Friday, December 2, 2011

Songs about The Halifax Explosion - Sunday night at 8pm

Thursday evening was the annual lighting of the official Boston Christmas Tree, a gift from the people of Nova Scotia in gratitude for the generosity of the people of the city following what is know as The Halifax Explosion.

On the morning of December 6, 1917, a French cargo ship, overloaded with munitions bound for the war in Europe, that had taken refuge in Halifax Harbor, collided with another ship and caught fire. The resulting explosion which leveled much of the city, was the largest man made explosion in history eclipsed only by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It is still the largest accidental man made explosion ever.

Enough time elapsed between the collision/fire and the explosion that many people had gone to their windows to look when the blast hit. Many not killed outright were blinded by flying glass. As it was a cold morning many stove that had just been relit were tipped over by the concussion causing fires that raced unchecked through the city. An overnight storm left the city streets unnavigable by the horse drawn fire wagons and the fires burned much of the city that was not destroyed by the blast. .

When word of the explosion and resulting fires reached Boston, relief trains were immediately dispached. Many doctors left their posts to ride north. As the trains from Boston eventually met trains carrying wounded out of the city, the trains slowed and doctors jumped from train to train to care for the evacuated wounded. Within days a massive benefit concert was held at Symphony Hall and much of the relief for the city came from the Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee. This is the reason that the people of Nova Scotia give a Christmas Tree to the people of Boston every year.

This Sunday evening on Downeast Ceilidh (8 PM) Marcia Palmater presents songs about the explosion including one about Vince Coleman, a heroic telegraph operator who stayed at his post and stopped incoming trains from entering the danger area, thereby saving hundreds of lives but losing his own.

This is the Canadian Broadcast Company page about the event:

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