SMALL-L ArchivesArchiver > SMALL > 2007-02 > 1172712739
From: "Rick Paddock" <>
Subject: [SMALL] Squadron Leader SMALL
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 18:32:19 -0700 (Mountain Standard Time)
Stumbled across this while doing some reading on Newfoundland... May or may
not be helpful to someone.
There is a picture of Mr. Small at the URL.
The Battle of the Atlantic was at its height in the fall of 1942 when the
RCAF moved its #5 Squadron from Dartmouth to Gander. German U Boat attacks
were taking a heavy toll on Allied shipping and it was believed the Squadron
with its Canso amphibious flying boats would be able to provide Conveys
with much better air coverage at Gander than it could from Nova Scotia.
It soon became apparent to headquarters in Halifax that the Squadron was
experiencing more than the normal "settling in" problems associated with a
move to a new base as it was having difficulties in meeting its operational
The situation became serious enough that headquarters decided to send
someone to Gander to investigate and report on the units problems. The
individual selected to go to Gander to sort out their problems was S/L NE
Small the Commanding officer of 113 Sqn in Yarmouth, the most experienced
anti submarine warfare Officer in Eastern Air Command.
"Molly" Small, as he was known, had joined the RCAF in 1928 as an
Aircraft Mechanic, and later qualified as a Sergeant Pilot. He left the
service in 1937 to fly commercially, but re enlisted as a Pilot Officer when
war broke out in Sept 1939.
Small first worked as a flying instructor and was later posted to Ferry
Command where he made a number of Catalina Flying Boat deliveries from North
America to England. Some of these flights took over 24 hours. He was next
employed in survey work searching for suitable airport locations in Labrador
and the NWT. For his dedication in these activities he was awarded the Air
Small was then posted to Eastern Air Command (EAC) and quickly became
recognized for his resource fullness and innovative ideas in anti submarine
warfare. During the spring of 1942 he made several unsuccessful attacks on
submarines, but on 31 Jul. 1942, while flying a Hudson out of Yarmouth, he
made a successful attack and sank U754 near Sable Island. This was the first
confirmed "kill" for EAC and he was decorated with the Distinguished Flying
Small arrived at Gander on 4 Jan 1943 in a Hudson aircraft , accompanied
by an experienced Canso crew from 167 Sqn in Yarmouth. They immediately
began to prepare for an operational patrol which would take him far offshore
and be an endurance demonstration. Small felt the 5 Sqn's aircraft were tail
heavy and removed some excess equipment and shifted weight forward in one of
the Sqn's aircraft, believing these measures would improve the aircraft trim
and increase its endurance.
Before dawn on Jan 6th, Small along with 2nd Pilot Tingle; Navigator
Hudson; Wireless Air Gunners Mangan and White; and Engineers Banning and
Wilson boarded Canso 9837. It was loaded with fuel, ammunition and depth
charges to within a few pounds of its maximum allowable 34,000 lb take-off
All systems were reported serviceable and at 6.45 AM the heavily laden
aircraft lumbered into the air and commenced to climb. As they crossed
Gander Lake they experienced the same severe turbulence reported by another
aircraft that had left a little earlier. The up and down drought were so
severe as to cause changes in altitude as much as 300 feet in either
Shortly after passing over the Lake, Sgt Wilson, heard Small ask the
Navigator for his course, and as they started to turn Wilson felt the
aircraft fall very fast, with a tilt and a slide to starboard and then it
started to clip the tops of trees in rising ground.
The aircraft cut a swath as it plowed through the trees for about 200
feet, at a flat angle of approach before the wings were ripped off. The hull
and engines continued another 300 feet, then turned over and caught fire.
F/Sgt Benning, the flight engineer dropped out of his seat in the "tower"
and fell to the ground, while Wilson who had been in the "fitters" seat,
below him, was thrown clear of the wreckage.
Benning's ribs were broken and Wilson had lacerations to his head and
face and both were thoroughly shook up. They looked for other survivors but
found no sign of life in or around the burning wreckage, and it was obvious
the other crew members had been killed on impact. After daybreak they
searched and found an emergency ration kit, two personnel kits and two
dinghies. The area was covered in deep snow and they did'nt know how far
they were from the Lake so they decided to make a lean-to from the salvaged
items and wait for rescue.
During that day and the following night, several aircraft, including
Trans Canada Airlines,flew over them and each time they fired a distress
flare but but it didn't attract attention. The next day they realized there
would be no quick rescue and decided to try and make their own way to the
Lake. It was heavy going and they didn't reach the lake until late that
They followed the shoreline to a point opposite the US Army wharf and
lit a fire and waited. Later that night they saw the lights of a car coming
down the road to the wharf and realizing this might be their salvation they
fired off a flare. Shortly after this an aircraft took off from the airport
and as it circled their position they fired another flare. A boat soon came
over and picked them and they were taken to the RCAF hospital and treated
for their injuries.
Meanwhile back at Gander the #5 Sqn Daily Diary for 7 Jan 1943 had
the following entry
S/L Small has not returned from patrol and great anxiety is felt. It was his
intention to go some 600 to 700 miles to sea and it is felt he had now run
out of gas short of the airport. 3 Canso and a Flying Fortress from Ferry
Command are out, also aircraft from Torbay, Goose Bay and Yarmouth.
A ground party reached the wreckage the next day and the bodies were
recovered. When found, Small was still clutching the broken ring of the
A Board of Inquiry investigated the accident but could not establish an
exact cause of the accident. Small's log book showed that all of his flying
in the past seven months had been on Hudson aircraft and he had not flown
over Gander or flown a Canso in that time period. They concluded that Small
might have been momentarily concentrating on his compass and not on his
other flying instruments and so commenced a partial stall.
Air Commodore FV Heakes the Commander of 1 Grp in St John's added the
In my opinion the accident was due to the pilot encountering a severe down
draft in a heavily loaded condition, at the moment of commencing a turn on
course, possibly in association with lack of immediate experience on this
type from Gander Airport.
An official who reviewed the file at Air Force HQ noted that Banning and
Wilson were worthy of commendation for their coolness and fortitude and the
manner in which they extricated themselves from a difficult situation
hampered by cold and deep snow.
Funeral services were held in the Drill Hall at 1500 hrs on the 12th Jan
for the victims. Capt CW Fogo of the PEI Highlanders and F/L Marchand, RCAF
RC Padre conducted the service. The PEI Highlanders pipe band was in
attendance. Small and his crew were later laid to rest in the RCAF Cemetery.
The Records of the Commonwealth War Graves list them as follows:
HUDSON, Pilot Offr. Donald Leslie, J23800. R.C.A.F. 7th January 1943. Age 29
Son of Joseph and Ellen Hudson, of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; husband of Vera
M. Hudson, of Innisfail, Alberta . Plot 3, Row 3, Grave 17
Epitaph -Greater love hath no man than he who givith his life for his
MANGAN, Pilot Offr. John Thomas, J/23805. Mentioned in Despatches. R.C.A.F.
7th, January 1943. Age 23. Son of Charles and Elizabeth Mangan, of North Bay
Ontario. Plot 2. Row 6, Grave 10.
Epitaph _Rest in Peace
SMALL, Sqdn. Ldr. Norville Everett, C/1379, D.F.C., A.F.C. R.C.A.F. 7th
January, 1943. Age 33. Son of Adolph and Minnie Small, of Toronto, Ontario;
husband of Jean M. Small, of Vancouver, British Columbia. Plot 3. row 1.
Epitaph - Rest in Peace
TINGLE, Flying Offr. Aubrey Maxwell, J/5767. R.C.A.F. 7th January 1943. Age
28. Son of Cyril N. Tingle and Beryl B. Tingle, of Chilliwack, British
Columbia. Plot 3. Row 2. Grave 13.
Epitaph -Rest in Peace
WHITE, Sgt. Harold Ernest, R/84515. R.C.A.F. 7th January 1943. Age 29. son
of John T. White and Ethel E. White, of Saint John, New Brunswick. Plot 2.
Row 6. Grave ll.
Epitaph -son of John T and Ethel White - Rest in Peace
|[SMALL] Squadron Leader SMALL by "Rick Paddock" <>|