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All posts for the month April, 2016

00000213In searching my computer and hard drives for pictures and information from my visit to the Burgoyne’s Cove B-36 crash a few years ago, I have discovered a few items that I forgot. As computers and projects have changed, my filing system has changed with it. For instance, everything for my thesis is together, but information from other sites might be scattered in other folders. Plus, keeping information together based on when I visited the site is not as useful to me anymore as organizing it by location. So, it just looks like I am going to have to invest in a new hard drive to be dedicated just to aviation in Newfoundland and Labrador and figure out where I put all of my digital information. Similarly, it would be nice to eventually make digital copies of many of the documents that I have, such as the RCAF reports. Many many tasks for the future.

Today I plan to share a couple of crash cards that were given to me a couple of years ago while I was looking for information on RCAF Hurricane 5496. I have the report for the USAAF A-20 with which it collided, but all I could find from the Hurricane was the crash card. The aircraft were conducting a mock dog-fight when they clipped wings and crashed. As seen below, the pilot of the Hurricane survived, but all USAAF personnel on the A-20 (Boston) were killed.

Crash card for RCAF Hurricane 5496 and USAAF A-20

Crash card for RCAF Hurricane 5496 and USAAF A-20. From Walker 2012.

I have visited the site where this Hurricane crashed, but it was removed after the incident, and any further traces of it were most likely removed when the Gander Airport runway was expanded and the pond that the aircraft crashed in was drained. An archaeological investigation has been done on these sites, and will be posted at a later date.

Image of RCAF Hurricane 5496 taken by the USAAF during the investigation. From McGlade & Wilkins 1943.

Image of RCAF Hurricane 5496 taken by the USAAF during the investigation. From McGlade & Wilkins 1943.

The aircraft has since been removed and the pond drained, but the landscape still has similar characteristics to the original crash site. Photo by author, 2010.

The aircraft has since been removed and the pond drained, but the landscape still has similar characteristics to the original crash site. Photo by author, 2010.

Another crash card I located relates to another Gander incident which I have researched. RCAF Digby 742 crashed due to poor weather, killing all on board (Heakes 1941).

Crash card for RCAF Digby 742. From Walker 2012.

Crash card for RCAF Digby 742. From Walker 2012.

As this was the second incident out of Gander resulting in fatalities, it was determined that further incidents could be expected and a cemetery was necessary. The pilot and crew of this aircraft were the first buried in the Commonwealth War Graves in Gander (Pattison 1943). A more detailed report can be found here.

Gravesite of Flight Lieutenant Martin E. Tomsett in the Commonwealth War Graves, Gander. Photo by author 2014.

Gravesite of Flight Lieutenant Martin E. Tomsett in the Commonwealth War Graves, Gander. Photo by author 2014.

The next two, I have not visited. One is lost in Gander Lake, and although people have been searching for it, I have not yet heard that they have found it (Ansty 2014).

Crash card for RCAF Liberator 589. From Walker 2012.

Crash card for RCAF Liberator 589. From Walker 2012.

I do have the full report for this incident, but have not had a chance to try to interpret the photocopied microfilm. Eventually I will, and will share it.

There have been many dives in Gander Lake, and many things dumped in the lake after the war, but the B-24 has yet to be located. Image from The Daily News 1961.

There have been many dives in Gander Lake, and many things dumped in the lake after the war, but the B-24 has yet to be located. Image from The Daily News 1961.

The final card that I have to share is that for RCAF Canso 9737, which crashed just after takeoff and rests on the other side of Gander Lake. According to Walker 2012:

Ordered by RCAF as a Catalina, equivalent to PBY-5.  Order converted to amphibian before completion.  Renamed Canso on 22 December 1941.  Served with No. 5 (BR) Squadron from 16 December 1941, in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, or Quebec, coded “E”.  Seen at Mt.-Joli, PQ, late 1942, with full code “QN-E”.  With this unit at Gander in January 1943, being flown by a crew of No. 167 Squadron, and famed Hudson pilot S/L N.E. Small, DFC, on mission to determine maximum useful range of Cansos over the North Atlantic.  Took off at 10:00 AM on 7 January 1943, at maximum weight, and soon struck turbulence.  Struck trees near Gander Lake, then crashed and caught fire.  Wreckage not sighted for several days.  4 fatalities, including S/L Small, 3 survivors.

Crash card for RCAF Canso 9737. From Walker 2012.

Crash card for RCAF Canso 9737. From Walker 2012.

Beyond this, the site has been visited, and parts have been removed. I have heard conflicting stories, but from what I can tell at least one wheel has been taken from the site and may have been used by the Forestry Department to repair one of their aircraft.

The PBY Canso (Catalina) outside the North Atlantic Aviation Museum. Photo by author 2009.

The PBY Canso (Catalina) outside the North Atlantic Aviation Museum. Photo by author 2009.

Sources:

Anstey, B.
2014 Divers to Search for Plane Wrecks in Gander Lake. The Telegram, 04 July 2014.

Heakes, F.V.
1941    Douglas Digby Aircraft No. 742 Fatal Accident to Above at Newfoundland on 25-7-41. Department of National Defence – Canada RCAF, Gander, Newfoundland.

McGlade, J.M., and F.S. Wilkins
1943    War Department U.S. Army Air Forces Report of Aircraft Accident. War Department, Gander, Newfoundland. Available at http://www.accident-report.com/.

Pattison, H.A.
1943    Early Days at Gander, The Gander, December, 35-36.

Walker, R.W.R
2012    Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers, <http://www.rwrwalker.ca/RCAF_9701_9750_detailed.html> (accessed 26 April 2016).

 

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Originally posted 05 June 2013.

Yes, another book review, but I am working on something much more interesting (although it would be nice if these posts generated some interest for these books). I’ve been going through a partial crash report for USAF 51-13721 an RB-36H which crashed in Burgoyne’s Cove/Nut Cove, near Clarenville, in 1953. There is still a lot of interest in this crash and I am just wondering how to best present it. As I said, I have a partial accident report to work with. The full report is available from AAIR, but I currently don’t have the budget for a $185 USD report. I’m also trying to get my hands on a copy of Under the Radar: A Newfoundland Disaster, which I think will involve a visit to my local library. Plus there are a number of websites who have done quite a bit of research on this crash, so I may have to break this up into multiple posts. And finally I plan to visit the site, and write up a final report after that. I have visited the site before, but seem to have lost all of my pictures on an old hard drive. Anyway, eventually I will figure out the best way to post the information, and to keep it in small, readable segments.

On to the repost from 2013…

 

I was given a copy of this book by a friend. His father died when flying into Gander, NL, on 14 February 1945. While I have helped with the archaeological research done on this site (DgAo-01, sometimes called The Eagle Crash, sometimes The Dolan Crash), most of the documents that I, as an archaeologist, had were military reports. Bill managed to find some interesting information about his father through this book and author.

Wreckage from DgAo-01, the Dolan or Eagle Site, in Gander.

Wreckage from DgAo-01, the Dolan or Eagle Site, in Gander.

Camp Rimini and Beyond: WWII Memoirs by David W. Armstrong, Jr. is a memoir of Armstrong’s war service overseas. As an American, serving in Newfoundland was considered to be overseas. Armstrong was first stationed at Camp Rimini War Dog Reception and Training Centre as a sled dog trainer, then stationed at Search and Rescue units in Newfoundland for two years during the war. His memoir talks about his time both in Rimini and Newfoundland, and discusses the more everyday aspects to Search and Rescue using sled dogs.

Camp Rimini

This book was interesting for a number of reasons. First, I am always looking to find more information about Newfoundland during the war era and Newfoundland history in general, and this book provides an outsiders experience. Most of his interactions are with the American and Canadian forces serving in Newfoundland, but he does often encounter Newfoundlanders, whom he refers to as Natives, in his travels. In two different stories, Armstrong talks about Newfoundlanders and lobster, first buying lobster for cheap, and the second about locals who were showing off a giant lobster claw.

I can relate. I stayed in Belburns for a night last summer and my hosts were showing off a claw of similar size. Photo by Shannon K. Green.

I can relate. I stayed in Belburns for a night last summer and my hosts were showing off a claw of similar size. Photo by Shannon K. Green.

Second, Armstrong is very concerned with what most reports would consider too mundane to document, such as food. If you’re out in the cold and the snow, what you ate will certainly be important. And, if a large concern is feeding and caring for the dogs in your team, then that will stick with you. Armstrong talks in specifics about the kind of food they had, which rations they would request versus what most others ended up eating (his team often had steak whereas the others usually had ‘K’ rations which consisted mostly of hard biscuits). The search, rescue and salvage teams had to work hard and went to difficult and pretty inaccessible areas to find the crash sites (I know, I’ve been to some of them), and it is nice to read about their exploits.

Finally, Armstrong was in Search and Rescue, so a big part of his job was to go to these crash sites. He served at Harmon Field in Stephenville (which he calls Stevensville) and went to a couple of crash sites in the area, ones I hope to visit some day and hopefully survey. His account will help recreate the story of the site. He also talks about how he searched the area around Hare Hill, with the goal of climbing the mountain to locate a crashed B-24. The B-24 was not located on that trip, and was not found until 1997 fifty miles north of Hare Hill, but the account was interesting because Hare Hill was renamed Crash Hill after the 1946 AOA crash which is of interest this summer. Some of the locations he talks about on his trip are familiar as I passed by them last summer.

What remains of the logging camp Armstrong stopped at on his way to Hare Hill in 1946. Photo taken in 2012 by Shannon K. Green

What remains of the logging camp Armstrong stopped at on his way to Hare Hill. Photo taken in 2012 by Shannon K. Green

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Armstrong mentions a small pond next to a smaller pond. Possibly it could be Alder Pond, seen here, with Crash Hill (Hare Hill) seen in the background. There is another small pond at the base of Crash Hill. Photo by author.

Armstrong was transferred to Gander and worked on a number of sites of interest. He mentions two of the three crashes that are on the other side of Gander lake from the town. He says it is a B-17 and a B-24 crashed on the hill, but it is actually two B-24s, both of which and a Canso in the same area, are of interest to archaeologists. Most interesting, is a long account of working on the Dolan site, including the trip out to the site and much of the recovery work done. Armstrong talks about making a camp and using a turret ring as a campfire ring. Although this site has been extensively surveyed by archaeologists, there was no evidence of a burnt turret ring, but another look at the site and a search specifically for that would indicate where the recovery camp was located. His story also agrees with what archaeologists found, such as the pilot and co-pilot chairs about 60 feet from the initial impact point. After all of the sterile military documents, it is wonderful to see the human element involved in WWII recovery efforts, especially the small anecdotes, such as how the crew were given a bottle of whiskey and another of rum, but the rum was accidentally dropped in the fire pit, and with a blue flash and shattered bottle, was completely consumed in seconds.

Armstrong served at Harmon Field and Gander Airport. Crash Hill and the Dolan site are marked as well. Map from MapSource 2010.

Armstrong served at Harmon Field and Gander Airport. Crash Hill and the Dolan site are marked as well. Map from MapSource 2010.

Overall, this book was a quick but very interesting read. I enjoy reading about the people who served and worked in Gander, it is a nice change from the technical reports and really brings the history of Newfoundland to life. I very much appreciate that Mr. Dolan sent me a copy of Armstrong’s book; I did not know the extent that sled dogs were used in search and rescue in Newfoundland and it gave an interesting look into Stephenville and Gander life during the war.

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