John Leddin was the son of Michael Leddin and Mary Condon and is related to me via his mother and possibly his father as well.
Port Fairy Gazette – October 5 1931. Obituary.
Mr Jack Leddin, Aged 64.
Considerable regret was felt throughout the town and district when it was learnt, on Thursday afternoon last, that Mr Jack Leddin, a well known and highly respected resident, had passed away at a private hospital in Port Fairy about midday, after a long illness. Some few weeks ago, he became seriously ill with pneumonia, and he appeared to be well on the way to recovery until, on Tuesday last, he took a bad turn, and although rallying somewhat, he died as stated. Deceased, who was 64 years of age, was a native of Tyrendarra East, being a son of the late Mr and Mrs Michael Leddin. He had spent a considerable portion of his life in Western Australia returning to the Port Fairy district at frequent intervals to visit his relatives and friends. He went to Western Australia at 26 years and joined the Civil Service, being attached to the Department. He was a member of the famous Canning expedition which opened the first stock route from Wiluna to Sturt’s Creek, (now known as the Canning Stock Route) being also associated with the Pilmer expedition. When returning via Broome, with the latter expedition, in a year of memorable cyclones when the s. s. Koombana was wrecked, the party were sworn in as special constables and rescued survivors. He was for 38 years a member of the Perth Civil Service Club, having spent some of his life in the Northern Territory. He could recount many stories of the wonderful growth of the mining towns and agricultural and pastoral lands in Western Australia. Deceased was liked by everyone with whom he came in contact for his genial disposition and friendliness to all. The sympathy of the community is extended to his brothers and sisters, viz., Maurice (Port Fairy), William (Perth), Annie (Mrs A Carter, Port Fairy), Johanna (Mrs Page, Colac), Margaret (Mrs J Molan, Geelong), Bridget (Mrs J Carter, Port Fairy), and Nellie, Port Fairy.
Requiem Mass was solemnized at St. Patrick’s Church, Port Fairy, on Saturday morning by the Rev. Father J Barrett, after which the funeral moved to the Yambuk cemetery. There was a very large congregation at the church and numerous mourners at the graveside. The coffin-bearers were Messrs F J Carter, G Carter, A Carter, and W Carter (nephews of the deceased) the pall bearers being Messrs J Carroll, E Condon, M O’Shannessy, J Carroll, R Bartlett and G Roberts. The Rev. Father O’Brien officiated at the graveside.
From Trove:nla.gov.au 10 Feb 1912. (Please forgive any errors as this was copied without proof reading).
THE STOCK ROUTE TRAGEDY. POLICE EXPEDITION. NATIVE ATTACK ON THE CAMP. SERGEANT PILMER’S REPORT. _ Sergeant Pilmer, who was in charge of the police expedition organised to bring to justice if possible the aborigines who were responsible for the murder of Messrs. Thompson and Shoesmith, and a native boy of the Canning stock route in April last, has furnished a report to the Colonial Secretary from which the following is extracted: “The murder of James Campbell Thompson, George Shoesmith, and native boy Chinaman, at ‘Libral’ Well 37, on April 26, 1911, though it caused a great shock to their relatives and the general community, was to a great extent due to carelessness, and the want of knowledge as to the treacherous and daring nature of the natives in the North and Central Australia. The first apparent mistake made by this unfortunate party, was the picking up of natives called ‘Frank’ and ‘Lydia’ on the Lower Sturt. Undoubtedly they were the principal cause of the tragedy. In the second instance, an unpardonable mistake was made by Thompson in allowing the desert natives -tribesmen of Frank and Lydia to follow the party hauling water, etc., practically from the Sturt to the scene of the murder. Vide Thompson’s journal. If the unfortunate man Thompson had the knowledge of natives necessary to undertake such an arduous journey, he would have kept them at arm’s length, instead of allowing them in and about his camp, and at the same time feeding them on rations that he badly needed to complete his journey. “In my opinion the tragedy was brought about in the following manner:- The natives that followed and assisted Thompson had reached the boundary of their country at ‘Libral,’ and probably fell in with another lot of natives at or about this well from the south. Frank and his woman Lydia would be used in this way: Thompson, Shoesmith, and the native boy had had a rough time driving the cattle from Well 39, over almost inaccessible sand ridges to Well 37, ‘Libral,’ a distance of 34 miles, owing to there being no water at 38, ‘Wardabeenaa.’ They undoubtedly arrived at ‘Libral’ in an exhausted condition, at midnight on April 21, 1911. They would and undoubtedly did spell the whole of April 26, 1911. This would be a favourable opportunity for the natives to mature their plot. They would fix on that night, circumstances permitting, for their diabolical deed. The native woman Lydia would be at and about the camp. Thompson, Shoesmith,and the native boy would be tired out, as it would be nearly daylight on April 26, 1911, before they could possibly finish watering the cattle. Consequently the night of April 26 would lend itself as a most favourable opportunity for the party to get a decent night’s rest. For at least the four previous nights the native Frank would be left on watch with the cattle, leaving the two murdered men, the native boy, and the woman Lydia in the camp. The gin would, and no doubt did, wait until the camp was sound asleep, and then go out and let the waiting natives know the coast was clear. The natives headed by Frank would come on in strong numbers, and their dastardly deed would be completed in a few minutes. “The position in which the murdered men were found would indicate that Thompson was killed while asleep with one blow above the right ear, apparently with the back of an axe; as the skull was smashed in very cleanly, the fracture extending to the base of the skull. Shoesmith, and the native boy were apparently awakened by the disturbance, and managed to get out of the camp Shoesmith 150 yards, and the native boy 110 yards before they were also done to death. Shoesmith’s skull was fractured above the left ear, as if struck by a heavy blunt instrument, such as a native whackaburra. Two broken whackaburras played an active part in their death. The native boy’s skull was not fractured. The bodies were too decomposed to permit of our ascertaining whether spears were used. I am inclined to think not, as in a general melee, the natives would use their sticks solely. “The bodies were rudely buried by the natives, where they had fallen, and this is not the work of the Myall natives but that of a more civilised aboriginal, such as ‘Frank and others who were following and assisting, and being fed by poor Thompson, and who in his journal says he recognises having been in the Wyndham gaol. In my experience with natives, I have always found that the wild native is more afraid of his victim dead than alive. “On arrival of my party at Libral, they’re interred the bodies of Thompson and Shoesmith together, on a sand-hill, 118 yards from Well 11, on a bearing of 27 degrees; Thompson’s body west, and Shoesmith’s body east in grave. A substantial two-railed fence was erected round the grave, and head boards put up; the native is buried 21 feet east of the grave. There is practically no indication beyond the graves of there having been such a diabolical tragedy enacted at Libral Well 37. The native murderers appear to have gone back along the route to Guly Well 42, before they participated in a feast on the spoil from Libral. At this point there is evidence of a large number of natives having taken a hand. “The natives on the north-east of the route are of very fierce physique, and are treacherous and daring in the extreme. The attack on our camp on the morning or November 16 was a well planned and daring one. In going out practically amongst them to endeavour to stop their rush on our camp, I perhaps took a greater risk than I should have, but I was anxious to avoid bloodshed. When I found it imperative I was about to use my rifle, when a woman who had followed the party from Well 45, caught hold of my rifle, and struggled for possession of it, thus showing they knew the danger of firearms. Only for the excellent shooting of Constables Hunter and Poilest, I, in all probability, should have been seriously injured, if not killed; as the two leading natives-one alleged to be Franky were within a few feet of me with their whackaburras ready to strike. It was no easy matter to, throw the gin off without injuring her. The whole party acted with great forbearance and discretion, otherwise many more of their number would have fallen. However, this will be a lesson that will deter the participants and others from such daring in the future, and will have a decidedly salutary effect. If this rouse is used in the future, I do not anticipate that drovers will be in danger from natives, if the ordinary precautions are taken. “The following extract is taken from Sergt. Pilmer’s diary :-“Wednesday, November 15, Left camp at 1 p.m., and camped at Well 46. At 5.30 p.m., miles 8, while giving the camels a half day’s spell on fair feed three miles north of Well 45, at 11 a.m., while the party were whiling away time by reading, etc., about 25 natives made a determined attack on the camp. Fourteen natives forming an apparent advance party came down a gravelly hill east of the camp at a run, each carrying two whackaburras. The assistants gave the alarm, and each member of the party stood to his rifle. I went just outside our camp to try and check the rush, and called upon and signed to them to stop and sit down, in their own tongue. They still came on, and two on the right menaced myself at a few feet distance. Divining their intentions to get at close quarters, we opened fire simultaneously, killing six in the camp, and one 20 yards distant. Three escaped wounded, and the reserve of the natives who were left -about a dozen- on the gravelly hill, decamped, and were followed some distance until they were clear of our grazing camels. If this mob of natives had got to close quarters with the party with their whackaburras, the position would have been serious, as the party would not have been able to use their firearms, and the reserve natives would have come on with their spears, with disastrous results. The attack was a most daring and well planned one and would have done credit to a more civilised people. The eldest of these natives would not have exceeded 30 years. They were a fine body of young men, in remarkably fine condition. Two of the killed natives were wearing rope belts, and another a leather belt. “The native woman in the camp said these natives, ‘Nalgo cooks at eat meat at Libral and Guli and he sulky fella’. One of the dead natives, she alleges, is Franky, who was with the bullocky man, but this maybe some what doubtful. The whole party acted with coolness and determination, but with great forbearance, otherwise a number of reserve natives on the hill would have been shot. P.e. Leddin did good work in protecting the left flank of the camp, and is deserving of special praise. A large number of spears were afterwards gathered up off the gravelly hill and destroyed. These natives were very bold and daring, and in my opinion flushed with their victory over Thompson’s party and its attendant spoil. However, this defeat will have a lasting effect, and will illustrate to them that they cannot play with the whites, and that they must keep at a respectable distance, though in their own country.”
The Koombana left Port Hedland for Broome on the morning of Wednesday, 20 March 1912 with a fresh north easterly blowing, following the SS Bullarra which also engaged in the north-west passenger and cargo trade. Before departing, the captain had reported a falling barometer and suggested that the voyage may take longer than normal. The two ships altered course several hours after departing as a heavy north easterly gale set in and they became separated. The storm increased and the Bullarra suffered damage but was able to limp into Cossack. She later returned to Port Hedland minus her smokestack reporting that the eye of the cyclone had passed directly over. The Koombana was not seen again.
A steel sailing ship, the Crown of England, was wrecked on Depuch Island with another vessel, the Concordia beached nearby. Several lighter vessels and pearling luggers were also sunk or wrecked.
The cyclone crossed the coast two days later on 22 March just west of Balla Balla, a minor port for the Whim Creek copper mines. Damage was reported for more than 200 kilometres along the coast.
After the ship became overdue in Broome several days later, public concern was raised and a search organised. On 3 April one of the search ships steamed through a quantity of wreckage about 25 nautical miles (46 km) north of Bedout Island and 100 km offshore. Among the items seen were a lifeboat and a stateroom door.