It was one of the most violent and bloody days in Glasgow's history.

A deranged sniper went on a two-hour shooting spree that left one man dead and 13 injured including a seven-year-old boy.

Minutes before this own death at the hands of a police gunman James Griffiths had taken refuge in a top floor tenement firing randomly at the people below including young children in a packed play park.

READ MORE: Glasgow Crime Stories: The assassination of George Redmond

Glasgow Times:

The papers were full of stories about the crew of Apollo 11's mission to land on the Moon in five days' time.

However, the horror that engulfed the whole city on July 15, 1969, knocked even that momentous event off the front pages.

Only the bravery of two police officers prevented further loss of life including those of three local children caught up in the crossfire.

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Glasgow Times:

Griffiths, 34, was wanted by police for questioning about the murder of pensioner Rachel Ross who had been killed during a break in to her home in Ayr nine days earlier.

The prime suspect safe cracker Paddy Meehan had given Griffiths name as an alibi, claiming they were both in Stranraer at the time planning a post office break in.

When detectives called at Griffiths third floor flat at Holyrood Crescent in Kelvinbridge shortly before 11am he opened fire from a window.

The career criminal thought he was about to be charged with the murder and decided to go out all guns blazing - literally.

He shot Detective Constable William Walker in the back narrowly missing other officers and passers-by in the street.

Armed with a rifle and shot gun, Griffiths then escaped from the building via the roof and shot salesman James Kerr in nearby Henderson Street before stealing his Ford Anglia car.

Glasgow Times:

Several miles later he crashed the stolen vehicle in Carnbrae Street, Possilpark and ran inside the Round Toll Bar and blasted two shots into the ceiling.

He then grabbed a bottle of brandy from the gantry and stood there drinking it.

Griffiths, who was originally from Rochdale, Lancashire, then shot elderly customer William Hughes who died several days later in hospital.

Bar manager, James Connelly bravely grabbed Griffiths and threw him out of the pub on to the pavement.

Griffiths then went back into the bar and fired some more shots though no one was injured this time.

He then hijacked a lorry which was parked outside after shooting at its driver John Craig.

Glasgow Times:

Griffiths with the police in hot pursuit drove into Kay Street, Springburn and realising it was a dead end abandoned the stolen lorry, broke into an empty top-floor flat, and started blasting through a window.

As people dashed for cover, scores of cops surrounded the building and a phone call was even made to the Army asking for help.

One police officer spotting a baby stranded in it's pram bravely carried it to safety despite the bullets whizzing past his ears.

A newly wed 18-year old woman was hit and her furious husband had to be stopped by police from running into the tenement and confronting Griffiths.

One man just discharged from hospital following a knife attack was shot in the neck.

Griffiths youngest victim was seven year old Peter Traynor who was hit as he played on swings with his brother David, 3, and sister Angela,4.

A bullet from Griffiths rifle hit David's glass bottle of Barr's limeade and ricocheted into Peter's abdomen.

He didn't realise he had been hit until the police took him and his two siblings to the nearby Shevlane's Bar from the play park. One man who'd been shot was lying injured in the packed pub, covered with a blanket.

The schoolboy was given first aid and later taken to hospital for a check up before being released.

Detective Sergeant Ian Smith - a firearms specialist - was drafted in to take out the deranged sniper.

Armed with handguns both he and Chief Superintendent Malcolm Finlayson sneaked into the tenement close unnoticed by Griffiths shortly after 12:30pm and carefully climbed the stairs.

At the door to the top floor flat, Finlayson eased open the letterbox and saw Griffiths with his rifle raised to fire.

The police chief stuck the barrel of his gun through the letterbox and fired once hitting Griffiths on the shoulder who fell to the ground.

Both men stormed the property and dragged him bodily downstairs into the street where their colleagues were waiting.

By that time Griffiths was already dead.

Glasgow Times:

He now had the unenviable record of being the first person shot and fatally wounded by police in Scotland.

Peter Traynor, now 58, remembers the terrifying experience as if it was yesterday.

He told the Glasgow Times:"I hate to say it but had Griffiths been a decent shot he would have killed about 20 people.

"He was firing the gun nonstop all the time and didn't care who he hit.

"My sister and I could see Griffiths moving between different rooms and firing from the front and back of the house.

"People were running in all directions screaming and shouting and he was basically shooting at anybody who moved"

Griffiths, who had been involved crime since he was 13, was given a pauper's funeral in Linn Cemetery, Glasgow with no friends or family members attending.

The Lord Advocate ruled there would be no public inquiry into his death, saying the officers had taken the necessary steps to protect the public.

Rachel Ross died after she and her businessman husband Abraham were beaten and robbed by raiders on July 6, 1969.

Griffiths' associate Paddy Meehan was later convicted of her murder but pleaded his innocence.

In 1976, Meehan, now dead, became the only Scot to receive a royal pardon after a long-running campaign to clear his name led by broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy and his lawyer Joe Beltrami.

Ian Smith was given the British Empire Medal (BEM) by the Queen at Buckingham Palace and died in 1999 at the age of 75.

Glasgow Times:

His son, also Ian, 66, of Croftfoot, Glasgow, said his father never discussed his role in bringing Griffiths down and he only found out about his father's heroics when he read about it in a newspaper.

He told the Glasgow Times: "There was also a big internal investigation at the time.

"Because a man had been shot dead by the police there was the possibility at one stage that my father might go on trial, "But dad never spoke about what happened that day, even though I often asked him.

"It was not in his nature."

Finlayson was also given the BEM at the same ceremony and further honoured by the City of Glasgow Police for his bravery.

He died at his home on Skye at the age of 83 in 1993.

Ian Smith snr had joined the City of Glasgow Police aged 25, having seen service in the RAF during World War II.

He reached the rank of Detective Superintendent and retired in 1984 at the age of 59.

Ian added:"I don't think anyone could dispute the bravery shown by my dad and Malcolm Finlayson that day.

"Griffiths discharged his firearm at both men as they stood behind the door of the flat where he was holed up.

"They didn't have any of the specialist protective equipment then that firearms officers have now.

"My dad went up to the door in his suit and Malcolm was in his uniform.

"There was no risk assessment, they just did it."

The Glasgow Police Museum, in Merchant City's Bell Street, has a special tribute to both men.

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The proud son added"He and mum went down to Buckingham Palace the following year to get the BEM.

"Our family are very proud of dad and the fact that his bravery saved the lives of others and prevented further injury and loss of life.

"Both he and Malcolm Finlayson both showed cold, raw courage that day to take out an armed and dangerous man."

Peter Traynor says a statue should have been built at the time in tribute to the police officers.

He added:"My family are very grateful for their bravery.

"A statue would be a fitting reminder that both men were prepared to sacrifice their own lives for the safety of others."