Harry ‘ Henry ‘ BRENNAN GM
Late of Caringbah
Penrith Police Academy Class # 18
New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # 6424
Rank: Probationary Constable – appointed 13 June 1949
Sergeant 3rd Class – appointed 1 June 1966
Sergeant 1st Class – appointed 14 March 1976
Chief Inspector – Retired
Stations: Sutherland ( 24 Division )
Service: From ? ? pre June 1949 to 1 March 1988 = 39 years of Service
Awards: George Medal ( GM ) – granted 22 November 1955 for apprehension of armed man
National Medal – granted 8 June 1988
Born: 2 March 1928
Age: 86 old
Died on: 1 June 2014
Funeral date: 6 June 2014 @ 9am
Funeral location: Woronora Crematorium, Sutherland
Buried at: Cremated
Interred 1 August 2014 – HENRY KENDALL GARDENS – ROSE GARDEN 40 – Position 0056
Harry (Henry) BRENNAN GM, 86 old, former Regd. No. 6424, an Unattached member of Caringbah.
Henry passed away on 01/06/2014 and his funeral is proposed to be held at 9am on Friday 6th Instant at Southern Chapel, Woronora Crematorium, SUTHERLAND
Funeral location: Dress is winter uniform (leather jacket) plus full size medals. For plain clothes Police it is suitable day dress with medals.
The Sydney Morning Herald Thursday 14 October 1954 page 1 of 32
Two Policemen Shot In Wild 80-m.p.h. Chase Across City:
Dragnet Out For Gunman
In Sydney’s biggest manhunt hundreds of police last night and early this morning were searching for a gunman who had shot and wounded two police, during an 80-mile-an-hour chase through eastern and southern suburbs.
The gunman wounded Sergeant Neville Townsend and Constable John Melton ( both of Bondi ).
Sergeant Townsend was shot in the ring finger of the right hand, which was later amputated.
Constable Melton was shot under the left arm.
Police have been told that earlier the gunman fired five shots over the head of a woman at Manly and threatened to shoot her dead.
He then made off in a grey sedan car with a Victorian number-plate.
Constable Harry Brennan, a motor cyclist of the Safety Bureau, heard the description of the car over the police radio.
He was patrolling Bondi Promenade five minutes later when he saw the wanted car being driven slowly past him.
The driver saw that he was being followed but he still did not hurry.
Constable Brennan sounded his siren as they passed Bondi Police Station.
The crew of the Bondi police truck – Sergeant Townsend, Constable Melton and Constable Len Ryan – heard the siren and ran out.
They jumped in the truck and joined in the chase.
The truck drew level with the car at the end of Blair Street. The car driver leant out and the shooting started.
Police said that Sergeant Townsend’s handcuffs saved his life. A bullet fired by the gunman passed through Sergeant Townsend’s clothing and struck his handcuffs, hanging from his belt.
The handcuffs deflected the bullet, which only grazed the skin around Sergeant Townsend’s ribs.
A second bullet hit him on the hand.
A shot passed through Constable Ryan’s cap just above the badge.
Another shot broke a glass wind deflector.
Police in the truck, Constable Brennan, and the driver were firing together at one stage.
One bullet whistled past Constable Brennan’s face. Constable Melton, who was driving the van, had his revolver ready but did not fire any shots. He received a bullet under the left arm, but continued to drive the van while Constable Ryan called other police cars to the scene.
When the other cars arrived the Bondi police van pulled out of the chase and took the injured officers to St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The man fired about seven shots. Constable Brennan did not know that the police in the truck had been hit. He chased the car when the driver, apparently having emptied his magazine, stopped firing and increased his speed.
Police think that the man must have reloaded while driving.
The car entered Birriga Road, slewed round at a bend and nearly overturned.
Constable Brennan, who was following close behind, nearly crashed into the side of the car.
The driver leant out and fired a shot point blank at Constable Brennan but it missed.
The chase continued through Bondi Junction, along Oxford Street, down Lang Road into Robb Road and into Anzac Parade.
In Robb Road, approaching Centennial Park, Constable Brennan drew close to the racing car. The man slowed down suddenly and swerved across the road.
The car struck Constable Brennan’s motor cycle and sent it careering sideways, but he managed to keep it from crashing.
The man leaned out of the window and fired a shot at Constable Brennan.
The car then entered Anzac Parade at Moore Park and headed south and the man fired two more shots both of which missed.
A car in Anzac Parade near Cleveland Street was struck and hurled on to the footpath.
Soon after the fugitive car crashed into another car and then almost immediately scraped past the front of another car.
The driver braked just in time to stop a serious crash.
The fugitive swerved repeatedly in attempts to wreck Constable Brennan’s motor cycle.
Constable Brennan fired five shots during the chase and he thinks several of them hit the car.
The car was travelling at about 80 m.p.h. when it approached Prince Henry Hospital.
Constable Brennan raised his pistol to fire the last shot in the magazine, but the bullet jammed in the barrel.
The car then swerved hard to the right past St. Michael’s Golf Course. Constable Brennan had to stop when his pistol became useless.
He ran into the hospital and called for reinforcements.
A man who resembled the fugitive was seen at Yarra Bay about 10.30 p.m. and shortly afterwards near Bunnerong Power-house.
Practically every available police car in Sydney was sent to the La Perouse and Bunnerong area.
Hundreds of police, armed with pistols and “shot guns,” began to search St. Michael’s golf course and the surrounding area.
It was thought the gunman might have taken cover on the golf course.
About midnight police began to think that the fugitive had slipped through their cordon.
The man is believed to know the area very well and in the few minutes he had after escaping from Constable Brennan he might have had time to double back possibly by the road running between Bunnerong power station and Botany Bay.
This would have enabled him to reach Botany Road and reach the southern suburbs while he was still thought to be at La Perouse.
The man is said to be an accomplished “frogman” and a strong swimmer. Police think he could have swum out to a ship or yacht anchored in Botany Bay.
Early to-day police were searching a tanker anchored in Botany Bay.
A police launch from Blakehurst was speeding to Botany Bay to assist in the search.
Police are puzzled by the fact that they have not been able to find the grey car, which is believed to be bullet scarred.
Detectives have considered the possibility that the man realised he could not escape unobserved in the car and drove it over the cliffs before trying to escape on foot.
Using searchlights they began a yard by yard search last night of the cliff edges for tyre marks.
Squads of police made an intensive search of caravans, humpies, sheds, backyards, and other buildings at Yarra Bay and nearby.
Other police searched among the tombstones of the Botany cemetery.
Aborigines from the settlement assisted police in the search.
Police, outside Prince Henry Hospital confer on moves in the search for the gunman. On the left is Constable Harry Brennan who exchanged shots with the gunman.
Sunday Mail ( Brisbane, Qld ) Sunday 17 October 1954 page 1 of 36
‘DON’T SHOOT’ : GUNMAN’S PLEA TO POLICE AT CAPTURE
HUNT ENDS ON THIRD DAY
SYDNEY— After the grimmest manhunt New South Wales has known Robert Michael Brown, 20, surrendered to two young police officers on Bushrangers’ Hill, in the Sydney suburb, Newport, at 11.25 a.m. yesterday. Brown, who was dirty arid dishevelled, was hiding in a crevice under a clump of bushes when the police arrested him.
With their guns drawn, the two policemen, Constables Clive Curtayne and George Spowart, stood over Brown as he crouched in the bushes and ordered him to surrender.
“Throw up your hands and submit quietly or we will shoot,” Constable Curtayne ordered. Rising slowly to his feet and with both hands’ in the air, Brown said: “I’ve had it. Don’t shoot. You’re too good. I’m all in. Give me a break. I’ve thrown my gun away. I’ll go quietly.” Brown’s capture was the climax to the biggest search on land, sea, and air in the history of New South Wales. He had been at liberty for 62½ hours. The police search for Brown began on Wednesday night after two police men had been shot in a running gun battle between Bondi and La Perouse.
Brown threw back his head and stared defiantly at police and Press while his picture was taken from all angles. He made no attempt to conceal his face and made a couple of half-hearted wise cracks to photographers as the bulbs flashed. With the Commissioner of Police ( Mr. C. J. Delaney ) in the front seat, Brown was driven to the Collaroy Police Station where he dictated a long statement.
While making the statement Brown ate ravenously and gulped down several cups of water. Later he smoked cigarettes and drank tea.
It is understood that Brown commandeered the trawler Aklavic from The Spit about 9 p.m. on Friday and sailed it out of Sydney Harbour. The trawler struck heavy seas late on Friday night and about 1 a.m. yesterday it is believed that Brown dived overboard. Brown told police that the trawler was running against a strong wind and a high tide. The vessel was found firmly aground on the sand on Newport Beach. It showed no signs of serious damage.
‘The swim knocked it out of me.” Brown told police. “I didn’t think I would make the shore. I’ve had practically no sleep since last Wednesday. It’s been a terrible business.”
After receiving countless false alarms, police finally pinpointed Brown soon after 9.15 a.m. yesterday, when residents sighted him on Bushrangers’ Hill.
An anonymous phone caller told police: “Brown is at Newport on Bushrangers’ Hill. He has just gone into a house. I think the house is unoccupied.”
About 20 police cars, police trucks, and motor cycle police gathered at the foot of the hill, and the hunt began. A shout went up when Brown was sighted by police about 300 yards from a house.
Brown, who was wearing a light sweatshirt, shorts, and gaberdine overcoat, was barefooted when police caught him.
He showed only one visible sign of injury — a deep scratch on the left side of the face.
He looked a picture of misery when police handcuffed him and marched him back to the main road, where scores of police had been posted.
His shoulders sagged, and he was limping. His eyes were bloodshot, and he had a stubble of beard on his chin.
At times police had to hold him up as he staggered through the dense bush back to the road. Placed in a police car between the two arresting officers. Brown said wearily: “There’s no doubt about you boys, you’re too hot.” “For God’s sake, give me a cigarette, and I want a drink of water. I’m thirsty and I’m hungry.” ‘There was no need to worry about a gun. I threw it away. It went into the water. I had to throw it away.”
Brown’s grandmother, Mrs. Florence Brown, said to-day: “My grandson, Bobbie, is ill . . . mentally very ill … I am sure of it.”
Last Tuesday he had told her : “I’ve got women-trouble Nan. Bad women-trouble.” Mrs. Brown said Brown’s wife had a maintenance order out against him. His parents had divorced when he was about 16, and his father, a dog trainer; now lived at Southport, Queensland.
After Brown had been questioned he was charged with the following: —
Shooting with intent to murder Constable Harry Brennan, Detective Sergeant N Townsend, and Constable Len Ryan.
Stealing a diesel trawler, valued at £5000, the property of Dr. T. J. Cottee, sen., dentist, of Military Road, Mosman.
Disobeying a maintenance order. Having in his possession a motor car stolen from another State.
Police refused bail and Brown will appear before the Central Court of Petty Sessions tomorrow.
Police late yesterday found a stolen Victorian car, in dense bush on St. Michael’s golf course near Malabar with seven bullet holes in it. The car was reported stolen from Victoria at the beginning of the week.
On Wednesday night about 25 shots were exchanged by police and a man in the car during a chase.
DETECTIVES escort fugitive gunman Robert Michael Brown, 20, to a waiting police car after his capture yesterday. — RADIOPHOTO.
The Sun-Herald ( Sydney ) Sunday 24 October 1954 page 40 of 64
A Worried Young Man Has –
ONE LESS FEAR
By A Staff Correspondent
ROBERT MICHAEL BROWN, the 20-year-old ex-skin diver who sits today in Long Bay Gaol on remand, has at least one thing less to worry him at the moment. He has not got T.B.
AS 300 police, armed with sub-machine guns, turned Sydney into what seemed like Chicago on-Sea the week before last, word spread that Brown was worried about a spot on his lung.
Pleas to surrender went out from his girl friend. Relatives said he needed medical treatment.
He was reported to be extremely worried about the condition of his lungs. This amounted, it was said, almost to a phobia with him.
But last week that fear ended. Under a heavily armed escort of prison officers, Brown was taken from behind the big walls of Long Bay Gaol to the Prince Henry Hospital for an X-ray examination.
This showed that his lungs were clear.
Back in Long Bay the young man spends much of his time in a padded cell under constant observation.
Glass panels give prison officers a view of him, even as he sleeps.
However, he is not isolated in the observation block. Every day about 35 other detained men are his companions, and with them Brown plays handball, cards, and chess.
The only member of his family to see him in the gaol so far has been his father.
Last week, only a few minutes walk from Long Bay’s grim walls, a “Sun Herald” reporter visited Brown’s grandmother. Mrs. Florence Brown.
Her well-kept, modern, little brick home in Anzac Parade, Maroubra, was shuttered against inquisitive eyes.
A doctor’s car stood outside. Mrs. Brown peered through the half-open door and nervously said that her grandson’s alleged escapade had no effect on her apart from the worry and strain.
People had left her alone.
She had not been bothered by the curious.
She obviously intends to stay that way, for she shut the door very firmly as she said: “I don’t think I had better say anything at all now.”
Brown will appear in court on November 1.
He is charged with wounding two policemen with intent to murder them; shooting at two other policemen with intent to murder them; having an unlicensed pistol and a stolen car in his possession; and stealing the trawler Aklavic from The Spit on October 14.
Queensland Times ( Ipswich ) Wednesday 3 November 1954 page 3 of 8
“FIRED AT FROM 10ft., BUT MISSED”
SYDNEY, Nov. 2. – A motor cycle policeman said today that Robert Michael Brown (20) had fired at him from a distance of 10ft., but missed. The policeman, Constable Harry Brennan, was giving evidence in the Central Court in the hearing of seven charges against Brown.
Brown was charged with having attempted to murder four policemen, having carried an unlicensed revolver, possessed a stolen car, and stolen a £5000 trawler.
Police have alleged that Brown tried to murder the police officers when he fired at them during an 80 mile an-hour car chase through Sydney streets on October 13.
Constable Brennan described how he questioned Brown on October 13, at Bondi, about the Holden car he was driving. The car had been reported stolen from Victoria. Brennan said he asked Brown to follow him to the police station.
Brown had agreed, but instead accelerated the car and drove at the police motor cycle. The car collided with the cycle and then drove off.
Brennan said he followed the car, and saw Brown lean out the window and fire a shot in his direction. The chase sped past Bondi Police Station, and a police van carrying three policemen joined in.
Brennan said at one stage during the chase Brown aimed at him from 10ft. away, but the bullet struck the ground between the motor cycle’s wheels. Brennan said his gun jammed, and Brown eluded the police pursuers.
Constable Clive Curtayne said he and another officer arrested Brown on October 16 near the beach at Newport, 11 miles north of Sydney. Brown told them he had jumped overboard to swim to shore from the trawler Aklavic.
Curtayne said Brown told the police he would have shot them if he had not lost his gun in the swim for the shore. The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.
Barrier Daily Truth ( Broken Hill, NSW ) Thursday 4 November 1954 page 2 of 8
GUNMAN FOR TRIAL
Sydney, November 3. — In Central Court today Robert Michael Brown, 20, was committed for trial on seven charges, including four of having attempted to murder policemen.
Mr. Beavers, S.M. refused bail and directed that Brown should stand trial at Central Criminal Court next Monday.
When he was asked if he had anything to say, Brown replied: “I have nothing to say, Your Worship.” During the proceedings Brown stood stiffly erect, with his fists clenched, and stared sternly ahead.
Illawarra Daily Mercury ( Wollongong, NSW ) Wednesday 8 December 1954 PAGE 1 of 12
Date Fixed For Hearing
SYDNEY, Tues. — Robert Michael Brown will stand trial in Central Criminal Court next March.
Brown, 20, of Darley Rd., Manly, is charged with having in October, wounded a police officer and shot at another with intent to prevent arrest, with possessing an unlicensed pistol and with larceny.
Brown is at present in custody in Long Bay gaol.
Mr. Justice Dovey, in Central Criminal Court today, adjourned the trial till the first week in March on the application of solicitor, Mr. P. Roach, who made no application for bail.
The Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 8 December 1954 page 11 of 36
TRIAL OF BROWN
Mr. Justice Dovey yesterday adjourned the trial of Robert Michael Brown until the March sittings of the Central Criminal Court.
Brown, 20, labourer, of Darley Road, Manly, was committed for trial at Central Court of Petty Sessions on November 3, on seven charges.
Indictments for Brown’s trial have not yet been laid, but he was committed on charges of having wounded a sergeant and a constable with intent to murder, having shot at two constables with intent
to murder, having used an unlicensed pistol, having been in possession of a car stolen from Melbourne, and larceny.
Brown’s solicitor. Mr. P. N. Roach, asked Mr. Justice Dovey yesterday to postpone the trial to enable him to interview a number of witnesses and obtain evidence.
Brown was in gaol, and no application would be made for bail, he said. Brown, therefore, would have to remain in gaol until the trial.
The Senior Crown Prosecutor, Mr. W. J. Knight, said the Crown did not object to the trial being stood over, but said the owner of the car, which would be an exhibit in the case, would like to have the car repaired.
Mr. Roach said he had no objection to photographs of the car being used in evidence.
The North Western Courier ( Narrabri, NSW ) Monday 28 March 1955 page 1 of 10
Manhunt Ends IN COURT
The central figure in a dramatic police search last October, Robert Michael Brown, (20) of Darley Rd., Manly, pleaded guilty to seven charges in the Central Criminal Court today.
Two of the charges alleged Brown maliciously wounded two police officers with intent to prevent his lawful apprehension, and two others alleged he shot at two other policemen to prevent lawful apprehension.
Brown also pleaded guilty to having in his possession a stolen car, without lawful excuse, having used a pistol, without a license, and, having stolen a trawler from Mosman.
The hearing is unfinished.
The Canberra Times Tuesday 29 March 1955 page 1 of 6
GUNMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FIRING AT POLICE
Robert Michael Brown, 21, of Darley Road, Manly, pleaded guilty in Central Criminal Court today to four charges of shooting at police.
Detective Inspector Aldridge described the manhunt in Sydney last october in which Brown was alleged to have exchanged a number of shots with police.
The four charges were malicious shooting at Bondi of Sgt. Neville Bernard Townsend and Constables Henry Brennan, Leonard Ryand and Charles Melton, with intent to prevent arrest.
Brown also pleaded guilty to three other charge, relating to the possession of a stolen car, use of a pistol without a licence and the stealing of a trawler.
Inspector Aldridge said that last October a message was received from the Melbourne C.I.B. stating that Brown had left Melbourne in a stolen car with the intention of shooting his wife in Sydney.
After threatening his wife with a gun, she agreed to withdraw the warrant if he did not shoot her, Aldridge said.
Brown was detained at Bondi by Constable Brennan.
Brown swerved his car at Brennan’s motor cycle and drove off.
Brown fired a shot at Constable Brennan and later fired four more shots, all of which struck a police truck.
More shots were fired during the chase, and one struck Sgt. Townsend on a finger, which was later amputated.
The next day Brown boarded the trawler Aklavic and headed out to sea.
Inspector Aldridge said Brown swam ashore at Newport and was arrested.
Aldridge said Brown had told him he intended to shoot himself at Melbourne but he did not have the nerve.
Brown had said that he had never intended to injure the police, but had fired so that “they would get serious and shoot me.”
Mr. Justice MacGuire remanded Brown for medical observation before passing sentence.
The Canberra Times Friday 1 April 1955 page 1 of 8
GUNMAN GAOLED FOR FIVE YEARS
Mr. Justice Maguire today sentenced Robert Michael Brown, 21, to five years’ gaol for shooting and wounding two policemen.
Brown figured in a running gun chase through the Eastern Suburbs last October, in which a police Sergeant had a finger shot off.
Mr. Justice Maguire said he had taken into account Brown’s youth and previous good behaviour.
“You are very, fortunate not to be facing a more serious charge,” he added.
The Argus ( Melbourne ) Friday 22 April 1955 page 5 of 26
Crown appeal on sentence
SYDNEY, Thursday : The Crown will appeal against a five years’ gaol sentence imposed on Robert Michael Brown, 21, frogman, for a number of offences, including maliciously shooting at police.
Mr. Sheahan, Attorney General, said today he had directed that an appeal be lodged.
On March 31 Judge Maguire imposed two sentences of five years, one of three years, two years, and one of six months’ gaol, , on Brown.
The Canberra Times Saturday 8 October 1955 page 4 of 8
Sentence Doubled On Appeal
A former professional frogman who featured in one of the biggest man hunts of recent times, had his gaol sentence doubled to 10 years to-day.
Robert Michael Brown, 21, was sentenced to five years gaol by Mr. Justice Maguire in March.
Brown was convicted of having wounded two policemen with intent to kill.
He was also convicted of stealing a car and a trawler and carrying an unlicensed pistol.
The Supreme Court heard an appeal by the Attorney-General on the ground that the sentence was inadequate.
The Canberra Times Tuesday 22 November 1955 page 5 of 8
Cooma Police In Bravery Awards
Six policemen who took part in gun battles have been awarded bravery medals by the Queen, the Governor, Sir John Northcoft, announced to-day.
Constable Henry Brennan (George Medal), Sergeant Neville Townsend, Constable Leonard Eyan and Charles John Melton (British Empire Medals) for their part in the capture of Robert Michael Brown in October, 1954.
Sergeant Alfred Edmund Frederick Chapman and Constable William Alexander Graham (British Empire Medals), who shot dead Canadian migrant Harry Edgar Rymal, in a gun duel at Cooma in May this year.
In the Cooma gun battle, Rymal was shot by Constable Graham, as he was about to shoot Sergeant Chapman at almost point blank range.
Rymal and the police exchanged 10 shots at a range of less than 20ft. during the fight.
Earlier Rymal had dragged a woman acquaintance from a Cooma hotel and shot her in the thigh as she lay in a shop doorway.
The George Medal was granted to Henry Brennan on the 22 November 1955 as a result of apprehending an armed man during a shootout whilst pursuing the offender(s) on his motor cycle.
On the 8 June 1988, Henry was granted the National Medal.
May Henry forever Rest In Peace