Date: 15 Apr 1944
Place: The Moors, Camberley
Constance Sybil Curtis was found raped and strangled on some waste ground on 15 April 1944.
She was found the morning after attending a fair at Camberley on The Moors. She was naked except for her stockings and her clothes which had been forcibly removed were thrown over her.
A Canadian soldier was tried for her murder but acquitted on the grounds of mistaken identity.
Constance Curtis was a factory worker and worked at Lynotex.
It was claimed that the Canadian soldier had met Constance Curtis at the fair, but the soldier denied that he had been in Camberley on 14 April 1944.
A boy and a girl that had seen Constance Curtis with a man on 14 April 1944 were not able to identify the soldier as the man they had seen her with. However, several other people were said to have identified the Canadian soldier that was tried for her murder as the soldier that they had seen with her, although the soldier claimed they were mistaken.
A doctor said that Constance Curtis's death was due to shock brought about by pressure of a hand on the larynx. He said that unconsciousness, and probably death, was instantaneous. However, he suggested that the injury was made with no intention to kill.
The doctor went to view Constance Curtis's body at 11am on 15 April 1944. She was lying on a piece of waste ground about 15 yards beyond the end of a short accommodation trackway or lane between two cottages that gave access to the waste ground and which was a turning out of Vale Road, in York Town, Camberley. He said that on the left of the trackway, approaching the waste ground, there was a holly hedge and on the right there was a rough grass verge into which dead holly leaves had been blown. About halfway down on the right side of the lane there were some marks on the ground which the doctor said might have been made in the course of a struggle.
The doctor said that when he saw Constance Curtis, she was on her back with her head turned to the left and stripped naked except for a pair of stockings and with her clothes partly beneath her and partly thrown over her body. He said that her left hand was across her upper abdomen outside all the clothes and her right hand was against the skin of her lower abdomen beneath a pair of knickers that had been thrown over the front of her body.
The doctor noted that there were two dead holly leaves inextricably tangled up in her hair at the back of her head and that near her head there was a heap of rusty steel lathe turnings, some of which were beneath her and about fifty or more of them had punctured her bare skin over her shoulders, shoulder blades and back of her arms above the elbows, particularly the right, and about a dozen of them were still sticking into her skin when she was turned over. She had no punctures on her back below the level of her elbows where her body was lying on her clothes.
Her clothing was then removed, which included:
The doctor later carried out a post-mortem on 15 April 1944 at 2.45pm. He said that Constance Curtis's body was that of a strong, well-built and well-proportioned girl about 17 years of age, 5ft 5in tall and that all of her organs were normal and healthy. He noted that she was extremely dirty and that she had made no attempt to maintain her personal cleanliness or appearance, noting that she used no makeup. He said that her hair, which was brown with bleached ends, was tousled and uncombed and that her nails were long and filthy. He found numerous old scars and half healed sores on her arms and legs which he said were possibly from the splashing of some kind of chemical on her skin during her work and which had festered owing to the absence of subsequent washing.
The doctor said that Constance Curtis's face was blue and congested and contrasted with the rest of her body which was blanched and said that her fingernails were pale. He said that her congested face indicated obstruction to the great veins of her neck having been interfered with concerning the free return of blood from her head to her heart. He said that further evidence that such an obstruction had been severe was available in the presence of:
The doctor said that other injuries about her neck included:
The doctor concluded that her death was due to asphyxia and shock resulting from manual strangulation.
The doctor noted a number of other injuries, including a bruise on her forehead and grazes on her back.
When the doctor examined her sexual organs, he said that Constance Curtis was not a virgin and had been having frequent sexual intercourse, noting that old healed tears through the hymen on each side gave free access. He said that on the left side of the edge of the hymen there were two tiny radial splits, one 1/8 inch long and the other a little less which he said had resulted from over stretching of the hymenal ring. He said that at his examination on the ground in Vale Road and later again at the mortuary, that he noted that there had been no bleeding from the little tears either into the vagina or into the mucus that had collected just external to the hymen, but said that in the mortuary they oozed a little blood on pressure, which he said indicated intercourse, and probably violent intercourse, noting that spermatozoa in large numbers was present in the vagina which confirmed the fact.
The doctor then went on to suggest a reconstruction of the crime. He first said that it should be noted that the bruise on her forehead was apparently sustained as the result of an accidental blow when Constance Curtis had been on a roundabout at the fair on the evening of 14 April 1944.
He said that the marks on the roadway of the lane leading out of Vale Road suggested that a struggle took place there, and the fact that Constance Curtis was at some time on her back in the lane was indicated by the dead holly leaves that were found in the back of her hair, as it was seen that a number of holly leaves littered the ground there.
He said then that Constance Curtis would have been dragged from the lane to where she was found, as shown by the grooves in the soft soil suggesting dragging heals, and the shoes coming off as the heels caught in a hummock of grass, her hair ring (the top end of a stocking) and her belt falling off at the same time.
He said that Constance Curtis's body was then stripped where it lay, and an entire absence of any bruising or signs of rough handling showed that she had put up no resistance to that, because, in the doctors view, Constance Curtis had at that time been either dead already, or at least unconscious and dying.
He said that he considered that Constance Curtis had been strangled in the lane by a hand compressing her neck and that the injury caused by that grip did not result in the deep bruising behind her larynx nor did it force her tongue upwards between her teeth so that it was bitten. He said that it was a side by side grip, a pinch, and he suggested that its appearance indicated an attempt on the part of her assailant to pinch her throat so as to possibly stop her from screaming, rather than in a determined effort to murder her by strangulation.
He went on to say that the pressure on her neck interfered with the return of blood from her head and was responsible for the numerous haemorrhages noted. He said that it compressed her larynx causing shock and therefore rapid unconsciousness and it occluded her air-way and produced massive collapse of her lungs and asphyxia, and concluded that she must have died very quickly.
He added that he thought that there could have been no doubt that Constance Curtis had been stripped when she was lying on her back where she was found, for her coat, overall, cardigan and her two slips were all in proper sequence beneath her. He added that a narrow strip of her overall had been torn off from the neck-band in front to the bottom hem in front, and that both slips had been completely ripped open by a hand inserted in the left armhole, the shoulder strap of the slip next to her skin being torn completely off and left on the ground under her left armpit. He noted that finally, her blue knickers seemed to have been pulled down over her feet and the safety pin by which they were fastened had come out and was found with blue threads still in it close to her right heel.
The doctor added that it was important to note that Constance Curtis's clothes were not merely taken off, but that they were hurriedly and violently torn off and that the sleeves of her overall were turned inside out, and concluded that one motive only would have dictated such violent stripping of a non-resistant girl, and that that motive was sexual intercourse. The doctor noted that sexual intercourse had taken place and had been completed as large numbers of spermatozoa were found in her vagina. He added that it had been violent, for though Constance Curtis was used to intercourse, and there was ample and ready access, what remained of her hymen was bruised and split on one side. He added that the possibility of the entire absence of bleeding from the two small splits so caused could be looked on as confirmatory evidence that Constance Curtis had actually been dead when that intercourse had taken place.
The doctor noted additionally that finally, some consideration for Constance Curtis must have moved her assailant to cover up her body as far as possible, noting that her knickers were laid over the front of her chest and abdomen and were even tucked in between her arms and chest, and that the end of her clothes projecting from under her body had been one by one folded over it.
The doctor noted that at 11.30am on 15 April 1944, that the temperature of Constance Curtis's body was 80F and the air temperature was 62F and as such estimated her time of death to have taken place about ten hours beforehand, possibly at about 1.30am, but with a margin of two or even three hours before then and about an hour after, as such, between 10.30pm on 14 April 1944 and 2.30am on 15 April 1944.
A woman who lived at Venetia in Vale Road, Camberley whose house faced the pathway that led from Vale Road to the Moors said that on the Friday n Easter week she had gone to bed at about 10.50pm and said that just after 11pm she heard a sound of a stone being kicked. She said that there was a hedge in front of her house and said that she heard what she thought was a drunken man in the hedge muttering to himself, stating that the muttering went on for about an hour, and that she then heard a terrible scream at around 12 midnight. She said that she thought that it was a drunken man screaming out and being sick, noting that it was a high-pitched scream. She said that she then heard a man going closer to the hedge. She noted that she thought that it was raining after the scream. She said that she then heard the sounds of a man dragging himself on his arms on the path in front of her house. She said that when she woke up the following morning that she then saw a girl on the edge of the Moors, lying there partly dressed.
Another woman who lived in West View in Vale Road, Camberley, next door to the woman who lived in Venetia, said that on the Friday in Easter week, she went to bed at about 12 midnight and that a little later she heard voices that seemed to come from the Vale Road way, adding that she thought the noises were coming from in front of the house that was in front of her. She said that the noises sounded like a man and a woman and that she then heard a short sharp noise like a howl or a moan.
Constance Curtis had lodged at 8 Eaton Road in Camberley since about the middle of February 1944. The landlord, who was a stoker at the gas works said that on the Friday 14 April 1944 he was on night work, leaving home at 9.30pm at which time Constance Curtis was not at home and that when he arrived home at 5.45am the following day he found the back door unlocked, which he said was unusual. He said that there was an alley way leading up to Vale Road and that his house was the fourth one up from Vale Road. He said that later that day he went to the Moors where he identified the body of Constance Curtis at about 11am.
The landlord’s daughter who also lived at 8 Eaton Road in Camberley and worked as a laundry hand, said that Constance Curtis had been keeping company with a Canadian soldier. She said that on the Friday 14 April 1944 that she had Constance Curtis went to the fair in the evening, getting there at between 6.30pm and 7pm. She said that later her mother came to the fair with another woman and that she also met another friend there, a girl. She said that during the evening she and Constance Curtis went on the bumper cars whilst the other girl looked on and that whilst they were riding the bumper cars they bumped into another car which was driven by two Canadian soldiers, one of whom she said was the man tried for Constance Curtis's murder.
The landlord’s daughter said that after that Constance Curtis had a ride in a bumper car with the Canadian soldier who was later tried for her murder, stating that the soldiers companion got out and Constance Curtis got in. She said that she didn't hear him invite her and only saw her get in and didn't know how many rides they had had. She said that after that they went to the shooting gallery and then later went back to the bumper cars where she and her friend drove one and Constance Curtis and the soldier drove another car. She said that by then it was getting dark and that the show was about to close.
The landlords daughter said that Constance Curtis then gave everyone a cigarette and that the soldier lit his and Constance Curtis's cigarettes but that she and her friend didn't want theirs lit. She said that she and her friend then decided to go home and left Constance Curtis and the soldier by the London Road gate where they were walking arm-in-arm at about 9.30pm. She said that she got home at about 10pm and had been home about 20 minutes when Constance Curtis came in wearing her navy blue coat. She said that Constance Curtis stayed for about three minutes and then left again by the back door and that she didn't see her alive again. She said that she left the back door unlocked for her.
The landlord’s daughter noted that the fair came back to Camberley in Whit week and that she went to it on Whit Tuesday, 30 May 1944 with her friend that she had been with previously and another girl. She said that they looked around the various rides together and whilst they were standing beside the dodgem cars they saw two Canadian soldiers about 10 to 15 yards from them and said that she noticed something about one of them, saying that his face seemed familiar and that she then recognised him as the Canadian soldier that had been with Constance Curtis at the Easter fair on 14 April. She said that she kept her eye on them and that she then reported what she had seen to a plain clothes policeman who was busy with some children. She said that as they were waiting the Canadian soldier went over to the other friend and spoke to her and that as he did so she asked him if he had been to the Easter fair and he said that he hadn't. She said that her mother then came over and that shortly after the Canadian soldier went over to speak to her and showed her a book and said that she heard him say, 'You have not got anything on me', which she said she thought was addressed to all of them. She said that he then walked off with his pal.
The Canadian soldier that had been out with the other Canadian soldier who was tried for the murder was a Signalman who joined up with the army on 16 June 1943. He had arrived in England on 7 May 1944 and had gone straight to the Morval Barracks in Cove where he was billited in Spider 8, room 5. He said that although he had seen the other soldier before, he had not gone out with him before, but said that on 30 May 1944 they arranged at 4.30pm whilst they were having a shower to go to the fair when the soldier asked him what he was doing in the evening.
The signalman said that he had been to Camberley the previous Saturday when there was a fair on and that they left the barracks at about 6pm and walked down through the officers gate at which point a woman told them that there was no bus and so they walked up to the clock tower in Farnborough and caught a bus. He said that they got off the bus at the Duke of York Hotel in Camberley and walked around the fair ground and said that after they had been there for about half an hour, the soldier that he was with spoke to three girls. He said that he had noticed the three girls before and said that it seemed to him that they were following them. He said that the soldier then said to him, words to the effect of, 'Those girls are following us'. He said that as they stood by the Speedway between two children’s roundabouts the soldier turned to the girls and spoke to them but said that he didn't hear what he said. He said that he only spoke to them for 2-3 seconds or a minute. The soldier said that he didn't say anything about it at first, but said that after a while he asked him what it was about and said that the soldier replied, 'I asked the girls if they thought they knew me', and then added that they didn't. He said that the soldier then said that he had asked if they knew his name and added that they told him that they didn't. He then said that he asked the soldier what it was all about and said that the soldier then told him that he had been picked out of the ranks over the murder case. The signalman said that nothing more was said relative to that and said that they continued to walk around the fair. He said that they strolled around for about 15 minutes and that he noticed that the girls were still following them and that when they got to the bumper cars he noticed that an elderly woman was now with them. He said that the soldier then went over to the lady with the girls and that he saw him produce his pay book to her, but that he didn't hear what was said. He said that when the soldier came back and he asked him what had happened that time, the soldier said 'I showed her my pay book', and that when he asked him why, he said, 'She's probably a detective'. The signalman said that he didn't say anything in reply to that but said that later the soldier said, 'they'll probably pick me up'. The signalman said that he then said, 'Your crazy to think you are going to be picked up'.
The signalman said that they continued to walk around the fair and picked up two ATS girls and asked them to go for a ride in the Skid Cars with them. He said that they had one ride and that one of the ATS girls then asked a police sergeant what the time was and was told that it was 'Just after 9 o'clock', after which the ATS girls said that it was time for them to be walking back to Camp.
The soldier said that they were walking out of the fair towards the gate when the police sergeant stopped the soldier. The signalman said that he carried on with the ATS girls as far as the gate where the ATS girls left him. He said that he then walked back to where the soldier was and heard the soldier offer to let the police sergeant have his paybook. He said that the soldier then asked him to walk to the police station to get his pay book, noting that nothing was said on the way about why his pay book was taken or why he was visiting the police station.
The signalman said that he had previously visited the fair on Saturday 27 May with some other soldiers and that he had not been with the other soldier before, but said that the other soldier had told him that when the fair had previously been at Camberley that he had been there, but didn't say what day it was or with who.
The signalman noted that when the soldier had told him that he had been picked out of the ranks for the murder, he assumed that he meant by the girls and said that when he asked the soldier how Constance Curtis had been killed, the soldier had told him that he didn't know.
Previously, on 29 April 1944, at about 10am, the police attended a parade of the Permanent Establishment Personnel at the No. 1 Canadian Signals Reinforcement Unit at Morval Barracks in Cove. A police constable said that he had been given a description of a Canadian soldier and that amongst those that answered the description was the soldier that was tried for the murder. The police said that when they spoke to the soldier and asked him to tell them something of his whereabouts on Friday 14 April 1944, that the soldier said, 'I did not visit Camberley that day, I am sure of that. I can't say exactly where I was'. It was noted that at that time he made no mention of any of his clothing having been stolen.
It was noted that thirteen other soldiers in the soldiers unit also matched the description that the police had been given. It was further noted that that was only from the soldier’s unit and that other units were being similarly combed and it could not be said how many other soldiers would also answer that description.
The policeman that stopped the soldier at the fair said that he had gone to the fair at about 8.45pm and after being there for a few minutes he was approached by a plain clothes policeman who then pointed out the soldier to him. He said that he then went up to the soldier as he was walking away from the fair and said that the soldier told him his name and gave him his paybook. He said that he then asked him if he had been to the fair before and said that the soldier replied, 'Yes, to the last one. I know all about it, I've been talking to the Mother and two daughters, I was picked out on the line up at Cove and was seen by the police'. The policeman said that whilst they were talking another policeman came up and in the soldiers presence said to the other policeman, 'He knows all about it, he was picked out on a line up at Cove by that girl and has been seen by the police. The soldier then said, 'Yes that’s right, I was picked out on a line up at Cove, I know all about it, I was picked out by that girl'. The policeman said that he was about to take some particulars when the soldier told him to keep his paybook adding that he could find him at Cove. The policeman said that he kept the soldiers pay book and told him where the police station was and said that the soldier told him that he would call there later for it. He said that as he left, the soldier said, 'You boys never give up on a job'. He said that the soldier later called for his pay book that night at 9.10pm or 9.15pm.
Later, at about midnight on 30/31 May 1944 the police saw the soldier and explained that on the morning of 15 April 1944 that a girl named Constance Curtis was found dead in the town after being seen leaving the fair with a Canadian soldier. The police then went on to tell him that he had been seen that evening by two girls that had been with Constance Curtis on the night she was murdered who had identified him as the soldier that she had left the fair with to which the soldier said, 'Those two girls are bloody fools, they have never seen me before'. He was then asked if he cared to make a statement about his movements on 14 April 1944 and he replied, 'Sure I have got nothing to hide', and a statement was taken from him. It was noted that towards the end of his statement the soldier walked around the room and burst out crying and said, 'I want you to believe me Inspector, I was not at the fair on 14 April', to which the inspector said, 'All right, I have not said that you were'.
However, on 1 June 1944 at about 2pm, the soldier walked into the inspectors office at Camberley Police Station and said, 'Inspector, I now remember that I did go to the fair, I think it was on the Thursday', and he then made another statement in which he said that he had been to the fair on Thursday 13 April 1944 with a certain soldier, but the police later said they found that although he had seen the soldier at the barracks that the soldier had not gone to the fair with him. When the soldier was told that, he said 'He does not know what he is talking about, he goes a bit funny sometimes, he's been over in this country too long'. The police also noted that it was before that date that his uniform had been stolen.
The police report stated that the soldier was of unblemished character as far as they knew and added that they could not say how many persons answered the description of the person given by the witnesses, but said that the number was in excess of thirteen. They said that they also tried to trace all the Canadian soldiers that had been with Constance Curtis at the fair on the evening of 14 April 1944, but that they could not trace all of them. They said that they endeavoured to trace six other soldiers in addition to the murderer, with three of them being Canadians. The report stated that all six of them had been seen with Constance Curtis at the fair that evening but that only two of them could be traced, leaving four soldiers that could not be traced.
It was further noted that no witnesses picked the soldier out at an identification parade as the man that had been with Constance Curtis on the night she was murdered. The police report stated that the soldier had been put up for identification on 19 July 1944 but was not picked out. The witnesses that were looking at the men in the identity parade were a 14-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, but they both failed to pick the soldier out. It was further noted that there were roughly about a dozen units paraded where the two witnesses walked up and down the ranks, and that some of the parades had consisted of 100's of men, to endeavour to pick out the person suspected of the crime. It was further noted that they all took place before the soldier was identified later at the fairground, with the first taking place about three weeks after the murder and that no one man was put up for identification.
The police report further noted that they had various descriptions of the man that was seen to leave the fair ground with Constance Curtis and that there was some variance in the details of the descriptions including variance in the description of the maple leaves on the soldiers uniform.
There was an issue of the soldiers clothing having been stolen. A soldier in the Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit stationed at Witley said that he broke out of Hendley Detention Barracks with two other men on 10 April 1944. He said that they remained hidden for most of the Monday and later that night went to Bordon Camp and then on towards Farnham where they slept in a barn until about midday on the Tuesday, 11 April 1944, after which they went to some bushes where they stayed until 10pm after which they went to Morval Barracks in Cove. He said that when he got there, one of the other soldiers that he had gone off with was still with him and in the early hours of Wednesday, 12 April 1944, he stole some clothes, the trousers of which had the name of the soldier that was tried for the murder on them. The escaped soldier said that he then went on to Brighton that day where he met another man that he knew.
Another signalman, who the soldier said he had gone to the fair with on 13 April 1944, said that on the Easter Monday, 10 April 1944, he was transferred from Cove to Farnborough and some days after that he returned to Cove to pick up his mail, probably the Wednesday 12 April 1944, when he met the soldier that was tried. He said that he asked the soldier if he could borrow some money for the bus but said that the soldier told him that he was broke. He noted that the soldiers were generally paid on 13 or 14 of each month. He said that when he spoke to the soldier, the soldier told him that his uniform had been stolen the night before but that he had located part of it. He said that he knew a girl and that he was in her company for the Easter weekend and that he had had a date with her the evening that he met the soldier in Cove whilst getting his mail and that the date was in Farnborough and that he never went to the Camberley fair with the soldier.
A corporal that knew the soldier that denied that he had gone to the fair with the accused soldier said that he had seen him at the YMCA in Farnborough on the Thursday 13 April 1994, and again later on the Saturday and Sunday, but not on the Friday.
Another signalman in the Canadian Signals Reinforcement Unit in Farnborough said that he knew the soldier that had denied going to the fair with the other soldier who was tried. He said that he remembered when he left their unit, saying that he thought that it was Easter Monday. He said that he next remembered the soldier coming back for his mail a few days later and that they both went to see the other solder who was tried. He said that he didn't go to the fair at Camberley during the Easter week but remembered going with the man that denied going to the fair with the soldier tried for the murder, before the fair opened on the Good Friday. In his statement he added that he remembered that it was a Good Friday.
The soldier made three statements. The first statement in part was:
'I am a signalman of The Canadian Signal Reinforcement Unit and I am stationed at Norval Barracks, Cove. I have been at Morval Barracks since about the beginning of November 1943, and before that I was at 5 CIRU at Farnborough. I know Camberley fairly well and have visited it several times since being stationed at Cove. I don't know any civilians at Camberley. I usually came in with someone belonging to my Unit. I last came to Camberley, that is before today, on Sunday 28 May 1944 with a dispatch rider. He told me that he'd arranged with another despatch rider who I don't know, to meet two ATS girls at the YMCA. I now remember I'm wrong, and that I came into Camberley on the Sunday evening with the dispatch rider and met an ATS girl in the park where the carnival was being held today. There was no carnival there then. She was standing in the middle of the ground with three ATS girls talking to two Canadians. I walked up to the ATS girl with the dispatch rider and I came off with the ATS girl. It was about 7.30pm and I went with the ATS girl to the YMCA after walking through the gate where the OCTU men are. We both had a glass of lemonade. We walked up the main road to where the ATS girl was billeted and I stood outside the Billet talking to her. We were walking through the bushes near her billets when we met the dispatch rider with another ATS girl who is also billeted at the same place as the ATS girl I was with. We left them at 10pm and walked down to the crossroads and got a lift to the Clock Tower. I met the ATS girl before on Friday 26 May 1944 in Camberley, she was then with another ATS girl. I was with the dispatch rider. That was the first time I met the ATS girl. The dispatch rider and I took the two ATS girls back to their billets that night. I have been into Camberley on previous evenings, but I cannot remember the dates. Those are the only two occasions apart from tonight that I have ever been into Camberley while off duty. I have been on several occasions on duty on training run in Jeeps. On those occasions we've been in charge of a corporal. I have come in on the runs as a Jeep instructor and as such I am attached to the Permanent Establishment at Morval Barracks. I can remember the last Carnival in the Park at Camberley. I did not go myself, but I remember walking past the Carnival on the Saturday before the Monday on which it opened. I was with two other soldiers (including the soldier that later denied going to the fair with him on 13 April 1944). It was some time in the late afternoon. We were all three off duty and we spent our time in Camberley walking up and down the streets until about 8 o'clock and then went to Toc H where we had tea. We got a bus back to Farnborough and went back to Barracks. I remember it was the Saturday before the Carnival opened because the other soldier said it was going to open up on the Monday. I remember now we had a walk round the Fair, but it wasn't started. On no occasion during the time the Carnival was running did I go to Camberley on or off duty and I don't know anyone else who did go to the Carnival. I remember that week that the Carnival was coming on because on the night before pay day the 13 April 1944, my pants were stolen and on the morning of the 14 April I woke up in my bed in Spider 3 room 4 and found that my two tunics and my 1 pair trousers were missing, also a leather wallet and parker pencil. There were photos in the wallet. They had been stolen during the night from my bed. I know that another signalman who slept in another room in he spider lost his tunic and pay book that night also. I reported this to the hut Corporal and later that morning I found my two tunics in the washroom of spider 3. The wallet and Parker Pencil and photographs had been stolen from it. I attended Pay Parade that day 14/4/44 (14th April 1944) at 6pm at Morval Barracks. I think we were paid in Spider 1. I can't recollect now seeing anyone I knew on the Pay Parade. I believe I drew about a pound. I paraded in khaki serge battle dress and wore my second-best pants because the others were stolen. I also wore gaiters. After the Pay Parade I went to the reading room of the NAAFI. I was on my own and I cannot recollect now anyone I knew there. I stopped there until closing time 9 o'clock and then I went to the hut to bed. I cannot recollect anyone being in the hut when I got in. I am positive I didn't go out on the night of 14 April 1944 and I didn't go out on any night after that week because my trousers were stolen. I did not get another pair of trousers until Monday morning the 17th April 1944 when I got issued from the Quartermasters Stores by a Corporal with a new pair. As a result of an arrangement with the Corporal and I it was marked down as a razor and not trousers which I got. I haven’t got my stolen pair of trousers back yet but about two weeks ago I had to go to Headley Detention Camp to give evidence in a Court Marshall against a man who had been found in possession of my trousers by the Canadian Provost Corps in London. I remember someone in the Barrack room talking about a girl being found dead at Camberley. One of the boys was reading it from the evening paper of the 15 April 1944. About two weeks after this I was on Parade with other men of the Permanent Establishment and I was questioned by a Police officer who asked me where I was on the night of the 14th April. I told him that I did not remember but I have since remembered I was reading that evening in the NAAFI. The policeman took my name and number. That is the only parade I've been on. I have not been on any actual identification parade. I was being paid the time the parade was on but I remember seeing other members parade on the square and they were being looked at by two girls and a little boy. So far as I'm concerned, I've never heard anything about the death of this girl in Camberley until today Tuesday 20th May 1944. I came into Camberley about 7.45pm in the company of the dispatch rider. I came with him to make a date with two girls, which had been arranged by the dispatch rider and another man but as the other man couldn't come, I took his place. Arrangements had been made to meet the two girls at the Post Office. We both walked up to the Post Office when we arrived at Camberley, but the girls didn't turn up as we were a bit late. So, the dispatch rider and I walked back to the Carnival Ground, the same place we saw the Carnival in before. We both went in. We walked round and tried to see the girls we were supposed to meet as the dispatch rider had said the last time he missed them he found them in the park where the Carnival was. After we had had a walk round the fair and couldn't find the girls, I noticed three young girls staring at me. I didn't pay any attention to them and just walked on with the dispatch rider. I said to the dispatch rider, 'Did you notice those girls looking at me', and he said, 'Yes I saw them looking at you'. We walked away and the girls followed us. I walked over to them. I said, 'What’s the matter with you, do you think you know me', and one of the girls said she thought she knew me, so I asked her if she knew my name. I said, 'Do you know my name'. She said 'No' and asked me if I had been to the Carnival at Easter. I said, 'I don't remember, I don't think I was'. I said, 'You don't know me and I don't know you'. She stared at me in the face, that is the one who had been speaking to me. One of the girls, the fair haired one, said to her, 'you must be wrong'. I then walked off and re-joined the dispatch rider who was standing some way away. We walked over to the whip and I went on it with the dispatch rider. We met two ATS girls on the whip and had one go. Before the dispatch rider and I went on the whip we saw the three girls talking to an elderly woman and as they still appeared to be following me, I went up to the elderly woman and asked her if they were her daughters. She said they were. I told her they had been following me and said, 'They think they know me'. She said to me, 'Were you around last Easter' and I said, 'I don't think I was'. As everybody, that is the three girls, were staring at me suspiciously I said to the elderly woman, 'here is my pay book if there's anything wrong there's my name and number'. I showed her my pay book. I took my pay book back and walked off with the dispatch rider. The dispatch rider asked me what the trouble was about, and I said, 'Some kid thought she knew me, I was picked out on the square on a parade. I told the dispatch rider about the girl being found dead at Camberley and told him that's what I thought they'd picked me out for. The dispatch rider didn't say anything. The dispatch rider and I then went on the whip with the ATS girls. I don't know who they were. One of the ATS girls asked the policeman the time and he said '9 o'clock'. So, we started walking across the park to the main road when the police sergeant stopped me and said they wanted to see me down at the station. I told him to take my pay book and I took it out and gave it to the sergeant and said, 'Here's my pay book, look me up at Signals Holding Unit if you want me'. I started walking off with the girls and he told me to call at the police station on my way back. Meanwhile the dispatch rider had walked on with the girls and he came back and he met me and we went up the road to meet the girls again but they had gone. The dispatch rider and I then walked up towards the police station. We saw the sergeant coming on his cycle, so I stopped and asked him where the police station was and came right along to it. I realise that why the girls looked at me and the sergeant stopped me was in connection with the death of the girl at Camberley. I knew it could be nothing else. Until this evening I haven’t seen the girls who stopped me before and on no other occasion. I know definitely tat I didn't come to Camberley on the 14th April 1944 or any day while the fair was on that week. I have been on the Permanent Establishment at Morval for the last two months and I have never worn a Maple leaf badge on my arm. The part in the statement where it says I came to Camberley on two occasion only before today is not correct as I have been to Camberley on a number of occasions since being at Morval Barracks. On no occasion did I come to Camberley during the week the Fair was at Camberley that is 9th that is Sunday, to 16th April the following Sunday'.
In his second statement the soldier said:
'With reference to my statement of 30th May 1944 I now remember that I did go to the Fair or Carnival at Camberley during the week it was there in April 1944. I remember I went there with the signalman (the soldier that denied going with him). There was only us two. It was on the Thursday before Pay Day which was on Friday, the 14th April 1944. On that day Thursday the 13th April 1944 the Signalman and myself left camp at Morval Barracks just after supper. The time would be about six o'clock in the evening. The Signalman and myself had not made any actual arrangements to go to Camberley that evening. He came into my room after supper and suggested we should go to Camberley. I rushed round and dressed and we both went to the Wigwam at Farnborough. I remember there were a number of chaps in my room when the Signalman came into ask me to go to Camberley, but I cannot remember who they were. They were some of the chaps who sleep in the room. I cannot remember if the Signalman and myself bussed or walked to the Wigwam at Farnborough, but I know we caught the bus from the Wigwam for Camberley. We got off of the bus at Camberley where it turns on to the main road. We arrived at Camberley somewhere about half past seven that night. I remember that when the signalman came to my room to ask me to go to Camberley, he asked me how much money I had on me. I feel pretty sure I told him 'Five Bob' although I had ten. I told him that because he is a moucher and would want to borrow some if I said, 'Ten'. He said that he had got Five Bob himself. I don't remember anyone else I knew being on the bus. When we got to Camberley, we walked up the main road and when we got to the Fair Ground we walked in. Both of us had a walk round the Fair but never went on anything. There were a few people there, but it wasn't crowded. The Signalman and I had a look at the various amusements. I think everything that was running. We never went on any of the sideshows. That is the cork shooting gallery and similar things. We were in the fair about half an hour, but I cannot remember the Signalman or myself spending any money there. I should think we left the fair about eight pm. During the time both of us were carrying our caps in our shoulder straps. We put them on when we saw the Provost men. There were two together. They did not speak to us. When the Signalman and I left the fair, we went to the YMCA on the corner of the road near the Fairground. We both had something to eat but I cannot remember what it was or how much I spent. I did not see anyone in the YMCA that I knew. I had been in the YMCA a number of times before and have been since. After leaving the YMCA the Signalman and I went back to the Fairground. I remember that we both went on the Whip this time. We both went on with two girls, they were in ATS uniform. I paid for all four of us. (All four of us had two goes on the Whip I must have paid for the two goes). I did not mean two goes I meant two girls. We only had one go and it cost me two shillings. I cannot remember what the Signalman and I did when we came off the whip. I am inclined to think that we went with the two ATS girls to their bus stop which was the first one going up the main road. Now I believe we did not go with them but left them at the Fair about 9pm. The Signalman and I then walked down the main road together to the bus stop for Farnborough, that is on the corner where the road turns off from the main road. I think we caught the last bus for Farnborough. I cannot remember seeing anyone I knew on the bus. I believe we got off the bus this side of the Clock Tower at Farnborough and then we went to Toc H near the Clock Tower. We both had something to eat and then walked back to Camp. I don't know what time we got back but they had just put the lights out. We missed Roll Call. I got into bed after putting my money into my working trousers and hanging my tunic on a hanger with my good trousers I had been wearing. I went to sleep and on waking up next morning found that my Battledress and an extra tunic had been stolen from me overnight. I reported that and subsequently carried on that day with my ordinary duties until Pay Parade at 6pm. I paraded in my wedge cap, one of the tunics that had been stolen and found again, I wore the worn one and my working trousers with gaiters. After Pay Parade I went back to my room. It was ten minutes to seven by the time I got paid. On reaching my room I took off my gaiters and boots and put on my fatigue shoes. I went to my room alone. I cannot remember who was in the room. After changing I went alone to the Reading Room at the NAAFI. I got there between 7pm and quarter past. I saw a number of soldiers there but nobody from my room that I can remember. I grabbed a book, one that you can't take out and sat in one of the easy chairs by the fireplace. I stopped there reading that book until the Reading Room closed at 9 o'clock. At that time the Librarian said to the chaps there, 'Come and get your books checked'. I put my book back in the same shelf as I got it from. The shelf where it says read here. I cannot remember what the title of the book was. I do not remember seeing anyone I knew or from my room during the whole time I was in the Reading Room. After leaving the Reading Room I went straight back to my own room, as soon as I got to my room I took my shoes and clothes off and got into bed. I cannot say if there were any other fellows in the room when I got there. I went straight to sleep as soon as I got into bed. I put my Pay into my Pay Book under my pillow. I did not wake up until six o'clock the next morning Saturday the 15th April 1944 and did not leave camp that weekend because I had no trousers to go out with. I am positive that Thursday the 13th April 1944 was the only day that I attended Camberley Fair during that week and that it was the Signalman who was with me. He was the only one that ever went to the Fair with me. On no occasion did I go alone. The reason why I had said in my first statement that I had not been during that week was because I did not remember doing so'.
In his third statement he said:
'With regard to my statement about going to the fair at Camberley on Thursday the 13th April 1944 with the Signalman, I am fairly sure it was this day and I am positive that it was with the Signalman that I went to the Fair and if he said he never went with me to the fair on this or any other day during the week it was on he is either lying or making a mistake. I don't think he would do it intentionally or to hurt anybody. I remember that the Signalman came to my room with another Signalman one day after he had removed to CRU. He said that he had come for his mail. I cannot remember what day it was. It was not the day we went to the fair together. We all three left my room and walked across the square in the Barracks. While in the hut the Signalman asked if I could lend him his bus fare. I told him I hadn't got any money. I don't remember if he asked the other signalman for any, but I remember the other signalman gave him some. I think it was sixpence. The other signalman and I said goodbye to the Signalman just down by the NAAFI. He left us two together. I can't just place what the other signalman and I did afterwards, but I am sure we stayed in camp at least I did. I am sure this was not on Thursday the 13th April 1944 because that was the day the Signalman and I went to the fair. With regards to my uniform which was stolen I woke up on the morning of Pay Day the 14th April 1944 and I feel pretty sure it was gone and was stolen the night the Signalman and I came back from the Fair'.
At his trial the soldier was found not guilty by the jury who returned their verdict without leaving the box.
When the judge summed up he said that it would indeed be a fearful thing if the soldier were convicted on evidence which permitted of so much speculation and doubt as the evidence given in the case. He said that the jury might think that it was right that the case should be probed to the bottom, but they might also think that the elements essential in a crime either of murder or anything else had not been fulfilled.
When the girl that had identified the soldier at the fair as the murderer gave evidence, the defence said, 'I do not doubt that you are doing your best to tell he court the truth, or what you believe to be the truth, but my case is that you made an honest mistake'. The other girl told the court that she had seen Constance Curtis at the fair on the evening of 14 April 1944 with a good many soldiers.
A Corporal that gave evidence at the trial said that Pay Parade was on 14 April 1944 and that the soldier had attended it wearing a pair of old trousers noting that he had been excused for wearing a pair of old trousers because his best trousers had been stolen. He added that in his opinion, the soldier would have been stopped by the guard for not being properly dressed if he had attempted to leave the camp that evening.
A Canadian medical specialist and psychiatrist said that in his opinion the crime was committed by somebody who was mentally deranged and in a moment of violent passion. He added that he had examined the soldier on trial and said that he found him to be a naive and immature individual.
The judge further summed up at the trial stating that they could not exclude the possibility that Constance Curtis had, on the evening of 14 April 1944, made an appointment to meet another Canadian soldier later that night. He noted that the defence had stated that even if the soldier had been to the fair that evening, that it had yet to be proved that he was with her at midnight or later.
After being acquitted by the jury of eight men and four women, the soldier was discharged.
see Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 06 December 1944
see Gloucester Citizen - Wednesday 06 December 1944
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 04 December 1944
see Surrey Advertiser - Saturday 09 December 1944
see National Archives - ASSI 90/6, ASSI 36/64