John Harrison had no hesitation in sacking one of his employees who refused to obey his orders. The employee, William Cooper, told friends, “I’ll get my revenge.”

So when, two months later, on JULY 5th, 1940, John Harrison was found in a hut in Seven Acre Field, Thorney, Cambridgeshire, with his head battered in by a broken soft drinks bottle, Cooper was the prime suspect. He was arrested and charged with robbery with violence.

Some days later Harrison died in Peterborough Memorial Hospital, and the charge was amended to one of murder. Cooper remarked: “I didn’t think it would turn out like this.”

At his trial at Cambridge on October 17th Cooper said he knew that Harrison went regularly to the hut to feed his chickens, and he had followed him there to ask him to explain the abrupt dismissal.

Harrison, he said, started pushing him about, and tried to hit him with a hammer. In retaliation he struck out with the bottle.

The prosecution, however, suggested that Cooper knew that because it was Friday Harrison would be carrying his employees’ wages, and went to the hut to ambush and rob him. The irony of that was that for the first time ever Harrison had paid his men on Thursday that week.

Cooper was hanged at Bedford Jail on Tuesday, November 26th. Britain’s last hangman, Harry Allen, was present at the execution as part of his training