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Tom Edwards was the only person who died as a result of violence in the riot on the Fremantle wharf on Sunday 4 May 1919, tho many were injured. He was killed (tho not instantly) by a blow to the head from a police rifle-butt or baton.
There was a confrontation between members of the Lumpers Union led by Bill Renton, and police brought personally to Fremantle by the Premier, Hal Colebatch, the lumpers having refused to allow strike-breakers to unload a particular ship, the SS Dimboola. The ship was in quarantine, having influenza on board. Renton had been brought down by police and Tom Edwards was struck in the act of going to his assistance.
At the inquest, the Coroner directed the jury to bring in a verdict of accidental death, his view being that the police were doing their duty. There was no attempt to identify the individual officer who struck the blow.
Edwards's funeral procession, led by Bill Renton, was the largest ever seen in Fremantle, stretching all the way from the Trades Hall building on Marine Parade to the Fremantle Cemetery in Carrington St. Photos of Tom Edwards' grave, and that of Bill Renton, may be found on the graves page on this site.
There is a fountain constructed by sculptor Pietro Porcelli as a memorial to 'Comrade Tom Edwards, Working Class Martyr', standing in St Johns Square in central Fremantle near the Town Hall. >
A long account of The Fremantle Wharf Crisis of 1919 was published in 1920 by the Westralian Worker (ed. J. Curtin) and is available on line. It includes the list of official mourners among whom are A. E. Pryce representing the Fremantle Workers Club, and W. Roche as Secretary of the Fremantle Tally Clerks Union (who would be William Roche the FWC Secretary who stole Club funds in 1923).
BURIAL Of MR. TOM EDWARDS
MR. WALKER'S ADDRESS.
After the Rev. F. T. Bowen had concluded the burial rites of the Church of England on the remains of the late Mr. Thomas Edwards at the Fremantle Cemetery yesterday afternoon, Mr. Thomas Walker, M.LA., mounted a small platform at the head of the grave, which was draped with the Australian Flag.
Mr. Walker said: Friends. This is a sad occasion to me, as it is to you, to 'be here to bid a long farewell to a fallen brother — a brother fallen, at (principle, and for his fellow men. It is not a time when we should raise bitter feelings, when we stand by the graveside in the presence of the bereaved — it is our duty to think but kindly of the departed, and to give nothing but sympathy to those who may survive. And yet I venture to think there is scarcely one here in the fulness of life but admits that between us and the barren and cold heap of eternity we feel a spirit of human comfort that in the very midst of life, in the service of his friends, in the service of humanity, Tom Edwards should go to his last long dreamless sleep. We feel there is engraved in the hearts of all a touch that will not be buried with him. I have been informed that the deceased was a man who loved has home, and was in his home beloved. It was not only the love he gave to his wife and family that endeared him to us all, not only the warmth of a large heart and the support he gave to his comrades, but, above all, he was a good citizen. His large heart beat with sympathy for the homes of those that were breadless, with a great desire for the betterment of those who had suffered so long in apparently hopeless despair. We part with him, true, but not with his spirit.
[very long list omitted, which included the names of W. Roche as secretary of the Fremantle Tally Clerks Union, and A. E. Pryce as secretary of the Fremantle Workers Club]
The Daily News [Perth], 10 May 1919: 3
Very poor reproduction of a photograph of some of the very large crowd at the funeral of Tom Edwards
LUMPERS V. POLICE
Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club Inc.
SFFC, Fremantle Oval
PO Box 1623 Fremantle 6959