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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FOUR:
On Saturday 4th August 1945, Private Cyril Patmore knocked on the door of 12 Greenhill Road in Harlesden to speak to his heavily pregnant wife, Kathleen. Expecting to give birth within the week, this should have been a joyous moment for this devoted father of five. But with Cyril knowing for certain that the child was not his, what she said in these final moments decided if she lived or died.
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SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE
Welcome to Murder Mile.
Today I’m standing on Greenhill Road in Harlesden, NW10; three roads west of Peter Buckingham’s last gasp, a short walk from the First Date Killer’s callous joyride, two streets east of Dennis Nilsen’s first day as a copper, and half mile from the body parts nobody claimed - coming soon to Murder Mile.
As a regular residential street, Greenhill Road consists of two-storey semi-detached red-brick houses, a few trees doted for greenery, and two lines of contractor’s vans parked up outside of (what is often) the worst adverts for their skill; with a builder’s brickwork as smashed as a boxer’s smile, a plumber’s drain as leaky as a pensioner’s plonker and any award-winning driveway as lumpy as a teenager’s face.
Only what sets 12 Greenhill Road apart from the others is not how it looks, but what happened within.
On the morning of Saturday 4th August 1945, having travelled five and a half thousand miles from war-torn Burma, Private Cyril Patmore was here to speak to his heavily pregnant wife, Kathleen. Expecting to give birth within the week, this should have been a joyous moment for this devoted father of five.
But with Cyril knowing for certain that the child was not his, as his ‘immoral’ wife had been unfaithful while he was fighting for his country, what she said in these final moments decided if she lived or died.
The Patmore’s tale was as familiar as it was tragic, but with two sides to every story, this part was his.
My name is Michael, I am your tour guide, and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 224: The ‘Immoral’ Mrs Patmore – Part One.
The Second World War was a difficult time for many couples, as being ripped apart for a cause which wasn’t their doing, unsure if they would be together once again, and - occasionally being in need of a kiss, a cuddle or a night’s worth of affection - their morals drifted in a moment of regrettable passion…
…but in Kathleen’s case, she loved to be loved whether she was married to the man, or not.
Kathleen Marjorie Jenning was born in 1907 in the Oxfordshire village of Wallingford, as one of eleven children to Sarah, a housewife and William, a quarryman. With just six being blood-relatives as her mother had remarried, with barely a year between each child and her father dying young, struggling to feed them all, many of the older siblings had fled the chaos of this fractious squabbling brood.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that as one of the youngest, Kathleen was desperate to feel loved.
Raised by her widowed mother in Elmdon, Northamptonshire, Kathleen was far from the demure ideal of a 1920s teenage girl, as – shockingly – she drank alcohol, smoked cigarettes, regularly got into spats, and with her mood said to be “foul” and “uncouth”, she was later described as “coarse and mouthy”.
As a scrapper, who liked the affections of boys and often fought bitterly with May, her sister nine years her senior, their spiteful childish rivalry would last for the rest of their lives. But as with many of the most impoverished of families forced together, as apart they had nothing – when they needed each other for the sake of survival, these sisters were always there – only not out of love, but necessity.
In 1928, aged 21, Kathleen married Alfred Shaw, although how well this family regarded this union is uncertain as her brother Horace said he thought her husband’s name was Wildred. And although, the following year, Kathleen gave birth to a son who she named Reginald, before he was even three years old, she had already began looking elsewhere for love, and her eyes had rested on a man called Cyril.
Born in Malta, although not Maltese, Cyril Patmore was the only child of Arthur, an actor, and May, a housewife. With no siblings and very few relations, when he met Kathleen – owing to his mother dying when he was only six, and losing his father aged nineteen – he had lost a lot and longed to be loved.
In 1932, Cyril and Kathleen met while he was working as a waiter at the Hind Hotel in Wellingborough. She was local, married, a mother and he knew that, but still - within the month - they had eloped. So, is it so odd that he wouldn’t expect a woman who had cheated on her husband, to later cheat on him?
Maybe he had? And having fled, with Cyril raising Reginald (another man’s son) as his own, they lived at Windmill Cottages in Blisworth, and Cyril was cited in the divorce paper between Katheen & Alfred.
On 27th November 1937, Kathleen & Cyril married at Oxford Registry Office. Only it didn’t bode well, as on their marriage certificate she lied, stating she was a widow when Alfred was alive. But across their eight-year marriage, they had five children: Christine in 1933 (before the divorce), Terry in 1939, Noreen in 1941 and their youngest Kathleen in 1942, as well as Reginald to Kathleen’s ex-husband.
In 1938, seeking work, they moved into a top floor flat owned by Beatrice Martin at 436 Edgware Road in London, who said “they appeared to be reasonably happy”, and although she wasn’t fond of Kathleen, “Cyril was a very decent chap” and a loyal father who took pride in his children’s appearance.
And although fractious, their marriage could have survived…
…but with the looming war coming to London, soon they’d be split apart.
Barely five-foot-tall, stocky and sturdily built, whilst a waiter in London, Cyril had been an ARP warden watching the skies for bombers, and although he didn’t meet the height requirements, short of good men, in December 1940, he was conscripted as a Private in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
As a shock to the system, Cyril went from a wet and cold Britain to a hot and steamy Burma, fighting as part of the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade in its dense and dangerous jungle, battling through a hideous onslaught of bullets and blood, but also rats, snakes, foot rot, man traps and dysentery. In 1942, he survived the bloody Battle of Madagascar and was seconded to the 36th Infantry in India.
Like many servicemen forced to fight, all he ever thought of was his wife and children; their faces lost in the midst of his mind and their voices all but a distant memory, as the war drove them further apart.
Being more than five thousand miles from home, having missed the birth of Noreen and their youngest Kathleen, his return would always be a special moment for Cyril, or at least that’s what he thought.
According to May, Kathleen’s older sister “Cyril joined the Army after a quarrel with his wife”. Whether this was true, we shall never know, but it was clear that their marriage and love-life was struggling.
In December 1941, as mother to then four children, Kathleen moved into a larger flat at 63a Randolph Avenue in Maida Vale, as owned by Frank Tobin, who stated “they were happy, he was a good husband. When he got leave, he came home” although “she spoke of being fed up when he was away”.
While he was serving overseas, Frank remained a good friend to Cyril, a much-needed man-about-the house to Kathleen, and a friendly uncle figure to her children especially when baby Kathleen was born. And although he was ‘just a friend’, it was suspected that Frank was father to her youngest child.
If he wasn’t, why did he send Kathleen £2 every week…
…out of kindness, or a moral duty?
As if this fractured family hadn’t suffered enough, owing to the endless onslaught of blitz bombs which illuminated this smouldering city with a choking cloud of raging red flames and deathly black smoke - as part of Operation Pied Piper – her five children were evacuated to the safety of the countryside in 1942, but owing to the V1 rockets which pummeled the West End, Kathleen followed in May 1944.
Moved 60 miles west of London to the tiny village of Farmoor, it was as remote as you could get, being just a few farmhouses on the bank of the White Horse reservoir, a passing canal and a woody outcrop.
With the city burning far on the horizon, but no reason for bombs to drop here, Kathleen and her kids moved in with her older sister May at Woodend Cottages, along with May’s daughters Cissie & Maisie, as well as the lodgers; three truck-drivers for Hudson & Hope haulage, called Gordon, Percy and Bill.
For Kathleen, Farmoor was a place where this lonely lady could find the love she was longing, but as a space where strangers don’t go unnoticed, even the slightest whisper of immorality carried far.
For May, Kathleen’s goings-on would risk the rented home she lived in with her husband and children, as (just three weeks in) her lodgers were getting a little more than bed and breakfast from Kathleen.
May would say: “I saw Kathleen on numerous occasions in a field”, believed to be Bean Wood, “having intercourse with the lorry driver named Gordon. She also carried on with the other driver called Bill. I spoke to her several times about her conduct, and she has told me to mind my own business”. And as the gossip spread like wildfire, Kathleen quickly gained a bad reputation among those who would condemn her and “in addition, she was friendly with other men from the Forces stationed nearby”.
At the Black Horse pub in Botley, the landlord said “when it came to closing time, she started singing, and when I asked her to leave, she told me to stick my pub up my arse… I have seen her drinking on many occasions with different men, mostly soldiers. She was a most horrible type of woman”.
She had been there barely a month, and as a married mother of five children, whose faithful husband was risking his life for King and Country, she had no shame in her actions, even around her own family.
When interviewed, 12-year-old Christine told the Police about when she was frightened by the distant bombings she would share her mother’s bed, and how she was not the only one who did: “sometime during the night, the three lorry drivers came to my mother’s room. One of them, Bill, got into bed with my mother and slept with her. The other two who had their own beddings, slept on the floor”, and in the same room as this young child, “I saw him sleep with my mother on six or seven times”.
“When they began to suspect that I knew, my bed was put back into the attic”. And being out of sight and out of mind, that should have shamed her to stop, only it didn’t. When the landlord found out, Kathleen, along with May and her kids were kicked out of Woodend Cottages, and described as “living in unfit conditions”, Kathleen’s children were sent to be looked after by her brother Horace in Thrupp.
But by that point, the catalyst for Kathleen’s murder had already begun…
In a difficult letter to Cyril she wrote “you asked me why I didn’t tell you before, well shame, remorse, frightened, call it what you like, but each time I write to tell you about it I hadn’t the nerve… the pity is I was celebrating your birthday and our wedding day all in one”, suggesting that she had sex with an unnamed man between the 21st and the 27th of November 1944, “and having four miles to walk home, well evidently I didn’t make it… I didn’t go into it cold sober otherwise it wouldn’t have happened…”.
…and being in Burma at the time of its conception, everyone knew that Cyril was not the father.
Having said she felt “shame” and “remorse”, having been evicted and with her kids all being removed from her care, that should have shocked her into being decent, only it did not stop her immoral ways.
Having found a place to stay and a spot of work on the farm of Gordon Blake in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, ironically called The Nunnery, although it had long since quit being a place of morality and chastity, a sense of unpatriotic filth would descend over this farm owing to Kathleen and her sexual appetite.
Based at No45 Camp at North Hinksey, two Italian prisoners of war - Antonio Frunzo & Mario Saviello – worked the land to feed the British people as part of their punishment, but while the Allies (like Cyril, her loving and loyal husband) were risking their lives to fight the Fascists, she was busy fucking them.
Farmer Blake would state “for four months she practically lived with four Italian prisoners of war”, and given her notice to leave in May 1945, he’d say “I desired her to leave the farm as soon as possible”.
Kathleen’s life was a mess which was all her own doing. Although a sweet and mild-mannered man, she worried what he might say or do upon hearing that – having left his wife in charge of their life – she had been evicted twice, their five children were in care, and she was pregnant by another man.
She was terrified of telling him what she had done…
…but whispers can carry far, across land, sea and air, all the way to Burma.
In April 1945, Cyril received an anonymous letter from someone in England called ‘Joe’. Arriving by air-draft and with the original destroyed, it told him she was pregnant by an Italian prisoner of war.
Rightfully, he was angry, but – foremost, as a loving father – he contacted the ‘Soldier’s, Sailor’s and Airman’s Society’ and had a welfare officer check on his children, who were doing well with their uncle.
Penning several letters, he asked Kathleen about the children, in which she replied: “my darling Pat”, being his nickname, “I was surprised you wrote to SSAFA. Rest assured they are in excellent health and going to school. Everything in England is looking lovely now and I’m sure you will be glad to get home. Mrs Martin is making the rest of the silk up for Kitty & Noreen’s dresses, you will be proud” and heartlessly, “Pat, you will have a few surprises all round. All my love for now. Yours as always. Kath”.
With no mention of her infidelity or the pregnancy, when questioned, she’d reply…
“My darling. …one thing I know is that you loved me, otherwise you wouldn’t have been so hurt… God knows I couldn’t go on without you… but should a moment of madness bring me a lifetime of sadness… I didn’t mean to do it, believe me sweetheart, and don’t start a divorce I just couldn’t stand that. I feel too ashamed for you to see me in this condition, yet how I wish I could see you to talk to you”, and as if to pre-empt her fate, she would chillingly write “it wouldn’t matter what you did to me. Yours Kath”.
By May 1945, with Hitler dead and the war essentially over, a heavily pregnant Kathleen had moved back to the charred remains of London, with her children still living in Thrupp with their uncle Horace.
On the 28th of May, 39-year-old Kathleen Patmore moved into a small furnished first-floor room at 12 Greenhill Road in Harlesden, a two-storey semi-detached house with eight rooms for seven lodgers and a shared kitchen. Owned by Edward Treeves, an undertaker, along with Rebecca Ellie, a 22-year-old married woman known as ‘Marg’ who had become a new friend to Kathleen, they all liked her.
Kathleen had changed. Being no longer a drunk, foul-mouthed or shagging strange men, as the tenants would testify, she was just a pregnant woman awaiting the arrival of her husband serving overseas.
In their eyes, Kathleen was quiet and kind, as for them she made meals and mended clothes, and in reference to the bulging bump in her belly, she would joke “he’ll be walking in any day. I don’t know what he’ll do”, as even he didn’t know what he would do, “but he has threatened to strangle me”.
In further letters, Kathleen spoke of her fears, “I’m wanting to see you, but I don’t think I will have the nerve to face you, you see you have always been a decent man and looked after me, how it hurts to know I have let you down. Oh darling, will I ever be happy again, not without you of that I am certain”.
And in another, she spoke of her hope. “my greatest wish is to have my children with me, God knows I miss them… I suppose you will tell me it is my job to look after them, it is, but now I can’t, that’s where my heartbreak comes, apart from you and how I’ve let you down, the innocent are suffering for my mistakes. Don’t give this address to anyone, I’ve finished with the lot… yours as always, Kath”.
With that last letter written one month before her murder, Kathleen’s spirits were buoyed by a reply dated Sunday 27th June, in which Cyril wrote: “Hullo dear… however I will take it for granted that you do love me in your in your kind of way, otherwise you wouldn’t give me such a lovely lot of children, my love for you is without a doubt, I haven’t come up to what a husband should be and perhaps it was because I was young and inexperienced, however for all the ups and downs, we had some good times and plenty of laughs and I am looking forward to all those days again, especially our little thrills when you used to faint, it’s going to be hard at first, however with your help we should be able to get a nice little home together and live happy ever after. Oh roll on the day when I can straighten things out a bit and settle down to the second chapter of married life. Love to all, yours always, Pat”.
Upon his arrest, some suggested that her murder was premeditated. But with the weapon, a clasp knife purchased at an Indian bazaar months before he knew she had been cheating - that aside – his letters don’t sound like an angry vengeful husband hellbent on slicing open his cheating wife’s throat.
If anything, having spoke of his hope, a wife, his kids and a home, being upset but not volatile, he knew that if he killed her, and was convicted, his children would have a worse life than if she had lived.
So, although her murder was fated…
…it wasn’t why he had come back.
Granted 28 days of compassionate leave from his new posting in India, having travelled five and a half thousand miles to London, on the morning of Sunday 29th of July 1945, Private Cyril Patmore arrived at St Pancras station. Dressed in his battle fatigues and with a knapsack on his back, although in his possessions he had the knife he would take her life, he didn’t rush off to Harlesden in a crazed frenzy.
Instead, seeking a trusted friend’s advice, he had a cup of tea with Frank Tobin, their former landlord at 63 Randolph Avenue in Maida Vale. In need of accommodation, he visited Beatrice Martin, their other landlady at 436 Edgware Road who gave him a bed for the night, and having said of Kathleen “she has done a terrible thing to me”, he would state “she must be punishing me for this”, as if he was blaming himself for being sent overseas to fight for his country, even though the choice wasn’t his.
Appearing “dejected and ill”, on Tuesday 31st July, he travelled to Lower End Farm in Thrupp, to see his children and to be reassured that their welfare was good in the hands of their Uncle Horace, and it was. Staying the night, he was happy that they were doing well, and seeing May who relayed the whole sorry tale of Kathleen’s infidelity, they were heartbroken at the way his wife had treated him.
He was tired and upset, but there was no anger or rage in the man who would murder her. (End).
On Saturday 4th August 1945, just shy of 9am, Cyril went to 12 Greenhill Road in Harlesden to see his wife. Being barely a week from giving birth, the day before, they had spent a few hours together. She apologised and explained, he spoke of how he had wished he hadn’t been away, how he had saved up to take them on a holiday, and – with their time together going as well as can be expected - they went to the theatre to watch a show, they had a nice meal, he saw her onto the bus to take her home, and although she had invited him back – hoping that he would stay over – politely he had declined.
It wasn’t easy, no-one had expected it would be, but it didn’t feel like a precursor to a murder.
“I explained to her that she was the only woman in my life” and although his heart was broken, given time, it could be repaired. But that morning, pushed to his limit, this quiet man would slit her throat.
In a statement to the police, with her blood still on his hands, Cyril said “I live for my children and my wife. I hope they will be well looked after. They’ve had a rough time since I’ve been away”.
Arriving in London, his manner mild and his thoughts far from murder, what plagued the investigation was what had whipped him into such a frenzy that it had driven him to kill the woman he still loved. The sex aside, it had all began with a letter from someone in England who was known only as ‘Joe’, and as a whisper of gossip which had travelled on the breeze, those words had led to Kathleen’s death.
But who would be so spiteful, as to risk her life, by telling him about his ‘immoral’ wife?
The ‘Immoral’ Mrs Patmore concludes next week.
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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