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Another Crasher Kirwan update

February 12, 2011

While writing a post about my great uncle, Richard Frederick “Crasher” Kirwan, I discovered a series of newspaper articles about a court case, in which a Richard Kirwan was on trial for assaulting a woman, the wife of a prisoner of war, on 26 March 1943.

In an update on that story, I related that I had requested a copy of his military service record from the National Archives of Australia, and requested that another record of a 1944 Court Martial be examined to make it available to the public, prior to hopefully ordering a copy of that record.

I recently received notification the his service record has been digitised.

When I examined this record I found the record below.

It appears he absented himself from service without leave, with intent to permanently avoid service, the day after the disturbing events described in the newspaper article.  The Court Martial held at Melbourne, for which I have requested access to the record was a direct result of that desertion.  He was arrested in Melbourne, although the events described in the newspaper articles occurred in Perth.

I am saddened and disturbed by this finding.  I’m further saddened and disturbed by the outcome of the trial and the subsequent trial of his friend for perjury.

An excerpt from page 16 of Richard Kirwan's Service Record

His arrest in Melbourne appears to have led to, or preceded, his being charged and tried in Midland, Western Australia, on the charges relating to the unlawful wounding of the woman, who was at home with her children, the eldest of whom was 11 years old and got involved, trying to protect his mother.

He was acquitted of the charges.  I am now trying to locate a record of the court case, and also hoping I can find out more about the woman, her husband who was a prisoner of war at the time, and his friend who was imprisoned for 12 months.

I was previously not 100% sure that the Richard Kirwan in the court case story was ‘my’ Richard Kirwan.  However the dates seem to confirm that this is the case.  I have wondered how he lived with himself after the events described in the newspaper articles, including the imprisonment of his friend, who had perjured himself to (successfully) get Richard Kirwan off his charges.  It seems incredibly unjust that Richard Kirwan got off relatively lightly, for what appears from the news items to be a vicious and violent attack on a defenceless woman.

I will update again when I learn more.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2011 2:39 am

    My god, what a shattering discovery.

    I am always amazed at the fact that unless one looks like you have, ones family’s past is almost like a dream, something that didn’t really happen; we are so disconnected from it.

    The wealth of evidence you turn up seems astounding to me.

    • Michelle permalink*
      February 13, 2011 10:27 am

      Yes I was horrified when I read the details of the assault – which appears to have been an attempted rape. But I wasn’t 100% sure, as I said that ‘Richard Kirwan’ was the same one – it’s not a common name here, but within my line of the Kirwans – meaning descendants of my ggg grandfather, John Kirwan they are plentiful. It could have been one of any number of second or third cousins. But it wasn’t.
      My grandmother told me he ‘wasn’t a nice man’. She told me a relatively mild story about him to illustrate. She must have known about this.

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