Bermuda beat: my island love affair
People seemed so welcoming when David Garland arrived in Bermuda in 1961 he instantly fell in love. He soon got to see the darker side of things.
On February 2, 1965, he had the dubious honour of being the first officer injured in the Belco riots.
He was working in the police garage that morning when an inspector came running in and ordered him to put on riot gear.
“I’d been in a car accident while on vacation back in Britain,” said the 80-year-old who was born in Leven, East Yorkshire. “When I came back to Bermuda, I was healing from two broken ribs.
“I shouldn’t have gone because of my injury, but I did.”
The unrest began after Belco management refused electrical workers the right to hold a secret ballot determining whether or not they would join the Bermuda Industrial Union.
Police were called in to break up picket lines.
“We went to the entrance at the far end of the Belco property,” Mr Garland said. “The inspector said, ‘OK, lock your arms and close off the gate and if anyone wants to come in to work let them in’.
“Typical me, I said to this inspector, how do you think I’m going to defend myself when that mob around there comes around the corner?”
Police were outnumbered by the crowd and had very little riot training.
“We were very naïve,” said Mr Garland.
One of the protesters walked right up to him and punched him in the side, breaking another rib.
He was one of 18 people injured. One officer, Ian Davies, received a traumatic brain injury and was never the same again.
“It’s unfortunate being a police officer,” Mr Garland said. “You’re always the jam between two slices of bread.
“You can leave home in the morning innocent as hell, kiss your children goodbye, then an hour later you’re dealing with an angry mob coming around a corner.”
Most people are fortunate to have no idea what it is like to be in the middle of such a violent disturbance.
“People stamp on your feet, push you, spit in your face and kick you in the ankles in an attempt to make you start the riot,” he said. “It’s horrible.”
Mr Garland grew up on a farm and, as a young man, dreamt of becoming a building inspector. Instead, he was called up for national service at 17.
After two weeks with the Royal Army Service Corps he switched over to the Royal Military Police when a career officer told him his height of 6ft 1in made him ideal.
After doing his required 18 months of service, he started as a civilian officer in Bridlington, on the Yorkshire coast.
He applied for a job here because he “was tired of the cold night shifts in Britain” and convinced a friend, Derek Jenkinson to join him.
They spent their early days investigating reports of stolen boat engines and break-ins of homes on the islands around Bermuda.
“I thought it was crazy that there was no marine section in Bermuda,” Mr Garland said. “There were 6,000 to 8,000 boats. I put a report in to the Commissioner.”
He and Mr Jenkinson soon found themselves building the force’s first boat — with £120 pounds and plywood donated by the Corporation of Hamilton.
“They made me acting sergeant and I was promoted to sergeant six months later,” Mr Garland said. “In those days, we’d go out to the banks. The fisherman called us the porgies. I took down all the names of the people living out on the islands, and we’d do regular walk abounds to make sure things were all right.”
He worked in a number of areas over the next 15 years and, in 1974, started teaching piloting and navigation courses.
Two years later he left the service.
“I went home one night and told my wife, Sue, I’m getting out,” he said. “I’d done 22 years in uniform including the army, police in Britain and here. I had another job within three days, as director of security at the Southampton Princess.”
For the past 40 years he has taught a pilot licensing course and other marine-related subjects at the Bermuda College.
“I have taught around 700 people,” he said. “In between, I have also taught a couple of courses for the Royal Yachting Association of Offshore Skippers.”
He met his Welsh wife, Sue, when she came to visit friends in Bermuda.
They married on May 1, 1969 and have two children, Chris and Caitlyn, and two granddaughters.
“We celebrate our 49th wedding anniversary this year,” Mr Garland said.
“In my life I am most proud of my family, 100 per cent. There is no doubt about it. It gives you great confidence to know you have good people behind you who love you. Nothing can replace that.”
•Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them
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