Wednesday, 12 December 2007

The Great Train Robbery, 1963

The Great Train Robbery was the name given to a £2.3 million train robbery committed on 8 August 1963 at Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn near Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, England.

The Royal Mail's Glasgow to London travelling post office train was stopped by tampered signals. A 15-member gang, led by Bruce Reynolds and including Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Wilson, Jimmy Hussey, John Wheater, Brian Field, Jimmy White, Tommy Wisbey, Gordon Goody and Buster Edwards, stole £2.3 million in used £1, £5 and £10 notes — the equivalent of £40 million in 2006.

Although no guns were used in the robbery, the train driver, Jack Mills, was hit on the head with an iron bar, causing a black eye and facial bruising. The assailant was one of three members of the gang never to be arrested or identified. Frank Williams (at the time a Detective Inspector) claims to have traced the man, but he could not be charged because of lack of evidence. Mills recovered fully from the attack and died in 1970 from leukemia.

Thirteen of the gang members were caught after police discovered their fingerprints at their hideout at Leatherslade Farm, near Oakley, Buckinghamshire. The robbers were tried, sentenced and imprisoned. Ronnie Biggs escaped from prison 15 months into his sentence, settling in Melbourne Australia, and later moving to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when police found out his Melbourne address. Charlie Wilson escaped and was living outside Montreal, Canada on Rigaud Mountain. In the upper-middle-class neighbourhood where the large, secluded properties are surrounded by trees, Wilson was just another resident who enjoyed his privacy. Only when his wife made the mistake of telephoning his parents in England was Scotland Yard able to track him down.

See the 10 Greatest Robberies of all time at

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