THE bravery of a police officer – described as a "forgotten hero” – will be remembered today in a ceremony to mark his grave with a headstone 120 years after his murder.
Late on Sunday, November 12 1893, PC James Gordon, 26, and a colleague, Constable Whalley, disturbed three men who had broken into the yard of Foster’s Navigation Boiler Works in Atlas Street, St Helens attempting to steal hens.
As they attempted to arrest the criminals PC Gordon was hit across the head with an iron bar, receiving terrible injuries.
With the help of other officers the three men were all detained. Having received first aid, the officer was sent home and told to report back on duty the following morning.
However, PC Gordon never returned to duty. He died from his injuries in the early hours of the following morning.
At 11am on Wednesday, November 13, at St Helens Cemetery, Rainford Road, a host of dignitaries will attend a special ceremony organised by The Police Roll of Honour Trust in memory of the brave young policeman.
Guests will include 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.
Mounted police officers will lead the official party to the old section of the cemetery off Hard Lane. During the service a bugler plays the last post and reveille.
Merseyside Police will also form a guard of honour and a lone piper will play during the service.
Steve Lloyd, the Trust 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 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.
"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. As an organisation we have never had a murdered police officer in an unmarked grave before.
"This proves the job of a Police Officer never changes. It will always be inherently dangerous.
"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, 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.
"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."
Members of the public wishing to pay their respects are welcome to attend.