Talk:Tottenham Outrage

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Featured articleTottenham Outrage is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on January 23, 2019.
Did You KnowOn this day... Article milestones
December 29, 2017Featured article candidatePromoted
December 6, 2017Peer reviewReviewed
Did You Know A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on February 7, 2009.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ... that the King's Police Medal was created to reward the gallantry of three police officers involved in the Tottenham Outrage in 1909?
On this day... Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on January 23, 2020, January 23, 2022, and January 23, 2023.
Current status: Featured article

The payroll[edit]

Many years ago the late Edgar Lustgarten reconstructed this outrage as a radio programme. He concluded with the comment that,

"The 80 pounds wage roll was never recovered". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:22, 9 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"Helfeld" also appears as "Hefeld". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) at 09:24, 17 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Every source used in the article to mention the perpetrators' ethnicity states that they were Latvian. Not a single source asserts that they were Jews. Despite this, one recently-created account has repeatedly removed their description as "Latvian", adding an unsourced assertion that they were "Jewish immigrants". The editor's only other edits consist of reverting my own edits, and adding unsupported or weakly-supported ascriptions of Jewish ethnicity to other historical figures. Can we please put a stop to this game of "Hunt the Jew", and stick with reliably-sourced information? RolandR (talk) 13:41, 14 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Actually most sources say they were Jewish and Latvian. - SchroCat (talk) 17:59, 6 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Funeral size in lead[edit]

I don't know if it's just me, but I think the sentence in the last paragraph of the lead, A joint funeral for the two murder victims—Police Constable William Tyler and Ralph Joscelyne, a ten-year-old boy—was attended by a crowd of up to half a million mourners, and included 2,000 policemen., would be better if we replaced "up to" with "as many as". Grammar-wise, it seems similar to me to "fewer than" vs. "less than", but I didn't want to make the change if I was mistaken or would be adding an Americanism to an article written in British English. What do other editors think? — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 00:50, 26 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"as many as" seems to me to contain a POV that "up to" doesn't. "Up to" also gives a little leeway on the possible numbers, given contemporary sources differed on a figure. - SchroCat (talk) 10:41, 26 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay. — MShabazz Talk/Stalk 16:50, 26 November 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Committed suicide"[edit]

Why is "committed suicide" preferred to "shot himself" for Lepidus, in the key to the map showing the route of the chase? Like "Where Helfeld shot himself", it's more accurate and informative. (talk) 20:36, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Because it is possible for someone to shoot themselves, and live. If someone "committed suicide", as is the correct terminology for this period, they kill themselves. CassiantoTalk 20:43, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
How does that rationale work for Helfield? (talk) 20:48, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's fine for both: the verdict of the inquests for both was that it was suicide. - SchroCat (talk) 20:56, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What a strange verdict that was for Helfield. He survived his shot and was hospitalised, where he later underwent surgery and contracted meningitis. One might easily argue that the meningitis killed him. I think it would be incorrect to change that key to read "Where Helfeld committed suicide". It's obvious that his attempt at that location failed, even if the inquest jury eventually concluded a suicide. But I don't see why "killed himself" or "killed themselves" could not be used just as easily in this article as "committed suicide". (talk) 21:16, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We could put many things, but the consensus at the current FAC is that "committed suicide" is the correct term. As for the verdict being strange, the jury knew what they were talking about when dealing with the laws of 1909 (when suicide was a crime). - SchroCat (talk) 21:20, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I imagine the jury were encouraged to pass this verdict as it was the only crime for which he could be "convicted", posthumously. The lead section makes it sound quite simple; but Helfield's suicide was botched. I see the argument that "committed suicide" is historically accurate for 1909. But I also think there could be some room for style choice. (talk) 21:31, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It was a jury in an inquest: they were not looking at "conviction", but on the cause of death, so they were asked about the cause of death, nothing else. We reflect the sources in stating "committed suicide", and the stylistic argument that was raised in the FAC came down inn favour of "committed suicide" as preferred to any other terminology. - SchroCat (talk) 22:36, 28 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just my irrelevant Two cents worth:The difference is distinguishing intent: He shot himself leaves ambiguity. Was it accidental?2A02:8084:26E0:AA00:AD1B:CE1B:D755:8ACB (talk) 22:30, 8 December 2020 (UTC) Committed Suicide: Not accidentalReply[reply]

The off-duty policemen[edit]

We haven't mentioned any off-duty policemen before, so "the" off-duty policemen is confusing. If we are referring to Tyler and Newman then why not name them and describe them as off-duty at first mention. If they are a second group from the station, then how about "several off-duty policemen"? TwoTwoHello (talk) 18:00, 29 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've tweaked to show "several" off-duty police. Cheers - SchroCat (talk) 18:04, 29 December 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In 'The Chase' section, 10 metres is converted as 9 yards. Surely, that's backward, in a sense. Should it not be 9 metres (10 yards)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:57, 23 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Quite right. It was because of the coding in the conversion template which rounded 8.2 up to 10. I've stripped that out and we're left with the 8.2 distance. Cheers - SchroCat (talk) 17:06, 23 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

400 rounds of ammunition[edit]

Is there any indication how (and why) the robbers carried such a remarkable amount of ammunition around? --Bernardoni (talk) 21:21, 23 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What's remarkable about it? Standard issue kit for a WW1 British soldier was two 75-round pouches (e.g. 150 rounds each), so the robbers carrying 200 rounds apiece wouldn't be unusual. Bear in mind that a single tommy gun magazine holds between 50 to 100 rounds. ‑ Iridescent 22:35, 23 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Paul and Jacob weren't soldiers. They weren't wearing webbing kit. London had never seen criminals who posed such a danger to police and the public. (And, although the Thompson .45 sub-machine gun could be fitted with a 50- or 100-round drum magazine as favoured by Chicago gangsters, it only ever carried a 20- or 30-round box magazine in military service during the Second World War, because the drums were glitch-prone and far too heavy for infantry use, weighing more than 2.5 to 5 pounds a piece, and would tend to fall out of the gun if the soldier had to run anywhere or jump a ditch. Even the 30-round box mag was liable to do this.) Paul and Jacob were walking around with a really quite astonishing amount of ammunition on their persons. Khamba Tendal (talk) 18:23, 31 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As it's in the very first sentence of the article, one might be forgiven for thinking it was especially notable? Martinevans123 (talk) 22:56, 23 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • It's a lot for two people to be firing off around North London, but not a huge amount in their own right. As to how they were carried, one presumes pockets, but the sources don't clarify, unfortunately. - SchroCat (talk) 23:22, 23 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Assuming Paul and Jacob each fired about 200 rounds and exhausted their ammunition, then they started off carrying about 2.5 kilos or 5 pounds each. Although Jacob's Bergmann 6.5mm was a nominally lighter calibre than Paul's Browning 7.65mm, in fact the bullet weighed about as much or more, depending on manufacturer. Don't know about the cartridge, but that was probably a similar weight as well. (Had they been armed with 1908 9mm Lugers, that ammunition, despite its considerably greater power, weighs only slightly more, say 38 rounds per pound instead of 40. But had they been armed with Colt .45s, not available until 1911, they would have had to carry 10 pounds each at just 20 rounds to the pound.) The Bergmann only took 5-round clips, so Jacob would have had to reload some 40 times. The tailoring of those days was quite sturdy and the two men's coats and trousers presumably had deep strong pockets. Automatic pistols were still fairly new-fangled and the display of firepower was considered shocking. It caused public disquiet and was part of the reason for the Siege of Sidney Street two years later: when dealing with Russian or Latvian revolutionaries, the police felt one could not be too careful. Khamba Tendal (talk) 16:42, 31 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The figure of 400 rounds is only an estimate based on contemporary reports by pursuers and bystanders, and is almost certainly an exaggeration, not least because idea of the robbers thinking they would each need 200 rounds for a simple robbery is pretty far-fetched in itself. However, I don't think there has ever been a serious attempt to determine a more accurate figure, so we're stuck with the one publicised at the time. Nick Cooper (talk) 21:45, 10 March 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Paul and Jacob were firing pretty continuously for two hours, so they clearly did have a great deal of ammunition. Lenin's Latvian terrorists simply did not recognise, or even know, that British police were not a paramilitary gendarmerie. They applied Riga Rules from the 1905 Revolution and after. When Met detectives raided 'Gardstein's' (actually Hartmanis's) lodgings at 44 Gold Street in Stepney after the Houndsditch murders -- the address that the papers called 'The Stepney Bomb Factory' because of the alarming chemicals and bomb-making plans that 'Gardstein' had accumulated -- they found 308 rounds of .30-calibre, 7.63mm ammunition for Gardstein's Mauser: 'enough to kill crowds,' as the papers said. (Rumbelow pp.115, 164.) Obviously 'Gardstein' did not take all that with him on the Houndsditch burglary, he left it in his room. The idea was that the burglars would be undisturbed (because, mostly not being Jewish, they failed to realise how the sound of their chisels would carry on the Jewish Sabbath when all else was quiet). But these characters did not go easy on the ammunition. They were accustomed to storming jails and police stations in Riga to free their comrades and they were prepared to engage in prolonged exchanges of fire. At Sidney Street, Yoska and Fritz held off hundreds of police and the Scots Guards for five hours. The Daily Chronicle said, 'It seemed that the assassins had an almost inexhaustible supply of ammunition.' (Rumbelow p.135.) It has been speculated that they were using that one room at 100 Sidney Street as a 'magazine', but these were desperate men on the run and travelling light. It's just the amount of ammunition they were used to carrying around. The Houndsditch burglary was supposed to be a discreet and undiscovered operation by night. The Tottenham robbery was an overt operation in broad daylight, with no getaway car to hand (who could afford cars in those days?), so the robbers would have been prepared for a running battle. Khamba Tendal (talk) 18:38, 1 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lepidus and Helfeld has been living in the UK for around 18 months, so the idea that they somehow did not know that British police were routinely unarmed is simply not credible. It's also notable that the original police report reproduced in facsimile in the Waldren source makes no estimate of the number of rounds fired by them during the pursuit, only that, "They had few left when captured." Given that the same police report states that £5 of silver coin was in fact recovered (from Lepidus), rather than the usual claim that none of the money was found, seems indicative of the gulf between what was officially known at the time, and the subsequent media-driven narrative. Nick Cooper (talk) 10:39, 2 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They might have noticed that London policemen did not wear holsters, but actually Met officers in the outer districts, particularly but not only on night duty, were allowed to carry the Webley MP .450 revolver in their pockets if they wanted, at that time. I don't know that many of them did, but they could. In any case East European immigrants lived in their own bubble and were likely to regard all police as 'gendarmes'.
Looking into it, I find that the 50-round boxes of ammunition for the types of automatic pistols used by the Tottenham, Houndsditch and Sidney Street terrorists (and you could just walk in and buy such ammunition at the Army & Navy Stores in Victoria or any number of other outlets) were not large. Heavy, but not large. They were only about three inches long, an inch and a half wide and two inches high. If each of the Tottenham terrorists was carrying 200 rounds, that would only be four of those really quite small boxes. Perfectly possible. Nothing unlikely about that. Khamba Tendal (talk) 18:21, 20 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article name[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

A question was raised by Amakuru while this article was at TFA about the article name, and whether it should be the current "Tottenham outrage", or "Tottenham Outrage", with a capital O. I was the one who changed the capitalisation (in November 2017‎) under the impression it was the right thing to do, not being a formal name. I am ambivalent to whether it is capital or not, as long as we make the change on the basis of guidelines and consensus, so comments are welcome from all on whether to change or not. Cheers - SchroCat (talk) 11:54, 24 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(Pinging HJ Mitchell, MSGJ and Dank as the three who also joined in the thread - all of whom were non-committal as to whether to change or retain. As I've told Amakuru, I don't intend to comment much, and I don't really have a preference either way) Cheers - SchroCat (talk) 12:00, 24 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Some of them are difficult to work out clearly - newspaper headlines are all in caps, for example; these were where the term came from - mostly the Times and Grauniad, as you can see in the sources. I can't find my copy of Rumbelow's The Siege of Sidney Street, but this suggests it may be capitalised (but as one of the two on show is a chapter heading, that's not a surprise). Bloom capitalises, but a legal journal doesn't. - SchroCat (talk) 20:52, 24 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'd say that the lower case suggests outrage in general in the Tottenham area, not a very specific event. Martinevans123 (talk) 12:05, 24 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • @SchroCat: thanks for starting this discussion. You mention newspaper sources, but is there a sense in the books you've looked at as to which version is prevalent? I've just looked at the first book source in the bibliography now, [1] and it capitalises it. Unfortunately the GBooks search generally is not giving very many examples for my usual "was" test (which isolates examples in prose vs those in titles). Google ngram doesn't even have a DB entry for "Tottenham outrage", it's only coverage is for the capitalised version. As well as looking at sources, I think there is a question to be asked about what a lower-case title actually is. My understanding is that when using lowercase, we're sort of using a descriptive phrase rather than a strict "title". That was the thrust of my objection in ERRORS, that if we use a descriptive title for something then essentially we're using Wikipedia's voice to descibe the event, and therefore have to adhere to WP:NPOV, more so than if we simply repeat a proper name title in upper case because it happens to be the common name. For example, with the TV program Outrageous Acts of Science, that is a title and is uppercased. There is no suggestion that Wikipedia itself thinks the things shown in the program are "outrageous", we're just repeating the name. Whereas if for some unlikely reason we decided to retitle it "outrageous acts of science" then we'd be labelling it as such in our own voice. Similarly with the Tottenham outrage, if we lowercase it then we're calling it an outrage in our own voice. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 11:30, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Hi Amakuru, I need to dig them out again to make sure, but I suspect there would be a slight preference to the capital. I'm not as convinced as you that we are speaking in our voice at describing it as outrageous: "outrageous acts of science" is clearly feelings about acts of science, but the phrase "Tottenham outrage" actually means nothing "Tottenham" - according to our listing is an area of London, Australia or Canada, a parliamentary constituency, a football club, a pub, several ships, etc. The same construction - "London shock", "Paris anger", Berlin joy", etc are equally meaningless as they stand. "Tottenham outrage" is, as a phrase, semantically meaningless, so it loses any POV. None of that detracts from MOS:CAPS, which I think is the better angle to take. This tends to suggest capitalisation (even with chapter headings, titles and unreliable sources taken out). - SchroCat (talk) 12:18, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I think some editors are overlooking the fact that this event has long been known primarily as "the Tottenham Outrage." We can argue whether an "outrage" is a thing until the cows come home, but it is the must universally accepted name for the event. In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a reliable account of event that does not use it. Nick Cooper (talk) 12:39, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • While I am lean towards supporting the move, there are a small number of reliable sources that don't capitalise, as I've shown above. - SchroCat (talk) 16:10, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Congratulations to the authors on getting this article to the Main Page for the 110th anniversary of the event the other day. (I would have commented earlier but it took a while to remember my password.)

    Certainly when someone created this article nearly 10 years ago, the capitalised form seemed to be more common in the sources. It was moved to the lowercase "o" version when it was being vastly improved some years later, but I am not aware of any discussion about the title at that time. I believe the capitalisation point was mentioned by someone at WP:FAC, and from what I can see from a cursory review, the balance of sources still favours a capital "O" - that is, this event is the Tottenham Outrage, not just any old outrage that happens to have taken place in Tottenham.

    Thankfully there are few other events commonly known as an "Outrage" to compare: the only one that comes to mind is the Clerkenwell Outrage, where the article has a more descriptive title, but I can't immediately think of a better descriptive title for the Tottenham Outrage: 1909 Tottenham armed robbery and chase? No. 1996 Docklands bombing uses lower case for "bombing" but Siege of Sidney Street for example also appears to use capitals for "Siege" in the lead section.

    When all is said and done, there are more important things in life than worrying about a capital "O"... Testing times (talk) 15:50, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quite frankly, this discussion is about to Break my Mind. Martinevans123 (talk) 16:04, 25 January 2019 (UTC) .... different times, different fashionsReply[reply]
  • Just to clarify: it was me who moved the page from upper to lower case when I was doing the re-write. At the time I thought (possibly erroneously) that it was the right thing to do, and I did it BOLDly, without discussion. Looking at the sources again, in the light of re-reading the relevant bit of MOS:CAPS, I'm leaning towards supporting a move back, but it's no big deal either way for me. - SchroCat (talk) 16:10, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • If a preponderance of the sources use the capital version, Wikipedia probably ought to match that but frankly it doesn't seem that important. HJ Mitchell | Penny for your thoughts? 16:49, 25 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • There doesn't seem to be anyone arguing for a lowercase "o" now, so I think we can call this agreement. — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 13:07, 28 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Siege of Sidney St reference.[edit]

The statement about the murder of three policeman is incorrect. The three police officers were killed in an earlier incident, "The Houndsditch Murders" which had happened the previous year. The suspects were believed to be hiding in a house in Sidney St, which is what connects the two events: Further reading:

Extract:In December 1910, the murder of three City of London Police officers and the wounding of two others was, and continues to be, one of the largest multiple murders of police officers on duty carried out in Great Britain.

The three officers – Sergeants Bentley and Tucker and Constable Choat - were shot dead whilst trying to prevent a burglary at a jewellers in Houndsditch on the evening of the 16th of December and this incident and the events surrounding it formed the precursor to the famous Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911.2A02:8084:26E0:AA00:AD1B:CE1B:D755:8ACB (talk) 22:19, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The siege was the culmination of the robbery, albeit one delayed by a couple of weeks of the police manhunt. It's not too much of a stretch to describe the two as part of the same name. - (talk) 19:18, 14 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I hate to be pedantic but I thought Wiki was about facts and not intended to "stretch" inaccuracies. The statement about the murder of the three policemen is clearly wrong. 2A02:8084:26E0:AA00:AD1B:CE1B:D755:8ACB (talk) 23:37, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article is indeed wrongly worded. It claims that the Siege of Sidney Street 'led to the murder of three police officers', when in fact those murders occurred during the bungled Houndsditch robbery on 16 December and the investigation then led to the Siege of Sidney Street on 3 January (where the only police casualty was Det-Sgt Leeson, wounded in the chest, though Colour-Sergeant Chick of the Scots Guards had an ankle injury from 'bullet splash' off the cobbles and Superintendent Pearson of the Fire Brigade later died of injuries sustained while searching the ruins).
It's also odd that the article mentions a couple of very obscure cultural representations of the Tottenham Outrage but does not mention the rather good reconstruction of the Outrage that occurs early on in the famous 1960 film The Siege of Sidney Street, with the distinguished Irish actor T.P. McKenna as Lepidus because the production was filmed in Dublin: the Irish capital had escaped bomb damage and redevelopment and looked more like Edwardian London than London did at the time.Khamba Tendal (talk) 17:44, 20 May 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]