Victorian Scottish police hero to be honoured

Constable James Gordon was serving with Merseyside Police. Picture: Complimentary
Constable James Gordon was serving with Merseyside Police. Picture: Complimentary
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THE bravery of a Scottish police officer – described as a “forgotten hero” – is to finally be honoured at a ceremony later this week to mark his grave with a headstone, 120 years after he was brutally murdered on duty on Merseyside.

Police Constable James Gordon, who was originally from Kinneff in Kincardineshire, died in the early hours of the morning of 13 November, 1893, after being savagely beaten with an iron bar after he and a colleague had disturbed three robbers who had broken into the yard of a Boiler Works in Atlas Street, St Helens.

PC Gordon was hit across the head with an iron bar, receiving terrible injuries, as the two police officers attempted to arrest the robbers who had broken into the yard to steal hens.

The three robbers were later detained with the help of other officers. But PC Gordon died from his injuries in the early hours of the following morning.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in St Helens. But Merseyside Police today announced that the force’s “forgotten hero” will finally be remembered at a ceremony to mark his grave on Wednesday.

A force spokesman said: “A host of dignitaries will attend a special ceremony organised by the Police Roll of Honour Trust in memory of the brave young policeman including the Assistant Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Ian Pilling, Chairman of Merseyside Police Federation, Peter Singleton, the Mayor of St Helens and the Leader of St Helens Council.

“Geraldine Winner, the widow of Michael Winner who set up the Police Memorial Trust, following the death of PC Yvonne Fletcher in 1984, will also be in attendance. This will be her first public engagement since her husband’s death.”

He continued: “Mounted police officers will lead the official party to the old section of the cemetery off Hard Lane. Merseyside Police will also form a guard of honour and a lone piper will play during the service.”

Steve Lloyd, the manager of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said: “Although PC Gordon’s name and sacrifice is well recorded by the Police Roll of Honour Trust I am sad to say that this brave young officer has lain in an unmarked grave since his death.

“Indeed this would have continued to be the case had it not been been for research undertaken on our records and research by members of the Friends of St Helens Cemetery, one member in particular, Mrs Brenda Neary, who is herself an ex police officer.”

He continued: “As this is the 120th anniversary of PC Gordon’s death the Police Roll of Honour Trust believe it is both right and fitting that we mark the service and sacrifice of this local forgotten hero. Our motto is ‘Lest we forget’ I hope this will prove that those are not just empty words.

“To that end the trust has commissioned a specially engraved headstone from a local monumental masons which will be erected at his unmarked grave.”

Mr Lloyd added: “As an organisation we have never had a murdered police officer in an unmarked grave before. We may never know why this local police hero was left in an unmarked grave. The Trust are pleased to be able to make his grave so that everyone will know where young PC James Gordon lies at rest. His duty well done.”

Superintendent Chris Markey of Merseyside Police, said: “Every day police officers go about their duty and do not know what their day could bring. PC Gordon’s death is a reminder to everyone that, on a daily basis, officers can be called upon to go into unexpected situations, and show great bravery and courage usually when other people are at the worst moments in their lives.”

He added: “I am personally very proud and humbled to be invited, together with colleagues and members of the community to pay their respects to this officer on this very special day. Merseyside Police is pleased that his passing has been commemorated in this way and hope that this fitting memorial will serve as a constant reminder of his sacrifice for the community he served here in St Helens.”