Jump to content

The Great Train Robbery's missing mastermind?


steveb860
 Share

Recommended Posts

17 hours ago, TheSignalEngineer said:

This points to to at least one of the gang or their helpers having S&T knowledge. I knew several people who were working on the resignalling of the area at the time who were asked by the police as to their whereabouts that night.

 

As I understand it, the work on the signal was by a chap who "learned his trade" on the Brighton line, where the technique of masking the green bulb and activating the green was developed and where there had been a number of mail robberies, perhaps those referred to above. These had not been anywhere near as lucrative as the Leighton Buzzard exercise and I suspect there was a relaxed attitude to prevention - in the sense of insufficient resources put to the exercise.

 

The robbers had their own driver who was unable to move the 40. Jack Mills, then injured having been coshed and in addition having hit his head on steelwork in the cab as he fell, was brought forward. He worked out that the vacuum pipe may have been leaking and put on a powerful ejector with which the 40s were apparently equipped, and so got the train moving.

 

I don't think he ever recovered from the injuries, although his premature death was a result of unrelated leukemia. I am pretty sure the second man was mentally upset by the incident and committed suicide a few years later. I think it is quite outrageous to suggest that either were complicit: there is simply no evidence to that effect, and much the other way. I can't see that Jack Mills would have been coshed had he been complicit. 

 

The police investigation spent much effort on trying to find insiders (although mainly those with knowledge of the consignment and timings), but I am sure had any train crew or the signaler been involve they would have found out.

  • Like 1
  • Agree 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, caradoc said:

 

Those are very serious allegations to make, many years after the event, about people who cannot possibly defend themselves, and who were surely fully investigated by the Police at the time. 

 

 

Perhaps, but the Police investigation would not have kept any such collusion quiet just because it embarassed BR. 

 


Yes they are, but time shouldn’t discontinue any fresh look at the events of the night.

The book I linked to has much more detail than I can type here, there’s a lot of information which points toward BR employee involvement. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I did an article about the Great Train Robbery for my club's fanzine and also visited a temporary exhibition about the robbery at the London Postal Museum last year.

 

The driver Jack Mills as a result of head injuries sustained during the assault was unable to return to work and suffered constant trauma headaches for the rest of his life. He died of unrelated leukaemia in 1970. The secondman David Whitby never recovered from his track-side assault and subsequent rough treatment. However he was able to resume his career but died of a heart attack in 1972 aged only 34.

 

The Class 40 No. D326, later No. 40 126, and the carriages that were robbed were all cut in haste to stop any souvenir hunters (both railway and crime collectors) from pillaging them. One of the Post Office carriages that formed part of the train, though not part of the robbery, is preserved at the Nene Valley Railway. The locomotive was offered to the National Railway Museum because of its infamous history but they declined.

 

A number of the gang evaded justice one way or another, including the inside man known only as 'The Ulsterman', who was not present at the robbery, received a share of the loot, was never captured and has not yet been positively identified.

  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold
2 hours ago, Courtybella said:


Yes they are, but time shouldn’t discontinue any fresh look at the events of the night.

The book I linked to has much more detail than I can type here, there’s a lot of information which points toward BR employee involvement. 


Reading your posts leads me to wonder about the legal implications of your accusing real people (albeit deceased) of being criminals on a public website.   This may be of academic interest to you but it risks being very hurtful to their descendants.

 

Darius

  • Like 1
  • Agree 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, Darius43 said:


Reading your posts leads me to wonder about the legal implications of your accusing real people (albeit deceased) of being criminals on a public website.   This may be of academic interest to you but it risks being very hurtful to their descendants.

 

Darius

 

Just so we get the cart before the horse:

 

In terms of legal implications, some might say the far greater risk of libel was with Graham Satchwell, the author of that book. He was, allegedly, a senior officer in the Headquarters CID of the British Transport Police. See the comments on the Amazon page.

 

Unless anyone can show that Graham Satchwell was prosecuted for libel (or even just chastised by senior colleagues) then, given the passage of time, it could be said that Courtybella is at far less risk.

 

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Darius43 said:


Reading your posts leads me to wonder about the legal implications of your accusing real people (albeit deceased) of being criminals on a public website.   This may be of academic interest to you but it risks being very hurtful to their descendants.

 

Darius


Ive only repeated what’s written in the book I’ve linked to, a book which is widely publicised.

  • Like 1
  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • RMweb Gold
9 hours ago, LBRJ said:

You can't libel dead people.

 

Maybe so, but it doesn’t make these accusations any the less unpleasant.  Furthermore, in my view, stating that one is just repeating accusations made by others is not an excuse.

 

Darius

  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

On 25/11/2020 at 18:48, Courtybella said:

There’s significant evidence to suggest the Leighton Buzzard Signalman was involved, either fully or indirectly.

He was a former resident of HMP, not something known by BR - the gang would of needed him not to follow the regulations in relation to “train unusually long time in section”, and the indications in the box with the tampered signals.

 

Another suggestIon was that the traincrew, and guard where also involved - the latter taking a very long time to raise the alarm.

The whole stand in driver myth is suggested to be just that a myth, the crew where already known to be co operative.

There is some suggestion the Driver who never usually swapped turns, did so on this occasion.

 

What doesn’t sit right with me is, the train was on the UP Fast, at the point of the robbery the layout is US, DS, UF, DF so the gang would of to cross a open line throughout the robbery. Even back in the 1960s the line was very busy throughout the night, how did they manage to stop, move and rob a high value and monitored train without not a single person noticing for some significant time ?

 

It all leads to the signalman, traincrew and guard all being in on the job in some part. 

 

To take some of the points raised;

 

If the Leighton Buzzard Signalman was involved, by not complying with regulations regarding a train overtime in section, would the Cheddington Signalman not have had to be involved as well ? And if, as stated, 'the line was very busy throughout the night', preventing any trains from passing on the other three lines would have required both Signalmen to stop trains out of course. If this did indeed happen, why did none of the crew of trains so delayed report this, especially when details of the robbery emerged ?

 

If the traincrew of 1M44 were involved, why was the Driver coshed over the head, causing him serious injury ? Why was a retired Driver 'hired' as an accomplice, if not to move the train if/when its Driver refused ? Why was there a delay moving the train after it had been split (because the men doing the uncoupling were unfamiliar with vacuum brake operation) ? Every lost minute brought an increased risk of discovery, and, as below, cost the gang money.

 

The gang leader set a strict 30 minute time limit on the job, this was adhered to so rigidly that eight bags of cash were left behind on the train. This would suggest that the job had been cased in advance and that such a gap in traffic at this time and location identified. 

 

There is an excellent article in the August 2013 Railway Magazine which gives further information. It mentions, among other things, that Signalman at Leighton Buzzard did in fact comply with regulations. 

 

 

 

  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

I may have missed this but what about the AWS warnings in the loco?

 

Surely if the signal showed yellow (covered green) the AWS warning sound / sunflower would have been wrong?  And then again at the red signal.  Or if the previous signal was green and the next signal red, the driver would have queried this with the box straight away as that's an unusual series of aspects?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 04/04/2021 at 20:29, Sir TophamHatt said:

I may have missed this but what about the AWS warnings in the loco?

 

Surely if the signal showed yellow (covered green) the AWS warning sound / sunflower would have been wrong?  And then again at the red signal.  Or if the previous signal was green and the next signal red, the driver would have queried this with the box straight away as that's an unusual series of aspects?

 

On the AWS I think this has been asked already possibly on this forum and I had wondered about it myself.  From memory the suggestion was a driver seeing a red would stop esp since it appears he had already slowed on account of the proceeding signal being at yellow.

 

On the preceeding signal question, I was watching a program on you tube about the robbery last month and reference was made by one of those involved to the proceedings signal having been put to appear yellow.  It was one sentence in a long video if I find it again I will include the link.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

On 04/04/2021 at 20:29, Sir TophamHatt said:

I may have missed this but what about the AWS warnings in the loco?

 

Surely if the signal showed yellow (covered green) the AWS warning sound / sunflower would have been wrong?  And then again at the red signal.  Or if the previous signal was green and the next signal red, the driver would have queried this with the box straight away as that's an unusual series of aspects?

If the signal was more restrictive than the AWS, the driver would instinctively attempt to obey the signal.  The driver back then would be more likely to query his own memory/his alertness - human factors come into play - how did I miss that ?  Am I going to be in trouble for failing to notice a warning ?  This would probably be followed by a discussion with the second man who would might also think he had missed something and but likely conclude there was an AWS fault, which might well be a loco problem.  Wrong-side AWS failure probably wasn't seen as such a big deal at the time as it would today.  Were they allowed to continue a journey without AWS then?  Would they agree to delay the train further with a long call to the box, or to wait till they got to destination?  Doesn't matter, since to report an apparent AWS problem to the box he would have to be stationary and find an SPT - they didn't have GSM radio then.  Once the train had stopped of course they were quickly prevented from contacting anybody.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...