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Vince Coleman On December sixth 1917 a train dispatcher named Vince Coleman was running the dispatch office beside the Halifax harbor But one sailor who knew about the imminent explosion ran past the railway freight yards warning Coleman and Lovett to clear out Vince Coleman knew what was at stake when he ran back to tap out his crucial message Vince Coleman was thinking about the passenger trains speeding towards the threatened harbor He had to stop them Coleman telegraphed his urgent warning At precisely 906 the worst man-made explosion at its time tore through Halifax causing two thousand deaths including the life of Vince Coleman Nine thousand were wounded One brave man sacrificed his life to save seven hundred others The seven hundred others were aboard a passenger train headed for Halifax The story In many ways it was a typical early winter day in Halifax that December sixth 1917 The sun was bright in a clear sky and the ground was clear of snow A light haze hung over the harbor but visibility was generally very good During the war the harbor bustled with convoys of men and materials bound for Europe But on the night of December fifth two ships captains anxiously awaited departure Aboard the Imo a Belgian relief ship at anchor in the harbor Captain From was annoyed that a late inspection had forced him to delay until morning Outside the harbor lay the French steamship Mont Blanc its captain Aim Le Medec awaiting morning permission to the harbor and official clearance Captain Le Medec had good reason to feel nervous Four days earlier his freighter had been loaded with lots of picric acid TNT gun cotton and benzol The Mont Blanc was a floating bomb At 730 am on December sixth the Mont Blanc began its slow entry into the harbor just as the Imo pulled up anchor Forced
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