May The Force Be With You – Part Six

Another body 

Expatriate officers in the Hong Kong police undergo six months of training in the police training school (PTS) in Aberdeen on Hong Kong Island. After they ‘pass out’1 they are posted to one of several of the numerous unwanted posts throughout the territory. 

Often, the posting depends on how unpopular they have made themselves and being sent out to the Northern New Territories and a Village Patrol Unit (VPU) was a definite indication of their popularity or lack of it. One officer, who later went on to greater things in Special Branch, spent some of his earlier days in one of these VPUs. 

One day whilst returning from a patrol along a secluded beach in the north eastern part of the N.T. the unit came across a dead body. 

At this point, a word of explanation is required. From the 50s onwards illegal immigrants (I.I.s) have tried to use the stretch of water at a place called Starling Inlet as a means to enter the territory. Sadly, shark attacks and fatigue ensured that many of them didn’t make it. At one point there were so many of these unfortunates being washed up on the beaches that, if there were no obvious signs of foul play, they were simply classified as an I.I. and unceremoniously carted off to the morgue. 

Examining the body, which was lying face down, the officers discovered an injury to the back of the deceased’s head. Obviously, this was a victim of foul play, and as such require the summoning of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the members of which were never thrilled at the thought of having to leave their usual patches to hike over the hills and, subsequently creating a mountain of paperwork for the VPU. 

While the officer was in charge of the unit, it was, in fact, the sergeant who ran things. (For many years expatriates officers in the police were known to have ‘lead from the rear’). The sergeant whispered in the ear of the officer, who suddenly found it necessary to answer a call of nature in the nearby bushes. When he returned there was no sign of the body, which had been pushed out into the retreating tide. No body meant no crime, and the unit returned to the station. 

The next day they repeated their patrol, visiting the small isolated fishing villages dotted along the coast. To their annoyance the body had been returned by the tide. Once again the officer went into the bushes, and once again the body was returned to the sea. The unit continued with its patrol. 

It was on the return journey that they once again found the same body. This time, due to the deteriorating state of the body there was no avoiding their responsibilities. However the threat of paperwork and the displeasure of the senior CID officers still loomed. The sergeant once again came to the rescue. Deftly, with the toe of his boot he flipped the body over. The officers crowded round to examine the body from this new angle. There was no sign of a wound, and this poor unfortunate was deemed to be just another I.I. who had not made it. 

The relevant arrangements were made and the body was transported by police launch to the morgue. 

1 I have always found this term amusing as, prior to 1997, many expatriates officers regularly ‘passed out’ in various mess halls around the territory. Please see ‘Going on Duty’. 

Copyright John Stewart Sloan – 2007 – Not For Publication

Published by stewartgoeswalkies

Happily married man to a wonderful lady. Living in Hong Kong. In my younger days I enjoyed hiking, camping and rock climbing. I've trekked in the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kinabalu in East Malaysia.

2 thoughts on “May The Force Be With You – Part Six

  1. Interesting story about the dead body, obviously in hot weather no one wants to go all the way to see to it. I hope that no longer happens now.

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