Noble Numismatics Pty Ltd > Auction 130Auction date: 26 July 2022
Lot number: 484

Price realized: 5,000 AUD   (Approx. 3,479 USD / 3,434 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Victorian Police Gold Valour Badge, undated (1916), in 9ct gold and enamel by Bridgland & King, with 9ct gold and enamel suspension brooch bar, reverse of medal inscribed, 'Const Downes/5860'. Good very fine and rare.

Ex Noble Numismatics Sale 122 (lot 589).

Only 22 gold badges awarded.

The above badge was issued at the first public presentation of gold valour badges which had been instituted in 1916. The presentation was made to 17 police officers by the Chief Secretary, Mr McLeod MLA at Russell Street Barracks on 26 September 1916 with about 250 Constables on parade and in attendance was the Chief Commissioner, Mr A.G.Sainsbury and leading officers of the police force.

When presenting the gold badges Mr McLeod said they were a reward for valour. He said men at the front were receiving VCs for deeds not more worthy, perhaps, than some that were performed by the police, and the Government in adopting the innovation felt that a suitable medal should be given to members of the force when exceptional determination, valour, or devotion to duty was exhibited. He eulogised the marked bravery of several constables who had recently faced desperate armed criminals and succeeded in arresting them.

Constable W.Downes along with Constables F.Bresnan and J.Walsh were each recommended for gold badges for displaying great courage and determination when they arrested John Lane, George Rankin and Ernest Watson on 6 May after an exciting chase in the city of Melbourne. The recommendation was made by Inspecting Superintendent L.Gleeson. The constables saw the three men behaving suspiciously in Flinders Lane and followed them. John Lane fired a revolver but nobody was injured. The chase then became exciting with civilians joining in including one soldier who had been wounded at the Gallipoli landing. The three men were captured and then recognised as desperate young criminals who were suspected of having broken into many shops in Melbourne on Saturday afternoons.

John Lane was charged with having shot with intent to murder, with having a housebreaking implement in his possession, and with warehouse breaking. On the charge of having shot at Constable Downes with intent to murder Lane was committed for trial at the Supreme Court. At the trial Constable W.Downes gave evidence regarding the pursuit and capture of Lane. In addition to the revolver, he said a jemmy was also taken from Lane's pocket when he was arrested.

Of the three criminals, Lane was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for having fired at Downes with intent, and Rankin and Watson each received two years' imprisonment for having loitered with intent to commit a felony.

See also lot E3460 for award to Constable F.Bresnan for same incident.

Estimate: 4950 AUD