– If Jack “Sailor” Manley had managed to find his sea legs, then perhaps a legend of policing would never have been created.
They buried him the other day after he finally died, aged 95, remembered as a copper who could shoot, box, sing, track a robber through the bush and hold his own in any pickled quail egg eating competition you cared to organise.
He fought crocs and crooks and locked up safe-breakers and cattle rustlers in equal measure, while always showing compassion for the down and out.
When he retired he was Victoria’s longest-serving detective with what is believed to be the most commendations ever awarded.
For years around the Warrnambool district he was the lone detective and his word was law – so much so that when he spotted his own son Terry on the street, hanging around with other teenagers with too much time on their hands and brylcream in their hair, he simply wound down the window and yelled, “Get home and chop the wood.”
Soon it sounded like a country axemen’s picnic as they all scurried off to attack the family woodpile.
Jack joined the navy in 1933 as a 16-year-old, but after four years of chronic seasickness on destroyers and frigates he was forced to look for a land-based career.
As Australia was slowly recovering from the Great Depression, Manley spent more than a year scratching out a living as a bushie – learning skills he would later use as a country lawman.
He worked with a blacksmith in Tasmania and developed a powerful build, partially from rowing with his father, Marmaduke,around the Great Lake trolling for trout.
He trapped possums for their pelts and sold kangaroo meat for about 30c a kilo, before moving to Victoria where he cleared scrub around Kinglake.
History shows that some of the best police come from depression eras, when the lure of secure government employment becomes the gold standard.
In 1938 he decided to become a copper and wasn’t too concerned where – applying to join the New Guinea, Northern Territory and Victoria police.
He was accepted in Victoria and soon became Constable 9311. To put that in perspective, a group of recruits at the Police Academy were sworn in this week with one allocated the number 40,000.
Within two years he was appointed a detective and was an original member of the feared Consorting Squad that dealt with the major hoods of the day in a most robust fashion.
Some would challenge Jack to put his badge away and yo toe-to-toe – foolish because the policeman was an accomplished middleweight boxer with a strong chin and wicked left hook.
This won him respect from some and a permanent grudge from others. It was rumoured that one crook offered £1000 for any man who would put a Molotov cocktail through the window of the policeman’s home.


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

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