A hero police officer is celebrating a milestone birthday this week - a birthday that he thought he would never see.
For Tony Gledhill cheated death when he was shot at FIFTEEN times during a terrifying chase with an armed gang.
Tony, then a police constable with the Metropolitan Police, was later awarded the George Cross for his heroism during the attack on August 25, 1966.
Tony, who lives in West Chiltington, celebrates his 80th birthday this week. He was born in Southampton on March 10, 1938 and joined the Met as a cadet after leaving school.
On that fateful day in 1966 Tony was driving a police car with wireless operator colleague PC Terry McFall when a gang of five men in a car were seen acting suspiciously in Deptford.
The brave officers launched a high-speed chase through the streets of South London travelling on the wrong side of the road against a one-way system.
The gang tried to ambush the police vehicle and shot at the officers with a sawn-off shotgun and revolvers. Bullets struck the windscreen of the police car before the gang’s car crashed into a lorry.
The gang fled and three of them - one armed with a pistol - ran into a transport firm’s yard with the two officers following. The gunman ran towards PC Gledhill, aimed the gun at his head, and ordered him and his colleague to get out of their car or be shot.
The gunman got in and reversed towards PC Gledhill, still aiming the pistol at him. The brave PC grabbed the gun as the man turned his head momentarily while changing gear.
As the vehicle sped off PC Gledhill clung to the car window and was dragged along the road until he was thrown beneath a parked car as the gunman crashed.
Meanwhile PC McFall threw open the car door and began to hit the gunman, still holding the pistol, with his truncheon. PC Gledhill regained his feet but was again knocked to the ground as the guman flung open the driver’s door.
He backed away from the officers, warning them not to move while firing a shot. The officers then heard the gun click and both rushed at the gunman. PC McFall struck at him with his truncheon while PC Gledhill grabbed him and disarmed him during a violent struggle. Another gun - an automatic pistol - was found in his pocket.
Both officers suffered injuries during their ordeal and had to receive hospital treatment. In a later citation of their brave actions, it was stated: “They had faced a sustained firearm attack and from the early stages knew the risks they ran of being killed or seriously injured.”
PC McFall was later awarded the George Medal and PC Gledhill the George Cross.
Tony Gledhill was promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1976. When he retired from the police in 1987 he joined the Royal Mail Post Office Investigation Department.
Now retired, he frequently lectures on the George Cross and bravery in general. Tony will be celebrating his 80th birthday this week with wife Marie - they will be celebrating 60 years of marriage on September 3 - daughter Rachel Craig, son Stewart and eight grandchildren.
Rachel said: “To say the least I am extremely proud of dad’s heroic actions on that day 25th August 1966, his bravery and commitment to his job a Police Constable.”