FROM the VAULT – National Police Remembrance Day

Yesterday, 29th September 2014, we pay tribute to Australian Police Officers who were killed on duty or who died as a result of their duties since the advent of policing in Australia.  In Queensland 139 men and 2 women have lost their lives serving the state.  The full list of Queensland Police Officers can be found on the following link:  In today’s FROM the VAULT we offer 10 stories highlighting the brave actions of these men and women, the despicable behaviour of some community members, the unpredictable nature of animals, and ill-timed traffic events.

6 November 1867 – Constables Patrick W. CAHILL and John F. POWER were on Gold Escort duty with Gold Commissioner Thomas Griffin, who was present to provide extra security.  As the police slept at the MacKenzie River crossing, near Rockhampton, Griffin shot the two men in the head and stole the escort money.  Griffin was hanged for his crimes at the Rockhampton Gaol on 1 June 1868.

1. PM0680a Cahill & Power

Sergeant James Julian, Constable Patrick Cahill, Constable John Power and Gold Commissioner Thomas Griffin, all seated at front, with two unknown Native Mounted Policemen standing at back, c1867. Image PM0680a courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

4 October 1885 – 31 year old Constable John STEWART held the position of Camp Keeper of the Mossman Native Mounted Police.  The young officer was seriously injured whilst at the camp when he sustained a kick to the abdomen by a horse in September 1885.  Although he received the best possible treatment at Port Douglas Hospital, he died from his injuries on the 4 October.

29 March 1903 – Acting Constable David JOHNSON had come to the aid of a prisoner at the Mackay Gaol who was being attacked by another prisoner brandishing an axe.  Constable Johnson tried to intervene but sadly both the prisoner, and Constable died at the scene.  Soo Too Low was hanged for the crimes at Boggo Road Gaol on 22 June 1903.

19 April 1918 – During the WWI 30 men on leave from the Queensland Police died whilst actively serving their country.  Constable Walter W. DUMBRELL, aged 33, from 41st Australian Infantry Battalion, was killed in action in France.  He is buried in the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

4. PM3189 Dumbrell

Constable Walter Dumbrell, 1910. Image PM 3189 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

18 January 1931 – Constable Ernest DAWSON had arrived at Atherton for special traffic duties, but a few days into the posting he crashed his motorcycle on the road between Lake Barrine and Yungaburra, on 6 August 1930.  Ernest lost control of the bike on loose gravel, it flipped and rolled down an embankment.  Excellent care was provided at both Atherton and Brisbane General Hospitals, however Constable Dawson eventually succumbed to his injuries and died five months later.

9 May 1956 – Three days after crashing his police vehicle on Sandgate Road, Virginia, Constable Kevin S. MASON died from severe head injuries, aged 38.  Investigations revealed the front wheel of the car caught in a gutter, causing it to swerve across the road and overturn, crushing the bonnet and trapping the officer.  Attendants in a passing ambulance used a hacksaw to free Constable Mason, and transported him for urgent medical attention, but he passed away in hospital.

6. PM0375 Mason

Senior Constable Kevin Mason, with his son Kevin at Red Hill, 1953. Image PM0375 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

14 February 1963 – Senior Constable Cecil R. BAGLEY ran to the aid of a neighbour electrocuted whilst working on his car.  Unbeknown to the young officer, the vehicle was live after a light bulb being used to illuminate the machine smashed and metal parts of the light came into contact with the vehicle. When Cecil brushed against the car and also received an electric shock.  Sadly both men died at the scene.

25 May 1977 – While attempting to make an arrest during a domestic dispute at Camp Hill, Inspector James WALSH became involved in a struggle with the suspected respondent.  Once the arrest was completed, and peace restored at the property, the 52 year old officer suffered chest pains, collapsed, and died.  Inspector Walsh joined the Queensland Police Force at the age of nineteen and had served a great number of city and country communities.

8. PM3462 Walsh

James Walsh, attending a Sergeants 1/c Course in 1970. James rose to the rank of Inspector before his passing in 1977. Image PM3462 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

10 April 1992 – Constable Sondra N. LENA was just 20 years old when working on a roadblock in search of an escapee from Rockhampton Correctional Centre.  After searching a truck for the convicted rapist, Sondra stepped back and into the path of an oncoming car.  The young Constable did not survive the massive head injuries sustained, and died in Rockhampton Base Hospital.

9. PM1105 Lena

Constable Sondra Lena on her graduation day in 1990. Image PM1105 courtesy of the Queensland Police Museum.

 June 2011 – Detective Senior Constable Damian LEEDING and his partner attended an armed robbery in progress at a Gold Coast tavern.  Displaying exceptional bravery at the location, the officer was seriously injured by gun shot, and died in hospital a few days later.  The dedicated policeman was posthumously awarded the Queensland Police Service Valour Award.


This information has been supplied by the Queensland Police Museum from the best resources available, including the 2013 publication “IN THE LINE OF DUTY” by Allan L. Peters.  The article was compiled by Police Museum Assistant Georgia Grier.  The Police Museum is open 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 3pm on the last Sunday of the month (Feb-Nov) and is located on the Ground Floor of Police Headquarters at 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Contact: E:

“FROM the VAULT – National Police Remembrance Day” by the Queensland Police Service is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (BY) 2.5 Australia Licence. Permissions may be available beyond the scope of this licence.

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