This is the write up in the local paper when it happened. Not sure about the date around 1941. This man was my husband.~Helen Van Den Heuvel
“Watford Air Mechanic Aids in Clean-Up After Newfoundland Fire”
News of the terrible holocaust of fire that swept through the armed services hostel at St. John’s, Newfoundland, on Saturday night, claiming 100 lives, mostly Canadian and United States service men, was a source of worry to Mr. and Mrs. Russell Parker, of Watford, until they were advised by telegram on Monday from their son, Gordon Parker, of his safety, and that he was aiding in the clean-up work in the ruins of the destroyed building.
Following just two weeks after the Cocoanut Grove night club fire in Boston, where nearly 500 men and women were trapped, the Newfoundland hostel tragedy was almost similar, in that fire from a cause unknown swept through the building so swiftly most of the occupants were trampled and suffocated in piles before the exits.
Most of the victims were airmen, soldiers or sailors of the Canadian and United States forces based on Newfoundland. Practically all the girls assisting as hostesses were rescued in the first few moments.
The hostel was operated by the Knights of Columbus as a war service unit, and provided relaxation, meals and dancing parties for service men.
In a recent letter to his parents Gordon tells of his arrival in Newfoundland and some of the contrasts new to Canadians, particularly the boys from Southern Ontario.
“There are so many things I can’t write about, there’s little I can tell you about. Most important the meals are good at this station–I think the men cooks are better than women when it comes to cooking large quantities. It is not as cold as I expected, but very icy and foggy most of the time. . .
I met two boys from Alvinston and one from good old Kelliher, Sask., which made me feel very much at home. . . Everything is very expensive here, milk is 35c a quart, (and you know how the air force goes for milk!) Cigarets are cheaper though, having no heavy tax . . . Went into St. John’s for a weekend “48” and slept two nights at the K. of C. Hostel” (the same building in which he later helped search the debris after its destruction by fire.)
Submitted by Gordon Parker’s wife Helen Van Den Heuvel, Watford
Lyle William Sitlington
**Luke see note in file
John and Alice (Young) Sitlington had three sons go to war Ernie, Harry and Lyle. Ernie was a mechanic in tank Corp., Harry was in artillery, and Lyle (my dad) was in RCAF.
Lyle William Sitlington was a wireless air gunner in a Lancaster MKX, made in Canada, Squadron 419 Moose squadron posted at Middleton St. George, Lancaster call sign VR-U uncle, KB767 serial number. When members the crew went to look at the bomber after the crash (one wheel collapsed on landing) they could not get near it. It was roped off after 16 unexploded 20 mm canon shells were found in it.
After the War Lyle married Dorothy Creasy on October 15, 1947 and they had 4 children, 2 girls and 2 boys. He purchased an egg grading station with Lloyd Barnes and called it “Barnes and Sitlington” operated in the village of Watford. Farm pick up was also done. He sold the egg grading station in 1962. Lyle got a job as a “Custom’s Officer” at the Blue Water Bridge and later as a Custom’s & Immigration Officer – working at Toronto International Airport and then as a “Special Inquiry Officer” with Canada Immigration in London, Ontario – Lyle retired from Immigration in 1982.
Lyle is the Grandfather to 8 grandchildren.
Submitted by Linda McLean, Watford