Unsolved Murders

William McRae

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Date: 3 Apr 1940

Place: River Medway

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

William McRae was found in the River Medway in Kent with head injuries on 3 May 1940.

He had lived at 177 Spital in Aberdeen but had been the second engineer on the steamship Yew Forest at the time.

A policeman with the Rochester River Police said that on 29 February 1940, he had been informed that William McRae was missing after having gone ashore earlier that evening.

A torch was then found in the hold of a lighter that was used for landing the crew of the Yew Forest and it was identified as being similar to the one that William McRae had owned.

When the river police examined the lighter, they found a red stain on the deck which was later identified as being blood. The bloodstain was about three feet in length and had apparently trickled through the scuppers, down the side of the lighter, and into the water.

After William McRae's body was found on 3 May 1940, it was found that his skull was crushed and it was thought that he would have died almost instantaneously on receiving the injury. The police surgeon that carried out the post-mortem said that his skull had been crushed to such an extent that considerable force must have been encountered.

It was also reported that he had a fractured dislocation at the juncture of his skull with the spinal column, similar to that which would have been produced by a public executioner.

His cause of death was given as shock due to fracture of the skull and laceration of the brain, consistent with a fall from a height of ten feet or more. It was noted that his death was not due to drowning.

An open verdict was returned.

It was noted that by a tragic coincidence, William McRae's father had also lost his life in the water after the steamer Soar that he was onboard was wrecked near Gourdon.


see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 17 April 1940