Diary of a hangman

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by OldRedCap, Oct 20, 2008.

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  1. The hangman wrote in his diary: "The culprit had to be carried to the scaffold owning to his faintness."

    Others though, met their maker with a smile.
    Clifford Holmes seemed "very cheerful" moments before he was hanged at Strangeways in 1941. The 24-year-old soldier had murdered his wife, Irene, for having an affair while he was away in the army

    I suppose the comment has to be "Good drills that man
  2. Morning ORC
    I have a copy of 'Pierrepoint: A Family of Executioners'. Picture of Albert on back dust cover with his Rope and traveling bag.
    Book credits the family with the following executions
    Henry 105 Uncle of Albert
    Thomas 294 Father of Albert
    Albert 435
    Do worry what it says about my state of mind.
  3. Albert was the one who brought planning and science to what had been an unseemly drop in with a lot of hanging about. He calculated the standard 22 cwt needed for a snap as opposed to a stretch. He wrote an instruction manual which had a limited distribution but covered everything in minute detail. I was never sure about the story that he ran a pub named "Help the poor struggler". The pathologist Francis Camps corroborated him - now, there was a fellow with a state of mind. Keith Simpson- the other star pathologist - was a music hall turn in his lectures at the Met police detective school. Completely sane him.
  4. Hanging by the 'Long Drop' is an art. I know the Yanks never mastered it and strangulation or complete detachment of the head where not uncommon. One of Sadam's henchmen suffered head removal.
    According to the book Albert did run a pub named 'Help the poor struggler' and later one named The Rose.
    Many years ago, 30+, I read Professor Kieth Simpson's book 40 Years of Murder.
    He made some comments on the Inquest into 'Bloody Sunday'.
    One other matter which he commented on was on the 'Strange' death of the previous King of Thailand. At the time there was no reliable information on what had happened and I found it of interest when I first visited this country. the subject is still Tabboo here.
  5. Several years ago a Boston newspaper, The Boston Globe I think, had an article interviewing the and elderly man from Revere, MA a Boston suburb, who had been a military hangman during WW II (yes, I am aware we got into it 2 years after you). He was a military policeman assigned to guard and later hang the war criminals tried at Nuremburg Trials and the later Military Tribunals. He commented on the hangings and said he used a table from the UK to calculate the drop length. IIRC he hung quite a number in addition to the top leaders, 50 or 60 in all.

    The reporter seemed to want him to express regrets about hanging them but he clearly had no regrets and described all the deaths the Nazi's caused. His only regret was that Goring committed suicide as apparently Goring was very arrogant and treated the Italian-American MP as an inferior being.

    If I recall the story correctly, after the war he left the service and returned to Revere to run his own flooring business, installing and finishing wood floors.
  6. David BOC from the Pierrpoint Book

    "On 16th October, the American authorities carried out the executions of the main German leaders who had been convicted at Nuremberg. Reports in the press suggested that Albert was engaged to carry out the sentences, but they where actually carried out by Master Sgt Woods in a converted gymnasium.
    Three scaffolds where used, along with the standard cowboy coil noose and a fixed 5 -feet drop. Reports leaked out later that the executions where horrific, some of the trapdoors being too small for the bodies to drop into without striking the sides, and a number of the condemned men lived for minutes on the rope, suffering death by painful strangulation."

    Albert executed over 190 War criminals, mainly in the Prison at Zuchthaus Hameln. He was assisted in most executions there by Regimental Sgt Major O'Niel, who had the duty of securing the condemns ankle's together.

  7. I see that RHIP's was alive well in the 40's too. Good drills that man!
  8. The BS inquiry has attracted a lot of BS so it might help to clarify just what KS added to things " In evidence, Keith Simpson, the eminent Home Office pathologist, said that each victim had been killed with a single round, in other words they had been targeted, and that six of the 13 dead had firearms powder discharge traces on their hands, from which he deduced that they had fired weapons."

    The facts on which he based his findings have been 'doubted' (The new legal process where adocates throw crap all over the place until no one knows wtf happened). Some did have more than one wound, some were in the back (suggesting a possible non-aggressive stance) and the powder and lead could have got there from external sources when bodies were transported.
  9. Don't know if it is in the book but I spoke to guys known to have been there. There were a number of ropes. They were fixed to rollers on an overhead beam. Criminals went up a set of steps, rope fixed, trap dropped and the rope and the suspended body slid along so there was no delay in dealing with the next one. Henry Ford would have been proud. Still, we didn't use piano wire like Adolf after Wolf's Lair attempt!
  10. I believe that he (Pierrepoint) also executed a number of US soldiers at Shepton Mallet who had been convicted of murder and/or rape.

    You would have thought that the US Army would have wanted to take care of that themselves-maybe they had no one available in UK at the time.
  11. From discussion with old prison folk, Albert Pierrepoint did not develop the long drop, this was worked out in the late 1800s. From what I remember from Pierrepoint's book, which is worth a read, the "Home Office Table of Drops" was issued around 1900. I do agree however that it was probably Albert and his Uncle Tom that set new standards of professionalism for the post before abolition. From discussions with people who knew him, he was a quiet, pleasant and dependable individual. It seems however that he picked a fight with somebody in the home office which led to his resignation.

    Again from the book, there was an agreement that the Americans could carry out excecutions in the UK during WW2 only on the condition that the long drop was used and a British hangman was present. Pierrepoint does say however that the procedure was American whereby the condemned man had to stand on the drop while the charges were read out. He felt this was inhumane...

    The film "Pierrepoint" by Timothy Spall does not at all reflect the sentiments in Pierrepoints book. What comes across from the book is that Pierrepoint attempted to be as detached and professional as possible in the intersts of the condemned man, and he comes across as being an "honest and neutral agent of the state". The film portrays him as being dark and brooding and wracked with guilt, which is not what comes across from the book.
  12. I believe that this was over a matter of 'expenses'. When Albert turned up a a prison to learn that the condemned person had been given a stay of execution. I believe that the Home Office did not cover his travelling expenses in such instances. Perhaps there's someone out there who can correct that detail.
  13. Of course, hanging someone he knew and realising that capital punishment served no aim other than revenge and certainly no deterent was the real reason for him taking his name off the list.
  14. ... just listened to an interview with Pierrepoint, and he refutes this completely.

    Before he died, he stated that he had changed his mind again, and that he had come round to thinking that capital punishment should be reintroduced for terrorists.

    Worth listing to:


  15. is his most famous quote. He did, indeed, change his mind before his death, but I wonder whether that was a cogent, final position, or an old man trying to make peace with himself (and the enormity of what he had done) before he died. I suspect the latter.