DCSIMG

Scottish ex-cop who was part of first televised manhunt dies aged 76

  • by ALISTAIR MUNRO
 

AN EX-COP who survived a shoot-out which killed a colleague – and was the first manhunt televised in the UK – has died.

Scot Alec Archibald, 76, was decorated for his brave heroics in the tragic shooting in 1965, where he was shot twice and had a gun held to his head.

The father-of-three’s wife, Helen, paid tribute to her devoted husband, who died after falling ill following an operation for colon cancer, saying: “He was a fighter all his life.”

PC Archibald, from Musselburgh, was serving with the Cumbria police force when officers were dispatched on 10 February, 1965, from Carlisle to search and apprehend a fugitive, John Middleton, who was wanted for stealing a car and raiding a gun shop.

They knew he had a gun and had previously fired shots at policemen in Kendal.

Archibald, PC George Russell, Inspector Alf Harrison and PC Dennis Graham were sent to search Oxenholme Railway Station.

There, they discovered Middleton in the waiting room. He shot PCs Russell and Archibald before fleeing.

Middleton was later traced after an operation involving 200 armed officers and tracker dogs, and featured for the first time for a manhunt on live television.

A marksman shot him in the leg but before he was arrested, Middleton shot himself in the head. He did not kill himself and a judge later ruled he was not fit to stand trial for his crimes and committed him to a secure mental institution. He died several years ago.

PC Archibald was left fighting for his life after a bullet lodged next to his spine.

PC Russell, who died from his injuries later in hospital, has been honoured with a plaque at the railway station.

Born the son of a miner, Archie Archibald, and brought up in Musselburgh by his mother Helen, Alec was educated at Loretto primary School and St Davids in Dalkeith.

He did his national services in the Scots Gaurds in 1954 and served in Germany before finally having the honour of guarding Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Family recall tales of the soldiers letting Princess Margaret secretly sneaking back inside after a night out.

Archibald joined the police force in 1958. Seven years later he was seriously injuried in the shootout.

Alec was shot once in the arm and once in his chest where the bullet lodged half an inch from his spine.

At that time it was the UK’s biggest manhunt and the first to be actually televised

After a lengthy period of convalesce he returned to duty in at his station in Carlisle.

Alec was presented with the British Empire Medal for his bravery in the line of duty by the Lord Lieutenant. of Cumbria.

His wife Helen said: “Although he guarded the Queen previously, he didn’t get to meet her when the medal was presented because she was touring Canada.

“He was a fighter all of his life. He suffered for 47 years of his life from his injuries. It was devastating to watch, but he was very brave throughout.

“He was taken in to hospital last year for an operation on his colon cancer and was getting on fine, until earlier this year when he fell ill again. Unfortunately he went into a coma and never recovered.”

A funeral service was held today in Musselburgh with officers from the police federation in Cumbria attending.

Alec Archibald is survived by his wife Helen and three sons, David 49, Stuart 47 and Gary 40.

 
 
 

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