Served from 1966 - 1970

 

 

Tom Barnes joined the Bermuda Police in October 1965, along with 6 other experienced police officers from the UK.  Always outgoing and friendly,  Tom quickly became a popular colleague and he served in several departments, including Central Division (Hamilton), Traffic, Beach Squad, and in the Dog Section.

He left Bermuda in style in May 1970 when he set sail for Fiji in the Fletcher Christian along with several of his police colleagues, including Mike Caulkett.  Mike and Tom eventually settled back in the U.K. and  both joined the Sussex Police where they served for many years before retiring.  They also remained close friends for the next 45 years.

Tom’s loving wife, Juliet, requested that Mike give a eulogy at the funeral held at the Chichester Crematorium, West Sussex,  on Monday 5th October 2015.   We understand there was a big turnout, with people attending who represented the different parts of Tom’s life - from family, long term friends, local people from Bognor and Aldwick, tradespeople, and police officers from both the Sussex Police and from Bermuda.  In fact many people had to stand throughout the service. 

As a sign of the respect with which Tom was held by his police colleagues, it was arranged for NARPO (the National Association of Retired Police Officers) to provide a banner/drape to be placed on Tom’s coffin.

The service was followed by a reception at Inglenook Restaurant in Pagham which was also very well attended with much reminiscing.

We are greatly indebted to Mike Caulkett for providing us with the following copy of his eulogy which was very well received by all those present, and was much appreciated by Juliet.

 EULOGY FOR TOM BARNES

 

In the 50 years that I knew Tom I had a, dependable, loyal, fun loving friend with whom I shared some of the best experiences of my life, some of which we were lucky to survive.

Born – butcher’s boy

Tom was born in 1943 in South Shields, Co Durham. On leaving school at 15 years of age he became a butcher’s boy and he had the scars on his hands to prove it.

Saving for own shop– joined police

I understand that Tom was saving hard to buy his own butchers shop when the lure of the Police became too strong to resist. It was in his blood as his father was at that time a very senior officer in the South Shields Police.

So, at aged 19 years of age Tom joined the Northumberland Police serving in Ashington and Whitley bay. Typically, and to his credit, Tom joined a different force to his father. He wanted to stand on his own two feet, which he did going on to enjoy a very varied career and interesting life.

Itchy feet – joined Bermuda Police

Tom clearly had itchy feet as just over two years later he successfully applied to join the Bermuda Police which is where we first met as I had left the Sussex Police to join the Bermuda Police sometime earlier.

Pink jacket

Shortly after arriving in Bermuda it was suggested to him, by someone who had been in the Bermuda Police for a while, that Tom should buy a PINK jacket, assuring Tom that it would go well with his new checked Bermuda shorts.

However, on next entering the Police Social Club proudly wearing his new PINK jacket Tom realised it had not been such a good idea as in typical police fashion he suffered much mickey taking and wolf whistling. As a result that he took the jacket to the cleaners and had it dyed blue.

Firm friends

From the moment we first met - probably in that same Police Club, Tom and I formed a firm friendship.

Stabbed

On one occasion this friendship nearly had a very serious consequence. For a reason I can’t now recall I desperately needed to get a night shift off and Tom agreed to work the shift for me.

During the night Tom was called to a complaint of youths tampering with a motor scooter. He found and confronted one of the offenders who turned on him and stabbed him nine times in the chest with a long screwdriver causing both of his lungs to collapse. Tom was rushed to hospital where only the best efforts of the medical staff saved his life. As you can imagine I felt very guilty about that.

On beat – dogs and beach squad

At first Tom worked the beat in Bermuda later transferring to the dog section and for a period - ‘Beach Squad’ - Yes, I can assure you that there was such a job in the Bermuda Police.

And what a job! Wandering along fantastic beaches all bronzed up in a uniform consisting of Bermuda shorts and short sleeved shirt and sometimes in plain clothes which could be just swimming trunks.

The idea of the patrols being to protect the mostly American tourists by keeping an eye out for unsavoury locals.

Of course the job involved chatting to lots of young female tourists. As I said – what a job.

Two sides to Tom

There were two distinct side to Tom – the chap who loved to socialise and made the best of his off duty time - and the very good, hard working fearless policemen with a good nose for spotting wrong doing that others might not have noticed.

He was a very good copper

Tom really did make the best of his time in Bermuda which, like me, he found life enhancing.

Fletcher Christian

In late 1969 a good friend asked me if I would be interested in joining the crew of a Baltic Trader Schooner sailing from Bermuda to Fiji. I immediately said that I would and he asked me if I could think of anyone else who might be interested - of course I could – my friend Tom - who jumped at the opportunity.

To cut a long story short, we both later resigned from the Bermuda Police, worked hard over many weeks preparing the boat for this long voyage and in the spring of 1970 we set off. We were to say the least a very inexperienced crew and many people in Bermuda thought that we would not be seen again.

Not long after leaving Bermuda on route to Puerto Rico, our first port of call, we were hit by a ferocious storm lasting several days which really did test us and we were later becalmed, again for several days, in the Bermuda triangle, a wholly different and very eerie experience.

The delay caused by the becalming resulted in the US Coastguard sending out an aircraft from Puerto Rico to search for us as we were overdue on our expected arrival there.

After several unplanned weeks in Puerto Rico which included installing a new engine we sailed across the Caribbean to South America and on through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific.

During several months on the boat we experienced enjoyable, frustrating, happy, exciting and downright frightening times and as a result Tom and I became even closer.

I left boat

For a variety of reasons I left the boat in Panama and travelled overland to New York before flying home and re-joining the Sussex Police.

Tom - Galapagos

Tom stayed on the boat visiting many Pacific Islands on route. But the group of islands that made the biggest impression on Tom were the Galapagos Islands and over the following years he mentioned them often.

Tom left boat

Tom decided to leave the boat in Tahiti and joined a cruise ship bound for Australia where he stayed for six weeks before returning to the UK on another cruise ship.

Undecided what to do

Undecided as to what he wanted to do with himself Tom bought a motorcycle, took it to Europe where – in his own words – after several weeks of debauchery the engine on the bike blew up and he returned home.

In pub police two tones

Sometime later Tom was in a pub with a friend –when a police car went by with its two tone horns blaring, Tom looked up and his friend said “That’s where you want to be isn’t it?”  - and Tom agreed.

Joined Sussex Police

Once again the call was strong and Tom joined the police once more. Whilst he had been away his father had retired and the family had moved south so Tom joined the Sussex Police and once again we found ourselves together.

Enjoyed a varied career

Tom then enjoyed a very varied career – working on the beat – as a panda car driver – for a period in Special Branch – and on a surveillance unit. He was also for a while the very successful collator at Bognor Police Station gathering and recording intelligence on those with criminal intent in that area.

Rhodesia / Zimbabwe

In 1979, due to his previous colonial service in Bermuda Tom was chosen to join a unit of British Police officers sent to Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, to oversee the elections taking place in that country, another great experience that he thoroughly enjoyed.

Finished as dog handler

Tom finished his police career as a dog handler - a job he was very well suited to.

Married Juliet

In 1983 Tom married Juliet, the love of his life, and he was happier than I had seen him at any time. They enjoyed their home, their overseas holidays and cruises and their retreat in Devon. At first a touring caravan that they left there for the summer, visiting it frequently and later a beautiful static home on an elevated position overlooking the sea near Sidmouth.

Juliet’s parents

Juliet’s parents thought the world of Tom, realising that he was the best thing that had happened to Juliet and over the years they enjoyed many many happy times together which are memories that Juliet holds dear.

Home brew

In fact Juliet’s father introduced Tom to home brew beer but probably had no idea that Tom would take it to the level he did!!

Probably should have had a licence for running the first micro-brewery in Bognor!!

Trustan

After Juliet the great love in Tom’s life were his dogs and one dog in particular his beloved Police Dog – Trustan. And Juliet’s affection for Trustan equalled Tom’s - despite him being a police dog he was as much her dog as his.

Tom and Trustan made a formidable team and it was a brave man who would challenge them.

Ben and Alex visit

Tom was Godfather to our eldest son Ben and he and his brother Alex loved visiting Tom and Juliet and seeing Trustan.

Tom would send the boys off to hide in the house and then send Trustan off to find them. However, they weren’t so keen on the game when hiding in a wardrobe they could hear a very large Alsatian police dog snuffling round the door before barking loudly to announce that he had found the boys –

They were always very relieved to have Tom arrive to rescue them.

Sport

Tom didn’t play any of the usual team sports like rugby, football or cricket but he did box a bit in Bermuda. He was however a very strong swimmer who was very confident in the water and he went on the represent the Sussex Police Team in many Life Saving Competitions.

Front line police for bulk of his service

Tom served in uniform on the front line for the bulk of his service and was doing just that until the day of his retirement. This was to his credit as not many officers do that and it does take its toll both physically and emotionally, particularly as dog handlers are constantly dealing with violent incidents frequently involving unpleasant drunken youths. All too often Tom was called out from his bed in the middle of the night to respond to the need for a police dog at some incident or other.

Generous spirit

Tom might have been cautious with his money, and I did rib him about this, but he had a very generous spirit and would do anything for anyone, he was a wonderful host with ample food and drink supplied with no expense spared.

Davie Kerr e-mail

Two days ago I received an e-mail from a friend of Tom from Bermuda days telling of the last time he had seen Tom.

He started by say “Tommy was a good bloke”

In April 1987 he and another friend of Tom’s were on holiday here from Bermuda, neither of them had seen Tom for 16 years. They decided to surprise him by arriving at his home unannounced.

They knocked at Tom’s front door - He opened it – his eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped and he said ‘goodness me’ – OR WORDS TO THAT EFFECT – what are you two reprobates doing round here? – coom in quick before the neighbours see you!! Then his Geordie roots came to the fore as he called out to Juliet - “Hey Pet, here’s two blokes I was in the Bermuda Police with”

He invited them to stay for tea – apparently what he actually said was “I’m barbecuing – you are staying for tea” and they had a great time chatting about old times.

I feel this story sums up Tom’s humour and hospitality and clearly shows what he meant to others even years later.

Galapagos holiday

Earlier on I mentioned how much of an impression the Galapagos Islands had made on Tom all those years ago and it had always been his wish that he could take Juliet to see the wonders of those islands and we are so pleased that early last year he managed to do just that.

But no roughing it in a battered old sailing boat this time. He planned a fantastic luxury holiday which culminated in him and Juliet travelling through the Islands in a small luxury cruise ship before stepping ashore at different locations to enjoy the unique wild life to be seen there. They had a wonderful time. Once again, memories that Juliet will cherish.

Diagnosed – no self-pity

Since being diagnosed with cancer about a year ago Tom has displayed no self-pity whatsoever and spurned any attempts at sympathy – quite frankly he didn’t think about himself at all – his sole concern was for Juliet and his sole objective was to ensure that she would be left in as comfortable a situation as possible. He said to me at that time “Everything that happens now will be for Juliet”

New bungalow

At the time Tom was diagnosed he and Juliet were committed to moving to their new bungalow which needed an immense amount of work to be carried out before they could move in – quite frankly the timing could not have been worse.

However, after a total refurb of the bungalow Tom’s determination to do what he could for Juliet, despite being so poorly, - worked – and the result is a lovely home – he was rightly proud of it and he and Juliet found themselves surrounded by good neighbours who have been so supportive.

Loved country – proud Englishman Geordie

Tom loved his country - he was a very proud Englishman evidenced by the flying of the flag of St George in their garden at every opportunity and, despite living in the south for so long a very proud Geordie.

Walk through Bay Estate & Last summer wine

Over the years Tom enjoyed regular walks through the Bay Estate with a dog on route to the beach - constantly waving and calling out and chatting to many people. If he didn’t know the people very well he always knew their dogs.

He also met at up at the beach to chew the fat with a group of dog loving friends who became known as ‘The last of the summer wine’.

Good man – missed by so many

Tom was a good and popular man who was a great friend to me, he left a big impression on all who came in contact with him and he will be sorely missed by many – especially his mother, his sisters Ann and Janet and their families.

And not least of all …by Juliet to whom he was a loving, caring and devoted husband.

 

5th October 2015

Davie Kerr wrote the following email to Mike Caulkett after hearing of Tom’s death

Tommy was a good bloke. Don't know if you knew that the last time I'd seen him was in April '87, in the company of yet another good man gone too soon, the late Alan Keagle who was on leave from New Zealand. We managed to meet up in Brighton (not having seen each other for about 12 years), spent the day running around the area in his wee hire car chatting about this, that and the other (as you do), and landed up at the Bognor Regis Police Station as it was one of Alan's former postings.

We went it, introduced ourselves to the Station PC (they still had Station PC's in those days!) as visiting Policemen, and Alan said, "I used to work here 20-odd years ago: anyone here I might still remember?"

 "No idea," said the young PC who only looked about 20 himself, "but here's the Nominal Roll: have a look, and see if you know any names." So we're skiting down the list of names, and both stopped at one. We looked at each other, then at the Station PC, and said, "Is this guy about our age, about 6' tall, blond hair, a Geordie, and probably a dog handler?"
   

"Christ yes; that's him: do you know him?"

 "Know him? We used to work with him in Bermuda!" Yes, it was Tommy! The PC said, "I happen to know he's just started his Days Off, and he lives just down the road from here: would you like to stop by and see him?"

"Bloody RIGHT we would," we said: "we haven't seen him for about 16 years!"

So we got directions to the house  and found it dead easy as there was an obvious Police doggy van outside it: unmarked, but bristling with aerials like a porcupine's quills! He had one of those frosted glass panels in the front door. Alan and I knocked at the door, and stood back on the top step: we could see through the glass panel an approaching figure. The door opened and Tommy looked out: the eyes opened, the jaw dropped, and he said "Bloody 'Ell: what you two reprobates doing round 'eah? Coom in quick, before the neighbours see you!"

So in we went, and Tommy shouted, "Hey Pet, here's two blokes I was in the Bermuda Police with!", and so we were introduced to Juliet, who we both agreed was a lovely young lady. Tommy "invited" us to stay for tea: what he actually said was "I'm barbecueing: you're staying for tea!", so naturally Alan and I went along with the offer!

During the course of the conversation, while Tommy and Alan were discussing wine (a subject of no interest to me whatsoever), Juliet said to me, "The camaraderie in the Bermuda Police must be something incredible. You and Alan have just met up today for the first time in about 12 years; neither of you have seen Tommy for about 16 years; and you're all chattering away about stuff that might just have happened last week!" I agreed with her, but that was just the way it was in those days: when my wife died a few years back, I got sympathy e-mails from blokes that I hadn't even heard about, far less seen, for over 40 years. I very much doubt if Juliet would remember that particular meeting, but I certainly do.

And I still have the photo Tommy sent me of you, him, and big Mike Parris hiding behind three pints of beer!

On a more serious note, I hope there's a massive turnout on Monday. I'd love to be there, but I simply can't find any way of getting down on the Sunday that's going to get me there at a respectable hour and not cost an arm and a couple of legs in the process. I will, however, remember him at 1100.

I hope your eulogy is as well received as it deserves to be: as I said before, Tommy was a good bloke.

Cheers. Davie. 

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