Synopsis of Gander's 1940 History
Early 1940 a detachment of Canadian Army Engineers arrived to set up camps for the Black Watch regiment who were to form the first defense unit for the airport. Temporary buildings were erected near Radio range Road, and in July the regiment moved in to occupy them. (Notes of Fred Chafe.)
First school (tar-paper shack) in operation.
The first Gander school that operated in 1940 at what is now Gander Airport, and what was then Newfoundland Airport, was a tar-paper shack. The teachers came to the school from Cobb's Camp on a rail-speeder. Mr. Walter Chaulk (died in 1993) was the first teacher. (Warren)
January 11 - Harrow aircraft G-AFRG made the first wheeled take off from compacted snow on Runway 27.
Feb. 10 - The first two RCAF aircraft landed at Gander. The aircraft were Hudson Bombers 759 and 768. They made the first wheeled landing on compacted snow. These aircraft carried W/C Gutherie, W/C Grandy, S/L Powell, and six airmen. The pilots were S/L Lewis and F/O Douglas. Hudson 768 overran the area cleared for landing but incurred no damage. (RCAF Station Diary, 1940)
June 4 - The first RCAF Douglas Digby, #752, landed at Gander. On board were Air Vice Marshall Croil, Air Commodore Anderson, S/L Gordon, S/L Cashcullen, Capt. Fanning and Capt. Evans. They proceeded to St. John’s for meetings with the Newfoundland government. This was in preparation of the RCAF taking over the airport. (RCAF Station Diary, 1940)
June 14 - Canada requested permission to station ground troops at Newfoundland Airport, (Gander) and the seaplane base at Botwood. Subsequent agreements provided for recruitment of Newfoundlanders into the Canadian military services.
June 17 - At exactly 10:50 a.m., five Digby aircraft of Detachment of 10(BR) arrived operating Digbys under S/L Carscallen. The first military aircraft to operate from Newfoundland. They were 744, 749, 752, 753 & 754. (RCAF Station Diary, 1940)
Oct. 28 - The first Hudson Bombers, destined for Great Britain, arrived.
Nov. 9-10 - The first group of seven Hudson aircraft, led by Captain D.C.T. Bennett in T9422, departed Gander Nov. 10, 2233 GMT, arriving safely the following day at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland, 0945 GMT, after a flight of 11 hours.
Nov. 29 - The second formation flight of seven Hudsons to Aldergrove led by Captain Humphrey-Page was successful
Dec. 17 - The third formation flight of seven Hudsons to Aldergrove led by Captain Store was successful.
Dec. 19 - The Eastbound Inn, built for Ferry Command, opened for business. (The Inn was torn down in 1957.)
Dec. 28 - Capt. Doug Bennett landed in a Hudson en route to Great Britain. The aircraft was donated by the employees of Lockheed-Vega and named the “Spirit of Lockheed-Vega Employees”.
Dec. 29 - The airport experienced its first crash. A Captain Smith crashed while taking off on Runway 32. The aircraft burned, but the pilot and crew were not hurt.
Later in that year (1940), the Atlas Construction Company arrived to erect permanent quarters for American and Canadian forces. The first buildings were on what was known as the American Side of the runway. During that year and 1941, building proceeded at an amazing rate. Twelve new hangers, equipment stores, fire hall, officers' and men's quarters, theatres, drill halls, a hospital, and many other buildings were erected with R.C.A.F., and U.S.A.F. forces moved in to occupy them. (Chafe, Personal Notes)
Contributed by F. Tibbo