A public quarantine due to an outbreak of influenza mushroomed into a major confrontation in Fremantle. When scabs (called "nationals") attempted to unload the Dimboola, which was carrying food and medical supplies, a picket sprang up mid-April as the lumpers refused to work with the non-union labour; thousands of people took part in demonstrations in late April and one march supporting the lumpers was led by 100 soldiers returning from war, armed with their revolvers.
On May 4th ("Bloody Sunday"), barricades sprang up; townspeople and maritime workers flocked to the wharves. The state's Premier was aboard a launch piloted by scabs which, when it reached Femantle with another launch, was pelted with scrap iron and stones thrown by protestors, including women and children.
A police force, numbering 80 men, confronted 300 lumpers; when the Premier's launch reached the wharf, mounted and foot police forced back crowds that had surged towards Horseshoe Bridge. Additional police appeared with rifles and fixed bayonets. As "Wharfies" recounts: "They charged into the crowd with butts and batons to cut off the rioters from the nationals erecting the barricades. The rioters now included some women and returned soldiers in uniform. There were claims that one returned soldier was bayoneted. The mounted police were being driven back by the attacking crowd which was now estimated to be between three and four thousand. The crowd was shouting at the nationals erecting the barricades and urging the police to lay down their arms. Several revolver shots were fired; their source was unclear, but they may have come from the crowds of lumpers and their supporters."
One lumper, Thomas Edwards, was fatally wounded. His funeral would be attended by five thousands people, led by WWF President Bill Renton who rode, head bandaged from an injury suffered in the fight with police, on a black horse. The state's entire transport system halted for three minutes to mark the moment.