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NALTY, Charles

From 'A Force Apart?' p123


Corporal Nalty was a member with a more unusual background and an atypical career in the Northern Territory. Charles Phillip Hornick Nalty was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 19 August 1841. Nothing is known of his parents or schooling, but he became a seaman. He worked his way to the United States before arriving in South Australia in 1870. He joined the South Australian Police in May 1870 with the rank of Third Class Trooper. In October of that year, he married Bridget Mary Hughes in Adelaide before transferring. He transferred first to Mount Gambier, then three weeks later to Robe. He remained at Robe for five years and then moved through a variety of stations until 1902, when he transferred to Arltunga in the Northern Territory. Nalty’s promotions and self-imposed demotions are, however, the most distinctive characteristic of his career. He passed the Corporal’s examination in October 1898 having been promoted to that rank in August of that same year. Undertaking the examination for promotion after promotion to a given rank had taken place was most unusual. In August 1904, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Four months later, on 1 December, he reverted to the rank of Corporal at his own request. Voluntary reversion of rank was even more unusual in police circles and this is the only documented case located. The letter dealing with his reversion has not been located so the reason remains a mystery, although it might have been that Nalty did not wish to accept additional responsibility. This, though, is most unlikely because Nalty, as a Corporal, remained the second most senior police officer after his reversion as no new sergeant was appointed during his period of service. Possibly he reverted because of the ‘suggestion’ of a superior officer. This seems unlikely because of the short time involved. It is more likely to have been because he realised he did not have the skills or presence to be a leader, influenced in particular, by his preference for a life of heavy drinking. His transfer to Alice Springs in 1906 for disciplinary reasons following a drinking bout, rather than at his own request, reinforces this theory. Nalty became drunk in Adelaide while on leave four months after his transfer from Arltunga to Alice Springs. He was fined for this transgression. As a Corporal, his lifestyle might have been acceptable, but as a Sergeant, he perhaps thought that he could no longer live as he wished and chose to revert rather than change his lifestyle.

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