Unsolved Murders

Herbert Stubbs

Age: 28

Sex: male

Date: 25 Jul 1945

Place: Gallowstree Lane, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Herbert Stubbs was shot whilst walking along Gallows Tree Lane near Keele Road in Newcastle-under-Lyme with his wife on the night of 25 July 1945.

He was taken to North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary with a bullet wound but died soon after.

The police were looking for three foreign soldiers thought to be connected with nearby Keele Hall Camp and made intensive inquiries there to trace them. They were said to have held Herbert Stubbs and his wife up with the gun before shooting him.

It was said that Herbert Stubbs and his wife had been strolling along Gallows Tree Lane, which was a continuation of Thistleberry Avenue when three soldiers, alleged not to be of English origin, jumped out of the side of the hedge and staged a hold-up. Herbert Stubbs was shot in the stomach and his wife was dragged into a bylane and assaulted.

Following the murder, a cordon or military and civil police was thrown round Keele Hall Camp which was about two miles away, but it was lifted on Monday 30 July 1945. The camp was made up mainly of repatriated Arabs, Greeks, Cypriots and Palestinians.

On Friday 3 August 1945 an identification parade of the soldiers at the camp was made and Newcastle civilians picked out a number who they thought they had seen in the vicinity when Herbert Stubbs was shot.

Following an appeal on the Saturday, 28 August 1945, two young girls aged between 15 and 18 who had been sitting a few yards inside Gallows Tree Lane near Keele Road on the night of the shooting came forward to give what information they could.

However, the police said after issuing their appeal for people in the vicinity on the night to come forward that although several people did come forward, they were convinced that more had used the lane at the time than had said so. The police added that they were particularly keen to interview a man and a woman who had gone through Gallows Tree Lane towards Keele Road at about 10pm on the Wednesday night. They said that the woman had auburn hair and had been carrying a hat and a handbag that was either white or had a white band.

The police said that they were also keen to interview another man who was known to regularly use the lane between 9.30pm and 10.30pm and who would regularly speak to a woman with a dog.

The appeal issued read: 'Will any person who used Gallows Tree Lane between 10pm and midnight on Wednesday July 25th, please report to the Police station, Merrial Street, Newcastle, as soon as possible'.

The shot was said to have been fired from a small automatic .25 pistol of German make. In their search for the weapon the police cleared the grass verges that lined Gallows Tree Lane with scythes and billhooks looking for it. It was said that if the search was not successful that the cornfields on either side of the road would then be cut for a distance of 50 yards from the road. Army experts from the Pioneer Corps were also assisting in the search using mine detectors to find the gun.

Whilst the police were searching for the weapon, the police closed Gallows Tree Lane to the public so that they wouldn't interfere with the search.

The gun that was used to kill Herbert Stubbs was later found after it was used to kill a soldier at the nearby Keele Hall Camp in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The soldier was found dead, shot in the neck, with the gun by his side on 5 August 1945, 16 days after Herbert Stubbs was murdered. However, it was said that that did not necessarily mean that he had shot Herbert Stubbs. The dead soldier was a Russian and it was said that he might well have got hold of the gun after the murder, or to have previously lent it to someone. It was further reported that Scotland Yard officers and the local police were still pursuing their efforts to trace the three foreign soldiers who were said to have attacked Herbert Stubbs and his wife.

There had been about 700 repatriated prisoners of war of various nationalities stationed at Keele Hall Camp at the time.

Herbert Stubbs was a brickyard worker and had lived in Heath Street, Chesterton. He had been married for four months.

His funeral took place at Higherland Methodist Church in Newcastle-under-Lyme which was about 100 yards away from his wife's parents house.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Monday 06 August 1945

see Staffordshire Sentinel - Monday 06 August 1945

see Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 07 August 1945

see Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 04 August 1945

see Staffordshire Sentinel - Saturday 28 July 1945