BEDFORD, DARTMOUTH, HALIFAX
06 December, 2013
On Friday, December 6, at 9:05 am, Royal Canadian Navy vessels will sound their horns in Halifax Harbour to mark the Halifax Explosion. They will be joined by merchant and visiting ships, as well as Tall Ship Silva, Theodore Tugboat and others.
A special participant is CSS Acadia, which is berthed year round at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the Halifax waterfront. In fact, Acadia was the Bedford Basin guard ship on the morning of Dec. 6, 1917. This Friday morning, the same signal flags used that day will be raised, translating to, “SS Imo, you may proceed to sea when ready.”
This is expected line up with a cannon salute from Citadel Hill and church bells ringing in Halifax, Dartmouth and Bedford immediately following.
The Halifax Explosion was the largest man made explosion in history prior to Hiroshima. The Begian relief ship Imo collided with the French munitions ship Mont Blanc mid point in the Halifax Harbour narrows, they caught fire and the explosion followed.
345 acres in downtown Halifax was destroyed.
3% of the population of Halifax ( 55,000 ) was killed immediately.
16 % were injured and many of the injuriies did not heal — a large number were blinded because they were watching the burning ships through the window.
Unlike the usual tragedy of wartime deaths and injury , many of these victims were women , children and babies.
Ironically, their husbands, fathers and sons were overseas trying to protect their families.
11% lost their homes — and 45% had damage to their homes.
All of this was complicated by a snow storm the next day.
Many harbour ships and naval vessels were damaged — the blast gouged the harbour floor and huge boulders appeared on the decks of ships that were still afloat after the explosion.
The anchor of the Mount Blanc flew several miles and landed in what is now Regatta Point across the North West Arm.
Relief efforts from Boston were immediate and exceptional, resulting in the gift of a Christmas tree for the Boston Common from Nova Scotia each year.