Murder at the Crumbles

The Case of Irene Munro

Jack Alfred Field and William Thomas Gray, both ex-servicemen in their twenties, murdered a young woman at the Crumbles near Eastbourne.
At mid afternoon on August 19th 1920 Irene Munro, an attractive 17 year-old typist on holiday from London, left her lodgings at Eastbourne. She was seen in the company of 2 men walking in the direction of the Crumbles, a lonely part of the coast. When she failed to return the alarm was raised by her landlady. The discovery of her body had already been reported - having been found fully dressed in a shallow grave in the shingle. She had been brutally beaten about the head.

A Tram on the Railway Line at the Crumbles

Some men working on a near-by railway line recalled seeing the girl, apparently in a happy mood, with 2 men. Other witnesses had also seen the trio, and the police were able to build descriptions of the 2 men. They were identified as local residents Jack Field and Thomas Gray. Both were out of work, and Gray in particular was regarded as an unsavoury character.
Field and Gray were charged with the murder, and tried at Lewes Assizes in December 1920.

Field and Gray at their Trial

Both pleaded not guilty, but they had been seen together with the girl by too many witnesses to contest identification. Gray's attempts while in custody to fake an alibi with the help of a fellow-prisoner did not help, despite his defence by Sir Edward Marshall Hall. Marshall Hall suggested that it would have been unlikely for a girl of Irene Munro's education and refinement to have fallen in with such down-and-out characters as the accused. But it came out that Irene Munro was not above enticing older men, and though she had not been raped it was suggested that her refusal of the two men's sexual advances roused them to fury, and they savagely killed her.
Field and Gray were found guilty, and they were hanged at Wandsworth Prison on February 4th, 1921. Neither man made a confession, but each accused the other of the murder.


Click on Emily Kaye to find out what happened to her.

Story courtesy of 'The New Murderers Who's Who'

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