Mac’s Musings: He could never forget the crash scene

Claude McIntosh ~ Mac's Musings
Mac’s Musings: He could never forget the crash scene
Claude McIntosh

Dave Grant said his father, Earl, never forgot the horrible images of torn bodies and burning wreckage thrown across a peaceful pasture near the family home after a Royal

Canadian Air Force (RCAF) bomber crashed in the Martintown area on Aug. 6, 1943.

“My dad told me he would never forget the (grisly) sight,” said Grant. “It really bothered him.”

His father was one of several nearby residents on the scene shortly after the military plane, on a routine flight out of Dorval, crashed.

The twin-engine Hudson bomber went down after experiencing engine trouble. It exploded on impact. The three crew members were thrown from the wreckage. Officials said the bodies were badly burned and dismembered.

There was one report that a witnesses saw one of the crew trying to get out of the plane before it crashed.

All were from the RCAF training base at Dorval. Two of the dead crew members were from the United States – First Officer John M. Smither of California and Pilot Leland

Cooper of San Antonio, Texas. Sgt. George Newman of Victoria, B.C. was the third victim.

Farmers bringing in hay heard the low-flying bomber circling overhead just before noon with its engines sputtering. Witnesses said the plane attempted a crash landing in the pasture but just before touching down it accelerated and started to climb. About 200 feet up it took a nose-dive into the pasture, just missing high voltage hydro lines, and exploded. Wreckage was scattered over a 200-foot area. It dug a trench six-feet deep and 30 feet long.

Callum McDermid, who watched the plane circle overhead while he was taking in hay, said the plane’s engines were making a “peculiar” noise before attempting a crash landing in a nearby field. A resident half-a-mile away said the explosion shook her house.

Military investigators were on the scene within two hours of the crash. For two days the site was guarded by the military as hundreds of of sightseers swarmed to the Meek farm pasture. Shortly after a Cornwall coroner visited the scene, the remains were gathered up and transported to Dorval air base.

When the investigation was completed, the two engines were loaded on a flat bed truck and taken to Dorval air base. The rest of the burned out wreckage was turn over to the Cornwall salvage committee.

ALSO IN AUGUST 1943 A 15-year-old Cornwall boy, deemed by Magistrate P. C. Bergeron to be unmanageable, was sent to St. John’s Training School in Toronto after found guilty of stealing a car. The sentence was for an indefinite period. The magistrate said the boy should be under strict supervision while at the training school and if his behaviour didn’t improve by the time he turned 16, he was to be placed in reformatory. The magistrate noted that the teen had appeared before him at least three times over a two-year period. In another case, the magistrate ordered seven children be removed from a Cornwall home and made permanent wards of the Children’s Aid Society. … A memorial church service was held in Mille Roches for Flight Sgt. Gordon Forbes of the RCAF who was killed in an air raid over Germany. … Women serving in the army, navy or air force received a pay raise, giving them $1.05 a day. … Four sons of Mr. And Mrs. Edward Derochie of 75 Pine St. – Earl, Rene, Alfred and Albert – were serving overseas. … A large barn and several sheds on the property of Percy Johnston in Mille Roches were destroyed by fire. Fire fighters managed to keep the fire from spreading to the village arena just 20 yards away. … 50 wartime houses – 12 on McGregor Avenue and 38 on the old fairgrounds – were ready for occupancy. They were to be rented to war industry workers. Rents ranged from $22 to $30 a month. … Local police forces were looking out for a dozen German prisoners who escaped from Fort Henry in Kingston. They had tunnelled their way out of the prison. They were all captured a few days later. … Cornwall Township council lifted the ban on dogs running loose, pointing out that the town of Cornwall did not have a ban. It noted that many of the dogs running at large in the neighbouring township were from the town. … With the rationing of gasoline, row boats were in big demand. … Several permits were given for new houses in the town and township. Values ranged from $1,000 to $3,800. … The Munro Coal Co. was building a large storage barn at 232 Water St. … John Lawrence McDonald, a First World War veteran and former United Counties warden, was elected Progressive Conservative MPP for Stormont. He defeated Liberal candidate Fred Lefebvre, an east Cornwall hotel owner, by 657 votes.

TRIVIA When Fred Lefebvre opened the Royal Hotel at McConnell Avenue and Montreal Road, this business also operated out of the hotel. 1) Convenience store, 2) Smoke shop, 3) Bicycle repair shop, 4) Funeral parlour, 5) Men’s clothing store.

TRIVIA ANSWER Parisien Beverages bottled Pepsi-Cola at its plant at Eighth and Pitt streets. Later, the plant moved to the west-end of the city.

HERE AND THERE The Taliban’s idea of peace in Afghanistan is a piece here and piece there. … United States has a new export: stupidity. … The “Cat” (aka Brian Rouleau) has arrived for his annual pilgrimage to his home town from Atlanta. It was interupted last summer by the COVID-19 lockdown. … Nashville ultra-conservative radio talk show host Phil Valentine no longer tells his listeners that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu and that the side effects of the vaccine are worse than the virus. That’s because he is on a ventilator fighting for his life after contracting COVID-19. His family said he regrets not getting vaccinated and if he survives will use his air time to push people to get vaccinated. … Note to V. Putin, Chairman Jinping and all the others, don’t waste your time trying to take down the U.S. of A. They are taking care of that themselves.

QUOTED “What ever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.” – Michael Landon

ONE FINAL THING There’s a new game in town called pickleball. Actually, it has been around for a few years but it is gaining in popularity, especially among baby boomers. In the United States, it is overtaking tennis as the favourite pastime for the 50-plus gang. At last count, there were 30,000 pickleball courts in the U.S. The New York Post recently featured a new magazine “In Pickleball”. The first issue included stories on “How to Choose the Perfect Paddle” and “What Kind of Pickleball Player are You?” Who knows, few years from now it may be an Olympic sport – in the “Geezer” division.

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