The Great Train Robbery
The great train robbery happened on August 8th 1963 at Bridego Railway Bridge in Buckinghamshire, England.
At 6:50 p.m on August 7th 1963 the travelling post office train set off from Glasgow to London
The second carriage behind the engine was known as the HVP.This contained valuables including large quantities of money, registered parcels and packages. Usually the value of these items would have been in the region of 300,000 euro but because there had been a bank holiday weekend in Scotland. The total robbery was 2.6 million euro worth over 40 million euro in 2010
Just after 3 am the driver Jack Mills stopped the train at a red signal light in Ledburn, Buckinghamshire but the signal light was tampered by the robbers they covered the green signal light and connected a six-volt battery to power the red signal light. The locomotives second man 26 year old David Whitby climbed down from the cab to cal the signalman from the railway emergency phone but the robbers cut the cables. When the second man went to get back on the train one of the robbers threw him off they had to put the train where the pickup truck could get the money so they decided to do that at bridego bridge which was 800m ahead of them.
At the bridge 5 postal workers were tied up in the corner of the carriage and the robbers were ready to load 124 sacks of money onto the truck and two other vehicles.
They then headed to roads listening for the police broadcasts on the radio and arrived at Leatherslade farm in Buckinghamshire 27 miles away from the crime scene. They began counting the money. 2.6 million was stolen in one euro, five euro and ten euro notes.
They cut the telephone lines at 4:30 am to raise the alarm. at 5am chief superintendent of Buckinghamshire arrived at the crime scene where he supervised evidence gathering and he then went to Cheddington Station where statements were taken from the driver and postal workers. A member of the gang had made a mistake of telling the postal staff not to move for 30 minutes
and this told the police that the gangs hideout could not be more than 35 miles away. The post master general offered 10,000 pound reward for the first person to give any information about the robbery.
The farm was deserted but the truck was there and was painted yellow. The land rover contained food, bedding, sleepingbags, sacks, mail, bank note wrappers and fingerprints of the robbers. Also a ketchup bottle and a monopoly board game used with real money.
The first gang member to be caught was Roger Codrey who was with his friend William Boal who was helping him lie low in return for the payment of old debts. They were staying in a rented furnished flat above a florist shop in Bournemouth. Bournemouth CID were tipped off by police widow Ethel Clark, when Boal and Codrey paid rent for a garage three months up-front, all in used 10 shilling notes. Other arrests soon followed and 8 of the gang members and associates were caught.
The trial began in Buckinghamshire on 20th January 1964. the defendants were brought to the court each day from Aylesbury Prison in a compartmentalised van out of the view of the large crowd of spectators. Mr Justice Edmund Davis presided over the trial which lasted 51 days and included 613 exhibits and 240 witnesses. The Jury retired to the Grange Youth Centre in Aylesbury to consider their verdict.
On 15th April 1964 the proceeding ended with the judge describing the robbery as a crime of sordid violence inspired by vast agreed and passing sentences of 30 years imprisonment on 7 of the robbers.
Immediately after the trial two of the train robbers escaped from captivity
On 12th August 1964, Charlie Wilson escaped from Winson Green Prison in Birmingham in less than 3 minutes, with the escape being unprecedented. In that a 3 man team broke into the prison to extricate him. His escape team were never caught and the leader nicknamed “Frenchy” disappeared from the London criminal scene by the late 60s. Two weeks after his escape Wilson was in Paris for plastic surgery and to grow out his prison haircut. By November 1965, Wilson was in Mexico City visiting old friends Bruce Reynolds and Buster Edwards. Wilsons escape was yet another dramatic twist in the train robbery saga.
Ronnie Biggs escaped from Wandsworth Prison with a furniture van parking alongside the prison during outside exercise time, to allow 4 prisoners to escape including Biggs. Biggs and Flower paid significant money to get smuggled to Paris for plastic surgery. Biggs said he had to escape because of the length of the sentence and the severity of the prison conditions.The escape of Wilson and Biggs meant that 5 of the robbers on the run, with Tommy Butler in Hot Pursuit. With was left in the UK. On 10th 1966 a new friend recognised him from photos in a newspaper and informed the police. They arrested him at Littlestone while he was at home.He only had 8,000 pounds to hand back them, with the rest long gone. He was tried In June 1966 at Leicester assizes and justice nield only sentenced him to 15 years in jail Wilson was arrested on the 25th January 1968 by Tommy butler. The last of the robbers to be caught was brace Reynolds . the legacy of the great train robbery in 1963 is in many ways a sad one very little of the many was ever recovered and the driver jack mills suffered greatly as a result of the robbery. While his death in 1970 had nothing to do with his injury he got. He got very little compensation for putting up a fight and was often accused of exaggerating severity of the injury. Many of the robbers re offended when they were released Reynolds the legacy of the great train robbery in 1963 was in many ways a sad one very little of the money was ever recovered and the driver jack mills suffered greatly as a result of the robbery. While his death in 1970 had nothing to do with his injury he got. He got little compensation for putting up a fight and was often accused of exaggerating the severity of the injury. Many of the robbers re offended when they were released Reynolds Wilson, James, hussey and wisbey were jailed later on bill boat died in prison a broken man in 1970 despite only being an accomplice after the fact. Ronnie Biggs was twice made example of largely for embarrassing the authorities he got 30 years for being a minor player in the robbery and despite living a crime free life after his escape from prison he served another 8 years upon his return to his return to the United Kingdom.