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Remembered Today:

Impostor Lieutenant roaming the country and extracting money from dead officer's families


davidbohl
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Whilst looking at Capt R.H.Bloore KLR CWGC I found this worrying article in the papers, I've transcribed the rather long piece. Hope it is worth sharing.

Dave

 

****

Liverpool Daily Post 31st Aug 1918

A PAINFULL INTERVIEW.

"Officer's" Mock Sympathy.

BEREAVED RELATIVE VICTIMISED.

A remarkable story of alleged deception on the part of a young fellow who represented himself to be an officer in the Army was related to the deputy stipendiary magistrate (Mr Kinghorn) at the Liverpool Police Court yesterday. The accused was Walter Herbert Brackley (25), who wore the uniform of an Army lieutenant, and who was charged with having obtained £5 by false pretences from Miss Simonds. Chief Inspector Holbrook said it was fortunate the man had been brought to book because the information received show that he had been going about the country defrauding people in a mean contemptible way. He wore the uniform of a lieutenant, and by some means or other he got to know of persons who had lost relatives at the front, ferreted out something about the men who had been killed, and then got himself introduced to their family. From them he succeeded in getting money.

Talk with a Verger.

James Henderson, the first witness, said he was with the verger at St John the Evangelist's, Rice Lane, and he saw the prisoner passing his door on August 14th. He was in officer's uniform. Seeing him enter the church gates, witness followed him into the church and found him reading the Roll of Honour list inside the church door. He asked if witness knew anybody on the Roll of Honour named Bloore. Witness replied "Yes, Captain Bloore killed." He said "Do they know he is killed?" Witness answered that everybody around the neighbourhood knew it; he was so well known.

Witness then took prisoner into the vicar's room and showed him the last letter of the Captain to the vicar before he was killed. Prisoner asked "Do you know where his wife lives?" Witness told him he had no wife. "Well," he said, "His mother" witness said. "He has none that I am aware of. He lived with his aunt." He then asked where she lived, and witness told him in Grey Road. Witness suggested that prisoner should interview the school mistress, who knew all about Captain Bloore. On the way to the school he asked if any other officers were connected with the church. Witness replied "Three." and mentioned the names. "What killed?" queried the prisoner. Witness replied in the negative. He left prisoner in the school.

Shortly afterwards witness saw Detective Edwards, and told him what had taken place. Witness then went to the residence of Captain Bloore's aunt Miss Simonds, 10 Grey Road. After noticing that the prisoner had left the school and walked in that direction. From what Miss Simonds told him he again communicated with Detective Edwards. At no time did the prisoner give any information about himself.

Interview with Dead Officer's Aunt.

Miss Minnie Simonds told the court that Ronald Bloore, her nephew, lived with her from the age of eight and was in The King Edward's Horse when the war began. Subsequently he obtained a commission in the King's, and was drafted overseas. He was gazetted a Captain, and was killed in action on the 28th April 1918. Coming to the 14th of August last, the witness related that the prisoner called at her house and told her he had been with her nephew when he was killed. He said he had come from France the previous Sunday. He had travelled from Newcastle especially to see her. He and Bloore shared the same dugout, and when the officer fell the prisoner represented, he told him that his last thoughts were for her (the witness).

"I thought you must have been his wife, for I did not think anyone could think so much of his aunt," sympathetically commented Brackley. He added that his own mother was averse from his making visit, but he pointed out that Bloore would have done the same had anything happened to him. The prisoner in a general conversation he purported to tell her how her nephew had been killed and what had happened.

A Letter of "Sympathy."

"He had a military funeral and he was buried in a grave with a cross on it marked with his full name and rank," he told her. "I have taken his place in command." He looked so worn out that she invited him to tea, and he wrote a letter about the officers death which she wanted to put in the papers. The letter was as follows:-

Dear Mrs Simonds, - it is with the deepest regret I have to write at tell you of Captain Bloore M.C., of my company, and be assured of the whole regiment's sympathy in your and our great loss. I really cannot fully explain to you the feelings I have regarding him, suffice it is to say that he was the bravest officer that has died for his country.

I will try and explain in a few words what happened. We were hard pressed by enemy shell and Infantry fire, when the Captain, at a critical moment rallied his company, and thus saved what would have been a sorry moment for the Liverpool's. Seeing one of his men stumbling in over the parapet wounded, he got over to help him but a sniper caught him, and he fell back mortally wounded in the head. Thus ended one of the best of officers and gentlemen that ever lived.

I repeat I cannot explain or write what I thought of him, but I'll leave it to you....

Lieutenant G. THOMPSON.

(attached 17th Liverpool).

Witness went on to say she gave him her nephew's photograph. Brackley then mentioned that he had lost his return railway ticket. He said he was short of money and would have to wire for some. She offered him 30 shillings believing that he was honest and a genuine lieutenant, but he told her that would not be sufficient. He said he started with £11 and spent it all.

It would be all right, he told her, and he would give her a cheque for the amount, but she was not to pass this for payments until two days later, in as much as he would wire her the money. She gave him £5, and he drew her cheque also signed in the name of Thompson. Later, after the verger had called and spoken to her at the door, they remained in conversation until it detective arrived and took him away.

"I believed all along he was an officer, and that his story he told was a true one," added Miss Simonds, "Otherwise I would not have parted with the money."

Detective Constable Evan Edwards deposed to having gone to 10 Grey Road on August 14, following a conversation with the witness Henderson. Miss Simonds opened the door. Prisoner was in the hall as though on the point of leaving.

Witness related to a conversation that ensued between the three of them in Miss Simonds's dining room. He asked Miss Simonds to tell him what the prisoner had said to her. Miss Simonds did not appear to approve his (witness) interference. She said, "He (meaning the prisoner) is a respectable man and has come to tell me how my nephew, Ronald Bloore, died."

Witness asked prisoner to produce anything that would identify him as an officer in His Majesty's Army. He produced a blank Army railway form, and stated, "Officers do not carry any leave pass." Witness questioned him about what he knew of Captain Bloore. "I was in France," he replied, "I was with him when he fell. I belong to the Royal Engineers, and was attached to the 14th King's Liverpool, and was very fond of the Captain," witness said. He was not satisfied with the statements and must detain him until he could verify what he had said. To this, prisoner retorted "I am an officer and not subject to interference by the police." He added that he was Lieutenant Thompson. Witness took him to Rice Lane bridewell. He there gave the name of Walter Herbert Bradley, and admitted being a private and an absentee from the Worcestershire Regiment since March 7th. He said that whilst on route for France, he cleared out of Waterloo station. Questioned as to a cheque book found in his possession, he said "I got it at a house; I don't know where." Witness charged him with obtaining £5 by false pretences from Miss Simonds. He made no reply.

This completed the case for the police.

Prisoner asked for a remand for seven days before being committed for trial. "I am waiting for some documentary evidence," he said, "I have some papers coming through to submit at at the trial. I shall plead guilty there but I want them as evidence before being committed."

The prisoner was remanded for seven days.

[The Liverpool Echo 3rd Oct 1918 reported the Army deserter Walter Herbert Brackley was sentenced to 5 years servitude. He had been convicted for fraud several times before, and 28 similar cases of visiting the families of fallen officers had come to light since.

He asked the court if he could rejoin the Army, but the Recorder said they would not like such a man.]

[One case reported in the Bucks Herald 22nd July 1916 - On Tuesday Private Walter Herbert Bradley of the 2/4 Reserve Battalion, Essex Regiment, was committed for trial at the next Bucks Quarter Sessions charged with obtaining money by false pretences.]

[Bucks Examiner 27th Oct 1916 - The Chairman, after the court had considered the case, addressing the prisoner said "Prisoner at the bar, yours is a very bad case. Upon the facts I have before me, it is clear that you - for years beginning as long ago as 1907 - you have been obtaining money by false pretences. The sentence of the Court is that you go to prison for 12-months with hard labour.]

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He continued to be of interest to the police, and this record has him jailed for 12 months for fraud in 1923. The record indicates there was a photo of him in an earlier Police Gazette.

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/imageviewer/collections/61812/images/mepo6_36_00278?treeid=&personid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=GtI3847&_phstart=successSource&pId=165006

There are more similar records on Ancestry.

Regards,

Alf McM

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Just been looking at his 'career' and subsequent punishment(s) on Find My past -- not a nice man to say the least. Unfortunately the modern world has many like him especially via the internet / cold calling.

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16 hours ago, davidbohl said:

Whilst looking at Capt R.H.Bloore KLR CWGC I found this worrying article in the papers, I've transcribed the rather long piece. Hope it is worth sharing.

Most interesting and definitely worth sharing.  Human nature eh?

Thank you for posting [and congrats on your long transcription].

M

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Does ancestry  or find my past hold images of individuals who were sentenced, looking at 1919

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On 22/04/2022 at 12:10, Matlock1418 said:

congrats on your long transcription

I'm all modern now and dictate the newspaper column into my chromebook, adding the punctuation later. It certainly makes life easier.

With regard to Brackley, it begs the question where he got the uniform from

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Voice recognition software has come a long way,and on Microsoft machines using Windows 11 then the end result is pretty good, including getting the punctuation mostly correct most of the time. Knew line. I said "new line".

That's better.

It's not perfect obviously but it saves an eternity on the keyboard.

 

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There was a very interesting talk at the recent WFA Spring Conference entitled "Scamps in Khaki" given by Andrea Hetheringon. This discussed this kind of scam amongst other offences. It was not as rare as we would hope it would be. The title of her book is the same as the talk. She has also written another book on the Home Front called "Deserters of the First World War"

Andrea provided quite a few examples where war widows were exploited for their gratuities etc

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"Scamps in Khaki" is actually the title of a chapter in Andrea's book "Deserters of the First World War - the Home Front" It is an extremely interesting book and I can highly recommend it. I am sure Andrea could have  filled a book just on the 'Scamps'.  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deserters-First-World-War-Front-ebook/dp/B09813X44W/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1EQGRB7VBM5JN&keywords=andrea+heatherington&qid=1650802143&s=books&sprefix=andrea+hetherington%2Cstripbooks%2C94&sr=1-2

Regards,

Alf McM

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Yes she has made a book of the "Scamps" unless I got the wrong end of the stick at the conference

Edited by Mark1959
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6 hours ago, davidbohl said:

With regard to Brackley, it begs the question where he got the uniform from

It wouldn't have been difficult - any military tailor would have been happy to supply him with what he needed as long as he had the money to buy it, they would not have been required to check he was entitled to wear it. Considering he seems to have had a penchant for fraud and stealing cheque books he might even have passed a dud cheque in the process. Otherwise begged, borrowed, outright theft...

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3 hours ago, Mark1959 said:

Yes she has made a book of the "Scamps" unless I got the wrong end of the stick at the conference

Mark,

   Hopefully you got it right, and it's just not been published yet.It should be a good read. I woder if Walter Herbert Brackley will be included?

Regards,

Alf McM

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