On this day …….. 22nd of December 1967

A memorial service for Prime Minister Harold Holt was held at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne on this day in 1967, only five days after his disappearance. The service was attended by 10,000 people and a number of international dignitaries including former and incoming Prime Ministers of Australia.

Those attending included:

President Johnson of America, President Văn Thiệu of South Vietnam, President Chung-hee of South Korea, President Marcos of Philippines, Vice President Yen of Taiwan

New Zealand prime minister Mr Holyoake, Britain’s Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Prime Minister Mulinu II of Western Samoa, Prime Minister Kittikachorn of Thailand, Prime Minister Yew of Singapore, Dep Prime Minister Rahman of Malaysian

Prince Phurisara of Cambodia, Prince Charles of England, Governor General Lord Casey

Former Prime Ministers of Australia – Robert Menzies Arthur Fadden Frank Ford

Incoming Prime Ministers of Australia – John McEwen Billy McMahon Gough Whitlam Melcolm Frazer

This was the first event to be transmitted from Australia to other countries via satellite.


ON THIS DAY – December 22, 1912


At the Criminal Court Joseph Victor Pfeffer, 32, butcher’s assistant, was charged with having on the 22nd of December, at Albert Park, murdered Florence Victoria Whitley, aged 23, domestic servant and sister-in-law of the accused. The Crown Prosecutor stated that the murdered girl had for three or four years prior to the tragedy been living at the accused’s house. During lunch hour on December 12 Pfeffer clambered over the back gate of Kennett’s house, in Mill-street, Albert Park, and made his way into the kitchen, where the maid and her mistress were seated at a table together. Then the accused shot the girl. Evidence in support of the Crown case was given by a number of witnesses, and the defendant made a statement from the dock. He said, ‘From when I woke up on the morning of the murder until I saw the police I remember nothing of what happened. I have my brother here in court. He has wandered out of his mind, and has roamed about the country in that condition for three weeks before being arrested. At Geelong I had an accident before I went to the war. and was laid up in the hospital for a fortnight. While in South Africa, I had several bullet wounds, and was hurt inwardly through the fall off a horse. Another time when taken prisoner I was hit on the head with the butt end of a rifle, and I have since suffered from headaches off and on, and I really think there are times when I don’t know what I am doing. There was insanity on my father’s side and on my mother’s. One or my relatives hanged himself, another shot himself, and my brother has been in a lunatic asylum for some years. I do not remember anything at all about the murder. After rather more than an hour’s retirement the jury returned with a verdict of guilty, adding a rider expressing regret that in view of the character of the defence, no evidence had been brought forward to settle the question of the accused’s sanity. Mr. Woinarski said the Crown, was in a position to rebut any evidence on that point that might have been brought forward. His Honor would take a note of the jury’s rider. He then passed sentence of death upon the accused,


ON THIS DAY – December 22, 1908


At Bairnsdale Court, before Mr Justice Cussen, Edward Chomley was found guilty of having on the 22nd of December, attempted to murder John Hickey, husband of the licensee of the Mount Hepburn Hotel, Tongala West, by administering strychnine to him. Sentence of death was recorded, and the case will be considered by the Executive Council.


On this day …….. 22nd of December 1934

When word reached police at Melbourne’s Russell street station on the night of the 22nd of December 1934, that a man was in the Yarra River near the Princes Bridge, a patrol was dispatched to investigate. They found the man standing in the water up to his armpits. When asked what he was doing, the man replied that he was looking for his false teeth. The officers ordered him out of the river and the man reluctantly moved to comply, stating he could not afford to lose his teeth. When he tried to climb the stone embankment, he found it was too steep. A rope was found, but it was no help. Finally the police hauled the man out by hooking the waist of his trousers with a boathook. As the man stood shivering on the bank, he noticed that his missing false teeth were in his waistcoat pocket.


ON THIS DAY – December 22, 1908


At Bairnsdale Court, before Mr Justice Cussen, Edward Chomley was found guilty of having on the 22nd of December, attempted to murder John Hickey, husband of the licensee of the Mount Hepburn Hotel, Tongala West, by administering strychnine to him. Sentence of death was recorded, and the case will be considered by the Executive Council.


ON THIS DAY – 22nd December 1939

Morris Ansell aged 19, labourer, of Victoria St., Carlton, was charged in the City Court on the 22nd of December 1939 with having murdered Alfred Thomas Atherton near Ferntree Gully. He was remanded until December 29, for sentencing. Mr. Justice Martin sentenced Ansell to death and told him that the jury’s recommendation would be sent to Executive Council, due to his age. Ansell was calm when the jury announced its verdict after a retirement of two hours and 20 minutes.


On this day …….. 22nd of December 1923

Madge Bolton, 21 years, was injured at Luna Park on this night in 1923, her forehead being badly cut and her nose smashed and cut, and her forehead requiring 14 stitches. Lorna Eyres got into the water chute boat at about 10.30 pm the seat at the other end being occupied by Robert Williams, 27 years, and Bolton. The boat after leaving the water, landed safely, but in negotiating a sharp turn, after landing, the occupants were, jolted out of their seats. Each clung to the hand rail, but Miss Bolton’s head-struck a beam. When the boat pulled up she was lying unconscious, huddled in a corner, her head hanging over the side. Miss Eyres was slightly injured about the head, and Williams had two teeth knocked out.


EXECUTED THIS DAY – December 22, 1941


Alfred Bye, 42, formerly a military transport driver at Darley Camp, was executed at Pentridge on this day in 1941. He made no final statement. Bye was sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Edward Walker, 45, a soldier, of Broadmeadows Camp, in a reserve near the Government Printing Office on September 19. Walker died from a number of knife wounds. No appeal against the sentence was made by Bye, but requests for commutation of the sentence to life imprisonment were made by the Labour party and the Howard League for Penal Reform.


On this day …….. 21st of December 1839

A wager was decided on the 21st of December 1839 in Launceston, Tasmaina. For a bet of £5, Mr Rudge undertook to walk blindfolded and unaided from a house of Mr Francis round the Church Square and on to his own house inside an hour. He won the bet and gave great amusement to bystanders when he made mistaken detours.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1941


On a charge of having murdered his wife, Beatrice May Stroud, aged 16, Albert Edward Stroud, 20, was committed for trial by the City Coroner. The mother of the dead girl said that the couple had been married for seven months. The police said that the husband made a statement that he had an argument with his wife. He had a pea-rifle, and his wife seized hold of it. He wrenched it away and stepped back. The rifle was discharged. He had forgotten that the rifle was loaded.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1890


The adjourned inquest into the circumstances attending the death of William Hughes on December 21, last year was held at the Morgue by Dr Youl. The two men implicated were present in custody. Their names are Patrick M’Ginley and John Harmer, and they are at present undergoing sentences of imprisonment at Pentridge for an assault committed by them upon Hughes on the 27th September. The circumstances of the case, according to the evidence at the previous trial, are briefly these Harmer and M’Giniey attacked Hughes, whom they suspected of giving information to the police, at Swanston street. A man named John O’Neil interfered, and the assailants made off as the police appeared. O’Neil escorted Hughes to his home, in Little Lonsdale street, and afterwards went out with him again, when the same two men rushed at them, and Harmer struck Hughes a violent blow on the head with a slingshot, while O’Neil was also severely maltreated the assailants were afterwards arrested by Constable Lowry and Constable M’Leod, and were found guilty at the Criminal Sessions of an assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. M’Ginley was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, and Harmer to two years Hughes never recovered from the injuries which he received, and died on the 21st ult. from an abscess on the brain brought about by fracture of the skull. The men who had inflicted the injuries upon him were therefore arraigned on the capital charge. Mr. Finlayson conducted the examination for the Crown, and the prisoners were not represented by counsel. John O’Neil, who was with Hughes on the evening of the 27th of September, described the circumstances of the assault, and identified the convicts Harmer and M’Ginley as the men who had committed it, evidence relating to the previous trial at the Criminal Court was tendered by Mr Daniel Berriman, of the Crown Law department Dr. Stirling, Dr Syme, and Dr Rudall supplied the medical evidence, which went to show that death was due to an abscess on the brain, produced by a fracture of the skull. Witnesses were also called to show that the deceased had not suffered any subsequent injuries to the head. The Coroner, in summing up to the jury, stated that if they believed the evidence which had been adduced it was their duty to find the prisoners guilty of the capital charge. After an absence of a few minutes a verdict was returned to the effect that both convicts were guilty of wilful murder. They were removed in custody, and will be brought up at the criminal sittings of the Supreme Court in February.


ON THIS DAY – December 21, 1946


Mrs. Gloria Mary Bruin, of East St. Kilda, aged 19 years wife of a Dutch serviceman, was committed for trial at the coroner’s court for the murder of her father, Francis Herbert, aged 51 years. He was a postal employee and died from gunshot wounds in the head at his daughter’s home on December 21. Flt.-Sgt. Robert Charles Herbert, R.A.A.F., said that his father was given to extreme violence when he was either drunk or sober