The Great Train Robbers: Who were they?

Image caption,
From left to right, pictures of Bruce Reynolds, Ronald "Buster" Edwards and Ronnie Biggs released by police at the time of the robbery in 1963

British criminal Ronnie Biggs, best known for his part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, has died at the age of 84.

He was part of the gang that escaped with £2.6m from the Glasgow to London mail train on 8 August 1963. The haul the 15 men secured is the equivalent of £40m in today's money - and was a record at that time.

So who was he and who were the other gang members?

Ronnie Biggs

Ronald Arthur "Ronnie" Biggs was jailed in 1964 for his part in the robbery, but his subsequent escape from prison and his life as a fugitive for 36 years gained him notoriety.

After fleeing over the wall of London's Wandsworth prison in April 1965, Biggs had plastic surgery and moved firstly to Australia and then Brazil, evading a number of arrests, extradition and even kidnap. During this time he courted the media with his story.

Eventually in 2001, when he was very ill, he decided to return to Britain to face arrest.

His health continued to deteriorate while serving the remainder of his sentence, and he was finally freed in 2009 on "compassionate grounds" by then Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

He died in the early hours of 18 December at a care home in East Barnet, north London.

Bruce Reynolds

Bruce Reynolds, a thief and antiques dealer, planned the robbery that has become one of the most notorious in British criminal history.

Nicknamed "Napoleon", he first fled to Mexico on a false passport then later to Canada with his wife Angela and son Nick.

In 1968, five years after the crime, Reynolds returned to England and was captured in Torquay and jailed for 25 years.

He was released in 1978 and lived alone and broke in a small flat off London's Edgware Road. He was jailed again in the 1980s for three years for dealing amphetamines.

After his second release, Reynolds went on to work briefly as a consultant on a film about the robbery, Buster, and published the Autobiography of a Thief in 1995.

He died in his sleep in the early hours of 28 February 2013.

Ronald Edwards

Ronald "Buster" Edwards, who is perhaps best known as the subject of the 1988 film Buster, in which he was played by singer Phil Collins, is widely believed to have wielded the cosh used to hit train driver Jack Mills over the head.

Like Reynolds, the former boxer and club owner fled to Mexico after the robbery, but gave himself up in 1966.

After serving nine years in jail, he became a familiar figure selling flowers outside London's Waterloo station. He was found hanged in a garage in 1994 at the age of 62.

Two wreaths in the shape of trains accompanied his funeral cortege.

Charles Wilson

Charles Frederick Wilson was the "treasurer" who gave each of the robbers their cut of the haul.

He was captured quickly and during his trial earned the nickname "the silent man" because he refused to say anything.

He was jailed for 30 years but escaped after just four months only to be captured again in Canada after four years on the run. He served another decade behind bars.

When he finally emerged from prison in 1978, he moved to Spain where he was shot and killed by a hitman on a bicycle in 1990.

Roy James

Roy John James, who was the chief getaway driver and nicknamed "Weasel", left a crucial fingerprint at the gang's farm hideout and was eventually caught after a rooftop chase.

A silversmith and proficient racing driver, he planned to invest his share of the cash in new car technology.

After serving 12 years of a 30-year sentence, he sold silver at a market before moving to Spain.

In 1993 he was jailed again for six years for shooting his wife's father and hitting her with a pistol. He died soon after getting out of prison, aged 62.

Brian Field

A crooked solicitor, Brian Arthur Field was used to make the arrangements to buy the farm hideout used immediately after the robbery.

He was sentenced to 25 years in jail, but that term was later reduced to five. He died in a motorway crash in 1979.

He is pictured here arriving with Leonard Field, no relation, for their first court appearance in Linslade, Buckinghamshire, in 1963. A merchant seaman, Leonard Field was sentenced to 25 years, reduced to five. He was released from jail in 1967 and moved to north London.

Gordon Goody

A hairdresser who was jailed for 30 years and released in 1975, Douglas "Gordon" Goody moved to Spain to run a bar after release.

James Hussey

A decorator known as "Big Jim", James Hussey was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1975. After working on a market stall, he later opened a restaurant in Soho.

In 1989 he was jailed for seven years for a drug smuggling conspiracy with fellow train robber Wisbey.

Roger Cordrey

Florist Roger Cordrey was arrested in Bournemouth after renting a lock-up from a policeman's widow.

He was jailed for 20 years, reduced to 14 on appeal.

Following his release in 1971, he went back to the flower business and moved to the West Country.

James White

James "Jimmy" White, a former paratrooper, was known as "quartermaster" for the robbery.

He was caught in Kent after three years on the run and sentenced to 18 years. He was released in 1975 and moved to Sussex.

Tommy Wisbey

A bookie and self-confessed "heavy", it was Tommy Wisbey's role to frighten the train staff. He was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1976, but he was jailed for another 10 years in 1989 for cocaine dealing.

After his release, he ran a flower stall and went to live in north London. He suffered several strokes as his health deteriorated.

Bobby Welch

Nightclub boss Bobby Welch was sentenced to 30 years and released in 1976. He was later left crippled when an operation on his leg went wrong.

After jail he became a car dealer and gambler in London.

Bill Boal

Engineer Bill Boal was arrested with Cordrey in possession of £141,000, charged with receiving stolen goods and jailed for 24 years, reduced to 14 on appeal.

Reynolds claimed Boal was not involved in the robbery and was "an innocent man". He died of cancer in jail in 1970.

John Wheater

A solicitor who was convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. He was sentenced to three years and released in 1966. He went to live in Surrey.