Dense fog shrouded Glasgow on DECEMBER 10th, 1945. Trains were running late, and at 7.30 a.m. the three staff in the stationmasters office at Pollokshields East heard someone rattle the door-handle of the waiting-room. Then a man appeared at their door. They assumed he was a passenger about to complain that the waiting-room was closed. Then they saw the gun he was holding.
Annie Withers, the 36-year-old booking clerk, gave a scream. The next moment the gun barked. Annie screamed again, her cry fading to a groan. Robert Gough, a 15-year-old porter, collapsed on the floor. Bill Wright, a 42-year-old porter-clerk, fell across him, grazed by one of the bullets. Annie also went down, and Wright heard the man rifling the drawers in the safe. This was followed by the sound of footsteps departing.
Annie Withers, struck by three bullets, died on her way to hospital. Robert Gough died from his wounds two days later. The gunman had escaped with little more than £4. He had left fingerprints which matched none on police files, and this confirmed what detectives already suspected: he was a novice with no criminal record.
Ballistics experts established that the fatal bullets had been fired from a 9mm Luger, but little progress was made in the investigation until the following October, when detectives heard that someone in south Glasgow had a Luger. The man who had been seen with it was identified as Charles Templeman Brown, a 22-year-old railway fireman.
When police went to his home, where he lived with his widowed mother, she told them he was away on a long-distance run.
Were just checking weve got the right address, said one of the officers. Could you ask him to come to police headquarters tomorrow?
Whats it all about? asked Browns mother.
Well explain that when we see him, the detective told her.
It was to a constable on traffic duty that Brown gave himself up the next day. Im the chap who did the Pollokshields station job, he said. The Luger was in one of his pockets.
After Browns arrest it transpired that he had earlier asked a friend if hed like to earn the £1,000 reward being offered by a newspaper for information leading to the killers conviction. He asked the friend, a student: If I said I was the murderer of those two who were shot a couple of months back, what would you say?
Id say you were joking, Charlie. But then you always are, arent you? his friend replied, and thought no more of it until he heard of Browns arrest.
The day after the gunman was taken into custody, Bill Wright walked along a line of 12 men on an identification parade. Thats him, he said, stopping in front of Charles Templeman Brown.
At Browns trial in December 1946, the jury at Glasgow High Court heard that he had told the police, I didnt mean to kill anybody, but once you start shooting you cant stop.
The defence failed to convince the court that he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the killings, and he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.
A reprieve followed four days later, and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
I am not sorry for anything I did, he wrote to a friend, only for things I didnt do.
Released 10 years later, he became a tyre salesman and on December 10th, 1960, precisely 15 years after his double-murder, he was killed when a car he was driving crashed into a wall.