Ice Floats, Doesn’t It? A Bit of Strange Science from World War 2

As the Diefenbunker research chugs on, and a writing plan starts to take shape and substance, I have a second project in the planning stages (that means it’s in the back of my mind, in a very dusty place).

The scheme was hatched by the UK War Cabinet, and notably Winston Churchill with Mountbatten’s enthusiastic engagement, to find a stop-gap to the attrition being inflicted by German U-Boats on the transatlantic resupply and reinforcement shipping.

Much of the route across the Atlantic was at the time (up to 1943) out of the range of the-then Allied aircraft to accompany/shelter the convoys, which were accordingly at the mercy of the German submarines.

Churchill pushed very hard for solutions to this threat, principally to get the UK through the critical period before the US was fully engaged in the European front. He argued for many solutions, some of which would today definitely be called “out of the box”.

One of these concepts was tested in experimental form in Canada, in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains, where I came across some references to it.

I’ve followed up those early hints with more research, into resources such as municipal museums and archives in that area, Library and Archives Canada, DND’s Directorate of History and Heritage and, most rewardingly, the UK National Archives – and of course the always valuable Google.

The UK resource is absolutely outstanding, with a very efficient search and ordering tool, and digitized historical records which go back, as might be expected, many centuries. It’s worth  a wander through if you have any interest in historical matters.

I have purchased a collection of digital material from the UK Archives of War Cabinet discussions and Allied meetings which relate to this project and similar ones, and all look to be extremely interesting.

This is not a new story, as it has been covered over the years in a number of small articles and clips. However it seemed to have appealed to only a small audience with particular interests, and did not receive wider traction.

There are some very interesting stories surrounding this project, not to mention the scale and inventiveness of the project itself, which deserve more examination and airing.

I hope to undertake that little research and writing project and as with the Diefenbunker project post some updates on progress as I go.

More to follow….


About ottawazoe

retired combat engineer officer, former provincial public servant, currently federal public servant, with an abiding interest in our fascinating local history
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