Monday, May 10, 2010

Third British Transatlantic Flight Entry Now in Newfoundland

Saturday May 10 1919


HANDLEY MACHINE REACHES ST. JOHN'S; Third British Transatlantic Flight Entry Now in Newfoundland. READY IN THREE WEEKS Vice Admiral Kerr of Royal Air Force in Command of the Giant Bomber's Crew.
"READ ALL ABOUT IT!" - Read The EBook

On Monday May 12, the day after they returned from their trip to Trepassey, Ike and Dick make their way across the tracks to the dock yards, to meet the steamer Digby, which is tied up and off loading cargo. The steamer arrived in Port on Saturday and because Sunday was a holiday they had to wait until Monday to offload their cargo. As the two approached the steamer, they could see that a large crowd of curious spectators had turned out to witness the unloading of the giant Handley Page Berlin bomber. Ike and Dick threaded their way, one behind the other through a large group of local men, mostly longshore men who could always be found hanging around these docks, forever hopeful of a few hours work.

There were also hundreds of sailors from the cruiser Chicago that was also in port as part of the flotilla of U.S. warships assigned to support the NC seaplanes and the C-5 dirigible that were also bidding for the honors to be the first to cross the Atlantic by air. Ike noticed from the sailor's hats that they didn't all belong to the Chicago, many were from other U.S. Navy ships that were anchored at Trapassy bay. These sailors were on shore leave and had come in on the morning special train put on for the occasion.

The two young workers finally elbowed their way to the gang plank and scampered on board, making their way to the main cargo hatch where Dick presented his documents to the ships purser and the hatch crew boss.

Hi guys I'm from the Express Office, said Dick; we're here to weigh in the stuff das going to Harbor Grace.

"Oh! ~~ that stuff is being off loaded from the forward hatch." said the boss of the hatch crew.

"Do you see who I see?" Said Ike, as he looked around for something large enough to hide behind.

" Oh jaysus! exclaimed Dick, with a startled look on his face. "That's old R.G. him self, the big boss, don't let him see us."

"He already has!" said Ike, giving up on his search for cover and stiffening up to face the inevitable. "and he is coming over this way."

"Hello boys!" said Robert Gillespy Reid. Known respectfully throughout the railway as simply, R.G.  Waving his arms, in the direction of the forward hatch, as he approached the the boys. "over this way ~~ I want you to expedite this shipment ~~ This is a very important material, and I want you to give it your undivided attention ~~ handle these boxes and crates, with extreme care and caution ~~ they belong to The Vice Admiral of the Royal Air force ~~ He is standing over there with those other men ~~ You will do any thing he asks; without question ~~ Do you hear what I am saying?"

"Yes Sir!" replied the two, standing at attention, with their caps in their hand, waiting for more orders.

"These people are going to be the first men in history, to fly to England from North America, and those boxes contain their special equipment ~~ and I do not want it to be said that my railway is responsible for any actions that hinder the fulfillment of that goal. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes Sir!" uttered the two young workers again

With that R.G. Ried (4) senior vice president of the Ried Newfoundland Railway,. walked slowly back to the Royal Air force contingent standing near the railing. Chancing a look in that direction Ike and Dick started to laugh under their breath.

“Just look at that guy” said Ike, fighting back the laughter as he spoke. “all dressed up with a chest full of ribbons and medals; he looks like he could be the Kaiser himself”

“What a pompous ass” replied Dick, stepping back from the hatch where he was standing, defiantly, with his left foot perched upon the rim.

With a hiss of escaping steam, and a whirring sound, from the pulleys and gears of the steam driven winch, bundles of boxes began to be hoisted from the hold of the ship They were coming in bundles of two or three at a time.

“Tell those guys down there to send them up, one at a time” “will ya?” said Dick to the hoist operator.

“Buzz off kid, who do you think you are; we've dun dis before, millions a times” Said the hatch boss, who was now standing in Dick's former position, with his hands placed on his hips.

“You don't understand; these are very delicate aeroplane parts and Mr. Reid is holding me personally responsible for their safe shipment.” Uttered Dick in a pleading tone”

Dick had no sooner finished his plead when, just as another bundle of boxes was being hoisted the strap slipped and two crates tumbled back into the hold with a crash as they struck the bottom, the boxes broke apart spilling their contents. Both Ike and Dick spun around to see if the Vice Admiral heard the crash, but were relieved to see that they had left their position on the rail and had apparently gone ashore.

Leaping into the hold together they quickly inspected the contents for visible damage. They didn't have to look too closely to discover that the crates had contained four cooling radiators and they were damaged. Two had landed on their corner and were sprung and twisted out of shape. The other two, which were first thought to have escaped unscathed, but on closer examination, one had been punctured in several places.

“Holy Moses Wat do we do now?” moaned Dick, with the look of doom written all over his face.
“Why! Ya know we didn't do anything."  Pleaded Ike. With a shrug but at the same time his embarrassment showing all over his face.  "It was those crazy bastard longshore men in the hold ~~ and anyway I'm not suppose to be here at all ~~ remember; your the one who works for the Express Department ~~ I'm just a messenger”

“You heard what old R.G. said:  Your the one he was looking directly at." Replied Dick. Not wanting the whole responsibility of the disaster to fall on his shoulders, he drives the message home, by prodding Ike in the shoulder with his index finger.  "He knows you you are always around; at his mansion; in his office; your his number one gofer”

"Guess your right! ~~ We had better think of something real fast, after what the old man just said.” Ike replied, as he walked around in circles thinking out loud, and adding. “Maybe we can get the boys at the car shop to rebuild them ~~ we could collect them, and send them out when their fixed ~~ we could sort of loose em, then find them at the last minute ~~ just before they fire us.”

“It's a crazy plan but I can't think of anything else and it might just work.” replied Dick, as he perched himself on one of the boxes, with his head in his hands. “We have to think this thing through ~~ they want this stuff on the morning train to Harbor Grace and it's all going as express; That's my orders from my boss.”

“I over heard old man Reid say that the aircrew were staying at his mansion on Topsail Road for the week but, the maintenance crew are going with the shipment tomorrow morning” Said Ike.

“The paper work says there are 103 boxes under hatches and 6 large crates on deck; we will have to show that on the weigh bills but ~~ sneak the busted ones over to the repair shop, without any of those maintenance guys noticing ~~ by the time they realize there are two missing items, the shop will have the rads all patched up as good as new”. Said Dick.

“I'm going to ask the guys to send up the busted crates after everything else has been landed and den I'll run them over to the shops on a hand cart.~~ meantime Dick, you do your thing”
“OK! I'll do up the weigh bills an, accept the rest of the shipment and have them loaded on the cars."  Said Dick, his spirits beginning to rise again.  "I'll catch up with you later”.

“I think that's a good plan!” said Ike, starting to relax a little himself. “I'll let you know later, how I made out at the shops.”

The contents of the broken crates were hoisted from the hold and slung ashore behind the crowd of onlookers. Ike stacked the two broken crates onto one of the hand carts that were lying about on the track side platform, without attracting the lest bit of attention as: all eyes were on the loading progress of the more impressive larger crated items, some measuring  as much as 40 feet in length.

The component parts of the gigantic Berlin bomber were clearly visible through the openings of the wooden crates and the spectacle was enough to hold the attention of the onlookers, while Ike slipped around the corner of the freight shed, pulling the hand cart.

At the rear of the shed he turned left on an alley way lined with work shops. trudging past the boiler shop, then the lighting shop, the welding and fabrication metal shops with the loaded cart in tow. He heard one of the younger workers call to him.
“Watcha ya got there Crock?”
Looking over his shoulder Ike spotted Toe Burne, one of the gang that he went down to Trapassey with last weekend.

“Just some busted old radiators that need fixing” Replied Ike. Changing to a softer voice, he whispered into Toe's ear. “Listen Toe! we got a big problem; they belong to the Handley Page shipment, that arrived this morning on the Digby that's tied up at the freight dock and those bastard longshoremen busted em up.”

“So what! those guys are always busten stuff” Said Toe, in a big nonchalant voice.
“I know but old R.G. himself told Dick and me we were personally responsible fur delivering them to Harbour Grace safely.”
“Well that's different! Said Toe, pointing down the alley as he spoke. “Let's take um down to the heating shop and see if the Super can help ya out” Kevin is always there when an employee needs a rabbit job done in a hurry”

The next shop up the alley was the heating shop where they fabricated and repaired heating systems for all railway buildings, ships and rolling stock. The Superintendent was Kevin Hawko, a short handsome man in his early forties with an olive complexion, and jet black hair. Kevin was a cheerful type always with a smile and friendly word for everyone. As Ike and Toe walked through the wide open door, pulling the load of damaged aircraft radiators. They arrived as Kevin, his back to the door, was engaged in conversation with one of the shop's workers. The worker looked up as the boys entered, Kevin picking up on the distraction swung around to seeing the boys pulling this strange load.
“What's all that stuff Crock?  You usually come here with the pay envelopes "  Said Kevin. Adding with a laugh.  "and you don't need a hand cart fur dem, ~~ do ya?.”
“No! ~~  next week is pay week. said ike, placing his hand on one of the broken crates. “ I got a couple a brace a rabbits here that needs fixing”

The meaning of Ike's explanation, was universally understood by all railway workers, especially to Kevin. Ike was asking for a big personal favor, which usually took precedence over official business within the railway community.

“ Usually people are after a new firebox for der kitchen range or a hot water heating coil to stuff in their stove for some hot running water but You got suppen very different there” Said Kevin, who eyed the radiators with interest.

“ I'm in a bit of a jam cus the big boss said he would hold me to task if any thing happened to dis shipment ~~ and the no sooner had he uttered the words when these things went crashing into the hold of the Digby” Said Ike, turning it on a bit to appeal to Kevin's generous nature.

“ We'll do what we can Ike.”said Kevin, with a shrug, indicating that there were a lot rabbits needing attention at this moment. “Just put em over there in the corner”

On Tuesday the 13th Dick made a visit to the boiler shop to see what progress on the broken radiators. "They are almost finish Dick. Go have a word with the boys in the back; they can give you a better idea when they will be ready to be picked up." said Kevin adding. "Who ever is using them should know that ya have to use distilled water, not well water but distilled ~~ like, what I puts into R.G.'s Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, all the time."

Dick went to the back of the shop to a room where the rads were being painted. "Hi Dick! What are you doing over this way?"

"I came over to see if there was any good news with those busted rads that Crock left with you guys yesterday.”

"' they are almost finished ~~ they were painted this morning and they will be dry by 5 or 6 tonight ~~ We had to replace the core on three of them, and the other tested out fine just a small dent in the top chamber which we repaired with solder. The new core material has slightly bigger tubes than the original but no one will never notice that; it only means that they are less likely to clog."

"Great! one of us will be over to collect them later today.”

After their shift had ended Dick and Ike crossed over the tracks and headed for the dockyard shops pushing a hand. Turning to Dick, Ike asks. "So tell me Dick. Did we get away with it so far? Has the muck hit the fan at the Express Office? I haven't heard boo about it at the Telegraph Office."

“There is only an Inquiry reporting that Harbor Grace only received 107 packages of a shipment of 109 and asking us to look into it .~~ Fortunately the boss gave it to me to investigate and that was just this morning. I'm going to have good news to report before I get out of here tonight. I can report that the two missing crates were found at the Dockyard and will be in-transit to the consignee at Harbor Grace at the first possible opportunity ."

"That's the best news I heard all week." Replied Ike.

To be continued

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