Liverpool City Police

Supt. Edward Nichols

Award of the George Medal to Superintendent Edward Nichols

Liverpool City Police


Dave Wilkinson

Edward NICHOLS was a native of Eastham, Cheshire and joined the Liverpool City Police as a recruit in 1911. He was promoted to Sergeant after 8 years’ service and Inspector in 1924. 1931 saw further advancement to Chief Inspector and Superintendent “E” Division in 1937.

On the night of the 18th September 1940, HM Prison, Hornby Road, Liverpool received a direct hit from high explosive enemy bombs and a wing consisting of a basement with four floors of cells above was severely damaged. A number of prisoners were trapped, gas and water were escaping and the electric light system was put out of order. At the request of the Governor, Superintendent NICHOLS together with a party of men arrived at the prison to render assistance.

After an examination of the damaged building had been made and a number of prisoners from the upper floor cells had been removed to safety, a man’s voice could be heard coming from somewhere under the rubble which had fallen behind the door of a cell in the basement.

Officer MEEHAN, Chief Officer BOWYER and others of the prison staff worked hard amid recurrent falls of masonry to release the imprisoned man. The panels of the cell door were broken open, but it was found that owing to the continual falling of debris, it was impossible to continue operations at this spot.

It was decided that the only method of rescue was to break through the wall of this cell and the adjoining one and Superintendent NICHOLS took charge of this operation. The two Prison Officers made a hole in the wall and the Superintendent, removing debris with his hands, discovered the trapped man’s head. He was conscious and proved to be a prisoner. With portions of broken steel girder and flat stones, Superintendent NICHOLS constructed a platform over the prisoner’s head and prevented further falls of masonry.

The Prison Officer and the Superintendent continued with picks, bars and sledge hammers to enlarge the hole and after a period of 3 ½ hours the trapped man was released, exhausted but apparently not seriously injured.

The rescue was affected in the worst imaginable conditions, in darkness apart from the light from pocket lamps, with the danger of the roof and wall of the prison wing collapsing, in a gas polluted atmosphere, amid flooding from fractured water mains and with enemy aircraft overhead.

Superintendent NICHOLS was untiring in his efforts, displaying resourcefulness and initiative in the way he directed operations. Prison Officer MEEHAN and Chief Officer BOWYER worked hard and with complete disregard for their own safety

Awarded the George Medal:

Edward NICHOLS, Superintendent, Liverpool City Police.
John Joseph MEEHAN, Officer, HM Prison Service, Liverpool.

Awarded the OBE (Civil Division) for Meritorious Service:

Frederick Albert BOWYER, Chief Officer, HM Prison Service, Liverpool.

In 1942, Superintendent NICHOLS was promoted to Chief Superintendent and placed in command of the Traffic Division. Four years later, in 1946 he became 2nd Assistant Chief Constable and in 1948 he replaced Sir Charles MARTIN as 1st Assistant Chief Constable upon Sir Charles being appointed Chief Constable.

In the King’s Birthday Honours of 1949, Mr NICHOLS was awarded the OBE (Civil Division) for Meritorious Service. He died suddenly in June 1952, whilst still serving. He is buried at Anfield Cemetery. Eight Sergeants of the City Police carried his coffin.

Dave Wilkinson
August 2012

Supt._Nichols.- Click to enlarge

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