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Bloody Sunday

Tom Edwards, 'working class martyr', was killed by a blow from a police rifle butt, during the course of a clash on 4 May 1919 between unionist lumpers and armed police - under the direct order of Premier Hal Colebatch - defending the employment of scab labour on Victoria Quay near C Shed. Edwards may have been attempting to help union leader William Renton, who had been hit on the head with a police baton. He died three days after the event. His funeral was the largest ever conducted in Fremantle.

Hutchison time-line of events on Sunday 4 May 1919

Refer to the map for the location numbers. Click/tap for larger size if required.

1. 0830-0900. Renton and Lumpers arrive at Quay and move to this point.

2. 0915. Police arrive at B Shed and instruct Renton and men to leave wharf.

3. 0930. Mean leave wharf and walk to corner of railway fence.

4. 0945. Police tell men to move behind Harbour Trust Offices, Mounted police form a barrier across Cliff Street from Harbour Trust Offices to railway fence.

5. 1030-1045. Two launches arrive at the Cliff Street boat landing.

6. 1015-1030. Crowds that had waited on river bridges for launches to pass move from the east to C Shed.

7. 1045-1100. Volunteers begin to erect barricade, 'about 50 yards from west end of C Shed'.

8. 1045-1100. Police force crowd back to C Shed.

9. 1100-1115. Brown bayoneted. Approximate place. Some police issued with batons, some with rifles with bayonets fixed.

10. 1115-1130. Renton and supporters jump railway fence.

11. They enter railway yards and pass top end of goods shed and pass through gate.

12. They run past C Shed and around its east end to the waterside.

13. They reach western end of D Shed, where they are blocked by two lines of police.

14. Mean moved back by police: some on roadside, some on waterside, about one third of the length of the shed.

15. 1145. Inspector McKenna moves to east end of C Shed. By then, no lumpers west of C Shed, but large crowd on overhead bridge and in railway yards. At this time, live ammunition distributed to police.

16. 1200. McCallum, Inspector McKenna, Jones and Watts interview Premier near O'Connor Monument.

17. 1215-1230. Volunteers leave. McCallum leads men over the bridge.

18. After crowd left, two men seen lying on water side of C Shed, at about 50 feet east from the west end of C Shed at that time. Almost certainly site of injuries to Renton and Edwards.

References and Links

Curtin, John 1919, 'Colebatch, the blood-spiller', Westralian Worker, Friday 9 May: 1.

Hutchison, David 2012, '"Bloody Sunday" revisited', in Paul Arthur Longley & Geoffrey Bolton, Voices from the West End: Stories, People and Events that Shaped Fremantle, WA Museum: 210-249.

Webb, David & David Warren 2005, 'The day a wharf dispute erupted into Bloody Sunday',  Fremantle: Beyond the Round House, Longley, Fremantle; 54-55.


Garry Gillard | New: 27 August, 2017 | Now: 21 April, 2024