The following extracts come from Superintendent Hare’s testimony during the 1881 Royal Commission. We begin with Hare’s account of the events leading up to the siege and his involvement in the early stages, including his injury. We close on Hare recounting some of his frustrations with the police that were to be working with Aaron Sherritt, as well as a brief account of a discussion with the “Diseased Stock Agent” about the armour.
1498. Before you go from that, in your previous paragraph where you say they were particularly active, and you were “privately informed that the outlaws were about to commence some outrages which would not only astonish Australia, but the whole world”—you have not given any information as to what the nature of that information was?—The very words I have said, “The outlaws are going to do something that will not only astonish Australia, but the whole world.” The information came from Mrs. Byrne.
1499. You have no particulars of the nature of their intended outrage?—Nothing whatever, not the smallest conception of what it was to be. The next morning Mr. O’Connor started away from Benalla with his “boys.” I had but one Queensland black of our own at Benalla, that is Moses. Mr. O’Connor had sworn him into his detachment when he was here, and on leaving he gave him back to the Victorian Government, and there was another at Mansfield of the name of Spider. I telegraphed for the one at Mansfield to be sent down to Benalla at once, so that I might have two trackers in case anything happened before Mr. Chomley, who had gone to Queensland for a fresh supply of trackers for our force, returned, as I did not expect him back for the eight or ten days.
1500. You telegraphed, so that you might have the two trackers at Benalla?—Yes, at my headquarters, in case anything occurred between the departure of Mr. O’Connor and the arrival of Mr. Chomley. On Sunday the 27th of June I was at the telegraph office at Benalla. At ten o’clock a.m. I received telegrams from all the stations in the district that everything was quiet. I made an appointment with the telegraph master to be at the office again at nine o’clock that night. About half past two that day I received the memo. from the railway telegraph office to go to the general telegraph office, as there was important information for me there, and a memo had been sent to the same effect to the telegraph master. I lost no time in going there, and received a message from Beechworth, that Aaron Sherritt, in whose house I had the watch party, had been shot the previous evening at six o’clock. I immediately sent for Mr. Sadleir, and we consulted together as to the best course to adopt. First of all we decided to give Captain Standish all the information in our possession, and ask him to request Mr. O’Connor to return without loss of time to Benalla with his “boys,” as we considered they might have a good chance of tracking the outlaws from Sherritt’s house.
1501. What time was that?—That was about half-past two o’clock on Sunday; that was the first notice I got and we decided at once that was the first thing we would do. Mr. Sadleir suggested that Mr. O’Connor should be sent for, and I agreed to it at once; he made the suggestion. About six or eight o’clock that evening I received a telegram from Captain Standish, informing me that he had written out to Mr. O’Connor asking him if he would return to the district with his men, and saying that if he agreed to it he would send him up by the first train on Monday morning. I replied,—“If Mr. O’Connor does not come up to-night, it is no use his coming at all; and I will take my two blacks with my party, and start off to-night.” In answer to that I got a telegram from Captain Standish saying that Mr. O’Connor had agreed to return, and that he would leave town about ten o’clock. I then telegraphed back that I had made arrangements for an engine to be got ready for me at Benalla, and asking whether I might take that as a pilot engine. This Mr. Sadleir also says he suggested to me, but I do not recollect whether he did or not. If he says he has a recollection of it — he claims to have recommended that I should send for the black trackers, get the pilot, and that he also offered to go with the party to Beechworth — if he did, I do not contradict it. Captain Standish’s reply was — “A good idea, there is no knowing what desperate deed the outlaws may now be guilty of — have a pilot.” Those were his words. The whole afternoon, Mr. Sadleir and I were engaged in the telegraph office warning all the stations to be on the alert. At places where they were no telegraph offices we sent private messengers to convey the information of the outrage at Beechworth, and to be on the alert also. I went myself to the railway station, which was about a mile or a mile and a quarter from the telegraph office, where we had been engaged the whole afternoon, and made arrangement with the station-master there about the engines, and how they were to be relieved at Wangaratta and the different places. I think there is a different style of engine used between Wangaratta and Beechworth to that between Benalla and Wangaratta. The station-master rendered me every assistance in his power, and complied with every request that I made. I arranged to have the trucks all ready for our horses, so that we would go up by the train that brought Mr. O’Connor and his men to Beechworth. I then returned to the telegraph office, where Mr. Sadleir had remained during my absence, and made arrangements for horses, provisions, and everything we would require, to go to Beechworth, as that was the nearest point that the railway went to Aaron Sherritt’s house. My idea was that we would get to Beechworth about daybreak in the morning, get on our horses at once, and go down to the Woolshed where Aaron Sherritt’s house was situated, and endeavour to pick up what information we could there. I selected Senior-Constable Kelly, and Constables Arthur, Barry, Gascoigne, Canny, Kirkham, and Phillips to accompany me, leaving a party behind us, already equipped, with two black trackers, for Mr. Sadleir, at Benalla, in case anything occurred whilst we were up at Beechworth. Having completed all my arrangements, I went and lay down to get two or three hours’ sleep before I started. At one o’clock in the morning, I was at the railway station, had the horses put in the trucks, and waited the arrival of the special, which, I think, arrived at half-past one or two o’clock. Before the truck arrived, Mr. Rawlings, a gentleman whom I had only once seen in my life before, asked me to allow him to travel in the train, as he had a free pass on the railways, and he would not be defrauding the Government. I told him I had no objections to his doing so. The train arrived shortly after this, with Mr. O’Connor, at Benalla, with his five “boys,” and I think there were four gentlemen of the press, and Mr. Rawlings and two ladies in the train also. One of the engineers at Benalla came to me before we started and told me that they wished me to put a man on the pilot engine, one of my men, to keep a look-out to see if there was anything wrong with the line. I selected Constable Barry. I did not put him, as is generally supposed, on the buffers in the front of the engine, but I put him alongside of the boiler, standing up, so that he could see at least ten or fifteen yards in advance of the engine-driver and stoker, and I fastened straps so that he could hold on with them; I did not fasten his body. After this, there was some alteration as to the engine that was to act as pilot, and the next engineer declined to let the man go upon it. He said it was very dangerous position to put a man in, and in case of anything occurring the man would be killed, and I withdrew him. The engine that brought up Mr. O’Connor’s train went as pilot, as they had broken their brake, and they attached a brake-van on to the engine. With reference to this pilot, I may state to you a bit of information that occurred not this time, but I have it in my recollection of the previous time of my being up there, and it will come in as the reason I took the pilot. About the time that the sympathisers were being remanded from week to week, we received a letter from some of the agents stating, with other information, that the outlaws intended to blow up the train with dynamite about a certain period. Just at this period alluded to, something went wrong with the telegraph wires; at a certain hour every night in Benalla the wires refused to act, they could not work them—there was no communication between Benalla and Beechworth, or, I should say, there was a stoppage between Tarrawingee and Beechworth. The Government were informed of it, and Mr. Woods, who was the Commissioner of Railways at that time, took steps to protect the line in certain dangerous places, and he had men watching them for some time—I think for three months they watched the horse-shoe bend coming down a very steep incline from Beechworth. They sent up best telegraph men, who were enquiring into the stoppage and could not find the reason of it. Generally, it was supposed every night, a piece of wire was thrown over the main wire, and a ground connection made, and they could not work the wire. Men were sent every day to examine the line and nothing could be discovered, and they sent up some of the leading telegraph men in Melbourne to try and discover what was the cause of the stoppage, but to this day it has never been explained. On Friday evening, during this week I have alluded to, we were all going up to Beechworth, the police constables, the witnesses, and the reporters from Melbourne—a number reporters were going up to Beechworth of that Friday evening, during the week the stoppage was going on, and when we heard about the dynamite. Just as we were leaving Benalla, a message was sent to me that the wires had stopped working, and that there was no communication with Beechworth—that the same stoppage that had occurred all the week occurred on that night just as we were leaving Benalla. We had the train crowded, and we consulted together what was best to be done; we were in a great fix, and we decided we would go, at all events as far as Wangaratta, to see if the line was open between Benalla and Wangaratta, or between Wangaratta and Beechworth. There was no intermediate station between Beechworth and Wangaratta, and when I got to Wangaratta, the man said, “We cannot communicate with Beechworth, but we can with Benalla.” Then Mr. Sadleir and I consulted again as to what was to be done, and we said we would go as far as Tarrawingee; we had an operator from town with us in the carriage. We got to Tarrawingee; there was no telegraph master there, and there was no communication from the wires to the station. We were very much perplexed to know what to do, to give the alarm to the passengers—it might be a false alarm—and I went up to the station-master and I said, “Will you stop the train for me for a short time?” He said, “No, I have no power to do it.” I said, “I am superintendent of police; you must, I tell you to do it.” He said, “I cannot.” I then rushed forward to the train to the engine-driver, and I said to him, “I am superintendent of police, and I want you to stop the train till I tell you to go on — there is something wrong with the line, I fear.” Everybody by this time had begun to call out in the train, especially the reporters, “What are you keeping us here for all night?” It worried me considerably, and then I consulted with the telegraph officer, who came with us from town, and he said to me, “If I can get to the wire up above there, I can tell whether the current is going through, by putting the wires between my teeth;” and we hoisted him up the best we could, at a point away from the station. This all took time, and all the people were yelling at us in every direction. When he got the wire between his teeth, he said the current was through between Tarrawingee and Beechworth. We decided to go on and to chance it; and we did chance it, and fortunately it came out all right, and the line was never stopped after that night. We subsequently got some information that the outlaws did not know how to work the dynamite; whether it was true or not I do not know; I merely give the information we received. That was the reason we decided to take precautions on this occasion, knowing they might tamper with the line. This has not been known till this moment, because we did not want to alarm the passengers on the line, they were alarmed enough. My party already mentioned joined the train at Benalla, and just as I was starting I asked the station-master to give me the key of the carriage, fearing something might occur on the line, and he did so. The pilot engine started, I think, about five minutes before our train. We went along pretty rapid — the ordinary pace, and when within about two miles of Glenrowan station, I was sitting in the carriage with the two ladies and Mr. O’Connor, and I heard the engine whistle. I thought it was a strange thing the engine should whistle here. I put my head out of the carriage and saw the three red lights at the tail of the pilot engine. I at once took my double-barrelled gun down from the rack, put a couple of cartridges in it, put my bag of cartridges round my neck, opened the door, and jumped out of the train.
I walked towards the pilot, and when I got within half-way between the pilot and our engine I met a man carrying a lamp — the guard of the pilot engine. He told me he had been stopped by a man holding up a red handkerchief with a match at the back of it. He said he was the schoolmaster at Glenrowan, and that the Kellys had taken up the line. He did not make me quite understand which side of Glenrowan was taken up. The schoolmaster had said to him that the outlaws had taken possession of the town, and that “they were going to catch the inspector” — these were the words he used that the guard told me. I took three men with me from the party I had. I do not remember who they were, but I left Senior-constable Kelly behind. I spread them out above the bank, one on each side, and I walked on the other side of the line. I told them to keep a look-out — that anything might happen at any moment. I walked towards the pilot, and I spoke to a man there, and he told me the same story — that was one of the drivers. I said to him, after consideration, “I think the best plan will be for you to go quietly along to Glenrowan, and we will follow close up to you in the train.” I have stated here in my printed report that it was the engine-driver, but he called upon me subsequently and told me it was the stoker or fireman that spoke to me — that the fireman knew me and he did not. I wish to make the correction at his own request. He said he had been branded as a coward. The man I was speaking to hesitated a little, and I said, “All right, I will jump on the engine with my three men, and we will go along quietly.” Then from something he said (I do not remember what it was) we decided to shunt back to the train and hitch the pilot onto it. When I got back to the train, I spoke to everybody there—the reporters, Senior-constable Kelly, and everybody. I said, “Kelly, you get with the other three men on to the other engine and I will get on this one. Put the men amongst the coals of the tender, and you yourself stand as I do, at the door of the engine.” I mentioned then, and I never remember it till it was related here by Mr. O’Connor, about the horses, whether we could get them out anywhere there, and it was decided we could not; so we went up to the platform in the manner I have described. When we got to the platform the engine-driver thought he saw some one about on the platform, so I waited for about half a minute before I gave orders to the men to jump off the engines. Just at this moment, I think, Mr. Rawlings came up to me; I said, “Look, there is a light down there at the station-master’s house.” (I do not exactly know the distance of all these places, because, I may tell you, I have never been at the place since, and had never looked at the ground before, though I had often passed the place, so I give the evidence just as the impression was left upon me at the time.) I said, “There is a light there, and we will go and see if he can give any information about what is going on here.” Mr. Rawlings walked down there with me. When we got there we did not go to the door, but to the window where we saw the light. I tapped at the window, and I could see a woman inside with some children. I said, “Where is your husband?” She would not answer, but went on weeping and crying “Oh! Oh!” I said, “My good woman, do be calm for a minute; tell me where is your husband;” and she said, “They have taken him away.” I said, “Who has taken him away?” and then there was a pause again for about eight or ten seconds. She then replied, “They have taken him away.” I then asked, “Who do you mean by ‘they’?” and she said, “The Kellys.” I said, “In what direction they have taken him?” and she led me to infer that they had taken him to the mountains. I am certain she did not say a word about Jones’s hotel.
1502. You say in the mountains, meaning the Warby Ranges?—Yes.
1503. Where are the Warby Ranges from that position?—The house of Mrs. Jones is between the station-master’s house and the Warby Ranges, and in pointing in that direction it would be in the direction of Jones’s hotel; but I feel confident she said, “Taken him to the bush.” She certainly did not say Jones’s hotel, as far as my recollection serves me. As I was walking to the station-master’s house, Mr. Rawlings then offered me his services, and on my return he said to me, “I am not armed; can any of your men lend me a rifle?” I said, “I do not think so, but I will give you my revolver, and I will stick to the double-barrelled gun.” He asked me to give him the gun, but I said, “No, I will stick to the gun myself.” He took the revolver, and I began to explain how it is worked, and he said, “If it is a Webley revolver, I know how it is worked.” We returned to the railway station, and I said, “I am going to order the horses out at once.” I wish particular notice to be taken of this, because numbers, some have given different versions of this. I am giving the version impressed on my mind that the horses were never taken out till I returned there, because I had no information to take them out till then. Before I took them out I had the information that the Kellys had been there five minutes previously. I was standing on the platform in amongst all the reporters, police and every one; and as we were all together, and a number of the horses had been taken out (say five or six of them—they were not in horse-boxes, but trucks), Constable Bracken at this time appeared. Where he came from, or how he came upon the platform, I do not know, but he said, “Mr. Hare, go quickly to Jones hotel, the outlaws are there, and I have just escaped from them; they have a number of people in the hotel.” I called up the men; I said, “Come on, men, here we have got them at last; we have got them in Jones’s hotel.” There was some delay; the delay seemed to me a long one, but I suppose it could not have been for more than four or five seconds before I again called out, “Oh, come along, we have got them in the house, and if we do not be quick they will escape from us.” Some one called out, “What are we to do with the horses, sir?” I said, “Let go the horses, and come along as quickly as you can.” With that every horse dashed out of the carriage — the remainder of the horses that had not been taken out — there was a few had been taken out. They scampered away as hard as they could in between the fences. I knew they could not escape. I then, when I saw four or five, a group of men (I cannot tell the number) standing near me, I started off towards Jones’s hotel, followed by the group of men that were there. I remember going through a little iron gate that checked me for the time, and I made straight for the left-hand side of Jones’s house. I had to turn up, I remember, to the right.
1504. How many men had you with you? — I could not possibly say. There was a group around me, there may have been four of five, there was one Queensland man among them. I ran towards the extreme left of Jones’s hotel, and whilst running up I saw a flash, and by that flash a man. He was just at the edge of the verandah, out of it.
1505. The flash of a gun? — Yes, and the report also followed, I should say, and my hand dropped beside me. I had no more pain then than if I had hit my hand like that — [illustrated his meaning]. My hand dropped just like that immediately the shot was fired on the left by a man, Ned Kelly, I heard afterwards; three flashes came simultaneously, first the one which hit me, and then three almost within half a second of the first. The second my hand dropped beside me. I fired with my gun in this position — [the witness illustrated his meaning] — with my right hand. As I told you before, I had been accustomed to fire a double-barrelled gun almost ever since I was born — ever since I could walk — being born at the Cape of Good Hope. I remember distinctly firing those two shots, and, immediately after I fired, I put the gun between my legs. It is a breach-loader, with the action between the hammers, and in touching this action the barrels drop forward, and then I took the two cartridges, pulled out the old ones, and put the new ones in. I have the most distinct and positive recollection of that. The firing on my right was taken up by my men, or the men that followed me up, and it was continued for, I should think, five minutes. During this time, at intervals, I fired my gun off at the outlaws. I never moved from that one spot. I kept firing at intervals. The effect that the shot had on me was just as if I had looked at the sun. Immediately I was struck my eyesight was affected, my eyes became dim. I kept firing from time to time. The two shots, I recollect most distinctly, were the two I fired immediately my hand dropped beside me, and I know I fired several after, how many I would not like to swear. I think six.
1506. Where did the bullet enter? — [The witness showed his wrist.] — I was hit when running up, and carrying my gun in this position ready to fire, with the hammer on full cock, and my finger in this way. I generally carry my arm further advanced than most people do, and the bullet entered there — [describing the same by gesture]. In the middle of the second or third round — perhaps three or four — I heard, when we replied to the shots from the verandah, the shrieks of women and children inside — of persons inside. I cannot say women and children, perhaps the better word will be persons inside. As long as the firing continued on the verandah, I continued firing at those who were firing at us. I had but one thought, to keep firing as long as those men kept firing at us. In the middle of the firing a man called out, “Fire away, you ——; you can do us no harm.” That man was standing about, I should fancy, five or six yards from the other three. It was the man that fired at me, for, after firing at me, he retreated backwards into the verandah. One of the police (I afterwards found that his name was Gascoigne, who was in my party), called out, “That is Ned Kelly’s voice.” Suddenly the firing ceased, and I imagined that I saw the people going into the house. I am not quite certain of that; I imagine that; that is a fact not impressed on my mind.
1507. That is the firing into the verandah? — Yes. The firing ceased, and I imagined the persons had gone inside the house. I called out to Senior-constable Kelly, “Kelly, surround the house, and for God’s sake take care those fellows do not escape.” I told my men previously that I had been shot in the wrist, and I said, “Kelly, be careful that those fellows do not escape; I am going to have my arm tied up.” I left the ground then where I had stood. I declare positively I never moved from the spot until the firing had ceased. I returned to the railway station, and on my way there I saw Mr. O’Connor coming up, running from the direction of the station towards Jones’s hotel. He was in a crouching position with his head down, in that way — [describing the same] — and as I passed him I called out, “O’Connor, the beggars have shot me in the arm.” I do not remember that he made any reply to me. I got on to the platform, and I found the reporters there collected together. I said, “Will some of you gentlemen bind up my hand? I have been shot in the wrist.” I was bleeding most profusely. I felt it from the very first, from the moment I received the shot, that the blood was spurting from me as if out of a spout. One gentleman, I think it was Mr. Carrington — I had never seen any one of them before in my life — got a handkerchief and bound up my arm, assisted by some other gentleman. I felt no faintness whatever then; I felt as well as I do at the present moment; and I remember distinctly being as collected as I am at this present moment when I went on to that platform. I knew Mr. Melvin of the Argus; he came up and patted me on the back, like that — (illustrating the same) — whilst my arm was being bandaged, and he said, “Well done, Hare, you have managed this affair as you have everything else you have undertaken.” I had once before seen him, and that was on the occasion of the Lancefield robbery. The other three gentlemen of the press I had never seen before in my life. I state this in the consequence of a remark that was made when the next morning the papers came out in my favor. I never saw one of the reporters after I left the platform, to my recollection. I may have seen them when I was in bed, but I do not recollect ever seeing them. After my hand was bandaged, I started off with the intention of going round the sentries, and as I was passing a certain spot in front of the hotel, somewhere near where I had seen Mr. O’Connor running up, Senior-Constable Kelly called out of me, “Mr. Hare, we are short of ammunition; please have some served out to us.” Mr. Rawlings, overhearing this, said to me, “I will take it round to them, if you like.” I said, “Yes, do if you please, you will find it in the guard’s van.”
1508. Was that on your return? — Yes. I then proceeded to do as I intended to have done, that was to post the men, commencing from where I had left the ground before, and when I had got into the open space of ground I left as if I was getting very weak, and I began to stagger. I might tell you here there is something wrong with my heart, the doctors told me at home, and I felt my heart throbbing tremendously. I determined then to go and sit quiet for a little while and keep my heart quiet, because I had been rushing about a good deal, backwards and forwards. I went up to a fence, I do not know where the fence is, but I know it has a top rail and several wires; that was to the near of the railway station. I tried to get through this wire fence. I had my gun in my right hand, and I got half my body through, and then I found my hand hanging listlessly beside me, and when I lifted it up it dropped down and I could not get it through the wire fence. I drew back again, and I sat down then for I think about ten minutes behind a tree, and I had full command of the house at this time.
1509. In view? — Yes, in view under my rifle, so that if anything turned up I could have fired. I am giving this from my recollection, I have not been there since. Whilst I was lying there my hand was hanging listlessly beside me. I saw a stream of blood running down. It struck me that this could not last very long, that the blood was flowing so freely, and I thought I had better return to the platform. I had a great difficulty in getting to the platform, and just as I got under the verandah of the station I called out to somebody, some of the people on the station, “Catch me, please,” and with that I dropped down on the top of a lot of bags or sacks; I remember dropping on something. I remained there; I do not know how long. Whether I fainted or not I do not know, but at all events the next thing I remember I was sitting in a railway carriage with the ladies that were there.
1510. They had never left the carriage? — They have never left the carriage. I received some refreshments from those ladies, and I understood I was going to Benalla with them. The refreshments I received put new life into me as it were, and I jumped out of the carriage and I went to the guard of the train, the engine was in front of the carriages, and I said, “How long will it take you to run me down to Benalla and back again?” I forgot the answer, I think it was twenty minutes or half an hour, or something of that kind. I said, “All right, take me down as quickly as you can.” I had great difficulty in getting into Benalla. I turned deadly cold and the engine-driver and stoker opened the furnace. The blood was still running all over the engine, right down from my arm all this time.
1511. Were you on the engine? — Yes, on the engine, in front of the furnace. I should say previous to my going I had started the engine to Benalla, but I cannot tell when — it is out of my recollection altogether — and told the guard to go and give all the news to Mr. Sadleir, and to request him to bring all the men he had at Benalla with him to Glenrowan, but I cannot say when this was; it is a blank in my mind when I did this, whether it was when I was returning on the second occasion, or whether it was upon the first occasion. I got to Benalla, and I gave instructions to the telegraph master to telegraph to Beechworth, and also to Violet Town and Wangaratta, to have all the available men to send down to Glenrowan without loss of time. I then called, I think, Mr. Lewis, the inspector of schools. He was on the Benalla platform. I said to him, “I feel very weak; I have been shot by the Kellys; would you kindly give me your arm to go to Dr. Nicholson, and from thence to the telegraph office?” He assisted me. I called at Dr. Nicholson’s house. I woke him up. This was, I should fancy, between three and four in the morning. I told him I had been shot through the arm by the Kellys; that I was anxious to go to the telegraph office, and begged him to follow me there, and come and dress my arm. When I got to the telegraph office I was terribly excited, and it was some two or three minutes before I could collect my senses. I dictated a telegram to the telegraph master to Captain Standish, telling what had occurred. Immediately after this they begged of me — I was sitting on a high stool, without any back — Mr. Saxe, the telegraph master, begged of me to lie down on the ground on the mattress, where they intended to have slept, alongside the instrument. I took his advice, and stretched myself out on the mattress. Just as I lay down Mr. Sadleir came into the office. I said to him. “Sadleir, I am shot in the arm, but I do not think it is anything of any consequence. I will return with you to the ground, to Glenrowan.” He said, “Do not be such a fool; you are a regular glutton; you have got one shot through you, and you want to get some more, I suppose.” Immediately after this Dr. Nicholson came in. I do not think he had seen me when Mr. Sadleir came into the office. He cut the handkerchief that was over my wrist, and he said that a mistake had been made in tying it up; that I was not bleeding from veins, but that I was bleeding from arteries; that the artery had been shot through; that the blood from my heart could not get into my veins, and that every drop of blood was running from me. He got the back of a book, and made an impromptu splint. He fastened it under my hand, and then I lost consciousness, and fainted away. How long I fainted I do not know. I have never seen Mr. Saxe since, except he came to see me that afternoon, and when I came to myself I was perfectly prostrate. I found that they were throwing brandy down between my teeth down my throat, and I got Mr. Saxe and one of his assistants to assist me over to my hotel where I was staying, as I could not walk myself. When I came to myself Mr. Lewis had left me, and on my way to the hotel I met him returning, and he advised me on no account to go back to Glenrowan. He assisted me to the hotel, and got me upstairs, and put me to bed, where I remained for the remainder of the day, suffering excruciating agony. I have given the whole narrative of this as far as I can remember, and I wish to make few remarks upon it. Mr. O’Connor has stated in his evidence, first of all, that I never fired before or after I was struck.
Mr. O’Connor. — I said you never loaded again; I did not say you did not fire again; I admit that you fired.
The Witness. — The impression on me was that he said I had not fired a shot. Mr. O’Connor states in his evidence that he called out to the men to cease firing as there were men and women inside the house. I do not deny that Mr. O’Connor did so for a moment — I am sure if he says it, he is convinced he did do it; but I say I called out before he did, that his narrative commences at the time I saw him running up the drain. Not for a moment do I wish to say that Mr. O’Connor was not amongst the men that ran up with me. I do not say he was not; all I say is I did not see him, and that the other persons whom I have spoken to, who were with me on that occasion, that I knew were present, stated distinctly that they did not see Mr. O’Connor. I say most positively that I called out to cease firing, where I have stated in my evidence today. Here is a paragraph in the Age, dated Tuesday, 29th June 1880; — “Mr. Hare could be plainly seen by the light of the moon. He walked boldly towards the hotel, and when within 25 yards on the verandah the tall figure of a man came round the corner and fired. The shot took effect on Mr. Hare’s wrist, but Kelly found in him a foeman who would not shrink from him. Senior-Constable Kelly and Rawlings were close to, and the former promptly returned the fire, which was taken up by Hare, although wounded, and Mr. Rawlings followed his example.”
1512. Mr. O’Connor. — Who wrote that?
The Witness. — The reporter’s name was McWhirter, a gentleman I have never seen before, and not till six months after the occurrence. I will read another paragraph:— “When about 60 shots had been sent into the walls of the building the clear voice of Hare was distinguished above the screams of the terrified women and children, who were in the hotel, giving the order to stop firing. This was now repeated by Senior-Constable Kelly, to the men who under cover were surrounding the house at the back, but the Kellys fired three or four more shots, after which one of them gave vent to coarse and brutal language, calling to the police,” so and so. There is another paragraph I wish to read:— “Seeing the wound, the ladies implored Mr. Hare not to return to the fight, but he did so; his re-appearance in the trenches was the signal for renewed firing, and the valley soon became filled with smoke. Mr. Hare then became faint from loss of blood, and was compelled to leave the field.” I say that these paragraphs, from a gentleman I have never seen in my life before, or not till six months after, when he stopped me in the street one day, and gave me the narrative of the proceedings, are significant. I said to him:— “I don’t know whether I have done Mr. O’Connor an injustice by omitting his name; can you assist me in the matter; did you see him go up to the front with me?” His reply was, “I did not see him; I saw him lying in the drain, and I was near him at the time you were firing at the men.” I think I have stated most positively that I did not leave the ground till I saw the outlaws in the house, and Senior-Constable Kelly setting to work to surround the house.
1513. Till you saw the outlaws retreat into the house?—Till I saw the outlaws retreat into the house; then I called out “Cease firing.” I have told my intention was to have gone round the house to see the sentries after my arm was bandaged up. I remember going towards a tree on the left-hand side of the house, and seeing two men behind the tree, and that is as far as I went. I did not speak to anybody, for in my report — which was written while I was very ill — I see I stated here “I visited.” By that I mean I saw two or three of the men behind trees.
1514. Did you speak to them? — I did not. I do not think I spoke to anybody when I went back the second time, until I returned to the station, or on the way to the station. I heard it stated afterwards that some one on the platform saw me approaching, and said, “There comes Hare, as drunk as possible.” I was staggering up to the station. I heard that stated — I do not know who it was that said it — I was supposed to have been at the hotel drinking.
1515. Had you had nothing at this time? — I had not. I had not drunk a drop of liquor or any sort or kind that night. There is one remark I wish to make, with reference to an incident that I gave you this morning, about the man Aaron Sherritt. When the police were watching Mrs. Byrne’s house, I received information that they had in training a grey mare, in Mrs. Byrne’s stable, under lock and key. This is an unusual thing in a small place of that sort, to keep a horse fed on oats and hay, and every afternoon exercised by one of the Byrnes. I have stated that, because about three days after I had visited Aaron Sherritt, in the interview I mentioned when I went out to the house that Saturday, I heard that at two o’clock in the morning, the horse that had been kept in training, and was supposed to be kept for Joe Byrne, in case a raid was committed, had been removed, at two o’clock one morning, out of the stable, whilst my men were watching.
1516. From whom? — I cannot tell you; it was officially reported to me. I got a copy of the letter yesterday, and I have it here, and my memo goes thus. Before reading that, I will read the report to which mine was a reply, namely, the following:—
(Copy.) Report from Constable Armstrong re Paddy Byrne.
Beechworth Police Station, June 23rd, 1880.
I beg to report that at 11.15 p.m., on the 21st inst., Paddy Byrne left his house, riding his grey mare, and keeping off the road, high up the range, going in the direction of Madden’s Gap, which is situated in the Beechworth side of Mrs. Byrne’s house.
The other constables and I, who were watching the house, did not consider it advisable to follow him, as he was riding at a half-trotting pace, and the night was so light we could be seen for several hundred yards off; besides, being confident that it was Paddy, we thought it better to let him pass on than run the risk of being found out. We remained watching the house until 3.30 a.m., at which time he had not returned home. I may further add that the dog kept barking for the greater part of the night, so we were obliged to take our position almost at the foot of the range, far away from the house.
On my return to camp, I came into Beechworth to report the matter, prior to which I requested Moses to keep a sharp look-out, and obtain all the information he could in the meantime.
(Sgd.) HENRY ARMSTRONG
F. Hare, Esq., Benalla. Const. 2475.
Beechworth, 23rd June 1880.
I beg to report, for the information of the Superintendent, with reference to Constable Armstrong’s report, according to instructions, I proceeded to the Woolshed on yesterday afternoon. Moses (that is Aaron Sherritt) was absent on my arrival there. He returned at about 5.30 p.m.; he said he was watching to see if Paddy Byrne returned, but he could not see either Paddy or the horse; he also said he could find no tracks where they saw him riding. In my opinion Paddy must return between the hours of 3.30 a.m. and 12 o’clock noon, when Moses left to search for tracks. From the direction in which Paddy was seen riding, and from previous reports from Mrs. Sherritt, as to horsemen being heard passing by her place at night or early in the morning, Paddy must be spying about Sherritt’s house, for what purpose I cannot say. I will go down to Mrs. Sherritt’s to-day, and ascertain if they heard any noise during the night of Monday, or the morning of Tuesday.
(Sgd.) M. E. WARD,
F. Hare, Esq., Supt. Of Police, Benalla. Det. 2358.
My memo. was as follows:—
Police Department Benalla, Superintendent’s Office, June 1880.
Nothing is said in this report whether “Tommy” was on watch with the men. If he was I can’t understand why he could not have followed Paddy to see the direcam aware our men might have been seen if they had attemptedtion he had taken, or the gap in the mountain he had passed through.
I am aware our men might have been seen if they had attempted to do this, but I am sure “Tommy” could have done so without the slightest fear of being detected. In future, should anything of this kind occur, I would suggest that the following plan be adopted. That when any one takes the horse out of the stable at an unusual hour, he should be followed a short distance to see the direction he is going, and, when he has turned up any of the gaps, that the spot be marked and the man return to the watch party. At daylight “Tommy” (that is, Aaron Sherritt) should be made follow the tracks for a certain distance, to see the direction the horse is heading for, and by that means he will be able to tell whether it would be advisable to get the trackers to follow them; the man in charge of the watch party should accompany “Tommy,” and not throw the whole responsibility on him, and whilst “Tommy” is tracking he could look out and see if any person is moving about. One of the watch party should be sent on the hill to keep a look-out to see if the horseman returns, so that the direction he came from would be known.
In a matter of this kind it would be impossible to give definite instructions, for circumstances alter cases, therefore I must leave a great deal to the discretion of the man in charge. What I wish him particularly to remember is not to leave the responsibility of the affair to “Tommy;” he is an irresponsible man, and should be, in a matter of this kind, assisted by the senior man of the party. Shortly I hope to have two trackers stationed at Beechworth, so that there may be no delay in following the tracks.
What I particularly wish to impress on Detective Ward and Senior-Constable Mullane is not to take a body of men near Mrs. B——’s should there be any tracking to be done; and that is my reason of wishing “Tommy” to run the tracks some distance, say a mile or so, and then, if nothing comes of it, the fact of the men watching would not be discovered.
On the 21st the whole responsibility was thrown upon “Tommy.” He was left to do the whole thing, and Constable Armstrong goes to Beechworth, instead of sending any one of his men and he remain to take the management of affairs.
I trust that on the next occasion, when anything of the kind occurs, a little better management will be shown.
(Sgd.) FRANCIS HARE,
Those are the instructions I issued, and that may be taken as showing the tenor of the instructions I usually issued. In my evidence this morning I said, on my return to Benalla on the 2nd of June, I saw all the agents. I wrote to a man known as “Diseased Stock,” and requested him to come to Benalla to see me. He came in about four or five days after I wrote the letter, and I had an interview with him in the office, in the presence of Mr. Sadleir. I had known him previous to my removal from the district, and I said, “Well, so-and-so, how have you been getting on?” He said, “All right.” I said, “Have you got any news?” He said, “There is no doubt that they are going to make a raid very shortly on some bank.” I said, “How do you know?” He said, “I know it for various reasons.” Mr. Sadleir said then, “But have you not been telling us this for the last six or seven months?” He said, “Yes, I have, I thought they would have stuck up a bank long ago.” I said, “I hear they are going to appear in armour?” He said, “Yes, no doubt of it.” I said, “How is it to be used?” His reply was, “They will wear it when they are robbing the bank.” I said, “Is it bullet proof?” He said, “Yes, at ten yards.” I said, “I do not believe that any armour ever made that man could carry would stand a Martini-Henry bullet at ten yards;” and he said, “Well, this is proof.” I asked if he had any reason to believe the direction, or position, or what bank they intended sticking up. He said, “No, he could not say anything on the subject.” I had a lot of other conversation, which I do not remember.
1517. Was he a supposed supporter of the Kellys? — Not in any way.
1518. Not by them? — Not in any way. He was not a supporter; he was, I think, one of the most respectable and reliable men that had ever been engaged in that capacity during the Kelly search. He was a little too sanguine, and after he left the office I said to Mr. Sadleir, “Well, this looks rather black for me, that these men are going to commit some outrage at once.” He said, “Oh, that man has been giving us this information for months;” besides he said, “He is the most sanguine and tantalizing man I ever saw.”
1519. Had Mr. Sadleir faith in him? — Yes, all of us had; no one doubted he was doing his best. Mr. Sadleir said on one occasion, some months ago, he wrote to Mr. Nicolson a letter not giving much information — the old thing that they were about, and he could not get any definite information; and after writing the letter and signing his name, he added a postscript, that since he had written the letter most important information had been received, and to be ready to start at a moment’s notice. He said, “We heard nothing of him for three or four weeks, and we were kept in the highest pitch of excitement, and then it turned out to be all a mistake, or the information not so good as he expected.” I think I have stated I mentioned this man’s name to Mr. Nicolson when he relieved me on the first occasion.