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Book shines new light on Bermuda history

  • Identified at last: this mystery photo shows the lethal 1915 collapse of a Daniel's Head radio mast that killed four

(Photograph supplied)
  • In 1937, a young newspaper worker, Evelyn Stovell, forced an apology from the Bishop of Bermuda for tearing down her prized pictures

(Photograph supplied)

A trove of little-known Bermudian history, replete with facts and pictures never before gathered, hits the shelves this evening.

The third volume of local author Horst Augustinovic’s series What You May Not Know About Bermuda took two years of research.

The full story is told of historical dioramas once on display at Fort St Catherine, which crumbled apart during renovations in 2010.

It includes the legend of the Irish monk, St Brendan, said to have discovered an Island much like Bermuda in the 6th century.

“I expanded on it — how many people in Bermuda know of this legend?” Mr Augustinovic said. “I am glad just to have the record of them — some day they will be totally forgotten.”

Saved from obscurity is the 1886 picture of Marriott Morris, who brought his penny-farthing bicycle to Bermuda and started a fad for what was then a new form of transport.

The latest volume concentrated heavily on military history, in part due to the recent 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Scanning dispatches from the War Office in Britain to the local Governor, Mr Augustinovic was intrigued to spot an exceptional payout of £8,000 over a 1915 incident.

An American visitor, George Montgomery, lost his leg when local sailor Alfred Lottimore, out on a scenic cruise, incurred the gunfire of sentries guarding German prisoners of war on Port’s Island.

A rare photograph from that same year, of a broken radio mast at Daniel’s Head that killed four members of the Bermuda Militia Artillery, was identified thanks to the author’s investigations.

Mr Augustinovic called on the Bermuda National Museum as part of his research. A mystery picture was unearthed, showing a collapsed structure, that was “clearly the one”.

Another rarity from the First World War is a photograph of a black Bermudian serviceman, Lance Bombardier Cyril Chesterfield Eston, taken in France and recently found on eBay.

Another obscure fact is that historic Carter House in St David’s, one of Bermuda’s oldest houses, briefly served as a beauty salon when it was taken over in 1941 for the US Base.

Asked for his favourite quirk of history brought to light, Mr Augustinovic had a tough time choosing — but the 1937 case of 19-year-old Evelyn Stovell, who forced an apology out of the Bishop of Bermuda, might qualify.

To widespread shock, even outrage, King Edward VIII had abdicated in 1936 to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, and thus became Duke of Windsor.

Ms Stovell was an employee at the newspaper’s office in Hamilton, where she had pictures on the wall of the new Duke and Duchess of Windsor. On January 5, 1937, she found them torn down.

The culprit turned out to be Bermuda’s bishop, the Right Rev Arthur Heber Browne, who had found the pictures “disgraceful” and destroyed them.

“She was so furious that she found him and challenged him,” Mr Augustinovic said.

The Bishop had to apologise for “yielding to a sudden impulse, which I ought to have known how to control”.

The book is on sale today at the Bermuda Book Store, as well as the Bookmart, where the author will be signing copies from 6pm to 9pm.