Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ferry Command: First Delivery

On 15 January, 1940 just west of Emerson, the silence of the early morning was broken by the sound of aircraft. A truck, loaded with 45-gal fuel drums, several cars, their motors running, a team of horses and half a dozen people, some with newsreel cameras, were waiting in the freezing cold. The bundled individuals were looking skyward just to the southern horizon. Suddenly two twin-engined planes became visible. They were the first of a consignment of eighteen planes. They came in low. The cameraman started shooting film. The planes circled, the pilots clearly visible in the cockpits. After a quick check of the wind sock they circled to the south and began their final decent. Touching down on the US side of the field, the dark camouflaged Lockheed Hudson bombers, without markings or ordnance, taxied up to the boundary line.

Joe Wilson, a local Emerson farmer, guided his team of horses, Prince and Fred, toward the planes. He attached a hook and tow rope to the aircraft’s wheel and dragged the bomber into Canada. The newsreel cameras rolled and newspaper photographers popped their flash bulbs. The sudden rush and the flashes were a slight annoyance to the team of horses, but Joe was an efficient teamster and within a matter of minutes both planes were on Canadian territory. The truck rolled up and the driver and a helper dressed in military-style coveralls, started filling the craft with fuel from the 45-gal drums. Moments after the planes were fueled up the flight crew emerged from the idling waiting cars. The engines roared into life and the Hudsons lumbered down the airstrip. Becoming airborne they circled once over the airfield and headed north for Winnipeg’s Stevenson Field.

Stevenson's Field circa 1929
- Excerpt from “Bombers Across the Border” by James McClelland. Western Canadian Aviation Museum Review, June 1996