The Green Bicycle Mystery. Part Three: Who was Ronald Light?

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In the previous “Green Bicycle Mystery” article, we went through the events on Bella Wright’s last day alive. We also briefly looked into Ronald Light, who was the last person to be seen with Bella.

Bella Wright leaves her uncles cottage on the evening of the 5th of July 1919 accompanied by a strange man (although by accounts, they seem to know each other). This is the last time Bella is seen alive.

Before we dive deeper into the death of Bella, we will take a look at her accused murderer, Ronald Vivian Light.

Ronald’s early life.

Ronald Vivian Light was the only surviving child of George Light and his wife Cathrine. He did have siblings but they all died between a few minutes and a few hours after birth.

He was born on the 19th of October, 1885 in Leicester and was raised in a life of luxury.

George Light was a civil engineer and managed a local colliery, Ellistown Colliery. Ronald’s mother was the daughter of a very successful solicitor.

Ronald received the best education money could buy at the time. He attending prep-school in Stoneygate then later attended the prestigious Oakham School at the age of fifteen. Ronald was expelled two years later for inappropriate behaviour towards a younger girl. He lifted the fifteen-year-olds skirt above her head, but this sounds like it was downplayed. The incident caused disgrace to the Light family.

He was said to be quite spoilt and a bit of a “mummy’s boy”. He struggled at school as he was away from home and was lonely.

More misdemeanours.

Ronald later studied engineering in London and was hired as an apprentice at the Derby Midland Railway. He was dismissed four years later for starting a fire in a closet and drawing indecent graffiti in a toilet.

It was worth noting that Ronald was well-liked by his peers, a bit of a “Jack-the-lad”, but was also very immature.

After his dismissal, he joined the British Army as an officer.

A commissioned officer.

Ronald joined the Royal Engineers as a Second Lieutenant. He was sent to the front line in 1916.

Ronald Light in the British Army

His army career was no less problematic.

Due to an unknown complaint, documented only as a “lack of initiative”, Ronald’s commanding officer requested he relinquishes his commission. It was rumoured that Ronald sexually assaulted a French postmistress whilst at the front line, overseeing soldiers digging the trenches.

After his return, Ronald’s father George Light fell out of his second-story window and died. The official verdict was he had fainted and fell but suicide wasn’t ruled out.

Return to the Army.

Ronald spent the summer working as a farm labourer before rejoining the army a year later as a non-commissioned soldier. He becomes a gunner in the Honorary Artillery Company.

The following year, Ronald was court-martialled for forging two telegraphic orders to army headquarters. This stoped his infantry from being sent over to France.

His regiment was called up twice but both times they had received orders on the day of their departure that they were to stand down and await further orders at home.

It turned out, Ronald Light had himself sent the orders to the regiment leader that cancelled their call up on both occasions. Light was sentenced to a years imprisonment, but with the demand for men as it was, he was released after only four months and was sent on his way across the channel to help with the war effort.

It’s not quite clear why he forged the telegrams, but it could have been that he wanted to stay in London. The reason for staying was that he had met a lady at Liverpool Street Station and moved in after only after six weeks of knowing her. This lady becomes pregnant and the baby was unfortunately not wanted and was aborted.

Whilst serving his time in France, Ronald was sent home with deafness and ringing in his ears and Shell Shock (PTSD).

He spent three months in a military hospital at which point, the war ended and Ronald was demobilised.

After the war.

Ronald returned to Leicester after the war to live with his mother and her maid. He stayed at home until taking the position as an assistant schoolmaster in Cheltenham on 20th January 1920.

He’d only been at the school for three months before the police came seeking Ronald Light, the man who owned the green bicycle.

Ronald Light smiling.

View part four of the case, “Farmer Cowell’s Discovery”, here.

You can view all the “The Green Bicycle Mystery” articles and the map of all locations mentioned by clicking here.


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Article Sources: DMU exhibition, The Green Bicycle Mystery by Antony M. Brown


If you are interested in the “Green Bicycle Mystery” then we recommend the following book (Click on the images or links below)

The Green Bicycle Mystery (Cold Case Jury Collection 1)

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Thomas is fascinated by the city's long and varied history. He also hates to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.
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