Occupation : Detective
REPORTS OF DETECTIVE ETHELL « CLICK HERE
MILITARY SERVICE BOER WAR
Given Name(s) or Initial(s) Edmund
Regimental Number 851
Unit Name 5th Vic. Mounted Rifles
Extracts and Comments
(from Sources as shown)
5VMR QSA Roll: ETHEL Right Wing Queen's South Africa Medal & 3
clasps (CC OFS & Tvl.)
B5179: born 1877 a storeman from E. Brighton Vic.
Murray: 'Official Records of the Australian Contingents etc.' page(s)
5VMR QSA Roll: 'Queen's S. Africa Medal Roll for 5VMR'
B5179: National Archives of Australia series B5179 item B
Returning Home from South Africa
The enthusiasm of the Victorian contingents going off to fight the
Boers in South Africa was probably more than matched by the joy and
relief they experienced on returning to Melbourne by the end of 1902.
If the published extracts from letters in the local papers sent to
relatives and friends and the comments made on arrival at home are to
believed, the conditions in South Africa and the tactics used to
overcome the tenacity of the Boers were at least tiring, and at times
stressful and distasteful.
Sergeant A Fisher writing home commented on the awful state of the
country, "When war is good stand up fighting it is not so bad, but when
they bring it to what they have now, you see it in its worst form, and
the country is a complete wreck. The other day, where we were, the
houses had all been burnt but the walls were left standing, and they
have rigged up a sort of shelter roof, and there you will find perhaps
six women and their children all huddled in. They live on mealies, or
whatever they can get, but give them a chance, and they will put a
bullet through you quicker than blink." 
Trooper McCaughan of the Fourth Contingent, in his letter to Jim
written from Umtali on June 25, 1900, described his situation in South
Africa. "All the men are singing out about not being paid, and nearly
all are sorry they ever saw the regiment - here is one nigger who will
never be sworn in again. We have been fooled about something terrible.
The discipline is rotten in this tin pot regiment, but I have very good
times of it, and I am as fat as a whale. We are all as lazy as they
make them, we won't know how to work when we get discharged. May my
hair turn green if ever I wear a kharki (sic) suit again." 
Sergeant Murphy left Cheltenham in 1899 joining the Imperial Light
Horse in Natal to fight the Boers. Writing to his sister from Pretoria
some months later, he said he was pleased that the war was nearly over
because conditions were not pleasant. He complained, "It is getting
very cold here now and what with bad food and sleeping out at nights
with no tents, I am about knocked up."  While Murphy's description
of conditions was probably correct his prediction about the duration of
the war was astray as the peace was not declared until May 31, 1902.
Before this was to happen many of the members of the colonial
contingents returned home. Their initial enlistment was for twelve
months but some were sent home earlier because of wounds or ill health.
The Harleck Castle brought back 181 Victorians and 275 troops from
other colonies. Amongst this number were four from the
Moorabbin/Oakleigh district. Corporal G F Daniel of Oakleigh, Lance
Corporal T Matson of East Brighton, and Private G Stayner of South
Brighton were all members of the First Contingent while Private W F
Daff from South Brighton was with the Second Contingent. 
Members of the community were urged to give the returning troops an
enthusiastic and boisterous welcome so a variety of celebrations were
planned. A half holiday was proclaimed and after lunch at Victoria
Barracks the returning troops mustered in their respective units to
march through the City accompanied by five thousand local militia
President of the Moorabbin Shire, Cr Thomas Bent, convened a meeting at
South Brighton of twenty residents and twelve councillors to consider
what form the welcome home should take. Cr Burgess suggested that a
social evening be arranged later in the week at the Orderly Room in
Cheltenham. He thought this was the most appropriate venue as it was
where the returning soldiers had received their first military training
and where some of the farewell ceremonies had been held. Others thought
the event should be held in South Brighton because two of the returning
men were born in that locality. Moreover, as Cr Leary pointed out,
Cheltenham had had the honour of arranging their departure so he
thought the welcome home should be somewhere else.  On a show of
hands Cheltenham, with twelve votes, won by one from South Brighton.
When it came time to set the date of the welcome function, reaching a
consensus was even more difficult to achieve as different people had
arranged their own local receptions. Finally Cr Bent lost his patience
with the meeting and in a vigorous speech enunciated his view that the
reception should be official and representative of the shire, not
localities. As the Shire Hall was provided by the ratepayers for the
councillors, it was the official hall and that was where the reception
should be held, the president said. His views were adopted. 
The report in the Brighton Southern Cross suggests the returning troops
were tired after the month's sea voyage and were not in a fit condition
to battle "with the roughs of Melbourne whose only idea of showing
their cordiality seemed to be to impede the march of the kharki clad
soldiers." Matson survived the march but Stayner fell out when the
march reached Parliament House, while Daff was "captured by five
admirers and shouldered off near Parer's Caf‚." Apparently Daff
and Stayner reached home about dusk but Lance Corporal Matson travelled
home on the last train where he was met at the East Brighton
(Bentleigh) station, lifted on to the shoulders of two friends, and
carried up Centre Road accompanied by some thirty `patriotic
Lance Corporal Matson's welcome home to East Brighton on December 13,
1900 consisted of a social and dance commencing at 7.30 p.m. and
concluding at 2 a.m. The price of admission to the social was one
shilling while the charge for the dance was two shillings for a double
ticket. During a pause in the proceedings at the social Cr Burgess
presented Tom Matson with a gold chain and a suitably inscribed locket.
 Earlier in the day 300 students from the State and Catholic schools
marched up Centre Road to Matson's residence where under the baton of
Constable Holland they sang Home Sweet Home and When Tommy comes
Marching Home again. The East Brighton drum and fife band of sixteen
musicians accompanied them. Matson in his response said he was quite
knocked over by the very hearty welcome; it was worse than Kruger's pom
poms. He went on to suggest that in a few years time the boys would be
volunteering to fight for England and there would be plenty of little
girls to kiss them when the came back. This brought an amused reaction
for the audience.
The Shire welcome was a packed occasion. A large marquee was erected in
the Shire hall grounds where a `promenade' concert was arranged, but
the pressure of a crowd of 600 people made it impossible to move. The
returning heroes were seated on the platform along with Cr Bent, the
shire president, Colonels Templeton and Otter, together with shire
councillors. The programme opened with a piano solo by Miss Hotton
followed by Mr Ethell singing `Scarlet and Blue'. He later sang
`Sons of the Sea' with the audience joining in the chorus with gusto.
Other songs on the program included `Dear Home Songs', `When Tommy
comes Marching Home again', `To the Front', `The Lads in Red' and
`Where's the War?'. During the festivities the President presented the
returning troops with medals. 
When Colonel Templeton responded to the welcome provided for the young
returning soldiers he suggested D was for Daff, Darting and Dutiful; M
for Mason, Manly and Modest; R for Rigg, Reserved and Reliable; and S
for Stayner, Strenuous and Steadfast. "They had been tried and not
found wanting", he claimed. Private Stayner in his response told of the
day they entered Pretoria. They were sent out to get wood and made
their way to a house where the occupants had been cleared out leaving
everything behind. Stayner recounted, "They sold the piano to a woman
for 30s., and while she was away getting a cart to remove it one of
them sold it to a man for œ2. The latter purchaser was a Jewey
kind of man and took it away at once, so the woman was left to grieve
over the loss of her 30s." 
Farrier Sergeant Ockendon was hospitalised in Pretoria suffering from
sciatica when his colonel said he had done enough work and deserved a
rest. It was time for a younger man to take a turn the colonel thought.
 Arriving home safely and much improved in health  Ockendon's
friends at the Wesleyan Church gave him a rousing welcome. With the Rev
G Scholfield presiding, the hall was overflowing with people who came
to welcome the Cheltenham resident back and to listen to the
entertainment provided by Misses Ockenden and Miller, and Mr Elburn who
sang popular songs, and Miss B Ricketts who recited `The Soldiers
Home-coming'. Robert Woff, on behalf of the congregation, presented
Sergeant Ockenden with a handsomely illuminated address, and expressed
satisfaction at his safe return to this family. In his short response
Ockendon commented that most of his time in South Africa was spent in
the saddle. 
Trooper Gillespie of the Third Contingent stated that while thoroughly
enjoying some parts of the war, he had no particular wish for a second
dose, at least not until he has had `a year or two of civilized living'
 The Gillespie and Wilson welcome home function was held at the
Mordialloc Mechanics' Institute where the songs `Rally Round the Flag',
`Blue Bells of Scotland', `The Swannie River' and `Scarlet and Blue'
formed a substantial part of the program. Miss Gromann recited `The
Soldier Tramp' before both troopers were given suitably inscribed
silver watches by Mr Keast MLA. In doing so he expressed the hope that
both men lived to old age. 
Other soldiers from other corps returning to Melbourne received local
welcomes. Sergeant Major Germaine of Mentone, Trooper Sleddon of
Brighton and Trooper Black of Carrum were amongst the soldiers
returning from South Africa on the transport Orient in 1900.  Ten
months later South Brighton and East Brighton members of the Fifth
Contingent were welcomed home at the Public Hall where they were
presented with a gold medal inscribed with their name.  The men
involved were Corporals Ethell and Daff, Lance-Corporal Newham,
as well as Privates Molneau, W Newham, J Dick, F Collins, E and S
Black, L Tuck and S Reynolds. Ethell briefly expressed the thanks of
the group for the welcome and Daff told two stories drawn from the
South African experience.
The first story related to an occasion when several black women were
interrogated. The soldiers speaking through an interpreter established
that the women were about twenty years of age and unmarried. As Daff
explained, "You could not tell from the way their hair was done or the
style of dress because they had no dresses. Their value in the
matrimonial market was two cattle but as we had no cattle they remained
single." The story generated considerable amusement amongst the
The second story related to the time when "out with the column they
found the enemy on a kopje about 2000 yards off and after pumping in
shells from the 12 and 16 pounder firing pom-poms, and blazing away
with the rifles for some considerable time, still the Mauser
`click-clock' continued. At last it was decided to charge the kopje and
a company of the Cape Mounted Police were told off to do the duty. Away
they went at a great pace. Some fell, but the others kept going. When
they arrived at the summit they found the enemy to be one old Boer,
sitting in a wheelbarrow, with a stack of empty cartridge cases at his
side. Triumphantly they wheeled him back to the column but it took
about 200 men to effect the capture." 
The troopers brought back to Melbourne various souvenirs of their stay
in South Africa. Private Gillespie's collection, displayed in a local
business premises, included a sjambole used by the Boers `to flog the
Kaffir slaves', and a split nose bullet found in the possession of a
Boer prisoner. The slits were opened out before the bullet was loaded
into the rifle with the object of making a more ghastly and deadly
wound in the body of the enemy. 
An earlier returnee, Private Daff, brought back a curly terrier pup
born ten weeks earlier in South Africa. Major Eddy of the First
Contingent, who was killed at Arundel, took its mother there. The
survival of the pup was often in doubt because Daff had great trouble
feeding it on the five day train journey from Koormatic Poort to
Pretoria. In addition to this live souvenir Daff also had other relics.
They included a Boer pipe and Mauser bullets.
Privates Stayner and Matson were not so fortunate as their collections
were stolen before boarding the ship to take them home. This loss was
particularly devastating for Matson because he lost a diary in which he
had recorded some of his South African experiences.  Private Rigg
came home with a belt studded with the brass shoulder badges of various
British Regiments taken from dead soldiers, `a sad reminder of the loss
England pays in times of war'. 
Not all members of the Victorian contingents came home with souvenirs
and memories. Four men from the district died in South Africa and were
buried under the veldt. Jim Collins of the Fifth Contingent was shot in
the stomach during action at Wilmansrust and died the next morning.
Trooper Will Christie of the Bushmen's Contingent died of enteric fever
at Rustenburg in 1900, and F Clay was killed in action at Elandshock
the following year. F Fisher also died in South Africa.
A marble tablet was placed on the wall of St Matthew's, Church of
England, at Cheltenham, as a memorial to Trooper Will Christie, a
surveyor by profession and previously employed by the Board of Works.
Described as `a beautiful piece of work' the memorial consisted of a
laurel wreath surmounted with the coat of arms of the Mounted Rifles.
The inscription in the middle of the wreath read, "Erected by friends
in remembrance of noble deeds done by Australians in the South African
The church service was conducted by the vicar, the Rev Alfred Caffin,
with Colonel Tom Price unveiling the tablet. Price remarked that he was
pleased that some thought had been given to those who lost their lives
at the front through disease. Very much praise, he believed, was given
to those who performed deeds of valour, but in his opinion the inmates
of the field hospitals were as worthy to be thought of as those who
lost their lives whilst in the midst of the dust and the heat of
It was the Rev Alfred Caffin who first proposed the construction of a
drinking fountain to perpetuate the patriotic action of local men who
served in South Africa. The idea was taken up by J Merriman who became
one of the key members of the fund raising committee, together with Cr
Penny as chairman. Through both their efforts over a protracted period,
and the work of the committee, the money was finally raised to pay for
the creation and installation of a red granite obelisk on the corner of
Point Nepean and Chesterville roads to record the names of `Moorabbin
District Boys' who served in South Africa. 
At the time of the unveiling of the memorial the South African battles
were long over and the troopers who survived them had returned to their
civilian occupations, but their exploits and those of their dead
colleagues who endured the long rides in stressful circumstances,
remain recorded in local newspapers and the memories of the community.
Graham J Whitehead
Brighton Southern Cross, July 6, 1901.
Moorabbin News, September 1, 1900.
Moorabbin News, September 8, 1900.
Brighton Southern Cross, December 1, 1900.
Moorabbin News, December 8, 1900. The Orderly Room was on the site of
the Protestant Hall complex on Point Nepean Road, Cheltenham.
Brighton Southern Cross, December 8, 1900.
Brighton Southern Cross, December 8, 1900.
Brighton Southern Cross, December 15, 1900.
Brighton Southern Cross, December 22, 1900.
Cheltenham Leader, December 22, 1900.
Brighton Southern Cross, January 26, 1901.
Cheltenham Leader March 30, 1901.
Cheltenham Leader March 30, 1901.
Brighton Southern Cross May 18, 1901.
Brighton Southern Cross June 8, 1901.
Brighton Southern Cross, July 13, 1901.
Moorabbin News May 17, 1902.
Moorabbin News, May 17, 1902.
Moorabbin News, May 18, 1901.
Brighton Southern Cross, December 8, 1900.
Brighton Southern Cross, August 25, 1900.
Moorabbin News July 13, 1901.
The ORIENT was built in 1879 by John Elder, Glasgow for the Orient
Steam Navigation Co.Ltd. She was a 5,386 gross ton ship, length 460ft
(140,21m) x beam 46.3ft (14,12m) x depth 35ft (10,67m). She had two
funnels, four masts (rigged for sail), iron construction, single screw
and a speed of 15 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 120-1st,
130-2nd, 300 steerage class, or 1,500 troops. Launched on 5th June
1879, she sailed from London on her maiden voyage to Melbourne and
Sydney via the Cape on 3rd Nov.1879 and returned via Suez. In 1884 she
had electric light installed and in 1898 was modernised, rebuilt to
5,453 tons, and fitted with triple expansion engines to give her a
speed of 17 knots. In Nov.1899 she became a troopship for the Boer War
and on 17th July 1903 resumed commercial services to Sydney. Her last
sailing on this service commenced on 23rd July 1909 and in 1910 she was
sold to Italian ship breakers and renamed ORIC for her final voyage to
Italy where she was scrapped. [Merchant Fleets in Profile by Duncan
Haws, vol.1, P&O, Orient and Blue Anchor Lines] [North Star to
Southern Cross by John M.Maber]
RUSSELL STREET SENSATION.
ALLEGED ACCEPTANCE OF BRIBE
Ethell is a leading member of the Criminal Investigation department,
and was attached to the Bourke police district. One of the most
important cases on which he was recently engaged was the Beaconsfield
murder He is aged 44 years and has been a member of the Victorian
police force for 19 years. He will appear before the City Court this
Statement by Commissioner
The Chief Commissioner of Police (Mr. Nicholson) said last night: -
"The charge arose originally from a report received from America that a
war bond valued at £18.000 had been stolen, and that the man
suspected of the theft was believed to be in Australia. All the
detectives were warned to be on the look out for him. A man reported to
the police that Detective Ethell questioned him regarding the missing
bond. As a result of statements made by this man, detectives were close
by when he met Ethell by appointment at St. Kilda this afternoon. The
detectives saw something pass between the man and Ethell, and when they
challenged Ethell he (Ethell) produced a cheque for £9000
BRIBERY CHARGE FAILS,
CHEQUE FOR. £9,000.
Stories of Sovereigns.
After a hearing which occupied more than five hoars in the City Court
yesterday, the charge against Detective Edmond Ethell, of having, at
St. Kilda, on May 30, taken a pecuniary bribe io a cheque for
£9,000, drown on tho Commonwealth Bunk of Australia, from George
B. Stewart, was dismissed by the Bench (Messrs T. O'Callaghan, R T.
Campbell, and N. Wright). When Mr. O'Callaghan announced that tho
charge had been dismissed there was an outburst of applause in the
courtroom, which had been crowded throughout the proceedings. Mr. F. J.
Mennos appeared for the prosecution, and Air. Ia. B Cussen (instructed
by Messt the chief commissioner of Police (Mr. Nicholson) and the
acting chief of the criminal investigation branch (Superintendent
Potter). Mr. and Mrs. Potter, who wore frequently mentioned in
evidence, are not related to Superintendent Potter.
DETECTIVE ETHEL.. ON DUTY.
Chief Commissioner's Views on Case
Detective Edmond Ethell, who was found not guilty at the City Court on
Thursday on a charge of having accepted a bribe, resumed duty in the
Bourke police district yesterday. The chief commissioner (Mr. A.
Nicholson) formally ordered that his suspension from duty be removed.
Commention on the case yesterday, Mr Nicholson said there was no one
pleased than he to see Ethell discharged. "He was treated as any other
man against whom a serious charge is made -a warrant was issued, and he
was arrested. It should be remembered that the explanation he gave in
the court was not given to the police officers who arrested him. If we
had not had this case dealt with in an open court it would have caused
all sorts of scandals. and in the future, unless there are some very
special reasons. I intend to have everything of this sort dealt with
openly, so that the public may know the true position.
CASE OF DETECTIVE ETHELL
Claim for Compensation.
Claims made by detective Ethell for compensation arising out of his
arrest some months ago on a charge of having accepted a bribe for
£10,000 have been re fused by the police authorities. Detective
Ethell claims that he is at least entitled to be recouped his expenses
in defending the case also that the department should frankly admit the
error of the action taken against him. The matter was recently brought
before a special meeting of the executive of the Police Association by
Senior detective Chigston, the representative of the Criminal
Investigation branch. It was pointed out at this meeting that the man
on whose word Detective Ethell had been arrested had since been
sentenced to a term of prisonment and had admitted a long list of
previous convictions for imposition. The executive decided to do all in
its power to obtain compensation for Detective Ethell and to approach
the authorities on the question immediately. Should compensation be
refused the matter will be discussed a a meeting of the council of the
association to be held shortly.
DETECTIVE ETHELL'S CASE.
Legal Expenses to be Paid.
As a result of representations made by the Police Association the
Ministry has approved of the payment of all legal expenses incurred by
Senior detective Ethell as consequence of his arrest some time ago on a
charge of having accepted a bribe to forego his duty. Senior-detective
Ethell made several applications to the Police department to be
recouped his expenses after the charge against him was dismissed, but
he was informed tint this could not be done. The matter was then taken
up by the Police Association, of which body he is a member. He was
yesterday congratulated by his fellow-detectives on the decision of the
Ministry. The man from whom it was alleged he had accepted a bribe was
some months ago sentenced to a term of imprisonment on a charge of
having obtained money by false pretences.
Victorian Police Inquiry.
Giving evidence at the police in-quiry to-day, John Sharp said that he
had given ex-Detective Ethell £10 reward when his stolen car was
ered. Edmond Ethell was then called but there was no appearance.
The inquiry was adjourned .