do you remember

Oct 29, 2011  

 Hello Again everyone…A little feedback resulted from our Cinder Path discussion 

 “Very nice result on the cinder path…There were several different locations suggested and I’m going with the Green Lane on the Canadian (Airforce) side. Why would airmen be walking on the Army side. And like someone said the airmen would walk from their quarters or the drill hall on Foss Ave to the mess and other facilities beyond Chestnut St. There were some pretty swanky houses on Chestnut St. so I suspect that's why they later put up the green wall, to provide them with some privacy. We walked that Green Lane many times and loitered there with our friends from the Army side before they headed home.
         Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961

I did not mention the Green Lane because to me, it was just that, the "Green Lane."  I mentioned in a previous article about that and the Newfoundland Dog waiting at the end of it (Rex Tilley's family dog, I believe).  

We used the Green Lane as a short cut to the movies, friends on Chestnut Street (we also went up behind the Protestant Chapel to reach the Post Office, road to Goodyear's Canteen and the old Goodyear Humber Stores, etc.) hospital, friends in Building 50 and on the Army side.

Carol (Mercer) questioned John's Street  . . . . It was John Street and my family lived in Building 164 at the end of John Street, down by the Airport Club) and behind 164 we used the path through the wooded area to get to the Lannon's house.
         Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, HMA Class of 1956

OK, that taken care of, what has everyone got to say about the 7th Anti Aircraft Battery in Gander…Here’s what the ‘kids’ remember.

This underground place was built during the war and we heard it was to be offices in case of attack. As I came here in 1940, and was a kid, we never realized till lately that invasion was a real possibility. There was indeed wooden guns. One was at the Chestnut Street end of the runway, and a great place to play war. I was a tomboy and my best friends were boys, so when a family with girls came I was really happy.
         Eileen Chaffe Elms, GA Class of 1951

I know about ammunition sites that were on the outskirts of Gander.   We used to play and cook meals in one of them when we were kids.
         Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, HMA Class of 1956

Yeah, I can remember the old wooden AA gun on the Army Side. It was located alongside the spur line for the oil cars that unloaded the diesel fuel into the underground tanks. The AA gun was on a huge circular wooden platform that was moveable. It would take about 3 or 4 of us to 'operate' it. We would take turns sitting in the gunners seat while the remainder would push the platform to rotate it.

The gun was located on the approach path to the old runway 18/36 (no longer in use). Whenever this runway was active and we observed an airplane lining up on final approach, we would head for the gun. It was quite a feat because the pushers had to rotate the platform in order for the gunner to keep his gun lined up with the airplane. I don't know how many imaginary kills we would make. I guess we must have scared the crap out of those pilots when they would see this AA gun following their flight path. I can imagine some of their comments they would make.

I wonder if they ever said "This Army Side must be really important to have it still protected with an AA gun"

I don't know how long we played with this gun but eventually it was dismantled. Maybe it was from airline complaints or maybe it was just something that had to be done. I don't know how many kids ever had the opportunity to play with a toy such as this. Growing up in Gander back in those days was different but it sure was a lot of fun.
         Jack Pinsent, GA Class of 1960

I have been following the discussions about the WW2 installations, etc., in and around Gander and remember playing around the Quonset huts, bunkers, etc., that were north of the Army Side, about 5 minutes walk from our house.

We used to find old, rusty machine guns around those places. Can't remember any wooden guns though, but you were nobody in those days if you didn't have a belt made from spent machine gun cartridges strung together with the little metal clips used to feed the ammunition through the guns. That was a status symbol.

The tunnels?

Probably in that building across the street from the laundry. I didn't spend much time in that area.
         Jim Butler, GA Class of 1959

Can't remember anything about wooden guns - but along the same lines I remember going down into the 'fox holes' - the underground tunnels that used to be behind the Eastbound Inn and across from Goodyear's canteen. 
There were big wooden doors on a slant that could be opened up and we would be all scared but go down in the dark anyway.  I remember there was lots of water down there and everyone said there were rats living there.  We used to walk along the wooden benches in the trenches so as not to step in the water.   I wonder if others remember those underground tunnels?  Or am I dreaming?  
         Geraldine FitzGerald Nimmo, SJ Class of 1959

I would guess that Geraldine memories are from the old Operations Centre.  The place had long corridors and in and of themselves were "tunnels" that were hard to see and/or explore.  I was not aware of any tunnels elsewhere except for occasional bomb depots scattered around the base; but these were not particularly large nor prominent.  Would be pleased to know if anyone has other information on this. 
         Garfield Pardy, HMA Class of 1956

I believe one of the “slanted doors” places was on the back of Eaton’s store, on the side nearest the railway station. Don’t know if it was used for storage because as far as I know, these bldgs had no basement as such and were probably more suited to small animals than merchandise!

Also, not sure but there may been some “dugout” spots between Goodyears Armyside store and the sewerage plant.

I however remember those AA guns well as a kid and "shot down many enemy aircraft" with them.  One of them was, for a while, in the back yard of the Shell house near the "Green Lane" between Chestnut and the arena on Foss Avenue.

There was another one (maybe the same that changed places)  just off the north side of the road that went around the west end of the runways between the Army side and Airforce side.  This was near the old airplane dump and very nicely situated because we could see enemy aircraft coming to bomb us from almost out to Twin Ponds.

Reference the 7th AA, I tried to look up the history of this unit but there is little available. It was not listed as a constituted unit in military records in November 1935, nor on 11 August 1959.  It was however, shown on 1939/09/03 as part of the Non-Permanent Active Militia. Based in Stellarton, NS, it belonged to the Military District No 6 which had its HQ in Halifax.
Officially designated as the "7th Anti-Aircraft Battery (Type H)", its tour of duty in Gander was from 17 Aug 41 - 2 Nov 43.  Given the conditions of World W II, I suspect that it was not replaced.
         RG Pelley, GA Class of 1962

Thanks to Peter Blackie, GA Class of 1957,  for mentioning this topic which drew out  information that people had probably long thought they’d forgotten. Keep up the dialogue folks, it inspires all of us.

Remember, we are gathering memories for Kitchen Parties attended or wished you’d attended. We hope to put together some Christmas and holiday parties with background music by former classmates so bring on the suggestions, recipes, food ideas, entertainment etc. by contacting Faye at brfr1@verizon.net. And again, many thanks to all who participate in helping to keep these memories alive.  We get a lot of comments from people who enjoy what you have to say…’til next time.

 

 

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