THE first policewoman to die in the line of duty was a North-East woman killed by a German flying bomb in the Second World War, researchers have revealed.
Bertha Massey Gleghorn, a Metropolitan police officer stationed at Tottenham Court Road Police Station, in London, was killed on the morning on June 19, 1944, when the office suffered a direct hit during an air raid.
Miss Gleghorn’s death, at the age of 33, was the first time a serving female officer had died while on duty anywhere in the UK.
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Despite her place in history, Miss Gleghorn’s final resting place is not known, leading to researchers from the National Police Officers Roll of Honour to conduct their own investigations into where she was buried so she can be officially honoured for her sacrifice.
Although she worked in London, Miss Gleghorn’s roots were in Durham and Darlington, where her mother and step-father, Sarah-Ann and George, lived.
Researcher Keith Foster, from the National Police Officers Roll of Honour, has discovered that Mr and Mrs Gleghorn lived in Salutation Road, Darlington, at the time of their daughter’s death.
They had previously spent many years living in Durham, where George Gleghorn was also a police officer, until his retirement at the age of 59.
A search of cemeteries in Darlington found that Miss Gleghorn was not buried or cremated in the town, although both her parents had their ashes scattered in Darlington’s Garden of Remembrance when they died some decades later.
Mr Foster said: “Despite extensive searches at over 15 London cemeteries and crematoria, our investigations have failed to find her burial place.
“More disappointment came when we elected to request any details from Darlington itself, only to be informed that there was no trace there either of a burial or cremation at any of the town’s three sites.
“Gleghorn is a name common to the County Durham area, so we hope that there may still be relatives of Bertha’s living in the area who may know more about her final resting place.
“It could be they don’t realise how important the knowledge is that they have.
“We feel it is time for Bertha to be given her rightful place in both British police history and in the ranks of the women who continue to play a vital role in police forces across the UK, as the first female police officer to be killed on duty.”
Anyone with information on Bertha Massey Gleghorn is asked to contact Keith Foster via email at firstname.lastname@example.org putting Bertha Gleghorn in the subject box.
For more details visit rollofhonour.org