And those are just the highlights — Townsend also uncovered everything from tactical military information to a massive British counterfeiting plot. Even after the war, Townsend remained deep undercover, going back to his merchant ways and never again mentioning his spy work to anyone, including his friends and family. It wasn’t until the 1930 s — virtually 150 years after the war and a century after Townsend’s death — that detailed handwriting analysis proved that Robert Townsend and Culper Junior were the same damn person.
A Friendly Pub Owner With An Affinity For Sing-Alongs Personally Executed Hundreds Of People
From the time he came of age in the 1920 s, Englishman Albert Pierrepoint was an unassuming drayman( that’s a person who delivers groceries on horseback, which is a job that doesn’t exist anymore but absolutely should .) Then, in 1946, his meagre savings allowed him to buy Help The Poor Struggler, a tavern in Lancashire. While tending tavern, Pierrepoint earned a reputation as a friendly character who loved to sing and dance with his patrons. Not bad for a lowly grocery pony delivery man!
His old pony stop visiting after one too many “Why the long face? ” jokes .
The Absurd Double Life:
Imagine the amaze of Pierrepoint’s clients when they discovered that jovial Albert Pierrepoint bought their favorite tavern with the execution fees he earned hanging hundreds of Nazi war criminals.
From 1932 to 1956, Pierrepoint was the Chief Executioner of the United Kingdom, introducing a good 450 convicted criminals to the long aim of a rope. Since his execution orders merely came by mail ( by mail ?) around once a month, and hangmen were expected to be exceptionally discreet, Pierrepoint simply maintained his day task and never mentioned his part-time gig — not even to his wife.
“Honey, where are you going this time? “
“I’m … um, having an affair.”
That all changed with World War II, when Pierrepoint finally had to give the missus an honest rationale after being called away to execute a pair of spies in Gibraltar. And his forced truthfulness came just in the nick of time, because soon thereafter he was called on to execute the hundreds of Nazi war criminals being cranked out by the Nuremberg trials, a listing which included Josef Kramer, the Beast Of Belsen, and Irma Grese, the Hyena Of Auschwitz. Since hangman was a pay-per-swing gig, Nuremberg was like winning some macabre lottery.
Eventually, the British Army leaked Pierrepoint’s name to the press. Suddenly, good ol’ Albert was a morbid tourist attraction, with busloads of people pouring into The Pub That Dead Nazis Built. Still, despite being outed, Pierrepoint stuck to his principals and refused to discuss his work with his patrons … save for one, James Corbitt, a longtime patron and friend known as “Tish” to Pierrepoint’s “Tosh.” One night, after singing a rousing rendition of “Danny Boy” with Pierrepoint, Corbitt ran straight home and murdered his girlfriend. Because Pierrepoint was arguably the man with the most unflappable work ethic in the history of the world, he utterly carried out his friend Corbitt’s execution.
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