FYI: What's so great about the Great Train Robbery? Forty-two years ago today, a British court handed down lengthy prison sentences to men involved in what had already become known as the Great Train Robbery. A total of 307 years was meted out to 12 men who belonged to a gang that held up the Glasgow-to-London mail train in the early hours of August 8, 1963, stealing a then-British-record sum of #2.6 million. That's #40 million ($544 million) in today's money. By comparison, Hong Kong's biggest robbery is the 1991 taking of a security van containing $167 million at Kai Tak airport. The British figure has been outdone since, of course - most recently by the #53.1 million taken from a cash depot in southeast England in February - but the legend of the Great Train Robbery has endured, helped by tales, some celebrated on film, of jail break, life on the run, kidnap and suicide. The scale and style of the theft led to comparisons with robberies of the Wild West and the hunt for the perpetrators captured the public imagination. The gang fitted a stereotype of a Hollywood crime movie, with each member providing a particular skill. The train was stopped by tampered-with signals and the gang, led by antiques dealer Bruce Reynolds and including Charlie Wilson, Ronald 'Buster' Edwards and youngster Ronnie Biggs, made off with their haul. That no guns were used added to the romance, although the train driver, Jack Mills, was struck on the head with an iron bar. His assailant has never been identified. Gang members were undone by fingerprints discovered on a Monopoly board at their hideout: Leatherslade Farm, in Buckinghamshire. To avoid prison, they fled, but one by one, the known robbers were rounded up and jailed. One of the first to leave the country was ex-boxer Edwards, whose flight to Mexico and surrender three years later were dramatised in the 1988 film Buster, starring Phil Collins. Edwards became a flower seller on his release from prison and committed suicide in 1994. In August 1964, Wilson was sprung from a prison in Birmingham and settled outside Montreal, Canada. It was only when his wife telephoned her parents in England that police at Scotland Yard tracked him down. It was Biggs, however, who became the most infamous of the gang. He escaped from London's Wandsworth Prison in 1965 by rope ladder, had plastic surgery, assumed a new identity and fled to Spain, Australia and then, in 1970, Brazil. In 1974, he was found by the British police but, luckily for him, his girlfriend, a local, was pregnant. Brazilian law wouldn't allow the parent of a Brazilian child to be extradited. His income derived from the 'Ronnie Biggs' coffee cups and T-shirts that flooded Rio's tourist traps and he enhanced his outlaw status by recording two songs for The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, a film about punk band the Sex Pistols. In 1981, Biggs was kidnapped by adventurers who managed to smuggle him as far as Barbados, hoping to 'collect some reward', although many suspect it was a covert operation sanctioned by the British government. The plot was discovered, though, and Biggs used legal loopholes to return to Brazil. In 2001, he returned to Britain, most likely for free health care, and prison. The bulk of the money stolen has never been recovered so, presumably, the heist turned out to be 'great' for someone.