Pitman and Walsh memorial site rededicated

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Two people cutting a red ribbon.

The memorial to murdered WA Police Force officers Inspector John Walsh and Sergeant Alexander Pitman has been moved and rededicated.

Insp. Pitman and Sgt Walsh were murdered almost 100 years ago – on 28 April, 1926 – as they were investigating gold theft in Kalgoorlie.

The existing Kalgoorlie memorial had been erected at the location where the officer’s bodies were discovered in a mine shaft at Miller’s Find on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie in 2015.

This area is now within a mining lease and so to provide better public access the memorial was relocated following collaboration between the WA Police Historical Society and lease holder Norton Gold Fields.

Among those in attendance at the rededication ceremony on Saturday 27 April were WA Governor the Hon Chris Dawson AC APM, Commissioner Col Blanch and descendants of the murdered officers.

Armadale Detective Senior Constable Matt Leitch is the great, great grandson of Insp. Walsh and he and his family (pictured below) were among those who gathered on the day. “I think it’s amazing to see that after 98 years it still makes an impact on the local community and the WA Police Force,” he said. “It’s a story I’ve told my children, I was told growing up and it’s one that I hope to pass on for many more generations to come.”

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The new site has seating areas and information boards placed along a pathway. One of these boards in dedicated to the Aboriginal Trackers, Cordi Sambo and Broadarrow Tommy who were employed by police to find the officers’ bodies.

Descendants of both Trackers were also among the 100-strong crowd.

Commissioner Col Blanch and Norton Gold Fields Chief Executive Legend Huang cut a ribbon to officially open the memorial after which a number of wreaths were laid.

In April 1926, Inspector John Walsh and Sergeant Alexander Pitman of the Gold Stealing Detection Unit were murdered while investigating gold theft.

Their charred and dismembered bodies were later found at the bottom of a disused mine shaft at Miller’s Find near Kalgoorlie. A week later their bicycles were found in bush 27km away.

On 6 June three local men, Evan Clarke, Phillip Treffene and William Coulter were arrested. Clarke turned King’s evidence, swearing he had only assisted in disposing of the corpses.

Treffene and Coulter were found guilty of murder and hanged.

A funeral for the two officers was held in Perth on 17 May 1926.

The procession was watched by thousands and attended by a large number of police officers.

The Perth memorial to the two policemen was erected outside the police building in James Street in 1929, moved for a time to the WA Police Headquarters in Adelaide Terrace in 1988, and is now located near the chapel at the WA Police Academy in Joondalup.

The memorial (pictured first, below) was designed by Constable D. Cummings of the Perth Traffic Branch and is a symbolic figure of justice with bowed head, but without the traditional blindfold.

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