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Inspector John Walsh & Sergeant Alexander PitmanPrint Page Print this page

24-September-2022
24-September-2022

Photographs supplied by Chris Abbott

The monument commemorates Police Officers John Walsh, and Alexander Pitman who were brutally murdered while investigating a gold theft in Kalgoorlie. 

From 1912 Walsh was a Sub-Inspector at Perth, heading the criminal investigation branch. Promoted to Inspector in 1916, he returned to Kalgoorlie in 1920 in charge of the gold-stealing detection staff. Four years later the squad was reduced by four, leaving only Walsh and Pitman to police the entire area. Threats were made against them and their wives returned to Perth.

On April 28 1926 Inspector Walsh and Sergeant Pitman left Kalgoorlie to investigate unlawful processing of gold south of Kalgoorlie. The nature of their duties meant that their movements were usually not disclosed to any other police officers.

Riding bicycles they came across two men, Phillip John Treffene and William Charles Coulter, illegally processing gold in the bush. On approaching these men, both police officers were shot, however the precise sequence of events is not understood. In an attempt to dispose of the bodies of the two police officers, they were mutilated and partially burned before being discarded down a disused mine shaft at Millers Find.

Fourteen days later when the two police officers had not returned, an extensive police search began with the assistance of local aboriginal trackers. On 12 May their charred and dismembered bodies were found in a disused shaft, some 9.6 kilometres south-west of Kalgoorlie. A week later their bicycles were found in the bush 27 kilometres to the south-east. A gold-treatment plant was nearby and evidence indicated that the murders had occurred there. Perth detectives joined the search for the killers.

On 6 June three local men—Evan Clarke, Phillip Treffene and William Coulter—were arrested. Clarke turned King`s evidence, swearing that he had only assisted in disposing of the corpses. Treffene and Coulter were found guilty of murder and hanged.  These murders were considered the worst committed against police officers in Australia and at the time received worldwide attention.  

Note

The location is approximately 9.5 kilometres west of central Kalgoorlie driving along the Great Eastern Highway towards Coolgardie. There is a sign ‘Pitman & Walsh Memorial’ 250 metres prior to turning left off the highway onto a mine site haul road. This road is unnamed and unsealed after 50 metres. Travel a further 1.4 kilometres on the haul road before turning left (sign pointing left), driving a further 400 metres to the monument.

The mining company (Norton Gold Fields Ltd), allows public access on this haul road (memorial route only) to view the monument. A direction instruction sheet is available from the Visitor Centre in Kalgoorlie at the Town Hall. (advisable)

 

Location

Address:Great Eastern Highway , 9.5 kilometres west of Kalgoorlie, Kalgoorlie, 6433
State:WA
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -30.815469
Long: 121.387891
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map

Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Crime
Actual Event Start Date:28-April-1926
Actual Event End Date:28-April-1926
Link:http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/adbonli…

Dedication

Front Inscription

In memory of Inspector John Joseph Walsh and Sgt. Alexander Henry Pitman

[ Photographs ] 

Murdered on 28 April 1926 while on duty with the Gold Stealing Detection Staff in Kalgoorlie District

We will remember them

This memorial erected by Norton Gold Fields Limited

Historical information supplied by the WA Police Historical Society Inc.

Left Side Inscription

John Joseph Walsh                                                                   Alexander Henry Pitman

Inspector John Joseph Walsh was born in Ireland in 1861,      Sergeant Alexander Henry Pitman was born in Victoria
and after serving with both the New South Wales Police          in 1872 and joined the Western Australia Police Force in 
and Queensland Police Force, he joined the Western              1898.  He had been attached to the Gold Stealing Detection      
Australia Police Force in 1891.                                                  Staff since 1908.

He had been attached to the Gold Stealing Detection Staff      He also left behind a widow and three children when he was
since 1908 and at the time of his murder was the                      murdered in 1926.
Inspector in Charge of the Criminal Investigation Branch, 
Kalgoorlie.  He left behind a widow and three children
when he was murdered in 1926.

Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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