Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 14, 2024
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From the Archives
October 4, 2023

Wellington Bank Hold-up, 1933

TWO ARRESTS MADE IN BANK HOLD-UP (October 12, 1933)

Discover Two Men Hidden in Bushes Near Wellington

Percy Garrett, 25, of Vancouver, and John Pettie of Toronto, formerly of Wellington, were captured at 3.30 Wednesday afternoon, and taken in custody in connection with the attempted robbery of the Wellington branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce at 8.30 in the morning, when after a desperate struggle to overcome Manager Norval Kyle, they were forced to flee.

Following the finding of the car thought to have been used by the bandits near Rose Hall at 10.30 in the morning, the police, with posses of citizens, organized a man-hunt and after several hours’ persistent searching a party of armed men discovered the bandits hiding in the underbrush five miles out of Wellington, near the abandoned car. When challenged the youths surrendered. They had one gun which they handed over. Questioned as to their reasons for staging the hold up they replied: “We just got tough.”

Waited For Teller

The robbers had, it is believed, entered the bank premises by a rear door, and were present when R. M. Watson, teller, entered the bank about 8 o’clock. Substantiation of this theory was given when it was learned that a car, answering the description of that used in the getaway, was seen near the vacant home of Wilbur King on West Street, by little Marjorie King, at four o’clock Wednesday morning.

The bandits seized Mr. Watson from behind, and although he put up a plucky scrap, overcame him and tied him hand and foot, dragging him to the cellar. Later he was returned to the main office, previous to Mr. Kyle’s entry at 8.30. On entering the bank Mr. Kyle was confronted with a sawed-off shot-gun and told to open the safe. He refused and a terrific struggle took place in which Manager Kyle was badly injured when one of the bandits beat him about the head with a gun barrel while he was engaged in fighting off the first man. Scared off by the arrival of citizens the bandits fled, only taking about $40 secured from Watson’s pockets. They left the shotguns behind.

The Teller’s Story

At 8 o’clock, R. M. Watson, teller of the bank, entered the office. Walking into the cage, he heard a squeaky voice behind him and felt a hard object being pressed to his side.

“Stick ’em up, we aren’t kidding,” came the rough command. “I yelled loudly three times,” said Watson. “They gripped me and threw me around the office when I told them I could not open the vault. Though I struggled, they tied my hands and feet with binder twine and dragged me down cellar. I noticed they wore rubbers on their shoes. They kept me down cellar for half an hour, then brought me up again and forced me to sit in a chair. They walked around and waited, sometimes talking in low undertones between themselves. They then searched me and took $40 in cash and my keys. I had received my pay the night previous. While Mr. Kyle was fighting the bandits I was getting my feet free. I then went out the rear door and to the fence where my hands were freed.”

***

Norval Kyle, manager of the bank, waged a heroic struggle against odds in an effort to protect his bank’s property. In his own words, “I entered my office at 8.35 o’clock and sat down at my desk. I heard a slight noise and looked up onto the muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun.”

“‘Open up quietly or we’ll kill you’ said the bandit, ‘Like h—l I will,’ I responded, and jumped for the gun. We grappled and struggled in my office for a minute or two, and gradually I worked him to the outer office, my intention being to get near the large window and attract attention. Succeeding in this, I smashed the large glass sign hanging in the window. That’s how I got this,” showing a hand wrapped in bloody bandages. “I maintained my grip on his gun and our struggles took us to the inner office. There we fell to the floor. I still kept mhy hold on the gun. The second bandit then approached and struck a glancing blow on the head with the barrel of his gun. Again the weapon descended. ‘Hit him harder’ yelled the bandit with whom I was struggling. Five or eight times the weapon came down, striking me glancing blows. I began to weaken, the blood running down my face. Suddenly the grip on me was released and the bandits disappeared through the back door. Taking the bank gun I made my way to the back door where I fired a shot in the air to attract attention.”

Harry Jolley, George Baitley and Foster Christie were conversing outside Mr. Jolley’s office when Kyle dashed by, the blood streaming down his face. “Bandits”, he shouted and turned towards the door of Dr. R. M. Thompson.

Operator Gives Good Service

Police were at the scene of the hold-up fifteen minute after it occurred, thanks to the efficient service rendered by Miss Elsie Carver, local telephone operator.

Miss Luella Broad, school teacher, who resides in an apartment over the bank, heard Watson’s yells, but thought nothing of it. Hearing the scuffling noise downstairs, she drew the attention of Norman Wilson, high school student, who was passing at the time. Wilson saw figures in the bank window and together with Harry Brown, local high school principal, went over to investigate.

Cut Teller’s Bonds

In the area at the back of the bank which is surrounded by a trellis fence, stood Watson with his hands still tied. Mr. Brown inserted his hand through the opening in the fence and with his penknife cut Watson’s bonds.

Car Found

All outlets from the county were heavily guarded with police patrols. At 2.30 p.m. Wednesday, the car used by the bandits was located near Rose Hall five miles from Wellington. The car is a model ’29 Chevrolet, license number J7906. This is a Toronto license.

Man Hunt Organized

Following the locating of the abandoned car in a field about five miles west of Wellington, Wellington citizens organized armed posses and conducted an intensive search of the nearby woods.

Singling out a narrow strip of woods lying to the north of the Rose Hall road, a group of men consisting of Thos. Fillingham, roscoe Burlingham, Geo. Carver, Godfrey Upton, Chas. Tice and Wilson Ainsworth combed the southern part thoroughly.

Roscoe Burlingham discovered the bandits hiding in a clump of summach bushes at the northeast corner of the woods. At his command to throw up their hands, the two men rose slowly to their feet, lifting their hands in the air. Garratt dropped a gun he was carrying. Carver and Ainsworth rushed over and searched the men but found no weapons. By this time the rest of the posse had arrived and the two prisoners were escorted to waiting cars by the heavily armed guard.

When questioned as to why they committed the offence, they replied, “We just got tough.”

John Pettit is a son of Mark Pettie, a former resident of Wellington. He played hockey for one season with the Wellington team in the County Hockey League. He removed to Toronto where he married and kept a rooming house at 283 Carleton St. He has been separated from his wife the past two years.

***

BANDITS’ CAR PARKED MANY HOURS NEAR BANK

James MacDonald Saw Bandits Running From Bank

Mr. James MacDonald, of Wellington, who was digging in the garden adjoining the home of his son-in-law, Wilbur King, on West Street, just west of the scene of the hold-up, about 8.30, heard shouting behind the bank, and seeing two men run swiftly across the lot, asked them what was the trouble. “They told me to run up toward the bank, and when I started away they ran out to jump in the car that was parked in front of Mr. King’s house,” Mr. MacDonald told the Gazette. They must have been there all night. My granddaughter, Marjorie King, four years old, was going into the bathroom at four o’clock and called out that there was an empty car by their house,” he said. The King house is not occupied at the present time.

A niece of Mr. MacDonald’s, who lives on the Main Street, stated that she heard the shouting just as she was arising and saw a bunch of men running across the garden toward Station Street. I think someone yelled “stop them!” but I didn’t know what was the trouble until Mr. Watson ran out with a gun in his hand and told me that it was a hold up, she said.

Could Have Stopped Bandits

Mr. Jenkins, truck driver, who was coming up West Street just as the robbers were making their getaway in the car stated that the car had pulled out ahead of him, nearly crowding him off the road. “Had I known what was up I would have been able to stop them right then. I didn’t learn of the holdup until I returned to Main Street, however,” said Mr. Jenkins.

 

Heroic Bank Manager Battles Two Robbers

W. Kyle Puts up Great Fight and Saves Bank’s Money – Battered About Head – Great Courage and Resource Shown.

Manager N. W. Kyle was very modest about his share in the work of frustrating the bandits, and to hear him tell his story, one would not gather the impression that Mr. Kyle considered it at all heroic for himself to have defied the bandit, who had a loaded and cocked shotgun shoved into his vest. Evidently without thought of any personal danger he turned the gun away from himself and grappled with the man. And even when firmly held by one bandit, with another battering at his head with a shotgun barrel, and doing it with no gentle hand, Mr. Kyle had no thought of giving in but fought valiantly. And yet his statement showed no feeling that he had done anything out of the way, taking it all as being in the line of duty and the days work.

Mr. Kyle related his story of the affair as follows:

“I was in my office when a man came up to me and stuck a gun at my waist. I don’t know just what he said, but I thought it was ‘Hands up.’ So I said, ‘Like h-ll I will,’ and we grappled. I dragged him into the lobby in front of the big window and tried to attract attention shouting, ‘It’s a holdup.’ He grabbed me and dragged me back into my office. After a tough fight I got him back by the window and broke the plate glass sign which advertises safety deposit boxes to rent. That’s how I got this bad gash on my hand,” added Mr. Kyle.

“The bandit said ‘Open up quietly or I’ll kill you.’ I differed with him and we mixed it up again. He got me through y office into the main part of the bank and we went down. The other guy started pounding me over the head with the gun barrel, six or eight times, while the one that was holding me yelled ‘Hit him—hit him harder!’ I had my arm about his neck and was putting the pressure to him. I had got hold of the gun and had it pointed to the floor in case it should go off, when they decided to call it a day and beat it,” was Mr. Kyle’s story of the event.

Mr. Kyle appeared with his left hand bandaged up, great blots of fresh blood seeping through the bandages. His head was also bandaged covering the many wounds made by the gun barrel.

Just inside the main office, next to the stenographer’s desk, was the scene of the struggle. Furniture had been pushed about and the floor was literally splattered with blood from Mr. Kyle’s injuries.

Mr. Kyle was around though somewhat shaky for some time after he had his wounds dressed. Mr. J. K. Patterson, of the Picton branch, arrived to take charge of the bank and Mr. Watson carried on as teller.

Saw Manager Enter Bank, Stagger Out Later Crying “We’re Being Held Up”

Harry Jolley Was Near Scene of Hold-up at Wellington—Called Police and Had Pickets Arranged

“George Baitley and I were standing right here,” said Mr. Harry A. Jolley, indicating a point on the sidewalk near his office is about 50 yards from the scene of the holdup at Wellington yesterday. Mr. Kyle came along from his home. As he passed he spoke to us. I saw him enter the bank and closed the door behind him. It was only a few moments until he staggered out, covered with blood, a rifle in his hand, and cried, “My God, we’ve been held up. They are in the back yard now.” Just before he came out we heard something like a shot. I asked George what it was. He glanced at his car across the street, remarking, “Perhaps it is one of my tires. However it must have been the shot which Mr. Kyle fired as the bandits escaped. As the manager staggered down the street. I was sure he had been shot, there seemed to be a hole in his cheek. When I asked him if he had been shot he said ‘I don’t know,’ and staggered on down the street. I ran for the doctor, and just as I passed the front of the bank I saw a car pull out of West Street heading for the Consecon street corner. It looked like a dark blue Chevrolet landeau, but was speeding too fast for me to catch the license number. After sending the doctor to attend to Mr. Kyle I called Trenton, Belleville and Brighton police stations to have pickets set at all the crossings from the county. It all happened so quickly that we hardly knew what was happening. It was only three or four minutes from the time that I saw Mr. Kyle put his key in the lock before he staggered out again.”

Mr. Harry Cleminson who was coming up the street and met Mr. Kyle, ran for another doctor, and then ran to the intersection east of the bank, notifying another passerby to run up to the corner of West street to attempt to intercept the fleeing men.

 

October 19, 1933

Bank Robbers Given Seven Year Terms

Sentences totalling seven years each were imposed by Magistrate Calnan, on Percy Gerrit of Calgary, and Miles Pettit, of Toronto, formerly of Wellington, in Magistrate’s Court on Monday. These men figured in the attempted bank robbery at Wellington last Wednesday.

Four charges were laid against each of the men—that of robbing, with personal violence, Ralph M. Watson, teller of the Wellington branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce; for assaulting manager Kyle and intent to rob while armed with offensive weapons; for carrying concealed weapons, and for the possession of a stolen motor car.

Accused were sentenced to five years on each of the first two charges, and one year for having possession of a stolen motor car, these three sentences to run concurrently. In addition to the 5-year sentence imposed they will both sere an additional two years for carrying concealed weapons.

Accused elected trial before the Magistrate pleaded guilty to the three additional charges laid. They had both pleaded guilty to the charge of robbery with violence when arraigned in court on Thursday.

Statement by Gerrit

After being properly warned, in the presence of constables Lovelace and Durnford, a voluntary statement had been made by Percy Gerrit. This statement read in evidence, read in part:

“On Tuesday, October 10, Miles Pettit and I stole a car near the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Toronto. We drove to our boarding house on Jarvis Street and picked up our stuff—a pair of overalls and two shot guns, which we had sawed off a few days before. We drove down to Wellington, getting there about 6.30 or 7 o’clock. We drove out of town and parked there until about two in the morning. We broke into the bank. We each had a shotgun. We waited for the teller and got him. We took him to the cellar. We got his keys and waited for the manager and stuck him up. Miles stole the bank’s revolver. I don’t know whether I hit the manager or not.”

The statement of Miles Pettit, also taken under the same circumstances, was in part as follows:

“Percy Gerrit and I picked up a car near the Canadian Bank of Commerce in Toronto, on Tuesday. We picked up our guns at the Jarvis St. house. We had bought them the previous Saturday from a second hand store on York Street near Queen Street. We were both together at the time. The guns cost us some $3. or $4. We sawed them off in our room. We came straight down to Wellington and parked in the country near Wellington until 2 or 3 a.m. We went down into the bank through the cellar window. We got the teller and tied him up. We got $21. off him, also his keys. Percy Gerrit got half the money. I took the revolver out of the bank. The manager came in and Gerrit and he fought. Our guns were not loaded and we had no ammunition for them. I did not hit the manager.”

The Teller’s Story

Evidence was taken from Ralph M. Watson, teller of the Canadian Bank of Commerce at Wellington. His evidence in substance was:

“I entered the bank by the front and talked with the janitor for a time. Then I opened the vault, and went into the cage and started to work period I heard something behind me and turning around saw two chaps by the door. They stuck a gun into my back and then dragged me down stairs where they bound my hands and feet. They had red handkerchiefs over the lower part of their faces. They brought me upstairs a little later and sat me at the typewriter desk near the manager’s office. They took some money and my keys. I know I had a twenty-dollar bill, but am not sure how much more there was. The manager came into his office and one of the men was waiting for him, and they tussled. The other man left me and went out in front. They dragged the manager into his office and they fell at my feet. While one was struggling with Mr. Kyle, the other struck him with the gun.”

Mr. Watson identified the sawed-off shotguns in court as those used by the robbers in the bank.

Manager’s Story

Norval Kyle, manager and hero of the hold up, deposed that he had arrived at the bank about 8.40. “I opened up, and after locking the door a game turned to go through the screen door toward my office. I saw a man crouching there with a shotgun in his hands. I don’t know just what he said, but I grabbed him. Luckily for me he was crouching, and I reached out and grabbed him, and dragged him into the main office. I yelled like Sam hill to attract attention. The other chap came out from behind and they got me over into the office again. I managed to get to the window again and broke the plate glass sign. They got me back into the office, and I saw Watson. I asked him why he hadn’t yelled. The next few minutes were very interesting period we fell, and one of the bandits, I think Gerrit hit me four or five times. I was holding the gun down. In about a minute more I think I’d have had the gun or been killed I don’t know which. Suddenly they ran out the back way. I picked up both guns and dropping one, followed them expecting them to go toward Main Street. They ran through a hole in the fence however, out to West Street. They didn’t take anything from the bank but the revolver.”

Dr. R. A. Thompson stated that he had seen Kyle first, badly spattered with blood. After the blood was cleaned up, it appeared that the manager had five cuts on his head and a bad bruise. There was a nasty cut on his cheek, and the artery in the little finger of the left hand was severed. The wounds about the hand showed that they had been inflicted with a blunt instrument. I believe it was the heel of the gun butt. There was only slight concussion and no fracture.

Questioned as to whether death might be caused by such clubbing, the doctor stated that such might easily be the case. The blows were struck with considerable force. No permanent injury is expected.

Roscoe Burlingham, the first to sight the bandits in hiding, stated that he was alone at the moment. Wilson Ainsworth, and then some five or six others were on the scene immediately after. I told them to come out with their hands up, as I thought they might have a gun. Pettit came out quickly, and after slight hesitation Garrett followed. I crawled into the underbrush and found the bank revolver between the men.

Constable Lovelace stated that he had been called about 9 o’clock and had gone to Wellington with Mr. Campbell and we followed up the highway whence the car was said to have gone. We went out to Rose Hall, and heard that a car answering the description had been seen. We must have missed them somewhere there. We came back to Wellington, and I got my own car and spent the rest of the day searching, until we found them at about 3.30. I drove some 150 miles. Witness produced duly signed statements from the men.

Constable identified clothing produced in court as that worn by accused on the day the robbery.

 

25 January, 1934

$1,800.00 In Rewards Paid For Capture of Hold-up Men

Dr. Roberson and Hugo Johnson receive $350 Each and Nine Others Share Balance.

As a result of the capture of the two men who attempted to hold uyp the Wellington branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce on October 11th, last, eleven Wellington men have been rewarded by the Canadian Bankers’ Association. A total of $1800 is distributed among them.

Dr. Roberston and Hugo Johnson each receive $350.

Those who receive $50 each are George H. Carver, Wm. Davern, Godfrey Upton, Bert Shepherd, Charles Tie, George Wallace and Thos. Fillingham, Sr.

Roscoe Burlingham and Wilson Aisnsworth, who first sighted the men hiding behind the bushes, received a sum which they did not divulge, but said to be $350.

Dr. Robertson and Mr. Johnson found the car which led to the search being conducted in that territory. The others were members of the posse who came upon the bandits in hiding.

Mr. Burlingham first discovered the men hiding in the bushes.

The would-be robbers, Percy Gerrit and Miles Pettit, of Toronto, formerly of Wellington, were given sentences totalling seven years each when convicted on a charge of robbing with personal violence.

The hold-up occurred on October 11 and its success from the robbers’ standpoint failed when Bank Manager N. W. Kyle put up a fight which scared them off.

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