Unsolved Murders

Frederick Walter Read

Age: 17

Sex: male

Date: 30 May 1939

Place: Cuffley, Hertfordshire

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Frederick Walter Read was shot in the back during an alleged suicide pact.

His girlfriend was tried for his murder, but no evidence was offered, and she was acquitted. She was however convicted of attempted suicide and was bound over for two years and to be under a probation officer's supervision.

Her defence had said that she had not incited Frederick Read to kill himself.

His girlfriend said that Frederick Read shot himself in the back and that she then shot herself in her stomach and then put the pistol back in his hands. She was later found staggering across the railway line 300 yards from Cuffley Station. Frederick Read was a short distance away beside the LNER railway line.

After she was found, Frederick Read's girlfriend was taken to Wellhouse Hospital in Barnet and when doctors tried to treat her she said, 'I want to die, let me die'. She was given a blood transfusion and a policewoman stayed by her bedside waiting for her to make a statement.

A doctor said that although it was almost a physical impossibility for the wound in the Frederick Read's back to have been self-inflicted, there was a remote chance that he had held the pistol with his left hand in an abnormal position and operated the trigger with his thumb.

At his inquest the Coroner told the jury that their verdict could not conflict with the decision of the criminal court. an open verdict was returned.

Frederick Read's girlfriend had been a domestic worker and had lived in Birkbeck Road in Enfield. Frederick Read was an aircraftman and a corporal from Cuffley in Hertfordshire and had been on leave at the time from Cranwell RAF station.

They had previously both lived near each other in Enfield and were engaged, but it was heard that their relatives did not approve of their marriage or acquaintance.

They had been spending the Whitsun holiday together.

Frederick Read's girlfriend's aunt said that Frederick Read and the girl had always been happy together.

When Frederick Read's girlfriend was cautioned she said, 'What can I say?'.

She later said that Frederick Read had bought her an ice-cream and had said, 'Let's make it a bit humorous'.

It was said that Frederick Read's girlfriend had said at the hospital that they had both agreed to end it all, but she later denied saying that.


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


see Northern Whig - Wednesday 27 September 1939

see Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 26 September 1939

see Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough - Friday 28 July 1939

see Lancashire Evening Post - Friday 28 July 1939

see Liverpool Echo - Monday 13 November 1939

see Western Morning News - Friday 04 August 1939

see Staffordshire Sentinel - Tuesday 26 September 1939

see Daily Record - Thursday 01 June 1939 (includes photo of Frederick Walter Read)