Kempsey Show history | Journalist charged by bull

It was a tough day at the office for journalist Harry Noonan covering the Kempsey Show in 1947.

He was on location for the local paper and was attempting to speak with an injured man in the centre of the ring who had been thrown from a bull.

Ambulance officer William (Bill) Charles Menger was tending to the thrown rider at the time the bull charged at them.

Superintendent Menger dived to safety but the 60-year-old journalist attempted to get up and was struck in the back of the neck.

The wound required 60 stitches.

It was only recently – 60 years later – that William Menger’s son Colin Menger found out about his father’s involvement in the goring incident.  Before this he had compiled a history of his father’s service.

In the devastating 1949 flood, the building formerly occupied by the Ambulance Service was washed off its foundations, coming to rest in the centre of Belgrave Street. Fortunately the service had relocated to higher ground the previous year.

In the devastating 1949 flood, the building formerly occupied by the Ambulance Service was washed off its foundations, coming to rest in the centre of Belgrave Street. Fortunately the service had relocated to higher ground the previous year.

He was inspired to write the history after the untimely death of his father and then, later in life, learning about the hardships his mother faced when the service refused to pay workers’ compensation. 

In 1959 (having left the Kempsey station some years earlier) when rescuing two elderly women in a carnival accident at Coogee, Colin’s father suffered extensive, deep bruising down the right side of his body and spent three months in hospital.

Second station - In 1940, when a suitable building became vacant in Belgrave Street, Kempsey, the service made a move.  In 1949 the building was shifted completely out into the middle of Belgrave Street by a major flood.

Second station - In 1940, when a suitable building became vacant in Belgrave Street, Kempsey, the service made a move. In 1949 the building was shifted completely out into the middle of Belgrave Street by a major flood.

He never fully recovered from the injuries and died on January 14, 1962, aged 48 years, leaving behind his wife Shirley and their four small children Philip, Colin, Neil and Margaret to fend for themselves.

“My mother went from being a middle-class housewife to cleaning toilets.  Mum never said anything about it – she just kind of accepted it.

“I only found out about what happened in 2008 from an uncle.  I was not impressed and wanted to leave a positive record of his service,” Colin, who now lives in Sydney, explains.

“I don't remember much about Kempsey, except those days it was a good place to grow up,” says Colin who went to primary school in West Kempsey and left town at the age of 11 when his father took up a Sydney posting.

The Kempsey Ambulance fleet  in 1954.  Photo: Macleay River Historical Society.

The Kempsey Ambulance fleet in 1954. Photo: Macleay River Historical Society.

Macleay Argus