Chief Superintendent Oliver Trott, QPM, CPM, LSM
Served 1939 – 1972
Oliver (“Chief”) Trott was, without doubt one of the most popular and respected officers to ever serve in the Bermuda Police Force. Although his later years were spent as Chief Superintendent in Uniform, it is as a brilliant detective that he earned his richly deserved reputation.
Oliver Salsbury Winfield Trott, was born in St. George’s on 24th July 1914, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs Alfred Trott. Their family home was the yellow cottage standing just behind Somers Gardens at the corner of Shinbone Alley.
Oliver lost his mother at the tender age of 12, and was called upon to help raise his brother and sisters. He received his early education and tutelage under the guidance of Mr. Charles Snaith, and he went to Berkeley Institute just to take his Cambridge examinations along with three other students from St. George’s. After finishing school he studied the carpentry trade under the direction of Mr. Jacob Trott. He also worked for a spell with the Royal Engineers at Prospect as an apprentice carpenter.
We’re not sure what compelled Oliver to do so but in 1939, at the age of 24, he made the decision to join the Bermuda Police Service, at a time when men of colour had great difficulty making progress through the ranks. We do know, however, that his best friend, “Happy” Duerden, had already joined the Force so it is most likely that Oliver decided to follow suit.
There is no doubt what compelled him to make another major decision in his life, and that was falling in love with, and marrying his sweetheart, Miss Irene Delzel “Girlie” Lee. Oliver and Irene were happily married for 30 years, and they had two daughters, Judith (Swan) and Patricia (Harvey).
Irene recalls that Oliver had to take some sort of examination to join the Police, and when he was informed that he had passed the test, the police officer recruiting him asked where he came from because he spoke so perfectly! Oliver’s grandfather was an Englishman named Postlethwaite who had served in the Army.
Irene remembers hearing that “Happy” and Oliver were very fortunate to have been accepted onto the Police Force because they could easily have ruined any chance of doing so if they had been out with a group of their close friends who got up to some serious mischief one night in St. George’s. The group had an altercation with a uniformed police officer and finished up lifting him up a telegraph pole where they left him dangling by his belt on the pole. Fortunately, “Happy” and Oliver had been kept at home by their fathers that night, otherwise they would have been arrested along with all their mates. As Irene says, “Maybe they turned out to be a pair of good policemen because they knew all the tricks!”
Oliver spent his early years on the Force in uniform, first at Hamilton Police Station and then as Paget Parish Constable. As a single man, he went to live with Mr and Mrs Alan and Norma Houghton at a house on King Street where the present Fire Station is now located. Mr. Houghton came from the Turks and Caicos Islands and he was a pilot of His Excellency’s (The Governor’s) boat. Irene was friendly with their daughter Eleanor who later married Arnett Jackson, Mrs. Houghton used to take care of Irene after school. It was at the Houghton’s house that she first met Oliver, and they were married when Irene was 21 and Oliver was 28.
Oliver spent some time serving in Somerset, however, in 1952 he was transferred to CID which was clearly the turning point in his Police career. He excelled as a detective officer and spent most of the rest of his distinguished career in CID.
His rapid progress through the ranks was a testament to his ability and dedication. Oliver was promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1955, and just one year later, in 1956 he was promoted to Detective Inspector. That is an exceptionally quick promotion by any standard. Five years later, in 1961, he was promoted to Chief Inspector in charge of Central CID where he cemented his reputation is an outstanding detective.
During his time in CID Oliver was involved in the investigation of many serious crimes, including the Warwick murders, and on several major cases he worked closely with Scotland Yard detectives brought in from abroad to provide assistance. Oliver received numerous letters of good work and commendations for his expertise in solving serious crimes.
During his tenure on the Force Oliver travelled to the U.K. and the U.S. attending numerous police courses and seminars.
In 1967 Oliver was promoted to Superintendent in uniform and became Bermuda’s first recruiting officer in charge of recruitment and training. Throughout most of the 1960’s he interviewed literally hundreds of potential recruits and travelled to the U.K and to the West Indies to do so, as well as interviewing Bermudian applicants for the Police Force.
Oliver was the first Chairman of the Police Association and was instrumental in pushing for the intermingling of all police officers, regardless of race, in a social setting at the Police Recreation Club. He was an avid cricket fan and would often turn out to support the Police cricket teams.
In 1968 Oliver was promoted to Chief Superintendent, a position he held until his retirement from the Force on January 29th, 1972, after a career spanning 33 years.
During his distinguished service Oliver was awarded the Police Long Service Medal (1962), the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service (1968), and in 1971 he was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service.
Following his retirement he became General Manager of Bermuda Security Services for 5 years after which he retired fully and devoted himself to his wife, Irene, and his family. He retained his close ties with the Police Force as a member of the Ex-Police Officers Association. He also served on the Defence Board for several years, and for many years he had been a member of the Hannibal Lodge, Grand Lodge of Ireland No. 224, serving as a Master Mason.
One of Oliver’s hidden talents was his culinary skills and there was nothing he loved more than to cook for his family, and as Irene says, “He always took great pride in his family, especially his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After he retired we did a lot of travelling, and he always seemed to manage to bring one of his grandchildren along with him.”
Oliver’s grandchildren are Troy, Suzette, Jason, and George Jr. His two great granddaughters at the time of his passing were Julica and Cetera. The Trott family has much to be proud of as the descendents of a truly outstanding police officer and a wonderfully warm human being who was highly respected by all who served with him and all who knew him.
Editor's Note - We were about to publish this article about "Chief" Trott in our Hall of Fame when we received the sad news of the passing of his beloved wife, Irene "Girlie" Trott, at the end of March 2013. Mrs Trott had provided us with most of the information and photographs in this article just a few months ago. It is often said that behind every great man there is a great woman. "Chief" Trott was, without doubt one of the finest officers in the long history of the Bermuda Police. He was much loved by all who served under him in Central CID when he often worked for many long hours day and night to investigate serious crimes. There is also no doubt that Irene played a significant role in providing him with love and support at home. We extend our deepest sympathy to the Trott family.
We also invite anyone who served with Oliver to write their comments below.