Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Admirals HP Radiators arrive in Harbour Grace

May 19 1919

"READ ALL ABOUT IT!" - Read The EBook

The delivery of Admiral Kerr's radiators did not go exactly as Dick had planed. George Wells the Boss at the express office calls Dick into his office and tells him that it is not good enough to simply send the missing crates to the consignee in Harbor Grace. George tells Dick that Mr Ried thought that the lads should accompany them to Harbour Garce and deliver them in person, also that they owed Admiral Kerr an apology for misplacing two of his crates, and that the apology should be made to the Admiral himself in person. This needs to be done very quickly, before the Admiral launches a formal complaint against the railway.  George goes on to say. "Mr Reid wants the two of you on the 5:00 O'clock today,  along with the 2 crates, so that the Admiral has his missing items and your apology the first thing in the morning ~~ Don't deviate from these instructions because Admiral Kerr has been notified and will be expecting you at his airfield, the first thing in the morning."
The boys took time on their lunch break to race home and pack a few things and tell their families about the need to go to Harbor Grace for a day or so.

They were on the departure platform with their bags and railway passes in their pockets by five minutes before departure time. The boys were never ones to be boarded and seated before the departure time; it was more their style to wait calmly, until the train got moving smartly, run a few steps, grab the hand rail and swing onto the platform of the very last car.

There they stood on the brakes, until the train was well out of the rail yard on the off chance that they would be spotted by someone who knew them. The young railway workers who worked in St. John's looked up to those who were part of the trains crew; they were referred to as belonging to the " Rolling Trades"  The boys were always looking for ways to be mistaken for "trainmen".

The  sixty mile trip took more than 3 hours.  Pulling into the Harbour Grace station at around 8:30 PM meant, there was still an hour and a half of daylight remaining. The days were long in this part of the world  in the  early summer months. They were thankful for the day light, because they needed the time to locate the place where they were planning on spending the night.  Dick had gotten the name and some rough directions for a crew man's shack that would be available for their use tonight.

Walking along the track towards the far end of the yard, they came upon a long line of small structures that had been erected by railway crews to serve as overnight shelter for times when they were away from their home base on layover.

Aproaching the end of the line Dick spied what he was looking for; the third from the end, just as he had been told, they came across a green shack with a white door, that appeared to be empty and the door secured only by a whittled wooden stick, jammed into the latch.
"This is it Eric. Jerry Flin's old man's place. This is where we are going to spend the night."

The shack was very small but it looked cozy enough.  It was a one room affair, with a low flat roof and a single small window located just to the right of the doorway. Once inside the pair noticed that the place had everything they needed. The cooking and eating area is located near the door and the sleeping area at the back. Located to one side of the door was a small cast iron wood or coal burning stove for cooking and heating. The window side contained  small wooden table with a oil cloth cover and a couple of cheap wooden chairs. 

"This looks good to me." Said Ike, pulling up a chair and letting himself drop into it with a thud.  "I'm starving! all I had on the train was some hard tack and some spruce beer."
"What bunk do you want? Upper or lower?" Inquired Dick as he explored the sleeping area looking for a place to put his army surplus duffel bag.
"I don't care! you choose!" I'm going to light the stove to boil up a pot of tea and get a little heat circulating in here."

After they finished eating they were having a another mug of tea when Ike asked. "What do you plan on saying to old man Kerr tomorrow?"

"I haven't quite decided but sure as hel, I won't be telling him the truth." Dick sat thoughtfully for a moment, before adding.  "If I were to do that, do you know how fast we'd be fired? ~~  We'd be out on the street before you could blink an eye ~~ Do you know Eric; when you work at the Express Office, you have to be resourceful and deal with problems as they arise. last year when the cat, that was being shipped express, to the Labrador on the Northern Ranger got loose and ran away from me when I opened the box to change it's water and food.  I could have told the boss the truth, what really happened and then he would have the problem which would have certainly made him upset enough to chewed me out at the very least........but no! instead, I got resourceful and stuffed Felix; the best mouser in the office into the box and sent him off to the Labrador instead.......haven't heard a word since; I expect everyone is happy and no one is the wiser. ~~ The boss was saved having to write a letter of apology to the consignee; the consignee got a nicer cat; Felix got to see the Labrador; the first cat got to stay in town and learn how to be a better mouser, and most important; I didn't have to take a chewing out from the boss."
After finishing his rant on resourcefulness at the Express office, Dick's mood was growing more upbeat. "Now all we have to do is put our heads together again and think up a story bout these bleeding radiators that will  make everyone happy."

"That's going to be very difficult Dick. Like, how do we explain the weigh bills indicating 109 items when only 107 were actually put on the train?"
"Eric! ~~ The most obvious and believable explanation is also the simplest. The crew doing the loading mistook my 9 for a 7 and 2 item got left at the dock."
 "That sounds simple enough, but does it get us off the hook with old R.G.? ~~ Remember when he told us, that he didn't want any thing going wrong and he was holding us personally responsible for the shipment?"
"Yes! ~~ I remember ~~ so what?"
"So please tell me Dick, Why we didn't make sure all 109 items were on that train that day?"
Looking as though he was having difficulty with coming up with a answer to this question, Dick finally answered in a slow thoughtful manner. So ~~ how about we say that I checked off all 109 items but the long shore raggedy arses only loaded 107; after all they where the ones who created this mess by not listening to me when I pleaded with them  to be careful, in the first place."
"What's wrong with the truth?" Replied Ike, throwing his hands into the air and spilling a half cup of tea in the process. "I'm becoming frustrated by your never ending complicated plans."
" Truth is not what bosses want to hear from their employees when it means more problems for them........don't you understand; deya think that  George Wells  wants to explain to R.G. that one of his employees let the long shore bust up Kerr"s rads; or that R.G. wants have to apologise to the admiral for jeopardising his bid for the big prize; or the admiral wants to hear that Hawko's men repaired the rads for his precious Rolls Royce engines? ~~ You and I know that nobody knows more about rads than Kevin Hawko and when he says that they are fixed better than new, he means it, but Kerr doesn't know that."
"OK you win!" Said Ike, gathering his bag and starting towards the bunks. "That's what we'll tell him in the morning ~~ I'm going to bed."

Morning came very fast; since they were both very tired after putting in such full day, they had fallen asleep shortly after eating and had slept soundly through the night. 

"Come on let's get going it's already quarter to seven and we have  to be at flying field by at least 8:00." Cried Ike, with a hint of nervousness in his voice.
"Oh! relax, we got barrels of time. We don't have far to go, and anyway I doubt if anyone is at work before 10; those people don't work any where as hard as we do Eric." 

They made a fire and put on a kettle of water for a mug of hot tea to have with their breakfast of hard tack and dried caplin; which they toasted on the surface of the hot stove.  As they sat at the table, dunking their hard tack in the tea, and crewing on the crispy toasted caplin, Ike thought to himself; how much he enjoyed simple meals like this, when he was off on his own. He never liked the fatty foods his mother loved to prepare; especially her seal flippers which was her current specialty, he hated them the most of all.  

"Are we going to pick up the rads at the station and deliver them ourselves?"Asked Ike. The tone of his voice said that he wasn't thrilled with the prospects of having to wheel those massive two crates down a muddy road to the flying field by hand cart.
"Are you kidding! No way! I'm guessing they have lots of horses and wagons hired, probably a motor truck too. Let them go pick em up themselves. If it wasn't for the fact that we gets a chance to see the big bomber up close, I'd be feeling pretty sorry for myself right about now."

After finishing their simple breakfast Dick and Ike strolled back the track to the station. Introducing themselves to the staff and gave a brief explanation why they were in town. They got the permission from the station master to freshen up in their station washroom.  Asking directions to the flying field they were told that it wasn't very far.
"Just turn left at the station front door and go a little way down Water street, Ya can't miss it." Said the Express man.

Sure enough they hadn't taken more than a few steps and they could see the form of the airplane surrounded  by masses of scaffolding and vertical timbers forming giant tripods.

Drawing closer they could see the forms of workmen climbing on and purchesed on top.
"Hello up there! We are from the railway in St. John's ~~ We're here with news about your radiators." Shouted Dick to the men who appeared to be working on the engines.
" About bloody time!" Came back the answer.
"Where here to see Admiral Mark Kerr." Replied Dick. 
"Well you will have a bit of a wait if you need to see him...... he's usually here by 10:00; but I can't guarantee it."
"We're in no hurry, we can wait."Replied Ike. 
"Suit yourself; your welcome to stay as long s you like as long as you don't get into the way." 

"Did you say that you brought the radiators with you? ~~ We will be needing the very soon and I was starting to worry because I wasn't able to locate them."
"That's what we have to see the Admiral about."
"He's not interested in details like that.~~ I'm  A. P. Arnold, the chief engineer with this expedition, Anything to do with the propulsion system is my business."
"Well in that case, the answer to your question is yes; We brought them last night and they are at the station ready for pick up."
During the next couple of hours they learned a lot about the Handley Page Expedition, while they waited for the arrival of the Admiral.

They learned that:
The Kerr Team had the best of everything;  the air-drone was prepared prior to their arrival;  they were set up on a stretch of flat ground not far from the railway yard; they had half the town working for them, including all the resources of the railway as well as the shipyard.  R.G. Reid's eldest son Robint had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force during the Great War that had just recently ended.  The Admiral himself had recently founded that same air force into existance. 

There was obvious a strong desire on the part of the Lieutenant to please the Admiral.  Lieutenant Reid had spear headed the preparation of the work for the air-drone which was well underway before the team arrived. The runway extends for three quarters of a mile along the shore, with a gentle downward slope to the waters edge.  A perfect place for a take off into the prevailing westerly wind.  The flying site was located only a short distance from the from the main railway line making it a easy task to transport the huge sections of the airframe by the shipyard tracks to the assembly point. The Admiral's team was favored by every possible advantage: including having their own on site meteorologists, Taylor and communications officer lieutenant Clements of the British Air Ministry.

The Bomber was to be equipped with a powerful radio transmitter and receiver, so that it could maintain contact with shipping through out the entire Atlantic crossing. The team maintained their own extensive supply of aviation fuel, currently the Admiral had at his disposal all the av-gas that there was on the whole island of Newfoundland.

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