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1963: Train robbers make off with millions

Thieves have ambushed the Glasgow to Euston mail train and stolen thousands of pounds.

Banks estimate they have lost over £2m in used, untraceable banknotes in the biggest ever raid on a British train.

The Post Office train - known as the Up Special - had run every night, without interference, for 125 years until it was brought to a halt by a red light at 0315 GMT in Buckinghamshire.

This was obviously a brilliantly planned operation<br>
Det Supt Buckinghamshire CID<br>

Driver Jack Mills, 58, has been detained in hospital in Aylesbury with head injuries after being coshed by the raiders, who police believe were masked and armed with sticks and iron bars.

But most of the 75 mail sorters working on the train were unaware of the 20 minute incident as the thieves uncoupled the engine and front two carriages of the train and drove them up to Bridego Bridge a mile away.

There they broke into the second carriage - restraining the four postal workers inside - and loaded 120 mail and money bags into a lorry waiting on the road beneath.

Investigators - including Buckinghamshire Police, the British Transport Police and the Post Office - were on the scene, near Cheddington, in the early hours of the morning and found signals had been tampered with and telephone wires cut.

The Detective Superintendent of Buckinghamshire CID said: "This was obviously a brilliantly planned operation."

Rewards totalling a record £260,000 have already been offered by insurers, banks and the Post Office for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gang and return of the money.

The Postmaster-General Mr Bevins explained the robbery may have been an "inside job" and has called for a "full and urgent" inquiry into security on Royal Mail trains.

He was concerned the money on board had not been defaced, since much of it was en route to be destroyed.

Labour MP for Burnley Dan Jones proposed a bill to improve security on mail trains two years ago and in the House of Commons today expressed outrage that the matter had still not been addressed.

In Context
The total amount stolen was put at £2.6m in a heist that became known as the Great Train Robbery. <br>

After a massive police operation the gang's abandoned hideout was found at Leatherslade Farm in Bedfordshire. <br>

Just over six months later 12 - of a gang of 15 - thieves were sentenced to jail-terms totalling more than 300 years. <br>

The robbery's mastermind, Bruce Reynolds, evaded capture until 1969, when he was given a 10 year sentence. <br>

In the meantime two of his accomplices - Charlie Wilson and Ronnie Biggs - escaped. <br>

Biggs only returned to the UK in 2001 for medical treatment and was imprisoned to serve the remainder of his 28 year sentence. He was released in August 2009 on compassionate grounds after suffering several strokes.<br>

Jack Mills never worked again and died in 1970. <br>

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Photo of the carriages of the Post Office train at Cheddington station
The front of the train was uncoupled by the robbers

Footage of the Royal Mail train following the robbery

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