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03 December - Lillian Armfield, was first police detective

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03 December - Lillian Armfield, was first police detective

Unread postby Max ADU » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:42 pm

Australian Birthday Today
3rd December

Lillian May Armfield ISM
(Imperial Service Medal), born 3 December 1884, Mittagong, New South Wales – died 1971, Leichhardt, Sydney,was a pioneering Sydney female police detective and one of the first women to serve in that role.

Her first job was as a nurse at the Callan Park Hospital for the Insane in Callan Park, Sydney.

From insane to criminal
She left nursing role for a pioneering position as a female police detective in the New South Wales State Police in 1915. For over thirty years, Armfield then served as a female police detective, mainly working in the localities of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.

Armfield was not provided with a uniform, or paid for overtime and ancillary expenses as her male colleagues were. Lllian also serving as social worker was a nemesis of female underworld ringleaders like Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh, associated with the razor gang violence of the 1930s.

Despite her valour and dedication, Lillian Armfield was not given adequate recognition during her career as a police professional and was only slowly promoted to becoming a Special Sargeant (Third Class) in 1923, and Special Sargeant (First Class) in 1943.

Lillian was in charge of
all N.S.W. Policewomen until her retirement. For most of her police career.
  • Lillian was the only N.S.W. Policewoman approved to carry a service revolver.
  • In 1946, she received official acclaim for her life's work, receiving the King's Police and Fire Service Medal.
  • Awarded the Imperial Service Medal, ISM in 1949, when she retired from the police service aged sixty five after after 33 years

Lillian Armfield who was never married, died at the Lewisham District Hospital on the 26 August 1971, aged 86, after spending her final years at a Methodist Hostel in Leichhardt, Sydney.

Many of Lillian's old colleagues and friends attended her funeral at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium which included a police guard of honour.

Immortalised after death
Her life story, Rugged Angel - The Amazing Career of Policewoman Lillian Armfield, was published in 1961 and became a best-seller. It was written by Vince Kelly, a noted Sydney journalist.

August 2011 the series Underbelly: Razor included a storyline depicting Lillian Armfield. This part was played by Lucy Wigmore.

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