Unsolved Murders

Gertrude Rose

Age: 48

Sex: female

Date: 14 Mar 1945

Place: Queen Annes Mansions, 19 Southey Road, Brixton, SW9

Gertrude Rose was murdered at 19 Southey Road, Brixton SW9 on the night of 13-14 March 1945.

She was a prostitute and was also known as Maisie and 'cock-eyed' Maisie.

She was found lying dead in her bed by her charwoman on the morning of Friday 16 March 1945 after she let herself in with her key. The police said that they thought that she had been dead for about two days.

Her post-mortem stated that she had died from extensive head trauma and that she had defensive injuries to her hands and arms indicating that she had put up a struggle.

However, it was also revealed that she had signs of latent syphilis, and recent gonorrhoea and it was later suggested that she might have been attacked when the person that she was with, thought to have been an American soldier, had realised that she had a sexual disease.

During the post-mortem the pathologist recovered a number of hair samples thought to belong to her killer.

The police also found evidence that the person that she had been with, and who was thought to have killed her, had used a prophylactic kit that was ordinarily issued to soldiers by the US Army, indicating that she had been with an American soldier. It was also noted that at the time, London had been full of American soldiers and that Gertrude Rose had been regularly bringing a good number of American soldiers’ home with her.

The police said that they were interested in tracing an American soldier who might be able to help them in their inquiries. He was the last known visitor to see Gertrude Rose and was seen by the woman that lived below her to leave her flat at about 8.30am on the Wednesday. She had described him as having a pugilist’s nose.

The woman that lived in the flat below Gertrude Rose said, 'Mrs Rose was known to everyone about here and in the West End as 'Maisie'. Everything has been quiet in her flat for the last two days. In the evenings Maisie would bring men friends in. Quite a lot were soldiers, and then I would be kept awake for hours hearing them laughing and shouting'.

She added that there were often quarrels and the sound of scuffles.

She said that she was used to hearing Gertrude Rose walking about heavily in her flat above and later said that when she stopped hearing her on the Wednesday that she should have known that something was wrong.

She said that on the Wednesday morning she saw a soldier coming down from Gertrude Rose's flat upstirs at about 8.30am and said that she said 'Good morning' to him and that she later wondered whether she had said good morning to the murderer.

During the examination of her flat the police took away a leaded cosh that Gertrude Rose had always carried about with her wherever she went. The police said that the cosh was splintered when they found it and that it was found lying near to her body and was probably the murder weapon.

The police also said that they were attaching some importance to a 10s note that they found wedged between the framework of the door and a gap in the wall. It was later suggested that the significance of the 10s note being wedged between the door frame and the wall was that Gertrude Rose had been with a  man that she didn't know or trust and that the money was the money that he had given her and that she had then hidden it.

During their investigation the police interviewed two Americans. One was an US aviator who had seen Gertrude Rose regularly, but he had an alibi for the day of the murder.

Another US soldier, who matched the description given the woman from the flat below Gertrude Rose, was questioned as he had a broken nose, but he could not otherwise be connected with the murder or the flat.

It was also suggested that Gertrude Rose might have been a victim of Neville Heath who was convicted for the murders of Audrey Stewart and Evelyn Hatton, but the police later determined that Neville Heath had been in South Africa at the time.

Gertrude Rose was born in Sunderland in 1897.

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

see www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

see National Archives - MEPO 3/2291

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Saturday 17 March 1945

see Daily Herald - Saturday 17 March 1945

see Derby Daily Telegraph - Saturday 17 March 1945

see Sunday Mirror - Sunday 18 March 1945

see Oval History

see Murder Houses of South London by Jan Bondeson