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Canadian History for Kids: Japan bombs Saskatchewan

January 12, 1945 – World War II – Japan bombs Saskatchewan!

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at a little known fact about Canada, and the second world war.

On January 12, 1945, the war became a very real situation to an 11 year old boy named Tony Frischholz and a 15 year old boy named Ralph Melle both from Minton, Saskatchewan.

During World War II, from late 1944 to the middle of 1945, Japan released over 9,000 balloons carrying bombs, sent to the United States and Canada.

On January 12, 1945, 11 year old Tony Frischholz was walking along a rural road in Minton, Saskatchewan when he saw a large balloon heading towards him. The huge hydrogen-filled balloon, which was close to 10 metres wide, was also filled with bombs.

Not far away 15 year old Ralph Melle was in a pickup truck with his father and uncle when the same balloon appeared alongside the road and descended into a valley. The three got out of the truck and went to investigate. Ralph stepped on one of the bombs but fortunately it failed to go off. Another bomb had destroyed a fence when it exploded.

The first incident of such a balloon bomb in Canada was on January 1, 1945 in Stoney Rapids, Saskatchewan. Other sites included Moose Jaw, Porcupine Plain, Camsell Portage and Kelvington.

Canadian History for Kids has learned there were no reports of serious damage at any of the sites in Saskatchewan or elsewhere in Canada. In the United States, however, five youths and an adult were killed when a group of picnickers detonated a bomb that had come down in a forested area of Oregon.

Both American and Canadian authorities forced a news blackout on the balloon bombs so that Japan would have no evidence of the usefulness of the bombs. It also made it difficult to confirm how many balloons and bombs had made it. A total of 285 confirmed sightings, including recoveries, were recorded by American and Canadian authorities, and it was estimated that only 10 per cent actually made it.

Another problem was the distant sightings or partial recoveries of the balloons or bomb fragments. The balloon and bombs found in Minton, Saskatchewan, provided important information about the balloon’s construction. The balloon and bombs were tracked and recovered by a team consisting of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Canadian Army and the RCMP.

One might say that two young boys helped save Saskatchewan during World War II.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!
 

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