top of page

RYALL, Gregory Leonard

Gregory Leonard “Dugong” RYALL

Registered No. 6 Dob 20/11/1917 Appointed 9/1/1941 Married 3/4/1941 Retired 13/11/1970 – due to ill health Died 6/2/1993 Gold Coast area


  • Senior Constable 9/3/1950

  • Sergeant 2/C 4/3/1952

  • Sergeant 1/C 8/6/1956

  • Inspector 22/7/1960

  • Chief Inspector 24/2/1969 while in Alice Springs



Pages 383/4 - In December 1948, Acting Superitendent A E Forster flew to Borroloola. He later reported for the Government Secretary, “A few records were brought back to Darwin by me." "They were not extensive nor are they concurrent. I brought them back to study them in some spare time (if any) to see if we could get some record for a history of this Force. I bought also two or three volumes from the Carnegie Grant Library – but they fell to pieces." "I feel that it would be worth- while to bring in all the records from Borroloola. Quite a number have been taken by various collectors through the-years." "I intend instructing Police, Anthonys Lagoon to move all papers from Borroloola when they can reach there by motor transport." Instructions were given to close Borroloola Police Station in December 1948. The arrangements being:-

(a) Mr Albert Morcom is to act as Postmaster and paid caretaker, of the Police premises. He will also maintain one Police Tracker. (b) Mr Mulholland has agreed to act as distributor of aged and invalid aboriginal rations and also to maintain and operate the radio. (c) Constable G Ryall of Anthony's Lagoon is to visit once per month and inspect.

Constable Ryall advised on 20th December 1948 that he had carried out the instructions contained in the radio message of the 15th inst. Page 950 - The fact that Darwin appeared to the a prime wartime target, the possibility of its evacuation had been in the minds of many people prior to the War Cabinet decision of the 12th December, to evacuate women and children. This was instanced in a file which related the hardship experienced by the wife of a policeman on an outback police station. Constable G.L. Ryall was stationed at Timber Creek. His wife, an expectant mother, was due for admission to Darwin Hospital in February 1942. During November 1941 she was advised to make other arrangements for the confinement. In late January or early February Mrs Ryall travelled by air from Timber Creek to Wyndham, Western Australia but being unable to receive treatment there as the doctor was ill, she flew to Broome, Western Australia where she was admitted to hospital. On 24th February 1942 Mrs Ryall and her four day old infant were evacuated from Broome to Perth and were admitted to hospital there. Some weeks later Mrs Ryall obtained air transport, free of cost to herself, to Adelaide. From there she paid rail fares to Glen Innes, New South Wales. At a later date she was reimbursed an amount for fares costing thirty three pounds five shillings and three pence. Pages 980/1 - The Superinitendent sent a telegram to Constable Ryall on 9th May 1942 advising him that all leave was cancelled except in special circumstances. Arrangements were being made to enlist police in war service in the Territory. This was followed by an instruction on 2nd June to Constable Fitzer at Alice Springs to proceed to Katherine by Military convoy the following day and on arrival there to report to Constable Murray who would endeavour to arrange transport for him to Timber Creek. On arrival he was to send Constable Ryall to Katherine who was to report by telegraph, his arrival there. He-joined the Military Forces as No. NV98630 and later served in the 5th Transport Co. at Rutherford, N.S.W. Page 1050 – On 25/11/1946 Constable G Ryall was stationed at Anthony Lagoon located 180 miles East of Newcastle Waters which is 500 miles from Darwin – Transport 1 utility motor vehicle. Page 1077 – Constable Ryall took charge of Anthony’s Lagoon Police Station on 17 March 1948. Page 1098 – On 18 December 1948, Constable Ryall of Anthony’s Lagoon patrolled to Borroloola. Page 1135/6 - Acting Superintendent Forster submitted a report on 7th March 1950, in which he listed those eligible, and recommended for promotion – Constable G. L. Ryall with seniority from 17/10/1938. Constable Ryall joined the Police Force on 9.1.1941 but was allowed to carryover past years of service from the Military Forces. Page 1186 & 1192 – On the 16 January 1952 the Superintendent of Police wrote to the Administrator stating :- G.L. Ryall. Senior Constable stationed in charge at Pine Creek. Joined the Northern Territory Police Force on 9th January, 1941. He transferred direct from the permanent army forces, and was granted seniorityias from 17th October, 1938.

(a) He is an efficient officer as far as he has had the opportunity to show. He served for an initial period in Darwin, and has been in charge of bush stations ever since, and has given complete satisfaction at all times. (b) His conduct and record have been exemplary throughout his period of service. (c) He has not yet had the opportunity to prove himself, but I am confident that, given the opportunity, he will prove satisfactory. (d) He is very suitable for promotion to rank Sergeant, subject, of course, to his having qualified by examination.

Page 1200/1 - As the result of the examinations of 12th December 1951 the Acting Superintendent of Police submitted to the Administrator on 16th January 1952, the following recommendations for promotion: - From ranks Senior Constable and Constable to rank Sergeant;

(a} Senior Constable G.L. Ryall (b) Senior Constable R.G. Hughes (c) Senior Constable H.C. Lullfitz (d) Senior Constable E.A. McNab or (e) Constable L.C. Hook

Senior Constables Ryall, Hughes and Lullfitz qualified for the promotion at the examinations held on 12th December, 1951, and are the three most senior qualified members. The conduct, record, and general efficiency of each of three justifies the proposed promotions. Page 1203/4 – The Seniority list dated January 1952 shows G. L. Ryall as a Sergeant 2/C stationed at Darwin. Page 1212 – (FOLLOWING THE MURDER OF CONSTABLE CONDON BY STAPLETON ON 7 JUNE 1952) - Sergeant Mannion recorded in the Katherine police journal - “When he (Stapleton) reached the corner of Warburton Street, standing on Roper's verandah , he raised the rifle to his shoulder and pointed it at me. I rolled back on the seat and heard a shot, and felt a sharp burn on the left thigh. I straightened the truck up and saw a man on the ground near Peterson's gate. I pulled up there and found it was Constable Condon, shot in the stomach. Stapleton raised his rifle and aimed at me again. I moved slightly away from Constable Condon and fired at Stapleton, and he disappeared around the corner. I saw that Constable Condon was seriously wounded and requested two civilians George Peterson and Robert McCoy to look after him and get a doctor at once. Stapleton ran across the road in the direction of the railway yards. I fired at him again and missed, and went after him but could not find him, --- Constables Hollow, Barrell and Dillon were then contacted, and soon about 30 to 40 armed civilians came to the station to assist in the search. This went on in vain until approximately 3.30am and the police were .again on deck with a number of civilians shortly after daylight (Senior Inspector McKinnon and Sergeant Ryall had arrived at about 4am.) Sighting of Stapleton by Les March was reported at about 8am and the party began to organise to bring him. in when Constable Hollow arrived with him already under arrest. He was charged with the murder' of William Condon and the attempted murder of James Joseph Mannion and lodged in the cells.” The Petrov Affair The following article appeared in the May 2009 Citation Eyewitness to a Dramatic Event ON HIS TRUSTY Velocette motorbike, Ross Annabell sped to Darwin Airport on April 20, 1954 to witness the dramatic rescue of Mrs Petro v, wife of a Russian defector, from her armed escorts. Photographs of Sergeant Greg Ryall with a headlock on a burly Russian were flashed around the world. From his extensive files, Annabell sent the NT Police Museum and Historical Society a copy of the Life magazine front cover story of the Petrov Affair and his eyewitness report of the event written at the time. His graphic account reads as follows: Darwin April 22m 1954. By Ross Annabell “Wife of defected Russian spy Vladimir Petrov, made her last-minute escape from armed Russian embassy staff in Darwin on Tuesday. Diplomatic, civil, and security police, Pressman and photographers watched the amazing story unfold as Australian police struggled with Russian diplomats trying to forcibly return Mrs Petrov to Russia against her will. The dazed and weeping woman eventually chose political asylum in Australia. Drama had been the expected in Darwin on Tuesday morning following an amazing scene of mob antagonism when Mrs Petrov was dragged aboard a BOAC constellation on Monday night at Sydney airport. Darwin police had been alerted that there could be trouble on the plane's arrival and there was a security guard at Darwin Aerodrome's entrance. Armed police and airmen patrolled the gate and no one could enter without authority. Police manned the customs area with revolvers conspicuous on their hips. Word had been sent back to Sydney by the BOAC's captain that at least one of the Russians was armed with "a revolver or pistol. The government secretary for the Northern Territory Mr R.S. Leydin (the· Acting, Administrator) was waiting at the drome with instructions to interview Mrs Petrov and ascertain if she really wanted to stay in Australia, and if so to grant her political asylum. When two of the Russian couriers stepped out of the aircraft they were requested to surrender their arms if they had them. The Russian Zharkov, a big heavily built, dark jowled man and,Karpinsky burly and fair-haired said they were diplomats and refused to hand over.weapons. Immediately the civil police under Superintendent W. Littlejohn moved in to search the Russians. Zharkov protested immediately a hand was laid on his clothing and a fierce fracas followed with Zharkov struggling and throwing punches. One of the Russians attempted to strike Mister Leydin with an attache case. Zharkov looked as though he was attempting to draw a weapon but Constable Davis grabbed an overcoat and wrapped it around Zharkov's arms. Then unarmed combat instructor Sgt Greg Ryall applied a quick stranglehold around the Russians neck and pinned him upright, struggling and protesting. THE STORY WHICH.LED TO RUSSIA'S BREAK WITH AUSTRALIA: A SPY THRILLER OUTDOES FICTION Sgt Ryall told me afterwards that he expected Zharkov to shoot if he got his revolver out. "He was fighting mad and as he struggled and fought as he was sliding to the ground, out of the grip of Constable Davis's pinioning arms. Once on the ground he could have sprayed the lot of us with bullets. I saw his arm going for his pocket, so grabbed him in a headlock." The headlock broke up the fight. Police disarmed the two Russians and released them. The third Russian, second Secretary F.V. Kislitsin of the Soviet Embassy, was asked whether he had a revolver but said he was unarmed and police did not search him. Kislitsin claimed that the police action in searching them was unwarranted and a breach of diplomatic immunity. He was told that it was a breach of Australian aviation regulations for loaded weapons to be carried in an aircraft. Arms should be handed to the captain and no Ammunition carried on an aircraft in any circumstances, the Russians were told. Meanwhile Mr Leydin was talking to blonde, attractive but dazed Mrs Petrov. On the aircraft she had thought her husband was dead, until she was given newspapers telling of events leading to her departure from Sydney. She read and reread the newspapers and during a conversation told a member of the BOAC crew told that one of the couriers was armed. That information was relayed back to Sydney by the BOAC's captain and security officials in Darwin warned what to expect. At the terminal Mrs Petrov remained in conversation with Mr Leydin for about an hour in spite of attempts by the Russians to get her away from him. Mr Kislitsin repeatedly asked to be taken to Mrs Petrov. Mr K.S. Edmunds, Northern Territory Crown Law officer, told Kislitsin that while in Australia Mrs Petrov was free to do as she wished. Kislitsin claimed the Australian officials were holding her against her will but Mr Edmunds denied this. He said she wanted to talk to the Australian officials. I watched Mr Leydin and a security officer take Mrs Petrov into the opaque glass windowed quarantine station and close the door. There she was able to speak to her husband by telephone in Canberra, by arrangement with Mr Leydin, I could see her silhouette against the opaque- glass window and she appeared to move backwards against it and throw her arms over her face as if distraught. Meanwhile armed police and security men were clustered around the door and all Were tense in the passenger lounge as we awaited the next move. The three Russians sat side-by-side across the lounge watching the door through which she had disappeared. They looked nervous and angry and were smoking incessantly or drumming their fingers the wooden seats. Kislitsin suddenly leaped up, crossed the room and knocked heavily and repeatedly on the quarantine room door, shouting "Where is Mrs Petrov--- take me to her." He was told that she was still talking to Mr Leydin, and police stopped him entering. He strode angrily back to the other Russians. Several press men then moved over to interview the Russians but they refused to talk. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a side door of the quarantine room opening. Mr Leydin moved out and behind him, half running, was Mrs Petrov. I saw her back vanish around -the corner of the corridor. Then a car vanished swiftly down the drive, and I realised Mrs Petrov was free. Minutes crept by and the Russians were still watching the door of the now empty room. Kislitsin could finally wait no longer. He strode back to the door angrily demanding to see Mrs Petrov. “She has gone" Crown Law officer Mr Edmunds told him. Said Kislitsin: "She has been kidnapped, She has been taken away." Mr Edmunds told them she had gone to Government house. "She wants to be alone," he said. Kislitsin then demanded to be allowed to telephone the Russian Embassy in Canberra. The Russian was then told that Leydin understood Mrs Petrov would not be leaving on the aircraft. It was then 7:20 am and the BOAC was ready to leave. Edmunds said he would arrange for Mr Kislitsin to phone Canberra and their aircraft would be held until he had done so. Soon every telephone line out of Darwin was jammed with calls by newspapermen. The three Russians move to the Qantas office and stood by awaiting their call but the lines were jammed and there was a long delay. Other passengers had to hang about waiting for the aircraft to leave. ". At 7.50 am Mr Edmunds announced that Mrs Petrov had asked for political asylum and it had been granted by the government. Kislitsin said he did not believe it and wanted to speak to her personally. Mr Edmunds said he would try to arrange it. Meanwhile the Russians were connected to their embassy in Canberra, and Kislitsin spoke rapidly in Russian for some minutes before hanging up. When Mr Edmunds had failed to get through to Government House by 8:30 am the Russians went aboard the aircraft. Their guns were delivered in a sealed package to the captain and they were told.the anununition had been removed and would be returned to the Russian Embassy in Canberra. The BOAC flight took off for Singapore shortly afterwards. Meanwhile back at Government House, nestled on the cliffs above Darwin Harbour, a heavy guard had been posted at the gates. All that day and night armed men patrolled the grounds. Reporters were refused permission to interview Mrs Petrov. During the afternoon we saw her walking in the Government House garden looking much happier and relaxed. As darkness fell the guards remained at the gate, and there was no sign of activity in the house. No statement had been issued as to what was going to happen to Mrs Petrov. After midnight a car dashed out of the drive. A photographer tried to get a picture but an armed constable leapt in front of him and pulled his camera down. The car contained the Administrator, Mr F. 1. S. Wise, and the Government Secretary Leydin. Soon afterwards it returned. Government House remained in darkness with police patrolling. Around 2 am there were signs of activity in the house. Lights went on a while and then switched off, but there were two cars in the drive beside the house, and the occasional glow of a cigarette. Then Superintendent Littlejohn of the police arrived and drove into Government House. A few minutes later engines revved up and two cars came tearing out of the drive. A photographer at the gate tried to get a photo but a constable grappled with him and tore his flashgun off the camera. There were three people in the back seat of the front car. One was a woman seated in the middle, holding something white over her face. Superintendent Littlejohn was at the wheel. . We journalists gave chase, following the cars to Darwin aerodrome, where the gates opened for us to go through. On the tarmac an Air Force transport plane was waiting all lit up with armed police and security men clustered around it. Pressmen who got their first had seen officials rushed a woman aboard. For 15 minutes reporters and photographers clustered around waiting for the plane· to take off. The Administrator and Mr Leydin drove a car load of baggage to the back of a hangar near a Dakota aircraft which was standing in the darkness. Somebody said that the first aircraft was only a security decoy, and we all rushed across to the Dakota. The aircraft was lit up inside, with crew moving about and ground staff were busy with chocks. An Air Force jeep stood by with airmen armed with rifles. Fifteen minutes later a car appeared, driven fast to the door of the plane. Two men with a woman between them made for the plane's entrance door, as burly security men surrounded them. I was aiming my camera at the woman when a big figure jumped in front of the lens and blocked it with his briefcase. I tried to dive sideways, but so did he. When a woman and her escorts were safely in the plane, he said: "When will you fellows realize that this woman's life is in danger?" He then vanished after her into the Dakota, which took off shortly afterwards. Other police officers involved in the airport drama were Senior Inspector W. Mckinnon, Sergeant Syd Bowie, Senior Constables L.1. McFarland, L.C. Hook and F.J. Fay and Constables T. Hollow, W.1. Taylor, A.F. Metcalfe, J S. Kilworth, A.D. Wilson, G.E. Raabe, J.B. Tiernan and·A.C. Rose. The Life magazine account written by Melbourne Herald Darwin based journalist Doug Lockwood carried a full page picture of Sergeant Ryall referring to him as a good country cop clamping a stranglehold on an armed guard. Constable "Fangs" Metcalfe, a pistol attached to his waist, also featured in the coverage. Annabell's book The Uranium Hunters covered the event and contains additional information about Superintendent Littlejohn's involvement in the affair. Annabell bought a BSA Bantam on hire purchase with money from a cheque he earned writing about the uranium boom and eventually rode to Sydney on the machine. For his part in the Petrov Affair, Superintendent Littlejohn had very little to say about the matter. In one account, he said thus: "The two blokes had firearms in their pockets, so we grabbed them with a headlock. They had no hope in the world." Page 1249 – Sergeant Ryall was amongst a number of NT Police who attended the Darwin Airport and the Sergeant played a prominent part in the rescue on Mrs PETROV (see earlier entry). Page 1278 – In March 1955 Sergeant Second Class Ryall was occupying the Station Sergeant’s residence at Tennant Creek. Page 1292 – The position of Sergeant first Class was filled in June 1956 by the promotion of Sergeant Second Class Ryall. Page 1418 - Police Honours In March 1965 the Minister for Territories advised of the awarding of Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medals to five members of the Northern Territory Police Force. They were, Chief Inspector S.J. Bowie, Inspector G.L. Ryall, Inspector L.C. Hook, Sergeant Second Class A.C. Mofflin and Sergeant Third Class L.J. McFarland. Page 1460 - Death of Chief Inspector The Police Force suffered a further sad loss through the sudden death of Chief Inspector J.J.Mannion at his home on 18th September 1968 as the result of a heart attack. The vacancy caused by his death was not filled immediately owing to absences through leave. However, it was filled early in 1969 by the promotion of Inspector G.L. Ryall to that position. Page 1486 – Chief Inspector Ryall ceased service on 13 November 1979 – 29 years service.

92 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