USAAF

All posts tagged USAAF

Check out the third Public Archaeology Twitter Conference at #PATC3. Below is a transcript of my contribution.

Public Archaeology Twitter Conference #PATC3

Title

Garden Hill, Newfoundland and Labrador

Aircraft Wreckage, Site Use, and Local Museums

by Dr. Lisa M. Daly, PhD

#PATC3 #PATC #aviation #archaeology

Photo credits: top left: Barnes et al. 1944; bottom left: Lisa M. Daly; right: Shannon K. Green

Slide 2 – Aviation History in Newfoundland and Labrador

Many NL communities have stories of aircraft overhead, famous aviators, missing flights, and plane crashes. Some communities were created or shaped by aviation and the building of aerodromes in the Second World War #PATC3

Map from Toporama 2019

Slide 3 – The Crash of USAAF 42-107427

USAAF C-54A 42-107427 crashed on the Port-au-Port Peninsula en route to Harmon Field, when sloppy weather blew it off course. 9 or 18 crew died on site, 3 later in hospital. Survivors walked to a nearby town where locals helped them. #PATC3 https://bit.ly/2Sck2ui


Slide 4 – Documentary & Archaeological Record

The site has been disturbed, the archaeological record is fragmented. The accident report is available & is a mix of technical language and witness statements. One newspaper article from 1944 rightfully worried about damage if a highway is built nearby #PATC3

Slide 5 – Public Presentation

At a presentation at the Stephenville #museum, I shared the info I had (arch and report), while the community shared related stories. The @western_star carried an article “archaeologist researching […] through local responders” #PATC3

Stephenville Regional Museum of History and Art. Photo by Lisa M. Daly

Slide 6 – Public Engagement

This engagement allowed me to hear the story of the museum’s propeller. It was recovered from the wreck and the tip removed to make spinning wheel spindle. It stayed in the craftman’s yard until the museum opened and a resident offered to collect it #PATC3

Photo by Lisa M. Daly

Slide 7 – Personal Touches

Witness statements tell how the crash was experienced “there was no confusion among the passengers” “I could hear the trees cracking” “the plane made a jerk like it hit an air pocket or something” “whether I walked through or was thrown though, I don’t know” #PATC3

Slide 8 – Map vs. Aerial Photo

Hand-drawn maps show what the author considered important to relate but do not capture the chaos and confusion seen in aerial site photos that show the actual wreckage. Personal, but at the same time, controlled. #PATC3

Slide 9 – Site Use

Since the crash, besides the propeller, the site was rarely visited. With the construction of a nearby road, the aircraft material has been mostly removed, a sign directs people to the site, a bench, campfires and decoratively arranged ceramics show site use #PATC3

Photo by Shannon K. Green

Slide 9 – Multidisciplinary

Combining all these elements gives a more complete story and makes it easier for people to engage and relate to the story, especially family and community members. Information is more accessible, less sterile, more personal. #PATC3

Slide 10 – Bias

This approach helps address bias, even your own. Sharing many elements of the story encourages others to share, and all the information can be critically assessed. Being open to new information encourages others to contribute, especially the public #PATC3

Slide 12 – Newfoundlanders as Storytellers

Newfoundlanders & Labradoreans love to hear & tell stories. Combining the archaeological, documentary, & folkloric elements to create the story of the site makes information accessible to interested parties & encourages others to share their part of the story #PATC3

Site Specific References

Barnes, George E., Barnie B. McEntire, and Robert H. Augustinus

1944 U.S. Army Forces Report of Aircraft Accident: Vicinity Cape St. George, Newfoundland. War Department: Harmon Field, Newfoundland.

Daly, L.M.

2015 Aviation Archaeology of World War II Gander: An Examination of Military and Civilian Life at the Newfoundland Airport. Doctoral thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland: Newfoundland.

Daly, L. and S. Green

2014 Garden Hill: The Crash of a USAAF C-54. Provincial Archaeology Office 2013 Archaeology Review, 12: 22-24.

Gale, Frank

1994 Association Wants 1944 Crash Site Preserved. The Western Star, 21 September 1994, p. 3.

Hurley, Corey

2013 Archaeologist Researching Crash Hill Through Local Responders. The Western Star, 09 August 2013 (online).

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Something a little new this time, I’m just sharing an article. Darrell Hillier is a name familiar to any regular readers, especially if you read through my sources. He is often listed as a source, and has been a great help throughout all of my research. Darrell’s MA thesis has just been published through Memorial University, and I wanted to share it here with everyone. It is well worth the read and looks at the history and crash of USAAF B-24 Liberator No. 44-42169 which crashed near Gander on 14 February 1945 killing all 10 servicemen on board. But his thesis doesn’t just look at the crash. He has done extensive research, talking to family members and reading correspondences to look at the impact of this incident on the home front; how the families were notified, their questions, and how they lived with their loved ones first being declared MIA, then dead. I had the privilege to read a draft of the thesis a while ago, and have been waiting anxiously for it to be published so I could share it here. I haven’t written about this crash on my blog for a number of reasons, but it is the first crash site that I visited and it is the site that really woke up this passion for aviation archaeology. I made no secret that I am not an expert in aircraft, but do try to surround myself with people who continuously educate me on the finer points or who point my research in the right direction.

The tail fin from USAAF Liberator 44-42169. Photo by Lisa M. Daly 2007.

You can find Darrell Hillier’s thesis, Stars, Stripes, and Sacrifice: A Wartime Familiar Experience of Hope, Loss, and Grief, and the Journey Home of an American Bomber Crew on the Memorial University Research Repository.

A machine gun and other wreckage from USAAF Liberator 44-42169. Photo by Lisa M. Daly 2007.

As for myself, I am still getting settled into a new job, and it looks like my things (including any research documents I own) will not be delivered for a couple of months. That said, I have been working on some articles, and you can find one about the mock dogfight that happened over Gander that lead to the collision of a B-25 and an A-20 in their January/February 2018 edition of In Formation.

The engine from the USAAF A-20 involved in the 27 October 1943 crash. Photo by Lisa M. Daly 2011.

I do hope to be better settled soon so that I can get back to semi-regular posts.

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