Mike Johnson wrote to us in June 2018 after we had published a note saying that if anyone would like to see their old warrant card photo from the Police Register at Prospect we would be happy to check their record. There are hundreds of these files dating from the mid-1950’s through to the 1990’s although a few do not have a photo attached, and a few files are missing.
We duly sent Mike this copy of his photo in the Police Register but it turned out not to be his first warrant card photo which had been taken when he was in uniform.
Mike sent us the following information about where he is and what has been going on with the volcanic eruptions in Hawaii.
“Currently living on the Big Island, Hawaii. About seven miles upwind of the Leilani Estates volcanic eruption. No present danger where I live, but world news seems to be of the opinion that the whole island will blow up any time soon!
“As I write this, I can see the glow of the eruptions reflected in the clouds; very impressive watching the majesty of Madam Pele's demonstration of power.
This would be an interesting time to come visit, see the volcano from the ocean as the lava flows into the sea.Here is the URL for some great pix taken yesterday by the Hawaii Air National Guard flying over the scene.
Mike went on to say, “The situation is somewhat complicated by the fact that there is a thermal power plant in danger of being overcome by the lava flow, with uncertain results. Company operating is called PGV (Pahoa Geothermal Ventures) and is held by some local residents as being the spawn of hell. They have drilled into the earth's crust and sunk eleven wells about 8000 feet deep, generating electricity from the heat of the 'hot spot' under the Island. Somewhat like 'fracking', which is quite controversial.
“We are adopting a 'wait and see' attitude as to what will happen if the wells are fully engulfed by lava. Life is full of excitement here!
“My regards to any of my contemporaries in Bermuda. Dave Garland and Derek Jenkinson especially come to mind.”
I wrote back to Mike to ask if he could send us more information about his time in Bermuda and what it was like here back in 1961. He wrote back the following:-
Tony Hopwood and myself trained at Hendon (Police Training College) before coming out to Bermuda because neither of us had previous police experience. Some of our intake had prior police experience; John Sharp and Gerry Sharp were ex Met, Tim Willis from the Midlands.
My flight left Heathrow on Jan 1,1961, a cold wet winter day. The flight refueled at Gander, Newfoundland. We were unable to leave the aircraft as the temp was 40 below with high winds driving a horizontal snowstorm. I arrived at Kindley Field in what to me was extreme heat (about 65F) wearing a British winter suit and a Crombie overcoat, never to be worn again.
We were transported to Police HQ in great luxury, in the back of Cycle Squad's steel mesh enclosed truck.
“My first billet was in a magnificent, enormous room on the upper floor of Admiralty House, Spanish Point; floor to ceiling windows and a great view. A winding path led down to our private beach, where Dave and Derek Jenkinson built the first police boat, the Blue Heron.
Editors note - We have previously published an article about our first ever Bermuda Police Boat which was indeed built by Dave Garland and Derek Jenkinson which you can view at http://expobermuda.com/index.php/lia/10-first-boat
The old house was falling down even then, and we were soon rehoused in the renovated building downhill from the main house. It had 10 or 12 rooms, communal showers, a big refrigerator in the hall, and a Maytag wringer washer which we could use to do our laundry, should we so wish.
Laundry dried outside on clotheslines, and I became skilled in stretching bedsheets tightly so no ironing was required after drying. I understand this building which I believe was called Cypher Block, later became the Bermuda HQ of the British Sub Aqua Club after police personnel were relocated to Prospect.
John Sharp had the first room to the left inside the front door, and after he left Peter Rose moved in.
This was a great party house, possibly because of the beach. A small drawback was the distance into Hamilton and the problem of returning tourist dates to their hotels after a party. One officer, who shall be nameless, told his date to walk down to our pier where she would be able to get a ferry back to town.
There were many Canadian nurses working at KEMH at the time, and there was a standing joke that they came from Canada with a suitcase containing only a wedding dress.”
Mike was initially posted to Central Division, at Hamilton Police Station. His personnel record at Police HQ indicates that he was assigned to “Beach Patrol in 1962, and on 18th March 1963 he was posted to Beach Squad. I asked Mike when Beach Squad was first formed and he replied, “Ah, yes, Beach Patrol! I guess I was in the first one formed, headed by Peter Rose, who moved to Canada with Gail and their baby, in the middle '60s. Sadly, long deceased. Gail has long been a snowbird, moving between Toronto and Florida. Pete's daughter I believe lives in Vancouver and is or was a State Prosecutor.”
Mike was posted back to Central Division a few months later and served out his 3 year contract before leaving the Island.
I’ve asked Mike to provide us with some more information about what he did while serving here in the Police Force, and after leaving Bermuda, and he responded “Well, Roger, you've got me thinking, so maybe I can remember more stuff later. I do have several thousand 35mm slides I'm converting to digital. No doubt some of those relate to my old Bermuda days.
He added, I enjoy following the happenings of the old crowd, 'tho not many of my contemporaries are still above ground! I used to hear about Frank Mutch, but don't know if he still lives in Bermuda. Lost touch over the years with most, but I remember Adrian Brindle, Tony Hopwood, John Sharpe, Morris Wilson Thorne, Ray Hackett and so many others. I try not to enquire too much as I hear that they are mostly deceased.
Good to hear from you, keep up the good work on the newsletter. I appreciate it.
Here's a quick selfie as I write this. Evokes the response of 'who's that old man, then?' Anyway, too old for vanity! Still got hair and teeth, so what else do we need?