Cheshire Chief Constable was a hero in the trenches and during an earthquake in India

Godwin Edward BANWELL CBE. MC. KPM. Chief Constable Cheshire Constabulary 1946 ~ 1963.

Godwin Edward Banwell was born in 1897, Edmonton, Middlesex. During World War 1, in January 1916, he was appointed to a Commission as 2nd Lt 5th Bat. Leicestershire Regiment. In July 1916, he proceeded to France.

A World War One Hero

During the War he was awarded the Military Cross (MC), his citation stating for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his party in bright moonlight to destroy hostile wire, which would have inevitably, held up our attack on the following day. Later he displayed the greatest fearlessness and determination in clearing enemy trenches and driving back the enemy post and bombing attacks. He personally accounted for eight of the enemy with bayonet and set a magnificent example. He was awarded a bar to his MC in 1918, the citation stating….. Led their companies in a most gallant and able manner, keeping in touch in the fog and accomplished a difficult movement. They gave each other mutual support and in the face of heavy fire stood up and signalled to each other when ready to advance and so brought the whole line forward to the final objective. Throughout the war by now Captain Banwell was wounded no less than 5 times and was also recommended for the Victoria Cross (VC).

Saving lives during an earthquake in India

Between 1919 and 1939 he served with the Indian Police Service reaching the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police in Rangoon. Again he was to prove himself as a man of Valour and awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Kings Police Medal (KPM) for Gallantry. His citation states …When Pegu was devastated by an earthquake and fire on the night of 5th May 1930 (claiming the lives of over 500 people) Mr. Banwell displayed the greatest power of control and organisation. About 20 minutes had elapsed and the town was ablaze before he could get down, there was panic and confusion. He got his men in hand organised proper patrols, and reduced chaos to order very rapidly, while the same time directing and taking part in such rescue work as possible. He extracted one man who was pinned by fallen debris at considerable risk to himself when fire was all but on him. He dealt with a panic in the sub-jail where 150 prisoners made threatening disturbances when sparks were blown in and got them all safely out of jail with a very exiguous guard, and got them back an hour or so later without mishap. It was due to his thoroughness of his improvised organisation that there was no looting and no violence.

A distinguished police career

After his return to England in 1939, he became Staff Officer to the Chief Constable of Durham. Later he became Chief Constable of East Riding Police Force. He became Chief Constable of Cheshire in 1946 and served in this post until his retirement in 1963. His OBE during this time was increased to the Commander of the British Empire (CBE).



Top: (left to right) Military Cross and Bar (MC). Order of St John. Kings Police Medal (KPM) (Gallantry). World War 1 Victory Medal. World War 1 War medal.

Bottom: Indian General Service Medal/Clasp 1930-1932 World War 2 Defence Medal 1953 Coronation Medal. Queens Police Service and Good Conduct Medal.