1954 – 19th January 1963
PD Pablo was 9 year old Doberman Pinscher and lost his life during a horrific incident on 19th January 1963. Below is an account of the events of that night compiled by Will Brown, Researcher at The Museum of Policing in Cheshire.
‘THE BATTLE OF COOPER STREET’
In the early hours of Saturday 19th January, 1963 at Macclesfield in what was to be dubbed by the press ‘The Battle of Cooper Street’ saw a police dog so badly injured it had to be destroyed and four police officers receive awards for bravery.
Events unfolded earlier that evening when two petty Macclesfield criminals Joseph Terence Wilkinson aged 30 and Melvyn Alan Whittaker 20 years summoned a taxi in Salford where they had been visiting Wilkinson’s relatives, the men were in possession of a .410 sawn off shotgun and ammunition stolen previously in a burglary at Macclesfield and two loaded air pistols. They told the taxi driver to take them first to Poynton and later to Bollington where the driver was told to stop and confronted by Wilkinson pointing the shotgun at him and Whittaker pointing a handgun, they demanded money and he handed over cash. He was then ordered to drive towards Macclesfield and on the way was told to stop and get out before they drove off in the taxi. The driver flagged down a passing motorist and reported the incident to Macclesfield police station where Detective Sergeant Kenneth Etchells and Detective Constable Norman Dawson were on duty, they immediately commenced enquiries which lead them to Wilkinson’s home a terraced house in Cooper Street .
The detectives together with dog handler PC Stan Smith and his dog Pablo a 9 year old Doberman Pinscher and Constable Michael Bell went into the house whilst other officers remained outside, inside they found the womenfolk of both men nursing their young children claiming the men were not in the house, DS Etchells heard movement upstairs and started to climb the stairs which were in darkness he was then hit in the face with a white steaming liquid which he thought was boiling water but was in fact nitric acid. PC Smith gave Pablo the word and he bounded for the stairs followed by his handler, more acid was flowing down the stairs and Pablo yelped in agony and raced out of the house and PC Smith suffered facial burns. Pablo’s injuries were so serious that he had to be destroyed.
The two offenders tried to make a break for it and charged down the stairs, Wilkinson armed with an air pistol and brandishing a bottle with Whittaker in possession of the shotgun, Wilkinson went for DS Etchells with the bottle and hit him on the back of the head causing him the fall to the floor into a pool of acid, when he looked up he saw Whittaker holding the stock of the shotgun at his hip and swinging it towards him and then heard a click but the weapon did not fire, the Sergeant gripped the barrel of the weapon and managed to wrench it off Whittaker, when later examined it was found to be loaded and in perfect working order fortunately the firing pin had struck the cartridge off centre causing it to misfire, he had come extremely close to being shot.
DC Dawson who’s head was streaming with blood having been hit with the bottle several times by Wilkinson was grappling with him and managed to disarm him of the pistol, a violent struggle ensued with both men and with the assistance of PC’s Smith and Bell and other officers who had by then entered the house, both men were arrested and taken from the house still struggling violently. The injured officers received Hospital treatment for second degree burns and head wound.
Both men were jointly charged with robbery, possession of a firearm, wounding with intent, throwing a corrosive substance, shopbreaking and larceny of the shotgun and ammunition and taking and driving away the taxi. On 11th March, 1963 they appeared at Chester Assizes and both were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.
For their heroic actions on that night Kenneth Etchells and Norman Dawson were both awarded the British Empire Medal for Gallantry and PC’s Stan Smith and Michael Bell both received the Queens Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Served from 1993 to New Years Day 1995
Handler – PC Clough
Rebel was the third Police Dog of PC Clough 1779. He was four years old when he was given to PC Clough from another handler. He passed away from Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis while still on active service aged six years old. Rebel was a funny dog, a bit snooty and not very sociable with family, but very good at his job.