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N.S.Regt.

The Halifax Explosion

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N.S.Regt.

The war was brought home for the city of Halifax Nova Scotia when the munition ship Mont Blanc exploded. Born in Halifax I have heard stories about the disaster and found the level of distruction from a single blast unimaginable. It was early morning people were going to work children to school when the Mont Blanc had a collision with the Belgian relief ship Imo. although the damage was not great sparks from the collision ignited ruputured drums of benzil stored on the deck and a blazing fire resulted. The crew of the Mont Blanc quickly left the ship and made for Dartmouth on the opposite shore from Halifax. Many people lined the water front to watch the burning ship and to see what the commotion was all about. Fire fighters tried to contain the fire as the ship drifted into pier 6 but all was in vain. At 9:05 am the Mont Blanc exploded the burning benzil had run down it the hold containing the explosives and set them off. The resulting explosion was the largest man made explosion ever seen untill the atomic bomb.

The effects of the explosion were devastating the Mont Blanc simply vanished blown into little peices parts fell miles away a cannon landed 3 1/2 miles away and a anchor stock weighing 1/2 tons 2 miles both remain today. The shockwave and tidal wave leveled 2.5 square Kms in the vicinity and damaged scores of other bulidings farther out. The Shockwave was felt as far as Cape Breton Island and windows in Truro 60 miles away were shattered. Between 1500 and 1600 were killed outright the death toll would rise to about 2000 (1952 in the Book of rememberance) and about 9000 were wounded. The destruction in the area was about 1600 homes were completly destroyed, 12000 severely damaged, 6000 people homeless. To add to the suffering a major blizzard hit the city and lasted for 6 days.

Rescue and relief was put into effect immediately after many were trapped in collaped buildings and fires raged throughout the city. Aid poured in from all over North America with special mention to the state of Massachusetts who's generosity is still honored today. The province of Nova Scotia sends to Boston at Christmas every year a tree to show the people of that state the gratitude of the people of Nova Scotia for all they have done. Rebuilding took many years and some of the temporary houses still stand to this day.

Although many books have been written on the subject as with most events in history the explosion seems to become a mere footnote and for the most part forgotten. I would like to mention one of the Heros of the day Vincent Coleman a train despatcher. The morning of the disaster he was at work a sailor ran past tell everyone to get out. Coleman knew the gravity of the situation and remained at his post to warn on comming trains. His message was "munition ship on fire, making for pier 6, goodbye." the train heding for Halifax was stopped and about 700 lives were saved. Vincent Coleman died at his post I have seen the telegraph key in the Provincial Archives that he still had in his hand when he was killed.

Below are a few links to the explosion for those interested they contain photos and give a better account then these few words.link link

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Broznitsky

Bravo, my good man, for reminding us of this great disaster. From the eye witness accounts I have read, it was a chilling predecessor to Hiroshima/Nagasaki.

Peter in Vancouver

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chris.wight

I remember the CBC used to air short vignettes about various historic events, and Vincent Coleman's actions to stop the passenger train was one of them. They may still appear as time fillers (they also had one about the origin of Winnie the Pooh and another about the 3 VCs on Valour Street in Winnipeg).

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shelley

Thank You for this post, and thanks for the link.

A very tragic event in Canadian history.

cheers Shelley

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Desmond7

Not so long ago - Discovery/UK History ... one of those channels? Had a programme which was almost entirely devoted to the Halifax disaster.

Any other docsdevotees able to help with the title in case it helps?

I was impressed by the doc which gave a lot of really good scientific info about the nature of the explosion/blast plus there was a fair degree of 'human interest' as well.

And here's to Vincent Coleman - that last message ranks alongside the Titanic Messages IMHO

Des

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paul guthrie

Is this a duplicate thread? I have already posted this & a moderator certainly would not remove it.

There is an excellent recent book, Shattered City about this, quite good.

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N.S.Regt.

I did not see the thread started about the movie I did do a search but must not have gone far enought back. The movie did do a great job on the 25th officer but the rest to me just enterainment. one thing mentioned in the last thread was about a crater at the bottom of the harbour. This was a story going around for years and something I thought about myself. The Geological Survey of Canada scanned the harbour a few years back and no trace of a crater was found the scan which I have seen shows this quite clear. It seems the water forced the explosion up and had little impact on the ocean floor.

Vincent Coleman although not the only hero as I mentioned the firefighters the crew of the Stella Maris tried to fight the fire and tow her away from the dock. She was caught in the explosion one of her crew did survive. The Halifax Fire Dept. also responded the new fire truck Patricia was on the scene and was preparing the hoses when she was caught none of her crew survived. Vincent Coleman is remebered because of the success of his actions he has a simple stone link and does not mention his act.

The anchor link is still close to where it fell that day the gun I cannot remember where I seen it but I was sure it was still around maybe it was a photo. My next day off I will have to make some calls. The wireless operators on the Titanic (Phillips and Bride) are some of the great heros of that event also staying untill the last possible moment. that is a nother story that I have a intrest in because of the Halifax connection and that most of the victims recovered are buried here. Thanks to all for looking.

Best regards

N.S.Regt.

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N.S.Regt.

The source I used for the Stella Maris was incorrect I have checked some others which give 19 dead 5 survivors.

Best regards

N.S.Regt.

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Jon Miller

I remember the same documentary that Des mentions. My abiding memory of the programme, apart from the complete destruction, was the story of a girl who was late making her way down to the harbour to see what was going on. She was going down the road when the explosion occurred. She was blown back an amazing amount of distance, and her boots were blown clean off her.

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N.S.Regt.

Des and Jon

I think the documentry is maybe City of Ruins on the fall of last year they brought in a suvivor to see the house she lived in at the time is one of the things I remember about it.

Best regards

N.S.Regt.

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Guest furious d

I have recently recieved my grandfathers records from the National Archives. On one of the cards it says that he was discharged for "Shock and injuries recieved in the Halifax Disaster". He had never spoken of this while he was still alive, and having read some of the articles about the disaster it must have been a terrible experience for all who survived it.

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