Norfolk's only murdered bobby remembered
Stephen PullingerThe poignancy of the occasion might easily escape families laying flowers and tending graves in the peaceful surrounds of Gorleston cemetery.At noon today, beside a headstone inscribed with the time-worn image of an angel cradling the head of a fallen police officer, the Rev Irene Knowles will conduct a brief service commemorating one of the most shocking chapters in the seaside town's history.Stephen Pullinger
The poignancy of the occasion might easily escape families laying flowers and tending graves in the peaceful surrounds of Gorleston cemetery.
At noon today, beside a headstone inscribed with the time-worn image of an angel cradling the head of a fallen police officer, the Rev Irene Knowles will conduct a brief service commemorating one of the most shocking chapters in the seaside town's history.
The grave is the final resting place of PC Charles Alger, who 100 years ago today was blasted by a sawn-off shotgun after going to sort out a domestic dispute.
The deadly, drink-fuelled attack unleashed upon the 37-year-old father of four still has the distinction of being the only murder of a Norfolk police officer while on duty.
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At today's simple graveside ceremony, the borough's police chief, Supt Jim Smerdon, will be joined by PC Alger's grandson David Alger and other relatives in laying wreaths and flowers.
Other retired and serving police officers will be present along with representatives of the National Association of Retired Police Officers and Norfolk Constabulary's Historic-al Society.
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The brutal events that unfolded in St Andrew's Road, Gorleston, were recorded in the EDP of the day.
PC 37 Alger was dispatched to the home of ratcatcher Thomas Allen, a known petty thief and poacher, after reports of a violent disturbance by neighbours.
While Allen's wife took shelter in a neighbour's home, bleeding badly from a shotgun wound to her lower back, PC Alger bravely confronted him, despite being told he had a gun.
Allen told PC Alger to come outside with him and he would tell him what had happened. However, as the pair left the backyard and entered his neighbouring allotment, Allen pulled out a sawn-off shotgun and blasted the constable in the right side of the head, fatally wounding him.
Later that year, Allen was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. However, he was reprieved on appeal and declared insane, spending the rest of his days in Broadmoor.
PC Alger's grandson, David Alger, 66, of Whinchat Way, Bradwell, said the police had approached him about organising a memorial service, but he had also been contacted by a local librarian keen on researching the story.
He said: 'My father Fred was only eight when it happened and never spoke much about it up to his death in 1987. I think it affected him greatly.
'He just said it was very tragic. I remember him telling me he was out playing and someone came up to him and said, 'Your dad has been shot'. He rushed home and the police were already there.'
David Alger, who followed in his father's footsteps working for the Co-op, described his grandfather as 'very brave' and said it was fitting to remember someone who had given their life at such a young age.
Mr Alger said it was hoped that his sisters, Kathleen, 72, also from Gorleston, and Dorothy, 71, from Norwich, would also be present.
Police spokesman Jon Smith said all officers serving today would be able to relate to the story of PC Alger.
'It has been the same since policing started. Officers go to situations every day where they don't know what the exact outcome will be. Sadly on this occasion it cost PC Alger his life,' he said.