The Big One: Ronald Biggs and the Great Train Robbery
A Change of Plans
Weighed down with heavy mailbags, the vehicles progress was slow back to Leatherslade farm. Biggs was given the job of monitoring the police band on a portable radio, but the radio remained unusually silent. Dawn was just starting to break as the convoy drove through the gates and had just pulled to a stop when the radio came to life with a brief report of the robbery.
Although tired, the men jumped to their assigned tasks, anxious to get the vehicles unloaded and out of sight before the sun was completely up.
The bags were piled in the main room of the farmhouse and after the vehicles were parked out of sight the task of counting the spoils began. With a total of one hundred and twenty bags to unpack and sort, no one was very keen to get started until one of the men slashed a bag open revealing bundles of cash. The sight of so much cash soon changed the gangs perception and they began tearing at the bags with a vigor that only greed can muster.
Reynolds took charge of the rabble and gave each one an assigned task. Several were sent to different windows of the house to keep a lookout while others were assigned to unpack all of the bags in case a tracking device had been secreted in one or more of them. He gave Cordrey and Wilson the job of counting the cash and dividing up the spoils while he helped Biggs and Mr. Two unwrap the cash and pass it to Wilson and Cordrey.
Three hours later the task was completed and every member of the gang was summoned to view the spoils and hear the final count. There before them was an enormous pile of money, over 2,631,784, more money than any of them had ever seen.
As each was given their share they packed it away and, apart from the lookouts, spent the next few hours playing cards and Monopoly while exchanging good-hearted banter regarding their success.
The original plan had called for the gang to stay at the farmhouse for up to two weeks and wait until the heat had died down before they made their next move, but a police broadcast just before noon changed all that.
From the increased radio traffic on the police band they learned that the robbery had caused a furor and every police unit in the district were working at finding those responsible. The crunch came when another report indicated that the thieves had used army vehicles at the scene and were suspected to be holed up in a farmhouse in the vicinity.
It was time to rethink the plan, and Reynolds knew they would have no more than a day to clean the farmhouse, dispose of the evidence and make good their escape. A team was dispatched to repaint the truck with yellow paint they had found in the shed while another team was delegated to collect up the mailbags and wrappings from the bundles of cash and burn them. That plan was soon abandoned however when they discovered that the fire created an enormous amount of smoke from the chimney which could attract too much unwanted attention, given that it was the middle of summer.
The idea was quickly abandoned and the rubbish taken outside to be buried. At this point Roger Cordrey suggested he ride his pushbike to the nearest village to check on the news and arrange alternate transport. Reynolds agreed and, as Cordrey set out, the rest of the gang settled down to wait.
The gang members were getting more nervous by the minute and the radio reports of the robbery did nothing to allay their fears. According to the reports, the police were convinced that the robbers were still in the area and had doubled their efforts to find the persons responsible.
Some hours later, a strange car pulled into the driveway causing much consternation until Roger Cordrey stepped out brandishing a newspaper and entered the house.
Their escapades had made the front page of every newspaper in the country and the police were promising swift justice. All present agreed it was time to make a move and two of the gang were chosen to go with Cordrey and return with sufficient transport to carry the rest of them to safety.
Gordon Goody was to make final arrangements for an unknown accomplice to be at the farm after the gang had left and take charge of the final clean-up, including the removal of all fingerprints and any other incriminating evidence. Although several members of the gang had been instructed to wipe everything down, Buster Edwards suggested that they have the farmhouse and sheds burned to the ground instead. Although the option was seriously considered at the time, a rapid turn of events made it impossible to organize in time and, as luck would have it, it would cost most of them dearly.