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Ship explodes after collision

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December 08, 2017

Today, 100 years ago, Norwegian ship Imo left its moorings in Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia bound for New York.

Today, 100 years ago, Norwegian ship Imo left its moorings in Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia bound for New York.

At the same time as Imo entered the narrow exit of the harbour, the French freighter Mont Blanc was also entering the narrows, bound for the Western Front.

The two ships collided about 8.45am.

Mont Blanc caught fire and, out of control, hit a pier. It set the pier alight. As a crowd gathered to watch the fire, Mont Blanc exploded. It had been carrying 2545 tonnes of high explosives.

The explosion killed 1800 people and injured another 9000. Two-hundred alone were blinded.

The explosion, the largest explosion in history before atomic bombs, destroyed almost all the northern part of Halifax, including 1600 homes.

Windows were shattered 80km away and the explosion was heard hundreds of kilometres away.

This week fighting began in the Judaean Hills to capture Jerusalem.

The major forces involved would be mounted troops of Britain and the Empire, but they faced dug-in Turkish troops in country favouring defence.

General Allenby’s plan was to cut all roads and communications, so forcing the Ottomans to evacuate the city.

This week saw the founding of Boys Town in Nebraska. It was later made famous by a movie of the same name starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney.

The Russian General Staff surrendered at Mohilev this week.

Its head, General Dukhonin, was bayoneted to death by Red Army troops when he attempted to have the Russian army fight on.

Dukhonin’s corpse was used for target practice by the Red Army.

Meanwhile, W.F.1 of Katamatite suggested all travellers journey to Melbourne via what is now the Midland Hwy.

Because of this year’s wet weather, what is now the Hume Hwy south of Benalla was virtually impassable.

The second conscription referendum or the reinforcements referendum would be held on December 20.

Mr Thompson of Hannah St, Benalla, who had four sons fighting at the front, wrote to The Argus imploring people to vote ‘‘Yes’’. Mr Elshaug of Nunn St, Benalla, publisher of the Independent published an editorial begging for a ‘‘Yes’’ vote.

The strengthening of Benalla’s railway bridge was completed this week. Two stronger spans were inserted at the western end. The work had taken several months.

Two Western Australians spent last week in Benalla on holiday.

Their comment was that ‘‘we feel grateful... for having broken our journey in such a beautiful town.’’

This week saw a large stack of wood in Mr Sim’s brickyard in Benalla West catch fire. It is not clear how the fire started, but even the efforts of many helpers could not prevent about 3.5 cubic metres of wood from being destroyed.

— John Barry, ANZAC Commemorative Working Party, Coo-ee — Honouring our WWI Heroes

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