Victoria’s Biggest Gaol Break

On This Day ……. 23rd of July 1945

In one of Victoria’s biggest gaol break, 22 men escaped from the old Geelong gaol on this day in 1945. Tired and hungry, four of the men, including the ringleader, were captured at Werribee on the 24th. The escape, which had been well planned, occurred at 12.30pm when the men were having lunch in the gaol yard. Without warning they rushed a stone wall, and, using tins as steps, scrambled over into a store yard. The guard on the watchtower tried to raise the alarm by telephoning the gaol orderly room, but the men had cut the wires. Grabbing several ladders they scrambled over the outer 15ft stone wall and dropped into the street. They were then seen to divide into several parties. Meanwhile the guard, unaware that the telephone wires were cut, was still frantically trying to raise the orderly room, and it is believed the first intimation the orderly room had of the escape came from an outside source. Military police in Melbourne were immediately notified and all roads and railway stations were watched. Police, however, were hampered by heavy football traffic from Geelong, and it in the confusion most of the escapees had made it to Melbourne, where their homes were. The four men captured at Werribee said they had no complaint against their treatment or against conditions in gaol. They had just seen the chance to escape and had taken it. Only one of the escapees was still a member of the Army, it was stated last night. Several of the men had civil convictions, and most of them had not served outside Australia. When they escaped the men were wearing Army clothes. The remainder of the men were found in Melbourne.