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Bandits Rob Mail Train in Britain

Aug. 8, 1963 - A gang of masked bandits ambushed a mail train in Jesse James style today and pulled off the world’s greatest train robbery. The predawn holdup — the first in the 125-year history of British railway postal service — gave the thieves a haul estimated at 1 million pounds ($2.8 million) in money and registered mail. The Glasgow-to-London train carried a staff of 75 postal workers. Police and postal authorities first estimated the gang at 30 men. Later, a police spokesman said a recheck showed it probably numbered about 15. The brash and brazen robbery jolted Britain with its massive organization and split-second timing. The entire operation was over in 15 minutes. Postmaster General Reginald Bevens immediately offered a 10,000-pound ($28,000) reward for information leading to the gang’s arrest. Police with tracker dogs scoured the lonely countryside around Cheddington, 40 miles northwest of London, where the gang struck after faking a red signal to stop the 10-car train at a rural junction. Of comparable robberies, the biggest cash haul in the U.S. came from the robbery of a mail truck last Aug. 14 outside Plymouth, Mass. That loot totaled $1,551,277. It is still unsolved. The $2,775,395 Brinks robbery in Boston in 1950 did not involve mail.


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