Staff Association
Armed Raids on Duddeston
and Billesley Branches
 
Articles from three separate editions of CONTACT that described aspects of the first two raids (of many) that targeted branches of the BMB. In both cases, the criminals carried weapons. In both cases, the staff were unprotected by anti-bandit screens - these were installed in branches at a later date. The Summer 1961 edition of CONTACT also reproduced a copy of the ROYAL WARRANT for the George Medal.
This website contains a fuller description of the Armed Raid on Billesley and a photograph that features the five members of staff subject to the raids 
 
 
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CONTACT - Autumn 1960

 

HOLD-UP AT DUDDESTON

 

It was a normal enough Saturday morning at Duddeston, the date - July 9th, the time about half past ten; a few customers in and business as usual until a sudden shout "Stand clear, this is a stick-up, STAND AWAY!!!". Norman Barnsley, the manager, was menaced by a sawn-off shotgun in the hands of a hold-up man.

 

Norman called to his cashier, Bernard Edmond, "Phone the Police". Bernard, ignoring the threat of the gunman, hurried into the messroom hoping that he would not be followed, but prepared to resist if he were.

 

A second man vaulted over the counter and started to take money from the cashier's till; as he was doing so Mr. Thomas Cheshire entered the Branch and tackled the man with the gun; Norman Barnsley, taking advantage of this, made an attempt to grab the second man who, in his anxiety to jump back over the counter, dropped £150.

 

As the raiders left Norman threw an inkpot in their direction. Unfortunately, it hit the door jamb.

 

This is a factual account of the incident at Duddeston as opposed to the stories published in the Press. There is no intention to detract from the heroism of Mr. Thomas Cheshire - it is intended to show the coolness displayed by the Staff of the Branch. With no time for thought     Norman Barnsleyand Bernard Edmond reacted with courage and determination in a desperate situation - for this they deserve our respect and admiration.
 
CONTACT - Christmas 1960
 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9TH 1960.

HOLD-UP AT BILLESLEY BRANCH.

The day -B-Y- nearly became good-B-Y-e.

 

 

The following story of the hold-up was received from Mr. John Edwards, Manager of the Billesley Branch:-

 

"Whilst 'Jelly' wobbled, he was comforted by the thought that, thanks to Miss Margaret Lamin's quick summing-up of the situation, he knew the 'cops' had been informed almost before he sighted the 'bandits'.        He also hopes that Roger Bunten's 'baptism of fire' so early in his banking career will not deter him from rendering many years of useful service to the Bank, of which he is sure Roger is capable".

 

The Birmingham Mail quoted Mr. Emrys D. Morgan, prosecuting, after Derek Harold Howell and Malcolm George Jones had been charged with attempted murder, "The Manager of the Bank, Mr. Edwards, most courageously tackled both men, despite the fact that they were both armed. There was a struggle and two shots were fired, one bullet going through a ceiling and another into a drawer after it had penetrated a desk. Mr. Edwards was hit on the head and arms with the butt of one of the revolvers and had to have hospital treatment".

 

One man, one lady and a boy locked in a building with two armed and desperate thugs - What are the odds? And yet, by the bravery 'above and beyond the call of duty' of one, the common sense of another and the complete indifference to danger of the third, the tables were turned to such an extent that the enemy was not only defeated but completely 'routed'.

 

On behalf of the Staff of this Bank I must express our most sincere admiration to Mr. John Edwards, to Miss Margaret Lamin and to Mr. Roger Bunten. They are colleagues of whom we are justly proud.

 

It is impossible to forecast what one's reactions would be if confronted by an armed bandit; so much depends upon the prevailing circumstances. So far the Staff at Billesley Branch and Mr. Norman Barnsley and Mr. Bernard Edmond at the Duddeston Branch have shown courage and resourcefulness 'under fire'. However, they were not intent upon 'setting a precedent' and it may be that you or I may be forced at some future time to use discretion; remember, this is not a substitute for valour, it is the better part of it; if danger must be faced, it should be faced without fear - but not without judgment.

 

CONTACT - Autumn 1961

 

THE GEORGE MEDAL

 

On July 13th, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presented the George Medal to Mr. John L E Edwards.

 

The story of the visit to Buckingham Palace - well, that's a difficult story to obtain. In the words of John Edwards, "There wasn't much to it, really. About 200 of us waited in an ante-room and went into the Presentation Room about 15 at a time. The George Medals were at the end, the Knights and such-like going in first. When my turn came I walked in to a point opposite to the Queen, left-turned, bowed, and stepped up for the award, backed away, bowed, right-turned, and walked off."

 

A question about how Her Majesty looked received a typical male reply:- "She was wearing yellow, I think. I don't think she was heavily made up because I can't remember noticing that, if she had been, I'm sure I would gave remembered".

 

"Did Her Majesty say anything to you as the award was made, Mr. Edwards?"

 

"She asked me what I'd done to get it." The obvious subject for conversation - in any case there were 200 awards.

 

It would be unfair to try to probe further. Let us leave John with his memories of the day that, by his own courage, he earned.

 

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Two men pushed their way into the Billesley Branch and asked the junior, "How many are there in here?". Immediately Miss Margaret Lamin ran into the mess-room, locked the door and 'phoned the Police. John Edwards knew that the Police were on the way and this knowledge helped considerably to decide his course of action.

 

Let the story of the Billesley Raid end with a typical comment from Mr. J L E Edwards, George Medallist:-

 

Had it not been for Margaret's speed of thought and action, the happenings of that day could have been very different".

 

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