranboy who by threats have intimidated some residents and attempted by threats to intimidate others, and were encouraged in such actions by the lax manner in which Constable Cheyne carried out his police duties there. M.C. Clapp soon took action and started to put down sly grog selling and other offences that were rampant on the field. At that time there was a build up of ore at the Tinfield awaiting crushing by the Battery. Insufficient water and a poor motor were the main causes for the build up. The men in the field were making threats and intimidating people. They demanded that the Constable be removed or they would remove him. The Battery Staff and others were sworn in as special Constables in anticipation of further trouble. The Acting Administrator informed the manager that he would close down the Battery if threats and interference was continued by the men in the field. The Warden informed the men in the field that no inquiry would take place regarding complaints until the resolution demanding the removal of the Constable was withdrawn. The resolution was later unconditionally withdrawn. The appointments of Special Constables were then disbanded. The Warden informed the residents that if any charges against the Constable were made in writing they would be investigated.” Pages 712/4 - On 15 January the Acting Administrator telegraphed to the department of Home and Territories:- "Understand no difficulties being experienced and field now quiet. Two informations for intimidation, one for indecent language and one for unlawful possession will be heard by Special Magistrate Bellon 20th instant. Other recent cases disposed of there by local Justices.--- No charges made against Clapp merit inquiry as he was legally entitled in the execution of his duty to take the action complained of. From information received Clapp is admirably carrying out his duties and is being loyally assisted in so doing by the law abiding residents at Maranboy." About 6.30 p.m. on Sunday 16th January 1927, Mounted Constable Clapp had gone riding with two sisters from the Maranboy Hospital. Darkness overcame them and they became lost which prevented their return during the night. Next morning a search party was organized to look for them. About four miles out they located M.C. Clapp who was then heading back towards the station. He informed them that the nurses were some miles further back as their horses had knocked up. M.C. Clapp proceeded to the police station and the sisters were later picked up by motor vehicle – both were well. In an issue dated Tuesday 1st February 1927, of the "Northern Standard" a newspaper printed and published in Darwin, an article appeared libelling the character of Mounted Constable Clapp of the North Australian Police Force. The Acting Secretary of the Department in Canberra, in his report on 8th February 1928 continued – “As Clapp, the Constable referred to, was a public officer and a member of the Police Force whose character should be above reproach, the Government Resident, North Australia, recommended that the Crown Law Officer, Darwin should be authorised to take proceedings against the Northern Standard for criminal libel in the Lower Court. After the matter had been considered by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, approval was given for the Crown Law Officer to act for Constable Clapp. The case was heard by the Supreme Court in Darwin, and the Editor of the Northern,Standard was fined 200 pound and ordered to be imprisoned until the fine was paid. McKinnon, the Editor appealed to the High Court against the conviction by the Supreme Court, Darwin. The appeal was allowed and the sentence was amended by reducing the period of imprisonment if the fine was not paid to not longer than six months. The costs of the appeal were payable by the respondent. The fine was paid by the Editor of the Standard, who was liberated on the 14th December." Page 730 - Constable A.R. Clapp met his death under tragic circumstances on the 5th November 1927 on the Railway Construction near Katherine. His death was caused by the accidental discharge of a firearm. He was a very promising officer. His body was buried at Katherine where a tombstone was erected by his comrades of the North Australia Police. Page 730&4 - In a memorandum on the Administration of North and Central Australia, prepared by the Department of Home Affairs, was included a summary of persons employed by the Government. The police personnel included the following: “A.R. Clapp. Recently deceased: He was a good officer - inclined to be overzealous, but with further experience he would have done well.” Included in file are six photos of MC Clapp’s grave site and two of Mr Clapp when he was a Corporal in the Army.



Mounted Constable CLAPP's grave in Katherine Cemetery.

OLD LADY'S SAD JOURNEY Came From England to SeeOnly Son's Grave, DARWIN, Tuesday. - The sad journey of an elderly woman who has travelled from England to see the grave of her only son at Katherine, Northern Territory, is nearly ended. Mrs. Emily Clapp, formerly of Liver-pool, arrived at Darwin today by the ss. Merkur, and tomorrow will catch a train to Katherine, 200 miles fromDarwin. There, her son Constable A. Clapp, formerly of the Northern Territory Police Force, is buried. He was accidentally shot in November, 1927. References: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86574291 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/4552251/1125066?searchTerm= http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/4550994 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/4551644

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