RETIRED police officer Keith Milner, who has died aged 83, was the first detective on scene of the Great Train Robbery.

Mr Milner, who was born on July 27, 1935, in Richmond, Yorkshire, was a Detective Chief Superintendent for Thames Valley Police, having followed his father into the constabulary.

After receiving a call from the police office at around 5am on August, 8 1963, he was the first officer to arrive at Cheddington Railway Station.

He collected evidence on the rail track and spent nine months investigating the case as the officer in charge of exhibits.

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The robbery involved a gang, masterminded by Bruce Reynolds, who stopped the Glasgow-Euston overnight mail train as it passed through the Buckinghamshire countryside.

The 15-strong gang robbed £2.6 million – equivalent to about £53.5 million today.

Twelve of the robbers were jailed for a total of more than 300 years but more than one broke out of prison, including notorious criminal Ronnie Biggs.

Mr Milner's photo of the scene appeared to his surprise on the front page of the London Evening News – now called the Evening Standard – that night.

The Oxford Times:

He was later awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 1986 for 'distinguished valiant service' and received commendations from senior officers including Sara Thornton, ex-chief constable of Thames Valley Police, for his efforts in robbery investigation.

Mr Milner featured in the television documentaries on The Great Train Robbery when it was the 50th anniversary.

The father-of-three was instrumental during the case and worked with Scotland Yard legends such as Leonard 'Nipper' Read.

He moved from Yorkshire to Oxfordshire in 1956 and worked for Thames Valley Police for 30 years and although he had a spell as acting Assistant Chief Constable of the force, he said he loved being a detective.

He lived in Islip and was married for over 60 years to his wife Joy, who passed away in 2017.

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After retiring in 1987, Mr Milner continued to work as a crisis management consultant for companies such as Walkers Crisps and Jacob’s Biscuits.

Mr Milner went to a number of schools in Yorkshire including Guisborough grammar school.

He was a keen cricketer being captain and opening batsmen for the Thames Valley Police side for many years.

He enjoyed going to his local pub and loved golf, often playing at North Oxford Golf Club where he was a member.

Mr Milner remained a loyal Yorkshireman, often spending time at the family’s flat in Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast where he enjoyed looking out to the North Sea whilst eating the local fish and chips.

The Oxford Times:

Other highlights in his 30-year-long career included being involved in the protection of the Queen and the Royal Family at Royal Ascot and during state visits to Windsor Castle.

As head of Special Branch, he covered Royal Protection throughout the late 1970s and 1980s.

He also provided protection for King Hussein of Jordan.

After many years of moving from house-to-house due to the requirements of his job, he and Mrs Milner finally settled in Islip and raised their three children making it the family home.

Islip was a community that he and his wife loved until the end.

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Survived by his three children, Craig, Debbie and Beverly, and seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, Mr Milner was chairman of the Royal British Legion in Islip as well as a member of the board of governors at Doctor South’s Primary School in the village.

His funeral will be held next week on Thursday, March 21, at 2.30pm at St Nicholas Church in Islip.

St Nicholas Church will be welcoming donations as well as ROSY (Respite care for Oxfordshire’s Sick Youngsters).