On Saturday I posted a picture of a spoof sign that I’ve passed many times and never stopped to read. A matter of feet away is another sign, which again I was aware of but had never taken the time to look at closely, this one has a bit more gravitas.
It concerns this man, Captain Charles Binney (RN). Binney had joined the Navy in 1903 and progressed through the ranks, serving through the First World War as a Lieutenant Commander. In 1920 he was promoted to Commander and served through the interwar years with some distinction, reaching the rank of Captain, finally retiring in 1934.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he was recalled and served as a Flag Captain aboard HMS Nile based in Alexandra, Egypt. Having read this far and having seen the date of his death in 1944 you may conclude that he probably died during enemy action on active service, but you would be mistaken. By 1944, Binney had been transferred back to England and was serving as the Chief of Staff to the Flag Officer of the London district.
On the evening of 8th December 1944, Binney was making his way along Birchin Lane in the heart of the City of London. Unfortunately he interrupted a Smash & Grab raid on Wordsleys jewelers by two men armed with pickaxe handles. The men had smashed the windows and were in the process of helping themselves to several trays of rings when Binney intervened. The men ran off and Binney chased them to their waiting car where he made an heroic effort to stop them driving off. Tragically he was dragged beneath the car, which drove over London Bridge and as far south as Tooley Street (A distance of about a mile and a half), with him still trapped beneath. Despite this he survived for another three hours and died in hospital.
The two men were later arrested. The passenger Thomas Jenkins, was charged with Manslaughter and received eight years. The driver Ronald Hedley was charged with murder and sentenced to death, but was reprieved on the day before his execution and the served a life term.
Colleagues and friends established the Binney Medal in 1946 in honour of their fallen friend. “To award a medal for the bravest action performed in each calendar year in support of law and order in the areas controlled by the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police by any person who is not a police officer or on duty as a member of the force.”
Since the first ceremony in 1947 over fifty of these medals have been awarded for acts of public bravery.