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Thread: The Battle of Broken Hill

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    The Battle of Broken Hill



    The Battle of Broken Hill was a mass killing which took place near Broken Hill on January 1, 1915. Two men described as Turks (but more likely to be Afghanis) shot dead four people and wounded seven more, before being killed by police and military officers. While the attack was politically inspired (as declared by themselves in notes) the men were not members of any sanctioned armed force and so the attack may be an act of terrorism. As such, it could be considered the first terrorist attack in Australia.



    The Assailants
    The attackers were both former camel-drivers working at Broken Hill. They were Badsha Mahommed Gool (born ~1874), an ice-cream vendor, and Mullah Abdullah (born ~1854), a local imam and halal butcher.

    Gool's ice-cream cart was well-known in town and was used to transport the men to the attack site. They also fashioned a home-made, Ottoman flag which they flew. There appears to have been little effort at hiding their identities.

    Abdullah had arrived in Broken Hill around 1898 and worked as a camel driver, before becoming a mullah and slaughtering animals according to Islamic rites (halal). Several days before the killings Adbullah was convicted by Chief Sanitary Inspector Brosnan for slaughtering sheep on premises not licensed for slaughtering. It was the not the first charge. Considering the slaughter-house unions at that time had racially discriminatory policies, there was little scope for Abdullah to legally prepare halal meats for the Muslim community. In addition, he had ceased wearing his turban years beforehand "since the day some larrikin threw stones at me, and I did not like it."

    Gool Mohamed lived next door to Mullah Adbullah. Gool was a member of the Afridi, a Pashtun clan, from Afghanistan. He claimed he had been in the Turkish Army several times and was believed to regularly smoke gungha (strong marijauna). Police Constable Mills later conjectured that Gool had used Abdullah's concerns over the fine as leverage to convince him to take part in the killings.

    The Picnic Train
    Each New Year's Day the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows (a local lodge) held a picnic at Silverton. The train from Broken Hill to Silverton was crowded with 1200 picnickers on 40 open trucks. Three kilometres out of town, Gool and Abdullah positioned themselves on an embankment about 30 metres from the tracks. As the train passed they opened fire with two rifles, discharging 20-30 shots.

    The crowd originally thought the shots were in honour of the train passing, but once people started falling the reality sunk in. Alma Cowie, aged 17 who was on a date with boyfriend Clarry O’Brien, died instantly. William John Shaw, who was a foreman in the Sanitary Department, was also killed on the train.

    The Official Reports from the Barrier Miner



    Two coloured men, Afghans or Turks, armed with rifles, fired on a picnic train laden with men, women and children just outside the city route to Silverton. Killed and wounded several.

    The police when informed, went in pursuit of offenders, and took refuge on a rocky hill, and fired on the police and wounded Constable Mills.

    In the battle there was a desperate determination to leave no work for the hangman, or to run the risk of the murderers of peaceful citizens being allowed to escape. It was not a long battle. The attacking party was being constantly reinforced by eager men, who arrived in any vehicles they could obtain or on foot. At just about one o'clock a rush took place to the Turks stronghold, and they were found lying on the ground behind their shelter. Both had many wounds, One was dead, the other expired at the Hospital later. They were in the dress of their people, with turbans on their heads. The police took charge of the bodies.
    The identity of the Turks who were shot has been established by the police. Mulla Abdulla, who was killed outright, was a butcher. Some days ago he was convicted and fined for slaughtering sheep on premises riot licensed for slaughtering.

    He had previously been before the court on a similar charge. He was an elderly man, by appearance about 60, and he was short and thick set.

    Gool Mahomed died on the way to the hospital. He is believed to have been an ice cream vendor.

    Abdulla carried a Snider rifle and an apparently home-made bandolier. The latter has pockets for 48 cartridges, and 26 of the pockets were empty. As a number of cartridges were in the man's pocket it is concluded that the bandolier must have been full and that he had fired the 26 cartridges away. He also had in his possession a revolver and cartridges and a new knife and sheath. The other man's rifle was a Martini Henry.

    Mulla Abdulla had been 16 years in Broken Hill, chiefly camel-driving. For the past few years he had been butcher for the camp at North Broken Hill, vested with priest rights in order to kill according to the Mohammedan religion.

    He was of a very reserved disposition, rarely speaking to anyone, and even the men in the camp are not sure where he was born.

    He was always childish and simple in his ways. He was unable to pay a fine when he was convicted for killing a sheep on unlicensed premises and has become very broody as a result. About this time Gool Mahomed came to the camp, and lived next to Abdulla. They became friends.

    It is Inspector Miller's view that Gool Mahomed was the instigator of the affair. He believes that as Abdulla was unable to pay the fine in the recent court case Gool used this as a lever in persuading Abdulla that there was very little to live for as he was certain to be arrested or undergo imprisonment.

    He no doubt preyed upon Abdulla's mind until he was persuaded that it was better to die and that it would be dying gloriously and with the certainty of great happiness in the hereafter if he killed as many of the British as he could before he was himself slain. Mahomed then made his plans and Abdulla fell in with them.
    http://illustratedpig.blogspot.com/2...g-and-ilk.html

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