b. 10/03/1938 Holbury, Southampton, Hampshire.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 25/08/1966 London.
Anthony John “Tony” Gledhill (1938-) was born on 10th March 1938 in Holbury, near Southampton, Hampshire, the son of Harold Victor and Marjorie Edith Gledhill (nee Prout). He was one of three children, with a sister Susan and brother Ian. Harold Gledhill was serving in the RAF at the time of Tony’s birth, and in 1941 was posted to Egypt to help fight the desert war against Rommel. Tony was educated at Southbourne and later Westbourne. He passed the 11+ examination and was set to enter Bognor Regis Technical High School, but his father was transferred to RAF Lindholme in Yorkshire, so Tony’s secondary education was at Doncaster Technical High School. This was shortlived, as his father was soon posted to West Germany, and the family went with him.
Tony left school at the age of 15, and took a job in Lincoln as a Trainee Projectionist with a company which owned three cinemas in the city. Tony’s ambition was, however, to become a Police Officer, and in April 1956, just after his 18th birthday, he entered Hendon Training School as a Police Cadet. After an intensive year of training, he was sworn in as a Police Officer on the 11th March 1957, the day after his 19th birthday. Later that year, his father left the RAF and moved the family to Portsmouth. On 3rd September 1958, Tony married Marie Lilian Hughes at the Registry Office in Portsmouth. The couple would have two children, Stewart William born in 1961 and Rachel Marie born in 1963.
At this time, Tony largely worked with one particular officer, PC 236 “R” Quentin Sutton, and they worked together on the high-profile Mandy Singh Murder. Sadly in 1965, they were posted to different stations. It was at his new station, that he met and formed a good friendship with PC 734 “P” Terry McFall, who would also feature in the incident which led to Tony’s George Cross award.
On 25th August 1966, he and Constable Terry McFall were patrolling in police car "Papa One" when they received a call that the occupants of a car had been seen acting suspiciously at Creek Side in Deptford. As the officers reached the area, the car they were looking for drove past them, containing 5 men. The officers immediately chased the vehicle, which was being driven recklessly through the streets, travelling on the wrong side of the road and against a one-way system. Gledhill showed great skill in following at high speed and kept up with the vehicle in chase which covered 5 miles at 80 mph. An attempt was made by the bandits to ambush the car and no fewer than 15 shots were fired at them. Finally, the escaping car crashed into a lorry at a junction. The 5 men left the car and a group of 3, one with a pistol in his hand, ran into the yard of a transport contractor. The officers followed the three men. As the police car reached the yard gates, the men ran towards them and held the pistol to Gledhill's head, ordering the officers to get out of the car or be shot. Both men left the car and the man with the gun climbed in to make his escape. However, when distracted by putting the car into gear, Gledhill grabbed his hand and, as the vehicle moved off, managed to grab hold of the car window with his left hand. While this was happening, McFall had run along the roadway to a group of men to get a lorry driven across the road to block it, when he heard Gledhill shout. He ran back to the police car and saw him holding on to the car window. He then saw the car gather speed, dragging Gledhill along the road. At this point the front offside tyre burst; the car veered across the road, crashed into some parked vehicles and Gledhill was thrown under one of them. Mc Fall opened the front passenger door and, as the driver was still holding the pistol, began hitting him about the legs and body with his truncheon. Gledhill was then knocked to the ground by the car door. Gledhill and McFall then charged at the gunman and knocked him down. They managed to disarm him.
Shortly after the incident in Deptford, in November 1966, Tony applied for, and accepted into, the Criminal Investigation Department, and in January 1967 was appointed as a Temporary Detective Constable, serving at his own station, Lewisham. On 23rd May 1967, it was announced in the London Gazette that Tony was to be awarded the George Cross, and Terry McFall the George Medal for their actions. He was invested with his GC by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on 11th July 1967. He was also elected “Man of the Year” by RADAR (Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation). The trial of the four men involved in the incident lasted two weeks and the jury found them not guilty of attempted murder. However, they were all convicted of using a firearm with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to commit robbery and other firearms offences. They all received long prison terms.
In 1974, Tony was transferred to “Z” Division in Norbury, and he was promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1976. In 1978, he was posted to C10, a stolen car squad covering all of South London. Tony eventually retired from the Metropolitan Police in 1987, but immediately began work for the Post Office Investigation Department, before later working for two finance houses, until finally fully retiring in 1996.
In 1999, he was elected President, and is now a Committee Member of the Association of Ex-CID Officers of the Metropolitan Police. He is very active in the VC and GC Association as Treasurer, and a valued Committee Member. He lives in West Sussex with his wife Marie, and in 2006, he wrote his memoirs entitled “A Gun to my Head” and he sums up his feelings about the day his life changed when saying “25th August 1966 will obviously be remembered as the most horrific day in my life. A day when I thought my life was at an end…..I am fortunate I am still here.” Tony’s medals including the GC, 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal, 2002 QEII Golden Jubilee Medal, 2012 QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal and Police Long Service & Good Conduct Medal are on loan to the Imperial War Museum (since 1999) and displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON (ON LOAN)
Picture taken by Kevin Brazier
Anthony Gledhill's medals part of the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London