[Passenger list, "KOOMBANA" 37, compiled 02 April 1912, Adelaide Steamship Company. Noel Butlin Archives Centre, Australian National University, 0186/N46/634]

Fremantle-Broome Main Rev. Organizer of the North West Presbyterian mission

[Passenger list, "KOOMBANA" 37, compiled 12 April 1912, Adelaide Steamship Company. provided to the author by the late Malcolm Barker]

List of passengers known to have been bound for Broome.

From Fremantle

...

Main R.W. A Surveyor proceeding to select new site for

Nor-West Presbyterian Mission, refer Dudley

Ward, W.A. Safe Deposit, Perth. Son of late

Rev. R.W. Main.

...

["The Passengers", The West Australian, Wednesday 03 April 1912, page 7]

FOR BROOME.

Saloon.

...

Rev. R. W. Main.

...

["Relatives On The Goldfields", The Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA), Tuesday 02 April 1912, page 32]

RELATIVES ON THE GOLDFIELDS

ANXIOUS INQUIRIES.

...

It was reported in Kalgoorlie yesterday that Mr. Main, one of the passengers aboard the Koombana, was at one time a prominent man in this town. He was a partner for some years of Mr. Binder, with whom he carried on an assaying business in the Exchange Buildings, Hannan-street. Several sisters of Mr. Main reside in West Perth.

["The Lost Koombana", The Register (Adelaide, SA), Friday 05 April 1912, page 5]

...

Some of the Missing Passengers.

The Mr. Main, of the Presbyterian Mission, who was one of the Broome passengers, is probably (says the Rev. W. Gray, the South Australian home mission organizer) Mr. Robert Main, son of the late Rev. W. F. Main, a former minister of St. Giles's Church, Norwood. He was a member of a commission appointed to investigate a proposal for the establishment of an aboriginal mission at Walcott Inlet. Two of his sisters, Miss Lillian and Miss Daisy Isabel Main, were formerly students at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, and they are among the leading musical people in Western Australia.

...

["Personal", The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 14]

...

The passenger list of the steamer Koombana shows that on her last voyage there was on board a Presbyterian minister named Main. This is believed to be Mr. R. W. Main, a son of the Rev. W. F. Main, who was for some time in charge of St. Giles' Presbyterian Church, Norwood. Mr. Main was about 40 years old. He was educated in Victoria, and came to South Australia about 20 years ago. He was for some time in the Union Bank in Adelaide, and was transferred to Perth about ten years ago. While his father was at Norwood, Mr. Main interested himself in the organisations associated with St. Giles' Church, in connection with which he did very useful work. He had latterly been appointed a missioner by the Presbyterian Church in Western Australia.

...

[Bailey, John, 2001, The White Divers of Broome, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, Chapter 9]

...

Awaited by Constable Fletcher, policeman and would-be Presbyterian missionary...

"While the people of Broome had spent anxious hours waiting for news of the Koombana, a police constable was stabbed to death on the verandah of the Roebuck Bay Hotel. The victim was Constable Fletcher who, after twenty years in the force, had taken temporary leave of absence to devote himself to the work of the Presbyterian Church. This was the same Constable Fletcher who in 1905 had given evidence to the Roth Royal Commission that whenever he saw crewmen coming ashore from the pearling luggers, he would go down to the camps and put the Aboriginal women in chains for the night. He had been waiting in Broome for the past week to meet the Reverend Main, who was journeying by sea on the Koombana from Perth. The two had planned to then sail to Cockburn Sound to select a site for the establishment of a mission. When the Koombana failed to arrive, Fletcher had spent many hours with the local congregation praying for the safe deliverance of the Reverend Main and all on board.On Saturday night Fletcher was working late on the mission boat, moored opposite Dampier Terrace, with Hayi Said bin Abbas, who was a member of the crew. About midnight, as he was carrying supplies stored at the Roebuck Bay Hotel to the vessel opposite, he noticed a man and a woman seated in the dark on the verandah, carrying on a whispered conversation. They were John Freeman, a barman at the Pearlers' Rest Hotel further down the road in Dampier Terrace, and Helen Fimister, a barmaid at the same hotel. At the end of their shift at the Pearlers' Rest they had walked to the verandah at the hotel, followed by Thomas Bilheeba, a Manilaman who regarded Miss Fimister as his woman. Fimister told Bilheeba he wasn't wanted. When this didn't work, Freeman lost his temper and attempted to push Bilheeba into the street, but Bilheeba clung to the verandah post and the two men swung round on it until Freeman, deciding to end it quickly, hit Bilheeba in the face. At that Freeman found him self attacked by several Manilamen.

Fletcher, walking past, put his parcels down on the darkened verandah and joined the fray. What happened next was subsequently the subject of confused and conflicting testimony at the inquest. Who was carrying the knife remained unclear, but it ended up in Fletcher's throat. He broke free, clutching his neck as blood poured through his fingers and down his chest. He staggered down the stairs into a horse cab waiting in Dampier Terrace and was rushed to the hospital. He lingered on through Sunday and died at six on Monday morning.

["No News of the Koombana", The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), Sunday 31 March 1912, page 1]

...

AMENDMENTS TO PASSENGER LIST

The following are amendments to Koombana's passenger list, published in another column:- W. Hereford to read W. Hurford; F. Rustle to read Corporal Buttle; H. S. Taylor to read A. S. Taylor, these being passengers for Derby; Mrs. and Miss Gilliam for Broome, to read Mrs. and Miss Gilliam, who were booked on behalf of the Gaol Department; and Rev. Maine to read Mr. R. W. Main.

...

["Mr. R. W. Main", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 06 April 1912, page 24]

[photograph]

["The Presbyterian Mission", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 18 May 1912, page 21-22]

...

Wednesday's Proceedings.

...

Foreign and Aborigines' Mission.

The Foreign and Aborigines' Committee's report was read by the convener, Rev. W. F. Turton. It stated, inter alia, that at a pro re nata meeting of the Assembly held on November 28, 1911, the committee were authorised (in view of the dangers and difficulties incident to the navigation of Walcott Inlet) to employ men and means to make further search for a suitable mission site, 250 being made available for the purpose. Steps were immediately taken to ascertain the suitability or otherwise of Cove Bay. On January 5 last the services of Constable Fletcher were enlisted as guide to the exploring party, including the missionary, Mr. R. H. Wilson. On February 21 the committee deemed it advisable to recall Mr. Wilson for purposes of consultation, and interviews with him took place in March. Meanwhile the committee felt that it was essential that the prosecution of a search for a site should be proceeded with, and to this end appointed Mr. R. W. Main as its representative to proceed to Broome and, with Constable Fletcher, explore the sites already agreed upon. Mr. Main sailed from Fremantle on March 12 on the Koombana, and went down with her. Almost at the same time Constable Fletcher was killed in Broome. The committee on April 4 asked the Rev. F. W. Rolland to take charge of the boat and mission property pending the arrival of the missionary, Mr. R. H. Wilson, who was instructed to obtain the help of Mr. Hadley, of Sunday Island, to carry on the work of exploration. On April 6 the Rev. Mr. Rolland reported that two men of good repute were anxious to engage the mission schooner to travel over country the Church wished to explore, offering to pay all expenses and carry the missionary with them. In pursuance of this arrangement Mr. R. H. Wilson left Fremantle by the s.s. Gorgon on April 23 to join the party.

...

AB notes:

05 jan 1912: fletcher engaged to guide exploring party, to choose site of new mission

when missionary Wilson was recalled (why?)

committee resolves to send R. W. Main to work with Fletcher, checking out some sites already agreed upon

["The Broome Murder", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 11 May 1912, page 22]

THE BROOME MURDER.

FOUR MALAYS COMMITTED FOR TRIAL.

Broome, May 7.

The inquest concerning the cause of death of Constable Fletcher on April 1 was concluded, yesterday. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against two of the men in custody and a verdict against two others of being accessories after the fact, and they were committed for trial. Against the fifth man, there was no evidence, and he was released from custody. Three of the four accused are employed by Mr. Patrick Percy, two on his schooner, and one on a lugger.

The following is the jury's verdict:--"We find, that on April 1, 1912, Bertram Henry Fletcher came to his death while engaged in a row with Thomas Bilehba, Cundido Colestrom, Eyjap Bin Tahir, and Omat Bin Akamat, and we return a verdict of wilful murder against the first two and of being accessories after the fact against the last We do not think that there is any evidence to implicate the fifth man, Hadji Said Bin Abbas, in the employ of the deceased for the Presbyterian Mission, whither the deceased was bound on the arrival of Mr. Main, lost on the Koombana, to establish headquarters for the mission at Cockburn Sound."

...

["Announcements", The Western Mail (Perth, WA), Saturday 27 April 1912, page 23]

...

DEATHS.

...

MAIN.--Lost in the wreck of the s.s. Koombana

on March 21, 1912. Robert William, youngest son of he late Rev. W. F. Main, of Adelaide, S.A., and Mrs. Main, Outram-street. West Perth, and brother of Mrs. Dudley Ward and Mrs. G. M. Griffiths.

...

["Deaths", The West Australian, Monday 22 April 1912, page 1]

...

MAIN.-Lost in the wreck of the s.s. Koombana, March 21, 1912. Robert William, youngest son of the late Rev. W. F. Main, of Adelaide, S.A., and Mrs. Main, Outram-street, West Perth, and brother of Mrs. Dudley Ward and Mrs. G. M. Griffiths.

...