It was one of the most callous and cold-blooded murders ever committed in Glasgow - even by the city's violent standards.

Two railway workers were shot dead in a botched robbery in which the gunman escaped with only a few pounds.

It was Monday, December 10, 1945, and clerkess Annie Withers, porter William Wright and junior porter Robert Gough were on the late shift at Pollokshields East Railway Station near Albert Road.

They were sitting in the stationmaster’s office huddling round a coal fire in a bid to keep warm as the temperatures plummeted outside.

About 10 pm that evening the door burst open and a young man brandishing a gun appeared.

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Glasgow Times:

He immediately fired at Annie Withers, above, and she fell to the floor.

Gough went to help Annie and threw his body across his colleague in a bid to save her.

The gunman finished her off with a second round of shots as she lay screaming on the floor.

He then turned towards 15-year-old Robert and shot him through his right wrist and then in his stomach.

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William Wright, 42, managed to turn away as the gunman fired at him and the bullet just grazed his body.

All in all the killing spree had taken ten seconds.

William lay silently on the floor and played dead while the killer went next door and opened a safe looking for money.

After the gunman had gone, he telephoned the nearby Pollokshields East signal box and alerted the signalmen there.

At this point, passengers had shot off the train oblivious to the carnage that had unfolded.

Bizarrely the train guard did not believe what Wright told him and ordered the train to drive off to its next stop.

Robert, who was still alive but bleeding heavily from his injuries, had staggered onto the platform looking for help.

Within a few minutes of the double shooting police and ambulance crews were on the scene.

Annie Withers who was badly injured died on her way to the nearby Victoria Infirmary.

Robert Gough who was still alive at this point was taken to the same hospital in a critical condition but died two days later.

Crucially he gave a deathbed statement to a sheriff describing the killer, before he died two days later William also supplied a detailed description of the smartly dressed murderer to detectives.

He was about medium height and build, with a thin pale face. He was wearing a light coloured raincoat and brown hat.

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Pictures by Glasgow Police Museum. 

The man in charge of the murder hunt, Detective Chief Superintendent William Ewing He ordered the railway line and surrounding streets to be searched in case the killer had dumped the gum.

Unfortunately, the remote location of the railway station, which was below ground level, and the foggy night meant that there were no eyewitnesses other than William Wright.

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Detective Lieutenant George MacLean, who headed the police forensic team, told reporters that six shots had been fired using a 9mm German Luger semi-automatic pistol.

A number of fingerprints were also found in the stationmaster’s left by the gunman.

A wage packet with £4.20 (worth £185 now) was all that had been stolen.

Despite having an eyewitness to the murders and an incriminating forensic evidence, efforts to identify the killer hit a brick wall.

One national newspaper offered a £1000 reward, the equivalent of £40,000 now, but nothing came of it.

The trail went cold and despite the initial furore the crime disappeared from the front pages and slipped from the public's mind Then out of the blue in October 1946 - ten months after the double murder - a tip off came about a possible suspect.

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He was Charles Templeman Brown, a 21-year-old railway fireman who lived with his mum in Brisbane Street in Battlefield, a mile and a half from the murder scene.

The police were also told that he kept a gun in the house When Detective Lieutenant Frank Dow and Detective Inspector McCartney called they were told by his mother told that he was on a train between Glasgow and Carlisle.

The two police officers then left a message for Brown to contact them.

When Brown returned ground work and learned of their visit, he flew into a blind panic.

Believing that the police were about to arrest him, he took the pistol from his bedroom and tried to kill himself.

Ironically the gun jammed on this occasion.

Bizarrely he then approached Constable John Byrne who was directing traffic in Newlands Road and said:" I did a murder”.

When the policeman asked what murder he meant, Brown replied “The Pollokshields job”. Constable Byrne, who knew about the case, realised the seriousness of the situation and cautioned him.

He then took Brown to a nearby police signal box in Spean Street to alert his CID colleagues.

When Constable Byrne told Brown that he was going to search him, Brown said, “You might as well have it” and produced the Luger pistol and box of ammunition.

From the police signal box, Constable Byrne telephoned the Southern Police office in Craigie Street to tell them of his arrest.

He was then joined by another beat cop and cautioned the suspect again in front of the witness.

While waiting for the detectives to arrive Brown wrote a letter to a friend on a message pad in the police box admitting the double murder, which would prove to be damning evidence at his trial.

A short time later, Detective Lieutenant McDougall and Detective Sergeant Murdo McKenzie took Brown into custody.

He went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow on December 9 1946, one year to the day of the murder.

William Wright identified Brown as the man who shot and killed his two colleagues.

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Detective Lieutenant MacLean showed the jury Brown’s fingerprints on the handle of the safe and the Luger pistol used in the double murder.

The main evidence was the accused's letter admitting to the murders, written in the police signal box.

The defence claimed that it was private correspondence to a friend and not admissible.

However, the prosecution was able to refute the claims, due to Constable Byrne having twice cautioned Brown.

They also were able to portray Brown as a dangerous Water Mitty type fantasist.

It emerged during the trial that he was an immature young man who hero worshipped Hitler, Stalin and the bandleader Joe Loss. He was also fixated on Frank Sinatra and had once gone to London to buy the same coat worn by the singer.

Crucial to the case was the witness box evidence of a friend who was told by Brown: “What’s the good of buying a gun if you are not going to use it”.

After an hours' deliberations Brown was found guilty of the double murder and the trial judge Lord Carmont sentenced him to death by hanging.

During the trial, he had sat impassively in the dock and appeared to be unnerved by the evidence against him.

His defence team argued that the murder was a case of diminished responsibility.

They claimed he had a condition then called Incident Dementia Praecox - better known now as Schizophrenia.

Brown also appeared unmoved when sentenced to death which was due to be carried out in Barlinnie Prison on Friday, January 3, 1947.

However a petition save him from the noose was successful and the sentence was commuted to that of life imprisonment.

Eleven years later, in 1957, Brown, apparently rehabilitated, was released from prison and got a job as a salesman for a tyre company.

He was also said to have become became a model citizen and an active member of his local church choir.

However, his life ended eighteen months later on the Stirling to Dunblane Road when he crashed his car into an oncoming vehicle.

His death came on the same date December 9 as he had murdered two defenceless railway workers - 12 years earlier.

Brown never gave any reason why he had needlessly slain the two railway clerks that cold December evening.

One theory was that he wanted to be like his older friends who had fought in the Second World war and know the thrill of the kill.

Whatever the reason, like many multiple killers, he took that secret to his grave.