(from a tourist information brochure prepared
by the Newfoundland Ranger Force Association)
Prior to Confederation with Canada in 1949, and between the years 1934 and 1949, Newfoundland was governed by a Commission which consisted of six appointed Commissioners and a Governor. Three Commissioners were appointed from the British Civil Service and three from Newfoundland. The Governor was also British. One of the creations of this commission was "The Newfoundland Rangers." This group was recruited and trained to perform a multiplicity of duties for every Department of Government. These men were in uniform and were stationed throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. They were few in number and were responsible for the administration of vast areas at a time when transportation and communications systems, as we know them today, were almost nonexistent.
The event which the Hogan Trail commemorates involves a member of the Newfoundland Rangers.
On May 8, 1943, Ranger John Hogan was stationed at Goose Bay Air Base, Labrador, and due to go on leave. He accepted a lift on a Royal Canadian Air Force Flight to Gander, Newfoundland. There were others on board, all R.C.A.F. personnel. En route to Gander the plane filled with smoke and lost altitude rapidly. Assuming that the plane was on fire, the passengers bailed out by parachute. Ranger Hogan landed in thick woods with only a minor injury to his knee.
The first night he made a tent from his parachute and made a fire to dry out. The next day, after observing the lay of the land and determining a direction, he left to walk to the coast, intending to follow it to a settlement. He was forced to abandon his parachute. He was making good progress that morning, but saw footprints in the snow and followed them. He caught up with Corporal Butt, a fellow passenger. Butt had landed in water and, with the low temperature that night, his feet were frozen. Because of this Butt needed help to walk. Progress was painfully slow.
On May 16th, they came upon a dilapidated cabin and spent the night. They struggled on for three more days and came upon another cabin on May 19th. By this time Corporal Butt was unable to walk and they were forced to remain in the cabin.
The melting snows of spring caused the rivers to flood and pond ice became unsafe for travel. This frustrated attempts by Hogan to continue on to the coast to seek help for Butt.
They were forced to remain in this small cabin until June 25th. The nearby pond was now free of ice. By the sheerest coincidence a survey party was crossing this pond by boat and spotted Hogan. He had seen them first and was shouting to them. There were two men in this party, Frank Perry of Port Saunders and John Parsons of Parsons Pond, as well as others.
Following the bailout from the plane, searches were conducted by land and air. However, because of the smoke-filled plane, the pilot was uncertain where Hogan and Butt had come down, and the searches were concentrated to the northwest of where they landed. They were presumed dead.
Butt and Hogan had no food or equipment when they landed. During the fifty-two day ordeal, Ranger Hogan managed to keep Corporal Butt and himself alive by trapping a few rabbits, gathering a few berries exposed when the snow melted and brewing tea from wild herbs.
Ranger Hogan was later awarded the King's Police and Fire Services Medal for Gallantry for his dedication in remaining with, and caring for, the incapacitated Corporal Butt for over fifty days. Had Hogan been able to travel alone, it is possible he would have been able to reach the coast before the spring thaw.
Hogan was promoted to the rank of Corporal and continued in the Rangers until 1950. At that time he transferred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with many of his fellow Rangers when the Force was disbanded following Confederation. He served with distinction in the R.C.M.P. and retired in 1969 with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was then appointed Chief of the National Harbour Police at the Port of St. John's, Newfoundland. He retired in 1977.
Ex-ranger Hogan died suddenly on April 19, 1977, and was laid to rest in St. John's.
This trail was constructed to commemorate the remarkable courage, dedication and stamina of Ranger Hogan, who for over fifty days, without thought for himself, cared for a totally incapacitated companion. This he accomplished through his ingenuity without provision or equipment and with minimal shelter.
The measure of the man is found in the fact that, though almost a skeleton, he insisted on walking to civilization on his own. The chance rescue party had enough difficulty carrying the injured Corporal Butt over that rugged terrain.
Should you wish to know more about the Newfoundland Rangers, a short history is available in bookstores, or through Breakwater Books, 100 Water Street, P.O. Box 2188, St. John's, NF, A1C 6E6. The author is well-known Harold Horwood.
Return to the Newfoundland Rangers Home Page.