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And a melancholy month in March it has been at our Central Coast Branch with the passing of two of our long-standing and devoted members. Condolences are recorded here and go to Lynne Benden, Mirrill Cowell, their families and friends. About three years ago Bill Benden shared the details of his Police career with Branch members via the Nov 2014 Newsletter. It began from his time as a cadet in 1951, through to him achieving the rank of Detective Inspector and then retirement at the Gosford Station on 11 March 1989. It was by any measure, a compelling and dedicated service of duty spanning a period of some 38 years, including 3 Commissioner’s Commendations.

Bill also held various RPA positions at the Central Coast Branch. Norm Cowell was born and bred in a part of country NSW made legendary by one of Banjo Paterson’s famous poems, ‘The Man from Ironbark’. Norm was reputedly a gun-shearer before he ‘struck the Sydney town’ to make his mark in the NSW Police Force. A long and successful career it was, being posted to numerous country and city locations, including Lock-up Keeper and in the Licensing Branch. Following his retirement, it is without doubt that Norm was a large part of the original ‘bricks and mortar’ in the building of our RPA Central Coast Branch.

It all began over 25 years ago with likeminded colleagues over the occasional lunch and a few beers. A social committee was eventually formed and with Norm’s continued enthusiasm, drive, contacts and dedication, our Branch became the successful entity it is today. It may well be said that Norm was and always will be our very own - ‘Man from Ironbark.’ One such response that has come to light and deemed worthy of note was submitted by our indefatigable raconteur and regular correspondent, Brian Costigan. Brian recounts the following when he was a Sergeant 3rd Class stationed at Woy Woy in about 1973: “In the company of senior constable John Birt (now an RPA member) we went to an address in Woy Woy, responding to a domestic disturbance.

It was a Friday night & a FULL MOON was prominent. The address was well known to police regarding domestic matters. It was occupied by (for the sake of this occurrence) “WONDABYNE JACK”. His wife and 4 kids, all in their pyjamas, were standing outside under the luminous light of the FULL MOON. We established that “WONDABYNE” had arrived home late. He was inebriated; he quarrelled & had ejected his family from the house. We could hear “WANDABYNE” stamping & furiously shouting from inside the residence. I briefly discussed an action strategy with senior constable Birt to restore quiet to the neighbourhood & re-store “WANDABYNE’S” family to their beds.

At this stage a crowd of neighbours & various morbid onlookers had gathered to watch proceedings. At the time of this occurrence the popular American police drama ‘The Naked City’ featuring the everyday operations of the NYPD had been showing on TV. We decided to subject “WANDABYNE” to some of The Naked City treatment to encourage him out of the house. We trained our police vehicle’s portable search light on the front door & in real New York style I used the loud hailer – “THE POLICE WANDABYNE!” A number of strong expletives as to our birthright could be heard from within. Using the loud hailer again – “COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED!” The front door opened, “WANDABYNE” walked to us, the wife and kids returned to their home & beds; & the assembled crowd applauded & disbursed. Another job completed under the light of the silvery FULL MOON."

Later, back at the station, a cursory examination of records at Woy Woy revealed a number of FULL MOON nights when extra domestic disputes occurred with “WONDABYNE” being prominent.” Brian’s Footnote: “WONDABYNE is in fact a railway siding between Woy Woy & Brooklyn. It was well known for sandstone mining & operations. The offender worked cutting sandstone blocks.”

At a recent meeting we had Ted Albury, Neil Ashman, Graham Benson, Jim Boland, Keith Bradley, Peter Caddy, Ernie & Beverley Carmichael, Ray Carpenter, Barry Clark, John Clark, Tony & Virginia Connolly, Bill Connors, Paul Dixon, Mick Etches, Don Harding, Ray Hartcher, Rus Jackson, John & Anne Kent, Kevin Lancett, Bruce McLauchlan, Brian McVicar, John & Noelene Nicholas, Ian Robertson, Geoff Talbot, Pete Thompson, Wilma Walsh, Ross Watkins, Garrie Watt & Russ Witcher. We welcomed new member Ray Hartcher and reintroduced Peter Thompson. Visiting were Robyn & Craig from the Police Bank. On the welfare front we are happy to report that Hugh Sweeney is recovering from recent heart surgery.

Carl Ripphausen


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