Remembering a brave policeman

A brave officer: Former Senior Sergeant and Victoria Police Medal of Valour winner Royce Davidson died last month at the age of 90. photograph supplied

Zac Standish

Former Senior Sergeant and Victoria Police Valour award winner Royce Davidson died in Sale last month at the age of 90.

An officer renowned for his dedication to the local community, he served at Morwell for more than a decade before transferring to Rosedale where he finished his career in the force.

Working as a Constable at the Morwell Police Station from 1966 to 1970, now retired officer David Grant worked closely with Mr Davidson for four years and said it was deeply saddening to hear of his passing on June 21.

“It was pretty sad really as I had known him for a very long time, I kept in contact with him long after we stopped working together in the late 1960s and it is just very sad to see a man of his calibre gone,” Mr Grant said.

“I organise Morwell Police reunions and I knew he would not come to them because even though he would love to, his health and things restricted him, so it is sad I have not seen him in a while, but I will always regard him as a close friend.”

Mr Davidson is best remembered for the events of Thursday, December 1, 1961 where his bravery was on full display in an incident that nearly cost him is life and won him the prestigious honour of a Victoria Police Valour award.

Mr Grant described how the night transpired and the inspirational work of Mr Davidson, then a First Constable, as he confronted an armed offender.

“It was before I joined the police force, but what happened was he was working night shift by himself, on foot with no radio and he went down to a florist shop in Morwell and he caught a man breaking in,” he said.

Remembering a friend: Retired Morwell policeman David Grant reminsices on his time working with the late Royce Davidson. photograph zac standish

“There was a bit of a tussle with the arrest and Roy actually arrested him and as he was leaving he actually went to close the gate behind him and (the offender) pulled out a makeshift knife and stabbed him several times and escaped.”

With blood gushing out of him, Mr Davidson then continued his pursuit of the offender who took off down the street.

“Fairly badly injured, Roy proceeded to crawl down the street in pursuit, fired a gun at him, but failed to hit him before passing out on the edge of the Princes Highway,” he said.

“Someone from the railway after hearing the shots eventually came over and found him bleeding out, but he really should have died that night if not for his strong body and determination.”

Quickly taken to the Traralgon Hospital to be treated for stab wounds, he told officers back at the police station of the situation, who then proceeded to arrest the man at his home.

The man later admitted to a number of shop and office break-ins spanning over three years.Mr Davidson’s efforts on that night saw him honoured with the Victoria Police Valour award on February 23, 1962.

Joining the force in 1966, Mr Grant shared his first impressions of Mr Davidson and recollections of working with him.

“He looked a bit like a gorilla really, the first time I saw him I came into the police station and he was standing where all the prisoners stand and I expected an officer to come up behind him and take him away – so the first time I saw him I thought he was a crook!” he said.

“Royce was a super Senior Constable, a top person and really was a guiding influence for me as I began my career with the police – he liked working with me and I actually found out he used to swap shifts with other people so he could work with me.

“He would never ever drive a police vehicle, and I only ever saw his car once or twice, as he would always walk to work, Roy was just a great man to work with.”

Reflecting back, Mr Grant gave this description of the late Mr Davidson and his career.

“He was a down to earth person with no frills, he was a friendly guy that loved helping people and was great leader both of the station and in the town of Morwell,” he said.