First Communications Construction Squadron
In Newfoundland 1952 To 1954

The History of the First Communications Construction Squadron was in Newfoundland from 1952 to 1954

In the spring of 1953 1st Communications Construction Squadron set up two camps to do replacement of poles and anchors, etc on our cable lead that ran across the island along the railroad. Camp-l was at the Shoal Harbour gravel pit and Camp-ll was at Port Blanford. Later in the summer, last of August, we at Camp-l had completed our work and we moved just south of Terra Nova at a place called Three Ponds. Our camp was then designated Camp-lll.

When winter set in, we moved to Pepperrell AFB and worked on the long lines west of St. Johns. This would be the winter of 1953-54. In May of 1954 we started a new Camp-l at Goobies. Goobies was my last camp as I then rotated back to the states for discharge in Aug. 1954. My service buddy, Jerome Young, stayed on at Camp-l at Goobies and they later moved to Rantem Wye and that is where Jerome rotated from to go back to the states.

The 1st. Communications Construction Squadron did construction and maintenance for communications for all of Northeast Air Command which included Labrador and Greenland besides Newfoundland.

Source: Merritt B. Scharnweber

Long Lines Crews Responsible For Maintenance Of Communication Lines

By A/1C RICHARD A. McDANIEL

The loggers who work "deep in the heart" of the North Woods have nothing on the men of the Long Lines crew of the 1st Communications Squadron. These men work, eat, sleep and play in the middle of nowhere - a section of Newfoundland accessible only by railroad.

The Mission of the Long lines is the upkeep of the communications lines, some 239 miles of wire, which are the responsibility of the Air Force. The summer task of the Long Lines is the maintenance of 36 miles of communications lines running between Clarenville and Terra Nova, Newfoundland. The 1953 work season was marked with the opening of two work camps, and the season will continue until November depending on weather conditions. Since there are no roads anywhere near these camps, the camp sites were selected on the basis of being close to the railroad, water facilities and suitable terrain for a railroad siding.

The Railroad plays the major part - in fact, the only part - in the Long Lines transportation system. Speeders, commonly known as "put ons," pull trailers, carrying men and supplies to the work areas. The speeders use the Canadian National Railways lines and must regulate their operating schedule with the railroad. In addition to the men who actually work in the upkeep of the Long Lines, there are other men in the camps that form an integral part of the organization.

Cooks Prepare their meals on gasoline field ranges and can be expected to serve meals at any hour of the day, when the linesmen return from their job. Purifying water, spraying the camp site to rid the area of mosquitoes, and treatment of bumps and bruises are some of the duties on the medic on the job at the camp. Power generators, water pumps and maintenance of the speeders is the responsibility of the camp mechanic, while the camp supply man has the job of co-ordinating the supply needs and requesting delivery of the supplies by a certain date.

But The linesmen is the mainstay of the entire operation. The linesmen are composed of seven man crews, each crew led by a crew chief. The men dig holes for the new poles which are installed along the communication lines. Jack hammers as well as manual labor are employed in digging the holes. Conditions vary where these poles will be located. One day the linesmen will erect a pole in solid granite, while the next day they will put one up in waist-deep mud.

When Conditions won't permit the actual digging of a hole, alternate plans of operation are put into effect. If the granite can't be moved by either jack hammer or just plain muscles, rock cribs are constructed to hold up the poles. A rock crib is built from short poles, placed around the bottom of the pole and then filled with rocks. As for the campers themselves, they live in Jamesway huts. The structures, made of spun glass insulation covering a wooden frame, measure 16 by 16 by 8, have wooden floors and house an average of four to five men.

Each Hut is equipped with electricity, an oil heating stove, wash basins for shaving and single folding beds. Shower units with hot water and washing machines are in separate buildings. Each camp also has three squad tents. One tent doubles as a dinning hall and movie theater, the second serves as the kitchen and the third as the supply tent. Fishing and movies are about the most popular off-duty past times. An average of three films weekly are shown.

Commanding the 1st. Communications Construction Squdron is Major Vincent R. Biondino, and the Adjutant is 1st. Lt. Philip B. Meyer. 1st. Lt. William H.Davidson, Jr., is Flight Commander of Camp No.1, while CWO Cleveland B. Dennis, Jr., commands Camp No.2

The above article was printed in the base newspaper at McAndrew AFB in 1953

Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



In this view Camp-I is three miles further north beyond the curve. The white building is the Shoal Harbour repeater station. The road from McAndrew AFB ends here, so, we all unload here and ride the speeder out to Camp-I. The telephone pole line we maintained is on the right side of the track. Other repeater stations were at Pepperrell AFB, Gander, Grand Falls, Millertown Jct., Howley, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Table Mountain, and St. Andrews.

Photographed By: Joe Louie
Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



In this view, our two speeders are double headed with a load of telephone poles to be spotted along the railroad. Tech / Sgt. Wilkerson and M / Sgt. Anniable are conferring with Fred Rose and LeRoy Hawco, the two speeder drivers, on strategy. Tip, the squadron mascot, is ready to go.

Photographed By: Jerome Young
Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



This hill overlooks Camp-I. The Shoal Harbour river is behind camp. Our sleeping huts were on the eastside of the track with mess, kitchen and supply tents on the westside.

Photographed By: Joe Louie
Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



This is photo of No. 316 was taken at the Shoal Harbour gravel pit

Photographed By: Jerome Young
Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



With the road from McAndrew AFB ending here at the Shoal Harbour Repeater Station, everything is loaded onto the speeder trailers for transport to Camp-I, three miles further north We are waiting for Leroy Hawco our speeder operator to get clearance from the dispatcher. As we are on the Bonivista branch he will back down to the main line and head north for Camp-I.

Photographed By: Joe Louie
Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



This view was taken in early spring of 1953, showing the water fall behind the kitchen and mess tents. This stream flowed just to the left of the kitchen tent, went under the railroad track and emptied into the Shoal Harbour river. Water for drinking and kitchen use came from this stream.Our two generators for power are standing on the right in front of the messtent. On Saturday evenings they had movies in the mess tent.

Photographed By: Joe Louie Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



View of Camp-I. You can also see the pole yard to the left of the camp. The fellows at Camp-II at Port Blanford had to travel by speeder to this yard at Shoal Harbour to pick up poles for their jobs at Port Blanford. The Shoal Harbour gravel pit is at Mile Post 135.75. Port Blanford was at M.P.150.87.

Photographed By: Jerome Young Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website



There was a mile post marker fastened to one of the telephone poles with the number 137 printed on it. This put the crews at just about two miles north of Camp-I at the Shoal Harbour gravel pit. Running along beside the railroad and the pole line at this point is the Shoal Harbour river. New poles have been set and the crews are busy transferring the cable to the new "black jacks."

Photographed By: Jerome Young Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website






Jerome captured these two photos of another early morning move to Terra Nova from Camp-I at the Shoal Harbour gravel pit. Again the two speeders are double headed for the heavy pull.

Photographed By: Jerome Young Source: First Communications Construction Squadron Website

Note: The above information was collected from the website "First Communications Construction Squadron in Newfoundland 1952 to 1954" by Merritt B. Scharnweber. Please visit his website for a lot more information and photos. I would like to thank Mr. Merritt B. Scharnweber for allowing me to post this information on my website.