Great Train Robbery
In spite of the facts about the so-called Great Train Robbery – that it was a nasty robbery with violence carried out by career criminals – it has somehow gone into legend in Britain as something of a romantic enterprise.
A total of £2.6 million was stolen from a night-mail train running between Glasgow and Euston . The money stolen was being taken to be destroyed, so was all in used notes with no record of serial numbers. The robbers halted the train by tricking the driver with a tampered signal – a glove masked the green bulb, and the red was operated with a battery.
At 3.15 in the morning the train came to a halt near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire. During the attack the deputy driver was bundled down the embankment, and Jack Mills the driver was struck with a crowbar. Though he recovered he suffered from the injury and trauma for the rest of his life, dying in 1970 without ever returning to work.
Some 120 sacks of banknotes were thrown from Bridego Railway Bridge to which the relevant carriage had been moved, onto a waiting ex-army lorry. Within 20 minutes the robbery had been completed, and the 15 man gang made off in the lorry and Land Rovers, travelling to their hideout – Leatherslade Farm in Bedfordshire .
A reward of £260,000 was rapidly offered by the banks affected and by the Post Office, a massive sum. Though the robbery itself had worked like clockwork, the criminals afterwards were less clever: the hideout was tracked down by the police within days, and fingerprints aplenty were found there; two gang members who were lying low in Bournemouthmade the mistake of paying rental on a garage in cash with a large quantity of 10 shilling notes to a police widow, and were soon arrested, others following soon after. On April 16 the following year 12 of the gang members were sentenced to prison.