Saturday October 16 marks the 165th anniversary of the death of Sergeant John McNally, the first Victoria police officer to be unlawfully killed in the line of duty.
Through the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Ararat Branch John McNally's memory lives on at East Grampians Health Service.
The Emergency Department (now Urgent Care Centre), Emergency Helicopter Landing Pad and Medical Imaging Department are named in his memory.
Sgt McNally was 29 when he joined the Victorian Police Force and like many of his colleagues in the force, he was an Irishman with previous service in the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Within 12 months he was promoted to Sergeant, in charge of the Mounted Police at Mount Ararat goldfields in the Wimmera District and Central Victoria.
Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Ararat Branch president Terry Weeks said John McNally saw his demise at the hands of "two desperate men" at Mount Ararat in 1856.
"Sergeant McNally's death occurred at the hands of two desperate men, William Twigham and William Turner," Mr Weeks said.
"Twigham was part of a bushranging gang and over a period of time amassed a large amount of money. Turner was a particularly slippery character who absconded from Hobart, Tasmania and was recaptured four years later in Carisbrook, Victoria and charged with robbery. Later, the pair teamed up as part of a notorious gang."
The Blue Ribbon Foundation Ararat said at about 7pm on Thursday October 16, 1856, Sergeant McNally and Constable John Moore rode in search of a wanted man named William Turner (alias Gypsy Smith) who was located at a miner's tent about three kilometres away.
Turner was well known to the police and was suspected of committing armed robberies in the area.
The officers located Turner at the tent and he made a desperate struggle to escape. William Twigham (alias Cockney Bill) came to Turner's aid, firing a double barrelled shotgun at the policeman, killing McNally and wounding Moore.
The two offenders then escaped, however they did not remain at bay for long, as they were arrested on October 23, 1856 at the Adelaide lead diggings near Amherst.
Twigham was found guilty of murder and received the death sentience and Turner pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labour.
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John McNally did not have a registered number in Victoria Police Force as the current numbering system for members was introduced in late 1858, two years after his death.
Sergeant McNally was buried at the Cathcart Cemetery near Ararat and a plaque was placed at the cemetery in 1974 by the Ararat and District Historical Society and Victoria Police Department.
The plaque was re-dedicated on the 150th anniversary of the death of Sergeant McNally in 2006, by the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation.
"The Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation and the Ararat Branch, which was established in 2002, have contributed almost $1 million to East Grampians Health Service and are extremely proud of being associated with John McNally in this way and in being able to honour his memory and his service to the Victorian community," Mr Weeks said.
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