ON THIS DAY ……. 27th March 1941

In 1916 a soldier named Cowan sailed away to war on the transport ship Euripides. While it was at sea off the Victorian Coast, Cowan dropped a bottle over the side containing a letter addressed to a friend named Miss Madge Lush. On this day in 1941, Miss Lush’s brother was walking along the beach at Beachport, South Australia, when he noticed a bottle in the sand. Pulling out the cork, he discovered a faded envelope address to his sister in Melbourne, some 600km away.



On this day ………… 10th March 1891

Before the days of motion pictures, the next best thing was cyclorama, a huge mural of some particular gripping episode in history which surrounded the viewer. By 1891, the gramophone had arrived on the entertainment scene and for added realism, recordings of sound effects could be played. Thus it was that the 1891 cyclorama of the battle of Waterloo opened in Melbourne on this day to huge crowds. Not only did the whole panorama look spectacular with artificial smoke drifting across the battlefields and recordings of cannons booming out, but it had a real life relic of the famous battle. The promoter of cyclorama had discovered in a benevolent home, a soldier who had been involved in the battle. His name was Jeremiah Brown and he was just short of his 99th birthday. The promoters found an old uniform for Jeremiah and gave him a place of honour in he display where he told wide eyed boys of all ages of his adventure as a 14 year old at the battle of Waterloo.



ON THIS DAY – February 26, 1916


In the Criminal Court, Archibald Murchison, a member of the Expeditionary Forces, was charged with the manslaughter of another soldier named John Heath, at Melbourne, on the 26th of February. The defence was that Heath rushed at Murchison and hit him, the fatal blow being then struck by accused in self defence. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty.


ON THIS DAY – December 28, 1984

A Melbourne Supreme Court jury found a former soldier guilty of the murder of a young Victorian couple whose decomposing bodies were found in the back of a utility in Sydney’s Kings Cross 12 months earlier. Robert Scott Pickford, formerly of Bass Road, Ingleburn, NSW, was found guilty of the murders of Ondine Leith and David Jones on December 28, 1984, and was given a life sentence in Victoria for murder. Mr Pickford was also found guilty of one count of armed robbery at St Kilda on or about the 28th of December,1984 and not guilty on a second count of armed robbery the day after. Justice Southwell had already ordered the jury of six men and six women to return a verdict of not guilty to the two murder charges against Mr Pickford’s girlfriend, Ms Michelle Ann Archer, 28, formerly of the same address. Pickford was sentenced to Pentridge.


On this day …….. 25th of December 1916

An aggressive tiger snake which attacked Private Frederick Thoroughgood, a soldier who had been invalided home deaf and dumb from Gallipoli, was the means of his regaining both his speech and hearing. Private Thoroughgood, who since his return has been an inmate of the Camberwell Convalescent Home, Mont Albert-road, attended a picnic at Warrandyte on Christmas day. While walking through the bush he almost trod on the snake, which immediately showed fight, and Thoroughgood, after a short encounter, despatched the reptile with a stick. The affray excited Thoroughgood somewhat, and a little later his companions were surprised to hear him commence whistling. Shortly afterwards he asked in a normal voice, “Well, what’s the next item on the programme ?” Speech and hearing came to him, simultaneously, being doubtless the best Christmas box that he could have desired.


On This Day – September 27, 1941

Alfred Bye, 24, soldier, was to-day found guilty of murdering Thomas Edward Walker, a soldier, in the Treasury
Gardens, on September 27, and sentenced to death.
Bye. in his defence said that he had hit Walker in self-defence, and Walker had been fatally stabbed when he rolled on a 9 inch sheath knife.
There were 16 stab wounds in Walker’s body.

ON THIS DAY …….3rd August 1918

William Henry Mogdridge,18 years of age, who was found guilty of the manslaughter of Eugene Charles Vernon, 54 years of age at Abbotsford, on August 3, came before Mr. Justice Cussen, in the Criminal Court, for sentence yesterday. The jury made a strong recommendation for mercy. Mr. Justice Cussen passed sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment, to be Suspended on a bond of £100 be entered into for Mogdridge’s good behaviour, and his abstinence from intoxicating liquor For 5 years. Mr. Clarke, who conducted the defence, said that Mogdridge was going to enlist.


ON THIS DAY …….3rd August 1943

At the close of the inquest today into the death of Mrs Clarice Anasthasia White, 30, of Dawson st, Ballarat, Mr G. S. Catlow, coroner, committed the woman’s husband, Kenneth Geoffrey White, 34, fitter, for trial on a charge of murder. White was present in custody on a charge of having murdered his wife and having attempted to murder Jonathan Stephen Falla, 23, AIF soldier. Jonathan Stephen Falla said he was in bed with Mrs White, and was awakened about 5am by her saying something about getting up to see the time. She got up, and in the darkness he then heard a crash and the sound of a body falling. He sat up in bed, and next thing he knew was he was hit across the head with what he thought was a piece of wood. He did not know then nor could he identify now who it was who had hit him. He was hit several times on the face and stomach. He heard another crash, and started to walk to where he thought Mrs White must be lying on the floor, when he was confronted by a man with the razor. The man thrust at his throat. Witness lifted his left arm, which was in plaster, and the man hit the plaster with his arm at the same time as he cut the left side of his, witness’s, throat with the razor. The man, who had said nothing up till then, then said, “Lay down on the bed.” To Sup Jacobe Falla admitted that the only thing the man said to him was, “You’ll have a lot of explaining to do.” Falla said that he did not see Mrs White at all from the time she got up. He could not see what happened to her. In reply to Mr N. Boustead, Falla said he had only known Mrs White a week, and had gone to the house in response to her invitation.

ALLEGED STATEMENT TO POLICE Const M. O’Leary said that when he and Sen-const Brady went to the house at 5.20am White was in the passage. He said, “They are down there. I have done them up pretty bad. In the bedroom the dead woman was lying with her throat cut on both sides, and her body covered with a military overcoat. Falla was lying on the bed with a gash in his throat. White said, “I done it with a razor,” and produced a razor from his hip pocket. “I found them in bed together,” White continued, “and I intended to give them something to remember for life. She had been carrying on with men for several years. It has been preying on my mind, and I could not stand it any longer.” O’Leary said that White then told him he had left the house the previous afternoon to go back to his job at Ford’s at Geelong, but did not do so. He left pretending to go to the train, and his wife saw him off at the gate. He returned at 7pm, and through the kitchen window he saw his wife take a soldier in. About 9.30pm. they went into the bedroom. Then he went for a walk to try to ease his mind. He returned about 1.30am and stood in the backyard until 5 am, when he got in through the kitchen window. His wife’s bedroom door was locked. He went to the children’s room and told his daughter Carmel to call her mother, and she did so, saying, “Mummy, I’m sick.” Witness stood outside his wife’s bedroom door. The door opened and he struck the person on the head with a file. At that time he did not know who it was. He then made a swing at the soldier who was in the room. His wife caught hold of him, and he lost the grip on the file. He then turned around and slashed his wife’s throat with the razor. He then slashed the soldier with the razor on the left side of the neck, and sent his daughter for a neighbour to go for the police. Sen-det L. H. Thomas said he found the file in the bedroom. White said, “You don’t know what I have put up with. I have not been on friendly terms with my wife for 8 years. She left me and the children twice,” Witness said White told him that when he tried to strike the soldier with the file his wife caught hold of him and tried to stop him. “I could not throw her off,” White is alleged to have said, “and I took the razor from my pocket and cut her on the throat, and she dropped to the floor. Rather than see the soldier get off scot free I decided to give him a nick. I leaned over the side of the bed and gave him a nick with the razor.”  The coroner found that the woman’s death was due to the wounds inflicted by White, and committed him for trial on a charge of murder at the Ballarat Supreme Court on August 3.


ON THIS DAY – July 14, 1942

Search for Soldier

Detectives have searched without avail for an Australian soldier who was seen in a Fitzroy hotel with Miss Mary Agnes Earls, 42, invalid pensioner, and for a woman who was in her company a few hours before her death on July 14. It has not been ascertained whether the soldier was a casual acquaintance or a friend of Miss Earls. Detectives are anxious to clear up the direction in which Miss Earls went when they separated. The soldier it is thought could give this and other important information It has been established that from 4 40pm until about 6pm on the day before her death Miss Earls was near the vacant allotment adjoining St Vincent’s Hospital, where her body was found. Questions to which police are seeking answers are Where did Miss Earls go after meeting the soldier outside the hotel on the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude sts? Did she meet her death in a house near by, and was her body then carried to where It was found? Did she go to the vacant allotment voluntarily, and was she killed and concealed under cover of darkness? Why did the murderer strip and scratch the body, and how was the clothing disposed of? Motive for the crime is also puzzling police. Does the absence of her handbag suggest robbery? Was the crime one of vengeance or rage?

ON THIS DAY – May 3, 1942



40 year old Ivy Violet McLeod, was found strangled in Victoria Avenue, Albert Park in Melbourne on 3 May 1942. She was partly naked and had been badly beaten by her attacker. An American soldier had been seen in the area just before her body was discovered. Robbery did not appear to be the motive for the crime as her purse still contained about one Pound’s worth of small change.

ON THIS DAY – April 19, 1944



The jury in the Criminal Court this evening found Victor Dowling, a 19-year-old soldier, guilty of the manslaughter of his 15-year-old wife, Jean Dowling, who was shot dead at her mother’s home in North Carlton on April 19. Dowling was presented for trial on a charge of murder, but the jury acquitted him of that charge and strongly recommended him for mercy. Dowling was remanded for sentence.


ON THIS DAY ……. 29th March 1934

F. W. Jackson, described as a soldier, who had recently returned from South Africa, was drinking in the Great Britain Hotel, Flinders street, when he created astonishment by asking those present, “‘Have you ever seen a man die?” At the same time he was mixing some white powder into a glass of soda water and asked a sailor who was present to call a policeman and an ambulance. He then drank the mixture, and in a few minutes he was dead.