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WOOD, Robert

From "A Force Apart? p.129


One of the most glowing references in any of the personnel files is that provided by a Superintendent of the Lanarkshire Constabulary about Robert Wood who had served in Lanarkshire for eight years. A man of marked individuality…[and] enterprising disposition. Though only possessed of a fair education he has quick intelligence and considerable natural ability…physically Wood is a fine man. He is the best mile runner in this force also the best catch as catch can wrestler. He has won prizes in the marathon races and is left half back in the County Police Football Team…has just recently gone on a six week course of instruction in mounted drill. There was, however, a sting in the tail of the referee’s report where Wood was reputed to ‘afford to dispense with a certain cynical sarcasm which others sometimes find hard to take’. This comment was later to be borne out by events in the Northern Territory. Wood was born in Scotland in 1880. Having left the Lanarkshire Police Force, he immigrated to Australia and became a farmer at Lockhart, New South Wales. In 1913, when aged 33, he applied to join the Northern Territory Police but, with no position immediately forthcoming, opted instead to take up a position as a guard at Fannie Bay Gaol. He remained a guard for two years and was clearly efficient and capable in that role, becoming the acting Gaoler after only eight months service. By 1915, he had started to disagree with the Gaoler and, when he sought to join the Police, his transfer was highly recommended by that officer. In May 1915, Wood ceased work at the Gaol and transferred to the police force with the rank of Constable. Wood was a good police officer, but quickly fell out with his peers in the barracks at Darwin. In November 1917, this dislike culminated with an official complaint being lodged by his colleagues about his attitude. Nothing came of this complaint. He married in 1919 and transferred to Brock’s Creek then to Katherine. His uncompromising attitude led him into a clash with the Commissioner when he disputed a decision not to pay him a relief duties allowance. Wood engaged Commissioner Dudley in writing over this issue, becoming quite intemperate in his words. In that same year, he was again in trouble when he wrote direct to the Minister seeking appointment as Gaoler at the Fannie Bay Gaol rather than directing his correspondence through the Commissioner’s office. He was promoted to Sergeant in December 1928 and served thereafter at Katherine and Darwin. He retired at age 62 in 1941, despite wishing to stay on under special provisions that existed during the War. He went so far as to write to the Administrator and the Governor General seeking reinstatement, but was not reemployed. His powers, it was said, were waning and he was inclined to let things slip. Undoubtedly, the comment by his Scottish Superintendent about others finding Wood ‘hard to take’ were borne out several times during his service in the Northern Territory but despite this trait, Wood was an effective police officer who served the Territory well.

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