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CAF members mark 66 years since CFB Borden tragedy

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A small contingent of Canadian Armed Forces members marked 66 years to the day of a tragedy at what is now CFB Borden.

On March 20, 1958, at 4:06 p.m., one of the worst Canadian munitions accidental explosions to take place during peacetime killed seven people, six civilians and one Air Force member, at what was then known as Royal Canadian Airforce 13 "X" Depot.

"There wasn't really much left standing, beyond a crater and a few more durable pieces," said Eric Marcinkowski, Deputy Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces Ammunitions Depot (CFAD) at Canadian Forces Base Borden.

Of the two survivors that day, one left just six minutes before the blast to attend a funeral.

The second is CPL. Thomas Cartwright, who was working inside the building at the time of the explosion.

"He escaped through the wall and dense smoke of the building and immediately joined the firefighting and rescue efforts," said Dave Gillis, a civilian worker at CFAD Angus. "He was later taken to hospital and only after all that, informed his wife what happened."

Since the tragedy, a memorial at the Angus War Memorial has taken place to honour the victims and remember the importance of safety in the Canadian Armed Forces.

According to Gillis, the 1958 tragedy was the last major incident at a Canadian ammunition depot.

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