Murder of Three Policemen


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The police received notification that the two Kelly boy's were hiding out somewhere in the Wombat Ranges. So in order to flush them out, they organised two armed parties of four men, one from Greta and the other from Mansfield, who would converge on the area from different directions.

On the 25th October 1878, the party from Mansfield which consisted of Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Scanlon, Lonigan and McIntyre, camped on the banks of Stringybark Creek, unknowingly to them, less than a mile from the Kelly hideout. Late that afternoon, McIntyre fired at a kangaroo which ventured near the camp. The shot rang through the hills to the Kelly camp which prompted Ned to send Dan to investigate. On his return, Dan reported that there were four troopers wearing civilian clothes, and they were heavily armed.

That night no-one at the Kelly camped slept for fear of a surprise attack. Early the following morning, Sergeant Kennedy and Constable Scanlon left to patrol the area, leaving Lonigan and McIntyre to look after the camp. During the day, McIntyre shot at two parrots hoping to have fresh meat for supper. The shots where once again heard at the Kelly camp, but by this time, its occupants had decided on a course of action.

As they were clearly out-gunned, their only hope was to try and disarm the police. Ned and Dan, accompanied by two of their companions, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, walked over to the police camp and crept up close. After watching for several hours, Ned called on the two policemen to "Bail Up". McIntyre, being unarmed, immediately put his hands up, but Lonigan dived for cover behind the log he had been resting on and drew his revolver. As he raised his head to fire, he was shot dead by Ned.

The four men now ran up and after searching their prisoner, ransacked the camp. Ned convinced McIntyre that they meant them no harm and asked him to persuade the others to surrender and he would let them go. When Kennedy and Scanlon returned late in the afternoon, McIntyre approached them and told them that they were surrounded. Thinking that it was a joke, Kennedy reached for his revolver. As he did, Ned stepped out from behind a tree and told them to surrender.

The battle of Stringybark Creek had begun. Kennedy slid down on the off-side of his horse and immediately started firing. Scanlon on the other hand, without unslinging his rifle, flung it around and was in the act of firing when he was shot by Ned. Slumping of his horse, onto his knees on the ground, he was attempting to unsling the rifle when Joe Byrne finally shot him dead with a captured police revolver. Meanwhile, Kennedy's horse became frightened by the sound of gunfire and it raced through the camp. As it did, McIntyre grabbed hold of the reins and flung himself into the saddle and escaped.

Kennedy, who had been shielding himself behind his horse until it bolted, now took cover behind a tree. In the first exchanges he struck Dan Kelly in the shoulder, but, now he was on his own, the fire from the four bushrangers caused him to retreat from tree to tree and eventually he fled in the same direction that McIntyre had taken.

Ned pursued after him and during the course of numerous exchanges, shot the sergeant twice. He was suffering great pain and begged Ned not to let him die in agony, but to finish him off. It took five days before a police search party finally located Kennedy's body, covered with his overcoat, as Ned had left it.

Two bush hut fireplaces found at Stringybark Ck by Kelly researcher and writer Bill Denheld in September 2002, help to re-establish the exact location where three police were killed by the Kellys in October 1878.

 

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Glen Rowen Cobb & Co Pty Ltd

37 Gladstone Street, Glenrowan, Victoria, Australia, 3675
Phone 03 5766 2409 Fax 03 5766 2650
E-mail: gdean@nedkellysworld.com.au

 

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