Liverpool City Police
The circumstances leading to the award of the George Medal to Constable CARSWELL began many miles from Liverpool on the border of what was then Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire.
During the early hours of August 2nd 1961, Constable Arthur ROWLANDS of the Gwynedd Constabulary was patrolling alone in the village of Machynlleth in Merionethshire. There had been a number of burglaries in the area and the Officer had been tasked with stopping and checking persons and vehicles with a view to detecting the person responsible. The village was quiet and in the distance he saw the outline of a man wheeling a bicycle walking across the front of the white walled cottages. He walked towards the location but could see no sign of the man. There was nothing at the front of the cottages to arouse his suspicions and he walked quietly around to the side of the house. There, propped against the wall was a drop-handled bicycle. He did not recognise it and although he knew that the cottage was the home of the local postman, it was not the postman’s machine. He shone his torch ahead of him again and made to walk round to the back of the house.
He was taken completely by surprise when a man suddenly stepped out of the shadows. He shone his torch at the man and the two stood looking at each other without speaking. The Officer mentally noted a description of the man and more importantly saw that he was carrying in the crook of his right arm, a .410 shotgun, with the barrel sawn off short. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE”, the Officer asked. “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE COME”, said the man. “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU”. The Officer tried to soothingly talk to the man and asked his name, “I’M ROBERT BOYNTON. I’M GOING TO KILL YOU”. Constable ROWLANDS was poised on his toes to make a dive at the man who by this time was pointing the gun at him. Before he was able to do this BOYNTON fired the gun into the Officer’s face at point-blank range blinding him in both eyes and causing horrific injuries to his face, neck and mouth.
Despite intense pain and his very serious condition Constable ROWLANDS remained conscious and was able to raise the alarm. He subsequently gave his colleagues a valuable description of the man who had attempted to murder him and provided them with the name of the man responsible.
The Gwynedd Constabulary subsequently became aware that BOYNTON had decamped into open mountainous countryside and although there had been several sightings of him it seemed obvious that the hunt for him was likely to be a protracted one. Assistance was sought under the “mutual aid” scheme from other forces that provided additional manpower and equipment. On the 5th August, three days after the initial shooting, the Chief Constable of Liverpool at the request of his Gwynedd counterpart sent a team of consisting of a Sergeant and eight Constables with their dogs to assist in the search. Part of this team was Constable Robert CARSWELL and his Police dog “Derry”.
Two days later Officers made contact with BOYNTON who responded by firing shots at them. Constable CARSWELL released Police dog “Derry” which ran towards the armed man. When the dog was a few yards away the gunman shot it in the head. He then pointed the gun at Constable CARSWELL and another Officer, and discharged the second barrel narrowly missing them both.
The gunman then made off on a bicycle which was lying nearby and rode away. An Officer gave case after him in a police vehicle and drove the vehicle into him knocking him to the ground. BOYNTON regained his feet and withdrew the shotgun from its holster. Before he could fire it the Officer threw himself at his legs and brought him down. Other Officers ran up and after a terrific struggle BOYNTON was subdued and arrested.
Robert BOYNTON appeared before Mr Justice HINCHCLIFFE at Caernarfon Assizes in October 1961 and was sentenced to be detained indefinitely at Broadmoor Hospital for the criminally insane. He subsequently died there in 1994.
Police Dog “Derry” recovered from his injuries and continued in service with Liverpool City Police until his retirement as indeed did Constable CARSWELL.
Constable Arthur ROWLANDS was grievously injured and was not expected to survive. However, he did so but the last thing he was ever to see was the face of the man who attempted to murder him, Robert BOYNTON. The incident left him totally blind. Mr ROWLANDS subsequently became a civilian telephone operator at Police Headquarters in Caernarfon. Today, at the time of writing (August 2012) he lives quietly in retirement at his home in Caernarfon aged 90 years.
In recognition of their brave conduct the following Officers received awards as follows:
Awarded the George Medal:
Robert CARSWELL, Constable, Liverpool City Police.
Thomas Owen DAVIES, Constable, Mid-Wales Constabulary.
Robert William ROBERTS, Constable, Shropshire Constabulary.
Arthur Rees ROWLANDS, Constable, Gwynedd Constabulary.
Awarded the British Empire Medal for Gallantry (Civil Division):
John Francis Ivor BENNETT, Constable, Mid-Wales Constabulary.
Geoffrey Seymour EVANS, Sergeant, Mid-Wales Constabulary.
Dave Wilkinson July 2012
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