Trooper

Luke DUNN

YEAR OF DEATH

1845

JURISDICTION

New South Wales

DETAILS OF DEATH

On 12 November, 1845 mounted troopers Corporal Stephen Kirk and Trooper Luke Dunn were riding along the new Wollongong Road through Bottle Forest (now Heathcote). Bushfires were raging in the area and the two troopers were advised by local landowner Mr Nicholson, not to go on due to the danger the fires presented. Ignoring that advice both troopers and an Illawarra publican Mr McCaulay, set out toward the fires. The Sydney Morning Herald of 21 November, 1845 described the events which followed. About an hour after their departure Mr McAulay’s horse came up to the door of Mr Nicholson’s house; McCaulay’s hat was off, he was not holding the reins, and he was much burnt and confused, so that he was only able to request to be lifted off his horse; he said that one of the policemen was burnt. Mr Nicholson most promptly and considerately despatched five or six men to search for, and, if possible, to aid the policemen. After going about three miles they met Luke Dunn crawling along, dreadfully burnt, on his hands and knees, and scarcely able to move. The men carried him back to the house, while others went on to the place where Dunn said he had left the remains of Kirk, burnt and quite dead. His hands were extended upwards as if in the act of praying; both horses were dead. Dunn said that seeing his comrade’s firearms go off, he returned to go after him, and in doing so got to much burnt, otherwise his injuries would have been comparatively trifling. Stephen Kirk was burned to death in the fire, while the gallant and courageous Luke Dunn who, in the greatest of Australian traditions “went back for his mate”, lingered for nine days before he finally succumbed, no doubt in extreme agony. The scene of the incident was present-day Heathcote. At the times of their deaths both troopers were seconded soldiers attached to the Mounted Police Force and were stationed at Campbelltown. Stephen Kirk was aged 32 years and Luke Dunn was aged 33 years.

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National Police Memorial Australia

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