I joined the Edinburgh City Police as a Cadet in December 1966 and attested as Constable in August 1968. After 2 years service I joined the Bermuda Police in September 1970 (attached photo of localisation course at was taken at Prospect in October 1970).
I was involved in Riot duty shortly afterwards following the visit of HRH Prince of Wales to Bermuda. I think the riot started after a beat officer stopped a young ‘diddlebop’ on a Mobylette riding the wrong way along Queen Street. This resulted in a large-scale disturbance, which went on to burning vehicles, and the inevitable stand off on Court Street. We were involved in baton charges and the use of CS gas until the crowd was dispersed.
I was initially posted to Central Uniform and my Sergeant was Neville Darrell. In those days we always had officers on foot patrol in Hamilton and had to make fixed points for briefings with the Watch Sergeant. These usually took place at remote places at the back of town. I worked along such characters as Reg (Buster) Brown, Stan Francis, Gary Murrell, Jude Perrotte and Steve Shaw.
I met my future wife in May 1971. Sue was a nursery nurse and worked for a family in Trimingham Hill at the house now owned by retired Commissioner, Clive Donald.
I remember duty at Government House when the British PM at that time, Ted Heath, had a conference with President Richard Nixon. The grounds were full of armed Royal Marines and sailors with rifles but no ammo. Their ammo pouches were filled with newspaper! Government House duty was a lonely duty and I always turned the lights off in the guardhouse to be less conspicuous. This was not always appreciated by the duty Inspector Gladwin “Doc” Hall who always insisted on examining my pocket book.
After my first three months in Bermuda I was booked for speeding on Cavendish Road by Sgt Eddie Foggo along with Steve Shaw as we were on our way to the Spot Restaurant for our evening meal. I was given the option of going to Court or facing a discipline hearing. I chose the latter and was fined $100 by “Nobby” Clarke.
I expressed a wish for posting to St. George’s but nothing happened quickly. I went to the UK on leave at the end of 1971 and on returning to Bermuda was posted to St. George’s just after I had got engaged to my future wife who was then residing in Paget. At St. George’s my Sergeant was Brian Flook, and the only other officer I can remember was big Pete Shaw. I think he was present in the Kombi when I had an altercation with a wall on the way to collect fish sandwiches from St. David’s. I seem to recall a stray dog was responsible but never traced.
After a short while I was posted back to Hamilton under the good guidance of Sgt Willie Woods or WW9, as he was better known. On Nights I was often asked for an RV with Van to collect two WC’s or a bath or a couple of basins for bathroom use. I never used to query why. On other occasions I would observe WW9 riding through the back of Town on his ‘moby’ with about 6-10 lengths of copper tubing attached to the bike! I think that he had some serious work to do on re-furbishing rental properties but I may have been wrong.
I recall Inspector Arthur Rose or “Whistling” Arthur Rose. Willie Woods would start him off with the Swedish Rhapsody and he would finish it off with a great flourish. At this time Sean Sheehan was the Sergeant in charge of Parish Constables including Jimmy Costello, Paddy Ackroyd and Bill Butterworth. I think that Mike Parris may have been a Parish Constable also.
On New Years Eve in 1971, I attended a Police Dance at the PRC Prospect, which went well until about midnight. We were all dressed up to the nines including myself in Highland Dress. We were all fairly lubricated at this time when Inspector Doug Hebberd walked onto the stage in full riot kit and informed all present to report to Operations. As the Inspector was fairly well lubricated we thought it part of an entertainment slot and gave him much abuse. He retorted that it was serious and eventually his report was corroborated. All officers trooped down to Operations where we kitted up and went to Court Street where a disturbance was in progress. More baton charges and CS gas fired quelled the disturbances. Sgt Custerfield Crockwell turned up with his beautiful Doberman Police Dog. Regrettably, a rioter was bitten which led to the entire Dog Section having to be destroyed in due course. After the riot had been quelled we all returned to the Police Mess at about 4am when Commissioner George Duckett paid for the drinks.
I cannot be more specific but remember other times when we were on standby for riot duty for several hours waiting in the old Training School and being fed by Rudi Bachetti and his team from his restaurant.
I returned to the UK in summer of 1972 and was married on the day that poor old (Commissioner of Police) George Duckett was murdered. We returned to Bermuda shortly afterwards and my wife Sue worked at Strawberry Hill Nursery School. I returned to duty at Hamilton and the biggest event that crossed my life was the assassination of the Governor, Sir Richard Sharples, and murder of his ADC Captain Hugh Sayers in March 1973. Mike Rickards was my Sergeant at the time.
I was on night duty at Hamilton as Duty Driver. Shortly after midnight the panic alarm activated at the police station from Government House. I immediately set off and on arrival witnessed the scene of carnage. The Governor was prone on the grass and barely alive. Captain Sayers was nearby in a flowerbed face down apparently dead. The family pet dog ‘Horsa’ was also nearby apparently dead. I called for immediate assistance on my radio and tried to make the Governor as comfortable as possible but it was evident that he was seriously injured. The ambulance and further police assistance arrived and I had no further dealings with the matter.
By the summer of 1973 I felt that it was time to move on and resigned from the Bermuda Police in July 1973 and returned to UK. I still believe that it was a big mistake but cannot look back.
I went to work for my wife’s family business in Nottinghamshire but after three years decided to return to the police service. We moved to Dorset in 1977 and I served as a Constable in Boscombe in Bournemouth. After 18 months I joined Special Branch at Bournemouth Airport and Poole Harbour. This was at a time of high intensity Irish Republican activity in the UK. I later went to Dorchester as a Divisional SB Officer dealing with counter terrorism issues. I was promoted to Sergeant in 1985 and was posted to Lyme Regis where I spent five happy years and was involve, Bermuda. (Admiral Sir George Somers came from Lyme Regis.)
I returned to Special Branch Duties in 1993 as Divisional SB Sergeant for the Western Division again involved in agent running, VIP protection and threat assessments until appointed Counter Terrorism Security Advisor in 2002. I carried out this role until retirement in 2004 and have since carried out missions to the British Virgin Islands. The Recession here has reduced opportunities for further employment but my wife and I have taken the chance to travel to South Africa and elsewhere. We visit Bermuda fairly regularly thanks to the generosity of Rod and Sue Barclay of Somerset. I played in the Pipe Band with Roddy all those years ago at various events when his late father Bill Huntly-Playle was Pipe Major.
I was a member of the Police Tug O’ War Team when we used to regularly beat visiting Royal Navy Teams at various locations including the Annual Agricultural Show. Team members included Pat McBride, Gary Perinchief, Alex Arnfield, Bill Butterworth, Ray Sousa, and Keith Pratt.
Mick Hale and Mick Brown joined Dorset Police around 1978/79 and I used to see them fairly often. Mick Hale finished as an Inspector and has tolerated a brain tumour for some years, which does not seem to be getting any worse. Mick Brown retired as a Control Room Sergeant with serious back problems. Have not been in touch for some time.
I remember the “Arboretum Ghost”, Bryn Jones, and the antics of the late Derek Fletcher and memories of ‘F’ Troop among others.
I still have the fondest memories of my time in the Bermuda Police Service.