Ex-Police Cadets
Association of NSW

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Frank MILLS - Part II [6 June 2008] transcribed from an oral interview
Frank MILLS - Part II [6 June 2008] transcribed from an oral interview
Cadet ID: 123
Association ID: 29




30 DECEMBER 2006


Frank Mills is 89 Years of age.  He was born in 1919 and joined the police cadets in 1936.  Whilst performing duty at Howlong he was thrown from his police horse and suffered a severe back injury placing him on light duties for the remainder of his service.   He was the last mounted policeman to serve in the NSW Police Force in the field.


Ian Granland: How long would it take you to get from Howlong to Brocklesby (by horse)?


FRANK MILLS: -  Ohhh, ‘bout 2 hours sort of business. Course they were hard roads and just depends if the side of the road was a bit wet and you could push the horse along but he wasn’t a very clever old horse the one I had (laughs).

Ian Granland:  Back to the cadets.  Do you think they gave you much responsibility as a cadet?

FRANK MILLS:  Not a lot, I don’t think ...  You would … I know at the M.O. Section we had a fellow named Bolwer, Alec Bowler and he was … I think he was one of the top soccer referees, were they referees or umpires? One of the two.  At that stage and he used to walk around and have a double check on you and if he found an error he would let you know about it. But as for responsibilities … [indiscernible].


Ian Granland: You mentioned you got three pound … fourteen, and how was that given to you?  Did you get a cheque or did you get….


FRANK MILLS: No, it was cash.  And that’s ... I mentioned Sergeant Douglass earlier on.  They used to pay you on a Thursday, every second Thursday.  There’d be someone come from headquarter, pay section and he would have a policeman escort him.  They’d come in and sit down at the table and everyone would be … walk passed give your name sort of business and you’d get your envelope, a little brown envelope?  And Sergeant Douglass warned me “You check your pay son” … again he said “You check it”.  So I stood there and only had three pound twelve ($7.20) and I said “I’ve only got three pound twelve.”  Oh oh, so they sorted around and found two bob down the bottom of their bag, their kitbag and I said to the Sergeant afterwards “I was down two shillings”.  “That’s why I warned you son, two shillings is a lot of money to them, if they get 5 two shillings at the end of the day, ten shillings is a lot of money."  It was too.  For two bob you could buy a lot in those days.


Ian Granland: What about if someone wasn’t working …  if they were rostered off on that day?


FRANK MILLS: I think … I think it used to go into the inspector’s Office into a little safe – yeah.  I faintly think a few times I might of … might have had to type up a list of or something like that.  I just faintly recall that.


Ian Granland: Did you act as an inspector’s clerk as a cadet?


FRANK MILLS: Not as a cadet.  But while I was at Wagga I was ahh ... inspector’s clerk and I used to fill in in the Superintendents Office with assistant clerk in there.


Ian Granland: From the cadets to being sworn in. Was there many boys who were sacked or did they drop out, did you find.  Was there a fair percentage?


FRANK MILLS: Well by 19… my period, 1940, we were 'man powered'.  You couldn’t change jobs, you were there and that was it. You couldn’t say “I don’t want to be a policeman at this stage", but, there were … I remember there were … Geoff Staehli, I cant think of his cadet number, he would have been about 130 or something like that.  He got the sack at the last minute, we never know what happened … he just wasn’t there. Ah.. our class started and there were two mounted men sacked over night, for reasons unknown, they just disappeared. But most the fellows, after they were sworn in and had five or six years service, the war was over and there were a lot … quite a few left the job very quickly.  K Bennett (Keith) went to Woolworths to be their security officer. Warren Linkenbagh, went then ..what was then, the Daily Mirror to become a crime reporter.  A lot of them jumped at opportunities and went out.


Ian Granland: Where abouts were you sworn in?

FRANK MILLS: Down at the old police headquarters, Hunter and
Phillip Street.  Umm … They took me down from … got me all dressed up.  Took me down in the depot car, which was a 1936 Vauxhall Tourer.


Ian Granland: Who drove that car?

FRANK MILLS: Fellow named Jack Carr – C-A-double-R. He was allocated to be the driver of the inspector at the depot, general useful.  He drove me down and Sergeant Windsor, was … came down, was supposed to be … spot on at 2 o’clock.  Commissioner MacKay came back from a lovely lunch at
quarter to three. In a very jovial mood.  Swore me in and then sent me over to the … a real rag of a newspaper …  Smiths Weekly.  I was interviewed over there  and a big article in their paper about Frank Mills going to Wagga Wagga.


Ian Granland:  So you were sworn in and sent straight to Wagga?

FRANK MILLS: No no, I was sworn in and … and transferred …  MacKay then decided being a mounted man I had to go to the country. I’d go to Wagga Wagga where the best detective in the force, named Joe Ramus, was and he said he would give me the best tuition.  So in those days they’d work me 27 days in plain clothes, then I’d have to do a week in uniform.  If you went 28 days they had to pay you a plain clothes allowance.  So I’d do one week in uniform, they were always night shift. You’d be working night shift and then come back on and you had court cases to come to and ahhh, talk about … They had us by the short and curlies in those days, the ahh …  You couldn’t get married, you couldn’t even make application to get married until three years after you were sworn in.


Ian Granland:  So you’d be 24?


FRANK MILLS:  Yeah. And they then would start making inquiries about your wife to be, what her parents were like, or the … they’d knock it back if her father was a criminal they’d say “you cant marry her”. Oh yeah, they controlled you.


Ian Granland: Strange isn’t it?  And how times have changed.


FRANK MILLS: Times have changed.  A lot of cadets there.  All of a sudden they gave us god fathers.  We had these four god fathers, all first class sergeants at headquarters. And you could go to them if you had any troubles whatsoever.


Ian Granland: Were these for cadets or anyone?


FRANK MILLS: No, for cadets.  Certain cadets were allocated … cant think of the name of the sergeant , I never went to him. One of the first cadets to go along went to Colin Delaney, who later became a commissioner and he had a girl in the family way and he wanted to know if he could borrow some money to get married. “ Certainly son” was the answer, “come down on Thursday morning I’ll see you at 10 o’clock.” Poor bugger went down at 10 o’clock and they handed him his pay and his dismissal.


Ian Granland: You mentioned before about mounted police.  Once a policeman was sworn in, could he be transferred straight to the country?


FRANK MILLS: Almost.  But they liked to keep them for … unless there were vacancies in the country … they liked to keep them for their probationary period.  I was away within three months, I did.  Partially through March I was there and they … in those days you used to have a smallpox vaccination and they work up – ohhh, just before Christmas time that I hadn’t had it and therefore could be confirmed without it of course, small pox and I had to be confirmed by the 18th January on my birthday.  So here I was at Wagga and I had to go to Sydney and we worked the oricle and I got Christmas off to go down to Sydney to see the girlfriend (laughs).


Ian Granland: Could you have or did you ever contemplate joining the forces during the war?


FRANK MILLS: No.  Umm, two of us went along one day, a fellow named Colin McKenzie both went along to join the air force.  They were recruiting, we wanted to get out, I had three brothers and a sister, they were all overseas at that stage and I said I’ll be in it too.  Anyhow they just served us with manpower notices and that was the end of it.

Ian Granland: Because I know in 1944 there were a lot of police joined the air force at one time.

FRANK MILLS: Yes in 1944 at that stage I was married with a couple of kids and I thought I don’t think I should run the risk at this stage.  The war was nearly over.  We could see what was happening.  So I just stayed.

Ian Granland:  Did you do anything outstanding in the police force?  You mentioned a commendation  before about … ah

FRANK MILLS: Yes, only that.  I think I got a couple of commendations  for good work but nothing outstanding.  No acts of bravery.


Ian Granland: Was Steve Engle one of your instructors?

FRANK MILLS:  No, Steve Engle was, was in the police marching squad.  In the various shows the cadets did he would have been ahead of us, the marching squad.  He was in that.  He would only would have… I think he was only sworn in about 1937 or 38.


Ian Granland: Did you play any organized sport when you were in the cadets?

FRANK MILLS: No, because for the simple reason you … it was a … you worked six days a week, Sunday was your day off and there was no organized sport of a Sunday.  There were no football or cricket matches of a Sunday.


Ian Granland: No, I mean for the cadets.

FRANK MILLS: Oh the cadets would be happy to organize teams.  There were two or three of them played in the police rugby team.  One fellow got a broken arm and we all put in a shilling each or something or other to support him, there was no scheme to keep him alive sort of business.  For a long while he wasn’t going to be kept in the force because of his arm break.  We steered clear of that sort of danger.


Ian Granland: What you are really saying is that the system was really hard on you boys when you were young?

FRANK MILLS: Yes.  We’d all been through the depression, we knew what it was … hard to get a job.  There was no walking out of one job into another in those days.  You walked out of the cadets and you’d have a stigma of being dismissed sort of business.


Ian Granland: And you went from Wagga to where?
FRANK MILLS: I went from Wagga to Cooma.

Ian Granland:  Did they have mounted police there?

FRANK MILLS: Yes they had a mounted man there.  Wonderful horse.  He knew where every pub was  when I got there.  Coming out on my first day he skittled the bloody tar straight to the back yard of the pub and the woman called out “Oh just tie your horse up there mate” (laughs) then I found out that’s why they transfered the mounted man because he was an alcoholic.


Ian Granland:  I see, so there were mounted and foot police at the one station would you ...?

FRANK MILLS: At Cooma there was a sergeant in charge, a couple of police and myself.  It was a four man station.

Ian Granland:  And what would the mounted police do that was different to the foot police?

FRANK MILLS: Well you were supposed to go out on night patrols, see who was stealing lambs out of paddocks.  Manys the night I would go there out and come home only because a big heavy fog would come down and only that the horse knew where we were, he’d get you home.  You weren’t allowed … well they wouldn’t give you torches anyhow at that stage there were no street lights because of the war and by day you would go up to the trucking yards, check their ear marks, if they had travelling permits and things like that.


Ian Granland:  So that was your job.  That was the mounted man’s job?

FRANK MILLS: That was the mounted mans job, yes.  You might do some street duties, a bit of night shift.  It might get to 9 o’clock and the sergeant would come down and say come on we’ll walk once more then home we’d go.  Nice and handy at the police premises.


Ian Granland: You lived at the police premises?


Ian Granland:  We’re they barracks?

FRANK MILLS:  Semi detatched.  There was one policeman one side of it and we had this side.  Nice stone buildings with no running water.  When I say no running water the pipes used to burst because of the cold.




The interview ends abruptly because we came to the end of the tape and I was just about finished anyhow  but in retrospect I should have asked more questions – IG.