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Bermuda Flag

Bermuda's Island Traditions

Local cultures and customs, some derived from other countries with local adaptation

line drawing

By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online

Agricultural Exhibition annually (until 2002 the Agricultural Show)

Bermuda Botanical Gardens. Paget. April. See http://www.bdaexhibition.bm. Exhibition Secretary, P. O. Box HM 834, Hamilton HM CX.  In 2016, on December 21, The AG Show Ltd signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bermuda Government to run the Annual Exhibition for the next three years. And the group has further agreed to help finance the revitalization of buildings at the Botanical Gardens over the coming years using proceeds from the event. 

The cultural “institution” has traditionally been hosted by the Government of Bermuda, but was cancelled in 2015 due to financial issues. The Ag Show has been an institution in Bermuda for generations and almost all Bermudians have fond memories of it. It offers an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to get together, share stories and experiences, and participate in friendly competition. Bermuda would not be the same without the Ag Show, and the Green family of Bermuda, owners of the Hamilton Princess and other properties sponsor this 2016 event.  The AG Show Ltd is now a registered charity, established in February 2015  for the purposes of holding the annual agricultural exhibition. The annual Ag Show, sponsored by all British counties in the UK where farming is still a major part of the local economies but is no longer the case in Bermuda, nevertheless welcomes as many as 25,000 attendees in Bermuda over three days and features up to 4,000 exhibitors. Participation in the event includes a large portion of the Island’s population, from seniors who have been attending it since the show’s early days, to schoolchildren and toddlers who get an introduction to things they might not see in their everyday lives. For information on donations and sponsorships for the show, e-mail secretary@theagshowbda.com. The show has a rich history. Its roots extend back as far as 1843, when then-Governor Major General Sir William Reid encouraged the adoption of agriculture on the island, where principal occupations included shipbuilding and seafaring. Entrants  compete in a broad range of categories including horses, pigs, rabbits, fruit, vegetables, roses, orchids and woodcraft. About 2,000 pictures have been entered for the junior art competition. The Ag Show is probably the biggest cultural event in Bermuda and welcomes people of all ages and from all walks of life.  There is an entry cost.

For almost a century it has been as much a herald of the Bermudian spring as returning Longtails kiting across clearing skies or the freesias which shyly begin poking their multicolored heads through the long, rain-saturated winter grass. A combination of county fair, cultural celebration and community jamboree, the exhibit has long-since evolved and transcended its original purpose — to serve as an annual showcase for a once-agrarian Bermuda’s livestock and farm produce. Blue rosettes are awarded for first place in categories encompassing everything from farm animals to floral arrangements to fish sandwiches. Tug-of-war contests, gravity-defying acrobatic performances and more add a carnival-type flavor to the proceedings.

Source British

Architecture, cesspits, sewage & water supply

Johnny Barnes

Johnny Barnes From the roundabout (rotary in the USA) near Crow Lane Park in Paget Parish, Johnny Barnes, now retired, a remarkable Bermudian senior citizen, made a unique tradition for decades of waving a cheery "Good morning" - in all weather - to commuters exiting the parish to enter Pembroke Parish - where there is a statue to him just off the busy East Broadway main road - to work in or near the City of Hamilton

Photograph by Government Information Services

Beating Retreat

Derived from an evening British Army tradition. It is not a sound to retreat but a musical call, under spotlights in the winter months, to troops to reduce operations for the night, a military tattoo. It became a local custom when the British Army was first here in the 1700s. It left Bermuda in 1953. It is performed frequently - usually, monthly - by the Band of the Bermuda Regiment, under the direction of Major Barrett Dill, EM, AVCM. The Band has dress blue and red uniforms and white pith helmets. The Band is usually accompanied by the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band, under the direction of it's Pipe Major and Drum Major.  Bermuda Regiment
Source British

Bermuda Bridge Blessing

Last performed in December 2014 by Margaret Fergusson, wife of then-Governor George Fergusson, when she carried out a traditional blessing of the new Bailey's Bay Bridge by smashing a coconut on it.

Bermuda College Weeks

No longer celebrated en masse in Bermuda, after years of decline, despite a recent resurrection attempt. Because of the one-time annual Bermuda Floral Pageant, Bermuda's College Weeks were also annual events, occurring at the same time, attracting as tourists thousands of students from colleges and universities throughout the USA and Canada. A 1956 description in the USA's Sports Illustrated describes it thus, see http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1069587/index.htm. They were the most numerous by far of Easter-period guests at Bermuda's larger and smaller hotels, cottage colonies and guest houses, most of which offered special prices. Especially noteworthy and quote-worthy were the beach parties at the Elbow Beach Surf Club and the parties at the Bermudiana, Inverurie, and other hotels. Free-spirited and mischievous, the college students often became notorious for their boisterous or unruly behavior, with policeman's helmets, speeding on Bermuda's roads without helmets, swimming en masse across Hamilton Harbour, impromptu beach barbeques, party boats and much more. Many college students were able by special arrangement with the then-USA military bases in Bermuda, to shop there at PX stores and go to the movies. 

In those heady days of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s the Bermuda government's Bermuda News Bureau, or Trade Development Board, later the Department of Tourism, organized and paid for all of the activities scheduled during the College Weeks 28-day period, with courtesy cards that entitled college students free admission to everything from "Get Acquainted" dances at major hotels to beach parties, boat cruises, and steel band concerts. Scores of moped-riding college students took advantage of the island's hospitality. Those mopeds, Mobylettes and Zundapps, mostly, were often photographed in their hundreds, seen at indoor or outdoor events. 

Bermuda College Weeks mopeds 1970s

Mobylettes galore, parked at a 1970s Bermuda College Weeks event

As a result, Bermuda became one of the most popular Spring Break destinations, long before places in Florida took over. Major universities such as Harvard and Cornell sent musical and dramatic shows. The Hasty Pudding Theatricals and Harvard Krokodilloes were prominent among them. Female college students were more than welcome, especially for Bermuda's hungry males. Including some famous names, the young college ladies became Bermuda Beauty Queens and were crowned as part of the College Week  ceremonies and events. Their Bermuda escorts for those events, always attired in tuxedos in the evening, were, by tradition, drawn from the most handsome or otherwise most eligible Bermuda membership of the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Bermuda wives and girlfriends were left at home when the college girls arrived.

Bermuda College Weeks 2012

Bermuda College weeks 2012

College Weeks 2012 exceeded expectations, according to the Tourism Department. About 250 visitors were drawn by the event’s re-launch. Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert had earlier expressed hope that as many as 200 students from universities and colleges in North America would attend. In the 1950s and 1960s, Bermuda attracted more than 10,000. College Weeks 2012 ran from February 18 to March 16.

 

Source American

Bermuda Easter lilies

Bermuda Easter lillies

 May 2002 photo by this author

They were introduced to Bermuda from Japan in 1863. They flourished so much that Bermuda once exported blooms to North America and beyond. This was when Bermuda was largely agricultural, before tourism became more important.  The export trade is no longer what it was but growing is still a tradition. Bermudians still send Her Majesty the Queen every year at least one choice bouquet of these magnificent flowers. Bermuda is said to have been responsible for America adopting its trumpet-like white lily as the official Easter lily in the 1880s, when an enthusiastic gardener from Philadelphia brought bulbs home with her. Shortly thereafter, they were introduced to spring shows throughout America. Ten years later, sizeable shipments of bulbs were being made from Bermuda to the US and England, and a lively trade soon developed. While the Easter Lily is no longer a major crop in Bermuda, the island still sends some of the flowers to the Queen every year. There is also a perfume made from the essence

2016. March 24. Governor George Fergusson and his wife sent Bermuda Easter Lilies to the Queen, continuing a long tradition. This year’s lilies were grown in the Government House gardens. Government House said that Her Majesty’s Easter Lilies traveled on Tuesday evening’s British Airways flight to London and should reach Windsor Castle today. Her Majesty always writes to the Governor to thank Bermuda.

Original Source of Bermuda-grown flowers Japan

Bermuda Festival

See Beautiful Bermuda in Music

Source British

Bermuda Fitted Dinghies

Bermuda Fitted Dinghy

Bermuda Fitted DinghiesBermuda Fitted Dinghy 2

These are a development of the British rowing dinghy or skiff, common in British coastal waters. For many years, skiffs were used as a means of transportation from one part or island of Bermuda to another. British Army and Royal Navy Officers stationed in Bermuda in the late 1800s first designed the boat as seen now. Under their patronage, the first fitted dinghy race was held in the St. George's Regatta in July 1853. The next was at the 1854 Victoria Day Regatta. The third was a St. George's Regatta in 1855 with a 10 shilling entrance fee. Four pounds sterling were added to make up purses for the first two boats to cross the finish line in the handicap event.  After several years of informal racing, the sport was organized and measurement rules adopted. It was decided that 14 feet 1 inch long would be the maximum permitted length. No decking is allowed and the keel is limited to 12 feet. All fitted dinghies have a 14-foot bowsprit, 40 foot masts and over 1000 feet of sail - more sail than any other vessel of similar length.  Race rules allow the skipper to order as many people as he wishes off the boat, to gain speed. They usually depart from the stern, to give the boat a bonus in speed. There are only eight fitted dinghies. Five race on alternate Sundays from May 24 until September, in various parts of Bermuda.  They are Elizabeth, Challenger, Contest, Port Royal and Victory. World-renowned sailor and sail designer Uffa Fox did not believe the vessel would float. But it did. The  six people in a crew must improvise for survival and seamanship. They jibe from port to starboard for prevailing winds, try to keep upright, and can take on much water. To keep afloat, they jump or get pushed off. They have high speeds but are often sunk or are dismasted. Luck and talent win. They are always entertaining and often hilarious.  

Source Bermuda

Bermuda Floral Pageant/Easter Parade

Sadly, no longer offered, last one was in the 1960s, a victim of the hugely-changed social and racial scene. Until then it was by far and away Bermuda's most popular annual event, drawing thousands of visitors mostly from the USA. Because of it, Bermuda's "College Weeks" were a further event by themselves, occurring at the same time, attracting as tourists thousands of students from colleges and universities throughout the USA and Canada. 

Bermuda Floral Pageant 1967

Bermuda Easter Lilies

Bermuda Easter Lilies

Source Bermudian

 

Bermuda Gombey dancers

Bermuda Gombey 01Bermuda Gombey dancersBermuda Gombeys 02

A tradition that began when black slaves were first brought from Africa and the Caribbean. "Gombey" is derived from an African word meaning rhythm. It was originally intended  to be performed only on Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year's Day - the two days of the year when slaves were given a rest from their labors. Today, Gombey dance and prance on Boxing Day, New Year's Day, other important events such as football (soccer )matches, at festivals or parades and holidays, also at hotels and guest houses. There is a method of collecting contributions from spectators. The musical accompaniment is usually a kettle drum with two snare drums, covered with goat skin, and a beer bottle fife which produces the sound of a flute crossed with a whistle. Their  acrobatic Bermudian members whose routines are based on African, American Indian, Biblical, British "mummers" and West Indian lore and traditions. Each group is a "crowd." The Captain wears the most elaborate costume and is the crowd leader. The Wild Indian and Trapper have a perpetual chase. The Chiefs also carry large tomahawks and shields. Warriors or Choppers include children of families. Under the Captain, the dancers have duets and solos simulating combat. Once, they also re-enacted biblical stories like David's fight with Goliath. Gombey troupes include Warner's Gombeys, Norford's, the Shakey Smith Troupe, Richardson's, and Wilson's Troupe. Books include Gombey Boy and Bermuda Gombey by American born Bermuda author Mrs. Louise Jackson.

1970. The Bermuda Gombeys were recognized as a uniquely local art form at a Unesco Cultural and Conservation Conference. Gombeys have a rich heritage across the Caribbean, where similar traditions emerged on several islands,

Source African, West Indian & American Indian, Bermudian

Bermuda Heritage Day Parade

A fun day, held on Bermuda Day, May 24. With floats, dance groups and majorettes.

Source Bermudian

Bermuda Islands Pipe Band

Bermuda Islands Pipe Band

Partly in honor of The Bermuda Islands Pipe Band and also because of the many Scots and Irish who are resident in Bermuda and Bermudians with Scots and Irish forebears, there are many recordings available in Bermuda of Scots and Irish bagpipe bands and bagpipers, both civilian and military. In the 18th and 19th centuries, an Irish unit of the British Army was here. Scottish regiments were several times in the British Army garrison here until 1953. A Canadian Scottish regiment was based in Bermuda for a while during World War 2. Their bagpipes and drums accompanied the soldiers on Church Parades from Prospect Garrison in Devonshire to the city of Hamilton, waterfront on Pitts Bay Road and back. The idea became a Bermuda civilian tradition.  

Once there were two bagpipe bands here. One was the Bermuda Police Pipe Band which began in 1959. It proudly wore the Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") tartan. Composed at first largely of members of the Bermuda Police and Prison Services, and other local enthusiasts, including some formerly in the Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band, they were soon performing at the Police Passing Out and ceremonial parades, a tradition maintained by the BIPB to this day. 

There was also the older Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band, so-called because it originated in 1955 as "A" Company of the Bermuda Cadet Corps when Captain Henry Hallett was the Company Commander. (Paddy Coyle of the Gordon Highlanders, whose idea it was to start the Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band, was in the detachment of the  Highland Brigade stationed in Bermuda at the time. In his honor, the band wore the Gordon tartan). Bagpipe celebrities or those who contributed mightily since then include Denis Stuart; Captain Arthur G. Card, Commandant of the Bermuda Cadet Corps; Lillian Hallett; Mary Card Gibbons and Joan Tite. On the disbanding of the Corps in the early 1960's, the Band continued as a body of civilian volunteers under the name of the Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band. Wearing the Regimental Gordon tartan, the Band's first public performance was in the Remembrance Day Parade in 1956 when they began a tradition of leading the war veterans on and off parade.

Both were disbanded in 1992 when the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band was established. The Bermuda Islands Pipe Band is a spectacular sight on ceremonial occasions, often included in Beating Retreat, musical displays and other events. Individual bagpipers go to hotels and weddings. The 17-member contingent still wear the Gordon Highlanders tartan kilt with a white jacket. Experiences include playing at local and international tattoos

Another still active tradition of the BIPB began in 1963 with the weekly performance by the Cadets Pipe Band of the "Skirling Ceremony" at Fort Hamilton. Yet another long-established relationship began in 1965 with both predecessor Bands and now the BIPB appearing with the Band and Corp of Drums of the Bermuda Regiment in the Beating Retreat in Hamilton, St. George's and the Royal Naval Dockyard.

The BIPB has an equally strong tradition of representing and promoting Bermuda internationally having performed overseas on 18 occasions in the United States, Canada, Scotland and Germany. In 2003, the Band proudly promoted Bermuda at the Nova Scotia International Tattoo. The Band, bearing the Bermuda standard before it, has twice appeared in New York City leading other pipe bands. The Band's more recent international performance came in January, 2005, at the Musikschau der Nationen in Bremen, Germany, Norfolk VA, Birmingham UK and Hamburg, Germany.

Source British

Bermuda kite flying on Good Friday

 See Bermuda's Public Holidays

Big Bermuda Kite

Kite flying at Horseshoe Bay

Bermuda kite flyingFor most Bermudians, Good Friday traditions mean church, flying Bermuda made kites, made from thin wood strips and tissue paper, nothing like the cheap plastic kites used by mostly children beyond Bermuda, and eating codfish cakes - see below - and English style hot cross buns - also shown below. Flying kites - although not on Good Friday - originated in Indonesia 3,000 years ago. There, fishermen used leaf kites to suspend fishing lines out to sea. Indonesian children still skillfully fly bits of waste paper on strings. Kite-flying drifted up through Asia and arrived in Europe early in the 16th century. Much later, it reached Bermuda. British Army troops used them to plan telegraph poles in Bermuda, the Caribbean and other colonial outposts and they were later used to good effect by the British Army to plan telegraph poles in South Africa for the Boer Wars. In Britain, the years 1880 to 1930 were considered the golden age of British kiting. In the 1880's they became even more useful for UK-wide military reconnaissance and meteorology. Huge flying frames carrying weighty cameras were a common sight over trenches in Europe in the First World War. In California, camera kites were used to photograph the devastation caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Right: A uniquely made Bermuda kite. Elsewhere overseas, in India, the kite fighting season can be dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of people fly their fighting kites from roof tops. They coat their kite strings with glass and try to cut their opponents' kite strings. In Britain today, the High Force Kite Festival occurs in August. Kites there require Civil Aviation Authority to fly at 1,500 feet or higher. Clearly then, they are not just toys for children. Some are massive, three-dimensional things.

There is uniquely Bermudian both cultural icon and civilian religious significance to kite flying. It started on Good Friday when a local teacher with a British Army connection had difficulty explaining Christ's Ascension to Heaven to his Sunday School class. So he launched a kite with a likeness of Christ. A traditional Bermuda made kite, from different colors of tissue paper, is still in the shape of a cross. A traditional Bermuda kite is a narrow hexagon formed by joining three pine sticks at the center (although there is version where they are joined just below centre). In a slight variation, a round kite, known locally as a  Roundy is created with either four or five sticks to produce an octagon or decagon. Roundies tend to be more temperamental and pull exponentially harder than their additional surface area would suggest. Size does not matter, with minuscule toothpick kites admired as much as thirty-foot monsters, the only question being will it fly? Originally, kites were not flown until after 3 pm. Now, they stay up all day. Only if it rains do they come down. Bermuda kites have long cloth tails and are in different colors of paper tissue, wood, metal and string. Some are huge, in exquisite patterns, requiring several men to get aloft. Some are deliberately made to emit a humming or buzzing sound, with a hummer made from glued paper, which spoils their spiritual serenity. The hummer is always made with purple tissue paper because it is said to be louder. Another variation of the Bermuda kite is the traditional Somerset brown paper kite. It is made of cross sticks with a hummer behind the head stick.  What makes a Bermuda kite stand out is when the pattern or design, admired from the ground, is even more lustrous in the air. The way it flies can be revealing, especially when the string is positioned, angled, correctly for prevailing conditions. When the kite has enough tail it can be practically motionless in the air. And is the hummer loud enough to be distinctive? 

Good Friday Kite flying at Horseshoe Bay often includes a non denominational religious service; live musical entertainment; children's games; kite competition and judging; locals versus tourists tug of war; live entertainment; Warwick Gombey Dancers. Hundreds of people take advantage of the warm but windy weather to head to the beach for Good Friday. Horseshoe Bay was packed with kite flyers as early as 10.30am, and many more beaches, parks across the island are gear up for a busy weekend of Easter celebrations.

Other events include:

Source of Kites Indonesian, local tradition, Bermudian

Passion Flower

Another legend associated with the Easter holiday - although Easter Sunday itself is not a public holiday - is that of the passion flower, of which there is a Bermuda species.  

This climbing vine requires a sheltered southern location and a great deal of care, so you will not see it in exposed local gardens. It has five sepals or five identical petals. Spanish missionaries who first discovered the flower in South America made it known how the petals represented the disciples without Peter and Judas. The legend was imported to Bermuda as well. The double row of colored filaments, known as the corona or crown, appear to show to some the halo around the head of Christ and to others the crown of thorns. 

Bermuda Passion flower, photo by author

Passionflower

The violet stamens and other parts of the flower appear to show the wounds and nails Christ endured.

Source of Flower Spanish

Bermuda Marathon Derby

Bermuda Public Holidays

Source British

Bermuda Moongate

Bermuda Moongate

Photo by this author of a Maine couple under the Moongate at Tobacco Bay, St. George's, Bermuda

Bermuda Moongate by Lladro

Lladro made this lovely Bermuda Moongate ornament

Old MoongateNew England version of Chinese design

Bermuda Moongate images. On the left, bottom, is an original Chinese one. A New England version is bottom center) and a local one. made from Bermuda limestone, is right

Legend has it that people who walk through a Bermuda Moongate, especially but not solely young lovers and honeymooners, are blessed with good luck. The first plan for one in Bermuda was brought from a Chinese garden in 1860 by a local sea captain. He drew the design of a circular, ornamental wooden gateway to a garden or place of inner repose and, once back in Bermuda, built one of his own. It has since been adopted by Bermuda as a national symbol. The real Chinese origin, many centuries old, of the Moongate was unknown locally until the former gardener of the Duke of Westminster in the United Kingdom was employed to lay out the grounds of the (former) Bermudiana Hotel in the 1920s being built at that time by the Furness Withy shipping group. This was the first of the Bermuda Moongates in hotel properties. (In July 2004, a Japanese garden with a structure almost identical to what in Bermuda is called a moongate, won a Silver Gilt prize at the Royal Horticultural Society show at Tatton Garden in the UK). Some years later, one was seen at the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show, but as an authentic and much-admired Chinese Moongate. About 40 now exist in Bermuda, mostly on private property including in the gardens of several hotels but with public ones at places including the Bermuda Botanical Gardens; Par la Ville Gardens, Hamilton; and Tobacco Bay. Bermuda versions are always built of Bermuda stone and often but not always used as an entrance to a garden. Unfortunately, Bermuda Moongates do not export well as Bermuda stone, local limestone, is very heavy. There is also a New England version, in granite, of the Chinese design, as one of the photographs above shows. 

Bermuda Moongate song. Composer Ralph Blane, from the USA, co-wrote the song "Step Though a Moongate." Once there was a 45 rpm record of the song, with Ralph singing. On the flip side of the record is "Bermuda Blue." One of his best known compositions was "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and other songs of the movie "Meet Me In St. Louis." A local version of Step Through a Moongate, sung years ago by Gene and Pinky Steede, confirms the Oriental origin of the Bermuda Moongate in the words of  the song.

Source China, Bermuda and American songs

Bermuda National Fishcake Competition

Annual, since 1992.

 2018. March 24. The woman crowned Bermuda’s queen of fishcakes said she was shocked by her win. Valerie Pethen explained: “I consider myself a hit-and-miss cook at everything. Fishcakes are one of the few things that I do, and I enjoy doing.” The 72-year-old Paget resident claimed the title for best fishcakes from a female competitor at the annual Bermuda National Fishcake Competition held at the Leopards Club on Thursday night. Mujib Swan took the title for best entry by a male participant. Ms Pethen said she only cooked the island favorite once a year and that she never followed a recipe. She added: “I’m not one of these people who just get a charge out of cooking. I cook minimally.” Ms Pethen revealed her secret ingredient was sweet potatoes. She said: “It’s just ironic that in today’s paper there were two articles extolling the virtues of sweet potatoes.” She added the idea for the starch substitute was inspired by a friend more than two decades ago as they both began diets based on their blood types. Ms Pethen said: “One Good Friday she called and said ‘Val — we can make our fishcakes with sweet potatoes’.” She added: “I just hope I have started a trend for people to at least try it. The taste is different, but it is so lovely.” Ms Pethen added that almost everything in her fishcakes was Bermudian. She said the sweet potatoes were bought at the farmers market at Botanical Gardens. The parsley, thyme and onion came from her garden and lemon juice came from the tree in her yard. Ms Pethen added: “It’s not Bermuda fish, but it’s in a package called Bermuda’s best.” Nasturtiums from behind her garden and a friend’s loquat chutney were used as part of her plate presentation. Ms Pethen said she was inspired to enter this year’s competition after a chance meeting with Rodney Smith, one of the competition’s organizers, last week. Mr Smith was handing out fishcakes in the Court Street area to promote the competition. She said she admired both Mr Smith and Dale Butler for “trying to keep the tradition alive”. Ms Pethen said she decided to enter “to support the effort, but I never expected to win”. Mr Butler, the founder of the competition, described this year’s event as a smash. He added: “It was very well attended. I would say it was a successful evening.” Mr Butler said there were about a dozen entries in this year’s running. All entries were assessed on criteria including colour, taste and presentation by a panel of five judges. Mr Butler said that crowning two new champions this year was “very important” for the competition. He explained: “We want the legacy to continue.” Mr Butler and Mr Smith had won the National Fishcake Competition since it began in 1992, but both decided to step back from this year’s battle. Mr Butler explained: “If you don’t pass on an opportunity to others, they’ll lose interest.” He said that the island favorite food was something that had “removed barriers” and united the community. Mr Butler added: “If you want to get a group of people together, say you’re having a fishcake party and everyone comes.”

Source Bermudian

Bermuda Open Houses and Gardens (until 2008)

This lovely tradition has finished, with the last one held in 2008 and then in only one place, not several in every parish as was earlier the case. It was hugely interesting, culturally and environmentally stimulating and uniquely enjoyable in New York, Virginia, etc. It increased visitors by 30-50% for the months involved. Plus, they led to new friendships, referrals galore, much repeat business, encouragement to home owners to show off their homes and gardens and a recurring source of income to hosting organizations from the charges made to visit all the Open Homes and Gardens on specific days, in sequence. Local homeowners were reluctant to continue opening up their homes and gardens, quoting the need for security, the high crime rate which rendered their properties exposed to attack after publicity and more.

Source Bermudian

Bermuda Pilot Gigs

2018. April 13. The Bermuda Pilot Gig Club held its first West End regatta at its new premises on Boaz Island today. The event to commemorate pilot James “Jemmy” Darrell saw six teams compete in a series of races designed to test their piloting skills, speed and agility. Roger Gillett, BPGC chairman, said: “Today we have a series of four races all designed to not only test the crews rowing ability but also the Cox’s ability.” Mr Gillet said each race would challenge the teams in different ways while also emulating “the sorts of things the pilots in past generations had to do”. The traditional gigs guided ships and rescued people in distress. Sarah Burrows, location captain and member of the Sandy Crabs team, explained that the first race involved the teams rescuing “survivors” stranded on Middle Kings Point. The second race saw each gig carry a pilot flag that had to be placed in a buoy — emulating the race to take pilots to incoming vessels. The salvage race involved teams towing an old tyre, and the final race — capture the flag — represented a pilot being brought back to shore. Three teams from Spanish Point took part in the event, along with two teams from St George’s and one home team. The latter took the prize for the best-dressed gig. Ms Burrows said she was excited for the club’s first event at the newly renovated premises. She said they hoped to showcase the history of Bermuda’s gigs as well as the “exercise element”. Ms Burrows added: “The idea is to make this a community club that everyone can celebrate.” Liz Christopher, a descendant of Mr Darrell and pilot Stephen Richardson, the namesake of the gig she raced in, described the new premises as a wonderful event space and a great opportunity for children to get involved. Ms Christopher added: “I think it’s perfect. I suspect any future events will be really well prescribed.” Mr Gillett explained that volunteers had worked hard to renovate the pump house of the disused sewage plant on Boaz Island into its new headquarters. He added: “It’s quite special because it’s ours — it’s dedicated to our activities.” Simon Groves, chairman of the Boaz Island Village Condominium Association, added: “It’s an example of a private initiative, hard work and a co-operative effort to make something happen that will benefit not just this community but everybody involved in rowing. It sets an example for others to follow.”

Source Bermudian

Cup Match Pilot Gig Race 

Annually, for the Raines Family Trophy, 

On July 29, 2016 Pilot gig James T Griffiths, bearing the Somerset flag, emerged victorious over the pilot gig Jemmy Darrell, bearing the St George’s flag, in the race along Ferry Reach to the Swing Bridge finish line. Both gigs are named after Bermudian pilots. Gigs are a centuries-old Bermudian tradition: the wooden boats once greeted incoming ships and guided them in to port. The Cup Match race, in only its second year, is already a main feature of the gig racing calendar after the sport made a return in popularity in recent times. Long and narrow, gigs were built for speed, and the element of competition is nothing new: the boats once ranged far offshore with the hope of beating others to be the first on board an arriving ship. They were also renowned for rescuing passengers and goods from vessels in distress. Yesterday, James T Griffiths, was coxed by Anson Nash and Jemmy Darrell by Roger Gillett, with crews representing the respective ends of the island. The Somerset gig had a lead of just over a boat length for most of the race and despite their best efforts the St George’s crew could not claw their way back. Somerset takes the trophy of a large cedar thole pin where it will be displayed in the West End of the island until next summer. This makes it one victory apiece since the inaugural race in July 2015. Ronnie Chameau of the St George’s team said: “This can only bode well for the continued friendly rivalry between the teams. I heard one St George’s rower vowing to get their well-trained team together for 2017. I am sure Somerset will be ready to meet them fair and square.” Frank Raines, a regular visitor to Bermuda from Washington for 30 years, and his family donated the trophy and a cash prize to be given to a charity chosen by the victorious team. Somerset: Anson Nash (cox), Mario Thompson, Christiane Bosson, Pamela Mahoney, Lawrence Bird, Christopher Smith and Andrew Morille. St George’s: Roger Gillett (cox), Debbie Jones, Michael Jones, Cammie Simmons, Leeanne Cox, Sende Semos and Ronnie Chameau.

Source Bermudian

Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda TriangleThere is a great deal of misunderstanding about this in the USA, Canada, Britain, Europe and elsewhere. It is assumed, wrongly, that this area is solely in Bermuda. 

To be entirely accurate, Bermuda is only one point of the three in  - and by far the smallest part of - the Bermuda Triangle. 88 percent of all the sinister or unexplained events of the Triangle happened much closer to Florida - especially Miami - or Puerto Rico, the other two points of the Triangle. Technically, Bermuda is near to it but not actually in the Sargasso Sea where the majority of events may have occured. Draw a triangle between Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico to get an idea of the Bermuda Triangle and then consider the effect of enormous Florida, large Puerto Rico and tiny (only 21 square miles) of Bermuda. This is the descending order of importance of the three places in the Triangle.

It may disappoint some to know this but there has never been any effect at all of the Bermuda Triangle on any of the customs and culture of Bermuda. This author was told personally by an elderly writer in the USA who studied the Triangle that when the original " Bermuda Triangle" was coined in the USA, it was supposed to have been the "Miami Triangle" but Miami objected as it did not want to lose visitors. The "Puerto Rico Triangle" was the second choice, but it too objected, for the same reason. It is alleged that no one from Bermuda bothered to reply so the name stuck by default. This has never been proven so may be mere speculation. What is known to be true is that there have been quite a few ship and aircraft losses on the Triangle over the years, a few near Bermuda. The most interesting and comprehensive Bermuda Triangle website is done from the USA by an American, given the prominence of Florida and the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the combination of facts and myth. Several books have been written about it. The Chinese, in particular, are said to be sensitive about it, believing it is unlucky to be in any way associated with it, which may help explain why Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico are not yet on the list of Chinese government-approved tourism sites.

Source American

Bermuda Wedding Cakes

3 layers high, Traditionally made to a wonderful old recipe.  In past years, there were two cakes, one for the Bermudian bride, the other for her Bermudian husband, but that custom has weakened now, often to one cake as below serving both and their guests. 

Bermuda wedding cake

Bermuda wedding cake

Source Bermudian

Blessing of the Boats

A tradition dating back to 1849, takes place at the Chapel of Ease dock in St George’s Harbour. In June 2016 The Right Rev Nicholas Dill, Bishop of Bermuda, and the Rev David Raths conducted the blessing after being rowed respectively by the Bermuda Pilot Gig Club in Harry Fox, and by members of the St George’s-based TS Admiral Somers Sea Cadets in Lady Stockton. Parliamentarian Suzann Roberts-Holshouser helped to conduct the service, along with Demi Wight, Dylan Holshouser and Henry Hayward, while music was provided by members of the St George’s Corps of the Salvation Army. The event dates back to the consecration of the Chapel of Ease. With no bridge connecting St George to St David’s, four sons of clergymen volunteered to row the bishop across the harbour. As he passed through, the bishop blessed the boats that had gathered to watch. The tradition is now carried out every year, usually accompanied by a codfish breakfast. Visiting boats are invited to take part in the event, but are asked to first collect a flag from the Visitors Information Centre in St George’s. Each boat in attendance is blessed and receives a Certificate of Blessing saying, “Bless o lord this vessel and all who sail in her; may she be a trustworthy and safe servant.”

British spelling, mostly

Local advertisements, brochures, guide books, newspapers etc. spell certain words in the British - not American - way, despite the fact that Bermuda is so much closer geographically to the USA than to any other country. This may be confusing to our visitors, more than 85 percent of whom are American. Some words used locally, like "scheme," have a less pleasant connotation in the USA. Some British words end in "our" but the American equivalent ends in "or" for example, "harbor." Do you write your birthday 7 4 60 or 4 7 60? It depends on whether you are American or British or Canadian. The Bermuda Government spells its local Official Notices in the British and Canadian way. The Royal Gazette daily newspaper publishes its date of issue the American, not British, way. Traffic signs are confusing to Americans because distances are shown in meters (metres in Britain), not miles. And gasoline (petrol) prices are confusing to Americans because they are in liters (liters), not gallons. Most Americans think, wrongly, that gasoline is cheap in Bermuda because of the posted prices, but in fact they pay more in Bermuda for a liter (0.22 gallon) than for a gallon back home. And Bermuda drives on the left, not right, despite the fact that we have 8 times more visitors than locals every year.  But if one writes for a mostly American audience as this website does it is good manners to do it the American way. But note, in the American, not British, way there are a number of Americanisms in Bermuda. Words like "liquor" not "alcohol" relate to certain licensing laws. There are more, such as sidewalks, not pavements.

Source British

Christmas Boat Parade

2013 Christmas Boat Parade

Christmas Boat Parade

Next is December 2018. 2013. December 9. The Island's top spectator event of the year, the Christmas Boat Parade in Hamilton Harbour. A stunning display of Bermuda-based illuminated boats of all sizes, treating 20,000 viewers  and ending with a magnificent fireworks display. An after-dark marine spectacle, free to all, on a Saturday evening in December before Christmas, watched mostly from vantage places ashore such as Albouy's Point and Barr's Bay Park. Front Street and Harbour Road also teem with spectators. It is now an established once-every-two-years Christmas-tide tradition (except for December 2008 when it did not occur). It draws a bigger audience than any other festive activity in Bermuda, over 20,000 spectators. Boats participating cover a measured course twice. Imagination and ingenuity of boat owners are incredible. Prizes are given in a number of categories. There are also sightseeing boats. The fireworks are launched from White's Island. It is superb, not to be missed by any local or visitor.

 In December 2013 19 categories of boats ensured that everybody won something for taking part. In top place for Best Commercial boat was Playmate, entered by Playmate Fishing Charters. Spirit of Bermuda won Best Sailboat, and Bermuda Pest Control's Blue Heron was the top corporate entry. The Caledonian Society of Bermuda won Best Non-profit with Naughtiness, while Bill Pitman's Sylvester took Best Powerboat under 25ft and James Boyce's Dutch Courage won the over-25 category. Best Bermuda Themed boat was Full Hott Scott, entered by Corey Masters-Brown; Jamie Chaters Megabucks won Best Community Message. Topping Most Original was Edwin Whitfield's Andrea Christine, while Friends of Black Seal got Most Humorous with Cedar; the Chewstick Foundation's Halcyon won Best Traditional Christmas theme. Twisted Tini entered by Martin Harvey took Best Contemporary. Best Crew Costumes went to Carlos Falcao's Lucky Charms, and William Knight White's Gabriella won Most Confusing. Fairmont Southampton Turtle Hill Golf Club won Best Use of Lights with Friendship, and Best Music went to Anamaria Worswick's Unholey. In the Pink Category, Peter Stableford's Just Sayin came in first, while Justin Williams's Justified was deemed Most Fun to be Aboard. The MarketPlace barge took the Children's Choice category.

Source Bermudian

Christmas & Boxing Day Pantomime & Holidays

See Bermuda Public Holidays

Source British

Crown and Anchor

A local gamble particularly noticeable at Cup Match time. Whichever team hosts the annual Cup Match (see below) game accepts tenders for the gambling game of Crown and Anchor, one of the many "concessionary" events, operators of which pay Government a hefty license fee. The odds are always stacked heavily in favour of the operator, not the gambler. Players should first make a point of knowing the basics of the game.

Crown and Anchor gambling, Bermuda

Royal Gazette photo

Source Bermudian

Cup Match Bermuda 2-day Public Holiday

2018. August 3. Somerset enjoy best-ever victory over St. George's.  After piling on 378 runs on Thursday, Somerset bowled out St George’s twice. The latter's batsmen scored only 121 in their first innings. In the follow-on,  St George’s were able to only add 223. Somerset won by an innings and 35 runs.

This first day of the two-day Thursday and Friday Cup Match holiday in late July or early August  is named to commemorate the most important modern events in Bermuda's 400+ year-old history. They are held by tradition on the two consecutive days of (a) Emancipation Day (see below) and Somers Day. These two days are, by Bermuda statute, always on the Thursday preceding the first Monday in August and the Friday preceding the first Monday in August. For many Bermudians, locals and visitors who do not have to work on a Saturday or Sunday this amounts to a 4-day public holiday long weekend. This Public Holiday commemorates the uniquely emotional, cultural, historic and racial day of August 1, 1834 when under British laws that then extended to all British colonies, dominions and islands, with Britons themselves in the UK having been freed since 1772, the Slavery Abolition Act was enacted locally under British legislative pressure, to free the Island's slaves. In Bermuda, 4.000 persons, until then slaves, became free.  They and other former slaves who had already been freed from that moment on, gained equal legal status to whites. That momentous day is mostly celebrated with the annual cricket Cup Match classic between St. George's and Somerset, two prominent local cricket teams. It follows a tradition that first started on August 8, 1872. The Bermuda Cricket Club had earlier been founded in St. George's ( in 1845) and played its first cricket game against the-then British Army garrison in Bermuda.  Long before cricket became the hugely popular sport it is today, a match played between the fleet team of the resident Royal Navy base and the British Army garrison regimental team was a major event in the social calendar of the Town of St. George.  This sport was first brought to Bermuda in the 1840s by British Army soldiers stationed here. Cricket is a British game that originated in England centuries ago. It is not unique to Bermuda. It is popular throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations. Its local season is from late April to late September. In 1872, British cricket thus arrived for local civilians. For many years until 1902, the unofficial festive game was between two fraternal lodges on opposite sides of Bermuda - in Somerset in the west end and St. George's on the east end.  The festive game began officially in July 1902 between the Somerset Cricket Club in the west end and the St. George's Cricket Club in the east end. Venues of the game change yearly between both clubs.  Most recent (2015) winner is the Somerset Cricket Club. Today, among the cricket-loving nations and territories of the world, only in Bermuda does the whole of Bermuda grind to a complete halt for two days every summer to turn its attention to a cricket game. On Cup Match days, many Bermudians either go physically to the game or listen to it on the radio. Because the popularity of the festive  annual game caused continued absences from employment the 2-day public holiday was first introduced in 1947 and has been in effect ever since.  Since 1999, a celebration of emancipation is now part of the ritual of the first day of Cup Match, formally renamed Emancipation Day.  It is a very busy time for camping and picnicking by Bermudians and locals at public (Government) parks or beaches. The designated campgrounds are Ferry Point, Coney Island and Chaplin Bay but all public parks and beaches can be invaded by persons pitching tents from two days beforehand and until the Sunday evening after Cup Match. It can be disconcerting for tourists who hope in vain for deserted public beaches and are not used to seeing campers pitching tents so close to public beaches. They would not be allowed in their own countries. Nor would the trash so many locals leave near their tents.

Source Bermudian

Dramatic arts

In serious, comedic and other works, the Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society, Black Box Productions, Jabulani Repertory Company and others provide cultural entertainment.

Source British

Drystone walling or dyking

Drystone walls, still found in some parts of Bermuda, are limestone walls made without mortar. 

Source British

Festival of Lights

Discontinued in 2008 as a lovely Christmas-time tradition due to economic conditions and the high price of fuel. Until then it was sponsored for many years by The Bermuda Electric Light Company, the only electricity service, which awarded prizes. Some Bermuda homes were dazzling. 

Source Local

Gombeys and annual Gombey Festival

Dancers similar to those in Africa and certain parts of the Caribbean, from black families. They dance at certain times of the year and on special days. In 2018 there were 6 Bermudian Gombey troupes. They appeared in the 2003 Edinburgh Tattoo. The word Gombey comes from the African Bantu language and means both rhythm and drum. Noteworthy  and quote-worthy are the books "The Bermuda Gombey; Bermuda's Unique Dance Heritage" by Louise A. Jackson and "Bermuda: Traditions and Tastes" by Judith Watson.

Annual Gombey Festival. The event is held to celebrate Bermuda’s premier folk dancers, the Gombeys, whose dances celebrate a centuries-old Bermudian folk tradition that blends elements of African and Caribbean performance with North American native music and British military drumming. A tradition of dance passed down through the ages since Bermuda was first populated in part by those of African origin. Each year the festival honors an individual who has cultivated and strengthened the traditions of Gombey music and dance. In 2015 the award was given to Allan Warner of the Warner Gombeys, one of Bermuda's veteran Gombey Captains.  He was joined by his family along with members of the Place’s, H & H, Warwick, Gombey Evolution and Gombey Warriors groups. The event was once known as the Gombey Competition, but has evolved into a celebration of a folk tradition that stretches back for centuries. Each troupe has its own distinct history, and the names of drummers and performers who had been influenced by Mr Warner were listed off to drumming, whistles and ecstatic cheers.

2018. December 26. Gombey troupes were out in force around the island today for their annual post-Christmas performances. Kent Henry, the president of Place’s New Generation Gombeys, said that Gombeys and Boxing Day were synonymous. He added: “In Bermuda, it is something that we have always done.” Mr Henry, 55, a drummer with the troupe for the last 30 years, looked back on a childhood surrounded by Gombeys in the Roberts Avenue, Devonshire, area. Bermuda’s Gombeys are an African tradition with Caribbean, Native American and British elements, and their practices are passed down by generations. The word “Gombey” derives from a Bantu word for “rhythm”. Mr Henry said that about 20 dancers and drummers were expected to take part backed by a support group of about the same size. He added that the troupe had been preparing for the last two months. Mr Henry said: “Boxing Day is the longest day.” The troupe started its day with a performance at the Hamilton Princess Hotel. “It’s a celebration of culture, it’s a celebration of Bermudian culture — it’s a celebration of life, really,” Mr Henry said. “The music and the dancing — once it gets to you, you feel it. It’s a spirit that goes with the Gombeys.“

2018. October 6. The Gombey Festival showcase filled the main show ring at the Botanical Gardens with drumming, whistling and whirling regalia as troupes and international guests performed for an audience of hundreds. Gombeys were among the spectators, and children in Gombey costumes played on the hillside as onlookers lined Berry Hill Road. “Let the rhythm begin,” Lovitta Foggo, the Acting Minister of Social Development and Sports, told the crowd to open the event. Ed Christopher, the MC for the showcase, introduced Gombey Evolution, Wilson’s New Generation Gombeys, Gombey Warriors, H & H Gombeys, Place’s New Generation Gombeys and the Warwick Gombeys, as well as the Bermuda Donquili African dance and drum group. The crowd welcomed international guests Zayd Saleem, a Moko Jumbie stilt walker from the US Virgin Islands, and the Hermitage Shortknee Dancers, visiting from Grenada. Leon “Sparky” Place, this year’s honouree, was applauded as “an undisputed master of the Gombey arts who has no immediate plans to hang up his costume”. Mr Christopher added that Mr Place still continues to perform with his “beloved” Place’s Gombey Troupe on special occasions. Mr Place was nicknamed “the praying Gombey”, he said, and has left “an indelible stamp on Bermuda’s Gombey culture” over more than 60 years as a performer, mentor and captain. Mr Place brought a disciplined ethos to his troupe, the crowd heard. “I believed that children had to be of good deportment at home and at school — and if they were not, they could not dance,” Mr Place was quoted as saying. Mr Place thanked the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs for supporting the show, which grew last year from a one-day event to a weekend of commemorations. Under a clear, still evening, Mr Christopher called for a moment of silence for “those who came before us and who led the way”, listing off the names of leading Gombey figures. As the performances got under way, he said: “See how proud Bermuda Gombeys are? They carry on their heads peacock feathers — you can’t get prouder than a peacock.”

2018 October 6. A veteran Gombey dancer was honored yesterday at the launch of a festival to celebrate the island’s iconic dancers. Leon “Sparky” Place, a former dancer and drummer with Place’s Gombeys, as well as traditional dancers from overseas were at Victoria Park in Hamilton to publicize today’s Bermuda International Gombey Festival Showcase. Lovitta Foggo, the acting social development and sports minister, joined Bermudian troupes Place’s and Warwick Gombeys, as well as the Hermitage Shortknee Band from Grenada at the park. Ms Foggo gave special recognition to Mr Place, who was recruited into the troupe when he was 10 with his brothers, Dennis and Reginald Jr. She said: “He had little choice in the matter — his father, known as ‘Scranny’, was the group’s founder and captain, and Gombey was a family affair.” Mr Place succeeded his brother Dennis as captain in the late 1970s. Ms Foggo said Mr Place was a disciplined mentor for younger dancers and was “exceptionally creative”. She added that Mr Place had added more than ten original steps to the troupe’s repertoire. However, Ms Foggo said: “Perhaps his most enduring contribution to the art is as a master costume designer.” She explained that he had pioneered the use of wool fringes on the Gombey regalia, an innovation that brought new dynamism to dance moves. Ms Foggo said the annual festival was set up to highlight the contribution of folk dancers who represented a tradition “passed down the ages, from generations of master Gombey dancers”. She was speaking as Zayd Saleen, from St Croix in the US Virgin Islands, walked through Victoria Park on stilts, which are a symbol of the islands’ Moko Jumbies’ towering role as protectors. Bermuda’s six Gombey troupes will join international guests today at the main show ring at Paget’s Botanical Gardens. The free event is scheduled to run from 5pm to 9pm. A symposium, called Gombeys and Traditions of the Diaspora, will be held tomorrow at the CedarBridge Academy cafeteria from 2pm to 4pm.

2017. October 6. This year’s Gombey Festival pays special tribute to a trailblazer and keeper of Gombey traditions: the late Terry “Termite” Simmons. Mr Simmons, who died in January, aged 62, personified Bermuda’s unique art form — not only dancing, but creating the elaborate Gombey regalia. His handiwork still proudly adorns the St Monica’s Road residence of daughters Dawnae and Terrieka, and their mother, Dawnette Simmons. Mr Simmons grew up near by at the family homestead in Government Gate, where he first heard the distinctive drumming of the Gombeys and joined at an early age. He joined his godfather Charles Norford’s troupe as a child and performed with other groups, devoting himself to the Gombeys for the rest of his life. “Termite” was also a footballer and played for Centaurs, North Village and Young Men’s Social Club in his early days — and worked for more than 30 years at the Bermuda Telephone Company. Mr Simmons was also a sous chef at the Fairmont Southampton, additionally working for MarketPlace’s produce section, and Redeem Construction as a mason. Former MP Dale Butler, a Gombey scholar and cousin of Mr Simmons, recalled him as “a personable, well-known, extremely friendly young man. He had passion for Gombey dancing, its history, and for remembering the older performers. It ran in his veins. He was talented, gifted, and had the greatest respect for the tradition.” Deeply committed to the culture, Mr Simmons passed on Gombey traditions to his family — most recently to his grandson, Ricaija. Bermuda’s fraternity of Gombeys unites tomorrow at the main show ring of the Botanical Gardens, from 5pm to 9pm, for the International Gombey Festival Showcase, which is open to everyone.

2016. September 12. The familiar sound of Gombeys echoed throughout the W.E.R. Joell Tennis Stadium this weekend at the annual Gombey Festival. The event, hosted by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, drew hundreds of spectators to watch performances by four of the island’s Gombey troupes — Gombey Warriors, Gombey Evolution, H&H Gombeys and Places New Generation Gombeys. Attendees were also given some information about the history of the Gombey tradition and their attire, and heard live music by Mitchell “Live Wire” Trott. At the heart of the event was the honoring of H&H Gombeys troupe founder Tyrone “Funk” Nesbitt, who was recognized for his lifelong contribution to the art form. Sylvan Richards, Minister of Community and Culture, even joined in the spirit of the event by dancing before the crowd. “I enjoyed the performances of the various gombey troupes that were on display at the annual gombey festival,” Mr Richards said. “I was also honored to be able to celebrate the contributions made to our gombey culture by Tyrone ‘Funk’ Nesbitt. The public turnout at the festival was also much appreciated and the audience participation was both enthusiastic and appreciative. The Gombeys are an important component of Bermudian culture and the annual Gombey Festival continues to celebrate the Gombeys’ contribution to our culture.”

2016. Saturday, September 10. Annual Gombey Festival.  WER Joell Tennis Stadium.  Doors will open at 5pm, with the festival on Marsh Folly Road starting at 6pm and the finale at around 8.30pm — where the peewee Gombeys from each troupe will perform for three minutes apiece. The event is held to celebrate Bermuda’s premier folk dancers, the Gombeys, whose dances celebrate a centuries-old Bermudian folk tradition that blends elements of African and Caribbean performance with North American native music and British military drumming. A tradition of dance passed down through the ages since Bermuda was first populated in part by those of African origin. Each year the festival honors an individual who has cultivated and strengthened the traditions of Gombey music and dance. In 2015 the award was given to Allan Warner of the Warner Gombeys, one of Bermuda's veteran Gombey Captains.  He was joined by his family along with members of the Place’s, H & H, Warwick, Gombey Evolution and Gombey Warriors groups. The event was once known as the Gombey Competition, but has evolved into a celebration of a folk tradition that stretches back for centuries. Each troupe has its own distinct history, and the names of drummers and performers who had been influenced by Mr Warner were listed off to drumming, whistles and ecstatic cheers.  Also during the celebration, H&H Gombeys troupe founder Tyrone “Funk” Nesbitt will be honored for his life’s contribution to the art form. Sylvan Richards, Minister of Social Development and Sports, called the festival “an opportunity not to be missed”. “With all the intricate costumes that have been created for each troupe, it will be a visual kaleidoscope of colours,” he added.

Gombey troupe

Bermuda Gombey troupe

Source Bermuda

Hasty Pudding Theatricals

Always in March - from Harvard University. Annual visit to Bermuda for over 50 years. Sponsored by the Bermuda Government's Department of Tourism which later became the Bermuda Tourism Authority. 

Hot Cross Buns

For full details of their history and significance see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_cross_bun. The custom was imported to Bermuda from the United Kingdom and is much favored locally. They are available from commercial Bermudian bakeries or as home-made, sold or given away in batches by family matriarchs who love to make them from scratch. They are square-shaped sticky buns about 1.85 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep, with icing sugar applied to them in the shape of a cross. This signifies Christ's agony and death on the cross. 

Source UK

Marathon Derby

Accurately, a half marathon of 13 miles. Dates back to January 1910. It began as a friendly cross-country race began in June 1909 between Bermudian soldiers and those in the British Army then based in Bermuda. It was then hosted by the Somerset Athletic Club, a newly formed black community organization.  Earlier, running had become a Bermudianized sport, especially in Somerset. but had not been competed for before then by non-locals. British soldiers witnessed the racing and wanted to join in but they were too late (see 1910). .

1910. January. The friendly cross-country race began in June 1909 between Bermudian soldiers and those in the British Army then based in Bermuda, by then renamed the Marathon Derby. It became an official annual event. It was hosted by the Somerset Athletic Club, a newly formed black community organization. British soldiers issued another challenge, which was accepted, with the locals stating they wanted it run from Somerset to Hamilton. Private Jordan, of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry then stationed in Bermuda, was the first to cross the line, followed by Bermudian local and Somerset favorite John C. Bean. After Stanley Burgess first took part in 1921, when he was 20, and first won it in 1926, then 1927 and 1928 and eventually 10 times, it became famous locally.

See the book Marathon - All the Facts, Winners and Drama. Dale Butler.

Music choirs, classical, calypso and soca music

See Beautiful Bermuda in Music

Source British and Caribbean

Non-Mariners Race

Cancelled in June 2018 after being in existence since 1962, The event was then the brainchild of older brothers of Jill Raine, Eric and Anthony Amos and a group of their friends. The idea behind the event was to poke fun at the disciplined world of yachting. They just wanted to do a spoof on it and that was to show a non-mariners race where everything was wrong. It was silly fun. There was no start and there was no finish. Non-vessels in the early days of the event included an antique bed, a refrigerator and a cello case. A chamber pot was presented as a race prize. Annual Non-Mariners races were first held in Hamilton Harbour. They later moved to St George’s and Ferry Reach before they settled on Mangrove Bay in 1972. Sandys Boat Club, which most recently sponsored the race and charged an admission fee, confirmed the cancellation of the event. A spokesman for the club said fewer entries, a change in the economics of the event, and a shortage of volunteers were behind the decision. The raft-up parties in Mangrove Bay will go ahead as planned earlier, on the Sunday following the annual Cup Match 2-day public. holiday.

Official Gazette in newspaper form gone

It ceased after October 31, 2018. It has been a Bermuda tradition since the advent of newspapers in Bermuda in January 1784. From then on, Bermuda will be solely dependant on Government news via a government website for all government-related business. Beyond Bermuda, to ensure the widest possible circulation including for the disabled and senior citizens, print media is still the norm, with government conveying its official news via appropriate, wide-circulation print media as well as via the internet.

In Britain, see what the Official Gazette covers, at https://www.thegazette.co.uk/

Onions (people)

Onions were introduced to Bermuda in about 1616 from Britain as English onions - before they reached the USA. Not until the 1830s did they become a major export. By the mid 19th century, Bermudians became known as Onions and Bermuda as the Onion Patch. The popularity of the by-then Bermudianized British Onion, or Bermuda Onion, led to the development of Bermuda Onion seed in Texas in 1898. In Texas, a farming community called itself the Bermuda Colony (later, Bermuda, Texas), on the north side of the Nueces River in Dimmit County. Competition began between Bermuda and Texas to export onions. A combination of what the Texans could do with their onions with the new railway system nationwide in the USA that Bermuda could not and high tariffs imposed by the USA, led to decline of the industry in Bermuda. After the Great War, exports were finished. Today, more people in the USA get their onions from Georgia than Texas. One reason may be that onions take six months to harvest.

Source Local

Palm Sunday Walk

An annual favorite, a different location each year over several miles of flat and hilly areas in places usually barred to the general public, run by the Bermuda National Trust. Walking shoes with non-slip tread are recommended. No dogs or wheeled vehicles (such as mountain bikes and strollers).

Source British

Peppercorn Ceremony

About every April 20. Hundreds gather in King’s Square to watch the annual morning Peppercorn Ceremony, the 202nd in 2018. The annual tradition in St George’s is based around Freemasons paying their symbolic rent for the Old State House. Numerous civic leaders, including in 2016 the Mayor of Lyme Regis, the southern English town twinned with Bermuda, are present to watch the treasurer for the Freemasons officially pay the peppercorn rent which is unchanged in two centuries. Festivities include a parade by the Royal Bermuda Regiment. Freemasons represent lodges from several countries, in 2016, Michael Dunkley, the Premier, MPs from both sides of the House of Assembly, and the Mayor of St George’s, Quinell Francis, who arrived in a horse-drawn carriage, were officials attending. Governor George Fergusson and Mrs Fergusson, who arrived escorted by police, celebrated the final Peppercorn Ceremony of their time in Bermuda. In a speech to the crowd, Mrs Francis said that the Corporations of St George’s and Hamilton have been working together on improving governance through legislation, thanking Michael Fahy, Minister of Home Affairs, for amendments to the Municipality Act to allow them to again collect wharfage. Mr Fergusson highlighted the rich history of the island, but added that Bermuda remains a leader in the modern world. After his speech, the Governor’s council left to conduct its annual meeting in the Old State House.

Peppercorn ceremony

Source British

Portuguese Cultural Association

There are many people of Portuguese extraction (mostly from the Azores) extraction. Some are still Portuguese nationals, despite long residence that in any other country would have qualified them as citizens. The Association has a splendid troupe of dancers, men in red waistcoats and women in red skirts and tight bodices. They dance to traditional Azorean tunes, on special days including the Bermuda Day May 24 Parade celebrations.

Source Portuguese

Roof Wetting

Bermuda Roof wetting Roof wetting

When new houses, apartment blocks and office buildings gave their roofs completed, to seal out the rain, wind and moisture, locals celebrate with a roof wetting on the roof.  All who participate on the roof have to be able to go up and get down unaided and must wear hard hats. Usually, an owner and contractor or builder are the key persons and climb the outside of a roof via a ladder.  As this picture of a January 2009 roof wetting shows, in winter suits are often worn by the owners while the construction foreman  and crew are in working clothes. When the Bermuda Government is the owner, usually the Minister concerned is present. A bottle of black rum is either poured on the roof or is shared, or both.

Royal Bermuda Regiment

2019. August 16. The Honorary Colonel of the Royal Bermuda Regiment is to step down after more than 20 years in the role and almost 60 years in the military. Lieutenant-Colonel Eugene Raynor, appointed as the first black commanding officer of the Bermuda Regiment in 1980, will be replaced by another former CO, Lieutenant-Colonel David Gibbons. Colonel Raynor, who joined the segregated military as a private in the Bermuda Militia Artillery in 1961, said: “Being involved, in one way or another, has been pretty much a way of life. To be the Honorary Colonel of the Royal Bermuda Regiment is an honour very few people will have. It’s been a good time and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” Colonel Raynor achieved the rank of corporal in the BMA before he was commissioned in 1964. He was one of the founding officers of the integrated Bermuda Regiment, formed from the BMA and the Bermuda Rifle Corps in 1965. Colonel Raynor stood down as CO in 1984, but later joined the Defence Board and was made honorary colonel in 1999. His role was to advise a series of governors, who act as the Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, and the regiment on military matters and to promote military service. Colonel Raynor said: “Even though I’m not hands-on, I have been aware, and made myself aware, of what was going on. I hope I have been useful, especially with the different governors I have met. I believe I have been useful there, to some extent.” Colonel Raynor’s military experience started as a toddler — his father, Vernon, was a soldier in the Bermuda Militia Infantry assigned to protection of the island’s military installations in the Second World War. He said in an interview as an adult that he remembered being mesmerized by his father’s .303 Lee Enfield rifle when he came home on a break. He said: “Another one of my earliest memories was watching parades — that was a major influence on me.” Colonel Raynor later joined the BMA Cadet programme, even though he was three months short of the minimum age of 14. He went on to sign up with the BMA and rose rapidly through the ranks. Colonel Raynor was also one of the soldiers picked for the regiment’s first overseas camp in Jamaica in 1968. He was appointed as aide-de-camp to the governor in the 1970s and rose to the highest rank in the service less than a decade later. Colonel Raynor said: “It’s been a good time and I’ve enjoyed it.” But the 77-year-old, awarded an OBE for his military service, added that he was aware of his advancing years and wanted to reduce his responsibilities, so decided to stand down from his honorary role and from the Defence Board. Colonel Raynor added he would miss the camaraderie of the RBR most and the interaction with the ranks. He said: “I’ve enjoyed that. With people over the years, I was hands-on. What the soldiers were doing, I was doing and I found that the soldiers really appreciated having me around. I was just as dirty coming out of the field as them. Later on, as honorary colonel, it was always my intent to visit them in the field and spend as much time with them as possible. Being with the troops at all levels was the best experience I had as a soldier.” He added that being appointed the first black commanding officer was a pivotal event. Colonel Raynor said: “It was a proud moment for me and for the whole island, really. It was a great ceremony at Police Field and the whole regiment turned out.” He added that the RBR had changed in many ways — but that the commitment to service to the island in internal security and disaster relief was a constant. Colonel Raynor said: “The regiment in its present state has had, over the past few years, the opportunities to improve its standard of operations and training and the chance to take part in major international exercises. The opportunities surpass the Jamaica exercise I was on in 1968. The regiment has been a major benefit to Bermuda. The RBR offers an opportunity for military training. Recruits will be doing things very different from their normal lives. People will find out there is a niche there that they can enjoy and that benefits individuals and the community. It will be tough and starts being tough simply by being immersed in a disciplined activity. But when people come out after three years, they have things they can recall and use to guide them out of other problems life will throw at them.” John Rankin, the Governor, thanked Colonel Raynor for his long service. He added: “His advice, drawing on his long and distinguished experience, has played an important role in developing the regiment’s work in support of the security and defence of Bermuda. I, and my predecessors as Governor, have been grateful for all he has done for the regiment throughout his career, not least during his service as commanding officer from 1980 to1984. At the same time I am very pleased to appoint Colonel Gibbons as his successor and look forward to working with Colonel Gibbons as the regiment continues to grow and develop in the post-conscription period.”

2019. August 5. A joint-services marine team rescued six US tourists after their rental boat capsized in heavy waves yesterday. The Royal Bermuda Regiment and police team on police boat Rescue 2, deployed as part of the marine security element for the traditional Non-Mariners raft-up at Mangrove Bay, swung into action after the Boston Whaler, about 13ft long, overturned in Cavello Bay in Sandys at about lunchtime. RBR Private Keeshun Best, a member of Boat Troop and part of the Rescue 2 crew, said: “There were a few people holding on to a capsized boat, which was sinking. “We got them out of the water and took them to Somerset Bridge — they were very grateful we turned up.” The 26-year-old from Smith’s added: “I’ve done training for this kind of thing, but never had to do it before. But I knew exactly what to do and kept calm.” Lance Corporal Donavin Trott-Burchall, who piloted an RBR rigid-inflatable boat on patrol in Mangrove Bay and also answered the distress call, said: “The water was a bit rough for such a small boat and it tipped over. We were going to tow the boat back, but a jet ski that was with them did that, so we resumed our patrol.” The 26-year-old from Devonshire, also a Special Constable, added that he had enjoyed his stint on the water over the holidays. He said: “It’s just making sure everyone is safe and keeping a presence out there. People are less likely to act up if they see us and we’re here to assist people if something goes wrong — I’m OK with that.” Private J.D. Symons, who crewed the RIB with Lance Corporal Trott and Bermuda Reserve Police Section Officer Jeffrey Benevides, added: “This is the reason I got into the regiment.” The 22-year-old from Devonshire, a diving instructor with Fantasea in Sandys, added: “Just getting out on the water and policing it — it’s great. We are extra hands to help out in rescues and things like that. It’s definitely worthwhile. A lot of what we do is training to look out for people and this is exactly what we’re doing —keeping an active watch.” Section Officer Benevides, a 21-year veteran of the BRP and a government animal control officer when out of uniform, said: “We wouldn’t have been able to have such a high-profile presence this year without the RBR. I enjoy working with them. I’ve cross-trained with them and done some weekend camps with them. The Reserve Police works really well with the regiment — I guess because we’re all volunteers. We’re all here for the same reason. We want to give something back to the community.” Private Best and Lance Corporal Trott-Burchall were two of nine RBR soldiers deployed on a five-strong fleet of Boat Troop and police boats for the raft up, including 41 Juliet, a derelict boat brought back to life by RBR marine specialists and only commissioned last Wednesday. Sergeant Major Jeffrey Patterson, the officer-in-charge of Boat Troop, said: “It’s been a very positive experience. There were fewer boats and it has been quieter than last year.” He added that the joint patrols had assisted other boats that got into trouble amid high winds and strong waves. Sergeant Major Patterson said: “We have worked very well with the police and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

2019. July 31. The latest addition to the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s Boat Troop fleet was today christened at Warwick Camp. Governor John Rankin and Minister of National Security Wayne Caines were among the VIPs that helped commission 41 Juliet – a 27ft Boston Whaler Guardian class boat – into service. The refitted former Bermuda Police Service vessel will make its first official patrols over the Cup Match holiday weekend. Mr Rankin, who was among the guests who christened the vessel with a splash of Bermuda-matured rum, rather than the traditional champagne, said: “Ensuring the safety of people in Bermuda is the top priority of all of us in our respective roles – ensuring safety on land and also ensuring safety at sea.” The Governor, who is Commander-in-Chief of the RBR, thanked the Bermuda Police Service for the role its marine unit played on the water. He added: “I am equally delighted that the Royal Bermuda Regiment is now expanding its role, in conjunction with the police, to ensure safety at sea.” Mr Rankin said the new boat, which skilled Boat Troop soldiers spent a year refurbishing, was a “concrete implementation” of the move towards an RBR Coast Guard role. He added: “That’s not going to be achieved overnight – we need all the services with experience in this area to work together, but this is an important first step.” Mr Rankin said he was “satisfied” that the RBR Boat Troop would “operate in a professional fashion and further develop the capacity in this area over the coming months”. Mr Caines said: “This might seem like just another boat, but this is the start of something spectacular.” He added that the RBR and the BPS were committed to working together to ensure the safety and security of Bermuda on land and at sea. Mr Caines said: “It’s something you don’t often see – both have areas of expertise and both could have stayed in their own silos of responsibility, but both see the benefit of pooling their resources to the benefit of the community. People should exercise care when traveling by land or sea and show responsible driving and responsible behaviour on the water." RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel David Curley thanked Sergeant Major Jeff Patterson, Colour Sergeant Leslie Spanswick and their Boat Troop team, which includes shipwrights, marine mechanics and divers, as well as Special Constables, for their skill and dedication in restoring the 1997 vintage boat to as-new condition. He added that Boat Troop had worked with the police for 15 years on joint maritime operations in inshore waters. Col Curley said: “This has resulted in the RBR Boat Troop gaining valuable operational experience in supporting and reinforcing the BPS marine unit with general patrols during the summer and special events such as Cup Match, the America’s Cup and public holidays over the years.” Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley highlighted the joint services operation last weekend to find and rescue a young man who had fallen off a boat in Hamilton Harbour. He added: “That is the tangible effect of what we’re seeking to offer.” Royal Navy Commander Marcus Jacques, who is based in Key West, Florida, who also attended the ceremony, said he had been asked by the Governor to help “move the Coast Guard forward and give a slightly different perspective on how that might be achieved”. Sgt Maj. Patterson added: “I’m pleased with the work we did and with the outcome. It was more than a year’s work by part-time volunteer soldiers and did not interfere with their operational commitments.”

2019. June 30. Soldiers and civilian volunteers joined forces to clear vegetation at an historic estate designated as a national park. About 20 troops from the Royal Bermuda Regiment joined volunteers recruited by the Government’s Mirrors organisation and Department of Parks staff at Southlands yesterday. Many of the soldiers involved have just returned from the multinational Exercise TradeWinds held in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The volunteers targeted invasive species at the near-40 acre South Shore Road estate and cut back bushes and trees in the first of what is expected to be regular clear-up events at the estate. Kim Jackson, the Mirrors programme manager, said: “We want to kick off monthly community clean-ups of Southlands and get the public involved in community engagement, as well as learning about the history of the site. It’s a collaboration between Mirrors and the parks department and we asked the Regiment for some support. They’ve been fantastic. We so much appreciate the Regiment because they boost up the manpower. And, because they have people with chainsaws, that helps up enormously, as the volunteers can focus on picking things up and putting them in the trucks while the Regiment does the specialist work.” Margot Shane, the Mirrors office manager, added: “They’re half the people here — I think that says it all.” Lance Corporal Orville Hall, of the RBR’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief specialist B Company, said: “I’m enjoying it. Our expertise makes a big difference and I was happy to help — I like helping out people.” Colour Sergeant Harry Hunt, the RBR’s chief armourer, was the link between Mirrors and the RBR and helped organize the military contingent for the clean-up effort. He said: “We were happy to assist. It’s important because it allows Bermudians to see us working here as well as overseas. We also have a lot of useful skills that are transferable to a wide range of civilian applications. It also helps us improve our initiative and teamwork, so everybody’s happy.” Southlands was bought in 1913 by Scots-Canadian department store tycoon James Morgan who turned it into a series of ornamental gardens and pools based on former quarries that dotted the area. It was sold by Mr Morgan’s son after the businessman died in the 1930s. The estate passed through several hands before it was acquired by the Bermuda Government in 2010 in a land swap with the Morgan’s Point site in Southampton to save the open space from a hotel development and retain it as parkland.

2019. June 24. Bermuda’s soldiers were singled out for praise at the closing ceremony of a massive international military exercise in the Caribbean at the weekend. Sir Louis Straker, the Acting Prime Minister of St Vincent & the Grenadines, the host nation for Exercise Tradewinds, said that the RBR had won hearts and minds for their work in renovating and improving security at a free public clinic near their base at the disused ET Joshua Airport. The RBR also donated 30 sets of public order kit, including shields and protective gear, to the Royal St Vincent & the Grenadines Police. Sir Louis said: “Honourable mention must be made of the Government of Bermuda and the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” He was also pleased that Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, had attended the closing ceremony. He told Mr Caines and the RBR: “It was truly an honour and a privilege having you here. You have contributed significantly to the success of the exercise and we look forward to lasting friendships and sustained engagement to counter threats, advancement of security and the promotion of economic opportunities, peace and security in our region.” Colin John, the Commissioner of the Royal St Vincent & Grenadines Police, added: “Our new-found friends, the Royal Bermuda Regiment, must come in for a special mention not because they are the largest contingent here, but because they have been very enthusiastic.” Mr John said the Bermuda soldiers had been “on time and professional throughout the exercise”. He added: “I think the Bermudians should come in for some special mention. They also assisted us with some special equipment, so I just want to go on record thanking them for what they have done.” They were speaking at the closing ceremony for the exercise, held at Victoria Park in the SVG capital Kingstown on Friday. Tradewinds involved 500 ground troops, about 120 of them from Bermuda, as well as four naval and Coast Guard ships crewed by 100 sailors. Earlier in the exercise, which was organised by the US military’s Southern Command based in Florida, soldiers from the RBR painted the Sion Hill Clinic inside and out. RBR troops also cut down trees and undergrowth which hid the building from the nearby road and which was used as cover by thieves who have targeted the clinic several times. They also installed new high-intensity security lights and fencing. Mr Caines, who earlier had a private meeting with Sir Louis at the SVG government headquarters in Kingstown, was interviewed by an SVG broadcasting company at the Sion Hill Clinic and at the closing ceremony by the US military media team attached to the exercise and the SVG Government’s Agency for Public Information. He told the media that RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel David Curley “had gone a step above in integrating us with Southcom, making sure we have key training opportunities, opportunities that can be used at home”. Mr Caines added that he was pleased the RBR, which got a round of applause from the military of the 22 participant countries at Tradewinds, had been highlighted for their community work in St Vincent. He said: “That’s the Bermudian touch — going into a country and helping. They did some work at a specific location and gave some kit to the St Vincent & Grenadines Police Force.” Ground troops, naval forces and coastguard personnel from the Caribbean, South America, Canada, the US and UK took part in Tradewinds. Mr Caines added that the closing ceremony had “filled my heart with pride. To be in St Vincent and to see our young men and women, we all in Bermuda have much to be proud of.” Tradewinds was designed to build increased regional cooperation in complex multinational security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response work. Countries that took part included Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.

2019. June 22. Bermudian soldiers mounted an assault on a terrorist stronghold as part of a training exercise in the Caribbean Thursday. Royal Bermuda Regiment troops stormed a building occupied by terrorists and bomb-makers alongside soldiers and police from other countries as part of their Tradewinds training in St Vincent. Tradewinds, run by the US military’s Southern Command, was designed to increase regional co-operation in complex multinational security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response work. Countries taking part include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States. Captain Kenji Bean, the second-in-command of the land force component of the exercise, said: “I’ve spoken to a lot of the soldiers and they have really enjoyed working alongside the military and police from different countries. They have experienced a different part of the world, different cultures and different levels of training. It also gave them experience of the level of endurance that is needed to sustain a major operation. They are now better prepared and more robust for when they continue their training back in Bermuda.” Captain Bean added: “Tradewinds has worked well because it’s testing our responses to different events, as well as teaching new tactics to sharpen our skills and drills. Our communications ability is being tested as is our ability to get things done efficiently. It has also forced people to get out of their comfort zone and we have been able to network with other agencies from around the Caribbean and around the world and share our experience with them. The RBR as a career is great exposure for anyone looking to expand their skills. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.” Lance Corporal Kyree Govia said: “I’ve done this sort of thing before. It’s not brand new and I think we did well. We were told it was a gang that had taken over the compound. Our job was to retake it. It was a snatch and grab operation.” The 24-year-old Masters employee, from Pembroke, was speaking after a platoon of RBR soldiers struck at the Old Melrose police station near the capital Kingstown. They were told that the leaders of terrorist and crime group the Brigade of Martyrs Liberation had taken over in the building and also had a bomb factory there. Two improvised explosive devices were found during a sweep of the compound after a short firefight and were disabled by soldiers from other countries taking part while the RBR surrounded the building.

2019. June 21. Bermuda’s soldiers are playing a vital behind-the-scenes role in a major disaster relief and security exercise in the Caribbean. Royal Bermuda Regiment troops are a major component of the land forces for Exercise Tradewinds in St Vincent & the Grenadines – but senior officers are heavily involved as planners and coordinators of the multi-national military force. Major Dwight Robinson, who commands the RBR’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief B Company, as well as being the Band & Corps of Drums Director of Music, is the land forces commander of about 170 multi-national troops involved in the exercise. He said: “It’s been a huge change – not something I, as a musician, would normally be involved in, but there is learning all around here and I’m grateful for the opportunity.” Maj. Robinson added he appreciated the assistance Major Ben Beasley, the RBR’s second-in-command and training officer, had given him. The multi-national troops in the Tradewinds land forces include several light infantry platoons, humanitarian and disaster relief specialists, a logistics platoon and bomb disposal experts, as well as a Barbados headquartered Regional Security Services platoon. There are a further 100 sailors on board four patrol vessels, some of which are carrying elite clearance divers. Maj. Robinson said the soldiers had been involved in missions ranging from disposing of improvised explosive devices, strike operations, which included stopping criminal activity and arrests of criminals and terrorists. He added: “It all reinforces the skills we would need back home if the need ever arose.” Maj. Beasley, who is part of the directing staff for the RBR, said he was working with Canadian forces to ensure training and development was maximized. He added: “It’s the most amount of realism we had on an exercise in recent years. We are having to work through the exercise and solve real-time problems as well. There is no real safety net – if something happens then the Caribbean Task Force or a company commander has to solve it. The RBR has far exceeded expectations and they have risen to a level they perhaps didn’t believe they could achieve. Tradewinds not only confirms our capabilities, it has expanded them and demonstrated to our regional partners our high level of competency.” Lieutenant Colonel Rob Horton of the Royal Canadian Engineers, said he had been involved in teaching operational planning to officers from other countries. He added that the 22 countries involved came together with limited experience of multi-national operations. Col Horton said: “We monitor them through the planning process and get them to execute operations as they are learning. This is a good experience for the Caribbean Task Force and the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” Lieutenant Commander Cesar Yañez of the Colombian Navy, the deputy chief of staff, said the exercise involved naval vessels from St Vincent, the US, Canada and Holland. He added: “The Royal Bermuda Regiment have given us a very good performance. They react quickly and they’ve done an excellent job. Maybe in the future we can work together again and I am able to tell my country how professional the Royal Bermuda Regiment is.” Lieutenant Colonel Denzil Carmichael of the Guyana Defence Force, the commander of the combined joint task force, said: “This is my first experience with the RBR and what I’ve seen so far is that they are extremely professional and giving great support to this exercise.” Tradewinds was designed to build increased regional co-operation in complex multinational security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response work. Countries taking part include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

2019. June 16. A multinational task force tackled a simulated bomb alert at a hotel in St Vincent at the weekend as part of their Tradewinds training exercise. Troops from the Royal Bermuda Regiment joined forces with Caribbean, American and French forces on a security exercise which featured an abandoned suitcase leaking fluid in a hotel lobby. The security team, which evacuated the Blue Lagoon Hotel in the Ratho Mills district of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and bomb disposal experts were delivered to the scene in an RBR vehicle with a police escort. Private Camille Jones, an RBR signaler who acted as the team’s communications specialist, said: “I’m with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team and transmitting what’s going on to the commanders back at base.” The 24-year-old bank customer services assistant from Smith’s added: “I’m enjoying the trip and the adventure. It’s been amazing. It’s been great working with all these different countries. I’ve met people from all over the world.” Private Jones is part of the 120-strong RBR contingent on phase two of Exercise Tradewinds, a major security and disaster relief training programme involving 22 countries. Corporal Douglas Caesar of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, who was among the first responders to arrive at the scene of the bomb exercise yesterday, said he had participated in the annual Tradewinds exercise, run by the United States military’s Southern Command, when it took place in Antigua and Jamaica. He added: “I’m not directly involved this time, but I know it’s a useful exercise. You never know when you might be called on to assist your sister countries. It’s training everyone to one standard so there won’t be any hiccups. It’s also building bonds of friendship with places like Bermuda.” Bermudian soldiers joined troops from other countries in reaction to a scenario based around a terrorist mass shooting at a cricket match at the Arnos Vale sports stadium in Arnos Vale. A sweep of the stadium found a “bomb” and RBR soldiers deployed a cordon around the stadium. RBR medics set up an emergency triage post and prepared to treat casualties from the incident while bomb disposal experts disposed of the device. RBR Lance Corporal Donavin Trott-Burchall, of Boat Troop, but seconded to B Company for Tradewinds, said: “We’re doing a perimeter check, looking for the suspects — six people in two vehicles. I’m enjoying the whole experience. I like traveling to new places and the people here are really nice.” The 26-year-old from Devonshire added: “The great thing about the Regiment is that you get to travel, meet new people and you build lifelong relationships with your fellow soldiers.” Captain Shaun Richards of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, who acted as part of the Regional Observer Assessment Team, said the different countries involved were still in the early stages of working together. He added: “There are things which will need to be worked on, but this is a learning experience. I am sure everyone involved is learning a lot and it’s good for all the countries taking part in Tradewinds.” Edward Rodgers, the US Southern Command deputy divisional chief for training and exercises and a former US Marine Corps officer, said after the stadium scenario: “Each day everyone is getting better. There was some good training today. They were able to respond in a timely manner and the casualties were treated as fast as possible. It’s an improvement on yesterday and we expect more improvements as the exercise goes on.” Tradewinds was designed to build increased regional co-operation in complex multinational security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response work. Countries taking part include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.

2019. June 14. Bermuda’s solders took their place among 22 other countries for the opening ceremony of a massive international disaster relief exercise in the Caribbean today. Island soldiers lined up alongside representatives of the armies, navies, coastguards and air forces of regional participants in Exercise Tradewinds phase two in St Vincent & the Grenadines. Private Gayon Burrows, who carried the Bermuda flag at the ceremony, said he was proud to represent his country and be a part of the exercise. He added: “It’s been great so far. It’s something new for me – it’s my first overseas trip with the Regiment, so I’m pretty excited.” The 21-year-old from Hamilton Parish, a drummer in the RBR Band & Corps of Drums as well as a member of humanitarian aid and disaster relief specialists B Company, said: “Apart from meeting people from different countries, I’m trying to get more discipline and an idea of what I can do as a soldier as well as a musician.” Pte Burrows, a two-year veteran of the RBR, added: “If I hadn’t joined the Regiment, I would never have done anything like this. I made the choice to join and I’ve never regretted it.” Edward Rodgers, the deputy divisional chief of training for the US Southern Command, which organised the exercise, earlier told the opening ceremony for Tradewinds that it was an excellent training opportunity. He said: “We come together once a year to exercise. That’s very critical. It builds friendships, trust and partnership with everyone else.” It is the first time Bermuda has taken part in the exercise having only observed the training nearly 30 years ago. For the first time, Bermuda has deployed a full company of about 120 soldiers from Bravo Company. Mr Rodgers, a retired US Marine Corps officer, added: “It’s good to see that Bermuda was able to attend and be a big part of phase two of the exercise. They have come with a good force, ready to train. We’re very happy to have Bermuda back in the Tradewinds exercise.” 1st Lieutenant Jishar Obergh of the Suriname Navy, said: “This is our first time here and we’re enjoying meeting people from other countries like Bermuda.” Leading Seaman Brad Northrup, a diver with the Royal Canadian Navy, added: “It’s been pretty cool to see all the different aspects of life, how they do things and how it all comes together.” Tradewinds was designed to build increased regional cooperation in complex multinational security operations, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response work. Nations participating in the exercise include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and the United States.

2019. June 13. About 120 soldiers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment arrived in the Caribbean today to join a major multinational disaster relief exercise. The troops bedded down in the disused ET Joshua Airport on St Vincent before phase two of Exercise TradeWinds 19, which will involve a variety of tough scenarios, starts in earnest tomorrow. Lance Corporal Gary Dowling, a bandsman and member of the humanitarian aid and disaster relief company, said: “We’re still waiting to be tasked but I know there is a lot planned. It’s a really brilliant spot. They’ve tried their hardest to give us a relatively comfortable standard of living to help us get off to a good start.” Exercise TradeWinds, in its second phase after an intensive planning session in the Dominican Republic, involves soldiers, sailors and airmen from over 20 countries. It is the first time a contingent from Bermuda has had any involvement in the annual exercise, run by the US Southern Command for almost 30 years. Other countries represented include the UK, Canada, Jamaica and France, as well as forces from the host country Private Marketa Raynor, 36, of Hamilton Parish, said: “I love it so far. The scenery is fantastic and the atmosphere is awesome, much better than I expected. Pte Raynor, a housekeeper at the Elbow Beach Hotel in civilian life, added: “The military from the other countries have been really cool. It’s like being around Bermudians you haven’t seen for a while. The accommodation is quite basic but much better than living in the bush.” Private Adam Curley, 30, added: “I’m looking forward to the exercise. It’s always good to meet new people and hopefully we will learn from each other. The RBR has a huge amount of experience with hurricanes.” RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley said the first tasks for the RBR contingent would be to refresh their skills and rehearsals for scenarios, which will include practical exercises and tests of knowledge. He added: “The soldiers are very enthusiastic — it’s an adventure for them, it’s a different country, culture and the climate has already begun to test their resilience as it is already hot and very humid. We will be working closely with Caribbean agencies and security force and at the end of it our soldiers will be a lot stronger in all aspects of disaster relief and humanitarian aid. If we are ever called on to do this for real at home or overseas, we will be well prepared.” Colonel Curley said the scenarios used to test the RBR’s skills were still being kept secret — but predicted a grueling workout. “We needed to do something different and TradeWinds was an operation which was ideal. We performed really well during the first phase of the exercise and that leads directly into phase two. We are a modern and forward-thinking force and have restructured to be better organised to face the threats to Bermuda that we’re most likely to see. We also want to provide interesting, enjoyable and testing training to our soldiers and to develop skills that they can easily transfer to civilian life.”

2019. May 25. A massive logistics ship has been loaded with Royal Bermuda Regiment trucks and equipment headed for a major disaster relief exercise in the Caribbean. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay will transport the RBR gear to the Dominican Republic and on to St Vincent & the Grenadines for the multinational disaster training Exercise TradeWinds, to be carried out over May and June. Mounts Bay will also act as the hurricane relief ship and carry out drug interdiction patrols in the Caribbean region and Bermuda over the hurricane season, which runs from June to the end of November. Captain Gordon Emmerson, who joined the ship as RBR liaison officer for the exercise, said: “I’m very excited about it. I’m nervous about sea sickness, but I’m looking forward to linking up with the crew on the ship and learning about how they transport different types of cargo.” He added that he would take part in training exercises with the crew and 24 Commando Royal Engineers, who spent a week training with the RBR before they joined the ship after it docked in Hamilton Harbour. Royal Navy Lieutenant Lee Holborn, a Wildcat helicopter pilot from the Fleet Air Arm’s 815 Squadron attached to Mounts Bay, said: “This is my first encounter with the RBR, but should the worst happen and we find ourselves coming back here later in the year, we are really set up. The 32-year-old, from Wiltshire, added: “We know their plans and how we would fit into them.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, visited the ship on Wednesday, just before it headed for the Dominican Republic, to brief to RFA and Royal Navy personnel on board. He said: “We have achieved everything that we wanted to do in equipment preparation and training for the exercise. I gave an intelligence safety brief to the helicopter pilots on hard and soft landing sites around the island. If the need arises. I also wanted to make sure our standard operating procedures were up to date for ground troops supervising helicopter landings. ” Colonel Curley added: “It’s a very impressive ship, has tons of humanitarian aid and disaster relief equipment on board and is equipped with its own powered floating dock. It’s ideal for dealing with emergencies and using beaches as well as normal dock facilities. And whenever we have to do an operation together, we have already been introduced and will be able to integrate seamlessly. I wish Captain Jeremy Macanley, his entire crew and Captain Emmerson well for their deployment. Captain Emmerson will be attached to Mounts Bay for five weeks and he will be met by RBR troops on the second part of TradeWinds in St Vincent & the Grenadines.” Cub Scouts and Royal Bermuda Regiment junior leaders were earlier treated to a tour of the ship. Children from the 16th Bermuda Cub Scouts went aboard the vessel with the RBR junior leaders on Tuesday. Zach Moniz, 10, said: “I like it a lot because I always play a lot of video games, but this is way better.” Cara Bernhard, 11, added: “I like it because we probably wouldn’t be doing it unless we are cub scouts.” Mounts Bay made its first call on Bermuda in 2017 in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria hitting the Caribbean. Captain Jed Macanley said: “There is lots that we can learn from the regiment from 2017 and from where it went and assisted so it has been mutual learning. As much as anything, it’s good to know each other so that if we do have to pitch up we have already made the introductions, we know who we are working with, how they work, how we work and how we can synchronize together.” Third Officer Alexander Moore explained how technology helped to power the vessel or hold its position in shallow water.

2019. May 19. A Royal Fleet Auxiliary cargo ship, RFA Mounts Bay, has called on Bermuda this weekend. The vessel, which is visiting the island until Wednesday, is on hurricane season patrol. It is part of Britain’s rapid response aid for British Overseas Territories in the region. Mounts Bay made its first call on Bermuda in 2017, in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria hitting the Caribbean. It delivered humanitarian aid to the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands and British Virgin Islands, along with Dominica. During its visit, the Mounts Bay will be briefed on the island’s emergency planning arrangements, as well as key points requiring support in times of need. The ship is to liaise with the Royal Bermuda Regiment, and members of the Bermuda Cub Scouts and RBR Junior Leaders will also have the opportunity to visit. Twenty soldiers from the British Army 24 Commando Royal Engineer Regiment will join the ship, along with Captain Gordon Emmerson of the Royal Bermuda Regiment. John Rankin, the Governor, said he was “delighted” at the visit. Mr Rankin added: “The ship is a key part of the UK’s commitment to providing disaster relief to Bermuda and the Caribbean Overseas Territories in time of need. Mounts Bay is hugely well-equipped and her crew have the skills to make a real difference in assisting local emergency services in time of crisis.” The ship’s cargo includes tractors, diggers, trucks, quad bikes, command and all-terrain vehicles. The vessel will also take part in anti-drug operations in the Caribbean later this year with partners in the region.

2019. May 18. A British Army general responsible for commissioning more than 1,000 officers and who wrote the book on military leadership has shared his expertise with the Royal Bermuda Regiment. Major General Patrick Marriott, a former Commandant of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, the training school for British Army officers, visited Warwick Camp while on the island to speak about ethical leadership at a conference organised by asset management firm Schroders. He met RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, other RBR officers and senior non-commissioned officers. General Marriott said: “The regiment is unique and I think it does an incredible job in a situation that’s changing and evolving. It’s evolved very well under Colonel Curley’s leadership. He consults people, that’s very obvious and that will make the evolution of the regiment so much better.” The RBR has re-organised to create two main companies, one trained for humanitarian and disaster relief and the other for more traditional military roles. General Marriott said: “Essentially, the RBR is going to be focused on real public service — disaster relief and crises. There will be great rewards when, sadly, they do need to respond to a hurricane. I think the island is very fortunate to have them here.” General Marriott was speaking at the Officers’ Mess at Warwick Camp, just before he spoke at the Schroders conference at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club last weekend. He said: “If I was a young lad or young girl on the island, joining up is a really good thing to do, even if only for a few years. It’s putting something into the island in a really good way.” General Marriott was Commandant at Sandhurst, where RBR officers are trained, between 2009 and 2012. Captain Paolo Odoli, the new RBR Adjutant, who attended Sandhurst when General Marriott was in charge, said: “It was a real pleasure to once again be able to attend one of his talks on leadership having done so nine years ago at the academy. ‘Do as you ought, not as you want’ speaks to the heart of ethical leadership, which is a guiding principle for officers who earn a commission in the RBR. We are pleased that he enjoyed his visit to Warwick Camp and thinks so highly of the RBR and the success of our reorganization. We strive to be a modern, forward-thinking organisation that is focused on preparing ourselves for the challenges that we are likely to face in the future.” Captain Odoli added that the RBR was still accepting applications for places on the next Recruit Camp, due to be held in July. General Marriott joined the British Army in 1977 and was commissioned from Sandhurst into the 17th/21st Lancers. He has served in combat hotspots like Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Northern Ireland and also held senior staff command positions, including Director-General of Leadership, and was responsible for the creation of British Army’s leadership doctrine. He is still a serving soldier in the British Army Reserve. Schroders made ten spots at its conference available to the RBR free of charge. Lana Desmond, the firm’s managing director, said: “I am extremely grateful to Major General Marriott for being the guest speaker at our investment conference last week, and was delighted that we were able to connect him with the Royal Bermuda Regiment during his time here, which allowed him to share his personal experiences with Bermuda’s soldiers. It was also our pleasure to be able to host some of the Royal Bermuda Regiment personnel at our investment conference.”

2019. May 11. More than 20 soldiers from the British Army’s elite 24 Commando Royal Engineers are to spend a week helping to hone the disaster relief skills of the Royal Bermuda Regiment in the run-up to hurricane season. The UK soldiers will work with the RBR to share expertise and experience in humanitarian and disaster relief, known as HADR, before they join the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay when it docks in Bermuda next week. RFA Mounts Bay, a near-600ft logistics vessel, is scheduled to start a six-month deployment in the Caribbean region to provide rapid assistance in the event of hurricane strikes on UK Overseas Territories. The hurricane season runs from the start of June until the end of November. Captain Tom Booth of 24 Cdo RE, which provides engineering support for the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade, said the visit was arranged after RBR Sergeant Major Pete Ramm met soldiers from the unit at a planning meeting for this summer’s Exercise Tradewinds, a multi-national disaster relief exercise based in the Dominican Republic and St Vincent & the Grenadines. Captain Booth, 30, from Harrogate, Yorkshire, added: “The RBR seems like a very professional unit and takes its role very seriously, which is very promising. What we can do is give them a different look at how to do things – the RBR has far more experience than we have in hurricanes, but we have a different skill set and it’s always good to exchange knowledge. We were extremely keen to do it because we have HADR capabilities that we’re constantly developing and Pete was very keen to get the best training for the RBR. We have a wide skill set, from building bridges, demolishing bridges, laying mines, clearing mines, construction and water supply, which makes us ideally suited for the HADR role.” RFA Mounts Bay will also transport all the RBR equipment needed for Exercise Tradewinds, including trucks, to the Caribbean at no cost to Bermuda. The 21 soldiers, who arrived on Friday, will work with the RBR’s HADR specialists in B Company. RBR Private Va’shonte Wilson, 23, from St George’s Parish, said he looked forward to working with the British soldiers. He added: “I think there’s a lot we can learn from them and we can help them with hot weather conditions. We’re more used to a tropical environment, as well as hurricanes.” Soldiers from the RBR and 24 Cdo RE worked together in Operation Ruman, the 2017 relief effort in the Turks & Caicos Islands after they were devastated by Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Captain Gordon Emmerson, 36, Commandant of the Junior Leaders programme, who will join RFA Mounts Bay for five weeks as the RBR’s liaison officer, said: “I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity for growth and development for me and for enhancement of the skills and experience of the RBR. At the end of this, we will be better equipped and with more knowledge, which we can pass on to our soldiers in the future to prepare us for HADR operations at home and overseas.” 24 Cdo RE Staff Sergeant Mohan Thapa, 40, from Devon, said he and the rest of the contingent were delighted to be in Bermuda. The former Royal Gurkha Rifles engineer, who transferred to the Commandos in 2010 and is a veteran of Afghanistan, added: “We were told when you wear your uniform here, you’re welcomed. We are over the moon to be working with the RBR – for 70 per cent of our soldiers, it’s their first time in the Caribbean region. We understand what the RBR is and what they proved they could do during Operation Ruman. I believe we will definitely work well with them and help them out with HADR capabilities.” Lance Corporal Matthew Hemmings, 29, from Newport, South Wales, said: “It’s a beautiful island – very picturesque. I’m looking forward to working with the RBR and hoping to swap some badges.” He added: “The RBR is obviously more experienced in dealing with hurricanes because of the constant threat of them and our only dealings with them are when we’re overseas. But we can help with the general running of operations, the control of situations and how to deal with unexpected problems in a methodical way. We also have a lot more specialist equipment.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s Commanding Officer, said: “This is a golden opportunity for us to enhance our HADR capabilities. These UK soldiers are trained up and ready for deployment in the Caribbean. The end state will be both units will enhance their HADR knowledge and will continue to focus on unit development. We are on line for Bermuda first, but there may be a time when both our units are working hand in glove on HADR operations if the call comes and we are deployed anywhere in Caribbean after the approval process is completed.”

2019. April 25. More than 60 soldiers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment were on parade yesterday for the traditional Peppercorn Ceremony in St George. The troops and the RBR Band & Corps of Drums added to the spectacle as the Masonic Lodge of St George’s paid the annual rent for the State House — one peppercorn. Jose Urbano, a tourist from Florida, said the ceremony was “beautiful. I enjoy the people being so relaxed. It’s different in America. Everyone’s so tense.” Mr Urbano said he last visited Bermuda 30 years ago and was pleased to be back. He added: “We were so lucky to see that celebration today and that we were able to enjoy it.” Sandi Harries, from Paget, said: ”It was marvelous. It’s great to continue that tradition. It makes me very proud to be a Bermudian and to be able to witness something like this.” John Rankin, the Governor, told the crowds in the Olde Towne’s Kings Square that Bermuda was “fortunate that we live together with religious communities in harmony, respecting each other’s beliefs”. He added that this week’s Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka and a terror attack on a mosque in New Zealand last month highlighted the dangers of extremism and “the importance of standing together in a spirit of tolerance”. Mr Rankin thanked the Freemasons for their charitable work and the RBR “together with the Bermuda Police Service in ensuring the safety and security of this island”. Mayor of St George Quinell Francis said that plans to abolish the Corporations of St George and Hamilton meant the 203rd Peppercorn Ceremony was “the end of an era in Bermuda’s history”. Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, the RBR’s commanding officer, said he was pleased by the performance of the troops on parade, who were drawn from the RBR’s humanitarian and disaster relief company, commanded by Major Dwight Robinson with Captain Kenji Bean as parade commander. He added: “They all looked very good and the band gave a great performance. It was a long parade, so they stood fast. There were a lot of spectators, which was very pleasing. I also spotted a lot of schoolchildren, which was good to see. It’s Bermuda traditions at their finest. We are delighted to support the Governor, the Government of Bermuda as well as the Corporation of St George and to add some pomp and ceremony to this occasion.” Colonel Curley added that the soldiers on parade were also undergoing extra training to prepare them for Exercise TradeWinds, a major international disaster training event, to be held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the summer. He said: “The modern Regiment is flexible, adaptable and able to perform a wide range of roles in addition to the ceremonial one.”

2019. March 27. The Royal Bermuda Regiment fitness instructor who helped the all-woman Bermuda Rifle & Drill Team put their best foot forward has been thanked for his efforts. The group gave Sergio White, a Colour Sergeant in the RBR who runs Positive Results Gym, a bottle of wine, other gifts and a cash donation as a reward for training the squad. Debbie Symons, an RBR sergeant who leads the group of 30 women and 15 schoolgirls, said: “We are based on marching, fitness and team work. It is a sisterhood. “He has stuck by me for the past six years and I just wanted to showed my appreciation by giving him something back. He has a big heart, like me.” Mr White was happy to use his military skills to help train the team. He said: “The girls enjoyed it, I enjoyed it and it has just grown. I did it from the kindness of my heart, I didn’t expect anything from it. It’s always good to give back.” Ms Symons, in her last year of running the team, and other members of the group made the presentation at Mr White’s gym on Woodlands Road in Pembroke on Tuesday. The team has regular training sessions on the Warwick Camp parade ground and has marched in every Bermuda Day Parade since the group formed in 2014. Team member Gladwina O’Mara said: “I have a background in the Bermuda Police Service as a detective constable so the drill was familiar. I enjoy the level of exercise, the regiment, and it was fun being part of the team.” Lora Davis, another team member, added: “I’m an ex-member of the Bermuda Regiment — the drill was my favourite part then and I knew this was something I wanted to do. I’m also a police reserve, where I do drill, so it was a continuation of what I like to do. It’s the discipline and the exercise and our fitness sergeant has kept us in step.”

2018. December 14. The Royal Bermuda Regiment’s training officer was appointed as second-in-command of the island’s armed service yesterday. Major Ben Beasley, a former Royal Air Force officer, takes over the role from Major Warren Furbert. John Rankin, the Governor, promoted Major Beasley on the recommendation of the RBR’s promotions board. Mr Rankin said: “During his career to date, he has served the regiment with distinction in a number of positions, including as adjutant and as training officer. I look forward to working with Major Beasley in his new role.” Major Beasley, who joined the RBR in 2011, completed the UK Defence Academy’s advanced command and staff course last year. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to Bermuda in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Mr Rankin thanked Major Furbert for his work in his seven years as second-in-command. He said: “He has given dedicated service to the regiment as a full-time member of staff since 1984 and will continue, for the time being, as the regiment’s paymaster.”

2018. December 7. The Royal Bermuda Regiment plans to offer learning credits for soldiers to enhance their training. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, announced the move as he updated the House of Assembly on the Regiment’s activities. He said the credits would allow soldiers “to further their education and development. Growing the capability of the men and women who make up the regiment can only result in the growth of the capability of the Regiment as a whole.” He said the force reorganized last month into two operational companies of about 100 soldiers each, supported by a logistics company and training wing. One company will focus on internal security in support of the police, and the other has a dual focus of humanitarian aid and disaster relief, locally and overseas. Mr Caines added that work continued on “the much anticipated Coast Guard Unit”. He said: “The Regiment has taken possession of Watford House on Watford Island and, pending final approvals, a floating dock and fencing will be installed.” Mr Caines said the Coast Guard will work jointly with police in its first year to enable training to be completed. He described 2018 and the formal end to conscription as a “turning point” for the Regiment. Mr Caines said that 2019 would be the years when “the seeds of change bear fruit”. He added: “The renewed offer to our soldiers of enhanced training and increased education and development will be a key feature. The Regiment will continue to market itself as a feasible, long-term-career, and will provide leadership and management training for enlisted ranks and junior officers.” Mr Caines said that two recruit camps would be held next year with the first intake starting on February 19.

2018. July 1. The Royal Bermuda Regiment welcomed 24 new recruits to its first summer camp today. The rookie soldiers will spend the next two weeks learning the basics of military life in preparation for a choice of special roles at the end of their training. Shosun Durham, who comes from a family which has served in the island’s military for generations, said: “There is a sense of brotherhood and there’s discipline. It’s also a place where I can learn new skills.” The 23-year-old crewman on Longtail, a catamaran cruise boat based in Hamilton, added that the recommendations of friends helped convince him to join up. He said: “It was mainly how highly my friends spoke of it. I’m also big into fitness — I’m an exercise physiologist — so that side of the training really interests me. I’d like to continue my education here.” Andrea Warren, 31, from Devonshire, is one of eight women who joined up for the second recruit camp of the year. Private Warren, a food service supervisor at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, said she wanted to boost her management credentials. She added: “I joined to further my leadership skills, help out the country and learn a new trade. I spoke to someone when I signed up about mechanics but I don’t know what else they have to offer, so we’ll see what happens.” Vidal Papina — originally from 9,000 miles away in the Philippines — said joining the military was a boyhood dream. Private Papina, from Pembroke, who works for Hamilton’s Supermart, added: “I heard about the regiment and thought I would try my best. I play drums, so maybe I’d like to join the band, but I’ll wait and see.” The 43-year-old, who has lived in Bermuda for several years, added: “I’m not nervous at all — I’m very excited to be here.” The recruits’ first day was taken up with lectures on the conduct expected from soldiers and the issue of unfamiliar kit that will become like a second skin by the time they finish basic training. Sergeant Major Jason Harrell said: “This recruit camp is built from the ground up and based on modern needs. It’s an updated syllabus designed for modern soldiering.” He added: “The recruits will, for example, get more time on the weapons. They’re not doing any more than before, but getting more time for lessons. The way we used to do it worked for our old rifles, but not for the new ones.” But he said: “Some things never change — the basic soldiering skills, discipline, teamwork and self-reliance.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley, RBR commanding officer, added: “It’s a great pleasure to see yet another intake of recruits in a July recruit camp for the first time ever. It’s nice to see them taking on the challenge of the military life. We’re on the verge of issuing a strategic review which these soldiers will be introduced to — and they will be adopting these new training procedures throughout their careers. Colonel Curley added: “Our training team has shown a lot of zeal and energy in preparing from January for this. They’re ready to roll and they will push this two-week programme out, which is streamlined to get recruits up to speed a lot faster. Our recruiting team did a lot to get these new soldiers through the door and we are grateful to them for all their hard work and dedication.” Colonel Curley added that the training schedule had been amended to take account of the latest thinking on instructional techniques and will also include an allowance for the summer heat. He said: “This is a modern-thinking and changing organisation and our training system will evolve to keep pace. I personally commend all our soldiers, present and future, for their commitment to service to their country.”

2018. June 26. A former senior military officer said yesterday he feared the Government’s decision to end conscription would weaken the island’s defence force. Lieutenant-Colonel Allan Rance, leader of the Nine Colonels, a pressure group of former Commanding Officers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, said he believed the “vast majority” of former officers and Non-Commissioned Officers would view the Defence Amendment Act “with great concern”. Colonel Rance said: “Obviously, we’re going to hope it succeeds, but we think that there are some pretty big risks here that it may not.” He said the group would continue to act as a “friend and advocate” for the Regiment and “hold the minister’s feet to the fire”. Colonel Rance added: “If we see it failing, we’ll point that out too, publicly. If at the end of the day it all goes well, wonderful, but if the strength does fall off, as we think it may, we will ask the hard questions of the Government of the day. They will have created the problem. They will have to fix it.” Colonel Rance was speaking after Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, piloted a Bill to end conscription through the House of Assembly last Friday. The former CO of the Regiment said he felt the decision to end conscription was based on “false premises”. Colonel Rance dismissed arguments from anti-conscription campaigner Larry Marshall and group Bermudians Against the Draft that conscription was a violation of human rights. Colonel Rance said: “Those claims have all been rejected in the courts when there have been challenges made to the law, but people have bought into it. In a sense, the Government’s been duped.” Colonel Rance said the Nine Colonels were also concerned about the Regiment’s ability to fill its ranks using volunteers alone. He added the RBR would have to compete with other organisations, including the Bermuda Police Service and the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service, for recruits. Colonel Rance said: “There are only so many people to go around and we are a small community at the end of the day.” He added that plans to downsize and restructure the RBR were “implicitly recognizing” the risk. Colonel Rance explained: “When you downsize, you don’t need as many people to begin with. You’re trying to solve the equation from the demand side as much from the supply side in this case.” He said he believed downsizing was being done to cut operational costs so extra cash could be used to attract volunteers. Colonel Rance said he thought the move would work in the short term. He added: “What I think is going to happen in the longer term is the inducements to make better offers to compete in the job market will have to lead to higher costs if they want to attract top-class talent.” Colonel Rance said the group was also concerned about plans for an RBR Coast Guard to assume responsibility for policing Bermuda’s waters. Mr Caines told the House of Assembly the Coast Guard was expected to take over Marine Police duties in April 2020. Colonel Rance said: “What we’re concerned about is that it could turn into a fantasy without adequate funding. The minister knows this, and he will have to work very hard to make sure the funding is available.”

2019. June 23. Legislation to end conscription into the island’s military was passed in the House of Assembly last night. Wayne Caines, Minster of National Security, said the Defence Amendment Act was “a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the Royal Bermuda Regiment into a bespoke hybrid organisation, which is more efficient, effective and professional”. Mr Caines, a former officer in the RBR, said that conscription had “served Bermuda well over the years”. But he added: “That said, the modern era dictates that the time has come for conscription into the Royal Bermuda Regiment to end, as is the case in each of the other Overseas Territories. I am confident that Bermuda will be the better for ending conscription.” Mr Caines said his ministry had worked with the RBR to make sure the regiment would be able to sustain its volunteer numbers. He added: “The RBR will continue its extensive public relations campaigns and incentive programmes in order to attract men and women to serve.” Mr Caines said a review by the RBR had been conducted over the past six months. He added the report found that a total of 327 personnel, 28 officers and 299 soldiers, could carry out the work of the RBR. The number is down from the 400 soldiers recommended in a 2014 report. Mr Caines said the review also focused on the creation of a coast guard. He added: “The plan for the RBR Coast Guard is for the RBR to commence training now and perform the role alongside the Bermuda Police Service until the RBR Coast Guard is fully trained and completely take over the function.” The new Coast Guard is expected to take over maritime security duties in April 2020. Mr Caines said the RBR would recruit with “a promise to invest in those officers and soldiers who volunteer to serve Bermuda”. He added: “Through training partners in Bermuda and overseas, the regiment will deliver a pathway of education and training that is second-to-none. In short, this is a very exciting time to be a member of the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” Mr Caines said that he had met pressure group the Nine Colonels who “remain steadfast in their belief that conscription should not end”. But he added that they were “open” to the recommendations of the latest review. Mr Caines said: “They have made it clear that they would like to see a clear time continuum and firm undertaking by the Government that shows a commitment to enacting the key recommendations.” Michael Dunkley, a former premier and shadow national security minister, said that he had always felt “very uncomfortable” about conscription. He added: “I am glad that the day has come where we can deal with it.” But Mr Dunkley added: “At the same time, we need to make sure that the RBR is in a position to effectively fill out their mandate.” Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works admitted he was a “reluctant member” of the Regiment when he signed up. He said he had been opposed to the abolition of conscription, but that he could see the benefits of the Act. Colonel Burch added: “My own view on this has evolved. I get that times change and situations evolve. In order for this to be successful in terms of the survival of the Royal Bermuda Regiment, we require people who are in service to have the ability to convince young people that this is something they want to do. It must be aggressive and talk to young people where they are.” Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, said: “There are some of our young people who didn’t want to be there but who will tell you in retrospect that they could not have had a more positive experience. I’m going to miss hearing the positive experiences from those who didn’t want to do it.” Jamahl Simmons, the economic development minister, admitted he had been a “reluctant” conscript, but that the Regiment helped to “instil basic life skills”.

2018. June 22. Legislation designed to end conscription into the island’s military is to be debated in the House of Assembly today. The Defence Amendment Act 2018, tabled by Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, was drawn up to fulfil a General Election promise last year. Mr Caines, a former Royal Bermuda Regiment officer, said the end of compulsory service is “a critical step in the modernization of the organisation and transforming it into a broader career choice for Bermudians”. But a group of former commanding officers predicted the end of conscription would be the “death knell” for the defence force. The Nine Colonels, who fought a rearguard action to block the plan to end conscription, said a volunteer-only service would not attract enough volunteers. The One Bermuda Alliance administration ended annual conscription in 2015, but left it on the law books as a “last resort”. The RBR has run several volunteer-only recruit camps since then. The House of Assembly is also expected to have a take-note debate on the 2016 Housing and Population Census Report.

2018. March 13. The end of conscription will be “a death knell” for the island’s defence force, a group of former commanding officers warned yesterday. The Nine Colonels, who battled against plans to end conscription into the Royal Bermuda Regiment, said it had predicted not enough volunteers would be found to maintain numbers at Warwick Camp. Lieutenant-Colonel Allan Rance, speaking on behalf of the group, said: “We argued that it was unlikely that sufficient volunteers could be attracted from our small and shrinking population to maintain the numbers needed for the Regiment to fulfil its responsibilities. We warned that the regiment had a critical mass and that if manning fell significantly below the accepted optimum strength of 420 at all ranks, a process of collapse would begin which, in a few years, would result in the collapse and disappearance of the Royal Bermuda Regiment altogether.” But John Rankin, the Governor, said that the RBR planned to enhance its capabilities and recruitment would continue to maintain an effective force. Wayne Caines, the national security minister, dismissed the group as “relics from another era”. Mr Caines, a former regiment officer, added: “We must look at the battalion with a clinical eye. It is myopic and bereft of creativity to simply rely on conscription. This is proof positive that the Nine Colonels have a very limited understanding of what will make Bermuda better, and the Regiment stronger.” Mr Caines said that some might suggest from the last Recruit Camp that the RBR might have problems in the future, but that was not the case. He added: “This is where the opportunity lies. We must look at the constituent parts of the Regiment, at what is working and what is not. The regiment has been given an opportunity to revamp and re-organize and come back as a stronger, more focused battalion.” Colonel Rance said the group had backed the idea that Bermuda should try to keep up its numbers by recruiting volunteers. He explained: “We felt it was an experiment that needed to be tried to establish once and for all whether it could work.” But Colonel Rance said the group thought it would be a mistake to legally abolish conscription. He added: “We thought that we should try volunteerism by simply changing to a recruitment policy while leaving a possible resort to conscription in our laws. If not, conscription would be there as a back-up option.” Colonel Rance said the group was “delighted” when former premier Michael Dunkley suspended conscription for 2015 recruitment but left it on the law books. He added: “We have now been through three recruitment cycles since that debate. The numbers have unfortunately got worse every year.” Colonel Rance said the regiment needed 120 new soldiers every year to maintain its strength, although that would vary depending on the numbers who leave each year. He added that the RBR attracted 65 recruits in 2015, 60 in 2016 and 40 this year. Colonel Rance said: “The regiment intends to have another drive for recruits for a summer intake but it is unlikely that many more volunteers will come forth.” He added that the regiment numbers stood at 344 across its ranks, but that it needed 420 soldiers and the organisation was already unable to fulfil all its roles. Colonel Rance said the Progressive Labour Party government had promised to remove conscription from the island’s legislation — against the advice of a National Security and Defence Review panel in 2014. He said the review panel, appointed by George Fergusson, the former governor, “recommended in the strongest terms” that conscription should be retained “to preserve the now Royal Bermuda Regiment and thereby the safety and security of all Bermudians”. Mr Rankin said: “As Governor and Commander-In-Chief, I remain fully committed to maintaining the capacity of the Royal Bermuda Regiment to perform its duties in supporting the defence and security of Bermuda in line with modern requirements. In 2017, the Regiment played a key role in supporting the security arrangements for Bermuda’s successful hosting of the 35th America’s Cup and in deploying to the Turks and Caicos islands to assist in hurricane relief operations. Planning is now under way for the Regiment to undertake Inshore Coast Guard functions and to further enhance its humanitarian and disaster relief capability. Active recruitment to the Regiment will continue in support of these goals, providing a well-trained and professional force to meet this island’s security needs.” Mr Caines added: “Trying to keep up with a regiment of 400 people is now a nonsense. We have a very clear mandate to allow our young men and women to see the Regiment as a legitimate opportunity for employment, like the Bermuda Fire Service, to create clear opportunities for leadership roles and to provide for their families. The Regiment’s Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley has realised this.”

2017. December 20. The Royal Bermuda Regiment today stepped up its recruitment efforts as it prepares for life after conscription. National security minister Wayne Caines joined Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley for a rallying call at the Regiment’s new pop-up recruiting office in Hamilton. They highlighted that recruit camp will take place from January 14 to 28, and the deadline for applicants is January 4. Mr Caines said: “We want to highlight the importance of ensuring that we have a full slate of volunteers for the upcoming Regiment Recruit Camp. “Government has worked extensively with the Royal Bermuda Regiment to move to an all-volunteer force. In recent years we have had solid participation from the men and women in our community, who have chosen the path of becoming recruit volunteers. This year, we recognize the critical importance of maintaining a suitable complement of volunteers.” They listed the following benefits of volunteering:

Mr Caines said: “As Minister of National Security, I’m encouraging those able-bodied men and women in our community to seriously consider volunteering for the Bermuda Regiment. It is a rewarding experience, both from a community standpoint and financially. I have served in the Bermuda Regiment and I am grateful for the time I spent there. I’ve had the opportunity to see first-hand both the work and training involved and there is nothing that gives a person greater pride than being able to serve their country. So we want to encourage the next batch of leaders to join these ranks.” Colonel Curley said: “I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all residents of Bermuda between the ages of 18 and 35 who can spare the odd weekend or evening, who can attend an annual two-week camp either locally or overseas in order to volunteer to serve our country. I volunteered for Military duty approximately 28 years ago and decided to be an officer because I wanted to learn and be able to help promote an environment that fosters good sound judgment, positivity, leadership, team building and personnel interactions among our future soldiers.” Interested individuals can either visit Warwick Camp, the Hamilton recruitment centre or www.RBR.bm to sign up. For more information, call 335-0252.

2017. November 8. Conscription to the island’s defence force is to be abolished in the next few months, the Minister of National Security announced yesterday. Wayne Caines added that the end of compulsory service in the Royal Bermuda Regiment was “a critical step in the modernization of the organisation and transforming it into a broader career choice for Bermudians”. The RBR already has a Boat Troop responsible for inshore maritime patrols, but it was planned that the Regiment will assume a “core function” in the island’s security services. Mr Caines, a former RBR officer, said the goal was to develop a full-time defence force designed to operate in all areas of security and supplement existing resources “as necessary”. The minister, who retired from the Regiment as a captain, said the force would become a challenging career opportunity for Bermuda’s men and women. He added the RBR would boost volunteer recruitment by holding a second recruit camp during the summer, as well as the traditional January intake. Ending conscription has been an increasing priority since 2010, and the island marked its first all-volunteer camp in January 2016. Mr Caines noted that a raft of amendments to the 1965 Defence Act, passed in 2015 under the previous administration, had required time for training and had since come into force on November 1. The minister said a potential salary figure could be $65,000 a year after the requisite specialist training. The landmark announcement follows years of discussion under two successive administrations to take conscription off the books. The previous One Bermuda Alliance administration ended conscription — but left it on the law books in case it were ever needed. Mr Caines added that he expected to bring legislation to abolish conscription to Parliament at the start of next year.

2017. January 26. The senior military representative at the British Embassy in Washington has paid a flying visit to the Royal Bermuda Regiment’s latest recruits. According to a press release, Brigadier James Carr-Smith, Military Attaché in the United States capital, said he was impressed by the commitment and standards of the RBR. “Fantastic is my first impression of the troops,” he said. He said that, although this was his first visit to the island since taking over the military attaché’s post last August, he had heard favorable reports about the RBR’s standards. Brig Carr-Smith added that he had British Army friends, some from the RBR’s affiliated regiment the Royal Anglians, who had worked with island troops on overseas deployments, including Kenya. He said: “The RBR’s reputation is world-renowned and, importantly, well-founded. There is a lot to like.” Brig Carr-Smith was speaking after he toured Warwick Camp, speaking to new recruits on the firing range and the drill square, as well as instructors and full-time staff at Warwick Camp. He said that the RBR’s equipment and training, as well as its customs and traditions, were founded on those of the British Army. Brig Carr-Smith added: “We also have the same weapon system as the RBR and we’re wearing the same combats, while drill instructors have been on courses back in the UK, so I 100 per cent recognise the little training I have seen so far. If I was lucky enough to stay longer, I would recognise even more. Everything I have just seen and the interaction I have had with the young men and women, and some of them not so young I might add, is very positive.” And he singled out new soldiers, conscripted years ago before it was decided to make the RBR all-volunteer but had been pending due to living or studying overseas, who had chosen to volunteer as an good indicator of the spirit of the recruits. Brig Carr-Smith added the RBR compared favorably with the 15 Army Reserve infantry battalions in the UK. He said: “Their recruit basic training is very similar to what I have just seen with RBR basic training.” Brig Carr-Smith, due to return to his post at the British Embassy in Washington on Friday, added he had also been impressed by Bermuda. He said: “The people I have met are hugely friendly. The thing that really has struck me is how well-integrated the Royal Bermuda Regiment is, not just with the society it serves, but, importantly, with the other agencies — police, immigration, customs, the fire service — and that inter-agency approach is very important in all our armed forces. That’s important in whatever country you’re in because no conflict will ever be solved by military intervention alone. Co-operation is vital and I see that in abundance here in the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley escorted Brig Carr-Smith on visits to Governor John Rankin, police headquarters at Prospect and on his tour of Warwick Camp. Lt Col Curley said: “It’s reassuring that a senior British officer has said such great things about us. And it’s also very gratifying that the RBR is recognized around the world as good ambassadors for Bermuda.” The 60 new soldiers are now approaching the end of a tough two weeks of introduction to life in the island’s armed service and will finish their training with a formal passing out parade this weekend.

2016. February 28. Lieutenant-Colonel David Curley has taken over as commanding officer of the Royal Bermuda Regiment. He is replacing British Army career soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Foster-Brown, who will return to a post with the Army in the UK. The sword of command was handed over during a ceremony at Warwick Camp on Saturday. Troops and guests in attendance included the Governor, George Fergusson, also the commander-in-chief of the regiment, and the Premier, Michael Dunkley. Colonel Curley told those assembled: “My vision for the Royal Bermuda Regiment is to continue to build and maintain an operationally effective military organization with the present missions and tasks and with the potential of an expanded marine role which will work closely in supporting the Bermuda Police Service.” He said it had been a pleasure to take part in the first all-volunteer recruit camp in January and to see the trainee soldiers become the first to train exclusively with the new British Army-issue SA-80 rifles. Colonel Curley, the 16th commanding officer of the regiment, paid tribute to his predecessor for “his hard work and dedication to the Royal Bermuda Regiment for almost three years. He arrived, got stuck in and accomplished many feats during his tenure. I also take this opportunity to publicly thank him for steering me past the company command kingdom and having the utmost confidence and positive influence on me to take over command from him. The regiment is facing some interesting, challenging and busy times going forward, but it is well placed to seize the opportunities that lie ahead. All of us ultimately have a role to play in helping shape that future, whether it be as a currently serving soldier, policy maker, advisor, supportive employer, member of the public or an understanding spouse. I am very proud of all the men and women of all ranks within the Royal Bermuda Regiment.” Colonel Foster-Brown, who will take up a post at the Joint Services Command headquarters at Northwood, near London, said the regiment’s role in the back-to-back hurricanes of 2014 had underlined its importance to the island. He said training soldiers as Special Constables and an expanded joint services explosive ordnance disposal unit, as well as plans to take the lead in maritime security, would make the regiment even more valuable. Retention rates, he added, were at an all-time high, with 77 per cent of the regiment strength now volunteer. Colonel Foster-Brown added: “We have also reminded Bermudians — if indeed the silent majority needed reminding — of our enduring relevance, value and significance.” Mr Fergusson said the “royal” designation awarded to the regiment for its 50th anniversary last year was not an automatic honour or granted lightly, and that he had “absolute confidence” that Colonel Curley would “manage the Regiment well during his time of command”. In addition to the traditional planting of a cedar tree on the lawn of the officers’ mess by the outgoing commanding officer, another tree was planted by the family of Major Chris Wheddon, who died on duty in Britain in 2012 and who had been due to take over command. British Army Colonel Nick Lock, the assistant military attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, said after the change of command ceremony: “It was fantastic — this regiment has such a warm feeling with everybody working hard together to achieve a good result. I am sure it was a very proud day for Colonel Mike and for Colonel David taking over. From the embassy in Washington, we will continue to support the Regiment where we can.”

2016. February 12. Royal Bermuda Regiment - 50 years Strong. Book. 2016. Tony McWilliam. Celebrating its half centenary. The 160-page book features interviews with former and serving soldiers and charts the history of the RBR since it was formed in 1965 through the amalgamation of the Bermuda Militia Artillery and the Bermuda Rifles, formerly the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps. Published by the National Museum of Bermuda Press under the auspices of the Bermuda Regiment Charitable Trust, $50.

2016. January 9. The Royal Bermuda Regiment’s commanding officer is gearing up to welcome a record-breaking number of volunteers for his last recruit camp. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Foster-Brown, who will be handing over command to Major David Curley in February, said he was “thrilled to be leaving on a high with among other things the first ever all-volunteer recruit camp”. A total of 64 recruits — 48 men and 16 women — are expected to start their training at Warwick Camp tomorrow morning. They are the first recruits to join the newly designated Royal Bermuda Regiment, which was awarded the title as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations in September last year. Col Foster-Brown said this year’s number of volunteers exceeded last year’s record of 61 volunteers out of 115 recruits. He added that the RBR had been able to reduce its intake to a minimum of 50 recruits because more soldiers were choosing to stay on after their minimum three years of service. And the smaller number of recruits means that there will only be two platoons instead of three. “Our aim, as with the wider Regiment, is to build soldiers up, not break them down, so they will have a busy but rewarding two weeks of training while they make the transition from civilian to trained soldier,” Col Foster-Brown told The Royal Gazette. “Throughout there will be an emphasis on teamwork, which is encouraged through section and platoon competition and sport. The recruits will be trained on the new SA80-A2 weapons which we received in the summer from the United Kingdom.” The programme includes shooting, field craft and drill, as well as fitness and military skills. Recruits will also spend an extra night deployed in the field this year. Col Foster-Brown added: “As with the last two years, we will be posting periodic video updates on our website so that families and supporters of the recruits can follow their progress.”

2015. September 2015. Now the Royal Bermuda Regiment, earlier the Bermuda Regiment since 1965. Once, Bermuda had its own two local military units, the all-black but white officered Bermuda Militia Artillery and the all-white Bermuda Rifles, each with their own unique military traditions. They served on the side of Great Britain in World Wars 1 and 2 with bravery, distinction and  loss of life. They were amalgamated in 1965 into one new unit, the Bermuda Regiment. Today, only Bermuda, Cuba, North Korea and Switzerland still have compulsory selective conscription of able-bodied young men annually. However, it is expected that by 2016 it will become mostly a volunteers-attracting unit, with conscription mostly or wholly ended. Its presence at major Bermuda events including Beating Retreat and Remembrance Day events has become a cherished local tradition. 

2015. April 12. The public have been invited to join the Bermuda Regiment band and other community bands and musicians for a reunion concert to mark the regiment’s 50 years of service to the Island. (The Regiment is technically a reserve unit, 28th in order of terms of precedence, of the British Army, similar in stature to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment). The North Village Community Band, the Somerset Brigade Band, the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band, the Bermuda Chamber Choir, the Bermuda Youth Orchestra and members of the Warwick Academy Orchestra will perform. Governor George Fergusson is the commander-in-chief of the Bermuda Regiment. Attendees must obtain free tickets in advance at bdatix.bm and are encouraged to carpool. Access to the grounds of Government House is by the North Shore Gate only. Gates open at 1.30pm, with limited parking provided within the grounds. Concertgoers are welcome to bring their own baskets, blankets and chairs. Refreshments will also be on sale. Limited seating will be provided for seniors. In the event of inclement weather, please listen to media messages or look for posted signs that will indicate whether the concert has been moved indoors to the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium. 

2013. December 11. A band of former Bermuda Regiment commanding officers is launching a campaign to block conscription from being abolished, claiming the move is not in the best interests of the Island and will result in the army unit eventually being dissolved. The group of local retired military top brass has taken aim at protest group Bermudians Against the Draft, accusing it of making “outlandish statements”, and also dismissed Government proposals that the Regiment should be staffed entirely by volunteers, saying that would drive up costs. Prior to last December’s general election, both political parties pledged to abolish conscription. And last month, Government confirmed in its Throne Speech that legislation to end the controversial policy was in the pipeline, although Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley has insisted the change will not result in the Regiment being disbanded. But a statement released yesterday — signed by eight of the Regiment’s 14 former Commanding Officers — claimed that conscription was the only method by which the Regiment could keep operational — adding that the controversial practice did not violate human rights and did not enslave anyone. “The recruitment process by which the Bermuda Regiment sustains its strength has been maligned in recent years to such an extent that our political establishment wishes to make a change,” the statement, headlined ‘In Defence of the Bermuda Regiment’, said. "The Regiment’s most important role was to assist the police in times of civil unrest or disobedience. To carry out this role the Regiment requires more than 400 personnel of all ranks. The number of people volunteering to join the Regiment annually has been fewer than 30. If conscription is abolished then where are the necessary personnel going to come from? Not volunteers. The majority of Regiment leaders had been drawn from conscripts, and that volunteers alone would not provide a large enough pool from which future leaders could be recruited. Abolish conscription and the Regiment will downsize by attrition to become ineffective for its role. This is Bermuda’s post-World War II experience. We are a small, isolated island community with a very limited gene-pool, unlike the United Kingdom or United States; two often quoted examples of all-volunteer military forces. There are simply not enough Bermudians born to fill the requirements of all the uniformed organisations in Bermuda — mainly Police, Customs, Regiment and Fire Services. To abolish conscription is not in the best interests of Bermuda, and will over time have a dramatic result — Bermuda will lose the Regiment.” Turning its sights on Bermuda Against the Draft, the statement asked: “Are the moves towards recruitment solely by volunteers the response to an action group advocating to abolish conscription? This group has made many outlandish statements over several years and has legally challenged the concept of conscription on numerous grounds to the highest court possible. All legal challenges have consistently been lost. Conscription does not violate human rights and it does not enslave anyone. The anti-conscription group should be given no credence whatever. To give them any credence is a serious error in judgment.” And the group also questioned the cost of a full-time volunteer unit, claiming it would “require substantial uplifts in pay scales to attract the number needed. It will cost substantially more to fund the Regiment as a result. Taxpayer costs will rise. This, too, is contrary to our best interests.” The statement ended with a battle cry, urging former soldiers to join in the fight “to preserve the Regiment as it is. We will try to act as spokesmen for the Regiment over the next few months, to rebut some of the untruths and specious arguments that are being advanced, and to help the community understand how grievous the loss will be if the Regiment is thrown on the scrap heap to appease an anti-conscription lobby that has no legal credibility. We mean no disrespect to those we will be opposing. Indeed, it will be difficult for soldiers who have been brought up in an atmosphere of respect and neutral service to engage in any kind of campaign at all. However, we feel circumstances warrant our current course of action — indeed, we would be remiss in our duty to the unit if we failed to speak up.” The letter was signed by former Regiment COs Lt Col Michael Darling, Lt Col CE Raynor, Lt Col Gavin Shorto, Lt Col Allan Rance, Lt Col Patrick Outerbridge, Lt Col David Gibbons, Lt Col William White, Lt Col Brian Gonsalves. Two former Regiment commanders absent from the list of signatories are Lt Col Edward Lamb, and Lt Col David Burch. Lt Col Lamb, who is now Commissioner of Prisons, last night declined to reveal his reasons for not adding his name. “I have no comment to make — I was invited to sign but I chose not to for a number of reasons which I won’t disclose,” he said. Lt Col Burch, who had a high-profile political career following his stint in uniform, could not be reached for comment last night.

2012. December 12. BBC News, London. A man who died in a crash on the A34 in Oxfordshire was an officer from Bermuda in the UK for military training. Christian Wheddon, 43, died when the Mitsubishi he was a passenger in left the northbound carriageway near Drayton on Sunday. The driver was also hurt. He had been in the UK since July preparing to become the next commanding officer of the Bermuda Regiment. Major Wheddon was part of the security forces for the Olympic Games, where he met up with Bermudan athletes. In a statement released through police, his family said: "We are devastated. Words cannot express the shock and horror of Chris's passing. He was so happy to have the opportunity to train in the UK and was looking forward to his next posting in Bermuda. He was the rock of the family and we will all feel lost without him." The major, who was born and raised in Bermuda, leaves a three-year-old daughter, Katherine. His family added: "He will be deeply missed by all that knew him but his family and friends take comfort knowing he was doing what he loved. He had two real loves in his life: his daughter Katherine and the Army." Major Wheddon was also a sergeant with the Bermuda Police Service and an avid sailor who spent much of his spare time taking part in races around Bermuda.

Bermuda Regiment

Then-Governor Richard Gozney inspecting the Regiment.

Bermuda Regiment Band

Bermuda Regiment Recruits

Bermuda Regiment guns

Bermuda Regiment 2

Bermuda Regiment photos by Bermuda's only daily newspaper, The Royal Gazette

Source British

Shark oil barometers

Bermuda Shark Oil BarometerBermudians, especially before the days of electronic weather forecasting, once used to rely heavily on unique, home-made, soda bottle, shark-oil based "barometers" to predict storms and other severe weather. 

Local St. David's Islanders in particular used to catch and eat shark and, if it met the conditions and was the species of shark required, cooked it in its own liver oil.  The shark has to be caught in certain months when the liver is white in color. The process must be done in natural sunlight in a non-metallic container. After being melted down in the hot sun, it was poured into any soda (carbonated beverage) bottle and hung outside. The appearance of the oil altered consistently with changes in the weather. From that time on, bottles of shark oil began appearing on walls or terraces.

Local practitioners of the art today say a reliable way of knowing what the weather is going to be like is to secure the bottle with string, hang it up with the bottle straight, not tilting, then observe over time how the shark oil settles or remains cloudy. Some old timers still check shark oil before going out  with their boats into deep waters. There are dozens of theories on why shark oil changes with the climate and whether it really is effective. The only one that seems to fit is that electrical changes in the atmosphere - at least in Bermuda, possibly elsewhere too -  affect the shark's liver and alert the shark to move out to deeper water before a bad storm. The oil retains this function when removed, and the change is visible, the oil switching from a clear golden color like cooking oil to milky white.

Shark oil is common in many countries with sea access and so are soda bottles and shark oil barometers, so there is no need to export them from Bermuda.

Source Local

Queen's Birthday and New Year Honours Lists

Given in Bermuda to whose whose courage, selflessness and hard work have changed Bermuda for the better. Their names can be submitted them for consideration in the Queen’s Birthday and/or New Year's Honours List.  Honorees include voluntary work, arts, health, sport, education, science, business and politics. The Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to public life or served the community over a sustained period. Nominees should be still active in their chosen area, newly retired or have had a recent significant achievement. The honours are a good way to say thank you. There are many unsung heroes in Bermuda who quietly contribute in all kinds of important ways to improve the lives of Bermudians. It is an opportunity to pay homage to those who work tirelessly for and on behalf of others, and a chance to say thank you for years of hard work and dedication. Nomination forms can be downloaded from the section on the right of www.gov.bm/governor-bermuda, and applicants are cautioned not to discuss the matter with their chosen nominees. Completed forms must be received by the Cabinet Office no later than 5pm on the last working day of April or October. 

War Veterans on Remembrance Day

Bermuda War Veterans Association Registered Charity 140
Bermuda War Veterans Commissioners See Bermuda Government Boards

See under November in Bermuda Public Holidays

Source British

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Last Updated: August 18, 2019
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