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I would like to like to make one thing clear at the very outset and that is, when you speak of a train robbery, this involved no loss of train, merely what I like to call the contents of the train, which were pilfered. We haven't lost a train since 1946, I believe it was – the year of the great snows when we mislaid a small one. Peter Cook, Beyond the Fringe, sketch ‘The Great Train Robbery’ 1964
We believe this to be the work of thieves, and I’ll tell you why. The whole pattern is very reminiscent of past robberies where we have found thieves to be involved. The tell-tale loss of property – that’s one of the signs we look for. ibid.
In the summer of 1963 two gangs of criminals got together to stop the Glasgow to London travelling post office. They planned to uncouple the carriages carrying high-value packages and transfer the sacks to waiting vehicles. On the night of 2nd August ... bags filled with bank notes. Great Crimes & Trials: The Great Train Robbery
Scotland Yard put out an announcement that the police were undertaking a search of every building within a thirty mile radius of the spot. They were going to investigate every possible hiding place ... The thieves abandoned their hideaway before they had planned to. ibid.
The gang had left enough fingerprints and palm prints to go on. ibid.
Two days later on 16th August four suitcases contained over $100,000 were found in a Surrey wood. ibid.
The Prosecution took three weeks to present its two hundred witnesses. ibid.
Then he passed his sentences, and very harsh they were: Bill Boal: twenty-four years in jail later reduced to fourteen years ... Charlie Wilson ... thirty years ... Tommy Wisbey ... 30 years ... Jim Hussey ... 30 years ... Lenny Field 24 years later reduced to five ... Gordon Goody ... 30 years ... John Wheater ... got only three years because of his war records ... Roy James ... 30 years ... Ronnie Biggs ... 30 years ... Roger Cordrey ... 14 years parolled after seven. ibid.
Biggs was followed to Rio by Chief Superintendent Slipper of Scotland Yard. ibid.
Under Brazilian law a jubilant Biggs had to be released. ibid.
The kidnapping foundered on similar legal grounds, and a black Mariah carried him to freedom. ibid.
On 8th August 1963 a gang of London crooks pulled off one of the most daring robberies of the twentieth century ... The target was an ordinary train, but inside the train was £2.6 million in used bank notes. Robberies of the Century
Reynolds put together a gang that included fifteen robbers and one retired train conductor. For three months they worked on their Mission Impossible. ibid.
Around 3 a.m. on 8th August 1963 Reynolds and his gang put their plan into action. As well as cutting all the phone wires in the area so that no-one could telephone for help they also rigged several lights on the track so the driver would stop the train. ibid.
At the farmhouse Reynolds and the gang divvied up the money in equal shares, each of them receiving about £150,000, more than £3,000,000 per person in today’s currency. ibid.
The prints were then matched to some of the suspects. Wanted posters were distributed to newspapers and leads began pouring in. Over the next few weeks police made several arrests. But where was the stolen money? ibid.
To date of the £2.6 million stolen by Reynolds and his gang only £300,000 has been recovered. ibid.
Rough guess, could be a million. For a bank holiday maybe more. The Great Train Robbery I: A Robber’s Tale ***** tip-off, BBC 2013
Think I’m gonna get meself a nice little club. Something simple. Classy. No riff-raff. ibid. Tom
Nothing says guilty like a disappearing act. The Great Train Robbery II: A Copper’s Tale ***** head rozzer
Remember this: no matter who you are, or how high you go, there’s always a wanker boss. ibid.
What are we here for eh if we don’t make our mark ... It’s the buzz. Building a team. Finding the job, planning the job. Carrying it out. It’s the camaraderie. Trusting other men with everything you know. With your life. ibid. Bruce Reynolds
The decision was made that we should find a place where we could hide out rather than drive back home. It was seventeen miles as the crow flies. Bruce Reynolds
I wanted to be caught ... So I was taking risks. Bruce Reynolds
Cars, crumpet and crime. Bruce Reynolds
This to me was what I’d always been looking for. El Dorado. Bruce Reynolds
This is the story of the crime that helped define the ’60s. The Great Train Robbery, ITV 2012
A violent thuggish act of greed. ibid.
South London thieves with day jobs and criminal records. ibid.
Mailbags stuffed full of banknotes. ibid.
Two and a half tons of money in weight. ibid.
Leatherslade Farm. ibid.
There was a massive public outcry against the severity of the sentences. ibid.
It’s 1963: a summer’s evening in the depths of the English countryside. They are just about to attempt the biggest robbery of all time. Bruce Reynolds was the mastermind behind this audacious plan. A plan so well executed the gang fled with a staggering £2.6 million. The Great Train Robbery
Bruce knew just the men: Charlie Wilson, 31 years old ... Ronnie Biggs, 34 ... he would supply a much needed driver for the train. Buster Edwards, 32 ... Jimmy White and John Daley. ibid.
6th August 1963: Everything was set. Months of planning all came down to this one night. If it went right the fifteen-strong gang would make off with a staggering £2.6 million. If it went wrong, Bruce’s reputation would have been destroyed. ibid.
8th August 1963: The Robbery. And now it was time for the biggest job of Bruce’s criminal career. Everyone knew the drill. They went in hard, every man armed with a cosh. It was to prove a mistake. ibid.
Little did Bruce know that the driver had also been attacked in the rush. ibid.
3:30: The gang had done it. They had managed to shift over two tons of money in half an hour. But as they drove off with millions of pounds, workers on the rest of the mail train started to realise something was very wrong. ibid.
Every gang member had an equal share of the loot. £150,000. The equivalent of a staggering £3 million each today. ibid.
The rest of the gang had made their escape in the nick of time. ibid.
The gang’s hideout had been blown but they had just made their escape, and Bruce was now well away from the scene of the crime plotting his next move. For the rest of the gang trust wore thin. The farm that crawled with police was meant to be destroyed. The solicitor charged an acquaintance with setting the farm alight taking with it every shred of evidence. But despite being paid thousands of pounds he never did the job. So the secret hideout had become a treasure trove of clues for the officers. ibid.
Bruce had literally been caught with his pants down. And that was too close for comfort. ibid.
And the next thing I knew was a masked man was ploughing up the steps. I grappled with him. I almost forced him off the footplate. But I was struck from behind by another. Jack Mills, televised interview August 1963
30 Years: All Britain Argues Is This Too Harsh? Daily Sketch headline 17th August 1964
He committed the crime of the century and became the world’s most wanted man. Ronnie Biggs was in the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery. In today’s money they stole £45,000,000. Within weeks most of the gang were arrested and jailed. But Biggs escaped. For ten years police hunted the world for Biggs but it was an unknown journalist who tracked him down. The Great Train Robbers’ Secret Tapes, 2011
The first thing Colin discovered was how Biggs nearly wasn’t part of the Great Train Robbery. ibid.