The Murder of Constable John Holman


tags: Homicide, South Australia, Police,

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By Noel Johnson

From the September 2016 issue of the APJ.

In keeping with recent tradition for the APJ, the Septermber issues pays tribute to a fallen Australian police officer. In the September 2016 issue the fallen member is Constable John Holman of the South Australia Police, who was murdered on duty in 1929. The article records the circumstances of the murder, why it happened, and the outcome of the trial of the offenders. The following is an account of the funeral for Constable Holman.

State Funeral

Monday 25 February, 1929 dawned hot and sultry once more. By mid-afternoon the temperature had risen to around 37 degrees Celsius, but this did not deter the thousands of people who lined the streets in respect and disbelief at what had happened. Men stood with their heads bowed, hats in hand, fully immersed in the solemnity of the occasion.

Women with handkerchiefs held to their faces dabbed softly at their tears as the funeral procession made its way from Jacks’ parents’ home in Richmond, heading for the West Terrace Cemetery. It was 3:30pm when the order to proceed was given and the cortege moved slowly onwards, led by a squad of motor cycle police. Directly behind them were representatives of the Adelaide Fire Brigade in full uniform walking beside their Reel. A contingent of police mounted troopers followed next. Marching behind them were the dismounted troopers, foot police, plainclothes constables and detectives, many of whom were close comrades of the late constable.

The Police Commissioner, Brigadier General R.L. Leane, along with all of his inspectors, marched in front of the large black hearse.

Numerous police vehicles and private cars then followed carrying relatives and friends. Representatives from every police department including all of the suburban police stations then followed. This impressive procession covered almost a kilometre in distance. At the cemetery gates hundreds of people were waiting and they watched on as the funeral cortege slowly filed through the police guard of honour. The burial service itself was conducted by the Baptist minister, Reverend R. Taylor. He spoke of the fine character of the late constable, whom he proudly announced had not missed Christian instruction once during the seven years in which he had attended the classes in the Baptist church at Richmond. The Commissioner then spoke, conveying the fact that Constable Holman was a promising young officer who had been held in the highest esteem by all the members of the police force. He was a brave policeman who had lost his life in the execution of his duty.  

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