Ides of May
Around 11:30pm on April 14, 1912 a crew member of the RMS Titanic spotted an iceberg nearby. He frantically rang the alarm bell. It’s believed only 37 seconds later the unsinkable ship struck the iceberg floating in the North Atlantic.
Believed to be Unsinkable
The RMS Titanic was the largest and the most luxurious of its age. She was equipped with reciprocating steam engines and a turbine engine to power its three propellers. A double plated bottom and sixteen watertight compartments on the hull of the ship with doors to close if water entered were designed to make the ship unsinkable.
The Fatal Assumptions About Titanic Being Unsinkable
The belief in its invincibility led to several fatal assumptions. The ship only carried 20 lifeboats when it could have carried 64. Of those, many of them launched only partial filled as some still believed they would only be in the water a short time until the ship was stabilized. The first life boat didn’t launch until one hour after the collision.
It was later estimated the berg was anywhere from 50 to 100 feet above the water and 200 to 400 feet long. The Titanic was about 882 feet long and 92 feet high. Captain Edward Smith believed the ship had merely grazed the iceberg and didn’t at first believe there would be much damage.
The berg had made a 300 foot gash in the hull of the ship and by the time the crew assessed the site of the impact: five of the compartments had already flooded and the bow was starting to submerge.
Many of the 2,223 passengers and crew heard the collision and even saw the ice from the berg laying on the Titanic’s decks. Few were concerned. They believed they were onboard an unsinkable ship. Less than three hours later the Titanic slipped into the deep taking the lives of over 1517 people. read more…
“There they stood on Vimy Ridge that ninth day of April, 1917,
men from Quebec shoulder to shoulder to men from Ontario; men
from the maritimes with men from British Columbia and there
was forged a nation, tempered by the fires of sacrifice and
hammered on the anvil of high adventure.” — Lord Byng of Vimy
April 9th is Vimy Ridge Day in Canada. It’s not a public holiday. It is a day of remembrance and observances of what is often seen as a pivotal battle in Canadian history. The WW1 Battle of Vimy Ridge marked the first time the Canadian Corps fought as a single unit and it was a decisive victory for this young nation.
The battle didn’t have particular influence on the outcome of WW1. Immediately after and often since then the battle is presented as Canada’s coming of age as a nation. The French 19th century writer, Ernest Renan in his essay, “What is a Nation?” had wrote, “nations are made by doing great things together.”
Did the Battle of Vimy Ridge birth a nation? I’ll share my thoughts after I provide some background on the battle and the symbols which have become its legacy.
Canada at the Start of WW1
In 1914 Canada was a self-governing Dominion and part of the British Empire. We made our own decisions at home but foreign policy was dictated by Britain. When Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, Canada and the independent colony of Newfoundland were also at war. read more…