We got the wrong gang.
Amazingly, considering the ambush and the weapons used, no one ended up in the morgue that day. But many went to hospital.
After their disastrous ambush, the Brummagem Boys made off in a bright blue charabanc, not the most inconspicuous of vehicles, with the police in pursuit. They parked it up in plain view by a pub near Richmond Park. It was soon spotted by Police Sergeant Joseph Dawson. So they couldn’t make a fast getaway, the spark plugs of their vehicle were removed. Dawson entered.
Why the gang of 28, after committing such a terrible crime and knowing that the police were after them, decided to stop and have a drink was never explained.
The attack at Ewell had been so violent and bloody that the police had first thought it had been a Sinn Fein operation and issued firearms to their officers.
Sergeant Dawson only had to listen to the Brummagem’s accent, take one look at their blood splattered clothes, to know he had the gang responsible. He entered the George and Dragon pub and politely but firmly asked the members of the Birmingham boys to consider themselves under arrest.
They rose as if to resist, but Sergeant Dawson drew out his revolver and calmly said;
“I should shoot the first man that tries to escape”
He held the entire group at gunpoint until the Flying Squad arrived.
THE FLYING SQUAD
The legendary police unit was formed in 1919 to combat the increasingly violent post-world war one crime outbreak. Criminals that hadn’t managed to avoid conscription had returned to their old ways, but now they were military trained. The Flying Squad hoped to combat the more determined criminal. And this ‘Mobile Police Experiment’ – its original title – was also hoped to be less susceptible to bribes and turning a blind eye to the gangs.
Their first vehicles were horse drawn carriages with spy holes cut in the sides. These were replaced with cast offs from the Royal Flying Corps. With no brakes and aerials that looked like ‘bedsteads’, their vehicles became so named.
But the Flying Squad still found it extremely difficult to secure convictions in the gang wars. Even rival gangs wouldn’t testify to the police and if any gang activities were witnessed by the public, they would be ‘persuaded’ not to testify. Darby Sabini escaped one beating by the Brummagem boys in Greenford on 23 March 1921 by using his unlicensed five chamber revolver to shoot ‘his way out of trouble’. One of the few occasions he was arrested, he pleaded self defence, and was only fined.