b. 31/03/1934 Kendal, Westmoreland (now Cumbria).
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 23/08/1971 Blackpool, Lancashire.
Carl Walker GC was born on 31st March 1934 in Kendal, Westmorland (now Cumbria). The son of Alexander William, a paper mill worker, and Sarah Jane Walker (nee Dickinson) and the middle child of 7, he went to school in Burneside, near Blackpool, before attending Kendal Grammar School. He left school at 15 and went to work as an apprentice joiner. Aged 18, he began his National Service, spending two years in the RAF Police. After completing his National Service, he joined the Lancashire Constabulary in 1953 as a Constable. He married two years later to Kathleen Barker, and the couple went on to have a son, Andrew. After just 18 months, Walker left the police and moved to Cumbria. After returning to work as a joiner, he also spent time in an asbestos factory, before returning to the police in 1959.
At 9.40am on 23rd August 1971, PC Walker, then aged 38, was on duty in Blackpool when he received a report that an alarm had gone off at Preston’s, the jewellers, in the town. When he arrived alone in his car, he saw a robber running towards a getaway car. As Walker, who was unarmed, approached the vehicle with 5 men inside, one of the men pointed a shotgun at him through the rear window. The car then sped off, with Walker in pursuit. A short high speed chase ensued. The getaway car ended up down an alleyway and Walker blocked the exit with his car. With the escape route blocked, the men reversed their car into Walker’s, pushing him out of the way. They then sped off with PC Ian Hampson in pursuit.
Hampson caught up with the robbers, and one of them jumped out of the car and shot Hampson in the chest. Walker had rejoined the chase and again blocked the escape route. PC Pat Jackson arrived and deliberately crashed his Panda car into the getaway car. All the gunmen got out of the vehicle and, when PC Andrew Hillis got out of his CID car, one of them fired at him from close range but all bullets missed him. Hillis then chased one of the robbers, rugby tackled him and overpowered him.
Three senior officers arrived on scene, including Superintendent Gerry Richardson GC and pursued three of the robbers, one on foot, two in their car. By now Walker and Jackson were some way behind the main group of the remaining three robbers. When Walker got to within 10 yards of them, the driver of the car turned and fired again but missed. At the end of the alley, he stopped again, and turned and fired two more shots. The first shot missed but the second hit Walker in the groin. The gunman then jumped into a Ford Transit delivery van and sped off with the other two robbers. Richardson and Inspector Gray then arrived in their car, and Jackson jumped in with them to join the chase.
The van crashed into a garden wall as it tried to turn into an alley, and Gray jumped out to keep the back doors of the van closed so the robbers couldn’t flee. Richardson and Jackson ran to the front of the van but it was empty as the driver had fled. As they then ran to the back of the van, the doors burst open and the two robbers ran. The two unarmed officers gave chase, and after a few yards, Richardson grabbed a gunman who turned and fired into Richardson’s stomach. As Jackson approached, the gunman fired another shot into Richardson.
The other robbers were eventually caught thanks to the efforts of Sergeant Ken Mackay, PC Edward Hanley and Inspector Stephen Redpath. Walker was taken by ambulance to hospital with Richardson, who died the next morning aged 38. Hampson required surgery for his wound but like Walker, made a full recovery. Four of the robbers had been detained, but the man who killed Richardson and wounded Walker, Joseph Sewell was still at large. He was eventually captured a month later, and all the men were found guilty and given long jail sentences. Sewell was jailed for life, serving a minimum of 30 years.
Richardson and Walker’s GC’s were announced on 13th November 1972, well over a year after the incident. In all, nine officers were decorated for their bravery. Among the other decorations were four George Medals. Walker had two months off work to recuperate and returned to work as a Sergeant having been promoted. He eventually rose to the rank of Inspector in 1976. He was still troubled by the effects of his gunshot wound and was medically discharged in 1982. For a time, he had a share in a taxi company but the cold weather aggravated his injury and he had to retire.
Walker still lives in Blackpool and enjoys DIY and his favourite hobby of photography. He is also an active member of the VC and GC Association.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WITH RECIPIENT.