Thursday, December 11, 2014

3 events to mark Friday: K of C fire, Arrow Air crash and 1st trans-Atlantic message

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

Friday marks the day in 1942 when 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 (where Tim Hortons stands today) when she found a set of dog tags, owned by her uncle Gus.

A vigil is planned for 11 p.m. Friday night at the K of C monument on Harvey Road.
Friday is also the 29th 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 in 2011 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, Friday in 1901 marked the first trans-Atlantic transmission.

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


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