Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The astonishing Nova Scotia connection to the end of TWO world wars

It is fairly well known that the death of Nova Scotian George Price is traditionally regarded as that of the last British Commonwealth soldier to die in WWI.

Much less well known is the fact that a ship built in Pictou Nova Scotia , the Avondale Park , was the last British Commonwealth ship to be sunk by a U-boat in WWII.

Both events happened literally in the last minutes and hours of their prospective wars and both shouldn't of happened : Price was warned about the sniper who killed him and the U-boat that sunk the Avondale Park had failed to get the radio signal to cease all hostile actions sent days earlier.

Though the back of the wolf pack war was broken in the Spring of 1943, for the next two years individual U-boats continued to quite successfully sink merchant ships and naval vessels from the northernmost end of the Atlantic to the southernmost tip.

In particular, no Atlantic bay or estuary was truly safe right up to the last days of the war - many ships were sunk in broad daylight and in clear view of onshore civilians.

By March and April 1945, the Germany army was becoming as useless as the German air force had long been, but the navy's U-boats at sea remained as successful as ever.

At a relatively small cost in material and in number of military deaths (though in both cases, in percentage terms, these were far the most dangerous branch of their respective militaries to be in), the German U-boats and the American Pacific submarine fleet had done a disproportional amount of damage to their foes.

The U-boats probably lengthened the European war by two or three years - the American subs probably shortened the Pacific war by the same amount of time.

A deadly triumph of the weak and the small....

Neither got the resources and attention that the mostly useless battleship and heavy bomber got - because this was a time when bigness in everything was exalted by any nation that claimed to be truly modern.

But throughout the long war, these small boats often took a repeated and deadly postmodern revenge on this modernistic fantasy....

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