A Formidable Crew

Detective Constable Arthur Burns and Detective Constable Frank Payne

Det Sgt Jim Comans, Det Sgt Tom McRae, Det Const Arthur Burns and Det Const Frank Payne (left to right), on their way to Court – probably Central Police Court, January, 1933.

Photo supplied by Craig Burns. Unknown street photographer most likely in Liverpool Street, Sydney. Just five years earlier, Burns had engaged in a gunfight in Manly with international criminal William Henry Wilks.

Wilks had broken free of Burns as he was being handcuffed and drew a pistol. Both men fired almost simultaneously with each shot missing their target. Burns fired again and hit Wilks in the heart. He pursed his lips and would not divulge his accomplice’s name, then cried out ‘I’m done for!’ and died where he fell.

It was one of a number of actions for which this man earned high praise and one of the many stories from The Killing Chronicle – Police, Service and Shattered Lives.