Ex-Police Cadets
Association of NSW

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Robert (Bob) WILSON
Robert (Bob) WILSON
Cadet ID: 1254
Association ID: 54

I would like to preface this story by stating that I had a rather unremarkable career, but a very enjoyable one.


I joined the NSW Police Cadets on 15 November 1955 at the age of 15 years and 11 months.  I had no intention of becoming a Police Cadet, as I was in 4th year at Manly Boys’ High School, with my parents hoping I would stay and obtain the Leaving Certificate and, hopefully, go to university.  However, a friend asked me to accompany him to the Police Recruiting Office, as he wished to join up.  I was waiting in the corridor on the first floor of the Recruiting Office when this Sergeant with a very gruff voice, who I later got to know as Sergeant Garnet Brickell (Bricky), demanded that I get on the scales.  I protested, telling him that I was only here with a friend, and he replied, “I don’t care who you are with.  Get on the scales now!”, which I did out of fright.  Then he handed me some forms to fill in and, as I hated school, I thought, “Why not?”  I filled in the forms and was subsequently accepted as a Police Cadet but unfortunately my friend missed out, as they discovered he had a murmur in his heart.


My first posting as a cadet was at Manly Police Station and I will never forget my “induction”, especially when I look back at being lectured on the correct induction method of new recruits during the Inspectors’ Class. Cadet Sergeant 1st Class Jock Stewart accompanied me to Manly that morning and upon entering the Station, he approached the Station Sergeant, a large, round and red faced man named Bruce (Glaxo) Jackson, and said in his Scottish brogue, “I would like you to meet your Cadet.”  As quick as a flash, Sergeant Jacksonreplied, “I’ve got no time to meet any new f… cadet, take him to the Muster Room and get about your business.” Anyway, I enjoyed my time at Manly working in the Traffic Office and I also spent time at Police Headquarters in Hunter Street, Sydney, North Sydney Detectives, George Street North Police Station, the Public Safety Bureau, the MO Section and the Traffic Penalty Section.


During my last year as a cadet, I was given a cadet’s uniform and had to direct traffic outside Artarmon and Mosman Schools, where I had a few embarrassing moments, one of which being the sixth class girls at Mosman School would delight in singing “Baby Face” as they passed each day in the school bus, and I would turn bright red.  Another was the time a big black dog was waiting to cross with the school kids and when I directed them across, the dog walked up to me and, without even barking, took a large chunk out of my leg and my trousers.  But the worst of all was also at Mosman one morning on a rainy day.  I had grabbed my cap cover, which was made of transparent plastic, so as not to hide the Cadet’s checkered cap-band.  I had never used it before and thought that the bit hanging down was to keep the rain off my face, however the rain absolutely poured down and I couldn’t see anything.  I was trying to hold the flap up with one hand and direct traffic with the other when a Police cyclist came by and laughingly told me that I was an idiot and had it on back to front.


I was eventually sworn in on my 19th birthday, 24 December 1958, and was lucky enough to again get posted to Manly where I remained for three years on general duties.  Whilst at Manly, I worked as a “peanutter” with various Vice Squad Sergeants, including Sergeants Ted Eaton, Fred Scholes, ‘Bumper’ Farrell, Jack Stinson, Lou Nyall, Sid Turbit and Clarrie Rochford locking up hoodlums, homosexuals, SP bettors and the like.


After doing my ‘A’ List at Collaroy Detectives, I was transferred to No 21 Division as a Trainee detective where I worked with Barry Fielding, who sadly got killed in a water skiing accident during this time, Bill McDonnell, Ray Merlin and others under great bosses in ‘Snowy’ Whiteman, ‘Doc’ Doherty, Neville Bell, Neville Grigg, Kevin McAuliffe, Alby Southern, Joe Kroehnert, Jim Petith, Les Cutler, Bob Thomas, Neil Stevens, Ross Thompson and others. Whilst at No 21 Division I went on a number of SP Betting raids to country towns and had a great time.


I was eventually transferred to North Sydney Detectives in 1964 as a proud detective, where I worked under Sergeant Bill Purcell and with detectives Arthur Neville, Jack Whitfield, Mat Carmody, Bill Marcroft, Warwick Simmons, Trevor Crawford, Bob Mair, Peter Hardiman, Jock Morris, John Thomas, Bill Ellis, Doug Bell and Policewomen Thora Michael, Monica Reilly and others.


I must have been the only Detective ever, not being able to drive, when I first arrived at North Sydney and did Bill Purcell give me “stick”.  He would send me out on foot every day from Milsons Point to Beauty Point on various jobs. I quickly learnt to drive and obtained my Police driver’s licence at the St Ives Driving School.


Upon my first day back as a police driver, Bill Purcell directed me to drive him to his home at Castlecrag and to pick up the police vehicle at the service station opposite the police station, where it was being serviced, and that he would meet me at the back of the Station in ten minutes. I picked up the car and was heading south on the Pacific Highway with the intention of taking the first turn right, but it was not to be as it was marked “No Right Turn”.  I thought, “No worries”, I will take the next turn left and come back to the station that way, however, I was then confronted with a sign “No Left Turn”.  The next I know I am heading across the HarbourBridge at a snail’s pace, traffic being bumper to bumper.  About one hour later I arrived at the back of the Police Station but there was no Bill Purcell.  I parked the car and went upstairs sheepishly, and there he was, bright purple and bellowing like a bull, abusing me left, right and centre in unprintable language.  I eventually got him home and I think the next morning I was still shaking when I answered the phone on his desk.  Unfortunately, when I hung up, I did so in the phone he was using, thus cutting him off. I thought he was about to have an epileptic fit the way he carried on.  Not surprisingly, I was then transferred to Mosman Detectives shortly thereafter and worked with great mates in Fred Kirkham, John Bourke, Bruce Hardie and Ian Robb.


My stay at Mosman didn’t last long as I eventually ‘struck a hurdle’, as they say.  This was because of my own naivety and also trying to remain loyal to my workmates, as we had drummed into us, but it also got me caught up in their ‘blue’.  Anyway, no regrets, as I think the Superintendent of Licenses, at that time Don Campbell, realized I was hard done by and accepted me on Licensing in 1969 where I remained until I retired in 1989.


However, before being transferred to Licensing, I had to take my punishment and spent nearly three years in uniform at No. 4 Division where I met some great characters such as ‘Tibby’ Lorenz and Les Monk.  Most of the time there I worked in the Station with Sergeant Barry Minnis, the Station Sergeant, whom I respected a great deal.


In 1969 I was transferred to Licensing and spent a few years relieving at various Stations throughout Sydneythen the Superintendent of Licensing Office, Manly, Chatswood and North Sydney Stations.  I eventually became the Licensing Sergeant at Chatswood, then Newtown.  In 1984 I was transferred to Lismore as the North Coast District Licensing Supervisor under Superintendents Tom Wooton and Angus McDonald, where I remained until 1987 when I had to return to Sydney for family reasons.  I then became the Licensing Supervisor at Parramattaand then worked at the Office of the Superintendent of Licensing until I took advantage of the Disengagement Package and resigned on my 50thbirthday, 24 December 1989.  I worked with some great mates on licensing, too many to name and under some great bosses, including Don Campbell, Clyde Martin, Charlie Wild, Jack Tilley, Bruce Taylor, Jim Pyne, George Peacock, Barry Dutton, Bob Jones and Brian Scott.


I retired as a Senior Sergeant, with which I was satisfied, so long as I could remain on licensing.  Unfortunately the position of licensing supervisor was done away with and I didn’t fancy going back to general duties.  I have no regrets, although financially, it wasn’t a great move, but I wouldn’t swap my retirement years for anything.


I enjoyed some wonderful sporting moments whilst in the Cadets and the Police Force.  One of the highlights was in 1962-3 playing Rugby League for the annual Steve Duff trophy for 21 Division against the Vice Squad.  Another highlight was packing down in the scrum at front row for Manly Police against the Vice Squad, being opposite ‘Bumper’ Farrell, who, believe it or not, played in bare feet.  I also enjoyed playing tennis in the Cadets with Sergeant Don Rowlands in charge.  In 1984, Tony Brenton and I played golf in the Police Olympics in Phoenix, Arizonaand so far as achievements go, we had a great time.  Greg Faulkner and I teamed up in 1963 to win the men’s open doubles championship at the New South Wales Police Games.


Another highlight was being employed as a Security Officer on cruise ships with the sanction of the Police Department.  This enabled my wife and me to visit Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong,Russia, Bali,New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga,Noumea, and Vila, which we enjoyed immensely.



After retiring in 1989, I worked for about 3 years as a curator at the Forestvilletennis complex and also as a self employed gardener.  I earned more money in these jobs than I did in the Police Force with more than 34 year’s service!


My wife and I followed our two sons and their wives and children to northern New South Wales and to the Gold Coast in 1993.  As well as endeavouring to be the world’s best husband, father and grandfather, I have occupied myself playing tennis, golf and lawn bowls.  I have been a committee member of the men’s section of the Coolangatta Bowling Club and a welfare officer at the Gold Coast branch of the Retired Police Association of NSW.  This branch is quite active and my wife and I enjoyed many nights out, day trips and weekends away with this great group of people.


All in all, I have enjoyed my time in the New South Wales Police Cadets and Police Force, as well as my retirement years, which I hope will run for a bit longer yet.