25 Years Later : Great Train Robbery: Lives Differ

Associated Press

Twenty-five years on, Britain's most famous robbers have found differing fortunes: One runs a flower stall at Waterloo train station, while another lives in a fugitive hide-out in Rio de Janeiro.

Only $943,000 of the $7.2 million in cash hauled off the Glasgow-to-London mail train on Aug. 8, 1963 has been recovered, but most of the 15-member gang was caught.

At the time, it was Britain's biggest robbery.

The Great Train Robbery has generated movies, books and a musical. And heir to the throne Prince Charles and Princess Diana are scheduled to attend next month's royal premiere of a movie about robber Buster Edwards.

Edwards, who served nine years of a 15-year sentence for his part in the robbery and now runs a flower stall at Waterloo Station in central London, claims that some of the stolen cash lies buried in a field along the River Thames.

$82,500 Said Buried

He was quoted Monday by a London tabloid newspaper, The Star, as saying one of his accomplices buried $82,500 of his share in a tin box in a field near Sunbury, 12 miles west of London.

"The trouble is, the man who buried it did it late at night. And when we went back months later we couldn't find the exact spot," Edwards was quoted as saying.

The unidentified accomplice "buried the cash because he was so nervous" but was never charged or even questioned by police in connection with the robbery, Edwards, 57, was quoted as saying.

"Even if the money did surface now, I don't suppose anybody would find it easy to spend all those 25-year-old fivers (5-pound notes, worth about $8.50 each)," Edwards was quoted as saying. "And you can bet the insurance company aren't about to pay me a reward."

'No Regrets'

Another of the robbers, Ronald Biggs, escaped from Wandsworth Jail in July, 1965, and fled to France. The Daily Mirror, another London tabloid, said the Biggs, 59, plans to open a bottle of vintage champagne to celebrate the 25th anniversary.

"I would do it all over again," Biggs was quoted as saying from his home in Rio de Janeiro. "I have no regrets whatsoever."

In 1985, Biggs said his reported $325,000 share of the robbery was long gone.

The General Post Office train was ambushed and robbed in 25 minutes between Sears Crossing and Bridego Bridge in Buckinghamshire west of London just after 3 a.m. on a warm summer's night.

120 Mailbags of Loot

The gang escaped with about 120 mailbags stuffed with bank notes.

During the raid, train driver Jack Mills was struck with a gun over the head when he tried to resist, and was left partially paralyzed and with impaired speech. He died seven years later of leukemia, and his family and friends insisted that his injuries contributed to his death.

His son, John Mills, has criticized the money-spinning industry that the train robbery has spawned.

"It used to be reckoned that crime doesn't pay," Mills was quoted as telling The Sunday Times. "But nowadays it seems to be the other way around."

Legislator Ivor Stanbrook of the governing Conservative Party on Monday urged Charles and Diana not to attend the Sept. 15 royal premiere of "Buster," which stars singer Phil Collins and actress Julie Christie.

Stanbrook said the royal couple should not be associated with a movie that "commemorates a particularly sordid and vicious crime."

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