In his book, "In the Line of Duty", Robert Knuckle describes Constable Alex Gamman as "an unlikely hero".
Gamman joined the force in 1914 after working as a teamster and farm labourer. He left the force in 1933 but reengaged in Calgary in 1940 after he was unable to find suitable work. He was a good solid constable with an ordinary career and by 1950 he had been with the force for a total of 29 years. He was stationed in Montreal and was on guard duty at The Bank of Canada on May 25th, 1950.
He was strolling down Dorchester street, on his way home for lunch, in uniform but unarmed, when he saw two men running toward him; one was the manager of a local Bank of Toronto and he was screaming, "Stop that man, he's got a gun".
The suspect stopped just in front of Gamman, turned, and shot the bank manager in the leg. Fearing for the safety of innocent bystanders, Gamman grabbed the gunman and tried to disarm him. The gunman was considerably larger than Gamman and half his age. They struggled but the gunman broke free and shot Gamman three times.
Constable Gamman was rushed to the hospital and his condition appeared to be stable, but he lapsed into a coma that evening and died the next morning.
King George VI posthumously awarded Constable Gamman the King's Police Medal, citing him for "conspicuous courage in absolute disregard for his personal safety". The medal was presented to his wife Ilda who died shortly after the medal was presented.
Constable Gamman was 58 years old when he died and is the oldest Mountie listed on the Hounour Roll. It is interesting to know that the two oldest Mounties killed in the line of duty are both buried in Calgary's Union Cemetery.
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