You'll Never Take Me Alive

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"I'm not a criminal. I've been driven to this life... I was held for a month in gaol, an innocent man. While I was away me wife ran away - with a policeman... Then I was arrested for the mail coach robbery and held another month before I was let out on bail. When I came home, I found my house burned down the cattle perished of thirst, left locked in the yards... By Gawd, Mr Norton, it's your mob have driven me to it and, I tell you straight, you'll never take me alive!!" [Ben Hall interviewed by Inspector Norton of the NSW Police in 1863]. Ben Hall was bailing up gold escorts and rich squatters when Ned Kelly was still in short pants, but never killed anyone in an eventful three year career that made him the most notorious and charismatic of all the Australian bushrangers. Young, handsome and a dandy, his harassment of the "squattocracy", his daring raids and mockery of the police (the hated oppressors of the poor selectors) earned him hero status amongst the locals in the Forbes, Young & Bathurst area. So concerned were the authorities at his popularity and their inability to capture him that they passed the Bushranger Act, which allowed any member of the public to shoot him on sight and claim a reward. And on May 24th 1865, just like Ned Kelly, Ben Hall was betrayed by one of his "telegraphs" and cut down by a hail of police bullets.

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