Unsolved Murders

Mary Love

Age: 57

Sex: female

Date: 20 Dec 1960

Place: Royal Victoria Dock, North Woolwich, London

Jack Love and Mary Love were found dead in a car in the Royal Victoria Dock in North Woolwich four years after they had gone missing.

They had gone missing on 26 November 1956.

Their remains were found by the master of the 1,000 ton dredger Galleons Reach who had lived in Sun Lane, Gravesend. He said that whilst dredging silt to a plan at 'D' shed the grab got hold of a car about 30ft out from the dockside. He said that the chassis and engine were picked up with the dashboard and that he later recovered the door frame. He said that as he pulled the load up that he heard someone shout, 'There is a body in the water'. He said that the body was about 40 feet out from the dock.

The car had been a black Wolseley car and was later identified as having belonged to Jack Love and Mary Love.

The day following the discovery dredging resumed with the buckets of sludges being carefully sifted during which they found a suede shoe with a man's foot in it, a thighbone, the shell of a man's wrist watch and a woman's bracelet.

The body parts were later taken to West Ham mortuary for further examination.

At their inquest the Coroner said that he was satisfied that both sets of remains were those of Jack Love and Mary Love. He referred to the body of Mary Love being recovered whilst it was the bones of Jack Love that were recovered, but that in both instances he could not say how they died and an open verdict was returned.

The pathologist said that he had examined the torso of a woman which was minus its head and arms, noting that he thought that the torso had been in the position in which a woman commonly sat. He noted that he had found attached to the back of the body what appeared to be a coiled spring and agreed with the Coroner that that might suggest that the body had not been in the boot of the car or anything like that. He added that he thought that the condition of the torso was consistent with it having lain where it was found for about four years.

He said that there were no organs present in the remains and nothing that could enable him to say what the cause of death was.

He described various bones that he had been given which he said belonged to a man as well as a left brogue shoe that had contained part of a human foot. He added that there was a man's size 15 shirt.

He said that the remains had been there for some years and that he found no body parts that had belonged to any third person.

Jack Love and Mary Love had married in September 1955. Jack Love had been a lodger with Mary Love since 1948. Mary Love had been a widow at the time with grown-up children.

The dredging that had been carried out was the first dredging undertaken at the dock since 1956.

Jack Love's step-daughter, who had lived in Portland Road, Tottenham, said that he had been mentally unstable and a heavy drinker. She said that he had been depressed at times and had drunk quite a lot. He had been discharged from the RAF in 1945 because of a nervous debility. He had joined the RAF at the Clifton Street recruiting centre in Belfast the day after war was declared even though he was a few months under-age and a short time later was posted overseas.

She said that when they left home on 26 November 1956 that they didn't take many personal possessions and that their night things were still there, adding that it was a normal going out as they had done hundreds of times. When they had gone out they had left a note saying, 'Back at 2.30'.

When the Coroner asked the daughter whether Jack Love and Mary Love had seemed happy when they had gone out she said, 'Yes'.

Amongst the items that the daughter and another daughter of Mary Love that had lived in Carlyon Close, Alperton near Wembley identified that had been found with the bodies were:

  • A suede shoe that had belonged to Mary Love.
  • A  bootee that had belonged to Mary Love.
  • A bracelet that had belonged to Mary Love.
  • A man's size eight and a half shoe that had belonged to Jack Love.
  • A battered wristwatch and strap that had belonged to Jack Love.

Jack Love was from Ballynahinch in Co. Down where he was born on a farm.

Following his discovery, Jack Love's brother said, 'My brother, since his disappearance, has been painted as a scoundrel and a bad type generally. I always knew him to be a quiet, decent man and not the type he was made out to be. He had a good war record, but the people seem to forget this when they are talking about him nowadays'.

Following their disappearance police inquiries had spread to the Continent and America after reports that Jack Love, who was a former merchant seaman, had been seen in different areas.

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

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Liverpool Echo - Tuesday 20 December 1960

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 20 December 1960

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Tuesday 20 December 1960

see Torbay Express and South Devon Echo - Tuesday 20 December 1960

see Belfast Telegraph - Tuesday 06 December 1960

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Tuesday 20 December 1960