Liverpool City Police

Since posting the original article about William Smithwick, research into the actual events leading to the award have been undertaken by the Webmaster, Brian Starkey, and I have pursued research into the Gallant conduct of those involved and the aftermath. This is the result of that research.

At 11.25 am on the 13th of October 1926, a youth, William McAllister, entered the Liverpool District Bank in Great Homer Street, near to ‘Paddy’s Market, and shouted “Hands Up” to Mr. Tooby, the bank cashier, who was alone behind the counter at that time, at the same time leveling “A Big Revolver” at him. Tooby seized a file of papers and threw it at the gunman and shouted to the Manager who was in his office.McAlister then fired point blank at Tooby, who fell ,shot in the chest. He then grabbed at some silver on the counter, and ran to the door.

The Manager Mr. Calkeld, rushed from his office and gave chase to McAllister at the same time shouting “Stop Thief “. Market Constable Moore joined the chase and whilst running across the North Haymarket McAllister fired three shots. One of these struck the head of a Mr. John Stevenson who had attempted to stop him. He then turned and fired at the crowd, one bullet struck a Mr. Vipond and another left its mark on the roof of the market. The chase continued into Juvenal Street, where Liverpool City Constable Clarke of Rose Hill Police Station and Market Constable Smithwick took up the chase. McAllister fired at his pursuers but missed. Constable Clarke was within a few yards of him when McAllister turned and taking careful aim fired. Constable Clarke fell to the ground, shot in the chest.

The gunman then ran into Grosvenor Street (Now part of the Mersey Tunnel Exit Road but mostly still present) and was running towards Rose Hill Police Station (Not a good decision, given the reputation for toughness held by the locals) He turned into Blodwen Street where he ran towards Liverpool City Constable Kerr, 5 yards distant from the Constable he stopped and taking aim, he pulled the trigger, mercifully there was no response as all the cartridges had been expended. McAllister was then arrested by Market Constable Smithwick and taken to the Main Bridewell.

The four injured persons were removed to hospital, two of them, Stevenson and Vipond were so seriously injured that their depositions were taken in the presence of McAllister.

McAllister was charged with five offences, four of shooting with intent to do GBH to Walter Cecil Tooby, Bank Cashier aged 22, Robert Vipond, Gardener aged 57, John Stevenson, Corporation Labourer and John Clarke, Police Constable. The 5th Charge related to the theft of the counter monies which in total amounted to £2.8.00 (£2.40p) In answer to three of the Charges McAllister replied “I have nothing to say “to the charge of shooting Vipond he replied “He got in the way of the gun “and to shooting Constable Clarke he said “I did not aim at him Sir “

On the third of February 1927 McAllister appeared before Judge Greer at Liverpool Assizes (St Georges Hall) and pleaded guilty to all charges. The Judge accepted McAllister’s statement that other men had put him up to the crime. The Judge informed the prisoner that had he been older he would have gone to prison for 20 years, the crime of Robbery under arms was also punishable with the cat of nine tails but the Judge omitted this from his sentence of ten years imprisonment.

As a result of the shootings Constable Clarke lost the use of his left arm and presumably was invalided out of the force, John Stevenson was left severely paralysed.

The award of a British Empire Medal (OBE) to Constable Smithwick and its presentation are well recorded in the first part of this article. Albeit not a Police award and announced in the Edinburgh Gazette.

Mr. Vipond, presumably because he took no part in the chase, was not rewarded. The name Vipond is extremely rare and I am led to believe that he may be the Father of “A” Division Constable Charles Vipond, who was killed in Action with the Royal Artillery during the First World War

John Stevenson was awarded £50.00 for his Brave conduct in attempting to stop McAllister.

It was recorded that Constable Clarke although severely wounded and disabled was not rewarded at all.

The none recognition of Constable Clarke seemed most strange and further research was made and revealed that Constable Clarke of “ D” Division at Rose Hill Police Station was awarded a Kings Police Medal for outstanding Gallantry and determination, in the London Gazette of the 1st January 1928.

Peter Dellius

Constable John Harold Clarke

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