Lillian Armfield

Trailblazing Australian policewoman

Lillian Armfield was a trailblazing Australian police officer who played a pivotal role in fighting crime in Sydney during the early 20th century. Born in New South Wales in 1884, Armfield was one of the first female police officers in Australia.

Armfield began her career in law enforcement in 1915, when she joined the New South Wales Police Force as a Special Constable. She was not given a uniform, gun or badge. She quickly proved herself to be an effective and dedicated officer, and was soon promoted to the rank of Constable.

As a police officer, Armfield was known for her tireless work ethic and her commitment to fighting crime. She was involved in a range of high-profile cases, including the arrest of notorious criminals like Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh.

Armfield’s greatest contribution to law enforcement was her work in the area of forensic science. She was a pioneer in the field of forensic photography, and was one of the first police officers in Australia to use photography as a tool for crime scene investigation.

Armfield was also instrumental in the establishment of the Criminal Investigation Branch, a specialized unit of the New South Wales Police Force that focused on investigating serious and organized crime.

Despite facing significant challenges and discrimination as a female police officer in a male-dominated profession, Armfield was respected and admired by her colleagues and by the public. She retired from the police force in 1949, after more than three decades of dedicated service.

Today, Lillian Armfield is remembered as a pioneering and trailblazing figure in Australian law enforcement. Her legacy lives on in the many women who have followed in her footsteps, and in the ongoing fight against crime and injustice.

Sidney Kelly

“Squizzy” Taylor The King of Melboure’s Underworld

Joseph Theodore Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor (29 June 1888 – 27 October 1927) was an Australian gangster from Melbourne. He appeared repeatedly and sometimes prominently in Melbourne news media because of suspicions, formal accusations and some convictions related to a 1919 gang war, to his absconding from bail and hiding from the police in 1921–22, and to his involvement in a robbery where a bank manager was murdered in 1923.

Taylor enjoyed a fearsome reputation in 1920s Melbourne. A “spiv“, described as the Australian equivalent of the ‘American bootleggers’, his crimes ranged from pickpocketing, assault and shopbreaking to armed robbery and murder. He also derived income from sly-grog selling, two-up schools, illegal bookmaking, extortion, prostitution and, in his later years, is believed by some to have moved into cocaine dealing.

Fatal gunfight

John “Snowy” Cutmore

Taylor was wounded in a gunfight with a rival gangster, John “Snowy” Cutmore, at a house in Barkly Street, Carlton, and died at St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, on 27 October 1927. Cutmore, a standover man associated with the Razor Gang of Sydney, was also fatally wounded. Cutmore was an old foe of Taylor’s. The animosity dated back to the Fitzroy Vendetta in 1919 when Cutmore was a member of the rival Fitzroy gang. Well known to the police as a violent criminal, Cutmore had a string of convictions in Victoria and NSW for assault, stealing and resisting arrest. In 1927 Cutmore was living in Sydney, then the scene of a ‘razor gang war’ between opposing factions of the Sydney underworld. Cutmore joined standover man Norman Bruhn, also originally from Melbourne, in a notorious razor gang who stole the illicit gains of their underworld peers, knowing their crimes would never be reported to the police. Bruhn was murdered in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst in June 1927.

Barney Dalton

Barney Dalton RIP

Bernard Hugh Dalton (1891 – 9 November 1929) was an Australian pioneer rugby league player In the Australian competition – the New South Wales Rugby League. He was born in 1891 in Sydney.

Rugby league career

winger, Barney Dalton played for the Eastern Suburbs club side in the years (1910–12) and (1914–15) as a Winger. He was a member of Eastern Suburbs first premiership winning side that defeated Glebe in the final of the competition in 1911, and backed up the following season in 1912 as Easts took their second title.

The winger was also a member of the Easts‘ sides that won City Cups in 1914 and 1915. Dalton is recognised as the 43rd player to join the Eastern Suburbs club, playing 61 first grade games and scoring 16 tries.

His brother William Dalton also played with him at Eastern Suburbs.[1]

Criminal career

Barney Dalton became a gangland figure, and was reportedly mixed up with some of Sydney‘s most dangerous criminals in the 1920s. He was a member of Kate Leigh‘s razor gang during the Sydney gang wars that also involved Tilly Devine and Phil Jeffs.

Death

Dalton was shot dead outside the Strand Hotel, on the corner of Crown Street and William Street, East Sydney on 9 November 1929 by notorious criminal Frank Green. He was 38 years of age.

His funeral was held at St Mary’s Cathedral on 12 November 1929, and attended by 200 mourners. He was buried at Botany Catholic Cemetery, now known as Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

Dulcie Markham

The Angel of Death

Early life

Dulcie May Markham was born in the inner city Sydney suburb of Surry Hills on 27 February 1914 to John Markham and Florence Millicent née Parker.

She became one of Australia’s most notorious prostitutes and underworld figures. She became a prostitute when she was 15. and Sydney’s most extravagant gangster’s moll by the time she was 18. She was attracted to, and associated with, many major criminals of the era.

A Life of Crime

On 13 May 1931, in William Street, Sydney, stall keeper Alfred Dillon and 21-year-old gunman Cecil “Scotty” McCormack came to blows over the attentions of Markham and in the resultant melee, Dillon stabbed McCormack to death. She was present at the time. Markham and McCormack were planning to marry.

Her first marriage was to a sideshow worker and small-time mobster Frank Bowen in Brisbane on 4 March 1936. Two months later, aged 21, Markham (as Bowen) was in court accused of falsifying a telegram on behalf of her new husband.

By 1936, Markham was involved with Guido Caletti, another notorious Sydney gunman, the then-husband of Nellie Cameron, another prominent Sydney sex worker of that period. Caletti was shot dead in August 1939 in Sydney at a party he attended with Markham. Reportedly, Markham was grief-stricken at his funeral.

By December 1937, Markham had shifted to Melbourne and now had gunman Arthur Taplin as her pimp and lover. Taplin was subsequently shot dead later that year.

By mid-1940, the 24-year-old ‘prettiest and most notorious woman in the Australian underworld’ was romantically involved with 26-year-old Fred Erick James ‘Paddles’ Anderson, and once divorced, was going to marry him (being still married to Bowen); where she was also nicknamed the ‘Hoodoo Girl’ given of three previous lovers, one had been stabbed, and two shot. In the same year her first husband, Frank Bowen, was shot and killed in Kings Cross.

In 1943, Markham relocated to Queensland‘s Gold Coast to take advantage of the influx of American GIs. When picked up for vagrancy by local police,[5] ‘Pretty Dulcie’ protested that she lived with her current de facto husband, taxi-driver (ames Arthur Williams, and that while he gave her money and groceries, she was not involved in the local sex industry at that time, and was not aware of Williams’ involvement in the sly-grog or bootleg alcohol distribution networks that flouted wartime beer and spirits rationing mandates. She also used the pseudonyms and aliases: “Dulcie Williams”, “Dulcie Bowen”, “Tosca de Marquis”, “Mary Eugene”, and “Tosca de Merene” during that period. In September 1945, her then-boyfriend and leading Melbourne criminal Leslie Walkerden, was shot dead in Richmond, Victoria.

Markham had outlived most of her criminal contemporaries from Sydney’s tempestuous razor gang era. Markham’s funeral was held at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Bondi and the eulogy was given by Detective Frank “Bumper” Farrell. She was cremated at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

In 2009, Markham was one of the figures from that era featured in an exhibition about that era at Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum, entitled “Femmes Fatales: The Female Criminal.

Norman Bruhn

Norman Bruhn The Upstart

(2 June 1894 – 23 June 1927) was a notorious and violent Australian dockworker, armed robber and standover man with links to the criminal underworld in both Melbourne and Sydney. In September 1926 Bruhn relocated with his family from Melbourne to Sydney, where he attained a brief ascendancy by targeting the underworld vice trade, using violence and intimidation against cocaine traffickers, prostitutes and thieves. Bruhn’s criminal gang used the straight razor as a weapon of terror and are attributed as Australia’s first ‘razor gang‘, at the beginning of a period of gang violence in Sydney in the late-1920s known as the ‘razor gang wars’. His period of domination of the inner-city vice economy was opposed by the more established criminal networks in Sydney. In June 1927 Bruhn was shot twice in the abdomen in an inner-city laneway in Darlinghurst. He died in Sydney Hospital the following morning, refusing to name his assailant.

Bruhn’s life and times were portrayed in the television series on the Nine television network in Australia, Underbelly: Razor.[1]

Frank Green

Frank Green Obituary

Obituary (1905–1956)

Francis (Frank) Green, about 55, was stabbed to death shortly before midnight last night in his home in Cooper Street, Paddington.

Police found him sitting slumped over a table with a knife driven into his chest near the collar-bone.

They said he was once one of Sydney’s best known “standover” men but had lived quietly in recent years.

They said that over the years he had been knifed and shot several times.

He was a leader of the razor gangs and was once charged with murder.

Green occupied a comfortable ground floor flat with his wife in Cooper Street.

Police said he was stabbed while sitting down. He slumped forward over the table with his head on his arms.

A carving knife with a blade nearly a foot long had been plunged into his heart.

The table was set with glasses and bottled beer and biscuits.

A man and a woman were in the flat.

Detective-Sergeant J. Bateman ordered that no one should touch the body until scientific experts from the C.I.B. and a police doctor arrived.

Green, in the late twenties and early thirties, was a leader in Sydney’s underworld.

He was a gunman who was feared even by desperate criminals.

One of his main activities was leadership of razor gangs which were broken up by the late Commissioner of Police (Mr. J. MacKay).

Police said he had extorted money by “standover” methods from racketeers, gambling houses and houses of ill-fame.

He had been shot several times, and there were two or three bullets in his body which doctors left there because they feared their removal could cause his death.

Jim Devine

Tilly Devine’s husband Big Jim

Tilly Devine’s husband was named James Edward “Jim” Devine, who was a prominent figure in the Sydney underworld during the early 20th century. Jim Devine was involved in organized crime, particularly in the illegal sale of alcohol during the Prohibition era, and was a key figure in Tilly’s criminal empire.

Jim and Tilly met in the 1920s and were soon married. They had a volatile relationship, marked by infidelity and violence, but they remained together for many years. Jim was known for his quick temper and his willingness to use violence to get what he wanted.

Jim Devine was also heavily involved in the feud between Tilly and her rival Kate Leigh. He was one of Tilly’s closest associates and played a key role in the violent attacks and counterattacks that characterized the feud.

However, Jim Devine’s criminal activities eventually caught up with him. In 1934, he was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shooting of rival gangster Norman Bruhn. He was acquitted of the murder charge, but was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Jim Devine served his sentence in Long Bay Correctional Centre in Sydney and was released in 1949. He lived out the rest of his life in relative obscurity, and died in 1965 at the age of 72.

Today, Jim Devine is remembered as a key figure in the Sydney underworld of the early 20th century, and as a man whose life was marked by violence and criminality. His story serves as a reminder of the dark side of organized crime and the high price that is often paid for a life of greed and corruption.

Tilly Divine

Tilly Devine

Tilly Devine, also known as Matilda Mary Twiss, was a notorious Australian underworld figure in the early 20th century. Born in England in 1900, she emigrated to Australia with her family as a child.

Devine became involved in prostitution at a young age and eventually rose to become one of the most successful brothel madams in Sydney. She also became involved in organized crime, particularly in the illegal sale of alcohol during Prohibition.

Devine’s criminal activities brought her into conflict with rival gangsters, including Kate Leigh. The two women engaged in a bitter and violent feud that lasted for years, with both sides using hired thugs to attack each other’s businesses and homes.

Despite her criminal activities, Devine was a prominent figure in Sydney’s social scene. She dressed in the latest fashions and was often seen in the company of wealthy and influential men.

Devine’s criminal empire began to unravel in the 1930s, when she was arrested and charged with a variety of offenses, including assault, prostitution, and illegal gambling. She spent several years in prison before being released in 1939.

Devine died in 1970, having outlived many of her rivals and outlasted the era of Prohibition and organized crime in which she had thrived. Today, she is remembered as one of Australia’s most infamous underworld figures.

Chris guiding Razorhurst Walking Tour e-news March

Razorhurst True Crime Walking Tour

Our 200th walking tour set out at 3 pm Saturday, 11 March, led by Jo, our professional storyteller guide. Earlier, she had delivered a talk at WEA about strange children of British royal families. She started at William the Conquer. The sequel could be unnerving!

Since November 2020, over 2,000 have walked the territory of Razorhurst, the world of Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh and their waring razor gangs.

Book a 2-hour tour if you haven’t already explored this living part of Sydney’s wild and sometimes frightening history; most of these places still exist.

The photo is our guide, Chris, sharing his tales with a happy group of true crime investigators.

Kate and Tilly

THE FALL OF THE RAZOR GALS

Both Kate and Tilly live high.. Parties, charities, jewels, and furs not to mention fines and bribes and the rising costs of henchmen cut into their wealth. The newspapers estimate Tilly has the most dough and both make ten times what the prime minister does. The 50’s swing around and in true Al Capone style so does the taxman. First Kate gets hit, but she can’t pay. The government sues and panicking, her friends who have lent to her sue her too. She declares bankruptcy in 1954 faces humiliation in court. In 1955 the 6 O’clock swill finally ends and with it Kate Leigh’s Empire. She is left renting out vegetable and fruit carts. Tilly fairs better with one empty house and one seedy brothel to her name.

Arthritic and destitute Kate Leigh comes off society’s radar. Living with past regrets and complaints about how she had been given a raw deal in life she suffers a stroke early in 1964 and slips into a coma. Her dogged old ticker keeps pounding away even though her brain is dead. She dies the following Tuesday. Some reports say she chokes on her own cursed tongue. Kate gets a grand farewell party.

Tilly isn’t so lucky, outliving everyone and outliving her era new crime lords Abe Saffron and Joe Borg are making names for themselves. In 1968 Borg is blown up in a car bombing in Bondi. Tilly faces threats when another bomb comes her way, possibility by the same killers. So she up and quits the crime business for good helped along by a repeal of the law that set her up in the first place. Regrets set in along with stomach cancer. In November 1970 she has a stroke and dies.

Tilly and Kate’s successors bibliography:

1950s: THE RISE OF MR SIN [Abe Saffron]

1990s: THE RISE OF THE GOLDEN BOY [John Ibrahim]

Tilly Deine | Kate Leigh |Nelie Cameron

Tilly Devine ran dozens of brothels and was known as Queen of the Bordellos.

Kate Leigh ran scores of Sly Grog shops offering liquor, gambling, and cocaine, she was known as the Snow Queen.

Nellie Cameron was Tilly’s star prostitute and was escorted by many notorious gangsters. Most died, so she was known as the Angel of Death.