Saturday, April 10, 2010

Handley Page Bomber spotted in the air over Bell Island.

Tuesday June 10 1919
Morning Headlines:-

Second trial flight of Handley Page machine and was spotted in the air over Bell Island.

"READ ALL ABOUT IT!" - Read The EBook  

Mr. Reid was late coming into his office that morning, it was already ten thirty and Ike was hanging around Shirley's desk, for the third time since eight O'clock~~hoping to have a word with R.G. concerning the Admiral's decision to the request, to share his field with Alcock and Brown. Finally Ike's heart began pounding as he over heard a faint greeting coming from farther dow the hall, "good morning Mr. Reid" signifying that he had finally arrived.
"Good morning Mr. Reid." said Ike, with a quiver in his voice,
"Good morning Eric~~Shirley." replied R.G. with a couple of nods, directed in each of their directions.
Shirley responded in her usual cheerful voice saying,"Mr Reid, I laid out your correspondence on your desk for you~~their doesn't seem to anything too urgent, except~~I have to remind you of the afternoon tea party at government house tomorrow."
"Thank you Shirley, I forgot all about it."
"Your welcome sir! Oh!~~one other thing~~ young Eric here was wondering if he could have a word with you sometime today, about the Harbour Grace field."
"Oh yes! we could do that right now.....Come into my office Eric before I get busy with other things."

R.G. explained that he had discussed the matter with Admiral Kerr while he was a guest at the Reid home last week, and the outcome was just as he had earlier predicted. The Admiral would like to help his fellow fliers by offering the the use of his field for their departure point, but cannot because the small field would be overcrowded with the two large aircraft using the same space. "He views it a safety risk and he has to decline the request on the grounds that it would be a threat to public safety" explained R.G., looking a little uncomfortable as he did so.

"Tell me Eric~~you seem to be rather chummy with these new fliers, up at Lester's field, how are things going with their preparations?"
To which Ike answers by giving him a progress report and predicts that they will attempt a departure sometime on this coming weekend.
"That is very interesting~~are you sure of that?~~because it has only been a couple of weeks since the arrived in town. My son tells me that things are are not going well at the Harbour Grace field~~there seems to be a persistent overheating problem with one of the radiators, and that they are waiting for a replacement to arrive from Britain, but as you well know that may take some time for it to arrive."

"I have a feeling that it is probably not with the radiator but, rather with the hard water that they are using in them." Suggests Ike, in a timid voice.
R.G. looks, long and hard at Ike over the top of his reading glasses the asks, "How would you possibly know such a thing?"
To which Ike relates of where the the information came from; how he had heard it from Kevin Hawko, an employee at the Dockyard and also how, even the Nancy's chief mechanic had commented on how important engine cooling is for a successful long distance flight at the press conference he attended in Trapassey.  Ike went on to add that Kevin and all the men at the dockyard heating shop all know about the problem with the local well water, adding that Kevin invented a special apparatus for purifying the water and uses all the time for Mr. Reid's own Rolls Royce automobile, for that very reason.

Wednesday June 11 Started as any other day for Ike. Ever since he had arrived at the office, he was running messages all over town, delivering telegraph messages and picking up parcels for Mrs. Reid at the Royal Stores and Millie's Dress Shop using the the street railway for transportation. Returning to the office for his next assignment. Shirley greets him as he walks through the door.
"Oh good, your back~~Those packages that you have in your hand need to be  dropped off at Mr. R.G.'s home as quickly as possible. They are required for an afternoon reception at the Governor's residence, this afternoon at 2:00 that the Reids and your Admiral friend, will be attending."
"OK! I'm on my way." shouted Ike as he turned and ran out the door. Racing across the street he grabbed a west bound street car at the corner of Jobe street.

As the car rolled along silently toward the end of line at Brown's corner on the cross roads, Ike's thoughts were on what he had heard this morning about the troubles at Harbour Grace and of what he had said to R.G. Hoping to hell that he hadn't  committed himself to doing a service that he couldn't deliver on and,~~ he definitely didn't want to run into the the Admiral at Avalon House while he was delivering these packages.

Ike got off the street car at the cross roads and beat it up over Palk's hill, taking the left side of the fork to Topsail Road. As he was passing the cemetery he stopped for a few seconds to pick a couple of healthy looking snails from the fence to bring home to his two younger sisters who loved to race them with their friends.  Ike dropped them into a small paper bag and carefully placed into his leather delivery pouch before proceeding on his way.

After walking  another quarter of a mile or so he was approaching the Whale Bone Gates that marked the entrance to the Reid Estate. Passing under the whale's Jaw bones, he walked down the driveway which he had done on so many occasions before, but this time it was very different. The air was filled with the sweet aroma from the dozens of Lilac trees which lined both sides of the winding driveway. 

As he approached the mansion he was immediately impressed with the huge RR Silver Ghost that was parked on the circular drive in front of the main entrance. He has seen the car lots of times before but, the sight of it never ceased to draw his interest and imagination. Examining it's shiny silver engine bonnet and headlamps closely he looked at his own reflection and thought to him self how nice it would be to own a  fine British car complete with right hand steering and wire spoke wheels.

The flower garden, located in the infield enclosed by the circular turn area in front of the mansion was in full bloom with beds of multi colored lupines and fox gloves. Ike thought that the gardener must have been inspired by a baseball park when he designed the garden's layout. There were nine diamond shaped flower beds, all located in such a way as to represent players positions of an imaginary baseball squad. The five closest to the mansion representing the catcher, first, second, and third base, with the pitcher's mound represented by a large centrally placed bed. The beds at home plate and the three bases are connected by path ways of small beach stones. The background consists of four more beds representing the short stop and the fielder's positions.

A full length veranda with a central entrance and four steps down to the ground level accented the front of the house which it's self stood a full two stories high.
Ike took the pathway leading to the servant's entrance at the back of the mansion The back door stood open Ike called through the screen door. "Packages for Lady Reid." called Ike.
"just a moment." answered a voice from inside.
After a short wait a pretty young servant girl appeared in the doorway. 
Ike was a suddenly feeling a little short of words, being distracted as he was at this moment by the her beauty. She had a dark olive complexion, fine features, and long wavy black hair. Standing for a moment in silence, he finally spoke asking  "would you mind getting me a drink of water~~I am dying of thrust."
"Not at all come inside" she replied standing to one side to allow him to pass by adding,  "we can't leave this screen door open the house will be full of flies in no time'".

As he stood there Ike explained that the parcels were important and had to be given to Mrs. Reid right away because she was expecting them for a reception this afternoon.
"Yes I understand she was already looking for them. Can I get you something~~a cup of tea?"
"no thanks! I really must get back to the office."

After a few minutes of flirting and making small talk, Ike started down the walk deciding to go back by the lower entrance he turned left and walked past the front steps."Good morning Lad!" came a greeting in a upper class British accent, from someone close by.
Ike froze in his tracks and spun around to see the Admiral who was standing on the veranda at the railing. The Admiral presents a striking figure, decked out in his formal military uniform complete with cumber bun, military ribbons and gold braiding. Ike thought that he looked no less impressive than if it were Nelson himself standing on the bridge of his flagship Victory.

"I know you!" declared  the Admiral, then adding, "I couldn't help but recognise you~~with that head of flaming red curly hair. Are you not one of the railway lads that delivered the radiators for my Handley Page aircraft over in Harbour Grace?"
"Yes sir!" replied Ike, still in shock from the surprise encounter, gathering his composure he added, "it was~~me and my friend Dick Neugent who came to your airfield. Mr Reid sent us because he wanted them to arrive safely, without getting lost again."
"That was very decent of Mr. Reid, I must remember to thank him for that kindness. Tell me are you interested in this new sport of aviation?"
"Oh yes sir~~all the boys at the railway are following the Great Air Race: here in the St. John's~~We even went up to Trepassey to see the Americans, and I was there with my horse when the C-5 blew out to sea~~and, me and my friend Bobby Johnson saw the Martinsyde crash to earth. Someday I would like to be a flier."
"I am impressed~~You lads do get around," said the Admiral in a condescending tone of voice. "Aviation is a rich man's sport lad~~my advice to you and other young colonial lads would be to seek a career in the Royal Navy. The King's senior service always needs young men like yourselves to bolster the ranks and keep the Empire strong."

"I like ships too sir"answered Ike enthusastically, not wanting to seem ungrateful for the Admiral's advice. Me and my friend Bobby often wish we was older so we could work on the coastal boats."
"I was not much older than yourself, when I joined His Majesty's Navy as a midshipman, away back in 1879, and from the time of my first posting to the ninety gun wooden frigate called the Newcastle, to my command of the Adriatic squadron, in the Great War that has just ended, I have had nothing but a wonderful time. Always meeting extremely charming people, every where I went~~a minute ago I heard you say that you have a horse~~in the Royal Navy I learned horsemanship; and even learned to fly while I was commanding the Greek Hellenic Navy, because I thought it would be the sporting thing to do and an inspiration to the men that i commanded. During my naval career I have traveled far and wide and met scores of influential people~~I'll have you know that I was on very good terms with the Kaiser, and I am~~no matter what you may have heard to the contrary~~convinced that he was never a member of the Prussian War Party and secretly supported the British cause. Mark my words lad, the opportunities a Naval career affords a young man are boundless."

" Thank you sir, and congratulations on your very successful flight yesterday at Harbour Grace."
"Thank you very much~~my boy."
"Your welcome sir~~ My friend and I heard about it on our crystal radio set, it was wonderful achievement, to get that large airplane ready for flight in a matter of only two months. The team at Lester's field, will find it inspiring, because they are becoming some what discouraged, with all the problems they have been having lately."


With the mention of Lester's field, Admiral Kerr suddenly puts it all together and links Ike to what he had heard from R.G. about the request for permission to use his airfield and of course the scoop about the hard water and the need to distill water for the radiators.
"Tell me lad, I hear you have been very helpful to the members of the Vickers expedition~~ I want you to know that I am well aware that they are all very fine gentlemen, and that Vickers is a worthy competitor, who produce fine flying machines, but the fact remains they are our opponents and as a loyal railway employee it's your duty to support our team in this endeavor."
"Yes sir! I understand."
"We have  few minor problems of our own~~nothing serious, but there is this troublesome radiator that  consistently overheats, but my men have ordered a new one from England, when it arrives we will be  setting of to claim the prize."

Ike tells the Admiral that he thinks that there is nothing wrong with his radiator but the problem is with the water that he is using. He went on to say that the Dockyard has a special still for making large quantities of distilled water. the Admiral responded by saying he is convinced and that he would like to try it and wants the Dockyard to lend him the still or produce  50 gallons of distilled water and send it to Harbour Grace adding that he will speak with Mister Reid on the way to the Governor's tea party, to insure that he gets it quickly and reserve precedence over any other use of the equipment.
Eventually Ike seizes a break in the decidedly one way conversation to say that he must get to work.

"Yes I must let you go~~its time for me to to do a few last minute things before we leave for the reception at the government house."said the Admiral, as Ike hurried off via the driveway leading to the lower gate on Waterford Bridge Road.

When Ike arrives back at the office Shirley hands him a note.
"What's this!" cries Ike, looking as though he had just seen a ghost. "I can't believe it!"
"Well it's true~~Teddy Brown says that the still was stolen during the night and they only have enough distilled water to fill only one of the two radiators. I have no idea what it means~~but from the look on your face, I can see that it's not good."
"Are there any more messages to run?"asked Ike, hopefully,
"No, that's it, your finished for the day, now you can go look after Teddy's problem."

Before heading home Ike spreads the word around the  railway, that Mauler Mercer's Mundy Pond Marauders  have stolen the still that he had borrowed from the Dockyard Shops. Toe Burn comes up with the idea of alerting the Leader of the Carters Hill gang, Mouse Morrisey, that they need his help to raid the Munday Pond gangs hideout to recover the stolen railway property. Mouse agrees that his gang have been waiting for a chance to get back at the Marauders for swarming one of their members on his way home from school and breaking his nose in the process.

"Get yar boys together and come over to d' club house tonight, soas we can put ta'gether a plan." snarled Mouse as he squinting out from behind his wire rimed glasses with those extra thick lenses of his.  Mouse tells the boys that he has heard that the Marauders have a shack near the head of the pond and hints that he would like to catch Mercer there and take him on single handed  to settle the score.

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