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The Great Train Robbery of 1963

The Great Train Robbery was the name given to a major real-life train robbery, which happened on August 8, 1963 in Cheddington, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.

The Glasgow to London Royal Mail train was stopped by tampering with signals. The 15-member gang, led by Bruce Reynolds and including Ronnie Biggs, Charlie Wilson, Jimmy Hussey, John Wheater, Brian Field, Jimmy White, Tommy Wisbey, Gordon Goody and Buster Edwards, got away with 2.6 million. Although no guns were used in the robbery, some members of the gang struck the train driver, Jack Mills, in the head with iron bars and he never fully recovered.

The gang members were caught after police discovered their fingerprints in their Oxfordshire farmhouse hide-out. The robbers were tried, sentenced and imprisoned. Biggs and Reynolds escaped from prison 15 months into their sentences, and ended up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Charlie Wilson escaped and was living outside Montreal, Canada on Rigaud Mountain. In the upper-middle-class neighbourhood where the large, secluded properties are surrounded by trees, Wilson was just another resident who enjoyed his privacy. Only when his wife made the mistake of telephoning her parents in England, was Scotland Yard able to track him down.

Despite the injury to the train driver, the robbery and escape are regarded by many as highly romantic, and Ronnie Biggs is treated affectionately by some of the British tabloid press.

In May 2001 Biggs, aged 71, flew back to Britain. He had suffered several strokes and had indicated his desire to return to England even if it meant being imprisoned. He was.

The story of Buster Edwards, who fled to Mexico but gave himself up, was dramatized in the 1988 film, Buster, which starred Phil Collins in the title role.