Gordon Cummins: The Blackout Ripper


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By Ben Cutmore. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

“In war, one of our great protections against the dangers of air attack after nightfall will be the "blackout". On the outbreak of hostilities all external lights and street lighting would be totally extinguished so as to give hostile aircraft no indication as to their whereabouts. But this will not be fully effective unless you do your part, and see to it that no lighting in the house where you live is visible from the outside. The motto for safety will be 'Keep it dark!'”

So read the opening paragraph from Public Information Leaflet No.2, published in England on the eve of war, 1939. What may have kept people safe from German bombs, however, had its own disadvantages. Criminality thrived in the gloomy, empty streets. In 1942, as the German bombs began to fall less frequently, a new threat opened up on the streets of London, altogether more silent, emerging from the shadows with a rye smile and unrelenting charm.


The Daily Herald (1942) Waiting Woman is Murdered. Feb 10, 1942. p.3. London, UK

The Daily Mirror (1942) Three Women Murdered In Two Days. Feb 11, 1942. P.8. London, UK.

The Daily Mirror (1942) Razorblade Killed Ex-Soho Actress. Feb 12, 1942. P.8. London, UK.

The Daily Mirror (1942) Fifth Woman Murder In Week. Feb 14, 1942. P.8. London, UK.

Civil Defense (1939) Public Information Leaflet No.2. Lord Privy Seal’s Office, UK

Read, Simon (2006) In The Dark. Berkeley Publishing Group, USA.

Thomas, Donald (2003) An Underworld at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War. John Murray, UK.


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The Dark Histories Butterfly was drawn by Courtney, who you can find on Instagram @bewildereye

Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017

Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that.

115 episodes