Monday, December 12, 2011

Dec. 12th and Newfoundland history

Dec. 12th is an eventful day in Newfoundland and Labrador history.

On this day in 1942, 99 people died in the Knights of Columbus fire on Harvey Road in St. John’s.

There’s a theory that the fire was likely an incidence of enemy sabotage orchestrated by agents of Nazi Germany.

The local musical troupe, Uncle Tim’s Barn Dance, was on stage that night.

Uncle Tim was actually the stage name of my great-grandfather, Bill Duggan, whose two sons were on stage with him (Derm and Gus Duggan).

Gus, a member of the Newfoundland militia, died in the fire.

Years later, my mother was playing near the site of the former K of C hostel when she found a set of dog tags, owned by her uncle Gus.

A
vigil is planned for 11 p.m. tonight at the K of C monument on Harvey Road.
•••
Today is also the 26th anniversary of the Arrow Air crash in Gander.

Canada’s worst aviation disaster killed 256 military personnel and their crew.

The chartered plane crashed seconds after it lifted off following a refueling stop in Gander.

Gander Mayor Claude Elliott said recently the town no longer feels a ceremony marking the disaster is
necessary.

Said Elliott, “People felt that we've paid tribute for 25 years with a service there and that was probably adequate.”

The plane had been carrying members of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

They were returning home for a Christmas vacation after a stint in the Sinai.

An annual ceremony in Fort Campbell will continue.
•••
Finally, this day in 1901 marked the first trans-Atlantic transmission.

That message was sent from Poldhu, England and received on Signal Hill, in St. John's.

Members of the Marconi Radio Club in St. John’s planned to gather on Signal Hill today to mark the event by exchanging a message with members of a radio club in Poldhu.

2 comments:

Carl Smith said...

December 12, quite a significant date in Newfoundland History. My father was a witness to the K of C fire and to this day, (he's in his 80's) he still remembers all the screaming of the people perishing inside. He says it's something he will never forget, as there was nothing that could be done to save the people inside.

Do you know if there is a recording, somewhere, of Uncle Tim's Barn Dance on that night? Would be interesting to hear, knowing what happened when their broadcast suddenly went off the air.

Cheers,
Carl

Kathleen said...

I would lie to know if there are any pictures of the members of Uncle Tim's Barn Dance. Biddy O' Toole is my grandmother and we have very few photos of her