School fete killer is still unnamed

The Ipswich Central State School in Queensland was founded in 1861 and a boy was shot dead there during the school fete in 1912. Back then it was called the Boys’ Central State School (pictured above) and the incident naturally threw a gloom over the whole fete. I told a version of this story on West Bremer Radio.

The head teacher then was Mr. Carl William Herman Reinhold but the killing didn’t seem to affect his career at all. In fact, he ended up being head teacher at Ashgrove, Monkland, South Brisbane, East Brisbane, Herberton as well as Ipswich Central, on his way to becoming one of the highest ranked school inspectors in the state. Reinhold even became a member of parliament.

Head teacher Mr. C.W.H. Reinhold

The outcome of the 1912 fete wasn’t affected either, because the school committee was congratulated for making a healthy profit of £71 6s on the day.

The boy who was fatally shot was eleven-year-old Henry Bowen Anderson or better known as Harry Anderson, and he lived on Brisbane Street in Ipswich.

There were plenty of witnesses who were questioned at the inquiry that followed.

There was the secretary of the school committee George Lobb. He was an engineer in the Railway Department and later divorced his wife because she went insane.

Dr. Edward Elmslie Brown was the doctor who unsuccessfully treated the boy. Today Dr Brown is considered the greatest physician in Ipswich history. It was Dr Brown’s son who as a two-year-old would set world records for air travel between Australia and England.

Then there was Theodore Culman who was conducting a shooting gallery at the fete. It was the kind of gallery with moving metal ducks as targets. It was a gun from that gallery that was used to kill Harry. Culman later became a private investigator in Ipswich. In one of his cases, he investigated a woman who was weak and anaemic until she was cured by the miracle drug known as “Dr. Williams’ Pink Pills”. Afterwards, he caught her misconducting herself with a man other than her husband in the back of a motor car.

Then there were other boys from the school.

There was twelve-year-old Robert Johnson who lived in Syntax Street at Sadliers Crossing. A few years earlier he’d watched his own brother die at a similar age.

Another boy was twelve-year-old Victor Siemon. He lived at One Mile and was standing nearest Harry when he was shot. One of Siemon’s uncles was the mayor of Toowong, and another had been killed by lightning at Sandy Gallup asylum. Siemon’s father had been the star witness in two high-profile legal proceedings in Ipswich. One was into the Great Stink when a foul stench attacked a Salvation Army meeting, and the other was for the conviction of Australia’s youngest forger.

Then there was twelve-year-old Leslie Outridge from Denmark Hill. Outridge admitted that he had fired the last shot before the same rifle was turned on young Harry. Outridge was the son of a magnate of the Australian pearling industry. Two of Outridge’s brothers the following year were sent to Hamilton College in country Victoria. That’s the school that today is reputedly haunted by the Ghost of Mary Esther which might in fact be Outridge’s mother.

Leslie Outridge

Outridge himself was later a survivor of the sinking of the hospital ship Centaur by the Japanese the Second World War. Two hundred and sixty-eight people died in Australia’s worst loss from submarine attack.

No one was ever charged over Harry Anderson’s killing. The story given by the shooting gallery attendant Culman was accepted – and that was that after loading the rifle he was bumped by a boy, and that’s what caused the gun to be fired. The boy who bumped Culman and so caused young Harry’s death was never identified.

Harry isn’t remembered at the Central State School today. There isn’t even a plaque there for him and maybe there should be. His grave is marked by a broken and faded headstone in the Ipswich cemetery.

Ipswich Cemetery

But then there’s Harry’s father Mr. Henry de Burgh Anderson. He was manager of the Ipswich branch of the Australian Joint Stock Bank. I’ll tell you more about him next week, and how he led me to directly connect Ipswich to the most-beloved story in English literature of the 20th century.


Photo credits:
Ipswich Central Boys State School, 1973 – Picture Ipswich.
Mr. C.W.R. Reinhold – Brisbane Courier, 7th September 1928, page 17.
Nurse attending to Lieutenant Colonel Doctor Leslie Outridge – State Library of Victoria.
Henry Bowen Anderson headstone Ipswich Cemetery – uploaded to Find a Grave by Anne here lies.


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