31 December 2023

60 years on, police community remembers Constable Cyril Howe's heroic sacrifice

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Constable 1st Class Cyril Howe of Oaklands Police

Constable 1st Class Cyril Howe of Oaklands Police. (Inset) The Daily Advertiser article about the shooting incident. Photo: NSW Police.

NSW Police recently marked the 60th anniversary of the tragic loss of Constable First Class Cyril Howe of Oaklands Police Station, which is now part of the Murray River Police District.

On Thursday 19 December 1963, Constable Howe was assisting neighbouring police with a case involving the theft of a chequebook by a 47-year-old man.

Constable Howe located the man travelling along a local road in what was later established to be a stolen car with five young children on board.

Following a pursuit, the man shot and seriously injured Constable Howe while using the children as a human shield, which prevented the officer from effectively returning fire.

Despite being critically wounded, Constable Howe wrote the assailant’s name in his notebook.

Constable Howe died the following day at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.

An inquest into the incident commended Constable Howe’s actions, the coroner noting, “Howe displayed tremendous strength, courage and presence of mind. Considering the shocking wounds he received and the terrible agony he was in, his actions after being shot leave no doubt in my mind that he was one of the bravest policemen ever to wear the Queen’s uniform.”

Constable Howe was posthumously promoted to Sergeant Third Class and awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry.

To commemorate this event, a service was held at the Albury Police Station Conference Room on 20 December.

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The Commander of Murray River Police District, Superintendent Paul Smith, said despite the passage of time, the events of that day served as a reminder to current officers of the dangers police faced.

“Sergeant 3rd Class Cyril Howe displayed extraordinary bravery and fortitude when confronted with an armed and dangerous offender,” said Superintendent Smith.

“He refused to shoot at the offender for fear of striking one of the children and then wrote the offender’s name in his notebook.

“Along with being an exceptional police officer, he was also a father to three young children. It’s terribly sad what happened.”

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