Alexander McGarvey was born in Glasgow in 1918 and joined Lanarkshire Constabulary on 4 November 1938.
On 12 July, 1941, he was called-up for service in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was selected for training as a pilot. He went to Texas, USA, where he received flight training and qualified as a Sergeant pilot. He was thereafter stationed in Lincolnshire and flew bombing missions to Germany.
In August 1943, he was flying back from such a mission to Hamburg, when his aircraft was shot down into the North Sea. Although wounded in the legs, he towed his wounded and sometimes unconscious navigator, Flt. Sgt. A. Grainger, to safety. After almost 9 hours they were picked up by a German light-vessel. The German captain of the ship was so impressed by Flt. Sgt. McGarvey’s feat of endurance, that he reported the circumstances to the Red Cross, who, in turn, reported it to the Air Ministry, As a consequence, after his release in 1945 from the prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag Luft 3, he was awarded the George Medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. His Navigator had survived his ordeal and attended the ceremony.
On returning to the police in 1945, he was transferred to the City of Glasgow Police and served in ‘A’ (Central) Division. On 22 March 1951, he was promoted to Sergeant in ‘B’ (Marine) Division and on 10 December 1956 he was promoted to Inspector in ‘F’ (Maryhill) Division. On 8 September 1962, he was promoted to Chief Inspector back in ‘A’ (Central) Division. He was promoted of Superintendent on 1 September and transferred to the Traffic Department and on 8 June 1967 he was promoted to Chief Superintendent in ‘E’ (Northern) Division.
On 31 March 1974 he retired from the police and was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on 15 July 1974.
Chief Superintendent McGarvey’s medals are on display in The Glasgow Police Museum.