Veteran Stories:
Merrill Dines

Air Force

  • Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Merrill Dines during the war, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 1943.

    Merrill Dines
  • Avro Lancaster aircraft, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 1943.

    Merrill Dines
  • Swordfish aircraft, 1943.

    Merrill Dines
  • B-17 Flying Fortress, 1943.

    Merrill Dines
  • Merrill Dines' Statement of Service issued in 1992.

    Merrill Dines
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"And we were to transport him, by plane, to the hospital at Havre-Saint-Pierre [Quebec], where they had the small hospital."

Transcript

During time late 1942, March, while being stationed at a composite squadron in Dartmouth [Nova Scotia], Eastern AirCommand, as aircraft mechanic, servicing various types of aircraft. We received orders from Eastern Air Command Halifax to immediately equip a [Noorduyn] Norseman plane with skis and fly to east end Anticosti Island, St. Lawrence River, a mercy flight, to pick up near the lighthouse that’s on the eastern end and we were to land as close as we could do that because the [lighthouse] keeper had blood poisoning in his hand caused by an accident with a table saw. And we were to transport him, by plane, to the hospital at Havre-Saint-Pierre [Quebec], where they had the small hospital. It was across the river from the islands. We flew up New Brunswick coastline, with light snow squalls but near good visibility, arriving midday, circling the lighthouse area and made a very rough landing because of no ground levelling or preparation had ever been done. However, after landing, checking over motor and aircraft, I discover we are nearly empty of gas. So talking to the pilot about not having enough fuel for the river crossing, the assistant lightkeeper tells me that he has old barrelled tractor gas, low test perhaps but asked me if it would be okay. I quickly replied, it would be much better than none at all. After closely surveying the area, we decided the temporary landing strip looked very adequate. As we circled the field twice at low altitude, everything appeared level and with plenty of snow. So down we went, hitting the snow at about 70 miles an hour, when suddenly, all the underneath of the plane was going crazy with noise. This coming from the skis breaking off through some fir stumps, which were left 15 inches above ground. And then we discover we’re 50 yards beyond the so-called landing strip, unmarked, when suddenly a terrific bang and very shortly after, a very abrupt stop with the propeller nose down, in the snow, and the tail left well up in the air. Well, then the keeper, who was sitting next to me on my right, our heads being approximately 15 inches apart, and he is knocking on a part of a big ski - full width - that had torn up through the aircraft belly and broken from the oil leg. And the next move was to be replacement for any and all damaged parts, to be flown in immediately accompanied by three experienced airframe mechanics and necessary tools to rebuildaircraft. We enjoyed our eight day stay at the town inn, appreciating good food and great people. The town of Havre-Saint-Pierre, H-A-V-R-E, Saint-Pierre, on the north side of the St. Lawrence. Next to start our trip home. Taking off with no great difficulty. Everything seemed to be okay and performing fine.
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