Unsolved Murders

Thomas Green

Age: 51

Sex: male

Date: 18 Jun 1919

Place: Epsom Police Station, Epsom

Thomas Green was a policeman and was killed when Canadian soldiers stormed the Epsom police station in order to release two of their friends who had been locked up the night before for causing a disturbance.

The police station was defended by 16 policemen with truncheons of which 11 were injured and Thomas Green killed.

After the two Canadians had been arrested the rest of the Canadian soldiers went back to their camp and when word had gone around about what had happened the officer of the day, having failed to prevent the soldiers from returning to the police station said he would go into Epsom with the idea of securing the soldiers release.

When they went to the police station the officer went in and when he did not appear for some time the soldiers rushed into the police station.

Considerable damage was done to the police station and Thomas Green was killed. Several other police officers were injured as well as five or six Canadian soldiers, one of them severely.

After the affair at the police station the Canadian soldiers returned in groups to the camp and quietly went to bed.

The Epsom magistrates court ordered that all pubs and clubs be closed for the sale of intoxicating liquor until Monday 23 June 1919.

The two Canadians had been arrested at 10.30pm for creating a disturbance. They had just got off the train from London. At 11pm a number of Canadians then went to the police station and asked that the men be released. However, the police refused saying that the arrests must be dealt with in the customary manner. This incensed the soldiers whose numbers outside were increasing from the Woodford Convalescent Camp two miles away. A Major tried to reason with the men but did not get a hearing and a stone was thrown through the charge room window and a melee then began.

The iron railings enclosing a small garden in front of the police office were quickly pulled up and heavy stones were collected as well as flagstones that were used for paving at the door of the station and the soldiers stormed the building.

The doors had been closed but were smashed to matchwood. The Canadians had also smashed the lamps and extinguished the lights so that the fighting took place by moonlight.

The inspectors whose wife and children had been in the station managed to get out, however, the inspector then ordered an assault at arms and fifteen policemen charged the Canadians from the yard into the street. A number of people were injured and it was during this tussle that Thomas Green received a fatal blow to the head. He was taken to the infirmary in an unconscious condition with a fractured skull where he died.

Meanwhile, several Canadians had reached the cells by a side window and the prisoners were liberated.

The fight lasted a little over an hour and eight constables were taken to the infirmary for treatment. Not a single constable escaped injury and when the Inspector was on duty the next day he had a bandage on his head having suffered a severe scalp wound.

The next day the chairman of the Epsom Urban Council telegraphed the War Office urging strong action stating that the inhabitants had no security at night.

The Canadian Headquarters overseas issued a statement deploring the disturbance and stated that it was due to growing feeling of hostility between the Canadians and the demobilised Imperial Soldiers.

According to some soldiers, the disturbance had started after a Canadian soldier who had been walking with his wife was insulted by a gang of civilians.

At the inquest on 11 July 1919 a verdict of manslaughter was returned on the death of Station-Sergeant Green and seven men were committed for trial at Bow Street on charges of rioting and manslaughter. However, on 25 July 1919 at the Guildford Assizes only five Canadian soldiers were convicted of rioting and all were acquitted of manslaughter.

Thomas Green had a wife and two daughters aged 16 and 18.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 19 June 1919

see Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 19 June 1919

see Gloucester Journal - Saturday 26 July 1919