Bullets, Blood and Broken Bodies: the extraordinary criminal career of Buller Ward
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MN: Wow that was a bit graphic mate. The problem is that when you get to about 15 inches up their ass it goes slip slide and they would start crying their bloody eyes out, and when you get to about 20 inches they would go quiet and then there would be a drop of blood and shit on the end of the broom handle. They would be quiet because they were dead.
The broom handle would go up through the upper colon, pass through the lower colon, go through the stomach muscles and then pass through the stomach and go through their heart, and when it hits the heart they stop breathing right. CR: Because of what we did in the early s they brought in the protection legislation that protects the whole country, and now these cocksuckers are safe. All because what we did in the early 70s, how we were killing them, bashing them, fucking them up the arse with broom handles, they brought in a whole new protection legislation.
MN: You attempted to kill a few people in your time, can you tell me a little about that Chopper? CR: Out of the eleven attempted murders that happened in Pentridge, I was questioned over the first nine. So that time I bashed Brian Kane over the head with an iron bar about six times, in front of the governor, the doctor, the screws everybody and they all made statements against me but Brian Kane refused to make a statement. I just bashed them. MN: Because they were good blokes you only shot them Ha-ha. CR: Yeah, of course. It depended on their temperament where I pointed the gun … the gut or the head.
If they were low dogs you just kill them, but if they were good blokes, you would just shoot them and take them to hospital. Just say if you and I had a fall out right, and I shot you in the stomach. I have to put you in the car and take you to hospital. MN: Oh thanks. I might know your wife and kids, so I would just shoot you, to teach you a lesson so you would pull your socks up and not do what you did again. There was only one bloke that give me up and that was that Sid Collins.
I got convicted of that one, but on the eleven other cases I never got given up. MN: Did none of them seek revenge after they came out of hospital? CR: No, they got treated like heroes They had been shot by Chopper Read and taken to hospital, so they must be good blokes. CR: Yeah, he tried to shoot me first. He took me out of the back of Bojangles and tried to kill me, so he got killed himself, simple really. MN: How are your shows going mate? I got that DVD you sent me it was brilliant, very funny. CR: Oh, did you watch it? We have the raffles, auctions and then the main show you know.
You know Jacko who toured with me, I had to sack Jacko, he was a thief. MN: Really? What happened there? He got questioned by the police when I shot Sid Collins and no one could find his body. Jacko was always in charge of the money, and I just trusted him implicitly. Margaret caught him stealing off me and I caught him with his hand in the till and that was that. I waiting till he was on stage with me and sacked him in front of everyone, it nearly broke his heart.
MN: Right no bother Chopper, take care pal. CR: Give me a call later in the night, ok. Right got to go take care mate. During these early days I began friendships with some of the most Infamous villains, football hooligans and stars of Inner City Culture. Through my progression as an adult, and moving to a different part of the world, my circle of friends would become a stronger and more positive part of my life than I ever thought imaginable. After leaving that life behind for many years, after the tragic death of my youngest brother, I was drawn back into a world cloaked in violence looking for the retribution I felt was necessary in payment towards those I believed were responsible for his death.
Even as I went through that world, these same villains and scoundrels suffered through their own losses, proving that there's more than one way to skin a cat. This showed that the shared path of loss affects us all.
For the first time, some of the most feared and respected men from the darker side of society shared their stories in an effort to help me. Neither was giving me the lifestyle I felt I deserved. I'd use the word murder, but I'm not the gossiping type or one to speculate. Yet I had my own ideas. I knew I was in trouble shortly after I arrived back in London. A combination of aggression and anger was fuelling my guilt. I had been distant in the later years of his life, as I tried to take control of mine.
It was not a good experience. After tossing and turning for an age, I felt it necessary to find my own space to find composure, and to escape the four walls holding me in place. I dressed in easy fitting clothes, and I left the house and went in search of peace and comfort in the familiarity of the streets we all grew up on, parading as if they were ours to protect. A car horns was all that stopped me meeting my maker. I recognized someone from my childhood, a person who many years ago had given my dead brother a bit of a hiding.
This is something that would been forgotten, a thing of the past, all part of growing up, a part of the learning curve, a step up on the social ladder of lads. Know who I am? Remember my little brother? Try that with me! Come on, cunt! The emotion that fuelled my eagerness to get to him was obviously something buried deep within me. How fucking dare he walk the very street when my brother no longer could? What he got for that was a mindless barrage of kicks and punches.
I was looking for answers in this attack, and my only target was his head. How he walked away from it will be something I will never understand. Over the next day or two there were other confrontations. It was so bad that some around me saw me selfdestructing, as though I was on my own path towards the grave. It was then the much needed guidance I needed came, and from those who have real value and standing within a world few think contains either faith or understanding. They are wrong. Without question, family can offer you comfort and a form of sanctuary, but the contacts and circle of friends I had growing up in London ranged from your everyday market street trader to some highly perched criminals and they offered what I felt was a necessary service and a resolve I needed to find closure.
Money and murder are part of their world. So here I felt I could get control of my situation and target the necessary retribution at those I felt deserved it. I wanted to be judge, jury and in part the executioner. My initial conversations within the criminal world offered just that. This occasioned the same thought as when I was often asked if I was ever fearful of my own wellbeing.
I'm not of the criminal world and neither my juvenile record or the few altercations I had with the authorities in my adult life made me an expert on such matters, but then who better to answer my questions than those I considered my childhood heroes and later my friends. These villains and scoundrels had the experience that would allow me to interpret the situation in hand. What started as a series of sit downs and simple conversations evolved into a project lasting roughly 5 years of my life. It is a book about my life, about my brother, and about the people I know. In a way I did get my revenge and peace of mind, but in a different way.
I found solace in writing about what happened and about the people who lived on the darker side of life. My friends, fighters, football hooligans and criminals all contributed to what would become acceptance and finally closure for me. The book I had written for my brother is a testament to these fearless men, men who would normally keep their thoughts, fears and memories to themselves.
I hope when people read through the pages they will understand, and find the peace that eluded me for many years. It is available to buy online and from all major book stores. He was a fighter, enforcer and infamous London criminal. He sadly passed away, at the age of 92, on the 24th May One of the toughest of all the old school villains, Buller demanded respect and if it was not forthcoming, he took it.
Yet he was never one to take liberties with women, children or the common man. He survived them all and then some. He outlasted all his enemies and lived to tell the tale. If there is one word to describe Buller, then undoubtedly that word is, Survivor. In fact, he was frequently absent during most of their childhood. Any money Jerry did managed to earn, he would spend on booze, so it was no surprise that from the age of five years old Buller, along with his brother and sisters, went begging for money on the streets.
Any money they got, they would buy fatty meat and stale bread to take home to their mother Sarah. Unsurprisingly, Buller had already turned to a life of crime by the age of six. He would go to Smithfield's market and steal food to take home to his family. He set up a fight night where he would match a teenage Buller with his own brother, and let them fight it out. Buller even at that young age was used to fighting, and in later life he would become a man with a fearsome fighting reputation. At the age of 14 Buller took the next step up the criminal ladder by becoming a runner for an illegal bookmaker and it was around this time he left school to become a professional boxer.
Of course, he had to lie about his age, and he soon found himself fighting fully grown men five times a week. By the time Buller was 17 years old he had an impressive boxing record, and looked like he would eventually fight for a title. With that no longer in his life, he turned back to his thieving ways. In Buller's girlfriend Kit, became pregnant, so he decided to do the right thing and marry her. Soon after the two were married, he was called up to do his National Service and was assigned to be a driver in the RAF motor corps.
When they found out Buller had been a professional boxer they signed him up to be on the boxing team. After a while on the run, Buller fed up with constantly looking over his shoulder, started to look for a way of getting out of his National Service and the only way he could think of was to get classified mentally unfit, and that's what he managed to do in Once a free man, Buller turned back to his criminal ways and ended up getting his first prison sentence in for stealing shirts from a warehouse.
He was sentenced to nine months and was soon on his way to Wormwood Scrubs. Even though Buller hated prison, it was no deterrent and after his release he seemed to get more involved with his criminal activities, from stealing lorries and burgling warehouses, to fencing stolen goods and illegal fighting. Buller also became the bodyguard For three years Buller worked for Red Faced Tommy, and by now his reputation for violence preceded him. As Buller hit 30 years old, he found himself back in prison, this time for grievous bodily harm and driving offences. He received a total of twenty-one months and was sent to Wandsworth Prison.
Whilst serving his prison sentence Buller's wife Kit had their fifth child, but she still managed to visit him regularly, even when he was transferred to Bristol. After serving just fourteen months of his sentence, Buller was released for good behaviour, but again prison was no deterrent and straight away he began minding clubs and doing jobs with other notorious villains the likes of: Tommy Smithson and Alf Melvin. Buller received another twelve months prison sentence for robbing a safe, but again he immersed himself in the London underworld after his release.
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With every prison sentence he became more embroiled with criminal activities and ever more violent. He would dish out beatings and slash people on a regular basis. He cut up one fellow criminal by the name of Ginger Strange, all because he was being a nuisance towards one of Buller's friends. In Buller was first introduced to the Kray Twins. Tommy Smithson had come to Buller and asked for his help as two of his friends had gotten themselves in a little bother.
The Kray Twins had beaten up a man by the name of Ken Rooch, and they were warned that there would be retaliation. They needed Buller's help to smooth things over, which he did. Around this time, though, Buller started to become disheartened with his lifestyle and tried to go legit. He ran the 9A Club and also bought a second hand car yard; this is how Buller would eventually become friends with fellow car dealer and criminal, Tony Maffia.
But while Buller was serving another prison sentence his son Bonar had been attacked in a pub by a thief called Lenny Hamilton. Over the forthcoming years, Buller had become very good friends with Tony Maffia. Maffia's reply was: "Tell the Kray's to go fuck themselves. He knew the Kray's wanted blood and would eventually get it. Reggie called Buller over to his table and asked why he was there with Maffia, to which Buller replied: "He is my friend Reggie, you know that.
Bullets, Blood & Broken Bodies: The Extraordinary Criminal Career of 'Buller' Ward by Henry Ward
No sooner had Buller said this to Maffia when he noticed Reggie and his mob were walking towards him. Maffia taking Buller's advice, ran out the back door leaving Buller by himself. Ronnie then threw a punch, then Reggie threw a few more, then they all jumped in raining blow after blow down on Buller, which eventually brought him to his knees. Harry Abrahams then passed Reggie a knife, and he proceeded to stab and slash at Buller's face. All the while the others were still kicking and punching him. He only found this out when the doctor removed the bullet. The club had around people in it at the time, and word got back to the Nash Brothers that the Kray's had attacked Buller Ward, so Jimmy The Nash Brothers were not happy with what had happened to their friend and took Buller to a man they knew who put stitches in Buller's face and removed the bullet from his back.
Unfortunately the stitches got infected and he was admitted into hospital three days later. After the attack Buller went out for revenge, but it was near impossible to get the Twins by themselves. They knew Buller was looking for them, so they stayed away. Eventually they sent their brother Charlie to try and sort things out. Things were now changing in the underworld and with the deaths of Buller's friends including, Alf Melvin, Tommy Smithson and Tony Maffia, he decided to try and distance himself from the criminal fraternity by moving to Ilford in Essex.
Africa in the hope of starting a new life. He had hoped that once setup he would send for his wife Kit and their youngest son Jerry. However it didn't pan out how Buller hoped it would, and he soon found himself on his way back to England. Now in his 50s Buller returned to work minding people and clubs. It was the s and along with the release of his autobiography, he also started a new business venture, a haulage company delivering all over the world including to places like Baghdad.
Life started to look up for Buller but after decades of marriage to Kit and six children, Buller decided it was time that they went their separate ways. Unfortunately for Buller his children decided to side with their mother after a messy divorced and they all distanced themselves from him, and it was only later in his life when some of them reunited.
The Great Boer War
After a life of ups and downs Buller finally found happiness when he was introduced to a woman called Mary. They soon fell in love and they would spend the next twenty-seven years together. After his wife passed away In life, Buller was a well-respected and feared criminal. In death may he find the peace that he always longed for. He earned it. Old school boss Walter Norval was laid to rest in August, in a dignified, respectful ceremony which was entirely befitting the "old geezer" and the weight he still carried on Glasgow's rough streets.
He had once been part of the notorious XYY gang, who had performed a string of daring robberies around the city where I grew up and still live. Walter was a straight talking fella, one who had, in retirement, become a scathing critic of the laddish culture and all the young hard-cases who thought they were walking in his footsteps. Yes, he was a criminal. This was a guy who held up banks, who robbed from well insured rich multi-nationals who were, themselves, engaging in all manner of criminal deceit even then.
I don't care what people think. I reckon there was some honour in that, although I'm not In an interview some years ago, he talked about the cowboys we have running around right now. He called them "fake hard men" and slammed them for their lack of standards, in particular when it came to targeting innocent people, especially women and children, in their criminal activities. Walter made his name in the 40's and the 50's, running errands for other Glasgow gangsters. He developed a reputation for violence, but he made sure it was always directed towards the right people.
Hurting citizens was strictly forbidden, not only frowned upon but the kind of thing that got wannabe hoods a good kicking of their own. By the time he had surpassed them, he was already a legend beyond this city, and he was running pubs, clubs, protection rackets and other businesses.
Yet, he remained a good old lad, the sort who would rather do you a good turn than a bad one They have no morals and no respect; they fill their minds and bodies with chemicals and fly around the streets aimlessly until some other guy shoots them down, spilling their brains all over the pavement. His business, throughout his life, was robbery. He served time in the 60's for attempted murder, and he was sent down in one of the XYY cases, in In an effort to destroy the prosecution services' paperwork, his gang, on the outside, bombed the court before the trial, but it didn't work.
Walter was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, as a consequence of one of his gang "turning", and becoming a police and court informer, something Walter himself would never have considered. He served nine in Peterhead, where he and other cons got involved in amatuer dramatics, and put on some shows. Outside of that, Walter was never one for the spotlight.
He was not a celebrity, didn't consider himself one, and would have found the idea horrendous. Walter was released from prison in , and by then he wasn't much interested in the life. Glasgow's crime world had already moved on, and the city was being run by Arthur Thompson and others. I met Walter during that time, after his retirement from criminal activity. I found him enormously good natured and considerate.
He took ill, was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and underwent a number of operations, including one where he was technically dead on the operating table, before he decided to spend his remaining time with his family. In , he told a national newspaper, "The doctors want me to have chemotherapy but I'm not keen. I'm old enough as it is and I'll get myself better with the help of my family around me. So I'll be here for a bit yet. As a tribute to his life, they had selected one final classic song to see him off.
It was "Bankrobber", by The Clash. The old man would have loved it. Can you give a brief background of your childhood and growing up in Buffalo, New York? I did not know my father as a child. He was a major mob figure, and he spent a lot of time in Attica Prison. I was raised for a time by my grandmother and friends in the AfroAmerican community, as well as my mother. We were very poor and had to live on hand-outs and welfare. What was your relationship like with your father throughout your life? We always had a great relationship, he was a loving father and he maybe more so than my mother steered me away from the mob.
Was there a situation that you felt under pressure or uncomfortable with? Everyday there were situations that I disliked. I spent my time basically watching how the mob would take care of their own. This is when you first went undercover, right? During these undercover operations, how did you fit in and avoid being discovered?
Some of this I cannot answer without revealing matters I am not at liberty to talk about. I will say this, you must act natural and never show fear. Did you ever feel intimidated by anything or anyone during this time? Probably but I had to show that I was tough also and stand up to them. I loathed the criminal element and their stealing from the poor so they could enjoy a first class airline ticket or plush vacation and the best of hotels. Yes everyone does. One time I was using another identity and I was asked what my astrology sign was.
I said Gemini and they then said how can you be a Gemini, you were born in late July. This is not the movies and is a tough business. As an example, I once travelled to Italy with an Italian raised citizen of Russia and we had to speak in Russian because my Italian is not that good.
I was directed to the passenger seat and soon we were taking country roads. Of course it turned out to be nothing but in this life you never know. In my opinion, it was and remains ever-present. You just learn how to deal with it. How difficult was it to keep your identities separate? It can be problematic but overall not that difficult. How emotionally connected did Basically the same as we all experience in our normal lives. Even in the mob, you meet some people not as greedy and friendships develop.
In the case of John Riggi, pictured left who was the boss of the New Jersey based DeCavalcante Crime family the television show the Soprano's is loosely based on Riggi and the family I developed a good relationship with him and did not enjoy testifying against him, especially as that led to his conviction. The boss for many years of the Chicago outfit, Tony Accardo, and his right hand man Vinecent Solano, were quite close and that as well as much of the Chicago family were more genteel.
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Obviously these people were, and in many cases remain, killers. How much contact did you have with your family? After I was compromised, there was a 5 year period where I had very limited contact with them and there were a few mobsters and criminal associates that would have liked to see me terminated. Even today, I do not get to see my two adult children as much as I would like. How have your choices and lifestyle affected your family?
Quite a lot in fact. It was quite a burden for them after I surfaced; many of my family members, for fear reasons, like keeping their respective jobs, even went as far to berate me. A couple of cousins actually sided with the Buffalo family in an effort to get better paying jobs.
You have to remember that these people were, and are, more powerful than the public is aware of.
By Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Do you have any regrets? No, I did what my inner being told me to do. I could have been a very wealthy man if I gave in to temptation. There were times, especially because I had to many unpaid bills, that I was tempted but there was always the thought of where is this money coming from workers and victims of the mobs arcane wraith. I could not do it. What did you do to protect your family? How much does your family know about your undercover involvement? I told only my father about it directly, and I never let anyone else know. They know as much as I am allowed to write or speak about publically.
I tried to keep them away from my activity s. What do you think was your biggest accomplishments? That is still in the works and I cannot discuss it for legal and security reasons. There are many things I felt were rewarding. Helping Americans and friends working in the intelligence industry get to America and Canada. I met Anna she was using another name in in London. She was using the cover of selling Russian vodka in the United Kingdom, and she was very affable.
If she was a spy at that time she was very good at it. This was a total fabrication on his part. Vasilenko was attempting to have a CIA official cooperate with him and the Russians, and the CIA official who doing the same thing with him! Gennady was then incarcerated by the Russians and I was asked to utilize my connections I spell this out in my book, The Triangle Exit over there to try and get him freed. We do get together occasionally. How do you think organized crime has changed over the years?
We smartened them up. I have even seen a couple of newspapers praise them and their efforts. Of course this is just a front; a facade to captivate the public and keep then sheltered from the still on-going illegal activity they are involved in. I have been, but because these matters are on-going, I cannot discuss that area. We are losing our society to a new way of looking at drugs in this country. So much cocaine, as well as other narcotics, is pouring in through our border with Mexico.
That area is so unsecured that today, many Cuban and other illicit sellers and dealers have shipped their respective transport means to the USA- Mexican border. I had stated; there are areas that I cannot get into. It could cause these active criminals to possibly flee and or disrupt the on-going investigation Where do you see the FBI and CIA going from here, and developing in the future?
If they lower the standards for acceptance to the respective agencies they will not be as effective. Today we rely on science and technology to uncover what they are looking for. This is great but in my opinion, you still need street agents and human intel. I do think that spying on all citizens in wrong and I do know that programs have been developed that can limit your search to the target and his or her associates. How do you feel you have benefited from your experiences and what if anything would you have changed?
It was self-satisfying. That and seeing the world are enjoyments I truly relish. I am sure there are little things I would like to take back but all in all, I would not change anything. From your experiences, does the Yes, morally by doing what you can to help the simple little guy and gal that need to be protected and looked after. I look at it this way, we in the United States have so many economic and political corruption problems that we have to try and curtail.
It is difficult and we have no choice if we want to recapture the stability we all desire. Can you tell us about your involvement with the U. We spent many many hours together, with a lot of leads to follow up. I cannot really get into too much there except that I was in contact with many in the caviar, king crab, liquor etc. What associations do you have to Putin's administration?
I had and hope I have still good ties, with Andrei Vavara, directly for Putin Alexander Orlov, a dear friend who is a high level official in the foreign ministry. I was also friendly with Gennadi Troshev now deceased General in charge of the Russian military fighting in Chechnya and others. What do you enjoy most about your job now as a private investigator, and why do you continue to do it? Helping the innocent get an even shake. Why do I do it? Because I enjoy it. How has the field of private investigations changed over your career?
What does it take to be a successful private investigator? Most important is having a law background or in a field where you learn the legal procedures that you must follow. Like most fields, you have to be a student and constantly updating your brain with legal changes and amendments. Equally important to know is court preparation and presenting your findings accurately.
Do you have anything else that you would like to add? Everything else is in the book! Paul Britton. The Shankill Butchers. Martin Dillon. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. John Berendt. Roberto Escobar. Inside Alcatraz. Jim Quillen. Gang War. Peter Walsh. People Who Eat Darkness.
Richard Lloyd Parry. Erik Larson. The Ice Man. Philip Carlo. Face to Face with Evil. Chris Cowley. David Wilson. In Cold Blood. Truman Capote. The Real Peaky Blinders. Carl Chinn. Bringing Down The Krays. Bobby Teale. Wicked Beyond Belief. Michael Bilton. Your review has been submitted successfully.