Served from October 1973 - October 1978
I was born in Woodford Green, Essex on 30th May, 1946 and lived in Woodford, Wanstead and Walthamstow before moving to Felixstowe, Suffolk when I was 10 years old owing to my father’s ill health and bankrupt building business. My parents bought a back street newsagents and tobacconists shop.
I left school aged 15 in 1961 to join the Junior Leaders Regiment Royal Artillery in Bramcote, Nuneaton as an apprentice Surveyor R.A. After getting my trade qualifications, I was posted to Dortmund in West Germany with 27thArmy Missile Regiment, which was a Corporal missile regiment. Our role was to survey in the exact location of the missile launch site and later compute the fire orders for the missile.
I twice travelled to the Outer Hebrides which was an annual exercise to practice firing the missile. I was lucky enough to holiday there three years ago to witness once more the beautiful white sandy beaches, more like the Pacific than a Scottish beach.
Owing to my father’s ill health and the fact that he was now on his own in the family back street corner shop, I got a compassionate discharge, cost £500.1.0d, and left in 1965.
Whilst waiting for the admin side of my discharge, I was sent to help caretake the NATO sailing club on the Mohne See which was one of the reservoirs whose dams the Dambusters attacked. A highlight there was, together with another army colleague, to be the first people to walk across the Mohne See when it froze, albeit we were 15 yards behind the clubs very large and heavy german shepherd and felt if he didn’t crack it neither would we.
In celebration of our achievement, the local Germans treated us to free drinks all night with the obvious outcome.
I spent four years working with my father in our shop and after his death I worked as a sales rep and then as an export shipping clerk and again a salesman for our shipping lines and finally a clerk in the US Army Sub Terminal.
In 1972 I was made redundant which seemed like a good opportunity to travel to the USA and visit my two sisters in Massachusetts and Nebraska. They had both married US servicemen. I also had a good friend in San Francisco to visit. This was all achieved on a six month go anywhere Greyhound bus ticket which was a great experience.
Whilst in San Francisco, I was interviewed for a job with United States Lines (shipping) as a sales rep which I was thrilled with but unfortunately whilst back in England waiting for the work permit, the job fell through as they couldn’t wait for the permit any longer. It was this job offer that put me in the mindset that I wanted to work abroad.
I had an interest in the police but the pay was less than I was earning as an export shipping clerk and at that time I had an overdraft so it was a non starter. An advert for The Bermuda Police in The Daily Express took me to the library to find out where Bermuda was !!
My application was accepted including an interview in London at Tintagel House which was a Met Police building. I think being ex army and a rugby player was helpful.
My son Chris works in construction in London and his firm specialises in refitting office buildings. To my great surprise when I asked him about his then current project, he was refitting Tintagel House which I think the Mets had sold off. Small world !
So I flew into Bermuda on 23rd October 1973 together with Keith Melville, John Stewart, John Mackay, Harry Mesham, Mike Scully, John Latoszek, Allen Pugh and Ray Needham and undertook the 13 week basic training course. Local Bermudians included Vaughan Stovell, Philip Bailey, Sinclair White, Reginald Emery, June Pitt, Janna Easton and Barbara Clark, and Ralph Trott.
I was posted to Somerset but brought my girlfriend out in March and as she had secured a job at the Airport I was transferred to St George's. Linda and I married in Hamilton Registry office, Keith Melville was my best man and "Tinny"McCann from the Robin Hood was my other witness. Champagne at the Robin Hood was followed by a reception at the Canadian Forces base which included a lovely wedding cake provided by the local WPC’s from my course.
Linda and I lived in a lovely small cottage in St.George's owned by the Roberts family, near Holiday Inn, our next door neighbours being Jimmy and Pauline Copeland (both teachers) and their three children. Jimmy has passed but we are still in touch with Pauline.
Alan Kennedy was my sergeant in St George's and amongst others, Stan Gough, John Headey, Legay Farley and Ian Morrison were on our team. George Garrod was our Inspector and two of the other sergeants were Brian Flook and John "Rigor" Morris. All nice guys. We had a new Police Club which opened whilst I was there and it was a great watering hole. Always great to hear someone ringing the bell announcing they were sponsoring the next round of drinks.
I played rugby for the police second team and always enjoyed weekends spent at Nationals Sports Club. We were encouraged to network with the local community so taking this on board I moved to Mariners Rugby Club. They were a great bunch but I didn’t enjoy getting beaten most weekends.
The riots in 1977 subsequent to the hanging of Burrows and Tacklyn for the murders of The Governor, Police Commisioner and supermarket managers were very impactive and polarised the community. One of my roles during the height of the crisis was to ferry officers from St. George's to Hamilton where the main riots were occurring. On one such return journey single crewed, a local man was brandishing a large machete on the side of the road making gestures towards me. I stopped further along the road requesting back up to deal with it. We had no one available and I was told to leave the area. Not a good feeling.
To save Scenes of Crime officers coming out to the ends of the Island, one person from each section was trained to search for and photograph fingerprints left at the scene of a crime. I was one such person on my section and this engendered in me a great interest in that, together with photography in general and I successfully applied to join Scenes of Crime at HQ and that is where a spent my last year.
I have great memories of working with the likes of Merv Willey, Phil Bermingham and Paul Farrell and Graham Alderson.
Worked with him down East at times when I was in CID.
We were good friends and both were members of the Management Committee of the St. George Police for a few years. Spent many social days/evenings at the PRC or over at the US Base and other haunts.
Best to him and Linda and family and I hope they do return to Onion Land next year.