FORMER colleagues and friends gathered to remember the life of a police officer who was killed 60 years ago.

Det Insp James O’Donnell was a celebrated war hero who was gunned down 100 yards from Blackburn Police Station in December 1958.

Mr O’Donnell had previously fought in the Second World War and was shot and captured by the Nazis in Holland in May 1940, during Operation Harpoon - a successful mission which saw the Dutch Royal Family and government evacuated from the Hook of Holland and brought the Dutch gold and currency reserves to England.

Chief inspectors Russ Procter, Jon Bullas and Alice Knowles-Martin, with colour sergeant Will Pintar from the Irish Guards, attended the memorial service alongside DI O’Donnell’s former colleagues and nephew.

The Rev Tony Ford, a former watch liaison officer in the police, conducted the service at Pleasington Cemetery and Crematorium.

Mr Ford said: “On more than one occasion, James O’Donnell selflessly put himself at risk of death for the safety and freedom of others.

“James was laid to rest here in this humble grave, his sacrifice for mankind known only unto a few of us and to God.

“I would like to thank everyone who came here to remember James.

“By looking at his grave, you would have never known the things he did and the challenges life threw at him.”

After the war Mr O’Donnell, who lived in Higher Croft Road, returned to Blackburn CID and rose to the rank of detective inspector in 1955.

The service was organised by Dan Perkins, a 52-year-old retired former Blackburn detective, who came across Mr O’Donnell’s story in November 2008.

Mr Perkins said: “It was great to see so many turn out to remember him."