Farewell to Pc who captured fugitives

A HERO policeman who ended a massive manhunt for two dangerous fugitives has died from a heart condition at his Worksop home.

A HERO policeman who ended a massive manhunt for two dangerous fugitives has died from a heart condition at his Worksop home.

Bernard Briddon, aged 76, was a prominent figure in the Notts police force and was renowned for capturing two escapees from Rampton Hospital in 1957.

Bernard was a caring and loving husband who enjoyed life and I miss him so much, said his wife Elsie, 78, of Plantation Hill.

Patients Frank Mitchell, known as mad Mitchell and his accomplice Richard Maskell broke free from Rampton on Friday 18th January 1957 with duplicate keys they carved in their rooms.

Whilst on the run the pair terrorised villages around the Retford area but the bravery and courage of Pc Briddon brought their escape to a halt.

Bernard was only 32 and had only been in the force just over three years, but he always said he did what any other officer would have done, said proud son Peter, 50, who has followed in his father s footsteps, and is now in the crime unit of Notts police.

During their weekend rampage Mitchell and Maskell terrorised the neighbourhood, attacking one Tuxford man, Leonard Collingburn of Station House with an iron bar, before making off with his clothes and cash.

It was on the Monday, when the escapees were still at large, that Pc Briddon was conducting a road check of all vehicles on Great North Road, Newark and was approached by the two men.

I remember the day vividly, said Elsie. Everyone was scared to death really because the men were so threatening, but Bernard was so calm.

In his moment of glory that would soon earn him a British Empire medal of gallantry from the Queen, Mitchell and Maskell drove towards Pc Briddon on a motorbike and he pushed them to the floor.

Bernard had hold of Maskell, but he pulled a sawn-off shotgun out from under his jacket and held Bernard at gun point, said brother Len, 82, who was also in the force at the time.

Pc Briddon grabbed the gun by the barrel and with help from workers from a nearby garage, he wrestled the two to the ground and handcuffed them.

This was his great moment but Bernard was such a modest man, he hardly ever told his story to anyone, said son Martin, 48, a warrant officer in the Navy.

Bernard served with dedication and brought credit to the force. He will be sorely missed, said a spokesman from Notts police.

The funeral is due to take place today at 11am at Brimington Crematorium, Chesterfield.

to which any old friends are welcome.