Unsolved Murders

Caroline Ellen Traylor

Age: 18

Sex: female

Date: 22 Sep 1943

Place: 94 Foord Road, Folkestone

Caroline Ellen Traylor was murdered between 13 and 17 June 1943.

Her dead body was found during a police search strangled in a bombed-out shop passage on Foord Road in Folkestone a short distance from her home in Sussex Road on 17 June 1943 at about 11.30am.

The pathologist said that she had been strangled by a grip of considerable force.

Caroline Traylor's body was found by a policeman during a search of unoccupied buildings by the police looking for her. A policeman said that he entered 94 Foord Road by a gate entrance off Devon Road. He said that the back door was closed, but not locked and that when he went in, he saw a blue suede shoe lying on the floor and then to the left of the entrance a large brown leather handbag. He said that he then saw Caroline Traylor lying on the floor in a passage from the shop doorway.

A 24-year-old soldier in the Royal Artillery was convicted of her murder in September 1943 at the Old Bailey and sentenced to death but his conviction was quashed on appeal on 1 November 1943.

At the time of the murder the soldier had been at a camp about five miles from Folkestone and had been in the Mechanic's Arms public house with a friend and had got back to camp late.

The grounds of his appeal were misdirection of the jury by the judge. It was heard that the judge had commented in his summing up on the fact that when the soldier was arrested, he had not denied the charge but had instead said that he would take advice. It was said that what the judge had said was tantamount to saying, 'If a man says, 'I reserve my defence', then you may rely on that as evidence showing that he is the man responsible for the crime charged'.

Caroline Traylor was a cinema usherette and she had been on duty at the cinema on 13 June 1943 until about 9pm and it was thought that she had gone straight to the Mechanic's Arms public house after leaving work. It was said that the soldier had met Caroline Traylor in the pub and had got into conversation with her. The soldier had been with another soldier at the time, but after the soldier was said to have started speaking to Caroline Traylor, he felt that he was in the way and said that he then left their company. The other soldier said that he went back to camp in a truck at about 10.15pm.

Two trucks had brought the two soldiers, as well as others into Folkestone on the evening of 13 June 1943 and the second truck later left Folkestone on the return journey at 11.10pm with all soldiers other than the soldier tried for Caroline Traylor's murder accounted for.

However, at the trial it was heard that there was no one to say that Caroline Traylor and the soldier had been together after they left the public house at 10pm.

However, several witnesses that had known Caroline Traylor said that they had seen her walking about with a soldier after she left the pub. She was seen by one witness at about 10.15pm walking along Bradstone Avenue towards Black Bull Road with a soldier which was near to the bombed out shop where she was later found.

Caroline Traylor was also later seen at 10.30pm with a soldier in St John's Church Road and then again at 10.40pm talking to a soldier outside the shop where she was later found murdered.

The soldier himself later returned to camp at about 1.30am on 14 June 1943. He said that he had walked back to camp, having met an officer in the WAAF who he had walked back with as far as the bus station. The police later spoke to an officer in the WAAF who said that after she had arrived at Folkestone Junction station at 12.15am, a soldier had followed her and caught up with her.

Evidence against the soldier included a rust or orange coloured wool fibre that was found on one of Caroline Traylor's torn fingernails which corresponded with fibre in a khaki shirt that had been worn by the soldier. However, at the trial the soldiers defence said, 'You might find an orange thread of similar fabric on some 5,000,000 shirts today'. The defence also added that there was nothing on the soldier's clothes to connect him with being in the shop where the murder took place.

Police also found six dark hairs on her body and it was noted that she herself had auburn, sandy-coloured hair. The six dark hairs were later said to be identical in every way with the hair of the soldier.

The police said that they also found a sandy coloured hair on the soldier's uniform that they said corresponded in every respect with the hairs taken from Caroline Traylor's body.

The soldier was detained in London by the US Army Police on 30 June 1943. He was a married man who had two children and whose home was in Santley Street in Longsight, Manchester.

After the soldier was arrested it was heard that he had made various inconsistent statements regarding what he had done on the evening of 13 June 1943.

It was also stated that the soldiers behaviour following the murder up until the time he was arrested was also suspicious as it was alleged that he had endeavoured to hide his identity as much as possible because he must have known that he was wanted for interview.

It was also noted that a book of leave forms was also taken from the soldier’s troop office and it was later found in his possession. It was heard that two of the documents were filled up and bore the signature of an officer which was not the officer's signature that the name related to. It was also found that other articles, including the soldier's pay books were also missing and that four pay books belonging to other soldiers were also found on the soldier, one of which had belonged to one of the soldiers roommates. It was also noted that the soldier had gone so far as to extract his photograph and to have put it in another man's paybook.

It was also heard that on 18 June 1943 that the soldier had told another soldier that he was going home for the weekend as he suspected his wife's conduct, although it was noted at the trial that in his wife's interest, there seemed to be no foundation for that suggestion.

On the same day, 18 June 1943, the soldier was found by his sergeant major to be away from his vehicle. It was found that after being paid he should have attended for guard duty at 7pm but that he was nowhere to be found and that the reason for that was because he had taken the 8.40pm train from Euston to Manchester.

On 19 June 1943 the soldier was with his wife in Manchester and was wearing civilian clothes. It was later heard that the soldier had gone to see his mother-in-law with his wife and that they both appeared to be worried and that he told them that he was on embarkation leave. The mother-in-law said that as her daughter was looking poorly she remarked that perhaps she was worried that her husband was going abroad and said that the soldier said, 'Not so worried as me'. However, it was also noted that there appeared to be no suggestion of any trouble between him and his wife. It was heard that when they later went out for drinks the soldier said that he had had a bit of bad luck over the previous three weeks, but that he didn't say what that was.

On 20 June 1943 the soldier was in Stockport where he saw a friend who he told that he was due back in Folkestone at midnight. However, it was found that he spent the night of 20-21 June at a drill hall at Mere.

On 22 June 1943 the soldier was at Stafford railway station where he met a woman and told her that he was a fighter pilot in the RAF and they later went to Birmingham together where they spent the evening at a cinema.

The next day, 23 June 1943, the soldier went to London with the woman who lent him an attache case because he told her that his luggage, which was supposed to have arrived at the station, had not.

The following day, 24 June 1943, the soldier telephoned the woman and made an appointment to return the attache case, but he failed to show up.

The soldier was next heard of at the Queen's Hotel in Leicester Square, London on 28 June 1943 in the company of a Canadian soldier. Whilst there he got into a conversation with two US NCO's and spent the night with them at the Green Park Hotel.

He was arrested the following day, 29 June 1943 at the City of Quebec public house and taken to Marylebone Police station where he was held until police officers from Folkestone could arrive. A policeman said that he had been on duty at Marble Arch when a man attached to the CID of the US Army communicated with him and he went off with him to the City of Quebec public house where he saw the soldier. He said that he asked the soldier what his name was and said that the soldier gave him a false name. He said that he then grabbed the soldier by the left arm and told him that he answered the description of a man that was wanted for the larceny of a wallet and contents as well as questioning by the Folkestone Police and said that the soldier replied, 'You have got nothing on me'.

When the police arrived, he admitted that he had been with Caroline Traylor, but then said, 'I want to be fair with you and to myself but before I make a statement I should like to get advice'.

The police then took possession of his army uniform in Manchester. They later also went to the Imperial Hotel in Russel Square where they found several AB64 forms in various names which were leave forms.

When the soldier was questioned, he admitted being with Caroline Traylor, but said that after he had come out of the pub with her he had kissed her but that she had told him that she had a date to keep and so he left her. He said that he then walked home and on the way met the WAAF officer whose bag he offered to carry.

The doctor said that the cause of Caroline Traylor's death was manual strangulation. He said that her throat injuries consisted of bruising and tearing of the skin as by the fingernails at the level of the voice box on both sides, left and right. He added that there was a fracture of the voice box on the left side and bruising between the voice box and the spine. He said that her injuries to the back of her neck consisted of a single bruise as from a thumb high up under the head and immediately to the left of the mid line and that there were three similar bruises as from the strong pressure of avering fingers further round the right side of her neck.

He added that there were bruises to her brow and to her chin that were in keeping with her head having been forced back and downwards onto some surface during the grip.

The soldier’s trial at the Old Bailey had lasted three days.

Caroline Traylor was married but lived at home with her parents in Sussex Road, Folkestone. Her husband was a sergeant in the Durham Light Infantry and had been serving in North Africa at the time.

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

see discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see National Archives - HO 144/22171, CRIM 1/1539, PCOM 9/1006

see Manchester Evening News - Thursday 01 July 1943

see Liverpool Evening Express - Monday 01 November 1943

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Thursday 01 July 1943

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Tuesday 02 November 1943

see Dover Express - Friday 02 July 1943

see Shields Daily News - Thursday 22 July 1943

see Dover Express - Friday 05 November 1943