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Solemn task immortalised

Tuesday, 23rd December, 2014

Undertaker Dave Mangelsdorf (left) helps load a body into the funeral cart pulled by “Darkie” the horse. The cart was driven by assistant Bill Waghorn (back middle). Undertaker Dave Mangelsdorf (left) helps load a body into the funeral cart pulled by “Darkie” the horse. The cart was driven by assistant Bill Waghorn (back middle).

By Darrin Manuel

After the panic and terror of the picnic train attack had subsided, the grim task of removing the bodies fell to undertaker Dave Mangelsdorf and his 18-year-old assistant, Bill Waghorn.

A photograph of the solemn occasion was recently submitted to the BDT by Mr Waghorn’s daughter, Joyce Douglas.

The bodies were taken from the station by horse and cart to the morgue, as a crowd of onlookers clamoured for a glimpse of what had unfolded on the fateful train journey.

While Ms Douglas’ link to the important moment in history is somewhat sombre, she said her father’s time working for Mr Mangelsdorf had not always been gloomy.

She said she often heard tales of the horse that led the cart, known as “Darkie”, and his amazing sense of occasion.

“He was the leading horse and he would always head to the cemetery very sedately,” she said.

However like many locals, Darkie had an innate knowledge of two things; the exact time his shift ended, and the quickest route to the nearest pub.

“After the funerals he would always bolt straight to the trough at the (Freiberg Arms) pub where Tabby’s is now and have a drink, and Dad and “Mangey” would go in for a few as well.”

Sulphide Street Railway and Historical Museum curator Christine Adams said it was 

important that “fascinating” snippets of history such as these are still remembered in local tales.

The 100th anniversary of the attack on the picnic train will be commemorated at a ceremony on New Year’s Day.

The NSW National Trust Broken Hill Branch has organised the event which will feature the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to the victims at the Sulphide Railway and Historical Museum.

The unveiling will be conducted by Minister for Western NSW Kevin Humphries at 10am, with morning tea served on the station platform.

This will be followed by an exhibition of photos and memorabilia at the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum between 11am and 1pm.

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