Botwood Heritage Centre
Botwood, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Botwood: History of an Airport




Q: I know there was a plane crash there in 1942 and I read that...

A: That's a passenger plane.

Q: Passenger plane ok.

Q: I read that you had to go and recover the survivors.

A: Well, I was in, at that time of the crash I was at dinner in the Sergeant's mess and word came that a plane had just crashed and I was on the dock myself, the boats were all set up waiting for this, crews were waiting for this aircraft to take off and to leave then it was just a matter of routine. So I went off to the mess hall to dinner and I guess we weren't there no more than 10 or 15 minutes when word came that the plane had crashed. I rushed down to the dock and there was a boat at the wharf and the medical officer was there wanting transportation out to the aircraft, so him and I got into the boat and went, out and of course you couldn't get very near to the aircraft because the fuselage had broken and pillows and sheets and everything was floating out, out of the aircraft and, but I had the presence of mind to cut off my motor because they had sheets and towels and pillow cases all wrapped aroud, so I got in by the fuselage and that's when I saw the hands sticking out from the fuselage.

Q: What was your first thought?

A: First thought was, I wonder if he's still alive? And of course the medical officer was there and he said, can we get hold and I said yes I'll get hold. I got half overboard and got hold of his hand and squeezed it and pulled on it, as I pulled, his ring came off in my hand but there was no life there I could see that there was a fold in the fuselage where it opened up on the top and folded underneath, and he was caught in that fold, so I thought to myself, I'll try to save his body anyway. I had a knife in my pocket so I cut a piece of rope or painter out of the boat and tied it on his wrist brought it up and tied it on the fuselage. I was supposed to, the medical officer said that he'srecommending me for a medal for it, he got transferred shortly after, I never heard anything.

Q: So after this there was a period of time before they took the plane up wasn't it?

A: Well that evening after the crash, after we got everybody out that we could get out we put, and got the boats freed up from their propellers freed up we got a tow rope and a tow line on the aircraft and put a couple boats and thought we might tow it in to shore, but the tide was too strong, it was against us and it eventually sank


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