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Leonard "Nipper" Read

Discussion in 'WWII Obituaries' started by GRW, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    "There were plenty of reasons why the late Leonard 'Nipper' Read should not have become the greatest policeman of Britain's post-war period - the man who not only jailed the notorious Kray twins, in part thanks to a cunning disguise as a vicar, but played a key role in tracking down the 1963 Great Train Robbers.
    For starters, he was tiny, hence the nickname. Barely 5ft 7in, he failed the entrance criteria for Nottingham Police force where applicants had to be at least 6ft and, by his own admission, didn't really fit the bill.
    Born in 1925 in Nottingham, Leonard Read endured a dismal childhood.
    His mother Ida died when he was just four and, unable to cope, his father Leonard Sr (a leather worker) sent him to live with an uncle he'd barely met. When his father eventually remarried, Nipper, his two sisters and brother returned home, but to a grinding poverty far worse than the Kray twins endured.
    So while Nipper shone academically, flying through the entrance exam for Nottingham High School, he couldn't possibly go. There was no money for the uniform or books and so, aged 14, he got a job in a Player's cigarette warehouse on 10 shillings a week, giving eight shillings of that to his stepmother.
    His solace amid the missed opportunities, was boxing - he'd won his first medal in 1937 when he weighed just 4st 7lb - and went on to join the Grundy Boxing Club. (Some say his name was not due to his size but on account of his agility and 'nippiness' in the ring.) The war provided a welcome diversion.
    He was called up in 1943, spent the next three years in the Royal Navy and, when he was demobbed in 1946 as a petty officer, he determined to move up and away from his roots. Ironically, it was Nipper's stature that propelled his career. "

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