Jump Ranger Jump
I have never imagined myself as heroic. If I were appearing in an old western movie, I’d be the bank teller the robbers gun down in the opening scene.
Newfoundland Ranger Jack
Hogan — the subject of Earl B. Pilgrim’s Jump Ranger Jump [DRC Publishing] — was heroic. In the movie he’d survive until the final scene and get to ride off into the sunset.
Yeah, or something like that, eh b’ys?
In the Foreword, Norman Crane — a former Newfoundland Ranger — says, “I don’t know if he (Jack) was a hero but he was a fellow with a lot of guts.”
No argument from me.
On May 8th, 1943, gutsy Jack Hogan — a man who you couldn’t kill “with a maul” — jumped out of a burning Ventura bomber in the vicinity of Hawke’s Bay, Newfoundland.
Granted he was wearing a parachute, but here’s the Great Big Oops — the plane was not on fire; there was no need to bail out: “Jack was the victim of someone else’s panic.”
En route from Goose Bay to Gander, the bomber filled with smoke … because of paint burning off a recently painted heater as it turned out. In the ensuring panic among the crew and passengers the emergency door was opened and one man was sucked from the fuselage. A second man, his parachute only partly strapped on, was dragged from the plane. Following him, Corporal Eric Butt, parachute properly buckled, leaped into the air. Then, obeying apparent orders issuing from the smoke — “Jump, Ranger, jump!” — Jack Hogan bailed out.
Minus the four men gone out the emergency door, the plane flew on to Gander.
For frig sake!
Thanks to their parachutes, Jack Hogan and Eric Butt reached the ground safely in the Hawke’s Bay wilderness. Their almost fatal troubles began after they pitched.
Pilot Sheldon Luck reported afterwards that the first man out — a payroll clerk with “a briefcase handcuffed to his left wrist” — was decapitated by the plane’s tailfin. Sometime later, woodsmen found the second man’s body tangled in his parachute hanging from a tree.
(In the movie, I’d be one of those two poor buggers.)
Jump Ranger Jump is Earl Pilgrim’s account of Jack Hogan’s and Eric Butt’s surviving for a month and half in the environs of Lady Worcester Mountain (Since, officially renamed Hogan Hills).
Why were Hogan and Butt lost for so long? Here’s why — Because of a lack of accurate information, search parties were looking in the wrong part of the country.
Truth be told, Hogan and Butt were not really lost. Hogan, who once had lived in the area, knew where they were — kinda. He knew they were in the general area of Port Saunders and might have hiked out of the wilderness in a couple of days except Butt’s frozen feet crippled him too much to walk the distance.
When Jack Hogan jumped, wearing his Ranger’s uniform his and his logans laced to his knees, he was suitably dressed for conditions on the ground — for May month in Newfoundland. Eric Butt was not as fortunate.
He lost his gaiters while parachuting down and, since his shoes were little or no protection, he soon froze his feet tramping through the snow.
For days, Hogan coaxed — bloody well forced at times — Butt to keep moving despite the misery of his raw and blistered feet. Hogan even lugged Butt on his back until they eventually discovered a trapper’s shack on the shore of West Lake.
Here Jack decided to hold up and wait for rescue. He would tend to Butt’s infected feet and try to keep him alive until they were found.
Steadfastly — and heroically, eh b’ys? — Ranger Hogan stayed with Butt and kept him from dying.
Hogan found means to snare an occasional rabbit that, along with fiddlehead ferns and grass shoots, he stewed up in a tin kettle he’d found in the ruins of a sawmill. Hogan brewed spruce bud tea. Not the English breakfast tea Butt might have been used to back home in Jolly Old but he forced it down and stayed alive.
Ranger Hogan’s ingenuity was remarkable. He plugged a leaking pan to make a wash basin. He fashion a bowl and eating utensils from odd bits of board. Sure, with a short piece of exhaust pipe he’d found buried in sawdust, and a wooden plug to keep it watertight, he Macgyvered a Johnnypot for bedridden Butt.
Published in 2008, this book has given us the story of one of Newfoundland’s unsung — or seldom-sung — heroes. If you read it earlier, read it again.
No harm in singing a song the second time, eh b’ys?
Thank you for reading.