Constable William Eiffe memorial unveiled by Oxley police at Bendemeer Cemetery

Memorial service: Oxley Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd lays a wreath at the unveiling of the plaque at the Bendemeer cemetery. Photos: Breanna Chillingworth
Memorial service: Oxley Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd lays a wreath at the unveiling of the plaque at the Bendemeer cemetery. Photos: Breanna Chillingworth

A PERMANENT memorial to recognise a fallen officer has been unveiled near Tamworth on the 150th anniversary of his death.

Constable William Eiffe died from a gunshot wound to the thigh on January 24, 1867, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Bendemeer cemetery.

Oxley police together with Tamworth Regional Council - who helped to construct the memorial – commemorated his career in the force in a service on Tuesday morning.

”It's a great part of the local history to have this recorded and I think it brings some interest in the local cemetery and the history of Bendemeer,” Oxley Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd said.

“And, hopefully for centuries to come, people will be able to come here and look at this and remember what has happened in our past.”

The Singleton-based officer was on a police escort on the night before his death when he was accidentally shot in the leg.

“On the evening of Wednesday the 23rd of January, 1867, there was a gold escort moving through the Moonbi Ranges, approximately seven miles from Bendemeer,” Oxley Sergeant Josh McKenzie said.

“A rain show had caused members of the escort to retreat into the carriage, another member of the escort had handed his rifle to Constable Eiffe, he rested the rifle across his thighs with the butt resting against the side of the coach.

Paying tribute: Senior Oxley police, along with officers from Kootingal, Walcha, Nowendoc and Tamworth, pictured with Tamworth councillor Phil Betts.

Paying tribute: Senior Oxley police, along with officers from Kootingal, Walcha, Nowendoc and Tamworth, pictured with Tamworth councillor Phil Betts.

“It is thought that the shaking and bouncing of the carriage has caused the rifle to accidentally discharge, shooting Constable Eiffe in the thigh.”

Constable Eiffe was left at Shepherds Hut nearby and the coach returned to Tamworth.

“Dr Scott of Tamworth was taken to the hut but unfortunately Constable William Eiffe died from the effects of the gunshot wound at noon on the 24th of January, 1867.”

Acting Superintendent Budd said the service was a reminder of how far the force had come in 150 years.

It is thought that the shaking and bouncing of the carriage has caused the rifle to accidentally discharge.

Sergeant Josh McKenzie

“One of the things that would be a tragedy today is for this to occur and his family to not be supported,” he said. “In the days of Constable William Eiffe, his wife and four children would have been destitute without the support we have today and we should be grateful for that.”