Nostalgia: Peter Bromby, former Head Equipment Operator at the old Naval Operating Base at Morgan’s Point, pores over old pictures and documents including a letter of commendation he received for his work on Operation Artemis. *Photo by Simon Jones
Nostalgia: Peter Bromby, former Head Equipment Operator at the old Naval Operating Base at Morgan’s Point, pores over old pictures and documents including a letter of commendation he received for his work on Operation Artemis. *Photo by Simon Jones
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FRIDAY, SEPT. 14: Peter Bromby can still vividly recall transporting mine parts and top secret packages from the Kindley Field Airbase to the Naval Operating Base during the Cold War.

As the base’s Head Equipment Operator he was authorized to do everything from move explosives to distribute the milk when it arrived by plane from Norfolk every two days.

His job at the NOB, or Morgan’s Point as it is better known now, meant he took an active role in the infamous Artemis Operation in the late 1950s and early 60s.

The covert project involved the construction of the Argus Tower off Bermuda so the Americans could track and monitor Russian submarines during the Cold War.

Mr Bromby, now 83, still treasures the letter of commendation he received for his work on the operation.

Big deal

He told the Sun: “Artemis was a big deal and very important to the Americans.

“The data they received about the Russian subs was sent from the Argus Tower through Tudor Hill and back to the US.

“To be a part of that marvellous operation was very exciting.

“I helped to take out the 10,000lb generator that was used to power the tower when it was first occupied.

“Then, when the Americans got worried about Russian submarines coming too close to the tower they set out mines around it to protect it.

“I picked up those mine parts from Kindley Field and brought them to the NOB, from where they were taken out by warships and positioned around the tower.

“There were 20 cylindrical magnetic mines and it took me four trips to get all the parts to the base.

“It was done under cover of darkness so people were still asleep and it did not arouse any suspicion.

“I was often sent down to Kindley Field to pick up supplies and packages.

“Sometimes I only found out what I was picking up at the last minute and on other occasions I was not told. I just knew they were ‘hot’.

“Once I picked up a package from the airbase and was escorted all the way back to Tudor Hill with a marine and police guard.

“I still don’t know what the package was to this day but it was certainly was a real special one.”

Mr Bromby started working at the base in 1946 as a timekeeper in the stores where he was paid 54c an hour.

He was one of the many Bermudians who worked at Morgan’s Point with the Americans and gradually worked his way up the chain of command to become Head Equipment Operator.

He was also responsible for running the base’s supply warehouse where anchors, chains and machinery were kept.

He said: “It was a great place to work and I loved every minute.

“The guys in the Office of Naval Research were great people to work with and I’ll never forget them.

“If anything needed to be moved on the base or picked up from Kindley Field then they would call for me.

“I would go down to the Queen of Bermuda when she came in and pick up all the refrigerated goods for the base.

“It was our job to do the milk run every couple of days.

“And then there were times when you would be transporting parts of mines, explosives, detonators and Jet-Assisted Take Off bottles the base used in the seaplanes.

“While the Cold War was on, the US Navy sea planes took a lot of photographs and I used to drive all the film from the base up to Kindley Field in the back of my truck so it could be developed.

“We had two sea plane squadrons and helicopters down at the base and ships coming in all the time.

“It was a very exciting time to be working down there.”

“I was on first names terms with many of the commanders and they trusted me to get the job done.”

Mr Bromby left the US base in 1965 and went onto work at Hamilton Docks.

After eight years of use the Argus Tower was condemned as unsafe in 1970 and was demolished in 1976.

The Naval Base was a hot bed of activity throughout the Second World War and the Cold War until 1995 when it was officially closed down and the US forces left Bermuda.

Mr Bromby added: “I don’t think a lot of people these days realize how important Bermuda was back then.

“A lot of Bermudians worked on the base and their work is a part of
history now.

“I just thought, now that there are new plans for Morgan’s Point and the old base will soon disappear altogether, it might be interesting to share my experience of working down there.

“I have always been interested in the military so to be a part of what was going on down there was really special to me.”