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World War I

This paper was written by and supplied courtesy of Graeme Fry - ggfry1@bigpond.com


Those who served as police officers in the Northern Territory Police Force and later in the Australian Army during the First World War


World War Two, introduced the horrors of war to the population of the Northern Territory. The courageous action and devotion to duty of the Northern Territory Police during that War and especially during the bombing of Darwin has been well recorded. Little however has been written about those Northern Territory Police who enlisted for overseas service in World War One. Of the eleven men mentioned, in this article, only one James Harcourt Kelly, returned to serve in the Northern Territory Police. Sadly, Richard Hanson and Horace Higgs were both killed in action. Frederick Taylor survived after being wounded in action on four separate occasions. Several others were also wounded in action, or suffered from debilitating illnesses and injuries caused by the physically demanding nature of active military service. The service of the former Northern Territory members added to both the ANZAC legend and the enduring history of the Northern Territory Police Force. This paper seeks to recognize those who served as a police officer (or Special Constable.) in the Northern Territory and who had later served in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in World War One. Richard Hanson, Horace Higgs and James Kelly have had their service recognised by the Northern Territory Government by the naming of Darwin streets in their honour. It appears that the Police Force has never specifically commemorated the War service of its former officers even by the instillation of a simple specific honour roll or scroll. World War one had a massive impact upon Australian society. From a population of about 2,700,000, Australia sent 331,814 or 13.43% of its population as volunteers to the War. During the hostilities, 59,330 Australians were killed in action (That figure includes those who died of wounds or who were listed as missing in action.) a further 152,171 instances were recorded where members of the AIF were wounded in action. When war against Germany and its allies was declared in August 1914, the Northern Territory Police staffing establishment was twenty-two sworn officers who were positioned all over the Territory. During the course of the War, eleven enlistments into the Australian Imperial Force were from those who had served at some time as Police Officers serving in the Northern Territory. Some had served in the Territory as South Australian Officers at a time when the Northern Territory was part of South Australia. Graham, the son of John Dow because he had served briefly as a Special Constable in Alice Springs is included in that group. To complete the Dow family contribution to the Nation, the AIF service of John Dow’s Territory born and raised son McFarlane is included in this account. Of the eleven full time officers who enlisted, two of those did not see active service. One enlisted (Mcbeath) and the act of enlistment appears for whatever reason to be the extent of his military service. John Dow, who was serving in the South Australian Police at Burra, was commissioned into the Australian Imperial Force as a Lieutenant. He served in South Australia but it appears that medical grounds may have precluded him from service overseas. The transition of the administration (Including the Police) of the geographic area of the Northern Territory from the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth Government[1] was still under way when war was declared in 1914. The transition of the administration created four categories of engagement of those who served in both the Northern Territory Police Force and in the AIF. They were;

 Serving members who were recruited directly into the Commonwealth administered Northern Territory Police Force after the transition of administration in 1911. eg.Richard Hanson.  The second group were those who were South Australian Police seconded by way of a contract with the Commonwealth to ensure continuity in Northern Territory policing following the transfer of the administration of the Northern Territory from South Australia to the Commonwealth Government. eg. William Johns.  The third category includes those from South Australia who had returned to the South Australian Police after service in the Northern Territory of South Australia and who later enlisted in the AIF whilst serving as South Australian Police. eg. William Gordon.  The last category includes those who served in the Commonwealth administered Northern Territory Police Force and who had left the Northern Territory for a short period most likely to arrange their affairs prior to enlisting. eg. Horace Higgs.

No officers actually enlisted whilst still serving as a member of the Northern Territory Police Force. Several recorded their former employment as Mounted Constable in the Northern Territory. John Gilruth[2] the Northern Territory Administrator (1912-1919) did not open an Australian Imperial Force enlistment depot. The Government maintained a policy of not providing assistance to those wanting to enlist. The policy was introduced on the part of the Northern Territory Administration to deter volunteers from travelling interstate to enlist. This quite restrictive policy was clearly designed to deter enlistment. Primarily the reason was to ensure the retention of skilled workers who were required for the essential maintenance and the economic advancement of the Territory. Most of the details on the individuals mentioned in this paper are drawn from the individual soldier’s files, which are available via the Internet at the Australian Archives (www.aa.gov.au). Other sources detailed, include the excellent research carried out by Lawrie Debnam. His quite detailed research has identified which particular officers served at what location and at what time. Those records are now available from the Northern Territory Historical Society. Richard Davies Hanson Richard Hanson [Also spelt Hansen in some documents] was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1884. He was the grandson of Sir Richard Davies Hanson, Chief Justice of South Australia. He joined the Northern Territory Police on the 1st of December 1911. His prior occupation was recorded as “clerical”. A single man on enlistment, he was described as being 5 feet 9 inches tall and 9 stone in weight. He was posted to Anthony’s Lagoon Station from 3rd March 1912 to the 15th May 1914. From the 18th August 1914, he was stationed at Borroloola. He is also reputed to have served for sometime at Newcastle Waters after leaving Borroloola. It is not known exactly when he left the Northern Territory Police Force. He recorded his occupation when enlisting in the AIF in 1916 as ‘Mounted Police’. Later when supplying information to the Australian War Memorial for the memorial scrolls his family added ‘Commonwealth Force’to his occupation. Richard enlisted as No. 417, of the Fifth Reinforcements, Ninth Machine Gun Company on the 21st June 1916. He embarked from Melbourne on HMAT[3]A38 ‘Ulysses’ on the 25th October 1916. Disembarkation took place in Plymouth England, on the 28th December 1916. He had several postings in England before joining the Machine Gun Base in France on 2nd March 1917. He was admitted to hospital in France described as ‘sick’ from the 10th to the 27th of April 1917. He subsequently joined the Ninth Machine Gun Company. On the 8th June 1917 during the Battle of Messines in Belgium, a bullet wound or wounds to the abdomen fatally wounded Richard. He died of his wounds at the Eleventh Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Messines, Belgium on the 8th of June 1917. Richard Hanson is commemorated in France in the 285 Bailleul Communal Cemetery extension and on panel 178 of the Australian War Memorial Canberra. Richard died participating in the Battle of Messines, which was part of the series of actions collectively known as the Battle of Paschendale or the Third battle of Ypres. The Australian official history records the action on 7/8th June 1917 as involving advances by eight attack Battalions of the Third Australian Division. Prior to the advance nineteen great mines, which had been tunnelled out under the German trenches and packed with hundreds of kilograms of explosives, [This event has recently been the subject of an Australian movie.] were exploded under the German Lines.[4] Describing the battle the Australian official historian Charles Bean, at 593[5] said, ‘With a roar the machinegun barrage broke out.’ It can be assumed that the Ninth Machinegun Company, in which Richard was serving, was in the forefront of this action. The official history recorded that in this action the Ninth Machinegun Company suffered nineteen casualties [Casualties included fatalities, wounds, missing in action and those taken prisoner.]. One of the fatalities sadly was Richard Hanson. During action by the Company during the previous night, the Companies war diary records that four of its members were killed and seven others were wounded in action. The Officer Commanding the Company maintained the war diary of the Ninth Machinegun Company. That diary is now held in the Australian War Memorial Canberra. It is also available on the internet. [www.awm.gov.au] the daily extract details Richards’s death.

“Messines 8.6.17 Consolidating guns.

At dawn, our barrage was again opened and continued for a few hours.

During the day the enemy shelled the line again heavily mostly with 5.9 [inch]. In the afternoon, No. A gun moved to its new position in the green line. At dusk, our artillery again opened its barrage, which continued well into the night. The enemy retaliation was heavy.

Barrage /Guns.

Replenished ammunition during the day. Strengthened positions. Answered supposed SOS at about 8.15pm [rounds per minute] fired for 45 minutes. Signal appeared to be enemy flare.

Died of wounds, Pte Hansen R.D.

Wounded in action Lieut Gleeson S.R – Pte Blinman C.J

2nd Lieut Anderson evacuated, resulting from wound received in action 7.6.17 ‘Shock’.


Horace Higgs Horace Higgs also known as “Jerry” was born on the 8th March 1884 in Birmingham, England[6]. He migrated to Australia with his family when he was aged about seven years. He joined the South Australian Police Force on the 1st March 1907, after active military service in the South African Boer War. He had enlisted as an eighteen-year-old Australian with the First Commonwealth Horse on the 6th June 1902. Before Federation Australians served in the Boer war as members of the military forces of the Australian State, in which they had enlisted. Later on his enlistment attestation form, Horace stated that he had also served in the South African Constabulary. Five foot eight inches tall, Horace as a member of the South Australian Police transferred on 1st July 1908 to the Northern Territory. At that time, the Northern Territory was still part of South Australia. He arrived in Darwin on the 14th July 1908. Later that month he commenced duties at Borroloola, remaining there until 30th August 1910. From the 8th December 1911 to 9th September 1912, he was stationed at Katherine. He is recorded as being stationed in Darwin from December 1912, until his departure back to Adelaide on the 21st December 1913. During that period he was also appointed acting Officer of Customs. Horace returned to the South Australian Police after serving out his five-year secondment in the Northern Territory. Life in the’ Top End’ must have been appealing as Horace returned to the Northern Territory Police Force on the 20th August 1914. The transfer to the Commonwealth of the administration of the NT and with it, its police had taken place in 1911. Therefore, it is supposed that Horace would have had to resign from the South Australian Police Force before joining the Northern Territory Police Force. He commenced duties in Pine Creek on the 5th October 1914. It is not known when he left Pine Creek or the Northern Territory. He is recorded as being on duty at Pine Creek Police Station on 16th April 1915. He signed the prisoner record book in Katherine on 15th March 1915. He may well have transferred the prisoner from Pine Creek to Katherine for Court proceedings. The NT Times and Gazette reported in its 17 June 1915 edition on page 8. “Constable Horace Higgs had the misfortune to break one of his legs on Friday last, the 11th instant. He was riding into Darwin, and when near Dr. Jensen’s residence his horse crossed its legs and fell heavily upon him.” Trooper John Johns (Lewis.1998. p.78) commonly known as Jack Johns, made mention of meeting Horace Higgs in Darwin just before Horace transferred to Leichardt’s Bar in his book ‘patrolling the ‘Big Up’. ‘On my return home I was advised by the next mail that Trooper Horace Higgs (Jerry Higgs) was to be my successor at Leichhardt’s Bar. Jerry Higgs had been a trumpeter. Before leaving Darwin to come to Roper River, he was thrown from a horse and broke his leg. I therefore had to handover to Trooper Hunt. I handed over my plant at Pine Creek and at last reached Darwin. Here I met Trooper Higgs. He went out to Leichardts bar, shortly afterwards.’ In any event, Horace left the Northern Territory and moved to Mount Gambier, South Australia, where on the 6th April 1916 he enlisted as No. 3707, with the ninth Reinforcements of the Fifth Pioneer Battalion. On his attestation papers, he listed his occupation as ‘Mounted Constable’ and recorded his wife Mary and one child[7] as his dependents. As a veteran of the Boer war, Horace knew the risks of engaging in military service. Added to his personal experience of combat, was the knowledge that his 48-year-old father Private John Higgs, No. 1108 of the Twelfth (South Australia / Tasmania) Battalion had already been killed in action. His family were advised that he was killed by a shot to the forehead on the 26th April 1915[8], the day after he landed on Gallipoli. Policing was family tradition as John Higgs file states that he was a Constable in Adelaide prior to his enlistment. Between the 30th August 1916 and the 24th October 1916, Horace attended and passed a School of Instruction for Candidates for Commissions in the Australian Imperial Force. There are no official records of him being commissioned as a Lieutenant as reported in the place names extract of the Northern Territory Department of Planning and Infrastructure. His personal records held by the Australian Archives show him to have been a private at the time of his death. His embarkation for active service took place on the 10th February 1917 when he boarded HMAT Sesang Bee, A48. Disembarkation took place in Devonport, England on the 2nd May 1917. Horace was appointed as an acting Sergeant in the 10th [South Australian Battalion] [5th Pioneer Battalion[9]] in France on 26th July 1917. He reverted to the rank Private after the period of acting higher duties ceased on 11th August 1917. On the 7th October 1917, Horace was initially reported as missing in action. Later that day he was recorded as having died of wounds. He was buried in Polygon Woods. He is officially commemorated in the 112 Hooge Crater Cemetery Zillebeke Belgium and on Panel 59 at the Australian War Memorial Canberra. Horace remained on the Missing in Action list until the Major, Officer i/c Base Records in a letter a copy of which is attached to his personal file, dated 23rd September 1918, officially advised his wife Mary of his fate.‘ With reference to the report of the regrettable loss of your husband the late No.3707 Private H. Higgs, 10th Battalion. I am now in receipt of advice, which shows that he was buried by a high explosive shell burst in support line of the Battalion on 7/10/17. He was dug out by his comrades and carried to Reg. Aid Post. He was then in a semi conscious condition and died on the way down. His body is reported to have been buried near Battalion Headquarters, near Polygon Wood.’ According to the Northern Territory Department of Planning and Infrastructure, Place Names Register, Higgs Street in the Darwin suburb of Moil, was registered on the 25th September 1968, to honour his memory. Horace Higgs was killed during the Third Battle of Ypres also known as Paschendale. The battle was characterised by some significant advances by the Australians but memorialised by the horrendous suffering and huge casualties, which occurred after heavy rain, drenched the battlefield turning it into a debilitating field of deep mud in which some of the wounded were drowned. The Australian component of the fighting occurred in the successive battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood [Where Horace was killed] and Broodseine. On the evening of the 3rd of October 1917 in accordance with a Tenth battalion’s operational order[i], the Battalion with Horace in its ranks moved into the front line. Frederick William Murray Taylor Frederick was born on the 4th April 1884 in Bandalong, Victoria. He joined the Northern Territory Police Force on the 5th July 1911. He served in Katherine from the 14th November 1912 until the 17th February 1913. It is not known when he left the Northern Territory Police. However when he enlisted on the 29th May 1916 as No. 6568 of the Twenty First Reinforcements of the Sixth Battalion of the Second Infantry Brigade. He gave as his occupation ‘Mounted Constable Northern Territory Police Force’. He was single when he enlisted. Frederick embarked for active service from Melbourne on HMAT Nestor A71 and disembarked at Plymouth, England on 16th November 1916. He joined the Sixth [Victorian] Battalion in the field in France on the 22nd March 1917. Frederick was wounded in action the first time on the 11th May 1917 during the Battle of Bullecourt, when he received a gunshot wound to the mouth. After recovering in hospital, he rejoined his Battalion on the 9th June 1917. He was wounded a second time whilst in action in the Battle of Menin Road, during the Third Battle of Ypres on the 20th September 1917. One report states that he had sustained a gunshot wound to the left forearm. His wound was also cited several times in the records as being to his hand. Another medical entry says he had a severe gunshot wound to his left shoulder. Shrapnel [metal fragments] from artillery could cause wounds in several places. From experience reading soldiers records, gunshot wound is a term often used, when in fact the wound could have been shrapnel wound. In any event, his injury involved being wounded in a manner sufficiently serious for him to be evacuated from France to the English County of Middlesex War Hospital. He was admitted to that English Hospital on the 2nd of September 1917. He was later listed as being on furlough and repatriation at Weymouth England. During the action on the Menin Road, the Sixth Battalion of which Taylor was a member, advanced through the debris of what was at that time known as the Glencourse Wood. Whilst doing so in heavy action with the enemy, they captured some concrete strong points known as pillboxes. During this action, Lieutenant Birks one of Taylor’s platoon commanders carried out the action, which resulted in Birks, being awarded the Victoria Cross. Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) Frederick Birks VC MM, 6th Battalion. 2nd Lt Birks was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for "most conspicuous bravery in attack when, accompanied by only a corporal, he rushed a strong-point which was holding up the advance" on 20 September 1917 at Glencorse Wood, Belgium. After the corporal was wounded, 2nd Lt Birks killed the remaining enemy soldiers occupying the position and captured the machine gun. He later organised a small party and attacked another strong point occupied by approximately twenty five of the enemy, killing most and capturing one officer and fifteen men. A shell at his post killed 2nd Lt Birks on 20 September 1917 while he was attempting to rescue some of his men who had been buried by a shell explosion. In July 1916, Birks was award the Military Medal[10] for "consistent good services" in the operations at Pozieres. Wounded Frederick Taylor was one of the 258 casualties sustained by the Sixth Battalion in this action. Frederick rejoined his Battalion in France on the 2nd of January 1918. On the 15th of April 1918 during action to counter the large German offensive[11], Frederick was wounded for the third time when he was shot in the shoulder. He was hospitalised once again and after recovery, he returned to the Sixth Battalion on 7th May 1918. On the 10th August 1918 in action near the French city of Amiens, Frederick was wounded for the fourth and last time. He received what the Medical Board described as a penetrating gunshot wound to the chest and the left arm with his injuries classified so severe that his next of kin were advised. He was admitted to the Thirteenth United States of America General Hospital at Boulogne France. Following treatment, he was moved on to the King George Hospital in England for specialist treatment. He was discharged from that hospital on the 21st of September 1918. He embarked to return home to Australia on HMAT Nestor on the 12th of December 1918, arriving in Melbourne on the 1st February 1919. He was discharged from the Army as medically unfit on the 11th March 1919. His disability being listed as gunshot wound to the chest [perforating lung] and a gunshot wound to the left arm [Injury to the Ulna Nerve]. His disabilities would have terminated any thoughts on his part to resume his policing career. William Mathew Alexander Gordon William was born in the Bay Road (Glenelg) area of Adelaide South Australia on the 24th November 1882. After active service in the South African Boer War, as Private No. 2679 of the Fourth Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse, William joined the South Australian Police Force, on 1st November 1903. As a member of the South Australian Police Force, he transferred to the Northern Territory on the 1st June 1904. He was stationed at Palmerston from May until July 1907. Then he moved to Borroloola on the 1st August 1907 where he served until the 13th February 1908. He moved to Anthony’s Lagoon Station on the 13th February 1908, remaining there until the 12th November 1908. William is reported to have been at Powell’s Creek Police Station in August 1908. He may have been passing through whilst he was at Anthony’s Lagoon. Alternately, he may have been stationed there, but the Station appears to have been unmanned after Mounted Constable Johnstone left in March 1905 until Mounted Constable Noblet took over the Station in 1910. William transferred back to South Australia on the 8th November 1909. William who was 5 foot 11 inches tall, enlisted as private No. 2741 of the Nineteenth Reinforcements to the Ninth (South Australian / Tasmanian) Australian Light Horse Regiment on the 28th of September 1915. In his enlistment attestation papers, he recorded his occupation as ‘Colt Breaker’. His dependants were listed as his wife Rose and two children. He embarked to Egypt as an acting Sergeant on the HMAT Mongolia on the 13th July 1916 and was taken on the field strength of the Ninth Australian Light Horse Regiment on the 12th of August 1916. William transferred to the Eleventh Company of the Third Battalion Imperial Camel Corps on 1st September 1916. The Camel Corps comprised mostly Australian volunteers. The Cameleers saw a lot of action in the Egyptian and Palestine desert operation. Those actions included the three battles for Gaza. Apart from their unique mode of transport, the tactics for the Camel Corps differed operationally from the Light Horse. The Camel Corps would ride to a point and then dismount and they would operate as infantry. The Light Horse would also engage the enemy on foot but if circumstances dictated, they would take aggressive mounted action, such as engaging in mounted charges or running the enemy troops down in or about the trenches as occurred on a number of occasions such as during the mounted charge in the Battle of Beersheba. As military operations against the Turks passed out of the sand and the waterless Sinai desert into Syria, the operational advantage of the Camel was surpassed by the use of horses, which were more adaptable to the various military operations such as were unfolding in the new terrain. To put more adequate horse mounted troops in the field, the Camel Corps were disbanded. The Thirteen / Third Regiment's of the Australian Light Horse were formed from the Australian cameleers. William transferred to the Thirteen / Third Regiment and served with it until the 25th of May 1918 when he was appointed as an acting Sergeant on the instructional staff of the Australian Light Horse. With the war over, he embarked on the HMAT Berrima in Suez on 15th January 1919. He was discharged from the AIF on 6th April 1919. He was not wounded in action but was hospitalised twice for dysentery and other infections, the last admission being for Diphtheria. After his return to Australia he was assessed as being, 40% debilitated from his infections. After he was discharge, a scribbled note on his personnel file listed him as being employed as a surveyor with the South Australian Railways. John Leo Artaud John was born in Penola South Australia on 10th June 1872. He joined the South Australian Police Force on the 1st May 1900. As a member of that Force, he was transferred to the Northern Territory on the 1st February 1904. He arrived in Darwin on 23rd February 1904. He served at the Timber Creek Police Station from 28th July 1904 until June 1908. He then moved to Palmerston until he took up duties at the Brocks Creek Police Station in May of 1909. He sailed from Darwin back to Adelaide on the 29th August 1910, the reason being listed as illness. He spent several months in a private hospital. He resigned from the South Australian Police Force 1st January 1911. It is interesting to note that John had to personally request reimbursement of the 12 pounds fare he had to pay personally to travel by ship from Darwin to Adelaide. Reimbursement of his passage was begrudgingly approved with the comment ‘it was the practice’. Forty three year old John, who listed his occupation as a labourer, enlisted as No.748 in the Third Squadron, First Australian Remount Unit on the 6th October 1915. He embarked to Egypt on the 12th November 1915. He was classified as vision defective but he was still recruited. The army no doubt recognised the value to them derived from his farrier skills and other experience with horses. Accordingly, he was attached to a remount support unit. The remount units provided replacement horses to the Light Horse Regiments in the field and looked after wounded and sick horses, they also broke in and trained remounts. John’s service was mainly in Palestine and Egypt. He was admitted to hospital suffering from influenza from the 23rd November until the 19th December 1918. He departed Port Said, Egypt on HMAT Burma on the 26th March 1919 arriving in Australia on the 27th May 1919. John’s military service ended with his discharge on the 20th October 1919. He was residing in Loxton in South Australia on the 22 December 1924 when he signed for his war medals. His file includes a scribbled notation detailing that he had died on the 20th July 1953. John Graham Dow John was born on the 5th January 1867 at Branfield, West Coast of South Australia. He joined the South Australian Police Force on 1st June 1893 and was transferred to the Northern Territory. In 1893, he was stationed at Burundi. He was also stationed in Palmerston that year from September to November. He was again posted to Palmerston, January through to November of 1895. He was then stationed at Pine Creek from 8th November 1899 until April 1901. He returned on posting to South Australia on 1st August 1901. John transferred back to the Northern Territory on 21 September 1908. John Dow took over as the keeper of the Heavitree Gap Goal on 1st October 1908, then at Stuart (now Alice Springs) until 6th October 1908. He was absent from Alice Springs for a short period from 8 March 1910. It is thought by Lawrie Debnam that he was possibly at Tempe Downs during that period. John submitted a report as requested by the Prime Minister’s Office on police staffing in the Alice Springs locality. He did so as Officer in Charge Alice Springs on the 16th of May 1911. He returned to the then copper mining and pastoral mid north town of Burra, South Australia on 1st February 1912, citing family matters as his reason. John was married with at least two sons, Graham and McFarlane. Life in the early settlement of Alice Springs for the Dow family would have been quite arduous. To get to Alice Springs for example, would have required a move from South Australia up to the Alice. There was no rail service and the road would have been no more than a rough track. Personal effects and rations would have had to be carried on pack animals or drawn on some sort of wagon. John Dow enlisted as a private with the 14th Reinforcements of the Third Australian Light Horse Regiment. He was promoted to second Lieutenant with that Regiment on 17th January 1916. His Commission was promulgated in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. 12, dated the 6th January 1916. His Kings Commission as a Lieutenant was terminated on the 6th November 1919 due to cessation of hostilities. However, despite his early promotion, he was not embarked to join his Regiment in Palestine. In correspondence dated earlier than the 2nd May 1916, he was a Lieutenant with the Base Light Horse (reserve). In August 1918, he was serving as the Lieutenant recruiting officer at Port Pirie. It is possible that due to his age or some unrecorded medical condition; he was classified medically fit for Australian service rather than active service. Graham Dow The eldest son of John Graham Dow, Graham Dow was born in Burra, South Australia in 1893. He served as a Northern Territory Police Special Constable at Alice Springs in May 1911, apparently whilst Mounted Constable MacKay was at Illamurta. Graham enlisted as No. 1128, of the Third Australian Light Horse Regiment (South Australia) on 25th August 1914. He served with the Third Australian Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli, where he was wounded by a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Following treatment, he rejoined the Third Regiment in Palestine. He was later promoted to Sergeant. He was serving in the Middle East with the First Light Horse Brigade Headquarters when he contracted and almost died from the disease Anthrax. On his file is a note from Lieutenant John Dow seeking information on his son Graham dated 29th October 1918. Macfarlane Dow John’s other son McFarlane Dow, was born in Port Darwin in 1894. McFarlane enlisted as No. 89, Third Australian Light Horse Regiment on 25 August 1914. It was the same day as his brother Graham. He served with the Third Regiment on Gallipoli. Evacuated due to sickness he was sent to Cambridge England for medical treatment. After retraining as a machine gunner, he served with the First Machinegun Battalion. He was badly wounded by poison gas and evacuated back to Australia. Noel Tracey Collins Noel was born 1880-81, in Cork Ireland. He joined the NT Police on 28th June 1911 (Actually arriving on 17th July 1911.) He brought with him two and half years of active service in the British Army in the Boer War along with five months active service in Somaliland[12] and a further six months service in the 1906 Zulu[13] uprising. He also declared that he had served in the South African Mounted Constabulary for nine years. Horace Higgs also served in the Constabulary. [The South African Constabulary was a force of 8,500 mounted officers created by the British to police the former Boer lands in South Africa.] . From the 9th to the 21st of August 1911, Noel was stationed at Borroloola. He then transferred to the Roper River Police Station where he served until May 1912. He was then stationed at Horseshoe Creek from July 1914 until the 26th September 1914. It appears that on the 26th September 1914, he joined the Commonwealth Railways at Pine Creek, NT as a clerk. He is recorded as leaving the Railways on the 30th September 1915 to joining the Expeditionary Forces (AIF). A minute attached to his personal file, from the Secretary of Commonwealth Railways enquired if ‘Collins, N.T, Clerk, Pine Creek enlisted 30 September 1915, had yet been discharged.’ The Railways record him on the 19th October 1919 as having failed to return from military service. [Actually, he was serving with the Australian Army in the former German Colonies in New Britain.] It is possible that Noel engineered his transfer to the Railways in 1914 as a way of circumventing the Northern Territory Administrators restriction on AIF enlistments. Noel Collins enlisted as No.5660 in the 18th Reinforcements of the Seventh (Victorian) Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, on 31st March 1916. On his enlistment attestation form, his occupation was listed as clerical and later in 1918, when applying to go to New Guinea he listed himself as an accountant. He stated that he was married and residing at ‘Coonac’, Clendon Road, Toorak, Victoria. Noel embarked for England on the transport ship ‘HMAT A33 Ayrshire' on 3rd of July 1916. He was take on strength ‘in the field’ by the Seventh Battalion. He joined his battalion after it had suffered heavy losses in action around Pozieres during the Battle of the Somme. In action at Mouquet Farm, in the Somme Valley France, his Battalion had suffered thirty-four killed and two hundred and twenty three other casualties. On the 22nd of October 1916, Noel was promoted to Lance Corporal. After two months of field service, he was returned to England to recover from an illness. He was diagnosed with Myalgia in the knees and legs. His medical condition was attributed to his prior active service in South Africa during the Boer War. In a file note the examining Medical Officer noted, ‘is older than above [46 years] an old campaigner. Declared medically unfit for field service he was returned to Australia on the 21st July 1917. He disembarked in Melbourne on the 8th August 1917 classified as fit only for home not active service. In 1918, he enlisted into the Permanent Australian Military Forces as an acting Sergeant Major. Shortly after that, he is recorded as being sick for two months with influenza. On the 16th November 1920 when he was approaching fifty years of age he enlisted in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, which had taken over the former German colonies, which had been captured by a joint Australian Navy and Army expedition in New Britain and New Guinea in 1914.[14] Noel’s service recorded showed him as having been seconded from the uniformed occupation force to the civilian administration as a clerical officer. He was an acting Sergeant in the military component on Rabaul on the 2nd December 1922 when he signed a receipt for his Victory Medal. James Harcourt Kelly James Kelly was born at One Tree Hill South Australia, on 3rd November 1867[15]. He joined the South Australian Police Force on 1st May 1891. He transferred to the Northern Territory on the 1st March 1894. He is recorded as being on duty at Burundi on the 1st of July 1897. He resigned on the 31st March 1896. Whatever venture he embarked upon ended with his return to the police in the Northern Territory on the 1st of May 1897. From October 1899 to the 13th October 1903, he was stationed at Camooweal. He was then moved to Borroloola where he was stationed from 1st November 1903 until the 19th February 1904. He then was moved to and served as a Mounted Constable at Palmerston from February 1904 to November 1906. The Government Resident Dashwood CHS appointed him on the 4th October 1904 in a Government Notice to be the Clerk of the Palmerston Local Court. James then moved to Pine Creek where he commenced duty on the 13th November1906. He returned to South Australia on the 14th January 1911. It appears that James had returned to the Northern Territory because Government Notice 251 -14 signed by J.A. Gilruth the Northern Territory Administrator, appointed James Kelly on the 2nd of December 1914 to be Keeper of H.M Northern Territory Gaol Borroloola. On the 22nd December 1916, the 6 foot 2 inch tall James at the age of 42 years and declaring his occupation as “Mounted Police Constable”, enlisted in the AIF and became Private No. 3348 of the 28th Reinforcements’ of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment. Leaving his wife Margaret, he embarked on the troop ship A17 HMAT Port Lincoln from Melbourne for Egypt on the 22nd June 1917. He disembarked in Suez on the 8th August 1917 and he proceeded to join the First Australian Light Horse Training Unit. On the 3rd January 1918, he was transferred to the Third Regiment of the First Australian Light Horse Brigade. At the time of James arrival, his Regiment was deep in the Sinai Desert undertaking aggressive actions in the direction of Jerusalem against a now retreating Turkish Army following the capture on the 31st October 1917 of the fortified city of Gaza. During that battle, the Fourth and Twelfth Australian Light Horse Regiments’ carried out a daring mounted charge against the Turkish and German forces who were well entrenched and defending the township of Beersheba with machine guns and artillery. On the 21st February 1918, the First Australian Light Horse Brigade of which James 3rd ALH Regiment was now a member, was in action near the town Kh el Auja ET Tahtani, which is near the biblical city Jericho. Three Regiments with a designated strength of 1000 to 1500 mounted troops would have made up a Light Horse Brigade at that stage of the Desert campaign. This was a huge change in operational circumstances for James who was used to patrolling the wilds of the Northern Territory with one or two Police trackers. Shortly after that action, the First Australian Light Horse Brigade took part in the heavy fighting, which culminated in the advance on Jericho. On the 3rd March 1918, James was struck off his Regiments active strength when he was admitted to the Field Ambulance for medical treatment. He had fallen heavily on a stone causing a contusion to his chest. His service record does not record how he actually received his injury. His injury was serious enough to delay his return to his Regiment until the 6th July 1918. He returned to his Unit, which was in action in the Jordan Valley. It was a most inhospitable location where the daily temperature was often in the high 40 C’s. The heat, poor sanitation and rations coupled with mosquito borne illnesses were causing a huge increase in medical evacuations. The numbers of medical evacuations were threatening the First Australian Light Horse Brigades’ ability to undertaken operations. The Official History states at page 633, Bell had only about 210 rifles available for the line.

James served with the Third Light Horse Regiment, until the end of hostilities. He was a participant in the large campaign, which forced the Turks and Germans to retreat into Syria where they eventually sought an armistice. He embarked for Australia on the HMAT Port Sydney on the 4th March 1919. He was discharged due to the cessation of hostilities on 10th March 1919. It is not known when James and his family returned to the Territory. [It is not known what children James had. On his recruitment attestation form he stated that he had no children less than 16 years of age. That indicates that he may have had children older than 16.] He returned to the Northern Territory Police and served until his medical retirement on the 27th November 1927. In Government notice 241.21 dated 30th November 1921, Mr F.C. Urquhart the Northern Territory Administrator appointed acting Sergeant James Harcourt Kelly, of Borroloola, to be Sergeant of police from 1st July 1921. The Northern Territory Department of Planning and Infrastructure when naming Kelly Place in Rapid Creek in his honour recorded: ‘Named after Mounted Constable James Harcourt Kelly who was appointed in June of 1897. He served in the NT at Camooweal District, 1901-03; appointed keeper Borroloola Goal; Nov 1903; Pine Creek 1907; Roper River, 1908-09. Enlisted in 1917 and served until his retirement from the Police Force in 1928 after some 31 years in the Territory.’ Frederick James Ockenden His Police records are brief and essentially only record Frederick joining then leaving the South Australian Police Force. He was born at Mount Pleasant, South Australia in 1876. He joined the South Australian Police in 1897. He is believed to have served at Illamurta during 1900. He is thought to have left the Force in 1900. There is no record of his employment between the Northern Territory and his enlistment. into the Seventh Reinforcements of the Forty Third (South Australian) Battalion as No. 3106 on Australia day 1917. On his attestation papers he answered the question, have you ever been rejected as unfit for His Majesties Service? To which he answered “Yes Heart.” Forty one year old Frederick was duly passed as fit for overseas service. He embarked for France on HMAT A30, ‘The Adelaide’ from Port Adelaide on 23 June 1917. He disembarked at Plymouth, England, on the 25th August 1917. He was taken on the strength of the Forty Third Battalion on 19th February 1918. He was admitted to hospital with Hepatitis on 6th May 1918. He was transferred from France to an English hospital where he was declared unfit for active service and was returned to Australia on the 25th September 1918. He was discharged on 1st February 1919. William Francis Johns CBE OstJ. [Order of St John] William rejoined the South Australian Police after his discharge from the AIF. His career as a police officer in the Northern Territory and South Australia culminated in his being appointed in 1944, as the Commissioner of the South Australian Police Force. The King also recognised his long and successful policing career by bestowing upon him The Order of the British Empire – Commander (Civil) on 1st January 1946. William was born at Hambly Bridge South Australia on the 23rd March 1885. He joined the South Australian Police and he arrived in Darwin on the 15th October 1909. He served in the Territory, as did his brother John until his five-year secondment to the Northern Territory was completed in 1915. Whilst in the Northern Territory he served from November 1909 to July 1911 at the Roper River. From July to August 1911, he was stationed at Stirling Creek. From March 1912 until July 1913, he was stationed in Darwin. William was appointed as the Goldfields Warden for District D in November 1911. He was at Boomoondoon (Bulita) in January 1914 and at Victoria River in March 1914, but these appear to have only been visits. William was involved in a life threatening incident when he was thrown from his horse into the flooded Wilton River and was saved from drowning by his prisoner. His brother Robert (Jack) who was also, an NT Police Officer recorded the incident in his book, 'Patrolling the Big Up ‘Neighbour had been a prisoner some three or so years before on a charge of stealing when my brother was second in charge under Trooper Kelly at Leichhardt’s Bar. They had reached the Wilton River when it was in flood. They attempted to cross and my brother became unseated from his horse and thrown into the river. Neighbour, though in chains went to my bothers aid and succeeded in bringing him to the shore, He was liberated from the charge because of his action and afterwards awarded the Royal Albert Medal. He enlisted on the 18th February 1918 as No. 64886 of the Ninth Australian Light Horse Regiment. [7th Company S E.Egypt]. He embarked from Sydney on HMAT Malta on 10th October 1918. He arrived in Suez on 22nd November 1918. He joined the Ninth Australian Light Horse Regiment, which at that time was on active operations, which involved armed actions aimed at suppressing the Egyptian uprising. He returned to Australia on the Oxfordshire on the 10th August 1919. He was discharged on the 26th August 1919. It appears that William had been required to wait for permission to enlist and had almost missed the war. The enlistment of forty-five South Australian Police into the Australian Imperial Force by 1917 had placing a strain on the resources of the South Australian Police. Commissioner Edwards decided in 1917, that in order for the Force to remain functional, he had to restrict police enlistments. It appears that William may have been given a late dispensation from that rule, which allowed him to arrive at the war at its climax. Alexander Francis McBeath Alexander was born at Mount Pleasant South Australia on 17th January 1877. He claimed[16] 16 months of active service with the First Imperial Bushmen in the Boer War. He joined the South Australian Police Force on the 1st January 1902. He transferred to the Northern Territory on the 1st September 1906 (Arrived on 16 September 1906.) He returned to South Australia in October 1911. In the Northern Territory, Alexander was stationed from the 16th to the 25th September 1906 at Palmerston. From the 25 September 1906 until the 14th November 1906, he was stationed at Pine Creek from the 17th December 1906 until the 10th May 1909. He was at Anthony’s Lagoon. From June to September 1909 he was again at Palmerston. From November 1909 until June 1911, he was stationed on the Tanami gold fields. Lawrie Debnam, records Alexander McBeath as having travelled to Tanami with Mounted Constable Vaughton from Palmerston in October 1909, passing through Pine Creek on the 19th October 1909. It appears that in April 1909 he received notice of his transfer to the Tanami Police Station. Alexander enlisted as private no.1968 in the Australian Imperial Force in Townsville on the 4th September 1915. He listed his employment as Constable Mounted. It is assumed that because he was in Queensland and his wife was residing in Cooktown that he might have joined the Queensland Police Force. He joined the Australian Imperial Force and was posted to the number 7 Depot Battalion on 1st December 1915. The records do not show any further military or police service. On the 6th January 1916 he was the subject of a report of him being a deserter. The report lists him as having deserted from the Exhibition Camp Townsville on the 21st November 1915. On the 1st of March 1916 a Warrant of Apprehension no. 99 was issued under the Defence Act 1901-11 for him having deserted the AIF on the 21st November 1915. There are no further details of him after the issue of the warrant. There is a record of an 85-year-old Alexander Francis McBeath being buried in Wallaroo South Australia in 1963. Recognition It appears that the Northern Territory Police Force as previously mentioned did not commemorated the service and sacrifice of its former members in the Great War of 1914 – 1918. The Government has recognised Richard Hanson and Horace Higgs on the various war memorials and by the naming of streets in their honour. The history of the Northern Territory Police Force adds to the culture and identity of those who serve and have previously served in the Force. Those mentioned were in a reserved occupation but they still decided to leave their families to serve Australia. Those who went overseas to serve were issued with campaign medals. They were eligible to be awarded bravery and other conspicuous service medals. None of the individuals mentioned were awarded medals other than campaign medals. Apart from campaign medals, periods of active service and individual wounds were recognised by chevrons made from cloth of different shapes and colours attached to their tunics.

  • Length of service chevrons were worn on the lower right sleeve. Long service and overseas chevrons were issued to recognise service from the date of embarkation. 1914 service was further recognised in the form of a red chevron.

  • The chevron for wounds was issued to recognise individual wounds. Frederick Taylor would have been issued with at least four chevrons.

  • All those returning from active service were awarded with a Return from Active Service badge. The purpose being to make those returning recognisable when they were out of uniform.

Bibliography Bean. C.E.W O’Neill R. series ed (1982) The official History of Australia in the war of 1914 – 1918. Volume IV. The AIF in France 1917, University of Queensland Press. Debnam, Lawrie. 1990 “Men of the Northern Territory Police 1870 – 1914: they were” / Lawrie Debnam L.Debnam, [Elizabeth, S. Aust]: http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1779474
H.S.Gullett, The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine 1914 – 1918(t Lucia, Australia: Univesity of Queensland Press 1984. Lewis Darrell (1998) Patrolling the ‘Big Up’, Historical Society of the Northern Teritory, Darwin. Langley, G.F. &e.M, (1976) Sand, Sweat and Camels, Seal Books, Dingley Victoria. Endnotes [1] The Commonwealth Parliament pursuant to its powers under Section 122 of the Constitution passed the Northern Territory Administration) Act providing for the Government of the Territory by an Administrator appointed by the Governor-General. Transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth took place on the 1st January 1911. [2] John Anderson Gilruth was the first Commonwealth Government Administrator of the Northern Territory to be appointed. He was appointed on 25th March 1912 and served until June 1919. [3] His Majesties Australian Transport [4] Two Australian Tunnelling Companies were involved in the excavations. Tunnelling involved excavating the tunnel with all the risks that involved. On occasion, ferocious hand-to-hand fighting often with picks and shovels would take part deep under the ground when tunnellers from either side broke into the opposition’s tunnel. [5] C.E.W.Bean,The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18,Vol.4, The AIF in France: 1917 (St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press, 1982), 593 [6] On his enlistment papers, Horace recorded his place of birth as Stoke on Trent Staffordshire England. His wife when completing the details for the War Memorial’s Honour Roll recorded his place of birth as Birmingham. [7] In his last will and testament, which he made whilst he was, departing overseas Horace refers to his son Guy and his unborn child. He made a provision for both children but it appears that the unborn child had not survived until 1918 when a pension was awarded only to his son Guy. There is no record on his personnel file in respect to another child receiving a pension. The child may have passed away. [8] Two members of his unit submitted statements detailing what they knew of his death. On 2/5/1915 “Chas G. Wightman No 582 stated. Informant states that “On June 1915 Alf Farnell told me while I was at No.2 Australian General Hospital at Cairo that he saw Higgs shot through the forehead about three hours after he himself (Farnell) had been wounded. He was instantly killed. I do not know the address of Alfe Farnell, neither his number. He is a Tasmanian in C Company. 12th Batt /A.I.F. [9] Witness Pte H. Pearse 1116 C Co 25 Batt B Details Seitoun Cairo states “Witness said he is certain that Higgs was reported to Capt Rafferty as killed on the 2nd day after the landing. This fact was read at roll call on the Thursday of the first week when the first roll call was taken. Higgs and witness were in the same reinforcements and knew one another very well. Higgs was a tall man, he had been a constable in Adelaide. It appears that the 5th Pioneers were amalgamated with their South Australian colleagues in the 10th Infantry Battalion to bolster unit numbers for the forthcoming action. [10] The Military Medal (MM) was (until 1993) a military decoration awarded to personnel of below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land. [11] The Russian revolution and the withdrawal of the Russians from the War allowed a large number of German troops to be shifted to the western front to participate in the huge German 1918 offensive. [12] The Somaliland Campaign refers to a series of military engagements fought early in the 20th century in East Africa by British and Italian colonial forces [13] Also known as, the Bambatha Rebellion [http: African history.about.com/od/military history/a/BambathaReb.htm] Bambatha ka Mancinza was a moderate level Zulu chief who became involved in issues surrounding the imposition of a poll tax. Violence resulted between the Zulus and the police. During the violence, Zulus killed two white police officers. Twelve Zulus were subsequently arrested for murder and executed. On the night of the 4th April 1906, Bambatha gathered his warriors and attacked a police patrol killing four white officers. A state of emergency was declared and the militia [reserves] were called out. In subsequent fighting 3000 to 4000 Zulus were killed [some fighting for the British] 25 colonial troops were also killed. [14] During a landing party action on New Britain on the 11th September 1914, Royal Australian Navy Able Seaman J Walker and G Williams along with Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander C.B Elwell were killed in action. They and crew of the Submarine AE1 [Lost with all hands] were the first Australian Casualties of the War. [15] Some confusion exists with an age for James. Lawrie Debnam recorded his birth as being 3/1/1867. His enlistment attestation of 22/12/1916 has him advising his age as being 42 years and 1 month. It appears that he was 49 years when he enlisted [16] Whilst he recorded the service on his attestation form the Boer War records do not recognize his service. It is most likely that his service was not recorded because of a clerical error. It is most unlikely that he would have falsely claimed military service when enlisting. [i] SECRET TENTH AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY BATTALION ORDER No.45 BATTALION Headquarters 3rd October 1917 Reference Sheet 28, 1/40,000. BECELAERE .................................................................................................................................................. 1. Move. The 10th. Australian Infantry Battalion will move forward to night, at a time to be notified later, to relieve the 3rd Battalion and occupy line on ANZAC Ridge in support to 1st Brigade. In reserve the 12th. Battalion will rest on Westhoek Ridge. 2. Starting Point Battalion. Starting Point – Birr Cross Roads. Time to pass starting point to be notified later. 3. Guides. Three other ranks will meet the Intelligence Officer at Birr Cross Roads for the purpose of being posted as corner guides, time to be notified later. 4. Route. The route which this Brigade will use moving backwards and forwards is 1st Brigade Track. 5. Order of march. ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘B’, ‘D’, & HQ Distance to be maintained. 100 yards between Companies, 50 yards between Platoons. 6. Dress Fighting Order. Personnel except Signallers, Runners, and Lewis Gunners will carry 120 rounds S.A.A [Bullets] 4 Sandbags, 2 Bombs and one ground flare. In addition, Bombers will carry 6 extra bombs. Rifle Grenadiers 6 extra rifle grenades.

Officers and No.1 Lewis Gunners carry S.O.S Signals. All ranks, 48 hours rations, blankets bandolier.


7. Relief. On completion of relief Companies will notify Battalion Headquarters either by runner or wire, using code word.

8. Synchronisation. Watches will be synchronised at 1500 and 1800.

9. Acknowledged.



 

List of WWI members - mentioned in the article - Each has a Biography Page

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