War in Broken Hill [the Battle of Broken Hill, 1 January 1915]

[Editor: A report on an incident known as the Battle of Broken Hill. Two Muslims, flying the Turkish flag on a cart, attacked a party of Australian picnickers outside of Broken Hill, on New Year’s Day 1915. This article was published on the same day in The Barrier Miner. The incident took place during the First World War (1914-1918) when Australia and the British Empire were at war with Turkey and the Ottoman Empire.]

War in Broken Hill.

Attack on a picnic train.

Under the Turkish flag.

Men and women shot.

Four killed and seven wounded.

Broken Hill in arms.

The chase of the murderers.

A fight on the hills.

Behind the Cable Hotel.

The murderers riddled with bullets.

Both pay the last penalty.

A constable twice wounded.

One of the longest and most crowded picnic trains that has ever left Broken Hill, carried those who set out with light hearts this morning to attend the annual M.U. Picnic at Silverton. The train left the Sulphide-street station at 10 a.m., and the goods station a few minutes later. The train consisted of two break vans and 40 ore trucks of the usual sort used for Barrier picnics, with a freight of some 1200 picnickers on board. When the train was about two miles on the way to Silverton, near the cattle yards, an ice-cream cart, with a flag flying on it was noticed on the northern side of the line, close to the railway fence. The flag was red about 18in. square, with a white crescent and white star — the flag of Turkey. Two men were also seen crouching behind the bank of earth which marks the line of the water main from Umberumberka to Broken Hill. These men attracted the attention of Mr. M. Kenny, who was a passenger on the train. Mr. Kenny, who is engaged on the water supply works in the capacity of electrician, thought at first that there most be something wrong with the main, and that these men were attending to the damage. He then saw that they had rifles in their hands, pointed at the train, and almost simultaneously he saw and heard the rifles fired. The firing continued during the whole time the train was passing the two men, 20 or 30 shots being fired in all. The men being so close to the train could be plainly seen to be either Turks or Afghans. As they were flying the Turkish flag it was assumed that they were Turks, of whom there are several in Broken Hill.

Mr. A. E. Millard was riding along the track beside the railway line as the train was fired on, and he became the target for one shot which killed him on the spot, the bullet going through his head.

The train was stopped, and it being ascertained that a number of the passengers had been seriously injured, if not killed, the train was taken a little further on to the Silverton Tramway Company’s reservoir, where there is telephonic communication with Broken Hill. Three of the victims were removed from the train and taken to the pumping station at the reservoir, and medical men were summoned from Broken Hill.

The train with its saddened freight of men, women, and children, then returned to Broken Hill, meeting on the way Dr. Moulden and others in motor cars, who had responded to the telephone calls. Some of the injured were taken into these cars, and the others were brought in on the train.

The alarm was telephoned from the railway pumping station to the police, and Inspector Miller at once sent a force of police to the scene. The constable on duty at the explosive magazine, not far from the scene, was early on the spot, and was in a position to give valuable assistance to his comrades. Lieutenant Resch was communicated with by the police, and he dispatched all the available men connected with the military forces whom he could reach.

The Turks, after their attack on the train, moved off towards the west of Broken Hill, and were followed by their armed pursuers.

After shooting another man on their way, they at last took cover in some rocks a few hundred yards west of the Cable Hotel. These rocks are a white quartz blow projecting well above the general level, and they afforded good cover. Soon there was a general rush towards the spot from the town, mainly by civilians, mostly present or past members of rifle clubs, and members of the citizen forces. The general operations were under the direction of Inspector Miller and Lieutenant Resch. The attacking party spread out on the adjoining hills, and there was a hot fire poured into the enemy’s position, the Turks returning the fire with spirit but without effect, which is rather surprising, as the range was short, and the attacking parties in some cases exposed themselves rather rashly in their efforts to get a shot. There was a desperate determination to leave no work for the hangman, or to run the risk of the murderers of peaceful citizens being allowed to escape. It was not a long battle. The attacking party was being constantly reinforced by eager men, who arrived in any vehicles they could obtain or on foot. At just about 1 o’clock a rush took place to the Turks’ stronghold, and they were found lying on the ground behind their shelter. Both had many wounds. One was dead, and the other expired at the Hospital later. They wore the dress of their people, with turbans on their heads. The police took charge of the bodies.

On receipt of the information, Inspector Miller dispatched Sergeant Gibson with two motor cars containing a force of armed police, who followed on the track taken by the Turks, leading along the western outskirts of the town. When the police cars reached a point near the Cable Hotel, Sergeant Gibson saw two men amongst the white quartz rocks on a hill. Not suspecting that they were the enemy, Sergeant Gibson was about to make inquiries of them, when suddenly they opened fire on the car. Mounted Constable Mills was struck by two bullets at the outset, and then the firing commenced on both sides. The word was passed by telephone to the police station and elsewhere, and soon reinforcements began to arrive, mainly civilians with military rifles, which they either possessed as members of rifle clubs or which they had rapidly obtained from the military or rifle club offices. Others were armed with guns of various descriptions.

Just before the final rush took place Inspector Miller and Lieutenant Resch, in a motor car, the latter driving, swept round the hill between the Cable Hotel and the enemy’s position. On reaching the front of the firing line the occupants (including a third person, a civilian) all armed with rifles, joined in the advance, and were just in time to reach the fallen foe amongst the first dozen or so. Inspector Miller checked a disposition (that was manifested by some) to fall upon the bodies of the killed or wounded men. On first examination both the Turks seemed to be dead. One had been shot through the head, and the other had several wounds, and was motionless. On being carried down to wards the road, by which the ambulance would be able to approach, Inspector Miller noticed a movement in the latter, who, on further examination, was found to be alive. He was removed to the Hospital, and there attended to, but he was evidently mortally wounded, and his death was only a question of a very few hours.

The police, under Sergeant Gibson, ran short of ammunition, and the sergeant made a perilous journey to the rear of the Cable Hotel to obtain a fresh supply.

On their way across to their rocky stronghold, the Turks knocked at the door of a house near the Allandale Hotel. The resident opened the door and some words passed between him and the Turks. Then one of them raised his rifle, and without warning fired point blank, the bullet going through the victim’s body.

Two of the iron railway trucks bear marks of the fusillade. One has a circular hole in it about seven-eighths of an inch in diameter. The other has a circular bullet mark of about the same size, but this one did not penetrate the steel side of the truck. The large size of the hole in the perforated truck suggests that the bullet had expanded considerably on striking the steel, and had not passed clean through on impact. The appearance of both the bullets suggested that soft-nosed bullets were used, as it might be reasonably supposed that a hard nickel service bullet would go clean through the thin steel at such a short range.

Color-sergeant Williams, of the 82nd Infantry, has supplied the following list of the members of the military forces who took part in the fight:— Lieutenants Anderson, Shepherd, J. M’Carthy, Color-sergeants William Tester, Sergeants Bishop, Nettle, Petney, Reid, Price, Main, Corporals Roland, Matthew, Comley, Jefferys, Lance-corporals Davies Harris, Riley, Privates Purcell, Lean, Richards, M’Leeney, Braithwaite, Anderson, Kenworthy, Day, Hayes, Gibson, Battle, Wickham, Ashwood, Hoare, Bevan, Jones, Shore, Curnow, Wallace, Hanley, . . . Shelley, Partington, Collicot, . . . Murray, Dowd, Chenhall … Arthur, . . . [Editor: Text obscured in this section.]

The following is the official report of the police:— Two colored men, Afghans or Turks, armed with rifles, fired on a picnic train laden with men, women, and children just outside the city en route to Silverton, and killed [and] wounded several. The police when informed, went in pursuit of offenders, who took refuge on a rocky hill, and fired on the police and wounded Constable Mills. The two men were finally shot down, one dead, the other wounded. Constable Mills, wounded, and wounded offender, in the Hospital.

The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW), Friday 1 January 1915, page 2

Also published (in part) in:
The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 2 January 1915, page 15
The Worker (Brisbane, Qld.), Thursday 7 January 1915, page 17

Editor’s notes:
The original archived copy of the newspaper was obscured at the bottom of the page, therefore the obscured or missing text has been taken from The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 2 January 1915, page 15, which substantially reprinted the article, although the complete list of the military participants cannot be located at this stage.

The version of this article published in The Worker, 7 January 1915, gives a list of those killed and wounded by the attackers: “The list of dead is as follows: Elma M. Cowie, A. E. Millard, William Shaw, and James Greig. The wounded are: Mary Kavanagh; George F. Stokes, boy, about 14 or 15; Thomas Campbell; Lucy Shaw, aged 15; Alma Crocker; Rose Crabb; Constable Robert Mills.”

The version of this article published in The Advertiser, 2 January 1915, refers to the victims of the attackers as being on their way to “the annual picnic of the Manchester Unity Oddfellows at Silverton”.

M.U. = Manchester Unity (the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows)

[Editor: Corrected “white cresent” to “white crescent”. Inserted the word “and” in square brackets in “killed [and] wounded several”, as the text is obscured in that section, and that is the wording used in the similar report given in The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 2 January 1915, page 15.]


  1. Damn Muslims……. They Only know how to take life, not nurture it.
    Look what they are doing in every middle east country… we need to get a generation or two into the United States, to raise their kids, go to school, the park, play ball, go swimming, live
    and grow in a peaceful society….. Hopefully after Obama is long gone, and our own country is back to some kind of normalcy.
    I wonder if that will happen in the 15 ~ 20 years I have left?
    When I think back over the years, since I remember Russia, and the USA, Vietnam, AND ALL THE BOMBINGS, MURDERS, AIRPLANE BOMBINGS (ALL OR MOST BY ARABS), ASSASINATIONS I really can’t remember ANY time of sustained peace.
    I bet it makes everyone wonder, where we are, as a planet of human beings headed.
    No wonder any alien civilization has not made themselves known to us.
    Who would want to deal with a population that wants nothing more than to KILL THY NEIGHBOR, AT LEAST IN THE MIDDLE EAST! All over who we individually look to guidance from…..

    • Gareth Smith says:

      David writes a lot of nonsense. Just read William Blum’s “Killing Hope” for a complete listing of all the US’s killing sprees from the Phillipines to Central America (where it supported the most infamous dictatorships like that of Pinochet) to Vietnam, Suharto’s Indonesia, Granada, Libya, Iraq and now Syria. The US pays Israel $3 billion p.a. and supplies it with weapons and the Iron Dome to enable it to steal ever more Palestinian land and slaughter thousands. Get educated, David, and then say rightly, “Damn Americans”!

      • So because Gareth can mention US killing somehow that makes the killing David writes about not exist. Well Gareth it is happening, Muslims are bringing violence to anywhere they settle around the world. Their holy book is their guidance

      • dave@rmnmechanical.biz says:

        Thanks For the Support Jeff: I did not review the responses…. So This is Directed to
        Gareth Smith and Turker.( who should really learn how to spell) There probably is not enough room: Here Goes;
        Compiled Facts About the Hatred That Muslims
        1.) 732 AD Muslim Army, moving on Paris, turned back by Charles Martell
        2.) 1571 AD Muslims army/Navy, defeated by Italians & Austrians as they were attempting to cross the Mediteranian to attack southern Europe in the Battle of Lapanto.
        3.) 1683 AD Turkish Muslim Army attacking Eastern Europe, was defeated in the Battle of Vienna by German and Polish CHRISTIAN ARMY’S

        Now the recent information on your beloved Muslims,
        Bobby Kennedy, killed by a Muslim, 1966
        1972, Munich Olympics, Jewish athletes, kidnapped and murdered by Muslims
        1972, Pan Am 747, Blown up in Cario, by Muslims
        1973, Pan Am Flight 707 in Rome, 33 dead, Granades thrown by…. Muslims
        1979 Iran: American Embassy Hostages taken by… Muslims
        1980’s Social workers from America, helping out HUMAN BEINGS, in war torn Lebanon,
        killed raped murdered by Muslims
        1983 Marine Barracks in Lebanon 280 dead American Soldiers, 80 Dead French Soldiers
        murdered by Muslims
        1985 Achille Lauro, Muslims throw a 70 year old man in a wheelchair overboard, by Muslims
        1985, TWA Flight 847,Highjacked in Athens, US Navy Seal Killed while trying to rescue passengers, by Muslims
        1988, Pan Am Flight 103, Lockerbee, Scotland, Blown up by Muslims
        1993 New York, First Bombing of The World Trade Center, by Muslims
        1998: US Embassys, Kenya & Tanzania, bombed by Muslims
        9-11-2001, World Trade center, Twin Towers, Pentagon, …fourth jet crashed by the passengers of the flight so no other HUMAN casualties could be inflicted by…. Muslims
        2002 War in Afganistan, against … Muslims
        2002 Daniel Pearl Kidnapped and beheaded along with two recently captured reporters.
        2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, by leaching weasels, living for free in The United States of America, killed Four Innocent HUMAN BEINGS, one a little boy, and injured/maimed 264 more at the 2 blast sites.
        I almost forgot the girls in Africa who were recently taken by Boku Haram…. Just a little thought, and it all comes back.
        This information is what I can remember from recent news articles and having an intense thirst for knowledge.
        This does not include any of the Asian countries that have been putting up with Muslim bombings over the past 20 ~ 30 years. Easy enough to look up.
        I suggest YOU BOTH get your facts straight.
        Come to America… we are far from perfect, but if your country requires assistance, the United States of America will be the first Country to aid in assistance.

        Is there a pattern here or what? The United States is depended upon by the ENTIRE World in times of Natural Disasters, or to QUELL The Bloodthirsty Dictators running Third World countries, to help out the Human populations of those countries.
        Remember the Ebola outbreak in Africa, The United States led the way, at the risk of our own people.
        The United Nations utilizes 90% of American Navel Power to assist in the Clean up, re. power in the event of electricity loss, and the charity of Americans, in counties who are debilitated by wars and natural disasters.
        Americans are TIRED OF GIVING….. who helps us out, or even cares?
        All they want is more and more of our monetary assistance.
        American citizens, and people of all faiths, including most Muslims, want to see their families grow, prosper and move on from generation to generation.
        But don’t come to our Country, and expect us to ASSIMILATE TO YOUR WAYS.
        This will not happen.

        You are Guests Here.
        Work hard, and be prosperous, watch your children grow, and your parents age gracefully, and you will have a happy life here in America.

        As the Japanese supposedly said after Pearl Harbor Attack: I’m afraid we have woken a Sleeping Giant.
        We have woken up again…………… DON’T MESS WITH US, THE PARTY IS OVER.
        Don’t think that we wont fight for what our forefathers fought for.
        And don’t forget this: The currant occupant of The American White House, due to the laws of our Country,Thankfully, will be in office till January, 2017.
        Watch our news here in America….. He is a Muslim, parading around as a Christian.
        And we all know it.
        He would have been thrown out of office, if we had politicians in our government offices who had a SPINE.
        He is currently, and will always be know as the WORST American President in Modern Day History.
        True American’s will not make the same mistake again.

    • Turker has says:

      Dear david i dont know you and you dont know me. It is a big coincidence that i saw this article and your comment below this. I am shocked that you say damn muslims… they only know to take life blah blah blah. Thats so absurd and stup*d. It doesnt matter which religion people believe we are all full of hatred gruelty and some other shitty things. Muslim Christian jew.. you name it. But you are just talking about muslimss. Now its false. You only mention the illeteral ignorant shooter. But behind them we know there lots of intelligence agencies f***ing emperyalist countries like European and usa and russia china etc.you are all responsible. Anyeay those muslims you are adressing are not saints of course. And p.s. i am not accepting f***ing el qaide and isis as muslims. There just monsters. By the way i want to emphasize that at the time of 1915 there was a war going on in gallipoli. And these “saint” Australian guys went thwre there to fight to ottomans to invade their country. What in gods sake they went there for whatt. Just answer that and then call these two muslims as life taker.

    • Gündar says:

      Dear David read some books about Gallipoli War that you get some opinion. https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/battle-of-gallipoli

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