The Other Halifax Explosion July 18-19, 1945

This website is dedicated to Henry Craig's family,
who were the only ones whose worst fears were realized.
We salute you.

Picture above and article below are from The Chronicle Herald  August 5, 2001.
Sorry it's chopped up, couldn't be helped.
Images will take longer to load for dial-up users.

Here is a wonderful letter written by Cyril Cockell of Halifax to his Mum in Sydney telling his families experience of the Bedford Magazine Explosion in 1945. It's always interesting for me to read true accounts of an event, my heart is right there with them. Thanks to the Florian family of Sydney, Cape Breton for sending these documents.

St. Florian just happens to protect Firefighters.

The letter may be difficult to decipher for some, so a transcript
is available after the letter, but it's fun to try!

Letter Transcript (not edited)

July 25/45

Dear Mum-                   

Guess you will have been looking for a letter from me for the past week now. We are just beginning to get over our experience.

Muriel has just finished bathing the five youngsters, third time for Sandra to-day. Our yard is so dirty and dusty that she finds it easier to bath them every night and put clean cloths on them, you have no idea how dirty they get. Arthur gets just as dirty as Donald.

I was glad to hear that Archie and Helen arrived home O.K. I think the enjoyed their short stay in Halifax, even if we did keep them up late at night.

Last Wednesday night Muriel and I were just finishing the dishes there was just the frying pans to do, I had just finished putting the knives, forks and spoons away and Muriel called me to the back door to see what the boys were doing to lizzie, I had just got there when we noticed a large puff of black smoke in the air over in the direction of the the Airforce Buildings and underneath the smoke was a beautiful display of fire works, when all of a sudden we got a smack in the face the same as if somebody had slugged us and right on top of it came the bang. The Boys and Sandra made a bee line for the house and when I realized what had happened I got them inside in a hurry and put them all down on the front room floor, they didn’t take any coaxing and Muriel got down with them and turned up the radio to make sure we would have any reports on what had happened; we were on the floor about 10 minutes when another bang came and it sure rattled the house by this time Arthur was in a cold sweat Raymond was glued to the rug and Bobbie and Donald couldn’t make out what was going on, Sandra was having a great time crawling over everybody. Our neighbours had cleared out on the first bang, dog and all, and by now Muriel was anxious to go, but I thought our chances were just as good where we were as out on the highway in the heavy traffic with our old car, we stuck it out on the floor for two hours and when it showed no signs of getting better and a friend of ours called up and wanted us to go down to his place (near the South End) I figured perhaps it would be just as well to get so we crawled around on the floor, got the boys washed and into their pyjamas (a quick rough job) took our valuable papers, piled into lizzie and started for Webb’s place at White Lake, about 20 miles away. I would have stayed in the city only I was afraid of fire. About half an hour after we left they made all the people in our district get out. The sights we saw I will never forget, everybody in Halifax seemed to be going the same way we were in cars of all description, on bicycles, horse back, trucks and on foot, it was sure tough to see some of the women on foot pushing baby carriages going as tight as they could go with their men following along behind with a couple of kids in their arms and more following along behind.

We got to Whites Lake O.K. and spent the night and all day Thursday, we came home Thursday night about seven o’clock to find three windows broken, three pictures off the walls (two broken) and our tea pot was knocked off the stove and was in pieces, we figured we got off lucky. It was quite an experience. The big crack at four o’clock Thursday morning knocked a piece of glass out of Webb's sun porch and this was twenty miles away, if the big crack had come I guess Halifax would have been a sorry looking mess. The windows in the City Market took an awful licking. All the woodwork holding the glass was smashed. It is still the talk of the town.

Muriel and I were to the show last night, I saw “Roughly Speaking” and thought it a good show, try to see it when it comes to Sydney if it has not been there as yet, it is not outstanding but different.

I was sorry to hear that you missed your trip over the holiday but that is the way things go.

Donald’s knee does not seem to bother him any, he can make it to the top of old lizzie as fast as any of the others, soon as I drive in the driveway they are all over it like a swarm of bees. Sometimes the meet me up the road and when they do I feel like I have been mobbed as all the kids around are with them, Bobbie and Donald fight to see who is going to drive, Arthur and Raymond fight to see who is going to give her the gas, we sure make an awful roar coming in the yard, as the gas it is to the floor and the engine is going wide open I keep the clutch out so we won’t go through the coal house.

It has been warm here the past few days and it sure makes you feel good to get some warm weather, we were lucky it was as warm the night we had to go away, it was the first real warm night we had this year. To-night was warm but the fog has come in and you can hardly see your hand before you outside now.

Muriel is asleep in the chair, had better wake her up and go to bed, will write and let you know how we make out with Donald’s test X-ray.



For additional information on the Explosion and more interesting stories,
click below and visit Bruce Ricketts at his website.

Mysteries of Canada

Other Links

Bedford Naval Armament Depot Magazine Explosion July 18/19,1945

'An East Coast Port': Halifax in Wartime, 1939-1945


Magazine Hill Explosion - July 18, 1945

If you have information about the Explosion you'd like to share,
send me an email to the address below.