Topic: BatzA - Merivale
Queensland, 24 March 1919
Merivale Street, a violent clash fought on 24 March 1919 between police and returned AIF soldiers in South Brisbane, Queensland, was the most serious of the so-called 'Red Flag Riots'. The previous afternoon some 400 leftists had staged a peaceful march to protest the continued enforcement of restrictions under the War Precautions Act. Nearly all those involved had carried red flags in defiance of the law, provoking several minor scuffles with returned men. Alarmed by this demonstration, a large crowd of mainly ex-soldiers (some in uniform) broke up the usual Sunday evening gathering of radicals at North Quay before setting off at 7.30 p.m. for the Russian Hall in Merivale Street - the base of the Russian Workers' Association. When the mob approached, three shots were fired from the building before the police arrived and forced the crowd to disperse.
Enraged by the resistance shown by the `Bolsheviks', and incited by unknown agitators, the next night another crowd estimated to number up to 8,000 again marched on Merivale Street. This time, however, the hall was cordoned off by 40 police armed with rifles and bayonets, personally directed by the police commissioner, Frederick Urquhart. In the ensuing clash over 100 men received bayonet wounds, including Urquhart himself who was stabbed in the shoulder when forced backwards onto the bayonet of one of his own men. Fourteen policemen were hurt - two receiving bullet wounds (including a mounted trooper shot twice in the back) - and three police horses were shot, one of these being killed. Nineteen of the injured were serious enough to require their removal in ambulances.
Advertisement of the meeting for Friday, 28 March 1919.
[Brisbane Courier, 27 March 1919, p. 2.]
In anticipation of further trouble, the next day the state government ordered the closure of all city hotels. Another meeting of returned soldiers that night attracted an attendance of over 12,000, after which several hundred men smashed the office windows of the Daily Standard newspaper which had criticised them. A meeting the next night drew 7,000 but was free from further violence, enabling a return to normal by 28 March.
THE COMMISIONER OF POLICE (MR. URQUHART).Severe bayonet wound in the the shoulder. First aid treatment was rendered at the Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital, and he returned to the scene of the disturbance. Subsequently it was found that the wound required further attention, and he was returned to a private hospital.
Lacerated wound on the forehead. He was knocked down by a bolting horse, and also struck by some heavy object.
POLICE SERGEANT FERGUSON.
Deep wound in the forehead. He was struck by a heavy iron railway bolt.
ACTING SERGEANT MACKAY, of the Woolloongabba police.Laceration on the left thumb.
SERGEANT HENRY.Struck heavily on the chest by a bolting horse, but did not suffer very serious effects.
CONSTABLE JOHN CLAPSHAW.Lacerated and contused wound on the forehead, caused by a brick.
CONSTABLE ARTHUR ARNDT.Bayonet wound above the right eye (received during the first change by the police).
PLAIN CLOTHES CONSTABLE O'DRISCOLL.Severe bruise on the left knee, caused through being struck by a bottle.
PLAIN CLOTHES CONSTABLE TROY.Cut on the back of the head, caused by a stone.
MOUNTED TROOPER CHARLES BATEMAN.
Injury to the back of the head, caused through being struck by a paling. He was .taken to the Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital, where on enquiry last night, it was learnt that his case was not considered to be serious.
MOUNTED TROOPER JOHN BYRNE.Two revolver wounds in the back, one bullet entering 4½ in. from the spine, and the other in the side. Neither shot penetrated deeply, and the hospital staff does not consider that the wounds will prove serious.
CONSTABLE ARTHUR CLARK.Injury to the back, and abrasions on the right arm.
MOUNTED CONSTABLE WILLIAM GOOCH.Injury to the foot. He fell from his horse after being struck by a bullet during the first charge. He was in a state of collapse when the Ambulance arrived, and after being treated for the injury to the foot was taken to the Police Barracks, surgical attention being advised.
MR H. L. ARCHDALL (Chief Police Magistrate).Slight bayonet wound on the left groin, sustained by being forced back on to the bayonets of the police cordon.
SAMUEL CARTER.A returned soldier, aged 41, residing at Herbert Street, Spring Hill. Bullet wound in the head. On enquiry at the General Hospital early this morning it was ascertained that his condition was not considered to be serious.[4758 Private Samuel Carter, 15th Infantry Battalion.]
WILLIAM WRIGHT.A returned soldier, living at Redcliffe. Internal injuries, due to being kicked about the body. The extent of the injuries was not ascertained last night. He was admitted to the Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital.
ROBERT SANDERS.A returned soldier, aged 41, temporarily residing at Enoggera. Two cuts to the right arm, and one above the bridge of his nose. He was taken to the General Hospital, where it was learnt that his case was not expected to prove serious.
ALFRED HOWARD.A returned soldier, residing at Alexandra Street, Paddington. Admitted to the General Hospital suffering from the effects of a heavy blow on the head. He was unconscious when admitted, and his case was considered to be serious. Early next morning his condition showed an improvement. This returned soldier was assaulted at North Quay.
Adult, residing at Mayne Junction. Lacerated wound on the right side of the head, caused by being struck by a paling. Taken to Mater Misericordiae Public Hospital.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 165.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
Gavin Souter (1976) Lion and Kangaroo, Sydney: William Collins.
Frank Cain (1983) The Origins of Political Surveillance in Australia, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920
Citation: Merivale Street, Queensland, March 24, 1919