In days of old, when knights were bold & women were hard to ride.


The Daily Chimp /T Stokes



I would bet that most of you have never heard of either Eddie Chapman or Alfie Hinds.

Both names are however, very well known to me.

This is because I once upon a time did quite a few years of  in-depth research into the so called ‘criminal underworld’ – a term I hate as much as conspiracy theorist.

Both men were always very highly spoken of by all who came into contact with them and they are both the stuff of legends… Not that those who qualify necessarily achieve that honour based on the truth.

And, in the case of Ed & Alf; both were undoubtedly also very naughty… Then again, very few amongst us have always lived a holier than thou, chaste life.

Hinds always came in for particular praise when talked about by the ‘chaps’ because of his legendary ability to escape from prison.

Now, before anyone goes for my jugular, the reason for me publishing the two following articles is not because I am a particular fan of the pair or their activities for that matter.

The only reason that I have added the articles is because both men have colourful life story’s that you may find interesting… Nothing more, nothing less.

Incidentally, the banner headline that I have given this piece is a saying that an old fella – no doubt now a long time dead –  whom I was once very fond of used to trot out when talking about the past… Funny the shit that sticks in your mind, don’t cha know.




 T Stokes




Alfred Hinds grew up in a children’s home following the death of his father, a thief who died while receiving ten lashes from an implement called “the cat “the cat as a form of corporal punishment for armed robbery, before running away from abuse at the age of seven. He was eventually arrested for petty theft; he would later escape a Borstal institution for teenage delinquents.


Although drafted into the British Army during the Second World War, Hinds detested the idea of killing fellow men for a government he saw as corrupt and deserted from the armed forces and allegedly continued his criminal career before his eventual arrest for a jewelry robbery in 1953 ($90,000 of which was never recovered by authorities). Although pleading not guilty, he was convicted and sentenced to a severe 12 years imprisonment.


However, Hinds protesting his innocence later escaped from Nottingham Prison after sneaking through the locked doors and over a 20-foot prison wall for which he became known in the press as “Houdini” Hinds. He worked as a builder-decorator in Ireland and throughout Europe until his arrest by detectives of Scotland Yard in 1956 after 248 days as a fugitive.


After his arrest, Hinds brought a lawsuit against authorities charging the prison commissioners with illegal arrest and successfully used the incident as a means to plan his next escape by having a padlock smuggled in to him while at the Law Courts. Two guards escorted him to the toilet, but when they removed his handcuffs Alfie bundled the men into the cubicle and snapped the padlock onto screw eyes that his accomplices had earlier fixed to the door. He escaped into the crowd on Fleet Street but was captured at an airport five hours later.


Hinds would make his third escape from Chelmsford Prison less than a year later. He then returned to Ireland where he lived for two years as a used car dealer under the name William Herbert Bishop, and continually writing to various law bodies claiming his innocence before his arrest after being stopped in an unregistered car.


While eluding Scotland Yard, Hinds continued to plead his innocence sending memorandums to British MPs and granting interviews and taped recordings to the press. He later sold his life story to the News of the World for a reported $40,000.


He would continue to appeal his arrest and, following a technicality in which prison escapes are not listed as misdemeanors within British law, his final appeal before the House of Lords in 1960 was denied after a three hour argument by Hinds before his return to serve 6 years in Parkhurst Prison


In 1964, Hinds won a £798.98 (about $1,000 USD) settlement in a libel suit against the arresting officer Herbert Sparks, a former chief superintendent of Scotland Yard’s ‘Flying Squad’ after Sparks had written a series of articles in the London Sunday Pictorial criticizing Hinds’s claims of innocence, and After failing to prove to a London jury the accuracy of his statements regarding Hinds’ original conviction, Sparks was ordered to pay Hinds damages.


In 1966 Hinds published his personal account of his escapes and clashed with the English legal system, entitled “contempt of court” his amazing jailbreaks from 3 high security prisons and successful libel case earned him celebrity status, and became a successful speaker criticising the English legal system.


While at a speaking engagement at the students union, he was kidnapped and held as a publicity stunt, but he turned the tables on them by locking them all in a room and escaping with the keys.


Hinds later became a secretary of Mensa in the Channel Islands. In 1964 a song was issued called “the ballad of Alfie Hinds” knicknamed the British Houdini, and unlike the real Houdini Alfie had no helpers in the audience, the song was sung by Martin Carthy for the hullabaloo TV series.


Alfie died just after Christmas in 1991 still proclaiming he was fitted up.




You can also read another account of Alfies activities HERE


The spy who loved me: ‘Mrs Zigzag’ on being married to one of Britain’s most celebrated double agents

  • Betty Farmer was married to double agent Eddie Chapman for 50 years
  • He had six mistresses and a daughter out of wedlock
  • Memoirs reveal Betty was never a victim and loved ‘exciting’ life with Eddie


PUBLISHED: 18:21, 19 April 2013 | UPDATED: 18:21, 19 April 2013

One December night in 1942 a Nazi parachutist landed in a Cambridgeshire field. His mission: to sabotage the British war effort. His name was Eddie Chapman, a British bank robber recruited by the Germans, who would shortly become MI5’s Agent Zigzag. Dashing and louche, courageous and unpredictable he was to be Britain’s most sensational double agent and a man hailed as a hero by both sides.

Chapman has been the subject of films and TV documentaries yet little is known of his extraordinary wife Betty, a woman apparently able to cope with his affairs, criminal activities, separations and personal traumas.

During their 50-year marriage Eddie had serious relationships with no fewer than six mistresses. He lived with several of them and had a daughter out of wedlock but Betty lived an independent life when they were apart and was not short of admirers.

Mr and Mrs Zigzag: Eddie Chapman and Betty Farmer were married for 50 years Mr and Mrs Zigzag: Eddie Chapman and Betty Farmer were married for 50 years

In her memoir Betty describes a marriage that was fraught but loving. ‘She was never Eddie’s victim,’ says counsellor and therapist Lilian Verner-Bonds, a long-term friend of the Chapmans who contributed to the book.

‘She had the same strength and steel as he did. That’s why they were perfectly suited and she was able to give him the support she did.’



‘There is no doubt she was his anchor and he wanted her involved in many of his ventures,’ says their friend Ronald Bonewitz, who helped Betty, now 96 and living in a nursing home in the south of England, to produce her book. ‘Eddie was like a torrent of water flowing around the rock that was Betty.’

Excitement: Betty initially turned down Eddie's offer of marriage but then realised 'life would be more interesting with him than without him'Excitement: Betty initially turned down Eddie’s offer of marriage but then realised ‘life would be more interesting with him than without him’

Her first insight into his wild ways came in 1939 when Betty Farmer, as she then was, travelled to Jersey with the 25-year-old Chapman while he was on the run from Scotland Yard following crimes on the mainland (he had fled bail having been charged with blowing up the safe of the Edinburgh Co-operative Society). However she thought he was ‘in films’ and did not know about any of this.

‘I was 22 and in love with the most handsome and charismatic man I had ever seen. I couldn’t remember being happier,’ she recalls of the man with whom she had been living for a little over three months. They were enjoying a lazy Sunday lunch at Jersey’s Hotel de la Plage when Chapman saw an undercover policeman approaching him.

He leapt from his seat, kissed Betty’s shoulder and made a spectacular exit by diving through the French windows (which were closed). He was arrested later that evening. It would be six years before Betty would see Eddie again but neither ever forgot the other. 

‘I wasn’t going to have anything like a ‘normal’ married life but at the same time I found my life with him was exciting’

Eddie ended up serving time in Jersey. While he was incarcerated the Second World War broke out and Jersey was occupied by the Germans. Chapman volunteered his services to the Nazis as a spy, while intending all along to become a British double agent. Germany accepted his offer and named him Agent Fritzchen. They trained him in explosives, radio communications and parachuting before sending him to England in 1942 to commit acts of sabotage.

He immediately surrendered offering his services to MI5 – who faked an attack on his target, the de Havilland aircraft factory in Hertfordshire, on his behalf – before making his way back to his controllers who awarded him the Iron Cross for his work as a ‘saboteur’.

At the same time Betty was driving an ambulance and working in a factory producing war materials.

‘When it came to romance I loved and lost so often,’ she says. ‘I either found the ones who were unavailable but desirable or available but undesirable.’

After D-Day, Chapman was sent back to Britain to report on the accuracy of Germany’s V-1 weapon, which was just being launched against London. He reported to the Germans that their bombs were overshooting their central London target when in fact they were landing in the city. The Germans corrected their aim with the result that many fell short of London in Kent, doing far less damage and saving a great many people.

Devoted: Betty put up with her husband having six mistressesDevoted: Betty put up with her husband having six mistresses

However Chapman’s life during the war was not all derring-do. He had acquired two fiances, Freda Stevenson in England and Dagmar Lahlum in Norway. But he never forgot Betty.

When the war ended in 1945 he abandoned the other women and sought her out. He later wrote: ‘Uppermost in my mind was the desire to find Betty, my girl whom I had last seen when I dived through a hotel window before my arrest in Jersey.’ He engaged detectives to find her but they drew a blank.

‘Eddie once said it was better to live one day as a tiger than a whole life as a lamb’

Lunching with them at the Berkeley Hotel they reported their lack of success to Eddie. One of the detectives, wondering what exactly they should be looking for, asked him: ‘Is there anyone here who resembles her?’

Eddie pointed to a blonde with her back to him at the far end of the crowded dining room. ‘That girl looks like her from the back,’ Eddie said. Then she turned slightly. ‘Jesus! It is Betty!’ Eddie walked over and tapped her on the shoulder.

Just as her last moments with Eddie six years earlier had been punctuated with the sound of breaking glass, her first moments of reunion were accompanied by the sound of shattering crockery as her coffee cup smashed on the floor.

Charismatic: Eddie was hailed a hero by the Nazis and the Allies during World War TwoCharismatic: Eddie was hailed a hero by the Nazis and the Allies during World War Two

‘I couldn’t believe it. There was Eddie! ‘Where did you spring from?’ I asked him, having heard he was dead. And that’s where it all began… again. Little did I know he would become my cross to bear for the rest of my life.

‘When we were together he was all attention. But when he was on his way to meet a chum or have a drink in a local pub I could be sitting around waiting for him for the rest of the day or even a couple of days or more. Time had no meaning for Eddie.’

He proposed but Betty had doubts. ‘He asked me every day for months. In the end I decided that life would be more interesting with him than without him.

‘I wasn’t going to have anything like a ‘normal’ married life but at the same time I found my life with him was exciting.’

They married on October 9, 1947 in London and their daughter Suzanne was born in 1954. ‘He had six mistresses in his life and I used to say, when he was getting towards his end, ‘You know, you had all those mistresses. How I wish there was one here now who could help me with you!’ This usually elicited a laugh,’ Betty recalls.

When asked what it was like for her when Eddie was away so long, either with a mistress or on some nefarious errand her reply was: ‘I didn’t let the grass grow!’

An extremely attractive woman she made a successful career in health farms, although she always fell short of the final step of commitment to someone else. The couple remained devoted to one another until his death on December 11, 1997 at the age of 83.

‘The last words spoken to me by Eddie I shall remember vividly for ever. ‘I love you’, while sitting on his bed in his nursing home a few days before he passed on.

‘Eddie once said it was better to live one day as a tiger than a whole life as a lamb,’ she recalls. ‘With Eddie life was lived at fever pitch, the adrenaline working overtime. You were never sure what country would be next or what scheme was coming up. I guess after such a war he never ceased to look for excitement.’

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