On This Day…

On the 23 November 1910 a Wireless Telegram captured Crippen


Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen was 48 years old when he was hanged in London’s Pentonville prison at 9am on November 23rd, 1910 for the murder of his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen. He was the first suspect to be captured with the aid of Wireless telegraphy.


Corpse discovered in Crippen’s cellar

With the reported disappearance of his wife in June 1910, Inspector Walter Dew of Scotland Yard discovered the remains of a corpse in the cellar of Crippen;s house. Crippen, the prime suspect, then attempted to flee the country in the company of Ethel le Neve, his employee and mistress, with whom he had been conducting an affair since 1905.


Captured on board SS Laurentic

Initially evading capture the fugitives fled, to Amsterdam then Antwerp and boarded the Liner SS Montrose for Canada. The ship’s Captain Henry George Kendall recognised the fugitives from newspaper reports. Just before steaming beyond the range of his ship-board transmitter the Captain asked telegraphist Lawrence Ernest Hughes to send a wireless telegram to the British authorities: 

‘Have strong suspicions that Crippen London cellar murderer and accomplice are among saloon passengers. Moustache taken off growing beard. Accomplice dressed as boy. Manner and build undoubtedly a girl.’

Inspector Dew boarded the faster SS Laurentic from Liverpool in hot pursuit and arrived in Quebec, Canada ahead of Dr Crippen where he contacted the Canadian authorities. Dew, disguised as a ships pilot, boarded the Montrose in the St. Lawrence River and arrested Crippen.

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