Charles Nathaniel Albury was born in Matthew Town, Inagua on 12th February 1912. Albury was 49 years, 2 months and 12 days old, when he died on Tuesday 25th April 1961 at 09:45 hours.
What is particularly interesting, is that Albury died, at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Tuesday 25th April 1961.
For those who may not be aware, April 1961, was a politically significant and tumultuous moment in Caribbean history.
Albury’s remains were shipped back to Nassau on Wednesday, the very next day. Then, on Friday 28th April 1961, at 4:00 pm, his funeral was held at St. Agnes Church, Nassau. Burial took place at the Western Cemetery. All in all, just 36 hours had elapsed between his death overseas in Cuba to burial in Nassau.
Charles Nathaniel Albury’s occupation was listed as a Telegraphist.
In these modern times of internet based, instant communication, many won’t appreciate the very important function a telegraph once performed. A telegraphist or telegraph operator listened to audio dots and dashes of Morse Code. Messages were relayed at lightening fast speed. Strict attention was needed to avoid having to request the messenger to repeatedly resend information. From a series of clicks, it was the telegraphist’s job to quickly decipher these sounds into readable messages, then relay messages back.
What was Charles Nathaniel Albury doing in Cuba, in Guantanamo Bay, in one of the most geopolitically significant years for Cuban and American relations?
Nothing is known about Albury’s life or how he came to be Guantanamo Bay in 1961. What is known is that his final exit out of Cuba was incredibly swift.
Albury may have been employed in some capacity at Guantanamo Bay? In 1961, there were some 3,000 Cubans employed there. It is unknown how many Bahamians were in Cuba at this time, or indeed if they were employed at the US Naval Base. However, significant events took place, in Cuba, in the very same month Charles Nathaniel Albury died. Is his death connected in some way, shape or form to April 1961?
According to the death certificate, Albury died from edema and obstructing glottis. Within the human body, edema indicates an excess accumulation of fluid. The glottis or larynx facilitates breathing. Nathaniel’s larynx filled with fluid, obstructing his body’s natural ability to pull oxygen down into his lungs. He died fighting to breathe. This may have resulted from a heart condition.
Significance of 1961 – THE BAY OF PIGS, CUBA.
In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power in an armed revolt that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. In early 1961, the United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba.
On April 17, 1961, 1,400 Cuban exiles launched what became a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba. They were backed with weapons, training and military intelligence by the United States. This long planned invasion and overthrow of new Cuban leader Fidel Castro, failed.
The catastrophic failure at the Bay of Pigs had a lasting impact on the administration of then President John F. Kennedy.
Determined to make up for the failed invasion, the Kennedy administration initiated Operation Mongoose—a plan to sabotage and destabilize the Cuban government and economy, which included the possibility of assassinating Castro.
Over the ensuing decades, and under several American presidents, there would be over 600 failed attempts to kill Fidel Castro.
1964 – Mother of Charles Nathaniel Albury writes to Nassau undertaker for a copy of her son’s death certificate
In 1964, Mrs. Rose Thompson, mother of Charles Nathaniel Albury, had written to the funeral home requesting a copy of her son’s death certificate. Writing back, apologies were extended to Mrs. Thompson that such documentation could only be obtained from the U.S. Naval Hospital at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
All that was in the funeral director’s possession, presumably which accompanied the remains of Charles Nathaniel Albury, were two bits of paper stating a few short words.