Battle of Halifax, The
DESCRIPTION: "Now gather 'round children and to you I will spill The tale of the raid upon Oland's old still." People rush through Halifax drinking and robbing. The authorities, instead of stopping it, join in. It's the armed forces' revenge on those who stayed home
EARLIEST DATE: 1979 (Hopkins-SongsFromTheFrontAndRead)
KEYWORDS: soldier disaster police drink robbery revenge recitation
FOUND IN: Canada
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Hopkins-SongsFromTheFrontAndRead, pp. 100-101, "The Battle of Halifax" (1 text)
NOTES [210 words]: According to Marc Milner, Canada's Navy: The First Century, University of Toronto Press, 1999, p. 156, "[T]he short-sighted city fathers of Halifax closed the bars and liquor stores on VE-Day. That prompted sailors to exact revenge for nearly six years of overcrowding, overpricing, and priggishness. The VE-Day riots left much of downtown Halifax a shambles." Many blamed L. W. Murray, the area naval commander, and he got no help from Ottawa, where a rival was in charge of the navy, causing Murray to resign and move to England.
The whole thing affected Navy men coming home to be discharged. Small ship skipper James B. Lamb, in The Corvette Navy, 1979 (I use the 1988 Macmillan Paperbacks edition), p. 168, wrote of his ship's return there, "Halifax had taken on a special meaning for us since the disgraceful riots that had disfigured VE day. The news of the drunken debauch hid had gone on for days had made us ashamed of our service; once again, it seemed to us, the shore navy, the barracks idlers and incompetent officers and the whole ramshackle edifice of Slackers, had made outcasts of the seagoing men, blackening the name of the navy and distorting our repatriation. We looked on it as a place to get our discharge as quickly as we could." - RBW
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