I was born 19 Sep 1945 in Glasgow, but spent my early childhood miles from anywhere on Kingairloch Estate in the wilds of NW Argyllshire, where my Dad was the head forester from 1948 to 1955: our nearest shop was 14 miles away over what wasn't much better than a cart track! I attended Kingairloch Primary School (average attendance of about 12 pupils) from 1950 to 1955, followed by two not particularly happy years as a boarder at Glasgow Academy (where the average class size was more than double my previous school size: if you want to discuss juvenile culture shock, I'm yer man!), then a transfer to Webster's Seminary in Kirriemuir when Dad moved to Angus County as head forester for Dundee Corporation Water Dept. (no idea why it was called a seminary: it was just yer average small town senior school). I left there in July '63 with 2 Highers, 4 'O' levels, and the distinction of having kept goal for the worst Senior football team the school ever had!
I didn't know specifically what I wanted to do when I left school, but I did know that, if at all possible, I wanted an outdoor job with variety, security, and plenty of sports. I considered the military as Dad (and Mum) had been in the Navy during WW2, but Dad reckoned that the peacetime military would be too much spit-and-polish for my liking, so I decided to join the Police. I joined the then Dundee City Police as a Cadet in Sep '63 on a gross salary of £295 a YEAR (which worked out to about £4.50 a week in today's currency) and became PC Kerr a year later on my 19th birthday (and, incidentally, retired on my 55th birthday, exactly 36 years later, still as PC Kerr!). Oddly enough, one of my classmates at Scottish Police College was now-retired Bermuda PC 408 Neil Anderson, who was then in Ayrshire Police, but he didn't come to Bermuda until 1973.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Dundee, but I wanted to travel a bit at the same time, and, as Policemen's wages in those days were comparatively even worse than they are now, I decided that the best way to do it was to join a foreign Police Force and let the Government foot the bill! I was offered the choice of Bermuda or Hong Kong, weighed up the various options (Hong Kong pop. 6 million, Bermuda pop. 55,000: Hong Kong Police about 15,000 strong, Bermuda Police about 300 strong: Hong Kong speaks Chinese, Bermuda speaks English), and decided to go to Bermuda.
I went down to London in Aug '66 for interview at the Crown Agents on Millbank (who handled the overseas recruiting in those days), and I only remember two of the questions they asked me. No. 1 was the obvious one: "What do you know about Bermuda?", to which my reply was "Not much, but I do know it's a British colony; it's a little island in the N Atlantic; it's nearer to the States than it is to Britain; and it's not in the Caribbean." "Hey, not bad: that's quite a bit more than some know!" No. 2 was "If you get this job, you'll be going to a mixed race Police Force in a mixed race community: you're quite likely to have a black Sgt or a black Insp. Does that worry you?" "Not in the slightest. As long as he's a good boss, I don't care whether he's black, white, or 3 shades of green!" (And that was the way it worked out: I had some great white bosses and some great black bosses, and I had some bloody awful white bosses and some bloody awful black bosses!). "OK," they said, "as you're not quite 21 yet, go back home and you'll hear from us after you're 21." And, lo and behold, a week after my 21st birthday I got a letter saying, basically, "Pack your bags; you're going out to Bermuda in 7 weeks' time!"
After an overnight with family friends in Epsom Downs, I flew out from Heathrow about 1100 on Mon 14 Nov along with Gerry Ardis (257), Davie "Bones" Fraser (59), Barrie Mancell (104), George Rushe (80) and Malky Smith (69). Having left Scotland in snow the previous day, and never having been abroad before, I was totally unprepared to land in a place with the temperature in the 70s F and the humidity in the 80s: I vividly remember getting off the plane, feeling this warm draught, and thinking, 'Oh, the pilot hasn't switched the engines off yet', then walking away from the plane, still feeling this hot draught, and thinking, 'Oh God! It's real!'
After going through a 2-week localisation course between 21 Nov and 2 Dec we were all sent to Central Division (then commanded by CI "Nobby" Clarke), and I had the great good fortune to be posted to 'C' Watch under Station Sgt "Kenny" Roberts (40) and Watch Sgt Gerry Harvey (16). Among the other personnel on the watch were the one and only Alistair "Shakey" Johnson (146) as Station Constable and Acting Sgt, Barry Meyers (244) as relief Station Constable (6'6", 18 stone, a brilliant second row rugby player, and scared of mice!), Ray Banks (183) as Duty Driver, Tommy Barnes (156, who left Bermuda on the good ship "Fletcher Christian" in I think 1970 en route for Fiji and eventually landed up in Sussex Police), Pat McBride (256), Ian "Abey" Mitchell (188), Dave "Big Joe" Needham (193), and Brian Kent (178); the 4 last-named had all come out on the intake which preceded ours by just 10 weeks, and also on that intake was Vic Richmond (200), who had been on the course which overlapped mine by 6 weeks at SPC.
My first night of Night Shift in Dundee was spent in the company of an enthusiastic older PC on a foot beat, checking all the property twice a night: my first night of Night Shift in Bermuda just happened to be Christmas Eve, and Gerry Harvey, Brian Kent and I spent most of it in Barry Meyers' flat (which was conveniently located on Church Street East) downing various forms of liquid refreshment. I should maybe add here that I don't drink, and never have done. When I first arrived in Bermuda, and this rather unusual characteristic was discovered, people used to say to me, "You don't drink? WHY don't you drink?" I would point to the door of the PRC, through which many of my bosses would come a-staggering in the old pre-breathalyzer days, and say, "THAT's why I don't drink: I don't want to end up looking like HIM!"
I'd been in Bermuda about 6 months, and this particular morning was directing traffic at Telephone Company Corner (this was long before Hamilton had traffic lights!) when a little blue Morris 1000 drove west right through my clear signal to stop. I roared at it, and the driver stopped a few yards further on. I said, "What do you think I am; the Statue of Liberty, or something?" The elderly male driver's reply was, "You don't have to be like that, officer. I didn't see you, that's all." "Well, keep your eyes open next time: on you go." And off he went. The next morning I was on duty at GH when I got a phone call from Nobby: "Constable Kerr, did you have some trouble with a motorist on Telephone Company Corner yesterday?" "Yes Sir." "OK, come into my office when you leave GH." "Yes Sir." So, as bidden, I reported to Nobby's office (which in those days was upstairs in what is now the Golinsky Building on Reid Street), to find him and Insp Dave Parsons therein. "OK Constable Kerr, tell me exactly what happened." So I told him exactly what had happened, and Nobby said, "Do you know who that was?" "No Sir." "He used to sit in this chair I'm sitting in now: ex Supt Percy Millar!" "Oh: well, I'm sorry Sir, but he's still not a good driver." "That's beside the point. Be a little more respectful to drivers in future. Go away!" "Very good Sir." And, as I went downstairs, I could hear Nobby and ‘Parse’ pissing themselves laughing!
Another Nobby story: I think it was my first week on the job, and I was on 2 Beat walking W along Reid St towards Court when I saw Nobby coming the other way. I saluted when I met him (as young PCs did in those days!), and he said, "Constable Kerr, have you been up Court Street yet?" "No Sir." "OK, come with me." And there's CI Clarke and rookie PC Kerr heading up Court Street. We go into Clarke's Bar, Nobby says to someone there, "Right, rack 'em up," and he & someone are playing pool while I'm standing there, wet behind the ears, wondering what sort of Police Force I've joined!
Six of us came out together, not one of us initially planned to do more than one 3-year contract and 39 years later I was the first to leave!
One of my earliest Bermuda memories is of the Great Police Mess Boycott in Feb '67, which followed on from Christmas Dinner '66, which was one of the worst meals I've ever eaten (or, in this case, tried to eat!). The guy who ran the Police Mess at the time was what I would describe (with apologies to Jimmy “The Wop” Constello) as a greasy Wop, one Toni Bacchetti, and you would not BELIEVE how he cooked the Brussels sprouts for our Christmas dinner. Even I know that you cook frozen Brussels sprouts by dumping them into a saucepan, covering them with water, and then gently boiling the water: this buffoon spread them out on several baking trays, covered them in tinfoil, and BAKED them in the oven! You may recall that I had a reputation in those days for being able to eat virtually anything: the rest of the lads were offering me threepence for every one I could eat, and the sprouts tasted so ghastly I could only manage 4!
Anyway, back to the boycott: there were I think 32 of us living in Prospect Barracks at the time, paying something like £28 a month for our meals whether we ate every one there or not, and I believe 28 of us boycotted the mess for the month of February. I know two of the "wimps" were John Graham (142) and Ian Davies (132), and the other two were possibly Ray Banks (183) and Erskine Warner (248) but I can't be sure of that. Just before we began the boycott, then-Commissioner George Robbins came down to the Parade Room at Ops to address us, and woffled on about the "possibly disastrous consequences" of going ahead with the boycott. When he left the room, Pat McBride stood up and said something like, "I've heard all this before and it's a load of soft soap. We're going to get nothing out of this unless we stand together and go ahead with the boycott. Are yez with me?" And the resultant roar of solidarity just about took the roof off the Parade Room! We went ahead with the boycott, and I know my food bill for that month dropped from £28 to £12! Having said that, my diet (and many others') that month was heavily subsidised by the GH orchard: most of us worked in Central, and it was a common sight to see a PC riding back along North Shore Road to the barracks after a night shift at GH with his Bobby-helmet hanging from his handlebars, full of oranges &/or grapefruit! Thanks to the stripping the orchard got that year, I believe they had a bumper crop next year!
There was an official enquiry afterwards, held at the old Hotel School in Prospect, and one piece of damning evidence against Toni B came from none other than "Bones" Fraser. Toni claimed that he was serving us a particular cut of beef ("silverside", I think), and Bones stood up and said, "I was a time-served butcher before I joined the Police, and I can tell you for a fact that that's not silverside; it's (and he ID'd it as some entirely different and inferior cut of meat)!" Anyway, as a result of everything, the mess was closed and the compulsory messing system died the death it richly deserved. The mess subsequently opened again, serving only lunches, under Mrs Brangman from Somerset, who I'm sure many blokes will remember fondly as their "Bermuda Mum": I know I'm among that number!
Another George Robins memory: remember that wee Fiat car he used to drive (P3000, as I recall)? We were walking down to Training School (which in those days was in the Clock Tower building above the Traffic compound) on our first morning when this wee car drove past us up towards HQ, and it was only when it had passed us that we were aware of the right hand up in the saluting position and this load of "scrambled egg" on the driver's cap! GR then came down to Training School to address the new boys, and the first thing he did was to bollock us for not saluting him that morning! I'm sure we all thought (but none of us said!), “Sir, if we'd known your car I'm sure we would have saluted you, but none of us knew your car!"
Back to the mess: you may (or may not) know that I don't drink tea or coffee, so I went up to Admin and asked OIC ("Junky Joe" Nixon) if I could have one glass of milk per day instead of the milk that I'd otherwise add to my tea or coffee, and guess what? My request was denied on the grounds that it would be "too expensive"!
While I was serving in Traffic, the Heath/Nixon conference was hosted at GH in I believe January '71, and afterwards I was delegated to return the two sentry boxes used during the event to their normal home at the Botanical Gardens, where they were actually ticket booths for the Ag Show!
I was allocated George Rushe and Cadet Ralph Saints to help me, so off we went, down Dock Hill and along North Shore to GH. We loaded the two boxes on to the back of the Cycle Squad truck, standing one behind the other, and began the return journey. Space for a new bus stop had just been hacked out of the roadside bushes on North Shore just west of Dock Hill, but the bus stop hadn't yet been built, so there was just a gap about 20 yards wide in the bushes. The wind was whistling in from the north that day, and a strong gust caught us just as we were passing the gap and blew one of the boxes sideways through the windscreen of a bus that was going the other way! Sgt Mike Burke (44) was sent down to deal with the accident, and I'd love to have seen how he wrote THAT one off, but he must have done as I heard no more about it!
(Editors note - the blue book accident report actually recorded vehicle 1 as a Government bus, and vehicle 2 as a “Government House sentry box”! It was considered to be the most unusual accident we had ever seen and as George Rushe said so aptly, “It could only happen to Davie Kerr!)
Sports (a most enjoyable subject!): I'd always liked my sports, but in Dundee it was basically football in the winter and cricket in the summer, so when I got to Bermuda, and found all the sports in which I could participate there, I was like a kid in a toyshop! I immediately got into the football scene and also turned out for the 2nd Cricket XI on a few occasions, but I tried my hand at virtually every sport I could, and finished up having represented the Police at, believe it or not, 13 different sports! OK, three of them (snooker, darts and chess) maybe have a very slim claim to be included as sports, but I think the rest (football, rugby, hockey, cricket, softball, basketball, tug-o'-war, cross-country running, swimming and boxing) all qualify.
One of my sergeants (the one and only "Boxhead" Foggo, I think) once worked it out that, if I was to get 4 hours off per week for every sport at which I represented the Police, the job would owe me 4 hours a week overtime! I also did a bit of sailing, SCUBA-diving, tennis, golf and squash (I think that's all!). My main sport, however, was hockey, at which I was lucky enough to represent Bermuda 4 times officially and anywhere between 250 and 300 times unofficially, and, because of Bermuda's rather peculiar eligibility rules, I'd played for Bermuda in the Veterans' World Cup in 1986 before making my official international debut the following year, a month short of my 42nd birthday, at the Pan-Am Games in Indianapolis! Incidentally, while there are rumours of a Police hockey team having existed in the late '50s-early '60s, I've been unable to confirm said rumours. To all intents and purposes, the Police hockey team as we know it today made its debut against the KEMH Nurses on Christmas Eve 1971: more of that anon! I was lucky on the hockey scene as I was a goalkeeper (and hockey goalkeepers are a fairly rare species) and a Policeman (so I could get leave basically whenever I wanted it), and I think that the main reasons for me being picked to go on so many tours (around 40 altogether, I think) were 1) I enjoyed driving, and not everyone else did: 2) I didn't drink, so I had the Designated Driver's job nailed down: 3) I was a Policeman, and therefore could maybe get out of bother quicker than a civvy could: and 4) nobody else wanted to carry the goalkeeper's equipment bag! The fact that I was also a fairly competent keeper apparently had very little to do with it!
In August 1970, completely off the cuff, I actually rowed round Bermuda in "Bubbles" Barnard's 8' punt. It was a glorious weekend, and I was doing this 0001-0400 half-of-a-night that we used to have to do every so often before a night off. I knocked off at 0400, went home, changed into "wet gear", and began rowing from Admiralty Beach about 0430. I went round Dockyard, down West Side, and all the way along South Shore before being overtaken by darkness, so, as I didn't know my way around the East End, I carried out a one-man invasion of Cooper's Island wearing a pair of swimshorts and carrying a torch, and was promptly arrested by the Marine guards! Fortunately one of them recognised me as I'd played softball against them the previous week, and I was allowed a phone call, so naturally I called the Police, and I was released into the custody of A/Sgt John "Rigor" Morris and taken to St Georges' barracks, where I spent the night. I'd asked to be called about dawn the following morning, and I was, but the guys who came to wake me up then shot off again, and I had to walk (barefoot!) all the way back down to Echo, where Brian Flook took me back to where the boat was. I rowed on round St David's Head, past Fort St Catherine, and was heading back to Admiralty when, just off the West end of Ferry Reach, I rowed over this massive piece of what I thought was waterlogged cardboard. I thought nothing of it until I noticed that the "cardboard" was keeping pace with the boat, then I looked over the sides of the boat, saw these little wingtips sticking up one on either side, and realised that I was acting as a sunshade for a giant ray! In oars, hunker down to the bottom of the boat, and sit very quietly until the ray moved on! I then carried on back towards Admiralty, and was finding it hot going as I'd run out of stuff to drink. A big fancy yacht ("Ayesha", as I recall, then owned by Sir Dudley Butterfield) came sailing by, and the crew were waving in my direction. I waved back, and made a "have-you-anything-to-drink?" motion with my other hand, and someone cast off in a wee outboard-powered dinghy, came alongside, and tossed me a can of beer! I thanked him very much, and that beer went down without touching the sides, and I then zig-zagged back to Admiralty: that is the only time I've ever deliberately had a drink of alcohol! The round trip took me 36 hours altogether, but my actual rowing time was 26. I always meant to try again some day, and I hoped to break 24 hours non-stop, but unfortunately it just never happened.
Getting back to the drinking, though, I did get well nobbled one evening, just before Christmas '72. Doug "Walrus" Rogers (99) was about to leave Bermuda to return to the UK, and we all went up to the PRC after our last day of Days to speed him on his way. As this was the era when our shift system was geared to a 42-hour-week, but we were still working a 44-hour-week, we had to do 2 extra hours on the last day of every shift, so we didn't hit the PRC until 1800. Our Sergeant at the time was the aforementioned "Boxhead" Foggo (16), and among the other participants were "Tango" Burgess, "TInker" Taylor (346), Barry Higham (277) and Bruce Bingley (278). We were sitting round one of those big circular tables they used to have in the PRC, and the rest of the lads were getting tore into Rum & Cokes, Rum & Gingers, and various beers while I was into my usual pint of Sprite & Lime. I didn't know this at the time, but someone was always standing behind me with a shot of vodka handy, and, whenever I turned my head to speak to somebody on either side of me, a shot of vodka came into my S&L from my blind side. In future tellings of this story, Boxy reckoned that, in the course of roughly 90 minutes and 4 S&Ls, I'd sunk anything up to 10 shots of vodka! I allegedly left the club about 1930 hours (going straight through the door without bothering to open it first!), put my crash helmet on back to front, and rode home to Dunscombe Road to change and go down to the Hamilton Princess, where we were playing chess that evening. I'm very glad my bike knew its way home, because I wasn't much help to it! I got down to the Princess, where I was lucky enough to have about an hour's table tennis to sober me up, and I think I actually won my chess match!
Another drink-related episode has just come to mind. You may remember that, in order to cover the Docks, we used to have five Watches down town and worked 8 days on and 2 off. 9-year-veteran A/Sgt "Shakey" Johnson was our watch Sgt, and I think he had more service than the rest of the watch put together! Ian "Abey" Mitchell was the Station Constable with 18 months in, I was Duty Driver with 15 months as had Stan Hill (93), then came Jimmy "The Wop" Costello (127) and Brian Hanney (134) with 7 months each, and 4 guys fresh out of Training School: Mike Phillips (174), Noel Burgess (247), someone else whose name presently escapes me, and the one and only Howard "Stumpy" Kirkham (249)! Anyway, we'd knock off Lates at 2400 and head for the PRC, where the next 90-odd minutes would be spent playing dominoes for rounds of drinks. Because I didn't drink, I was allowed to play for chocolate bars at the exchange rate of 1 drink = 2 choccy bars, and the story is that, one evening, in the course of 90 minutes I'd won, and eaten, 10 choccy bars!
As I recall, my various postings and periods of service with the Bermuda Police were as follows:- Nov 66-Dec 66, Localisation Course; Dec 66-Jan 69, Central; Jan 69-Nov 73, Traffic; Nov 73-Feb 74, Parishes (most of which time was spent on Light Duties at Supreme Court); Feb 74-Oct 76, Central Division Summons Server; Oct 76-17 Sep 78, Western; 18 Sep 78, Eastern; 19 Sep 78-Mar 80, Central; Mar 80-Sep 88, Traffic; Sep 88-Aug 90, Control Room; Aug 90-Sep 2000, Eastern (from where I retired on 19 Sep 2000). There were occasional visits to Training School thrown into that mixture, but I've ignored them as they were of no real relevance, and you may notice the two-postings-in-two-days in Sep '78: I'm probably the only Bermuda Policeman in history to have accumulated two transfers, a birthday, and a disciplinary charge within 48 hours!
Although strictly speaking I was the Central Division Summons Server, I would go anywhere at any time to serve a summons: I've served summonses at noon on top of an oil tank in Dockyard, and I've served summonses at 0130 in the night club of the old Holiday Inn in St George's, so I was liable to pop up anywhere at any time. I was also useful in that I was able to assist with any calls for any sort of assistance, whether it was directing traffic at an accident scene, responding to an alarm activation, standing by a recovered stolen cycle until it could be collected, or whatever else came up. In those days the Police manned the junction of Middle & Montpelier Roads on a regular basis during the morning and evening rush hours, and, because Parishes (who usually did it) were short-handed for various reasons, and because it was a waste of time trying to serve summonses during rush hours when most people were either going to or coming from work, I would do the point in the morning, serve summonses until lunch-time, help out at court in the afternoon, do the point again in the evening, serve a few more summonses in the early evening, and then knock off. On other days, if it was quiet and the weather was fine, I'd do Montpelier point in the morning, take the rest of the day off and go sailing, do Montpelier point again in the evening, serve some summonses between the hours of 1830 and 2030 (which I found was the best time to catch people at home; after work and before parties!), and then go home.
Early in '76, while I was still Summons Server, I moved into an apt on Lighthouse Hill behind Henry VIII: a few months later, I found another apt of the same size, at the same rent, 4 miles nearer town on Bostock Hill in Paget, and moved in there. In a typical example of Sod's Law, 2 months later I was transferred to Somerset!
Another story from my early days down town has just come to mind, from the days when we had 5 Watches in Hamilton and worked Nights, Lates, Days and Docks with days off in between, and "Shakey" Johnson was our Acting Sgt with a whole 9 years' service, more than the rest of the watch combined! In those days we had the horrible little Pye beat radios that came in 2 separate pieces (receiver and transmitter), and "Stumpy" Kirkham came back to the station about 0300 one day while we were on Nights to confess that he'd accidentally dropped one of the receivers overboard at the Ferry Terminal! Poor Shakey was fit to be tied, wondering how he was going to account for the loss of half a radio, but I said, "Sarge, no sweat: let me go up to barracks for my snorkel gear, and I'll retrieve it for you." Shakey would have done just about anything to get that half radio back, so, about dawn that morning, several drunken sailors on Albuoy's Point were considerably surprised to see a Police vehicle draw up alongside the docked ferries and the driver get out, strip down to a pair of swimshorts, put on mask, snorkel and flippers, and dive overboard! I found the half radio no bother (Stumpy had at least had the presence of mind to mark dead accurately where it had gone overboard) and took it back to the station, where we took it apart, rinsed it with fresh water, shook all the water out of it, dried it off and stuck a fresh battery in it, and it worked fine: in fact, it was probably the best receiver we had until those radios became obsolete!
In October 1976, sadly I was transferred from Prosecutions to Somerset. I never found out why, and was rather ticked off about it as I (and Gerry Harvey) thought I was doing OK as Summons Server: I think my records were 18 in one day and 69 in one week, all to different people. And just to add insult to injury I'd just moved house from Southampton to Paget to get myself nearer work! I was not a happy bunny, I can tell you.
However, working shifts in Somerset did have its advantages, and one of the major ones (which I'm sure many "old stagers" would agree with) was access to Sonesta Beach kitchens on Nights! The unwritten rule was that we could "pig out" pretty much as we liked on the premises, but weren't allowed to take anything away apart from something for the Station PC or the Ops Room staff, depending on where you were working. That was fine, but, surprise, surprise, SOME greedy sods tore the arse out of it by going down there with shopping bags and filling them up to take home! I'm not going to name names, but I'm sure that those of us with Traffic and/or Somerset connections in the early to mid '70s will know fine who I mean!
During my time up West I spent a while on Sgt Reese Bartley's watch, and talk about a mixed bunch! We had 3 black PCs and 3 white PCs: the 3 black ones were Bernie Joinville from St Lucia, Steve Griffith from Trinidad and Leon Fubler from Bermuda, while the 3 white ones were me from Scotland, John Walsh from England, and Dave "Rookie" Adams from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)! In fact, Bernie and Rookie became pretty good mates (despite the fact that they were from such different backgrounds and were always slagging each other off), and when Rookie went back to Rhodesia on leave on one occasion he came back with a shield with crossed knobkerrie and assegai behind it as a present for Bernie.
Now, those of us who remember Bernie will know that he had a heart of gold, but was no oil painting, and he told us this brilliant story against himself. He used to live with his wife & family in the old lighthouse keeper's cottage at the base of Gibb's Hill lighthouse, and about 9 o'clock one Sunday morning he was capering around, wearing nothing but a big towel round his waist and carrying the shield and weapons, and making his wee boy laugh his socks off. There came a knock at the door: Bernie, completely forgetting what he was wearing and what he was carrying, opened it: and the female tourist who had knocked at the door gave one almighty scream and shot off down the hill as fast as her moped would take her! I used to wonder what impression of Bermuda she passed around to her friends in the States!
A Mini-Moke memory, from Christmas '75 while I was still Summons Server (for those who don't know the Mini-Moke, imagine something with a standard Mini engine, standard Mini chassis and a miniature jeep-type body: basically, that was a Moke!). All non-shift workers used to have to do some shifts over the Christmas period, and the Day Watch on the beat that Christmas Day was Juanita Allchin (who'd just come onto the job, and retired 20-some years later as my Watch Insp!) and me, and instead of walking we did City patrol in my little Moke, which was so small it could go virtually anywhere anyway.
The said Moke was very light at the back end, as all the weight apart from the rear axle was at the front because it was front-wheel drive, and the bumpers were 2" tube steel, just the right size for grabbing and lifting. I used to park it by driving the front end into a parking space, getting out, and lifting the back end in! I often wondered what would have happened if I'd done that when I'd sat my driving test in the Moke: "Look, all you said was, 'Parallel park': I've just parallel parked!"
Thanks to the mechanical expertise of Owen Marsh I had that Moke for 5 1/2 years, which was 4 years more than anybody else thought it would last, but, in early '80, he said to me, "Davie, I could fix your Moke up again, but it would cost you about twice as much as you paid for it: I honestly think your best bet is to scrap it and get something small and Japanese." So, with many regrets, I bade farewell to my wee Moke.
That brings to mind another driving story from the '68 riots: I was the Night driver and had Leroy Jones as observer, and rather shook him up one night during the curfew by driving one of the Morris 1000 duty vehicles down Washington LANE in the pre-bollards era! Oddly enough, he never drove with me again: wonder why?
Another Somerset memory: the one and only "Jellybean" Wingood was relief Insp OIC Western Division on this particular occasion, and I was on local patrol on Days in the Somerset Land Rover. The Land Rover was (and still is) a superb vehicle, capable of going just about anywhere, but, in those days anyway, it had two faults: a) the driver's seat wasn't very adjustable, and b) it had a turning circle like a bus! However, on this particular day, I was up a little track behind the Somerset Sea Cadet HQ: it obviously hadn't been used for a while as it was covered in thick grass, and I was just at the top of the hill when KA-THUNK: and both front wheels dropped into a 3' deep cutting! And wouldn't you know who was riding his scooter past at the time? Yup: you got it! Jellybean. He reckoned that Atcheson's towing service would have to come out with their heavy crane to extricate me, but fortunately Land Rover engineering came to the rescue: 4WD-Low Range-reverse, and out she popped as nice as you like with hardly a scratch on her! Just as well, or 328 would have been in deeper doo-doo than normal!
And another Somerset Land Rover memory: Cadet Junior Durrant and I were on the old Railway Tracks (somewhere behind Lantana, as I recall), and turned up another little track where I somehow managed to get a 3" thick tree branch wedged between the back mudguard and the back wheel: and it would not budge! Forwards or backwards, normal or 4WD, I could not shift that branch. Eventually I had to resort to my trusty Swiss Army knife and simply sawed through the branch, and (apart from Junior!) nobody was any the wiser: a classic Boy Scout case of "Be Prepared"!
That period of my service will forever be associated with the hangings of "Buck" Burrows and Larry Tacklyn at Casemates on 02 Dec 77, and the riots which followed. I was sent from Somerset to assist Southampton Parish PC Dai James to mount 24-hour guard on the fire scene on the top floor of S'ton Princess, where some numpty had decided to set the hotel alight. Tragically a couple of visitors and a Bermudian were killed after being trapped in the elevator, hence the Police presence and full Scotland Yard forensics examination of the scene.
While Dai & I started off doing 12-hour shifts, we soon realised that 12 straight hours was a mug's game, and sought permission from Hubert Simmons (OiC West) to alter things to suit ourselves. He basically said, "As long as there's someone there 24/7, you two can sort it out any way you want", so we came up with the idea of two 4-hour day shifts, 0800-1200 and 1200-1600; two 2-hour late shifts, 1600-1800 and 1800-2000; and two 6-hour night shifts, 2000-0200 and 0200-0800, with the bloke "off duty" at night asleep in a hotel room beside our "guard post." That lasted for the next 10 days or so, and it was certainly a pleasant change to have a boss who felt able to let the guys who were actually doing the job make the best of the prevailing conditions.
The Police took over full-time security duties at the Airport as of 18 Sep 78, and, as Eastern Division didn't then have enough personnel to man two Police Stations, there had to be some transfers in beforehand to make up the numbers. Two names that were being considered to go East from Somerset were Eric Ingemann and me. Ingy was living right out at the end of Spanish Point at the time while I was living in Warwick East, and he had a 30-mile round trip daily commute to & from Somerset: his family all lived on Ferry Reach, just across from the Airport: his father had just died: and he was such an obvious choice to go East that the Top Brass overlooked him completely and sent me instead!
I'd made no secret of the fact that I wasn't thrilled with the idea of going East, mostly because (as previously mentioned) I was living in Warwick at the time, but I reckoned I'd give it a shot and, if things didn't work out, I'd see about a switch with someone else who actually wanted to go East: the obvious candidate there was a fellow Scot called Gordon Farquhar, who'd just been moved from East to Traffic as a Radio Op and was not happy about it, and I'd already been a Radio Op and would have had no problems doing it again.
Anyway, about a week before my proposed move to East, I phoned Ch Insp Harold Moniz who was then OiC East, and the conversation went something like this:-
"Morning Sir, PC Kerr here. I'm told that I'm coming to join you next week: where & when would you like me?"
"Ah, morning Davie," was the reply, "you're going to the Airport under Sgt Mackenzie" (the late lamented 'Spider'). "Do you know where the Airport Police Station is?"
"No Sir, I'm sorry, I don't: I haven't been down at the Airport since last year."
"OK, no problem: just drive into the main car park, and you'll see a big sign saying 'Airport Police Station.' You'll be on Lates on Monday."
"Fine Sir, see you next week." And that (I thought) was that.
So, as per instructions, I arrived at the Airport about 1530 on the following Monday and looked around for the big sign that said 'Airport Police Station'. Nothing: not even a SMALL sign saying 'Airport Police Station'! I eventually found my way into the airline check-in counters area, where a mate of mine said, "Hi Davie; what brings you down this way?"
"Believe it or not," I said, "I'm looking for the Police Station!"
"Oh, you don't know where it is? Come with me." So the two of us were heading down to the Police Station when I heard this voice from behind me: "Daviiieee: where are you going?"
"Down to the Police Station."
"Wait for meee!" This was Spider: he didn't know where the Airport Police Station was either!
Anyway, on arrival at the Police Station, Spider (whom I'd known for years as we'd played football together) said, "Davie, seeing you're first here, I'll give you the station, and the other two lads" (Ralph Furbert and Don Friend, as I recall) "can do foot patrol when they come."
"Fine Sarge, no problem." So there was I, Station PC at the Airport as of 1545 on Monday, 18 Sep 78.
As it was the first day of the Airport Police Station being operational, the late Nobby Clarke (who was then Commissioner), Harold Moniz (OiC East) and "Cuddly" Dudley Swan (OIC Airport) were doing the rounds to see how things were going, and, knowing how stories go around in Bermuda, it wasn't long before SOMEone was telling them, with great glee, the story of the two policemen who couldn't find the Police Station!
This went down like a lead balloon with Nobby, and he was not a happy bunny when he and the other two came into the Airport Police Station. Spider had deployed his troops by then and had diplomatically "done a runner", so I was all on my own. I stood to attention as Nobby, Harold and Dudley came in (as was the custom in the presence of senior officers in those days!), and said, "Good evening Sir." Nobby growled some response, and the three of them disappeared into Dudley's office. They came out a minute or so later, and Nobby gruffly to me, "I understand you don't like it down here, eh?"
'Bloody hell!' I thought. 'Give me a break: I've only just got here, and I haven't had time not to like it yet!' So I said diplomatically, "Well, it's a bit of a long haul from Warwick, Sir."
"OK, I'll fix that. You're going to Hamilton tomorrow to walk the beat: what d'you think of that idea?"
"Please Sir, not tomorrow Sir: it's my birthday tomorrow."
"See if I care! Mr Swan, call Mr McMaster" (who was then Deputy CoP) "and tell him that Kerr's going to Hamilton tomorrow to walk the beat!" Five minutes later came the return phone call, confirming that Kerr was going to Hamilton the next day to walk the beat.
You've heard of "90 minutes at Entebbe"? I was "90 minutes at Station X-ray"!
The following day (which actually was my birthday, my 33rd!) I was due in Magistrates' Court at 0900 to clear up a small case from my Somerset days. As it had been made clear to me the previous day that I was going to Hamilton to walk the beat indefinitely, I decided that at least I was going to walk the beat in comparative comfort, and put on a pair of Dr Marten's rubber-soled "Air Wair" shoes instead of the Stores-issue leather-soled clodhoppers which polished up well and sounded good on parade, but were of very little practical use especially if you were chasing someone: if you turned a sharp corner at speed, your feet tended to carry on in their original direction!
Anyway, having finished at HMC as the defendant had changed his plea to "Guilty" of whatever it was, I decided to go over to Hamilton Station to collect my locker key while it was quiet, instead of competing with the usual "change of shift" scrum when I came on at 1545. We'd just moved from the "old" Police Station (where the Government Admin offices are now, on Parliament Street between Reid and Church) one block south to the "new" Police Station (also on Parliament Street, between Front and Reid), and the Divisional Admin offices were one flight up, and all off a central reception area.
The Divisional Clerk's office was then right next to Supt D's office, and the said Supt D was standing in his office doorway chatting to a bloke who worked for Public Works at the time. As I was in uniform, and wearing a crash helmet, I saluted on the way past him and said, "Good morning, Sir." "Morning, Constable Kerr," was the rather frosty reply from Supt Fred Bean, but I thought nothing of it and went in to the Divisional Clerk's office for my key, which I got from the late Sgt Derek Fletcher.
After a bit of chit-chat and a laugh over the circumstances that caused me to be transferred to Central, I left Fletch's office, walked past Supt D again (saluting again as I did so, but not saying anything as he was still in conversation), and was just about to leave the outer office when I was summoned back. To cut a long story short, I was then put on a charge for wearing "non-regulation" footwear. To cut it even shorter, I appeared before Presiding Officerr Supt Syke Smith, with George Rushe as my able legal counsel, and lo and behold I was subsequently found "Not Guilty" as I should have been charged with wearing "non-issue" footwear, but I'd been charged with the wrong offence, and was wearing exactly what FSIs said I should be wearing, namely a pair of plain-toed black leather shoes!
Full details of this incident are documented elsewhere and are probably not allowed to be revealed on a public website such as this, but it has become known in Bermuda Police folklore as "The Saga of the Rubber-Soled Shoes"!
Editors note - We recently publish Davie story about "The Saga of the Rubber-Soled Shoes". CLICK HERE to view it.