‘THE KILLING CHRONICLE’
There have been a number of references to my new book, ‘The Killing Chronicle – Service and Shattered Lives – NSW Police and the crimes that took them.’ Under the rather lengthy working title, planning is progressing on a suitable cover design, which I will post when it becomes available.
This book begins during wartime Sydney, when reckless criminal activity was astounding and thoughtlessly applied. Weapons were readily available and the Tommy gun the favoured of them all. Bashings, robberies, shootings and stabbings were rife and the victims were quite often allied servicemen, naively relaxed and on leave. The suppression of crime had not developed scientifically, that would take another forty years, but brawn and bravery were the traditional responses, which only worked some of the time. To add to these shortcomings, policemen were generally armed with inferior and obsolete weapons, which time and again failed when needed. These officers fell, often without warning, but valiantly and needlessly.
Two policemen were murdered on Anzac Day, one on the 25th Anzac Day and the other in 1958. The latter, Constable Joe Johnson, had served in Tobruk, Bardia, Ceylon, New Guinea and other theatres and had taken part in his first Anzac Day march that day. Protecting fellow committee members and the general public at the local RSL, he was stabbed six times in an attack under the coward’s cloak of darkness.
Other ex-servicemen had survived war only to join the police force to be cut down in peacetime. Some died while protecting their communities and some they shielded, died with them. Their stories begin in 1940 and end in 1971, when sergeants Maurice McDiarmid and William Watson ‘Bill’ Riley, a New Guinea veteran, were cut down at Toongabbie in western Sydney.
Flashbacks are provided to show how NSW police came to be an armed force, albeit with ineffectual weaponry. The men responsible are described and their images displayed, as they awaited execution at Darlinghurst Gaol. An earlier incident, in 1893 is also examined and illustrated by contemporary photographs. The full story behind the battle to have police armed is addressed in detail.
It is a sad, horrifying yet uplifting chronicle of many of those who fell in the service of their community and the shattered lives they left behind. Published by Big Sky Publishing, Sydney.