Who Knew…………..Not Me

Hello everyone started this yesterday afternoon but with one thing or another never got around to finishing it and posting it which was somewhat annoying, if I want something done I really need to do it in the morning, guess I am more a morning person then an afternoon person.

At the moment I am reading a book called Oddfellows by Nicholas Shakespear, it is about something that happened in Broken Hill which is New South Wales on the first of January 1915, something I knew nothing about but I was inspired to get on line and do some research about the incident this is what I found out.

On January 1st. 1915 at 10.00am, an overcrowded picnic train left Broken Hill carrying 1200 excited men, women and children to attend the annual Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows New Years Day celebration picnic at Silverton.

The long train consisted of two break vans and 40 ore trucks where people sat in rows, shoulder to shoulder on flat wooden benches.

Approximately a few kilometres out of town, by the railway fence on the northern line of the water main from Umberumberka, an ice cream cart flying a Turkish flag was noticed and two men later identified as Gool Mohamed and Mulla Abdulla, were seen crouched behind a mound of earth.

As the train drew level with the men, the ore trucks were swept by a hall of bullets as they opened fire on the passengers with their
Snider and Martini Henry rifles!

The firing continued as the train trudged slowly passed with 20 or 30 shots being fired. The picnickers panicked and thrown into confusion when they seen people falling around them.

The train was brought to a halt further up the line to determine the number of the passengers injured,if not killed. Two people were killed and six wounded on the train, Alma Cowie aged 17 died instantly. William Shaw a foreman in the Sanitary Department was killed and his daughter Lucy was injured. Another 5 people were also wounded. Three of the victims were removed from the train and taken to the pumping station at the reservoir and medical men summoned from Broken Hill to attend to them.

Alfred Millard, a pipeline inspector was killed when he received a fatal wound to the head as he was cycling beside the train.

Constable Robert Mills received two bullet wounds during the pursuit.

Jim Craig the fourth fatality, was chopping wood in his back yard at the rear of the Cable Hotel when a stray Turkish bullet killed him during exchange of fire.

Soon after the attack Gool and Abdullah withdrew towards the west. During their attempted escape they came across and murdered Millard. By this time the police were in full pursuit, when they sighted the two running assassins they fired their guns above their heads in order to force them to surrender, but Gool and Abdullah returned fire and wounded Mills.

The murderous pair made their last stand at the top of a hill where they found refuge behind large rocks a few hundred yards west of the Cable Hotel.

Local militiamen, police, members of the rifle club and citizens spread out on the adjoining hills, there was an hour and half of heavy gun fire poured into the enemy’s position, the Muslims returning fire with spirit but without effect, the stronghold was rushed where it was found that Mullah Abdulla was dead and Gool Mohammed so severely injured that he died in hospital a few hours later.

What was the motive behind the attack, it seems a miner found three statements beneath a rock at the “Turks” last stand written in Urdu (a language used by Afghan tribesman of the North-West Frontier Provinces around 1915). Two of the documents revealed the motives for attacking the picnic train; the third proved to be an application by Gool Mohammed to join the Turkish Army.

In neat writing Gool Mohammed wrote, “I kill your people because your people are fighting my country”. Mullah Abdulla had been worried because of a recent court conviction for killing a sheep on private property, in his capacity as a Moslem official. On one hand there was a fiery young Afrida itching to strike a blow for Turkey; on the other a simple friendless old man ready to join forces against authority.

The whole city was incensed at the needless slaughter and looked for some means of reprisal. The Germans and the Turks were at war with the Allies: The German Club building stood empty in Delamore Street and by nightfall was in flames. Because the “Turks” were Moslems a crowd rushed to the camel camp, ready to vent its anger on the Islamic community, but the road was blocked by police and militia and the crowd dispersed.

Local Muslims were horrified at the tragedy and refused to be responsible for the burial of the murderous pair.

The bodies were later interred in an unhallowed secret location in Broken Hill.


2 thoughts on “Who Knew…………..Not Me

  1. Wow. A harrowing recounting. Such a tragedy. I hope, like all such tornadoes of murderous rage, that instead of a simple orgy of revenge (understandable as it may be) paragons of authority sought understanding in order to prevent the mindset which leads to senseless murder. I’ve heard of ISIS referred to as a “death cult.” Which makes sense to me. The people who gravitate toward violence in the name of religion can be diverted to reason. I hope.

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