On August 12, 1964, Charlie Wilson, part of the gang who pulled off the 1963 Great Train Robbery, one of the biggest heists of its kind, escapes from Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, England. Several men broke into the maximum-security facility to free Wilson, who remained on the loose until 1968.
The so-called Great Train Robbery took place on August 8, 1963, when 15 masked men attacked the Glasgow to London Royal Mail train near Buckinghamshire, England. The thieves hauled off 120 bags of money totaling a record 2.6 million pounds. In less than a week, a tip led police to the robbers’ hideout, Leatherslade Farm in Bedfordshire, where they found fingerprints and other evidence. Charlie Wilson and other gang members were soon arrested. In April 1964, Wilson was sentenced, along with six other Great Train Robbers, to 30 years in prison. Five other men received shorter terms. In 1969, group leader Bruce Reynolds, who initially evaded capture, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The majority of the Great Train Robbery loot was never recovered. Just four months into his sentence, Wilson, age 32, escaped from Winson Green Prison. He eluded police for several years before being recaptured in Canada on January 24, 1968. He was returned to England, where he served out the rest of his punishment. Wilson later moved to Spain, where he allegedly became a drug dealer, and was shot to death on April 23, 1990.
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: