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  1. #1
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    UK - 50th anniversary of crime of the century The Great Train Robbery

    This will be Up to the Minute in a week or so, as well as being fifty years past its date of occurrence.

    Briefly: below please find links regarding Britain's 08 August 1963 Great Train Robbery - a crime of cunning and derring-do accomplished without the use of guns which, but for one moment of violence - the coshing of the train driver - would have been perfect.

    (Though one might also point out that failure to secure the hideout - the party contracted to destroy evidence did a runner - takes points away. As a result, the culprits, most of them, were caught and punished.)

    However, it is not without reason that the act of robbing the mail van on the Glasgow-Euston train one August night in 1963 has its fans.

    And, compared to many crimes still popular in public lore - the decade's-end Manson Murders, let us say - the train robbery that night and the subsequent events - a pair of daring prison escapes, hideouts in Canada, Mexico and South America, one culprit later recording a single with the Sex Pistols, that sort of thing - the Great Train Robbers accomplished their goal without murder, in what may now seem a more innocent time.

    If you're at all interested in the workings of master thieves who plan and carry out audacious robberies and do so without headline-grabbing accounts of coagulate gore spilled in the process, I suggest this may be the perfect crime - for you.

    Wiki: Great Train Robbery 1963

    Excellent and lengthy synopsis of the case, well-documented.

    * 'I am proud to have been one of them': Ronnie Biggs remains unrepentant on 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery. (Daily Mail)

    Terrific pictures, and one of the various accounts by Biggsy, along with a very good "What became of...?" sidebar on the villains.

    * Great Train Robber Gordon Goody confesses 50 years on. (Mirror)

    Indisputably one of the prime movers of the combined firm gives his account - and says he'll reveal the identity of The Ulsterman.

    * Bruce Reynolds, mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery, dies aged 81. (Daily Mail)

    Another dollop of fine period pics; Bruce Richard Reynolds probably holds best claim to being the crime's mastermind.

    * Great Train Robber finally admits to coshing engine driver in deathbed confession that solves 49-year-old mystery. (Daily Mail)

    In which Big Jim Hussey allegedly confesses. Excellent timeline included as sidebar.

  2. #2
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    An ode to the mastermind from a band featuring his son Nick on harmonica (Alabama 3 performed the intro to 'The Sopranos' song "Woke Up This Morning" also.) BRR himself recites the list of names of legendary train robbers which ends the performance here.

    The video is from a 1905 film by Thomas Edison, 'The Little Train Robbery.'
    Last edited by KateB; 06-10-2015 at 10:34 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

  3. #3
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    The Great Train Robbery: Fun-loving criminals. (New Statesman)
    The 50th anniversary this August of the Great Train Robbery and the death of its mastermind, Bruce Reynolds, recall our
    peculiar romantic fondness for thieves. Duncan Campbell, who knew many of the old-style robbers, on why we all still love a villain.

    The Great Train Robbery: How It Happened. (Mirror)

    Bruce Reynolds, Great Train Robber - a life in pictures. (Guardian)

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the excellent in-depth coverage, wfgodot.

    I’m sure Mr. Jack Mills, the driver, wouldn’t consider the robbers (Ronnie Biggs or James Hussey?) fun-loving since he was bludgeoned over the head with an iron bar and rendered unconscious by one of them.

  5. #5
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    A good Wiki entry on the coshed engine driver Jack Mills and train second man David Whitby. Includes discussion on the assasilant.

  6. #6
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    I think in 2013 dollars, the take was something like $61 million.

    One of the main investigators in the case, Tommy Butler, has been proposed by some to be a suspect in the unsolved Jack the Stripper serial killings. He's on the suspect list in the Jack the Stripper Wiki article.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.


    Stan Reid

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfgodot View Post
    A good Wiki entry on the cowshed engine driver Jack Mills and train second man David Whitby. Includes discussion on the assasilant.
    At the time, I think England was still executing for murder committed in the furtherance of another crime so if Mills had died some of these guys might have swung. Two chaps were hanged in August 1964 for a murder committed during a robbery.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.


    Stan Reid

  8. #8
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    Bruce Reynolds, writing in Guardian in 2008: Anyone can steal - but few get away
    ---
    We all have our benchmarks and for us the benchmark was the Brink's robbery in Boston in 1950, which was the largest robbery in the United States at that time. We wanted to do something as spectacular as that. We wanted to draw our line in the sand. I was quite young at the time and I liked the challenge. I wanted to move in those circles. It's insanity, of course, and we knew that we would be in the frame as soon as the robbery happened but it's the same madness, I suppose, that drives people to bivouac on the north face of the Eiger.
    ---

  9. #9
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    Thorough Wiki look at Brian Fields, the GTR firm's link to the mysterious party known till now only as "the Ulsterman" ("who came up with the idea of robbing the money laden night mail train and also provided the details of the schedule and contents of the trains").

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by STANDREID View Post
    I think in 2013 dollars, the take was something like $61 million.
    I believe the 1983 Brink's-MAT robbery amounts to more than $200 million when converted to current gold prices. Diamonds and cash were also taken (along with nearly 4 tons of gold) so maybe a total of a quarter billion dollars on that one in 2013 value. The diamonds would probably have to be fenced for less than 40 cents on the dollar so that might knock the "real" total back some. Very little of the stolen treasure has been recovered despite several of the robbers being sent to prison.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.


    Stan Reid


  11. #11
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    This is Ron Biggs's rather scurrilous (rather!) vocal atop backing by the then-nearly-disbanded Sex Pistols' arrangement of their "God Save the Queen." Recorded while RB was still hiding out in South America. Notable couplet: "God save Myra Hindley, God save Ian Brady, / Even though he's horrible / And she ain't what I'd call a lady."

    An artefact of a nearly ended first wave of punk rock c. 1978. Scurrilous, yes, unlistenable, maybe, but the lure of involving such a minor GTR player as Biggs to replace John Lydon in the Pistols speaks to the greater lure this crime has had in popular culture.
    Last edited by KateB; 06-10-2015 at 10:34 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

  12. #12
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    Mountain, from, iirc, 1971. Less than a decade later GTR had already become a sort of touchstone.
    Last edited by KateB; 06-10-2015 at 10:33 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

  13. #13
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    Career criminal Charlie Wilson was involved in both Great Train and Brink's-MAT. He moved to Spain where he was gunned down by an unknown hitman in 1990.
    This my opinion and to the best of my knowledge, that is, if I'm not joking.


    Stan Reid

  14. #14
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    From Time's "Brazen Heists" list: The Great Train Robbery, 1963

  15. #15
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    John Maris speaks

    I turned in the Great Train Robbers... and it turned my life upside-down. (Mirror)
    Herdsman who turned hero breaks his silence to reveal deat threat terror
    ---
    Speaking for the first time about the aftermath of the robbery — which happened 50 years ago on Thursday — the 83-year-old says: “I was constantly scared, always worried. That fear lasted for years, I was always looking over my shoulder.

    “Even when we moved away from the area the person who took my job phoned me one day to say to be careful because four men had been to the farm in a car and were asking for me. It was suspicious.”

    And recalling some of the worst letters he and his family received, he says: “Some were bogus but some were not. I remember one in particular that threatened my family and myself. It could only have been written by someone who had been at the farm.”
    ---
    more at the link

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