‘Like an oasis in the desert’: Queensland Police constables care for members of the public

Tucked away in the Queensland State Archives’ collection you can find all manner of curious and astonishing information. Take for example the rather dull sounding Series 16865 General correspondence of the Police Commissioner’s Office c.1861 – c.1987

Do not let the formal title fool you for this series is a treasure trove containing an array of stories about the Queensland community over 125 years. Within these Police administrative records are records regarding the employment of black trackers, proceedings brought against medical officers and bogus doctors, strike action, notification of aeroplane accidents, the discovery of human remains, and visits to Queensland by royalty and other distinguished persons. And the list goes on, with files relating to the First and Second World Wars, police work for government departments, for example, the inspection of brands and stock, government relief, ‘the insane’, gold or payrolls and the collection of statistical data.

Amidst all these records we uncovered the following letters of appreciation, snapshots of the everyday which we wanted to share with you:

Trouble in the rain

On the 24 January 1927 the Brisbane Police Commissioner received a letter from a Mr Gough. Mr Gough was writing to extend his thanks to a local constable who had helped his wife and daughters with their troublesome car on Caxton Street. The constable, during what Mr Gough notes was a heavy thunderstorm, pushed the car, with the women still inside, up to the top of the hill. From there the car was able to coast down and into the nearest garage.

 As Mr Gough eloquently notes the constable was “…like an oasis in the desert”.

A case of memory loss

After his daughter was found in The Valley, Brisbane, suffering from memory loss, her father sent a gracious letter dated May 1940 thanking Constable Bourke and Constable Spillman for their kind actions in assisting his daughter to return safely home. He stated that “…both of them went out of their way to help” and that he would always remember this kind deed.

Saying goodbye

This heartfelt story and letter of thanks was sent by Mr White on December 22 1939 regarding the matter of his wife, who suffered at the time from a knee injury, and his son who had recently joined the 2nd Australian Imperial Force. After joining the A.I.F. White’s son was due to leave by train and therefore Mr and Mrs White travelled to the station to see their son depart. White states that the station was crowded so he commented about his wife’s condition to the station police officer who replied “She of course wants to see him go, and I’ll see she does”. White then relates how the Police Officer escorted his wife to the rail carriage door to see her son off. The closing sombre remarks in this letter illustrate just how grateful the couple was:

“If our son is unfortunate and does not return, or on the other hand he returns safe and well, we shall always remember this action, and [Sergeant II38 and Constable 2444] with deepest gratitude”.

The above are only tiny snippets of the information which can be discovered in this series and with a little more digging you never known what gems you could uncover!


Image for Blog - Oasis in the desert - DID26076 Major Cahill. jpg
Major Cahill, Commissioner of Queensland Police, 1 April 1905 – 31 December 1916

 Further tips

To further assist researchers, Brief Guide 34 Police Gazettes provides a useful finding aid to navigate your way into matters dealt with by Queensland Police.

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit www.archives.qld.gov.au.

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