‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’
Pearl Harbor was attacked December 7, 1941. The world remembers this horrific event and its consequences.
Less well-known is the devastating Halifax explosion that happened on December 6, 1917.
Have you read the link to Blizzard of Glass from Debbie Rodger’s blog Ex Urbanis?
Halifax harbour is one of the world’s best, deepest and largest natural harbours. Its main harbour is relatively easy to protect from intruders. It has plenty of room for docks and ships. In 1917, the dockyard and naval yards along the harbour were always busy. Trans-Atlantic convoys gathered weekly in Bedford Basin, headed for the war in Europe. Since the start of World War I, Halifax Harbour had been busier than at any other time in its history…but harbour traffic control had failed to keep up.
An accident, arising from miscommunication and poor planning, led to the explosion that destroyed the city. More than a thousand people died that day, with another thousand to follow. Nine thousand more would be injured and maimed in the largest man-made explosion the world had ever seen. Until the bombing of Hiroshima it was the greatest explosion in history.
An extensive comparison of 130 major explosions by a team of scientists and historians in 1994 concluded that, “Halifax Harbour remains unchallenged in overall magnitude as long as five criteria are considered together: number of casualties, force of blast, radius of devastation, quantity of explosive material, and total value of property destroyed.” Wikipedia
In 2003 he Canadian Broadcast Corporation (our CBC) made an outstanding film of the event and developed an excellent website with further information. It is well worth the time to explore it. I found the section called Connections particularly interesting.
Here is a segment of the broadcast that recreates the explosion. If you are feeling both strong and curious, there is also a video about the special effects used to show the horrifying extent of injuries and human suffering!
The ballad sung by Eric Mestre deals ambiguously with pronunciation… Halifax or Helifax?
Hit by the explosion, wind from the concussion of air, fires, a tsunami, and then an early blizzard… Halifax must, indeed, have been a vision of hell!