Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
WWII Swordfish Crash Site in Nova Scotia By Glen Gaudet Wartime Heritage On September 3, 2007, a group of four with Wartime Heritage visited the site of the crash of Swordfish HS486. Swordfish HS486 was stationed at East Camp in Yarmouth where RCAF pilots carried out training flights for No. 1 Naval Air Gunners' School (No. 1 NAGS). Telegraphist Air Gunners were trained at East Camp. Through some research, Wartime Heritage learned that HS486 crashed on January 28, 1945. The crash site is approx 40 miles from Yarmouth in the New France area of Nova Scotia. After investigating with locals, a rough map was drawn up and the group set-out to locate the 62-year old wreckage. The map proved easy to follow and after an approximate 2-hour drive, the group left the car to travel by foot, off the logging road, and onto a side path. A short walk and five minutes later, the group arrived at the crash site. Through information found in RCAF Veteran Hank Reed's book, East Camp Memories of World War II, it was discovered that HS486 was flown by RCAF pilot Bert Joss. There were two other personnel aboard and thankfully the entire crew survived. Joss recalls, "I received a broken left ankle and broken right thigh, the joyrider behind us a cracked hip, but the poor student, who didn't even know we were crashing, wasn't injured, perhaps due to his rearward-facing seat." The cause of the crash, an incorrectly assembled fuel cock, was explained by Joss, "The Swordfish had a peculiar arrangement of fuel tanks, consisting of a main tank and a gravity tank which was kept full by the engine-driven pump with an overflow back into the main tank. The procedure was to take off with the fuel cock selecting "main only" and once airborne and cruising to switch to "normal" in which case the gravity tank was kept topped up by some of the fuel from the fuel pump, so that there was always an emergency supply in the gravity tank should the fuel pump itself back up. In this particular instance the aircraft had just come back from servicing, and the indicator on the fuel cock was assembled, rotated 90 degrees on its shaft. When I selected normal, I was actually running on my gravity and in due course drained the tank." Swordfish that have been restored and preserved include HS469 at the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Nova Scotia, Swordfish W5856 (Mk I) and LS326 (Mk II) still flown today by the Royal Navy Historic Flight in England, and Swordfish HS554 (Mk II) of Vintage Wings of Canada. Both HS469 and W5856 were based at East Camp in Yarmouth in 1944-45.
Wreckage of Swordfish HS486
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