So the Bermuda soldiers make Ruger their gun of choice. Pointless, unless their citizens can also make that choice.
Since it's a British territory, I presume it's a Gun Free Zone? Thinking of it though, who in their right mind would attack Bermuda? Tourists?
Historically, Bermuda has been too well defended by reefs and naval and military forces to invite attack. For the first two centuries after the Virginia Company settled it, defence was by local militias. Every man of military age was required to take part in annual musters, or to be called out in times of war or internal security. The Spanish attempted to land from one ship in the earliest days, but famously turned tail after warning shots from the militia, who actually had only a little powder left. The standing militia, incidentally, were the artillery troops, who manned forts and batteries at strategic points. Bermuda still has the first stone buildings built by the English in the New World, the oldest surviving English forts in the New World (NW), the oldest surviving English stone house in the New World (also, it's the oldest surviving English house in the New World...Commander's house in one of the forts built in 1612), the first English coastal artillery in the new world, the first English stone forts in the NW...it has lots of other oldsts and firsts. It's usually said that Jamestown, VA was the first succesful (or permanent) town founded by the English in the NW, but in fact there was no actual town at Jamestown 'til 1619. Prior to that, there was James Fort. This makes St. George's (originally called New London)in Bermuda the first. Jamestown, of course, was not permanent in any case, disappearing before the end of the 17th Century, whereas St. George's has always thrived (in fact, in the earliest years, the outlook for the mainland colony looked so bleak that the Virginia Company almost evacuated all the Jamestown settlers to Bermuda (which was more populous and succesful at the time), abandoning the continent to the Natives and the Spanish. Of course, all the settlers would have died in 1609 had the Deliverance and Patience not arrived from Bermuda loaded with food. Even then, they chose to abandon the colony, but Lord De La Warre's timely arrival with more settlers and supplies stopped them doing so.I digress...Seems the number of characters I wrote require splitting into five posts!!SPOC (Aodhdubh)
as far as I know, the Bermudian militia, other than standing guard during war time, saw little action. I know of three incidents...they were embodied to put down a sailors' riot in the 18th Century. In the same century, Spanish and French vessels raided a remote area of the island, nd fled before Bermudian privateer vessels and militia arrived to toss them out. During the American War of Independence, two Bermudian-born brothers, captaining a pair of sloops, raided a small fort at the West End, spiking the guns before fleeing themselves.Bermuda had been a major purveyor of privateers since the 17th Century, due to having no natural resource but Bermuda cedar, which was turned into fine sloops that were in high demand throughout the Atlantic, by merchants, navies, privateers, and pirates. With her livelihood completely connected to shipbuilding and seafaring, Bermuda put out large numbers of privateers during every war in the 18th Century. At least those at sea...Her privateer fleet was larger than that of any of the continental colonies.Bermuda played both sides during the American rebellion. Aside from the already close ties with Virginia, thousands of Bermudians settled in the mainland colonies before American independence. They were responsible for settling and populating whole towns. When South Carolina was created, they led the settlement of Charleston, under the first SC Governor - a Bermudian. In fact, wealthy Bermudian merchant families controlled trade through a number of American ports, notably Charleston, throughout the century. So many Bermudians settled in the now-USA in the 1600s and 1700s that, in all probability, any American reading this whose ancestry in the US stretches back beyond a few generations probably has Bermudian ancestry. Yet again I digress...SPOC
Bermuda had close links of blood and commerce with the rebelling American colonies, and early in the war islanders sympathies were definitely with the Americans. Supposedly, a thousand Bermuda sloops were treasonably built as privateers for the Americans, and transferred to American hands via neutral ports. As the war progressed, and with no chance of joining the rebellion, given the continental rebels could never have supported them, many Bermudians saw their interests as pushing them against the Americans. Bermudian privateers turned aggresively on American shipping. Despite this, Geo Washington, at the advice of the Bermudian contingent within his staff, sent a secret letter to prominent Bermudians, addressed to the people of Bermuda, asking them, in light of the close ties between Bermuda and America, to steal gunpowder from the magazine in St. George's which supplied the forts around the town. A hundred barrels were stolen and supplied to the Americans (one Frenchman murdered in the process). Bermudians had continued to trade with Americans (being dependant on food bought from North America) throughout the war, and after this the Congress officially authorised that trade.After American independence, Bermuda achieved great importance to the Royal Navy as its only base between Canada and the West Indies (closer to Halifax than Miami, by the by). The Admiralty bought up a lot of property around Bermuda, especially at the West End, and developed the HM Dockyard on Ireland Island. In the War of 1812, the squadron based at Bermuda was responsible for blockading the American Atlantic ports. They also occupied coastal islands, encouraging slaves to comeover to the Crown. Many did, and were organised into Colonial Marines. Later, they were pulled back to Bermuda, where their families were employed at the Dockyard. Their terms of service were better than those of soldiers in the West India Regiments. The Government wanted to transfer them to the Army, but most refused. Those who agreed were sent toi the West Indies, where some took part in the invasion of Lousiana. The rest were given land to settle in the West Indies, where they supposedly organised their villages like military companies. I digress, again.....The original Admiralty House was at Mount Wyndham, in Bailey';s Bay...at the East End of Bermuda. The building is still there....the Great Seal of the Confederacy arrived in Bermuda for transhipment to the CSA by blockade runner too late to be delivered before the CSA surrendered. It's still in Bermuda....it was at Mount Wyndham for may years, though I think it's in a museum, now. I digress....After the Americans raided York (Toronto), burning buildings, the Canadian Governor asked the Admirals and generals in Bermuda to retaliate. A large force of naval vessels and soldiers, freed from Europe by victory in the Peninsular War, had arrived in Bermuda about then. It was decided to use this force to launch attacks along the Atlantic coast to draw American forces away from the Canadian border. Receiving the letter, a strike was made on Washington DC. The US Government fled the city. The British commanders sat down to eat the president's dinner, which had been abandoned on the table. Afterwards, much of the City was burnt, including the President's Mansion (ever since, rumour has had it that the name White House reflected the need to paint over the burn marks), and the Capital. There are still two portraits hanging in the Bermuda Parliament's assembly hall, of King George III and his wife. These were found in one of the American public buildings and brought back to Bermuda after the attack on Washington. After leaving Washing to, of course, the force made a stab at Baltimore, but ran out of time and supplies before getting past the defending battery (Star Spangled Banner).SPOC
Bermudian privateers had begun to slack off before that War as the new Navy base meant privateers were less required, and because the US pressed legal claims against British privateers in British courts quite succesfully, and a sizeable part of the damages awarded were meant to have come from Bermudians (I doubt most of the damages were payed as the authorities required to collect them lacked the zeal for the task). During the American War of 1812, Bermudian privateers captured something like 298 enemy vessels (losing most, unfortunately, during a hurricane after the War which found the huge prize fleet at anchor in St. George's Harbour. I expect most of them are still there, at the bottom).After the War, the militia faded away as the local parliament did not renew the act under which it operated. This was as the regular army was building up a huge garrison, and many islanders, who had better things to do (a third of the island's manpower was at sea at any one time, the rest preparing for sea, or building ships), felt the militia was no longer required. Roughly one hundred forts and fortified gun batteries were built in Bermuda, a great many of them in the 19th Century. Bermuda was home to the largest Royal Naval Dockyard outside Britain, and served as home base for the North America and West Indies Squadron. By the latter end of the 19th Century, (regular) soldiers made up something like a quarter of the population. The defensive works were increased after the US Civil War, as the Confederacy was only able to sustain its war effort (with most of the manufacturing done pre-War in the Northern states) thanks to weapons and other equipment procured in Europe. With the US Navy blockading southern ports, most of those weapons were funnelled into the Carolinas from Bermuda aboard blockade runners. Bermuda's blood and commercial ties were much stronger with the Southern states than the North, and many Bermudians sided openly with the South, accosting the US Consul in the streets, while the Confederate agent was well-received. The US was so incensed at the role of Britain, especially of Bermuda, in the War that it demanded and received reparations from the UK, and the defences of Bermuda had to be increased, just in case the US tried to invade anyway. I should mention that not all Bermudians sided with the South (and many who did may have done so only to get rich). Many Bermudians actually fought for the North, especially in the US Navy. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment had a Bermudian First Sergeant, who enlisted for Glory (wikipedia the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry)Militias were raised throughout the 19th Century by the Governor or the Army or Navy, without support of the local parliament, but all of these were short-lived. Many Bermudians enlisted in the regular Army units on garrison, but the UK Government wanted to reduce the regulars after the Crimean War to redeploy them for Home Defence, in case Britain was attacked by France, and to be available for future expeditions like the Crimea. As a result, the local parliament was prompted to raise Volunteer troops, two units - The Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and the Bermuda Militia Artillery.SPOC
Despite the name of the latter, these were not militia, but new volunteer units. This meant soldiers voluntarily enlisted, and trained throughout the year on weekends and evenings, and at an annual camp. During times of war, they were embodied and served under the same military law as regular soldiers (as durin annual camps). They could quit the corps at any time, except during war or when embodied for annual camp, with fourteen days notice. They could not be forced to serve overseas without their consent. Units liked these had been raised all over Britain in the late 19th Century, and in 1908 were merged with the Yeomanry and remaining militia units and turned into the Territorial Force (today, the Territorial Army), which involved a number of changes, including terms of service (no more quitting with 14 days notice). The units in Bermuda were not reorganised along these lines 'til after the Great War.During the Great War (First World War), hundreds of Bermudians served in all the services, and virtually every regiment of the British Army. Twenty were aviators (including Arthur Rowe Spurling, a bomber pilot who single-handedly...with his rear gunner...attacked 30 German fighters...with his bomber....shooting down five....he also served in the Second World War, and his Distinguishe Flying Cross just sold at auction in England for a hefty sum). Anyway...the BVRC and BMA each,in addition to maintaining guard on Bermuda - a major naval base, still, during that war, as well as a junction point on the trans-Atlantic cable), sent two contingents to the Western Front. The BVRC's served as part of the Lincolnshire Regiment, where they were highly prized. The first BVRC Contingent, having trained in Bermuda over the preceding winter, arrived in France in June, 1915 - the first colonial volunteer unit to reach the Front. The two BMA contingents served as part of the larger Royal Garrison Artillery draft to the Front. The Royal Field Artillery and the Royal Horse Artillery were actually responsible for Field Guns...the plain old Royal Artillery for ammunition stores and supplies. The RGA was primary responsible for fixed (mostly coastal) artillery, which had to be manned throughout the war, but saw little action. They consequently sent drafts to the Front where some were involved with operating large railway type guns, but most were employed, like the RA, in ammunition supply. This was what the Bermudian gunners did, delivering ammunition to the field guns, often under enemy fire. Lord Haig wrote a letter praising them highly.After the War, a third unit was created, the Bermuda Volunteer engineers, and the part-time artillery men took over the coastal batteries completely, as regular Engineers and RGA units were withdrawn from the garrison. The regular infantry was also reduced from a battalion to a company, and the part-time units were expected to take up the slack. Another unit, the Bermuda Militia Infantry, was formed in 1939, and all four units were embodied when war was declared on Germany in 1939 (many part-time soldiers having already drifted into camp before the ultimatum had expired).SPOC
In addition to guarding the sites in Bermuda that were important to the war effort (the Dockyard, trans-Atlantic cable, signalling stations, the Royal Naval Air Station on Boaz Island, the Royal Air Force air station on Darrell's Island, et cet.), the BVRC sent a contingent to the Lincolnshire Regiment in 1940. A handful of soldiers from the BMA and BVE travelled with the BVRC detachment to England, seperating to join the regular Royal Artillery (which had reabsorbed the RGA and RFA...but not the RHA) and Royal Engineers. As an important strategic site (as with the Great War, among Bermuda's roles was as a forming-up point for trans-Atlantic convoys, and German U-Boats and pocket battleships prowled heavily around it in the first years of the war), Bermuda needed to be defended, and a moratorium was placed on any further drafts from the local units, although many Bermudian soldiers were allowed to train locally as pilots, at the Bermuda Flying School, then detached from their units to travel to England, where they went to the Royal Air Force or the Fleet Air Arm (the BFS sent 88 pilots to England, and 60 aircrew trainees, and 22 women to train for ground roles, were sent to the Royal Canadian Air Force by its successor, the Bermuda Flying Committee. As so many of its soldiers were stuck on guard duty, and so many Bermudians entered the airforces, the list of Bermudian war dead for the second world war is much shorter than that for the Great War, and a much greater percentage of the dead were aviators (including Grant Ede, an RAf fighter pilot killed when his carrier was ambushed by German battleships returning from the Battle of Norway, making him the first Bermudian killed in the war...his father was a naval officer killed under similar circumstances during the Battle of Jutland during the Great War). First Bermudian POW, as far as I know, was Eldon Tucker, a Surgeon-Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps. When the BEF was evacuated from Dunkirk, wounded soldiers who weren't fit to be evacuated had to be left behind. The doctors drew straws, and Tucker's was the shortest. He remained behind while the others swam to a Royal Naval vessel.SPOC
In 1943, with a German attack on Bermuda less likely, and American forces building up there (Churchill gave the US 99 year leases for militart bases. This is often said to be in exchange for loaned destroyers...the Lend-Lease Agreement, but that's not true. The US received bases in a number of West Indian colonies for the destroyers. The bases they received in Bermuda and Newfoundland were gratis, just because Churchill felt neutral American forces could be relied upon to defen them, freeing British troops from guard duty to be sent elsewhere. The BVRC and the BMA (+BMI) detached drafts in 1943 to send overseas. The contingents trained together in Bermuda for the European theatre as the Training Battalion. The BVRC contingent then joined the Lincolns in England. The BMA/BMI contingent was sent to Virginia, where it formed the training cadre for the new Carribean Regiment. Detachments were sent from various parts of the West Indies. The units trained in Virginia, had a parade to celebrate the King's Birthday (first in the US since independence), and were then sent to Italy. They spent a short time in the line, not getting to see any real action, before they were assigned to escort German POWs to Egypt, where they then formed the POW camp guard.The BVRC detachments were absorbed into the Lincolns (during the first War, they were attached, but remained nominally separate) and took part in the campaign that moved from Norther France, through Belgium and Holland, into Germany. Four of the Bermudians who joined the BVRC during the War finished it as Majors - one, Glynn Gilbert (who had actually joined the Lincolns directly, rather than as part of a BVRC draft) later transferred to the Parachute Regiment, and retired in 1974 as a Major General.Many other Bermudians also served in a large number of other regiments, as well as in other services, including the Royal Navy, as well as in the US services.Bermuda put more people per capita into uniform during the Second World War than any other part of the British Empire.After the war, the RAF Bases were closed, and the local units struck off. The BVRC and BMA maintained skeleton command structures, and began recruiting again in 1951, but the BVE, BMI and Home Guard disappeared without a trace. In the 1950s, the Dockyard was closed, except for a part which remained as a supply base, HMS Malabar, til '1995. The Army garrison was slated for closure, with the last regular unit, a detachment from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, removed in 1957.The last Imperial Defence Plan was issued in 1953, and after that the local units had no role assigned by Ministry of Defence. The last coastal artillery battery was closedin 1953, and the BMA concerted to the infantry role (although they still wore Royal Artillery uniforms and badges). By this time, I should mention, three Bermudian ex-soldiers had re-enlisted, joining the regiment on garrison in Bermuda at the time, the Gloucestershire Regiment (the Glosters). All three fought on Gloster Hill in Imjin, in the Korean War. When the order was given to abandon the hill, two were captured by the Chinese, and one escaped. The Glosters saved the UN forces, and uniquely received a citation from the US president, but the price they paid was the obliteration of their regiment (one battalion, at that point). Other Bermudians also fought in Korea, though no Bermudian unit has been deployed to a war overseas since 1945.SPOC
I noted racks of SLRs and Sterling SMGs, evidently actually belonging to the Royal Navy base, HMS Malabar, which closed in 1995...the Royal Navy having established its permanent bases on Bermuda in 1795), a rack of ancient single-shot shotguns, with Martini-Henry breeches (the British Army kept these for riot control purposes in the 19th Century!), and various one-offs of a number of 5.56 mm rifles. Also, a rack of No. 4 Lee-Enfields, SMLEs, and other obsolete bolt-actions, 7.62 mm Nato Lee-Enfield sniper rifles, 12 guage Mossberg punp-action shotguns, Uzi SMGs, GPMGs (FN MAG), 9mm Beretta pistols, parachute type mortars (no stand, just a strap you step on to range it), FRGs, and who knows what else. There are also two 6" Rifles mounted in a fortified battery atop the camp, but the breech blocks were removed after the Second World War.As far as I know, all the Mini-14s date back to the initial purchase in 1983. This means they're getting quite elderly now. When I took my discharge, 14 years ago, there was a rumour to the effect that we would be getting armalites to replace them. A new FATS system had been installed behing the 25m range, and that used Armalie M16A2 rifles, adapted to the system, inclining one to think there might be truth to the rumour. The SA80 was stuck in development when the Bermuda Regiment re-equipped with Mini-14s. It keeps a couple of SA80s as all soldiers attending training courses in England or Gibraltar, and any being detached to serve with the Royal Anglians, need to be proficient with the standard weapon. Having been trained to use it, I have to say the bull-pup layout is not to my liking....weight balance is all wrong!...and the SA80 must be the only 5.56mm rifle that's more of a pain to strip than the Ruger (the Ruger is simple in principle, but its a dark art wiggling the breech block in or out of the receiver in the dark. Given also the bad reputation the SA80 has gained in service, I'd be much happier with an Armalite. For some time, when I only drew a rifle to act as enemy during training, I stuck exclusively to the use of the Galil AR, which I liked almost better than the Armalite, though I prefer the Armalite for the ease of use of its thumb selector. The Galil, unlike the Kalashnikov, actually has a thumb selector, too, but it turns the same mechanism as the large AK-type selector on the other side, which means it takes brute force to shove it forward (to the safe position), and the only way to take the safety off is with the right side selector/dust cover, which means taking your hand off the pistol grip. So I hope the AR is coming...and the rumours must soon become reality as how many decades can they expect to get out of a Mini-14?!!!Anyway, I apologise for blithering so long...if you're actually still reading. :)SPOC
The following block of text is missing from the space between the Korean War and the list of small arms at Warwick Camp:In 1965, the BVRC (by then called the Bermuda Rifles), and the BMA amalgamated into the Bermuda Regiment, which continues the history and lineage of both units. The Bermuda Regiment is a part-time territorial unit, identical to those in Britain except in one respect - it relies on a lottery-type conscription to make up its strength. This is unfortunate, as it means most of the privates are less than committed soldiers, but ours is not to reason why. Anyway, it's the only part of the British Army that still uses conscription.Soldiers basic requirement is one drill night per week, one weekend camp per month, and one annual two-week camp per year. Many put in much more time (for much of my service, my role required I put in twice that, which meant I was actually giving the Regiment much more time, on average, than I spent at my full-time civilian job).Anyway, firearms are able to be owned in Bermuda, though that fact isn't advertised much. You have to be a member of a licensed club (there's a rifle and pistol club, and also a shotgun club). The police have to vet and authorise any prospective members, however, and each weapon must be registered. Rifles and shotguns can be kept at home, but must be properly secured (the police will check how you intend to do it) before granting a permit. Ammunition possession requires a separate permit. As a 21sq. mile island, with nearly 70,000 people, there's no hunting, and no shooting cans in the woods. Shooting is only done on proper ranges (which of course means the police are the army ranges) on pre-arranged range days, so the police only grant ammunition permits to a few members of each club, who bring it to range days for supply to other members on the day (the police doesn't want guns being used in self-defence).It might be assumed from this that most Bermudians are unfamiliar with fire arms, but a significant proportion of the adult male population are serving or former soldiers, and the army cadets and sea cadets have a good handful of the minors, so Bermudians, today, are as competent with weapons as their privateering forebears.Most members of the Bermuda Regiment think a serious mistake was made in switching from the SLR (L1A1) to the Ruger Mini-14 (also a Self-Loading Rifle...semi-automatic, in US parlance). They tested a few types, and have a variety of other rifles still in the armoury.SPOC
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