2 June 1903 – Gustav Rau and Willem Schmidt

Ahoy me hearties, we have a duo of murderous mutineers on this day in 1903. German-born Gustav Rau and Dutchman Willem Schmidt were found guilty of killing their captain and hanged today.

Their crimes unfolded on the high seas off the coast of South America. The two men alongside a third German by the name of Otto Monson plus Henry Flohr killed Captain Alexander Shaw along with six other sailors on board the Veronica.

Sunk

A fire then broke out and the remaining sailors had to jump ship before they were rescued shortly after. The worthless worms made out that the other crew members had been on the other lifeboat which had been lost at sea.

However, there was an innocent man on their lifeboat that day. Moses Thomas was to spark suspicion after he refused to be penned up with them aboard their rescuers boat. Indeed Rau’s clobber didn’t help – he looked like he had a captain’s garb on, so it was hardly surprising when Thomas broke and confessed the other four men’s crimes.

Seamen shot

Flohr cottoned on quickly and seeing his friends were sinking fast, he decided to bail out on them by changing his story to match Thomas’s. So the events unfolded that the first mate was first to go – he was beaten up followed by four others. The captain was then shot while another jumped ship rather than join them, where they shot at him. The bodies joined him overboard.

In the dock

Smelling three rats, the captain of their saviour ship shipped them off to Liverpool where they docked and were immediately sent to the other dock to answer to their crime of killing the captain. After a three-day event, the guilty trio faced their sentence – hanging. However, Monsson was reprieved for being too young, and then there were two.

You may be wondering why they were hanged for the one crime only – well, the prosecution held back on the other murders so that if this particular case failed, they had others up their sleeves with which to take the men down. It turned out that there was no need. Rau and Schmidt were hanged at Walton prison, aged 28 and 30 respectively, by the Billington brothers, William and John in what became Walton’s first double hanging.

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One Response to “2 June 1903 – Gustav Rau and Willem Schmidt”

  1. If you are interested in the Veronica mutiny, check out my website on the case!

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