Bruce Reynolds, mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery
On August 8, 1963, a gang of 14 thieves rob a royal mail train headed from Glasgow and London making off with over $7 million in stolen money. The mastermind of the Great Train Robbery was Bruce Reynolds, a known burglar and armed robber. He was inspired by the railroad heists of the Wild West in America.
They used a false red signal to get the train to stop, then hit the driver with an iron bar, seriously injuring him. The thieves loaded 120 mailbags filled with the equivalent of $7 million in used bank notes into their Land Rovers and sped off. The vehicles had been stolen in central London and marked with identical license plates in order to confuse the police. In their hideout at Leatherslade Farm in Buckinghamshire, England, the robbers divided their loot. Viewed as folk heroes by the public for the audacious scale of their crime and their flight from justice, 12 of the 15 robbers nevertheless were eventually captured. In all, the gang of thieves received a total sentence of some 300 years. One of them, a small-time criminal named Ronnie Biggs, escaped from prison after just 15 months and underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance. He fled the country and eluded capture for years, finally giving himself up in 2001 when he returned from Brazil voluntarily to serve the 28 years remaining in his sentence.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: