Murders during the war

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by paulyb102, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. ADM199

    ADM199 Well-Known Member

    Getting back to the UK home front, I have made a comparison of executions for murder in both world wars, plus the decades before and after each. In both cases I have treated the first year of the war (1914 and 1939) as pre-war, as most of the executions in those years were for pre-war murders. These are the average yearly figures:

    1905 - 1914 - 12.0
    1915 - 1918 - 8.0
    1919 - 1928 - 15.5

    Therefore, the WWI years appear less violent on the domestic murder front than the decades before or after.

    1930 - 1939 - 7.4
    1940 - 1945 - 13.3
    1946 - 1955 - 15.0

    Therefore, the WWII years appear to be on a rising trent from the 1930s "low", but in no way exceptional compared to the four peacetime decades shown. Therefore, the conclusion is, I think, that the war had little or no effect on the murder rate, although it would be interesting to know whether the wartime conditions made it more or less likely that the Home Secretary would grant a reprive.

    The one oddity in the 1945 data is that on 6 October, five men with "German sounding" names were executed at Pentonville and it is logical to conclude that they were all involved in the same crime. I will try and trace details later.

    Interestingly, 1955 was the year when Ruth Ellis was hanged, the last woman to do so in Britain. The following year there were no executions and from then until abolition the total was never more than 7 in a year. The execution of Ellis was, many believe, a significant landmark on the road to the abolition of capital punishment in Britain.

    Note: the above figures exclude people executed for spying and treason and here is the WWII list of those:

    Jose Waldeburg and
    Carl Meier 10th December, 1940
    Charles Kieboom 17th December, 1940
    George Armstrong 9th July, 1941
    Robert Petter and
    Karl Drucke 6th August, 1941
    Josef Jakobs 14th August, 1941 (Shot)
    Karel Richter 10th December, 1941
    Alphonse Timmerman and
    Joe Key 7th July, 1941
    Duncan Scott-Ford 3rd November, 1942
    Johannes Dronkers 31st December, 1942
    Franciscus Winter 26th January, 1943
    Oswald John Job 16th March, 1944
    Pierre Neukermans 23rd June, 1944
    Joseph Van Hove 12th July, 1944
    John Amery 19th December, 1945 (Treason)
    William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) 3rd January, 1946 (Treason)
    Theodore Schurch 4th January, 1946 (Treason)

    (all hanged except Jakobs)

    Schurch was a member of a Faschist group prior to WW11. As such he was being monitored by the Police and when he enlisted in the Army it was noted,but allowed. He served in the Middle East with 14 Coy R.A.S.C. until captured in 1942. He made himself known to the Italians who firstly used him in Benghazi P.O.W. Camp to interrogate anyone they were interested in.He wore an Italian Captains uniform during this period.
    Schurch was used as a "Stool Pigeon"by both the Germans and the Italians with some success. His last operation for the Axis was in a P.O.W. Camp in the Rome Region where his guise was Captain Richards R.A.S.C.
    At Rome he was incarcerated with British Submarine Officers,but was rumbled by Lt.J.H. Bromage (Sahib)who gave evidence at his trial. The charge I believe was for the War time offence of Treachery.

    Even odder Schurch was of Swiss Jewish descent.

    Sources; Cpl Tom Swallow 14 Coy R.A.S.C. and various Files from T.N.A.
  2. DaveBrigg

    DaveBrigg Member

    On Saturday 6 October 1945, Erich Koenig, Joachim Palme-Goltz, Kurt Zuchlsdorff, Heintz Brueling and Josep Mertins (three age 20, one age 21, one age 22) were hanged at Pentonville for the murder of Wolfgang Rosterg, age 35, at Comrie Prison Camp, Perthshire on 23rd December, 1944.

    There is a story, reported in Henry Chancellor's 'Colditz' about a British traitor Walter Purdy, who was placed in the camp to act as a German spy. He was caught out almost immediately, and placed under a guard of nine prisoners while a decision was made about what to do next. Gris Davies-Scourfield recalls an invite to Purdy's execution; a rope was tied to a beam, and Purdy was held between two men. However, although those present all agreed that he deserved to die, none was willing to actually be the one who placed the rope around his neck. Purdy was handed back to the Germans, something that Davies-Scourfield says was the wrong decision, since he was able to commit further acts of treason.
    After the war Purdy was sentenced to death but his execution was delayed owing to ill health. He spent eight years behind bars before being released.
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Gage likes this.
  4. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Most recently there was the case of a soldier who served with distinction in the Iraq war but found quilty of a random murder when he was a young lad. So perhaps sometimes the bravery and the dark side of human nature are not too far apart

    Interesting thread :)

    I was involved in a couple of Jobs involving Soldiers when I was a copper. The one of note and media interest was the squaddie that murdered a Polish chap in West Yorks last year.
    Life term for ex-soldier who killed Polish student - Yorkshire Post

    There was a documentary on the other day about a villian from Newcastle that worked as a double agent for GB during WW2, he was theiving at the time on the Channel Islands and went to Germany to become an agent (For money) for the Germans. On his return to England he turned himself into the Secret Service and worked for them for free. His first job was to blow up a Mosquito factory and British faked it so he could carrying on as a agent.

    There was a well known criminal from the time 'Frankie Fraser' who was good mates with him and he said that WW2 was the best time for theiving in his enter life!
  6. :huh:Just swinging the thread a bit,

    Do you think Breaker Morant should have been shot ?

  7. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    ATB have run a series of articles on "Crime in WW2" - mostly these have involved murders , sexual crimes , robberies gone wrong in which people were killed , drunk men with firearms.
    ( All major newsworthy crimes).
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Like Owen I thought I'd bump this up as I found some of it rather interesting too.

  9. izzy

    izzy Senior Member

    In 1940 Irish Guardsman Stanley Morgan raped and murdered a 14 year old girl in Liverpool. He was caught and hung for his crime in Walton Gaol. The murder was known as the Block house murder.He is not covered by the C.W.G.C as i believe he was kicked out of the Army prior to being hung.
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Izzy,

    Do you have a source?

  11. izzy

    izzy Senior Member

    Various articles and sceintific journals, Apparently the case is well known in Forensic circles as the killer was caught by a strip of bandage he left at the scene of the crime the bandage had a design fault and matched the strip found on him when he was caught. The crime occured on 02/11/40 and Morgan was hung at liverpool Walton Gaol on 09/04/41. The victim was 14 year old Mary Hagan.The case gets mentioned in the Liverpool press and Morgan gets a mention in the Murderers who,s who and Hanged at Liverpool by Steve Fielding.
  12. beeza

    beeza Senior Member

    In 1942 the city of Melbourne (Victoria) was in a flap with the murder of 3 women over a fortnight or so. No one would go outside during this time. They eventually
    arrested a U.S. serviceman, Pte Edward Joseph Leonski, who was tried and found guilty and hung in Pentridge gaol. Australian personnel had nothing to do with the execution, was carried out by U.S. military police
  13. gaspirator

    gaspirator Member

    According to the Times, two young girls aged 6 & 8 went missing on their way home from school in November 1941, last seen driving away with a soldier in a 15cwt truck; schoolfriends later said they had asked for a lift.

    The girls were discovered three days later in a wood near Amersham; a fingerprint on a child's gas mask container found in the wood led to the conviction of Gunner H. Hill, R.A.

    It seems that he was only tried for the murder of the elder child, as it was the custom not to prosecute two such cases simultaneously.

    An appeal on the grounds of insanity was rejected and Hill was executed at Oxford Prison on 1 May 1942.

    - Pete
  14. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Are there any documented cases of murders occurring at the front? Apart from the many home front/civilian related crimes, one would think that a murder in the combat zone would be easier to disguise.
    There have long been rumours of some 'revenge' killings of Canadian officers that supposedly occurred on the ships returning to Halifax in 1945. I've never found anything offical to confirm that.
  15. Alan Allport

    Alan Allport Senior Member

  16. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Was rape a capital offence during this period? I'm not too sure it was in UK civil law, but perhaps US military law when on operations?

    There was also that serial murdering RAF chap who was caught after leaving his respirator at the scene of a crime.


    Noticed VP asked about this chap, Anyone?
  17. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    Not mixing things up with Neville Heath then ....?

    Just to eliminate him.
  18. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    I have been scrolling through this thread to see if there was anything about The Red Shoes Murder. This became a national scandal because no-one was ever caught or charged, as far as I am aware.

    The victim was believed to have been a prostitute because her body was found in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, not far from a popular pub. The police were said to have suspected a naval man, but no-one was apparently found to have had any association with her. It featured widely, nationally, in the newspapers, possibly because news was in short supply. From my rather elderly memory I think it was 1941 but certainly early forties.

  19. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Maud Jones was the wife of Gunner Stanley Jones 2nd Oban Anti-Tank Battery

    Roll of Honour

    Have being in touch with family of Stanley Jones, this was subject not to be spoken in the family.
  20. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

Share This Page