top of page

DEANS, Frank


Back in 1946 Vic Hall wrote a fitting description of Frank "Tiny" Deans, and probably his best Epitath:" First class bat and bowler-footballer-ride, shoot, drink-fight like a thrashing machine but never looks for it! ... A great bloke!"

Tiny below on horseback with his wife Joan.

Tiny first came to Darwin as a recruit for the Northern Territory Mounted Police in 1933, With his invitingly friendly disposition and rare athletic prowess he soon became a popular and well known figure in the town. Ever ready to crack a joke, with young and old alike -yet when Tiny reared himself up to his full six feet four and said: "Get!" even the toughest of the professionals "got." It was Darwin's undoubted loss when Tiny eventually began his tour of bush stations, and over the years there were few stations at which he did not serve. Timber Creek, Borroloola-you name it, Tiny knew it; until 1941, when he returned to Darwin and after a short time enlisted in the A.I.F. Although I did not know it at the time Tiny and I were in the same Camp at Bathurst-he arrived as a recruit for the 2/l0th Field Ambulance the night my battalion went out on final leave, and he began his leave the next morning. So it was a big surprise to stumble over him on the troopship, and I mean stumble literally, because there was that big red headed copper from Darwin reclining on the deck with a bottle of VB beside him, and his long legs stretched out halfway across the entire deck. Tiny saw action all the way down the Malayan Peninsula and in the battle for Singapore. Whilst imprisoned by the Japanese for 3 years he was on several deadly working parties, including the Burma Railroad. He was very sick after the railroad was completed, suffering from malaria, dysentery, beri beri and starvation. I can still remember how thin and fleshless he was at the Kanburi Hospital Camp at Christmas 1943. It amazed me, then, that a man I had known to be as brawny as Tiny had been could have become so narrow and fleshless and still manage to get up and walk. Though he recovered from all this, and other illnesses, and on his return to the job appeared to have fully regained his health, as the years crept on the after effects of those prison camp years began to appear, and eventually caused his death-suddenly and without warning to all of us who counted him friend. If Tiny realised he was close to his time he didn't show it. A fortnight before he died he came out to see me. He was striding down the road like a soldier on parade when I met him in my car. After a bit of a chat and some chiacking about his good health and fitness he said: "Look here, Bert. I mightn't be the fittest hundred per center in SA, but I guarantee I'm the second." I think the happiest years of Frank Deans' life would have been those since the war-after his marriage and his return to his old pre-war station, Hatches Creek; watching his children grow; putting a bat and ball on their hands and teaching them to use it ...Every Saturday morning Tiny would be away from his home at Aldgate to some oval where one of the boys would be playing football or cricket; a wonderful and terribly proud family man. That was Frank (Tiny) Deans. -BERT METTAM. Francis Davidson Deans, who died suddenly at Adelaide, South Australia, on 7th December, 1967, leaving a widow and six children, was born at Concord, NSW, on 3rd July, 1908. He joined the Northern Territory Police Force on 6th November, 1933, and served in the A.I.F. from 16th July 1941 until 7th November, 1945, going overseas with the 8th Division. He married Joan Learoyd, then a nursing sister, at Alice Springs on 12th December, 1946. He was retired from the Force because of ill health in 1951 and went to live at Aldgate, in the Adelaide Hills. His funeral at Centennial Park, Adelaide, was conducted by an old schooldays friend. and long-time Territorian, Rev. Kingsley "Skipper" Partridge, and a surprising number of ex-Tenitorians turned up for the service including well-known former policemen such as Clive Graham, Ray Bridgland, Ted Morey, Gordon Birt, Jim McLean, Frank Fay and Bill Whitcombe. A cricketing story of Tiny appeared in our very first issue, under the title, "Paddy's Three Loves." When the sad news came through from Adelaide John "Tiger" Lyons recalled one very steamy afternoon's cricket in Darwin when he carried his bat for 37 singles in the old Palmerston Club's score of 264. Tiny knocked up 106. Vic Hall's "Bad Medicine," referred to above by Bert Mettam, told the most typical story possible of Tiny Deans. At a happy social gathering in the old Pine Creek Hotel the mual nark that must go to such things kept needling Tiny and everybody else. Tiny was off duty and enjoying himself, an achievement at which he was easily expert. Tact and soft words were of no effect. The nark would have his say, Whatever, and the big copper so-and-so could do what he liked about it-if he could. The nark was sitting in front of a window, in one of those huge cane chairs that were once fashionable items of pub and other furniture in those days. At last Tiny quietly stood up, wrapped his great arms around the chair and lifted it and the nark out through the window, slamming it shut behind them! Tiny and everybody else then just went on doing what came so naturally to them in that hot old rough and ready mining town.

Hatches Creek

The police station was located at Kangaroo Waterhole. Originally it was a hospital built by the indentured Chinese who had been moved to the Wolfram filed from islands when war was declared. The station had wide verandahs and was constructed from puddled antbeds. The inside walls had a 12 inch gap at the top covered only by flyscreen to allow circulation of air. Therre was a big flat in front of the house before the waterhole. The Deans kept a garden and had goat and horse yards behond.

A mail plance came once a fortnight and a truck came from Wallis Fogarty's once a week driven by Frank Rowett.

An earlier police tent 'camp' had been set up by Clive and Jane Graham across the creek and had previously been occupied by Joyce Johnson.

Frank Deans had two Trackers at Hatches Creek - Mich and Chubbity who attended to the horses and station duties and his wife attended to the local post office and performed medical duties.

Frank wrote an article on Ramond Bridgland for the December 1964 Citation.

Frank and Joan later moved to Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills. Joan died on 29/12/2006.

To do - track down Bert Mettam story re the Deans.

Move Hatches Creek to another page and Joan to family page (with images)

Create Brigland page using the story in citation

34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Relationships with Aboriginal Women

The following paragraphs taken from "A Force Apart?" detail relationships between Aboriginal Women and NT Police members in a historical context. It is important to consider this in the context of it

Jackie Gordon

(from "A Force Apart?") A more recent example of the life of a police wife was that of Mrs Jackie Gordon, whose husband, John Gordon, was stationed at Timber Creek in 1957. Again, life had hardly chan

Vicki Darken

(from "A Force Apart?") There are no extant records of the loneliness the early police wives felt, but life had hardly changed by 1945 when Vicki Darken lived with her husband at Harts Range Police St


bottom of page