Vic Hall was sworn in as a Mounted Constable with'
R. Reid 15-09-1924
V.C Hall 05-11-1924
G.C.H. Stott 18-12-1924
W.C. Littlejohn 03-04-1925
T.C.V. Fitzer 13-04-1925
J.J. Lyons 15-05-1925
J.W. Nichols 15-05-1925
Mounted Constable Hall was one of many members stationed at Katherine for a period prior to the town quieting in 1929 and the establishment being reduced to one member.
Probably some time during 1927 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 – V.C. Hall, G.C.H. Stott and T.C.V. Fitzer were not seen by the report writer but they were listed as young and inexperienced – promise to be good officers.
When M.C. White left Anthony's Lagoon his place was taken by M.C. Victor C. Hall. Hall had a motorcycle which he used to perform most of his police duties. On the 7th February 1930 Hall applied for 10 cases of petrol and six gallons of oil for his motorcycle but the Administrator directed that instead of him being supplied with fuel, he should claim a mileage rate when used on official duty.
The “Strength of the Northern Territory Police 1 August 1931” lists V.C. Hall as a Constable, born on the 10.3.1895, having joined the job on 5.11.1924, Single, and stationed at Anthony’s Lagoon.
The expedition to Caledon Bay again set out. It left from Mataranka on 23rd June 1933. Mounted Constable Morey was in charge and other members comprised Mounted Constable Hall, to take charge of the boat, Mounted Constables McColl and Mahony. On 4th July 1933 Mounted Constables Morey reported from Roper River that he had received -
15 horses purchased by him
8 horses from Borroloola
8 horses and mules from Roper River
According to a report on the expedition submitted afterwards by the leader, M. C. E.H. Morey, upon his return to Roper River Police Station on 21st August 1933, he outlined the events:
At Roper River they left on the Mission Auxiliary Ketch Holly for Groote Eylandt to procure the Launch Hope and meet the land party in Blue Mud Bay. Ten days were required to put the boat in order and only ten cases of kerosene were available. The boat party consisted of Mounted Constables Hall and McColl and aboriginals Dick and Rueben.
The land party consisted of Mounted Constables Morey and Mahony with trackers Tommy, Paddy, Loch and Dick, 24 horses and 7 mules. They left Roper River on 4th July 1933 enroute for Blue Mud Bay to meet the boat party in that locality on the 20th July. They met at a point about seven or eight miles north of the Koolontong River. A camp was established and the horses, saddlery etc, together with a large quantity of stores was left unguarded owing to having insufficient members to leave anyone behind. The launch was already overloaded. The combined parties left Blue Mud Bay on 27th July at 3.30 am for Round Hill Island. This island was explored and there were signs that natives had been there several days previously. The party then proceeded on to Woodah Island. The island was foot walked, and although natives were seen in the distance none were captured. The party returned to the boat and M.C.'s Hall and McColl with trackers Tommy, Dick and Rueben returned to Round Hill Island to prevent the natives making back to the mainland. Due to heavy seas the boat did not return to Woodah Island until sundown on the 31st. It had been arranged for it to return on the 29th. The following morning aboriginals Lorry and Rueben were left with the boat to guard it. M.C.'s Morey, Hall, McColl and Mahony with Trackers Tommy, Paddy, Lock and Dick left with three days supplies to search the island. They located four lubras and were questioning them when trackers gave a warning that bush blacks were approaching, who, on seeing the police party, raced away. The police party chased the blacks for about 150 yards when they disappeared into the jungle; M.C. McColl was bringing up the rear with lubras. Some aboriginals were seen on land and were joined by four in a canoe.
“They raced around the point and three got ahead of us and disappeared into the scrub the other four were not seen. A search was made along the rock boulders and mangroves and in our individual efforts we became separated M.C. Hall and myself went up the bank and saw four or five natives stalking M.C. Hall and myself. These natives saw Mahony and one threw spear at him. Mahony fired a shot but they took no notice and threw another spear which went through the pugaree and felt of his hat. Mahony fired another shot over their head, and when his revolver misfired three times, he made for safety in an open space in a salt pan. He emptied his revolver. Morey, Hall and trackers Lock and Paddy raced back to Mahony who was calling out. The natives had disappeared into the thick scrub. They then hurried back to meet M.C. McColl. It was now sundown. Trackers Tommy and Dick were found close to the jungle Morey and party had come through. They had not seen McColl as they followed when the main party ran after the blacks. The police party returned to where they had interrogated the lubras but McColl was not there. They left a note for him should he return. It was soon dark and they fired shots but received no reply. Late that night they made camp. Early next morning they set out and McColl's tracks were followed through the jungle. McColl either could not force his way through the jungle or lost his way as he came out only a few chains from where he went in. On the fringe of the jungle in a small clearing Mounted Constable McCoIl was found dead, face to the ground, the left leg was straight and the right leg was drawn up with the knee pointing outwards. The left arm was along side and almost parallel with the body. The right arm was out flung and a few inches from the hand was the revolver. An inspection of the revolver showed that two shots had been fired off while one bullet had misfired. Several paces from the body a blood stained shovel spear was found lying. Rigor Mortis had set in, the face was blackish purple and a quantity of earth was in the mouth, ants had already started eating the flesh off his face. The body of the late Mounted Constable McColl was temporarily buried close to the spot where he was found. The grave was protected by timber."
The police party then walked twenty miles to the boat and found all well. At daylight next morning they set out for Round Hill Island. Three nights later they attempted to pursue natives in a canoe but weather conditions prevented them from apprehending the Natives.
At daylight next morning they left for the horse camp on the mainland and on arrival found that the stores had been pillaged. Twelve horses were in a very weak condition. Because of shortage of stores and insufficient fuel, M.C. Hall was to return to Groote Eylandt for further supplies and to send telegrams re the murder of M.C. McColl. It was estimated that he would arrive there in 9 or 10 days. The land party arrived at Roper River on 19th August-four horses were dropped enroute owing to weakness. The mission boat Holly arrived on the 18th August. M.C. Hall remained at Groote Eylandt. M.C. Sheridan handed Morey a copy of a telegram stating that Morey was to proceed to Darwin immediately and M.C. Mahony was to remain at Roper River.
Mounted Constable Albert Stewart McColl had previously been a member of the Victoria Police and had relatives in that State. His next of kin were notified of the tragedy. An inquest was held on 25th July 1934 concerning the death of Mounted Constable Albert Stewart McColl which occurred it Woodah Island on lst August 1933. M.C.Morey was not called to give evidence at the inquest or trial.
Evidence was given by M.C. V.C. Hall and was subject to cross examination by counsel. It revealed that:-
On lst August 1933 Mounted Constables Morey, Hall, McColl and Mahony were at Woodah Island in Blue Mud Bay. They left the police launch and proceeded with four aboriginal trackers to search the island to make contact with aboriginals. Woodah Island is a long narrow island about 23 miles long and about 6 miles broad at its widest part. They walked about 20 miles and arrived at a large aboriginal camp in the open on the edge of a thick jungle, towards the south end of the island. The camp was unoccupied but had recently been occupied as the fires were still warm. They camped at that spot for lunch and posted trackers as outposts. A tracker informed them that a number of lubras were near by digging yams. They surrounded the lubras and took them into custody. The lubras were handcuffed for about 20 minutes and questioned in regard to the killing of the Japanese at Caledon Bay. They were questioned through an interpreter and handcuffed to each other to prevent them running away; they were very wild. There were 5 lubras in all. It later transpired that three of them belonged to Tuckair. One of the trackers reported a number of aboriginal men approaching. Constables Morey, Hall and Mahony with two trackers entered the jungle, leaving Constable McColl in charge of the lubras. The handcuffs had been taken off the lubras and they were told to sit down quietly. Their fears had then been allayed. Although it was the wish of the police to detain them as witnesses they were not under any physical restraint. They knew the constables were police. All of the police were in police uniform except McCoIl who was dressed in a singlet, trousers, sand shoes and wore a police hat. It was about 1.30 p.m. when the other police left McColl and the lubras. These police, Constables Morey, Hall and Mahony passed through the jungle onto the sand beach and saw a number of aboriginals on a point and a canoe full of natives disembarking. All the aboriginals ran along the beach. The police party ran across the, point to intercept them, a distance of about 150 yards. They lost sight of them. The three police turned back to rejoin Constable McCcll but in the process became separated in the scrub. Constable Hall heard several shots and he then over took Constable Morey who stated that he had not fired shots. Another shot was fired and they ran towards the sound, they also heard shouts in Mahony's voice. They found Mahony in a clearing reloading his pistol. He said that he had been attacked by aboriginals with spears. His hat was cut across the pugaree by a spear. No natives were then visible. The three police then went back to rejoin McColl at the camp. When they arrived there Mounted Constable McColl was not at the camp where they had left him, nor were the lubras. The two trackers Dick and Roper Tom were close to the spot. The police party searched for Constable McColl until approximately midnight but failed to find him. They then camped until daylight and then resumed the search. About an hour later they found the dead body of Constable Albert Stewart McColl in thick scrub on the edge of the jungle. About 75 yards from the camp. There was a gaping wound about two inches long in the centre of his chest and there was a large pool of blood in which the body was lying. The wound was of the kind usually made by a shovel nose spear. A few paces away from the body was a shovel nosed spear lying on the ground which was stained with blood over the whole of the blade and for several inches up the shaft. In Constable Hall's opinion Constable McColl had been dead since the previous afternoon. Constable McColl's revolver was lying alongside his body. Two shots had been fired and the third shot had misfired. The signal for the party to come together was to fire two shots in rapid succession. The police party buried Constable McColl's body nearby.
“On 21 st December 1933 I was at Groote Eylandt", Mounted Constable Hall stated, "Mr Warren handed me portion of a human skeleton which he said he had found on Woodah Island. Mr Dyer was with Mr Warren at the time the remains were handed to me. I recognise the skull as that of Constable McColl by means of the gold fillings in his teeth with which I was familiar. Whilst with Constable McColl prior to his death he had pointed out to me these particular fillings whilst discussing dental matters. I conveyed the bones, including the skull to Darwin, and they were lodged in the morgue. On the 16th April last I went to the Morgue in company with the Coroner and in company with an aboriginal named Tuckair. I saw the skull and bones there. I identified the skull as that of the late Constable McColl ."
The lubras were not traced. All handcuffs were present and accounted for. As the shots fired by McColl were not heard, it was believed that they must have been fired about the time that Mahony fired.
On 14th August 1933 a telegram from Constable Morey stated that reinforcements were required and that he was returning with the horses to Roper River. Constable Hall proceeded to Groote Eylandt Mission as there was a possibility of trouble there with the natives. The following day the Department of the Interior sent a telegram stating that if the Mission was not in danger Constable Hall was to proceed to Roper River with a message for Constable Morey to proceed to Mataranka and make direct contact with the Secretary of the Department. On 15th August the Holly left for Roper River with the message for Morey while Hall remained at the mission as he considered it advisable to do so owing to the possibility of attack on the Mission. Constable Morey arrived at Mataranka on the 25th August and then proceeded to Darwin. He reported that Constable McCo11 had been speared through the heart and had no doubt that death was instantaneous.
The Department of the Interior was advised on 30th August of action taken by Constable Morey. A reply was received from them that no action was to be taken regarding swearing in Special Constables or dispatch of party until further advised by that office.---as without evidence and identification (of offenders) it appeared futile to risk further loss of life and bloodshed. The Administrator advised that there was ample evidence available regarding the murder of the Japanese as Kinjo and the six aboriginals were witnesses.
Following further communications between the Administrator and the Department of the Interior at Canberra, the Administrator advised on 8th September that a police party would leave Darwin by train for Mataranka enroute to Roper an 13th September 1933. They left Roper River on Tuesday 19th September for Groote Evlandt from where their next contact would be made. Between there and Milingimbi there were no white people or places from where communications could be made with Darwin. The police party consisted of Constable Morey as leader, Constable John J. Mahony,
Constable Clive Graham and Constable Vic. Hall who was already at Groote Eylandt, having gone there from the last expedition to protect the Mission Station. On the 18th December 1933, the Administrator wrote to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior at Canberra
advising that since the murderers of Constable McColl and others was now known it was his duty, unless instructed otherwise, to take steps to apprehend the murderers. It appeared to him that in sending out a patrol, bloodshed would be inevitable. The Secretary, H.C. Brown replied on 19th January 1934 that relative to the proposed Caledon Bay Police Patrol, he desired to inform the Administrator that this matter had been considered by the Minister, who stated that it is not desired at the present time to send any police expedition into Arnhem Land. Certain arrangements had been made with the Missionary Society whose representatives were then in Arnhem Land, and it was desired that before any further departmental action was taken, the result of that missionary expedition should be awaited.
In the course of the next few months two aboriginals, Tuckair and Merara, were interviewed by the missionaries. Both aboriginals came to Darwin in Gray's boat. They were later charged with the murder of an unknown man and were committed from the Police Court by Special Magistrate Lampe to the Supreme Court for trial. Some four months after their arrival in Darwin they appeared before the Supreme Court on 2nd August 1934. The jury brought in a verdict of not guilty and the prisoners were discharged. Tuckair, however, was held in custody awaiting trial for the murder of Constable McColl. The trial of Tuckair for
the murder of Constable McColl commenced at 9.30 a.m. on 3rd August 1934 at the Supreme Court at Darwin. The case for the prosecution was poorly presented. The jury retired at 8.25 p.m. At 9.55 p.m. they returned and the foreman requested further information. They retired again at 10.10 p.m. At 10.40 p.m. the jury returned and the foreman made the following statement:
"We have arrived at a decision and wish to bring in a verdict of guilty. I have been requested by the Jurymen to emphasise the fact that the jury is disgusted at the manner in which the Crown presented this case. There are many witnesses that could have been brought before the Court and have not been brought. The Jury think that there should be a protest lodged on that question".
The Judge replied, "All I can say is that I thoroughly agree with you.---
At the request of the Counsel for the defence, the Judge remanded the accused for sentence for Monday morning the 6th August.
Tuckair was brought up for sentence at 10 a.m. on 6th August 1934. Judge Wells heard Counsel for the defence, the prosecution, and statements by several people. He then sentenced Tuckair to death. The hearing finished at 11 a.m.
An appeal to the High Court of Australia was lodged to quash the conviction of murder and sentence of death. On the 8th November 1934 the full High Court of Australia unanimously upheld the appeal, quashed the conviction and ordered that Tuckair be released immediately. The Court presumed that the authorities would arrange for the return of Tuckair to his tribe.
The Department of the Interior directed the Administrator that every precaution should be taken to ensure Tuckair's safety, sustenance, and escort as soon as possible to his home. He was placed in the Aboriginal Compound at Myilly Point. On the 12th November 1934 Superintendent Stretton announced that Tuckair had absconded from the Aboriginal Compound.
On the 23rd September 1947, Superintendent A.V. Stretton submitted a report from Police Headquarters in the form of a letter to the L.H.A. Giles ex-acting Administrator which included:-
"You will remember the Federal Government appealed to the High Court against his conviction for murder, the grounds being misdirection to the jury. The appeal was upheld and Tuckair was released. He was immediately taken to the Compound---. Nothing was ever heard of Tuckair after his absconding from the Aboriginal Compound at Myilly Point."
Other aboriginals who came voluntarily and. were brought to Darwin in April 1934, regarding the murder of the Japanese were Mau, Natchelma and Narakia, were later charged with the murder of Tanaka, a Japanese, at Caledon Bay in September 1932. They stood their trial at the Supreme Court, Darwin and on the 31st July 1934 were convicted and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Representations were later made in an endeavour to secure the release of the prisoners. It was alleged that the Japanese had, on occasions, ill treated and thrashed the natives and forcibly seized lubras belonging to the Caledon Bay Tribe. Dr Kirkland the Chief Protector of Aboriginals reported that shortly after they were brought to Darwin, he had examined the three prisoners and had no reason to doubt the truth of the consistent statements they made of beatings and shooting by the Japanese. One of the boys had an inflamed scar on the thigh which he stated was caused by a bullet fired by one of the Japanese shortly before the killings. The nature of the wound was consistent with his statement. Rumours were difficult to follow up or confirm. It was stated that old man, Wongo, called a tribal conference at which were discussed measures which might be taken to combat the cruelty inflicted on the boys and the assaults on the lubras. If this story was accepted it demonstrated that the aboriginals were apprehensive regarding the future conduct of the Japanese and took the extreme steps not only in a spirit of revenge for the insults and physical violence offered them, but also as the only effective means which they could evolve to safeguard their lives and tribal integrity.
On the 4th June 1936 the Governor General and Attorney General signed a warrant concerning the three prisoners which in part stated
"Now therefore we do hereby remit so much of each of the said sentences as remains unexpired at such time as the Administrator is satisfied that facilities exist for the return of the natives to their tribe".
On the 25 September 1934 it was reported that Constable Hall had taken over Wave Hill Police station which consisted of buildings that were an assortment of “humpies” quite unsuitable as a police station. A new building was already on the estimates.
In April 1940 Constable Hall was stationed at Maranboy.
When the first raid by the Japanese on the 19 February 1942 (bombing of Darwin) Constable Hall lived at the police barracks which was bombed while he was temporarily absent from the barracks – probably lying in a slit trench, one foot deep and 18 inches wide about 10 yards from where one bomb exploded and 20 yards from where another bomb exploded.
At the beginning of March 1942 Constables Hall, McNab and Fitzgerald had obtained medical certificates that they should be evacuated – Constable Hall was transferred to Katherine.
Mr V.C. Hall who was employed by the Department of Aviation made an application for the registration of a pistol. On the 17th August 1950 the Superintendent Mr W.C. Littlejohn forwarded the application, to the Administrator who was the Commissioner of Police, with the following comments which included:-
re correspondence re registration of concealable firearm by Mr V.C. Hall. This gentleman has not changed his methods or tactics since his resignation from this Force was accepted. However his numerous paragraphs will not employ much time to advise you of the true facts---Hall is employed by the Department of Civil Aviation as an apron parking attendant, whether he is as he states a responsible person, is a matter of opinion.—
Comment by typist
Vic Hall visited Darwin in late 1959 or early 1960 – it was a Sunday and I was instructed by the Station Sergeant to run Vic around – I was the only patrol on duty and it was before car radio communications were available so my time with Vic was limited – I can remember eventually dropping him off at Alf D’Ambrosia’s residence at Fannie Bay. I saw Vic around town a couple of time during the weeks following. I spent 33 years in the job and never heard anything detrimental about Vic Hall and he was frequently discussed mainly because of his books and paintings. I wouldn’t for one minute want to comment on former Superintendent Littlejohn’s opinion expressed above but Vic joined up about five months earlier that Mr Littlejohn and would have been senior to him for more than half their service together – bad blood might have developed between the two when all of a sudden the seniority issue was reversed – also the answer might be found if Vic’s resignation was located as he apparently was adversely affected by his experience during the first two or three weeks when Darwin was bombed in 1942.
Painting by Ex Constable V.C. Hall
Victor Charles H all was an Englishman who gained a Military Medal in the First World War. He came to Western Australia and made his way to the Northern Territory, where he joined the Northern Territory Police Force in 1924, and resigned from the Force in 1943. He was stationed at Darwin, Timber Creek, Anthony's Lagoon, Alice Springs, Maranboy and other centres. He wrote several books and was an artist – one of his paintings secured second prize in the Sir John Sulman contest in Sydney. During 1956, at the age of 61 years, his eyesight failed and he was then said to have only ten per cent of vision which was insufficient for him to continue detailed brush work to assist his income. His plight came to the notice of the Northern Territory Police and it was decided to assist him by purchasing one of his paintings for at least two hundred pounds. The painting in question was of a Northern Territory Police Patrol.
The painting was said to be a true representation of a police patrol as Vic Hall knew police horse patrol work - he had to, as it was often the only way he could move about his district. The policeman rides in front, the trackers on the wings and at the rear, and the pack horses and spare horses in the centre. The painting depicted the plant just after it had come out of the timber and was crossing a clearance. The authenticity of the scene was said to be absolute and could only be expected from an artist who travelled (many thousands of miles on such patrols.) The means of raising the money for the painting was by subscription from within the police force and from those outside the police force who cared to contribute. The painting was on exhibition in a Darwin shop window where many people paused to admire it. It was proposed that it should be hung at Police Headquarters.
The subscriptions were forwarded to Police Headquarters and when the subscription list closed the amount of three hundred and three pounds one shilling and seven pence was forwarded to Vic Hall, for which he forwarded a receipt on 10th December 1956. Late receipt of some subscriptions added an amount of twenty one pounds one shilling and two pence for which Vic Hall forwarded grateful thanks on 15th January 1957. The painting Police Patrol has since remained in Police Headquarters as it has moved to its various locations. Vic Hall died at Adelaide on 10th February 1972 aged 76 years and eleven months.