I was born and grew up in Jersey (where the Jersey cow originated) in the Channel Islands, located about 100 miles south of England and 14 miles off the coast of Normandy, France.
In June 1940, when I was 7 years old, Jersey and the other Channel Islands were invaded and occupied by Germany after first being bombed by the enemy planes--a number of islanders were killed. Large hotels and manor houses were taken over for German officers. All residents who had been born in England were sent to a detention camp in Germany. The Jews and, later, any locals caught harbouring escaped POWs were sent to the concentration camps. Mines were laid on all the beaches. Heavy fortifications were built all over the islands and a large German hospital, which we knew nothing about until after the war, was built underground in a hidden away valley. All this building work was done by Russian and Europoean POWs who were used as slave labour and suffered terrible conditions. American POWs were kept in a separate camp on the island. We wore clogs for shoes. Curfews were enforced.
After D-Day, the islands were cut off from any imported supplies and food shortage was so bad that we would have starved had it not been for the welcome food parcels delivered by the Red Cross ship S.S. Vega. German soldiers were eating seagulls and our dogs and cats! The German Commandant, a staunch Nazi, was not prepared to surrender. After five years under Hitler's regime, we were liberated on 9th May, 1945, a day which is still celebrated in the islands every year.
In 1952, two years National Service in the Military Police ended a possible football career, having been signed on as a centre forward by Portsmouth Football Club, at that time a top team. I was posted overseas to Hong Kong (Kowloon side) on the Chinese border. I noticed that the border fortifications on the British Hong Kong side were nothing like those built in Jersey by Germany. At that time, the Korean war was on and I was very lucky to not be posted there!
As a military policeman, my duties were mainly checking out-of-bounds areas for service personnel and keeping up general service standards of behaviour for the large garrison. I played centre forward for the British Army soccer team while out there.
On my return to England in 1954, I joined the Metropolitan Police, trained at Peel House, and served in 'A' Division in Central London. Most duties were spent at traffic points (memories of aching arms after 8 hours of directing traffic in icy conditions wearing a heavy great-coat), at No. 10 Downing Street (more memories of 8 hour duties standing in freezing winds and weather, wearing extra pairs of socks to try to keep warm!) and at Buckingham Palace.
I played football for the Met Police in the Sparton League. There wasn't much social life except the occasional dance at Hammersmith Palais.
From late 1940 to 1956, I also did a fair bit of boxing and many other sports.
Having seen an advertisement for the Bermuda Police while in Hong Kong, I applied in 1957. I arrived on 2nd January 1958, flying via Shannon Airport and Gander, Newfoundland. I believe Ken Goosey, Peter O'Brien and I were the first to fly to Bermuda, as recruits previously arrived by ship.
I was met at the airport by Inspector 'Tug' Wilson and PC Jim McNiven and taken to the St. George's Police barracks located above the RA Club. Inspector Leslie Morgan was OIC of Eastern Division with Sgt. Lackie MacPherson and, despite off duty excesses by PCs at times, the division was efficiently policed. While on duty and visiting licensed premises, leaving without having a drink was frowned on in those days by Sergeants and other ranks!
I could write a book, but won't, about those early St. George's days of comradeship and the fun we had off duty and will never forget the likes of Clarence Borden at Mount Area, Chick's Bar, The Casino, Wellington Rovers Xl, Grover Lamb, John 'Wakey' Wakefield, Trevor Nichols, Bill 'Spider' MacKenzie, Leslie 'Luke Maglook' Morgan, Crawford 'Crow' Rae, Peter Morgan, Dick Inchcup, Joe Burrows, 'Red' Smith, 'Charger' Reid, 'Jute Box', Dennis Wainwright, Ian 'Harpic' Davies (badly injured in BELCO riots)-----the list of unforgettable characters goes on and on.
Some of us made use of our contact with the US Airforce Military Police on Kindley who we cooperated with workwise concerning incidents involving personnel living off base. We also dated the female teachers employed at the large school on the base. There was also a military hospital. Jimmy Parsons and Bob Roberts married two of those teachers and left to live in the USA. (I escaped!).
In 1960, I was posted to Central CID under Chief Inspector Oliver Trott, a great boss, and we all worked together---'Happy' Duerden, 'Syke' Smith, Sinclair Bean, and my good friend Leon Bean, who taught me a lot.
Mike Kelly and I dealt with a very young 'Buck' Burrows who, at that time, was a break-in specialist of homes and warehouses and was a 'solo player'. Years later, to my amazement, I realized he was working at Police HQ on Day Release from Casemates.
I was promoted to sergeant in 1962 and was uniform sergeant in Hamilton. I then enjoyed two more spells in St. George's under Inspector Doug Hebberd and Chief Inspector Peter Stubbs.
Later, I spent a few years at traffic with another very efficient boss, Chief Inspector Ernie Moniz, along with Inspector Arthur Rose. I always felt my driving ability was not up to standard---Derek Jenkinson and many of the younger men were the specialists.
1979 took me to Police HQ Admin and I then rose to the dizzy height of Inspector and finished as Supreme Court Officer prior to retiring and returning to Jersey in August 1982.
During my service, my old friend and colleague Dudley Swan and I made a couple of arrests worthy of mention. One (VBS), a well known criminal, broke out of the prison farm and stole a car. We had a long wait in the night but he was jumped on by us as he got out of the car on his return. (A watered-down version of the story).
I am pleased to say that the Police team became the first fully integrated soccer XI in the BFC, which I believe helped in no small way towards a better community spirit in the island…. step forward Arthur Bean (a fine full back), 'Tango' Burgess, Hilton Wingood and others.
In 1962, I was fortunate enough to meet my wife, Carolyn 'Cam' Cameron, a Canadian nurse at KEMH. We'd seen each other a few times when I interviewed patients in the Emergency Department where she worked but first met at a party organized by Bill Black and George Hammond at Admiralty House Beach (where we were amazed by Robin Henagulph's palm tree climbing ability!).
We married in June 1963 so will celebrate our 50th anniversary this year.
Our son, Mark (b. 1968,) is a sergeant in the Jersey Police, is married to local girl Joanne and they have Leah 13 and George 11. Our daughter, Sally (b. 1970), is divorced, is a secondary school secretary and has daughters Megan 14, Lucy 12, and Aimee 9.
Since returning to Jersey, I was employed until age 70 in several positions: at an entertainment/sports complex; department store security; and airport security. We have been on short holidays to many countries over here and, of course, to Canada and Bermuda.
By sheer chance, on our trip to Canada in 1975, I met up with Ken Norman, Malcolm Bull (dog handler) and Colin McBurnie in Carolyn's home town of St. Thomas, Ontario and we enjoyed an evening out.
Another year, I went to see Dave Parsons and his wife in Elmira and also Peter Rose (deceased) and his wife, Gayle (Moore) --also a Canadian nurse in KEMH Emergency Department-- in Burlington, Ontario. I continued to play tennis until 2012 when age finally caught up with me. We enjoy dancing (quick step, slow fox trot, and a 'gentle' jive) several evenings a week and we still ride around on our pedal bikes!
Looking back over my time with the Bermuda police, I enjoyed my service but certainly not during the riots when our small force sustained many injuries and dangers. To leave a wife and young children at home when called out for another 12 hour shift, which left them in danger, was not a happy time. Carolyn still recalls the reassuring quiet 'thump' of a riot stick on the pavement as patrolling officers walked past the Police houses in Prospect. She also remembers the terrifying sound of hundreds of liquor bottles exploding at Gosling's warehouse in the back of Town as it was consumed by fire, knowing the men, including myself, were down there in the middle of it all - and yes, she could hear it all the way up on Alexandra Road!
Every Christmas, we put the red and white cap feathers of the Fusiliers near the top of our tree (a souvenir of the riots and a reminder of Bermuda). I used to put a booby trap or two in the back garden when I went on night duty during riots.
Many thanks to the young officers who had to put up with me as their sergeant---too many to mention by name but a great bunch of lads and we often remember you when looking at photos, reminiscing about our social get-togethers and the Bermuda Police days as we enjoy a couple of rum and cokes on a Saturday night!
Kind regards to everyone I served with and knew from 1958 to 1982.
P.S. Is anyone up for CADUC exercises next week?