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In the line of duty: Ipswich remembers Constable’s sacrifice 125 years on

Ipswich is home to Queensland’s only public memorial to a police officer. It Is in Browns Park in honour of Constable James Sangster who lost his life in the line of duty in 1893. This is his story.

When Constable James Sangster arrived at the banks of the river at Kholo on 4 February, 1893 the mighty Bremer was raging.

The 26-year-old, who hailed from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, arrived just in time to see the swirling torrent lift up and sweep away the Jackson family home.

Inside was Mrs Jackson’s eldest daughter, Mary, and farm worker John Rowe.

They were the only two left in the house after, earlier in the morning, Mrs Jackson and five of her children got into a small boat for higher ground.

The voyage was not a successful one with the boat hitting an underwater snag and upturning, drowning four of the children and stranding Mary and John in the house.

Faced with few options and as the swollen river swept the house away, Mary and John were able to climb a tree. Sangster, a gallant officer, watched from the river bank and although he could not swim he knew he had to do what he could to save them.

Attempts to rescue the stranded pair proved fruitless, and ultimately fatal when a boat Sangster was in overturned.

He was swept down river before managing to cling to a sapling. Onlookers watched in horror, unable to do anything to save the brave constable who, despite clinging to the sapling for several hours, was eventually swept downstream, never to be seen again.

Mary Jackson and John Rowe were eventually rescued from the tree 22 hours later when the waters had dropped.

The people of Ipswich erected a memorial in honour of Constable Sangster in Browns Park at North Ipswich.

This year marks 125 years since Constable Sangster lost his life in the line of duty.

His story was retold and his memory honoured on Friday when Ipswich police gathered at Browns Park to mark Police Remembrance Day.

Police Remembrance Day is on 29 September.

Constable James Sangster.

The memorial to in Browns Park, North Ipswich.

Ipswich district police officers march on Friday to Browns Park for a Police Remembrance Day service.

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