Mastermind Of Great Train Robbery Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Mastermind Of Great Train Robbery Dies

Bruce Reynolds, the brains behind the Great Train Robbery of 1963, has died at the age of 81, nearly five decades after he and his partners in crime made off with 2.6 million pounds at Ledburn, Buckinghamshire, England.

Reynolds was part of the gang that executed an elaborate scheme to swipe the cash from the Glasgow-to-Euston mail train. The clockwork nature of the crime, along with the fact that the bulk of the loot was never recovered and some of the robbers never captured, has made it a favorite subject of television and films, as well as popular music.

Even Leonard "Nipper" Read, the Scotland Yard detective who tracked down some of the robbers, called Reynolds' death "the end of an era."

"It was certainly a well-organized operation, and Reynolds was the pioneer. It is a little piece of history," Read said.

As The Associated Press notes, "The participants became criminal celebrities — to the chagrin of the police and the family of Jack Mills, the train driver, who was hit on the head during the robbery and never fully recovered. He died seven years later."

After the robbery, Reynolds fled England and hid out with a wife and son in Mexico and Canada until a fateful decision to return to the country in 1968. According to The Guardian:

Tommy Butler, the detective who arrested him in Torquay, greeted him with the words, "Hello, Bruce, it's been a long time," to which Reynolds replied: "C'est la vie."

"Reynolds was jailed for 25 years, a sentence that even the late Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Robert Mark, thought was excessive. In fact, one of the reasons the robbery became so well-known was the length of sentences doled out by Mr. Justice Edmund Davies, who said it was 'a crime which in its impudence and enormity is the first of its kind in this country. I propose to do all in my power to ensure that it is the last of its kind. ... Let us clear out of the way any romantic notions of daredevilry.'"

Reynolds served just 10 years of the original sentence.

His son, Nick Reynolds, said his father died after a brief illness.

Reynolds wrote The Autobiography of a Thief about the famous crime and his life. He also occasionally performed in his son's rock band, Alabama 3, which produced the theme song to the television show The Sopranos.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Making A Change To Keep A Constant Consonant

Given two words, change the first consonant sound in each word to the same new consonant sound and you'll phonetically name two things in the same category.
WAMU 88.5

Hops Coming Home: Loudoun County To Add Hop Production Facility

The first commercial-scale hop production and processing facility in the region is being planned out in Loudoun County, further adding to the region's burgeoning beer business.

NPR

Families Feel Sidelined As U.S. Reviews Hostage Policy

The White House is reviewing how it handles hostage crises following the brutal murders of Americans abroad, but families of hostages say they're often left out of the conversation.
NPR

Marine Corps Finds It Tough To Shut Down Sexist Facebook Groups

Female Marines are being humiliated and generally degraded by their peers on Facebook. The groups' pages are frequently shut down, but return within days due to a dedicated following.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.