News Sheet No 42 May 1945

MCurnockRM1815605-171114-013.pdf

Title

News Sheet No 42 May 1945

Description

The News Sheet of the Canadian Prisoner of War Relatives Association. This edition covers Victory in Europe, the death of President Roosevelt, the liberation of Canadian POWs, assembly centres for released POWs, the seizure of German POW records, Stalag Luft I "the easiest camp in Germany", propaganda broadcasts, the memorial at Stalag Luft III, news from England, the American Red Cross news, Far East News, Internment camp Liebenau, Questions & Answers, Canadian branch news, news from German POW Camps and adverts.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

1945-05

Contributor

Anne-Marie Watson

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

32 printed sheets

Language

Type

Identifier

MCurnockRM1815605-171114-013

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION

NEWS SHEET

[Drawing]

President

MRS J. O . ASSELIN, M.B.E.

Vice-President

E. A. MACNUTT, C.B.E.

Hon. Secretary

MRS. E. I. BAROTT

Hon Treasurer

MAJOR F. S. MOLSON

Honorary President

MRS. VINCENT MASSEY

Honorary Vice-Presidents

Wing Officer W. WALKER, M.B.E.

HON CHARLES G. POWER

R. A. LAIDLAW

Editor – HAZEL WANKLYN

News Sheets No. 42 150A Sun Life Building, Montreal, P. Q. May 1945

VICTORY IN EUROPE

In September 1939, Europe was plunged into a war of unprecedented destruction and brutality. A war fought not between armed forces alone but bringing devastation and death to civilians and unprotected cities.

To combat an enemy such as Germany, prepared for war in every phase both material and mental, the Allied Nations were forced to reconstruct in the shortest possible time their production programmes, their economic system and the entire point of view of their peace-loving populations. During this period of change-over, many European countries were over-run and dominated by the enemy. Then, the Allied war machine started moving relentlessly, resolutely and undefeatable it assaulted the fortressed European shores; France, Belgium, the Netherlands were freed and our victorious armies moved forward into Germany. Today their task is done, in the midst of ruined cities that once were proud European capitals, Germany lies, defeated – utterly and irrevocably.

What does Victory in Europe mean to the world? It means the end of the first phase of World War II, the liberation of hundreds of thousand [sic] of Allied prisoners of war and civilian internees; it means the end of fear and anxiety for the families of these prisoners; it also means the tragic realization that thousands of Canada’s finest young men will never come home. It means a moment of jubilant rejoicing before the full Allied recourses are brought into force in the Pacific area to crush the Japanese with the same unconditional thoroughness. Mr. Churchill has told us that “this is only time for a momentary pause” which is an apt reminder of the task still ahead of us, for no Victory can be complete until our men in the Far East are restored to their homes and World Peace is no longer a dream but a reality.

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2 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

EDITORIAL NOTES

All Correspondence to the Association should be addressed to the Secretary, Mrs E. I. Barott, C.P.O.W.R.A., 150-A Sun Life Building, Montreal. Relatives are invited to submit their problems and difficulties which will receive prompt and sympathetic attention.

[Underlined] IN MEMORIAM [/underlined]

With the death of President Roosevelt which came as a tragic shock to the world, the United States has lost a great leader, the Allied Nations a great champion of the cause for which they are fighting, and Canada a well-loved friend.

To the family of the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the American people, we offer our deep and sincere sympathy.

R.C.A.F. TO WELCOME LIBERATED P.O.W. AIRMEN IN ENGLAND

According to a Reuters despatch, when the 2,500 Canadian airmen who have been prisoners of war in Germany are released, they will find a warm welcome waiting for them in England, organized by the R.C.A.F., a forerunner of the one they will receive in Canada.

They will be provided with a double ration of food while convalescing in Great Britain as well as new clothing.

Entertainment will not be lacking at the south coastal town of Bournemouth, the headquarters of the “Welcome Project”.

Liberated prisoners will recover their personal belongings at a reception and distribution centre, and finally they will be given two weeks furlough with free rail transportation to anywhere in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

CANADIAN PRISONERS FREED

All Canada rejoices at the news of the liberation of Canadian prisoners of war in Germany. The number of freed prisoners increases daily until now almost all camps have been heard from either through individual prisoners escaping or the entire camp being liberated.

The total number of Canadian prisoners freed by May 1st was over a thousand but this number is growing so rapidly that it is reasonable to hope that before long all allied prisoners of war in Germany will be free men.

The Department of National Defence has announced that all available information is wired to next of kin within a matter of hours after it is received at Defence Headquarters but that since all information is carefully checked before being relayed to relatives there is in some cases an unavoidable delay and the prisoner himself is able to communicate with his family before the Government has sent an official notification.

There are still many Canadian prisoners who have not been heard from and to their families we would point out that as the number of freed prisoners increases the transmission of news becomes slower.

PRISONERS OF WAR AT DUNKIRK RECEIVE SUPPLIES

On the 26th of March, during the fighting around Dunkirk, a truce was arranged, with a delegate of the International Red Cross as intermediary, so that supplies of food, medicine and clothing could be sent to 105 civilian allied prisoners of war in that city.

Canadians numbering 48 were amongst the prisoners; parcels were distributed to all allied prisoners without discrimination and sufficient supplied were sent in to last until the end of May.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 3

ASSEMBLY CENTERS [inserted] I was there [underlined] Eugene [/underlined] [/inserted]

Many prisoners evacuated from camps in eastern Germany have already reached Stalag VII A. This camp and Stalag [underlined] XIII D, near Nurnburg, [/underlined] appear to be two of the main points of assembly for prisoners of war evacuated along the central route. The prisoners moved along the central route were from camps in the Leipzig-Berlin-Dresden areas. Stalag VII A is accordingly being used as an assembly center for Red Cross supplies going in by train and truck convoys from Switzerland, whence it is planned to transport them by truck to camps and hospitals throughout central Germany. Each American truck carries approximately 6 tons of food packages, medical supplies, soap, and shoe repairing materials.

All shipments of prisoners of war relief supplies into Germany in the past (except those warehoused in Lubeck) have been specifically earmarked for particular camps, as well as for prisoners by nationality. Under the conditions now prevailing, however, this method of operation is no longer possible. In camps and on the roads, Allied prisoners are now all mixed up, and the impelling need is to get food and medical supplies to them as promptly and in as large amounts as possible, without regard to nationality. All Allied governments and Red Cross societies, as well as the Swiss and Swedish authorities, are cooperating wholeheartedly in meeting the emergency.

GERMAN RECORDS SEIZED

On April 19th it was announced through the Associated Press that the American Third Army had captured the complete records of all Allied prisoners taken by the Germans since the outbreak of the War.

The records contain the latest whereabouts of Allied war prisoners, their dates of capture and other data. Prisoners who have died in camp are listed as are those wounded when taken.

At the time of going to press, the list was still in Europe and had not yet been made public.

STALAG LUFT I

“THE EASIEST CAMP IN GERMANY”

According to a prisoner of war recently repatriated from Stalag Luft I, this was the easiest camp in Germany. Thanks to the Red Cross, all the prisoners at Luft I were adequately clothed, having winter underclothes, shirts, uniform and an overcoat. The food situation was also good, again thanks to the Red Cross.

Living quarters were cramped but even so conditions were better than in most camps. Clean sheets and pillow cases were issued about every three or four weeks.

The Library, containing both fictional and technical books, was constantly being augmented from personal book parcels which, owing to the ease of censorship, got through fairly regularly.

The biggest grouse in the camp was over the length of time mail took to get through. The average being 8 to 12 weeks, with 12 to 16 weeks not uncommon. Personal parcels and cigarettes also took a long time, but quite a large proportion did finally arrive.

PROPOGANDA BROADCASTS

The closing of camps in eastern Germany and Poland since the middle of January has revealed that broadcasts from Berlin of messages from American prisoners of war are, in many cases at least, collected several weeks before broadcasting. Many messages from American prisoners of war in Oflag 64 were broadcast from Berlin late in February, although the man from that camp were moved on January 21. None of these messages gave any indication that the camp might soon be closed.

Any next of kin receiving a broadcast message, therefore, should assume that us was written by the prisoner at least a month or six weeks before being put on the air. It is also well to keep in mind that these messages are broadcast for propaganda purposes.

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4 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

[Photograph of a Memorial to airmen]

MEMORIAL AT STALAG LUFT III

By

F/Lt. John R. Mason

Since my return to Canada from Stalag Luft III last February, I have learned of the many articles written about the “big break” in that camp little more than a year ago. Those who wrote the articles seem to have had first hand information, they may have been participants, probably bystanders. What information I could glean came from those who had planned and worked; even then I could get it only with much reticence on their part.

Having been part of this gallant gesture, these same boys were not content to forget their comrades but carried their names to posterity in a very edifying memorial. In the accompanying photograph you will realize the amount of work and skill that entered into this cairn. The tablets standing on top of the cairn bear the names of each of those heroes of Sagan. I was unfortunate enough not to know the story from the beginning, but fortunate enough to see the cairn built, the stones carved and to learn of the finish of the monument followed later by a very impressive memorial service.

Every man in camp wanted to be present but only a few were privileged to attend the service. Seven officers from Belaria, seven from the East compound, and sixteen from the North compound, including the Senior British officers, the Senior Canadian officer, two Padres and a bugler were there. The cemetery is about 1 1/2 miles from the camp and the parade marched there after assembling from the various compounds. The procession moved into the cemetery, around the circular path and paused before the memorial, where after a service by both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Padres, and the playing of the last post, the three Group Captains placed wreaths. A rather nice gesture was that by a member of the Swiss Legation who also placed a very large wreath on the Cairn.

Up to this time the entire camp had been in mourning and each man carried a black silk diamond on his sleeve. After the ceremony these were removed. This was December 4th, 1944.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 5

NEWS FROM ENGLAND

We are indebted to the Scottish Branch B.R.C.S. and the B.P.O.W.R.A. for the following information.

P.O.W.’s WELCOME R.A.F. RAIDS “SWEET MUSIC”

A picture of how our prisoners of war react to Allied bombing of Germany is given by a repatriated New Zealand pilot, Flight-Leut. Wally Mulligan, in an interview in the New Zealand Free Lance.

“The boys get a terrific kick out of it,” was this young airman’s description of hearing our bombers roaring past Stalag Luft III, where he was imprisoned. “Actually the first daylight bombers we saw were Americans. And how the chaps cheered as they swept by to attack a nearby Focke-Wulf factory! They did a beautiful job on it too.”

“Stalag Luft III is in an area approximately a hundred miles from the German capital”, continues the Free Lance interview, “and Wally Mulligan told me that in the big night-bombing raids by planes of the R.A.F. Bomber Command the prison huts would shake and tremble, and mirrors dance, from the vibrations set up as Berlin crumbled under the terrific hammering it received. “And you can guess how the boys just loved that.” grinned Mulligan. “It certainly was sweet music to our ears.”

Speaking of the road to Berlin, which he saw on his way home, he described scenes of desolation. “There’s not much of the city left to reach. For miles and miles we saw nothing but complete devastation, just piled heaps of rubble, and we didn’t go through the worst parts. You could practically call it a ghost city.”

MORE PENICILLIN FOR P.O.W.’s

Further supplies of penicillin and blood transfusion apparatus are now being sent by the Red Cross and St. John to prisoner of war camps in Germany (states Prisoner of War News). The Penicillin packs and blood transfusion sets, including plasma, are supplied by the Medical Department of the War Office, and are forwarded by the Invalid Comforts Section of the Red Cross and St. John Prisoners of War Department. As far as practicable, the supplies are sent to those hospitals which are believed to contain newly-captured men, who would be likely to receive the greatest benefit from this form of surgical treatment.

SUPPLIES SENT TO RUSSIA FOR LIBERATED P.O.W.

It was announced in the House of Commons in London that, some time ago, preparing for the eventuality of British prisoners of war being liberated by the Soviet armies, the British Red Cross War Organization sent supplies to Russia. Upon their arrival in Russia from German camps, British liberated men were consequently provided with clothing, medical supplies, cigarettes etc., from home. Similar supplies were also sent to Odessa, where a party of Red Cross Welfare Workers went to meet the freed prisoners.

“WELCOME HOME” FUND TARGET DOUBLED

To have raised £1,300 in one day is the achievement of Richmond (Surrey) P.O.W.R.A., which held a bazaar recently as part of a three months’ drive to raise funds out of which each returning prisoner of war could be given a money gift with which to celebrate his release.

The target was £1,000, but this was more than doubled by the end of the period, £2,240 being raised by a variety of schemes organised by members.

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6 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

AMERICAN RED CROSS NEWS

We are indebted to the American Red Cross Prisoners of War Bulletin for the following information.

LATEST INFORMATION ON CAMP MOVEMENTS

(By cable from Geneva)

Red Cross trucks operating out of Lubeck in the north and Moosburg in the south succeeded, during March, in getting substantial quantities of food packages to the prisoners of war evacuated from camps in the east who were still hiking across Germany. These marching columns were scattered over very wide area, in the middle of March for example, an advance group from Stalag 344 was 30 miles east of Carlsbad while the rear of the column was in the vicinity of Bohmisch Leipa – the distance between these two points being nearly 60 miles. Likewise, the Stalag VIII B column was spread from Schlan, near Melnik, to the Koniggratz region – a distance om [sic] about 75 miles. British prisoners constituted a large part of the southern columns, but they also contained Americans.

Similar situations existed in northern Germany, where about 100,000 American and Allied prisoners evacuated from camps in the second military district (particularly, in the case of Americans from Stalags II B and II D and Stalag Luft IV) were walking across Germany to camps in the tenth military district. It was reported at the end of February that these men “were grouped in the vicinity of the Stettiner Haff, whence they will be conducted to Aflag X D (at Fischbeck), Oflag X C (at Lubuck), and Stalag X B (at Bremervorde).”

The Red Cross trucks delivering supplies to the marching columns had to search for men not only on main highways but on secondary roads. The trucks operated under German escort, and, considering the chaotic transportation conditions which must now exist inside Germany, the authorities there have manifested a cooperative spirit in getting food, medicines, and other relief supplies to the men. It is an entirely new development in warfare to have Red Cross trucks, supplied and serviced by one belligerent, operating far and wide in the territory of an enemy belligerent.

Airmen from the Dulag Luft transit camp area are now being assigned to “the new Stalag Luft at Nurnburg-Langwasser,” according to a cable received in the middle of March. This new Luft Stalag has not yet been designated by number.

Stalag Luft III at Sagan was evacuated on January 27. The men were given Red Cross food packages and were furnished some additional food by the Germans en route. The men were marched for three days, on secondary roads, to Spremberg – a distance of about 40 miles. They slept in barns along the roads. At Spremberg, the prisoners from the south and center compounds were divided into groups of 2,000 and sent by train on February 1 to Mossburg (Stalag VII A), except for a few who were sent to Stalag IIIA at Luckenwalde. Americans from the west compound were dispatched by train from Spremberg to Nunrnburg, [sic] and thence to Stalag XIII D, about eight miles from the city, which is probably “the new Stalag Luft” previously referred to. All letter mail from the airmen, however, should continue to be addressed to Stalag Luft III until new directions are given.

A cable from Geneva on March 10 stated, “Oflag 64 proceeding by rail towards Hammelburg.” An earlier message had reported that about 500 (ground force) officers from Oflag 64, “travelling by rail, were near Parchim (southeast of Wismar on a line between Wismar and Berlin), awaiting transport for Hammelburg.” Oflag XIII B and Stalag XIII C are the only prisoner of war camps known to be in the vicinity of Hammelburg. Several hundred American officers formerly at Oflag 64 were liberated by the advancing Russian armies and ave [sic] returned to the United States.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONER OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 7

FAR EAST NEWS

CAMP STANLEY

According to an address given by Mr. D.G.E. Middleburg, Netherlands Consul-General, who was present at the fall of Hong Kong, the policy of interment of civilians as practiced by the Japanese in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaya and the Netherlands Indies is something quite new. They have interned all white nationals of countries that have declared war on Japan. Chinese, Indians, Javanese, even Eurasians though nationals of belligerent countries were left alone. This must of course be seen as a logical consequence of the anti-foreigners, that is anti-white movement of Japan in their so-called “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”. “Asia for the Asiatics” is the slogan that takes for them the place of our “Fight for Democracy”.

Neutrals such as Swiss, Danes and Russians, however, have not been interned. The food situation for the noninterned residents soon became so bad, that many neutral nationals and Eurasians applied for admission to the Civilian Internment Camp, which applications, I believe, were all refused.

The Allied Europeans were rounded up and billeted in Chinese boarding houses, awaiting removal to the proper internment camp at Stanley. Stanley is a peninsula, a sort of appendix of Hong Kong Island. On it are situated Fort Stanley with the long range coastal artillery, an English protestant boarding school, an excellent modern prison and warders quarters. The military barracks and the prison building were not used, but the 3,000 internees were divided over the schools and warders quarters.

The location of the camp is not bad. It has plenty of sun, air and room between the buildings. The buildings themselves, however, are terribly overcrowded. People are practically packed together with hardly enough room to stretch out at night. Furniture is practically non-existant. [sic]

Fortunately there is water, electricity and a good sewage system. The buildings are new and well built but built for maybe one fifth of the number of their present occupants.

The food situation is definitely bad. As you know, an active adult person required 3,000 calories a day. The food supplied to the civilian internees has according to the Japanese a calorific value of 2,000. European doctors amongst the internees, however, maintain that not more than 1,500 calories are supplied. The food is moreover often of bad quality and it lacks variety and vitamins. It is very hard to convince the Japanese on this point, as they feed very badly themselves.

HONG KONG CIVILIAN CAMPS

On December 22nd the Civilian Internment Camps at Hong Kong were visited by Mr. Zindel, International Red Cross Delegate. Mr. Zindel reports that the general conditions at Shamshuipo Camp were much the same as his preceeding visit on August 10th, 1944. Of the many hundred men interned in this camp, 300 were hospitalized in the eight barracks which serve as a hospital. An adequate medical staff was in attendance, including 8 British doctors. Internees had previously been breeding pigs and poultry, but this has had to be curtailed due to the lack of food with which to feed the animals.

Camp “N” where prisoners from Argyle Street Camp were transferred to in May 1944, has been improved by the building of additional barracks, the vegetable garden was enlarged but here also the breeding of poultry was curtailed.

The Military Hospital at Bowen Road contained 150 patients at the time of the Delegate’s visit: the medical staff consisted of about 60 doctors and nurses. Patients were not serious cases, most of them suffering from weakness. In general the Delegate reports that the state of health in these three camps is improved although the lack of vitamins and of food containing proteins and fats is still felt.

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8 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

INTERNMENT CAMP LIEBENAU

by

SONIA ROSKES

The following article was written for the News Sheet by a young Polish woman who recently arrived in Canada and who, with her father, mother and sister, is starting a new life in a new country. During her two years of internment at Camp Liebenau, Miss Roskes learnt to speak English from the British women who were her comrades in captivity.

I was only half awake when after four day’s journey our group, consisting of 30 women and children, arrived at the little station of Meckenbeuren about 11 miles from the Lake of Constance and only 2 miles from our final destination. It was a cold but sunny morning of New Year’s Day 1943. In my complete exhaustion following the three dreary weeks I had spent in the worst German jail of Gracow, and in a peculiar state of mental apathy which usually accompanies the feeling of being cold and hungry. I had no eyes for the beauty of my new surroundings – the snow-covered pinewoods and meadows at our feet, the majestic Swiss Alps in the background.

Suddenly my consciousness was roused by a man’s rough voice – it appeared to belong to one of our escorting guards – explaining to some of my companions that in our new place we would feel more at home as it was an internment camp for British and American Women. “Your own people will take care of you.” He concluded with a sarcastic smile, “and I hope you will like the change.”

“Your own people…” These words stirred something in our hearts some secret wish which had lain there concealed and supressed throughout the misery of the past three years. Was it possible that the camp we were going to was not just another of the concentration camps where innocent people were being killed daily by the thousands, but a place offering a chance of survival? Was it really true that in a couple of hours we would meet American and British women?

After a short while we were loaded on to a large horse-cart, including our meagre hand-luggage (all we were allowed to have according to the German order on the day of our internment) and driven in the direction of Liebenau. It was noon and the snow was dazzling white under the bright sun, when we arrived in the village in the middle of which was a block of two-storied buildings and a double-towered church which was separated from three neighbouring cottages by a high stone fence. An iron gate was flung open by an elderly German policeman, and our wagon rolled past a small guards-house to come to a standstill in front of one of the three buildings.

In a second we found ourselves surrounded by a large group of women of all ages, whose eyes smiled at us in a warm welcome and whose numberless questions, asked in about ten different languages, we in vain tried to answer. All we gathered from the chaotic conversation was that we had nothing to be afraid of any more, that as subjects of enemy countries we fell under Geneva Conventions which secured protection for prisoners of war and civilian internees on German territory, and that, though life was pretty tough and miserable in camp at times (which we would find out for ourselves very soon), the worst part of our internment was over. The appearance of the women who were gathered around our cart confirmed their reassuring words: there was nothing about them to remind us of the haunted looks of all those many thousands of underfed and persecuted beings we had known so well in Poland; their clothes, consisting in most cases of slacks and thick woollen pullovers, were in fairly good condition and except for a trace of bitterness in their voices when ever they spoke about “being locked up in a cage” they did not sound too depressed.

It was only in the evening when, after my first bath and supper I lay down in the first clean bed I had known for many a month, that I became aware of the change in my life. “However hard it may be to live for months and perhaps years under a lock,” I said to myself, “however gloomy and monotonous it may become to be herded with different people under the same roof, I shall

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 9

try to make the best of it: the main thing is that my mother, sister and myself are alive and that we shall not know the fear of a German bullet, the fear which became a part of our inner selves in Poland, any more.”

It took me about a month to become acquainted with the daily routine of camp life, to learn something about my fellow internees and to come into closer contact with some girls of my own age. I another few weeks’ time it seemed to me that I had been there for many years – so familiar appeared every face, every voice, every room.

Liebenau became an internment camp for women, holders of British and American passports who happened to live in various European countries before the outbreak of the war. Originally an asylum for mentally deficient German children and grown-ups, with an adjacent convent of German nuns in charge of the sick, it contained at the time of my internment over 600 interned women and children – a number of which by far exceeded the usual capacity of the place. The mentally deficient Germans (or “lunies” in the slang of the internees) still occupied a few wings of the camp buildings. Employed by the German nuns at field and garden work, they were a common sight within the camp boundaries; their disfigured bodies and faces did not make the prison atmosphere any brighter.

In the three years previous to my arrival, the camp had been gradually developed into a fairly well organised community. In order to keep the necessary discipline and to carry on all the official negotiations, a camp captain had been elected. That 60 year old Englishwoman, who enjoyed the greatest respect and confidence of all the internees, performed her duties with iron energy and never-failing efficiency. Mrs Violet Froom, camp captain, was always ready to solve difficult problems, to give advice and to step in whenever intervention was necessary. Assisted by six floor captains, each chosen by the members of her floor, she ran the administration, registered newcomers, reported them to the Swiss Legation – the Protective Power over all the Allied prison camps in Germany – and arranged the distribution of Red Cross food and clothing parcels. It was due to her great character, broad-minded attitude towards all the problems of the world and to her sincerely democratic ideas that a couple of hundred women, all coming from different countries, speaking different languages and having different habits of their own, could lead a relatively peaceful community life under extraordinary circumstances.

The floor-captains’ main duty was to keep order on their floors. As internees were supposed to perform all the domestic task within the camp, they compiled special working lists, all the instructions of which had to be followed strictly. The harder jobs, such as cleaning corridors, carrying food from the German kitchen, and being air raid wardens in case of raids, were done by young and strong girls; others had to keep diningrooms and bathroom tidy, to wash up dishes and attend to the boilers – our only source of tea water. Some of the most reliable and the professionally trained internees were given more responsible work; they became the organizers of schools and educational courses, shows and other small entertainments, discussion circles, and groups of literature lovers.

The head of the camp’s Educational Committee was another English-woman, Mrs Vidakovic, formerly a professor of English at the University of Belgrade, Yougoslavia. [sic] With the help of a large group of voluntary teachers and librarians, untired in her efforts to give every internee the possibility of studies and warmly interested in each individual case, she was the soul of the spiritual life within the camp – the inspiration of various courses in English and other languages, the supervisor of the library and the adviser in all matters concerning general education.

The more official part of the administration was carried out by the Germans. The six German guards gave us our mail, next-of-kin parcels and German newspapers (the only source of our political information): every evening they made roll-calls in all the rooms occupied by the internees who were not allowed out of doors after 6 p.m. They escorted the daily afternoon walks in the surroundings. An old German paymaster who had his office in one of the camp buildings dealt with

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10 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

money questions, received various petitions and inflicted all kinds of punishment on those who broke “the law”. A staff of German nuns supervised the food.

It is when speaking about the food provided by the German [sic] that I am approaching the subject of the most important factor in our camp life. Though our living accommodations and sanitary conditions were a great deal better than those in other prisoner-of-war and civilian internment camps in Germany, the food received from the Germans would not have been sufficient to prevent us from starvation. Breakfast consisted of a slice of sticky and often mouldy bread, jam and an absolutely undrinkable coffee substitute; lunch of thin soup and some vegetables floating in a dark gravy; supper of a few potatoes, the same sticky bread and an identical “coffee”.

This is where the Red Cross comes in. Big consignments of Red Cross parcels, British and American, would arrive in the camp at frequent intervals, where they would be unloaded and unpacked with enthusiasm by the internees. Their regular weekly distribution by the camp captain secured our food situation and shut off the danger of hunger. Besides food parcels the Red Cross provided us with various clothing articles. Many an English or American woman who had been dragged out of her house by the Germans at a moment’s notice without being allowed to take the most essential items, was, after some time, dressed from top to toe in clothes sent by the Red Cross. The foundation and constant increase of our liberty was rendered possible by Red Cross book supplies. The chool [sic] for the 60 interned children could function systematically and successfully thanks to the Red Cross delivery of text-books and stationery, games and toys for the Kindergarten and various instruction leaflets for the teachers of the camp. Shows and other performances could be put up from time to time in our more than primitive theatre hall because the Red Cross always responded to our artists’ requests for theatrical costumes, paints for the scenery, and musical instruments. Many women who, not having anything particular to do, would have broken down as a result of boredom and lack of occupation, were kept busy knitting and doing all kinds of other handwork, owing to the Red Cross delivery of knitting wool , cotton and embroidery silk. Health service in the camp, naturally handicapped by shortage of trained nurses and the utter ignorance of an old German doctor, would have been ever more inadequate had it not been for the regular supply of Red Cross invalid comfort parcels and all the medicines required.

The two years which elapsed between my arrival in Liebenau and my final release from the camp were marked in the history of the place as abounding in happenings and extraordinary events. In fall 1943, when the monotony of camp life was becoming unbearable and when phrases like “I am fed up,” “I am bored stiff,” and “I wish to Goodness something would happen” were inseparable from our daily vocabulary, a great change took place. A department of the German Foreign Office arrived in the camp, where it made its permanent residence.

The cowardly officials who had fled from Berlin where they were exposed to the daily danger of becoming the victims of Allied bombs and who hid shamelessly under the protection of internees who were relatively safe from this fear, took possession of one of the buildings by removing all the internees from it. We were shaking with helpless rage and indignation when, after being crowded in our small rooms more than ever before, we began to suffer from al [sic] the restrictions made by “Berlin across the garden path” as we ironically nicknamed the Foreign Office. The small amount of freedom which had been our greatest treasure up to that point was considerably cut down: two gardens, one behind and the other in front of the camp buildings, were closed to the internees; only three walks weekly were permitted; room arrests, stopping of mail, and even deportations to other camps became a frequent punishment for crimes like picking apples on country roads, waving at the Allied planes flying over Liebenau, attempts to offer a package of cigarettes to Serbian prisoners-of-war working in the village, or not greeting the German guards.

General depression and even feelings of hopelessness reached their climax in 1944 when first exchange transports on a larger scale began to leave the camp.

The first one to take place was an American repatriation transport, in February 144 [sic], including about 80 U.S.A. citizens from our camp. Anxious

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 11

speculations and wild rumours as to who was going to be chosen – the usual symptoms in every internment and P.O.W. camp whenever “something is in the air” – were put an end to by the publication of the official list of names, accompanied by a notice signed by the departmental chief of the Foreign Office to the effect that the names listed had been received from Washington. How great was our indignation when, about half an hour after the publication of the first one, another list of about 20 persons was added! It was then that we realized how great was the power the Germans had over us; for it was the German Foreign Office that had selected the people for exchange, and from which the repatriation of each one of us depended. Complaints addressed to the Swiss Legation in Berlin were censored by the German paymaster; and if he disapproved of their contents, our letters ended in his wastepaper basket.

During the next four repatriate transports which took place successively throughout the same year we had to experience yet another injustice. Whenever a number of repatriates, whether to England or the United Stated, was about to leave the camp, only a very few of our internees were included. The Germans completed the number they were supposed to give in exchange for their own prisoners by taking people from outside the camp, people who had been free all during the time the 600 Liebenau internees were slowing losing their physical and mental strength in the long years of captivity. A few days before the departure of a transport dozens of these “outsiders” would stream in; and by a special order of the Foreign Office they had to be treated like guests, which meant that they were free from all the duties we had to perform and not compelled to obey the regulations we were subject to.

At the close of the year the atmosphere in the camp became gloomier and our spirits lower than ever before. As there was a big American exchange in sight, and the small rooms could not hold any more persons, all the dining rooms where we used to gather for meetings, to study, and to take our meals, were turned into bedrooms for the “guests”: on account of bad railway connections within Germany and the Allied successes threatening the Ruhr district, our usual supply of coal was cut down, so that we were forced to pick wood on our walks in order to have boiling water at least once daily : a few weeks running not one letter reached the camp and even the German newspaper stopped arriving regularly. The schoolroom was half empty in the hours set for adults’ educational courses: the internees, for many of whom it was the fifth Christmas away from their homes, lost all their desire for the continuation of their studies and their power of concentration over books.

It was soon after New Year 1945, that the rumours about a great repatriation transport to the U.S.A. which had been very persistent for some weeks past, were officially confirmed. On January 19th a list of about 115 persons included in the exchange was put op [sic] on the notice board. Three days later, just before the transport was about to leave Liebenau to go via Switzerland to Marseilles and sail from there on the “Gripsholm” an additional list of names was published, my mother’s, sister’s and my own among them.

The happiness which filled my heart at the moment I saw our names on the list was beyond control. All jobs that remained to be done in the last day of my internment, the hectic packing, ceding my duties to some of my remaining friends, taking our luggage down to the canteen to be searched and sealed, I performed without being conscious of what I was doing. My heart was singing with mad joy while I was saying to myself, “It is really, undeniably true; it is true that in a month’s time I shall be in a free country which does not know the Gestapo and the German methods of cruel persecution; it is true that at last the misery of three and a half war years in Poland and the two years of internment are over; it is true that our family has been granted the happiness of survival.”

Over 300 British women have remained in Liebenau. It was when I was saying goodbye to these less fortunate friends of mine at the gate of the camp that I suddenly knew my happiness would never be complete until they were finally released too; it was then that I felt, with an intensity I had never known before, how deeply attached I had become to each one of them and how much their friendship had meant to me in the period of my greatest need for human understanding.

On board the Gripsholm, which we took in Marseilles and where we met American and Canadian wounded soldiers being, like ourselves, on their way home after long years of captivity, I once exchanged my experiences with a Canadian ex-prisoner-of-war. “I don’t agree with those who maintain that happiness makes one forget past sorrows and worries,” he said. “Happy as I am to have left the gloom and hardships of my prison years behind me, I know that for a long while yet I shall not be able to tear the memories of the camp out of my mind and heart. Only when I hear that all my fellow-prisoners, who have still to go through the ordeals of this final war stage in Germany,

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12 THE CANANDIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

have safely reached the shores of Canada, will these memories give way to an undisturbed enjoyment of my new freedom.”

The Gripsholm landed in New York on Jan 21st; on the day following her disembarkment our family arrived in Canada. In the first six weeks which I have spent in this splendid free country, the broadminded, generous-hearted people of which I have already learned to love, I have often recalled the words of that wounded Canadian soldier. All I can add to them is that though Internment Camp Liebenau belongs to the past, I shall always remember the lesson I was taught there that – in order to become a useful member of any community one has to develop an attitude towards one’s fellow creatures based on understanding and goodwill; not on selfishness and prejudice!

P.O.W. AT KOBE

Air Raid Precautions

Air Raid Precautions have been taken at the Prisoner of War Hospital at Kobe, in Japan, which was visited by the International Red Cross Delegate on 18th August of this year. The report of the Delegate’s visit has just reached Australia.

The hospital is attached to the Osaka Group of camps on the main island of Japan, Honshu. At the time of the visit there were altogether 101 patients, of whom 15 were Australians and there were three Australians on the Hospital, but not Medical, Staff.

Location is said to be on a quiet, sunny hillside, in seven foreign-style wooden buildings with tiled roofs. Ventilation, drainage, water supply are reported to be adequate.

Bedding consists of straw mats on a wooden floor with five blankets for each patient, and pyjamas, Food consists mainly of rice, barley and vegetables, with very little meat and fish. There are no eggs, milk, fat, cheese, sweets, coffee or canned foods. The kitchen equipment seemed adequate, reported the delegate, but there was no refrigerator or ice-box.

(Australian P.O.W. Magazine)

AID FOR BRITONS IN FRANCE

A new Red Cross and St. John Sub-Commission has been set up in Paris to care for British Civilians, particularly children and the sick and aged, who need help in France. A considerable number of Christmas parcels as well as clothing and blankets have already been issued.

Persons eligible to receive relief include all children under 18 with British fathers and dependents of all men killed or captured while serving with the British forces. Distribution arrangements for the children include a system whereby they can be referred to the out-patients department of the Hertford Hospital, Paris, for future preventative treatment against such diseases as tuberculosis and rickets. This hospital, which will shortly be re-opened by the Red Cross and St. John, will receive supplies for this purpose of cod liver oil and Adexolin from Great Britain. The British Consuls in Lyons, Bordeaux , Nantes and Rouen have been asked to supply lists of all British subjects in their care, especially of children and aged and sick persons, so that appropriate supplies can be sent for distribution. Relief parcels have already been sent to Marseilles and Nice.

Colonel Gielgud, who has a long and intimate knowledge of the country, is at present touring France in the hope of tracking down all British subjects in the country who may be in need of help. Opportunities for extending this relief work for the British in France are also being examined.

A similar organisation to help Canadian citizens has been set up in Paris by the Canadian Red Cross, while civilians from other dominions and Colonies will come within the scope of the British scheme.

PRAISE FOR FPRISONERS [sic] OF WAR WORK

Mr. H. B. Burdekin, who is the examiner in Accountancy subjects at New Zealand University, has written to London saying:

“I am in the middle of my University exam. marking again. Curiously enough the best ones I am getting are coming from members of the armed Forces. Three batches that I had towards the end of last year from prisoner of war camps in Germany were all of high quality, some very good indeed.”

(Kincardineshire Branch B.R.C.S.)

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 13

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Question:- Would you please tell me where the reports of Japanese camps come from and how they are relayed?

Answer:- Reports on Japanese camps are written or cabled to Geneva by International Red Cross Delegates in the Far East who have visited the camps. It is well to remember that these reports are sent in writing and are subject to Japanese censorship, whereas reports on camps in Germany are made verbally by the delegate who has personally visited the camps and talked with the prisoners.

Question:- My son is a prisoner of war in Germany and his wife lives in England. If he is liberated, will I be notified?

Answer:- Only the next of kin of prisoners receive official notifications; if your daughter-in-law is registered as your son’s next of kin and has been receiving Government labels for his personal parcels, she will receive all notifications from the Government. We believe however, that by applying to the Director of Records, Ottawa, it is possible for a close relative to obtain such information as is available regarding a prisoner of war.

Question:- Is there an ordinary mail and parcel service established to the Channel Islands?

Answer:- The United Kingdom authorities have been trying for some time, through the International Red Cross, to arrange for Red Cross postal messages to go to the Islands, but the Germans cannot arrange for censorship of incoming mail at a censorship office in the Channel Islands and it is therefore necessary for all the Red Cross postal messages which the United Kingdom authorities hold to be sent to Geneva so that the International Red Cross Committee can arrange with the German Government for censorship there or in Germany. This, of course, makes the process rather slow, and so far no news has been received of any of the Red Cross messages which the United Kingdom authorities started sending to Geneva last year, having been sent on the Red Cross relief ship. These difficulties apply to ordinary mail and parcels, and there appears to be no hope of an ordinary mail and parcel service being established.

Question:- I heard on the radio that the camp where my son has is has been freed. How soon will I hear whether my son is free?

Answer:- It is impossible to give an exact length of time, but in many cases relatives received cables direct from their prisoners in England or France, approximately a week or ten days after the news of the camp liberation. There is no cause for anxiety if this news takes longer to come, since the number of liberated prisoners is reaching large proportions which will of necessity delay the transmission of messages.

Question:- Is the C.P.O.W.R.A. continuing to send cigarettes either in bulk consignments or to individual prisoners in Germany?

Answer:- No. The last regular shipment of cigarettes made by the association was sent in March, since when conditions have made it impossible to continue shipping to P.O.W. Camps. Should the situation change, the sending of cigarettes will be resumed.

REMITTANCES BY POSTAGE STAMPS VIOLATE POSTAL LAWS

Contrary to postal regulations, postage stamps are continually being used as remittance for small amounts. We receive them daily at the Headquarters office of the Association. The postal authorities point out that Post Office Money Orders, Postal Notes and Postal Scrip are provided at all Post Offices for just this purpose and the public is urged to make use of these facilities, the intention of which is to guard against loss.

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14 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

PROVINCIAL HEADQUARTERS

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Mrs. R. Thistle

1013 Government St.

Victoria, B.B.

MANITOBA

Mr. W.S. King

Paris Building

Winnipeg, Manitoba.

ONTARIO

Mrs. Gordon Weir,

Bank of N. Scotia Bldg.,

79 Queen St. East,

Toronto, Ont.

QUEBEC

Mrs. H.E. Plant,

718 Sunlife Building,

Montreal, Que.

NEW BRUNSWICK

Mrs. George Filliter,

68 Portledge Ave.

Moncton, N.B.

NEWFOUNDLAND

Mrs. A.C. Holmes, M.B.E.,

Caribou Hut,

St. John’s, Nfld.

NOVA SCOTIA

Mrs. W.A. Black,

30 Ivanhoe Street,

aHlifax [sic], N.S.

SASKATCHEWAN

Mr. C.A. Cunning,

303 McCallum Hill Bldg.

Regina, Sask.

ALBERTA

Mrs. H. Thom,

10222, 118th St.,

Edmonton, Alta.

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS

150A Sun Life Bldg.,

Montreal.

MANITOBA BRANCH

The March meeting of the Manitoba Branch was attended by approximately 200 members. The Chairman announced that twenty-two new next of kin had been approached since the last meeting and welcomed any that might be present.

Two repatriated prisoners, F/Lt. Bruce McKenzie and Pte. Bud Moody, spoke to the members and answered questions.

MONCTON BRANCH

At the March meeting of the Moncton Branch, a busy month was announced by the president. A number of new prisoners of war from New Brunswick were reported and their next of kin were written to and sent copies of the News Sheet.

It was decided not to ship medical parcels from this district until such time as the situation became more clear.

ONTARIO PROVINCIAL BRANCH – TORONTO

The following slate of officers of the Ontario Provincial Branch for the coming year was recently elected:

President Mrs. Gordon Weir
Vice-President Mrs. Wallace Floody
Vice-President Mrs. R.E. McLaren
Vice-President and Treasurer Mrs. R.A. Laidlaw
Honorary Vice-President Mrs. W.E. Sprague

PURCHASING COMMITTEE

Mrs. W.E. Floody
Mrs. A. Hayward

MEN’S COMMITTEE

Mr. R.A. Laidlaw
Mr. Kelso Roberts
Mr. Avery
Mr. Norman Copeman

OTTAWA BRANCH

At the April meeting of the Ottawa Branch, it was agreed to send $50.00 to National Headquarters for the General Fund.

Guest Speaker at the meeting was Mr. M. Gratton O’Leary, well known newspaper man, whose son is a prisoner of war in Germany.

Mr. T. Campbell-Rogers was elected Chairman.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 15

SASKATCHEWAN BRANCH

Forty-five members attend the [sic] the March meeting of the Saskatchewan Branch. The Food Committee reported having packed and sent 49 parcels of food for next of kin throughout the Province. The Welfare Committee reported having sent 8 personal parcels, 2 medical parcels, 2 sports parcels and some cigarettes direct to prisoners on behalf of their next of kin. Several parcels were returned, having been destroyed in a fire on board ship last December and the Association is paying the cost of food items in the re-issue parcels.

VICTORIA BRANCH

At the April meeting of the Victoria Branch the sum of $300.00 was voted to be sent to the Association Headquarters to be used at the President’s discretion for the benefit of prisoners of war.

It was reported that since the beginning of the year, blankets, clothing and food parcels to the value of $265.00 had been sent to war prisoners.

Lt. V C. Moore, who was repatriated last September, spoke about life in a German prison hospital.

VANCOUVER BRANCH

Monthly meetings of the Vancouver Branch held in March and April; at the former, Cpl. Earl Buck, recently repatriated from Stalag 2D, spoke on his experiences while, at the latter, Col. Scott, Canadian Red Cross Commissioner, addressed the meeting. Both meetings were well attended.

NEW WESTMINSTER BRANCH

The regular meeting of the New Westminster Branch was held April 9th. 22 members were present. The meeting voted $$200.00 [sic] to be sent to Mrs. JJ. O. Asselin to be used as she thinks best for our boys arriving in Canada, also $500.00 to be sent to W.A. McAdam, Agent General B. C. House, London, to be used for B.C. boys arriving in London from the prisoner of war camps in Germany.

Plans were made for a Tag Day to be held April 28.

[Boxed] LETTERS

In future issues of the News Sheet, only letters from the Far East and recent ones from Germany will be published. With the mass movement of prisoners in Europe, it is felt that letters written from camps which no longer exist will not be of general interest to our readers. We will be glad to publish any letters, however, that contain news of transit or temporary camps which would be helpful and informative to other prisoners’ families. [/boxed]

GERMANY

OFLAG VII B

December 5th, 1944 Rec’d February 26th. 1945.

Firstly, many thanks for your letters of Sept. 11, and Oct. 3 & 10. All very welcome indeed. Secondly, we are not allowed copying pencils now, I am telling you this because with your customary acute powers of observation you would notice the change and wonder. There is nothing I want in the food or clothing line; we are limited by the Germans in the amount of clothes and food we can have in our possession.

New Year’s Day 1945 Rec’d March 29th, 1945

When I look at the date above it gives me a bit of a start I assure you. 1945 and the shades of Prison Walls still around us and the forms of many disappointed and “Browned Off” Kriegie’s still conspicuous by their presence. I might say that many a Sawback has been lost or won on the War not being over. Have personally never been one of the optimists, to say nothing of the Super O’s, but am, more or less, hoping for my next Birthday out of the “Shaft” (Kriegsgefangschaft) as we call it. However as I told you in what must have been a most confusing letter, we have had an excellent period of “Bashing” (good eating) due to O.K.W. order forbidden reserves. It really has been terrific and as far as that goes we are right on top of the world and if the Germans live up to their promise of supply to us and I believe they will, a parcel a week, we will be O.K. Cold clear weather has enabled us to get some hockey. A lot of the old speed gone and not much cunning evident yet to replace it. A lot of fun tho’. No mail recently. By the way we have practically a language of our own here and as the years roll by I find it harder than ever to

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16 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

STALAG LUFT III

[Photograph of a man with a bucket and a pole] Wash Day. A tin can on the end of a stick is the most modern washing machine.

[Photograph of a group of men gathered around a notice board] above, - representatives of 2,000 P.O.W. crowd around the loud speaker to translate the news.

[Photograph of men standing and sitting by the side of a field] right, - Sports Day.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 17

THEATRICALS AT LUFT III

[Photograph of two men at a table with a microphone] Sound effects for the plays go over the mike

[Photograph of men playing musical instruments] Orchestra

[Photograph of a man in a female costume] One of the boys plays the lead in Pygmalion

[Photograph of three men on a dressed stage] “Thark” by Ben Trains

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18 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

explain myself in plain English. Trust you are all well and celebrated New Year’s properly. I was asleep by 10.30 but thinking of you. Everything is fine with me. In better health, better spirits than ever before and full of the old confidence; so look after yourselves because this is the year.

January 4th, 1945. Rec’d February 26th, 1945.

Many thanks for letters Oct. 24 and Nov. 3, 7 and 14. Yours came thro’ better than from England. Thanks very much for snap, you look well. Skating is going strong at the moment, even I have been attracted. Party of Grans Blessés leave here tomorrow. The Germans made us eat our reserves of food over Xmas. Am feeling fit!!

January 25th, 1945.

More reprisals! We are now without mattresses, tables or stools! I will tell you how this came about. Last Monday we had the usual check parade at 9 a.m. and while in the middle of it, a large number of Germans were marched into the camp and surrounded the parade. We, of course, thought it was just another search until we were told that the S.B.O. (Senior British Officer) wanted to address the parade. He started by reading out a German order which was that – owing to the fact that German prisoners of war in Egypt were living in tents without any mattresses or furniture – we were to be treated alike and have ours taken away. The S.B.O. then went on to make some very appropriate remarks which are better left out here. This is my third lot of reprisals; first in Poland, then chains and now this. Fortunately we are able to see the funny side of it and having meals off the floor is at least a change and saves laying the table for meals! I have won an extra piece of pudding. As we are seven in our mess it is much easier to divide things into eight and cut a card for the extra piece. It adds great excitement to the meals!

STALAG II D

December 25th, 1944.

I’ve put this letter off a week so I could write it tonight and let you know how we spent Christmas. Yes, it’s been a day I’ll not forget for a long, long time. I’ve drawn a Xmas Card with the menu of the day on the inside, and the autographs of my ten best buddies; I’ll get it home for you if this war lasts for another five years, but don’t worry about that. I honestly don’t expect to see another Xmas here. The Christmas dinner was lovely, the out-standing thing among many, was a real custard pie, the first many of us have had in 2 1/2 years. I also have a photograph for you; as soon as I can get it censored I’ll send it, which shouldn’t be more than a week or two. The Red Cross sent us a little Xmas decoration so we’ve got the room looking quite cozy. There’s about 3 lbs of Canadian chocolate in Stalag per person, but we haven’t received that yet. Hope you all had an enjoyable Xmas.

January 1st, 1945.

Well we’ve had Christmas and New Year again; they sure do seem to slip by fast over here, maybe it’s a good thing too. I imagine it would get pretty dull if it didn’t. Well I finally got the picture you’ve been waiting for so long, you can see by it that this life isn’t doing me any harm. I hope you receive it alright. We had a very good Xmas, one of the things accomplished was the ten of us in our room have pledged to have a yearly reunion, each year it being in a different city. There are five from Windsor, two from Toronto, two from Winnipeg, and one from Hamilton. This is the best bunch of fellows I’ve ever been with and we really have some swell times.

STALAG IV A

November 26th, 1944.

Hope this letter finds you all well, as it leaves me quite well. We had a little snow storm the other day, bet you people haven’t had any yet. Although I suppose it’s quite cold. I’m working inside so I don’t mind it much. I’m expecting a letter any day now, as it’s been a very long wait. We haven’t started getting ready for Xmas yet, suppose you have your baking all done. Will see you next Fall, anyway, if not before, so hope this letter arrives alright, also the others. We got Sweet Caporal cigs. this week from the Red Cross. Hope everybody is well.

December 10th, 1944.

Haven’t received any letters yet. Hope to get some soon, hope you’ve got all of my letters. It’s quite cold here, now, but very little snow. Hope you people are all well. And also enjoyed Christmas, which I expect to. Guess I’ll be home for next Xmas if everything goes well. There isn’t much to write about, just now. So will close until I get a letter.

December 31st, 1944.

Hope this card finds you all well, as it leaves me quite well. Expecting a letter any day now. Hope you all enjoyed your New Year. Will be seeing you, soon.

January 13th, 1945.

Just to let you know that I’m well and in fair health. Hope you and the rest are all well. I hope to hear from you soon, and better still be back with you all again.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 19

STALAG IV B

December 12th, 1944.

Christmas certainly came early to Stalag IVB in the form of your Christmas shipment of chocolate. With the shortage of Red Cross parcels this chocolate has certainly put a very different outlook on our Christmas festivities. You cannot realise how much we appreciate this gift and other excellent work you have been responsible for. Thank you very much and our best wishes for the coming year to you and your fellow workers. Any chap who goes out on a working Kommando before Christmas will receive chocolate and cigarettes, before he leaves this Camp, as a gift from the Canadian Club. The cigarettes are as a result of a collection from the chaps who have received parcels from home. All in all it should be a fairly decent Christmas. The next one back home should more than make up for what we have missed in the past few years. May the ski trails be covered with snow and good skating be prevalent. For Pete’s sake, tell some of the girls to stay single until we get home.

January 3rd, 1945.

Greetings and best wishes for 1945 to you and the Canadian people. The Canadian Club, 400 strong sends this message on behalf of its members. Christmas in our Stalag went off with a bang. It started early with the arrival of your gift of chocolate, of which we were able to issue 2 1/2 bars to each Canadian. Then, as a bolt from the blue, and in the nick of time, American Xmas parcels arrived sufficient for the issue of four between ten, over and above food parcels. Many Canadians received personal parcels in the same week: so you see, there is a Santa Claus! Most old “Kriegies” consider it the best Christmas spent in captivity. Not to mention entertainments would be to portray an incomplete picture of our Christmas celebrations. The number and variety of projects were such as were never seen before. Productions for Theatre and Hut presentation were in evidence the whole week. They included drama, comedy, variety, musical, dances, pantomimes, and radio plays (behind curtains). Since most of our members were occupied in either theatre or local hut activities, we engaged in no formalities as a Club. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for all you and we hope in this new 1945 of ours. Au revoir. Many thanks. Good luck!

January 3rd, 1945.

Happy New Year! and may the next one fine me wishing you all the best, etc. in person. Now before I forget I’d better tell you what we had for Xmas dinner. Xmas week we got 1 Can. parcel between 2. 2 American between I and 1 Yank Xmas parcel between 10. Plenty of variety anyhow! Our Xmas dinner consisted of turkey, spam, boiled potatoes, diced carrots, peas, turnips and onions, with noodle soup starting things off. For dessert we had our own steam pudding with thick cream, and chocolate sauce, followed by coffee and biscuits. Pretty good, what? The pudding was really perfect altho it took about 20 hours boiling to get it that way. The ingredients were:

[Photograph of a group of four rows of men outside a hut] Group taken at Stalag 344. Pte. H. C. Turner is marked with an X. Kindly lent by Mrs. Ernest Turner of Montreal.

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20 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

German flour, mashed Can. biscuits, egg powder, butter, sugar, milk, raisins, creamola powder plus other stuff I can’t recall. Dec 27 got an Artie Shaw record and Dec. 30 300 cigs arrived, both from the Squadron. I can’t thank them, but do you think you could S.V.P. Celebrated New Years with another big dinner altho not so somptuous [sic] a one as at Xmas. New Year’s Eve, we had a grand show lasting 5 hours in our hut. A few days ago quite a few Yanks arrived but we don’t expect them to be here for very long. Thanks a million for the pictures you sent Oct. 24. Got letter of Nov. 17 on Dec. 30 too.

January 19th, 1945.

Another month and the Canadian Club in IVB send their greetings. (censored) parcel shortage, the boys remain cheery. Another branch of club fonctions [sic] now getting under way in the formation of a system of reference groups to pass on information and to answer questions for those wishing to “gen up” on prospective trades for postwar period. Our recently formed club library is to be the central hub of a series of groups classified according to trade or information available. Will you please do us the favour of asking our Canadian correspondents especially non-relatives, not to lay too much stress on mention of our palatial holiday surroundings or luxurious comforts. Letters are very wine and bread; but such remarks tend to cause some slight dissension in the ranks. I think you will understand our point of view, and be able to tell them in such a manner as we are unable, without causing misunderstandings. Many thanks also for the cigarettes sent by your Association, which the boys are receiving regularly. It certainly helps a lot to be able to smoke regularly; and there’s nothing like good old Canadian cigs. Many thanks.

January 25th, 1945.

Well it has been some time since I’ve heard from home. Hope you had my letters O.K. I am in good health and hope you are the same. We are very cold at present as there is very wintry weather and not much heat. We have (censored) that is to say we haven’t had any Red Cross Aid for ages, which makes things very unpleasant. I received some more cigs., and boy they are worth their weight in gold here, now. I hope it will soon be over though. News is good. Joe is on his way.

STALAG VII

January 13th, 1945.

How are you? Am feeling fine and in the best of health. Was captured Dec. 13, 1944. Give friends and relatives my address so they can write to me. How is Dad? Can only write two letters a month. Don’t send cigs. Am thinking of you all the time. Write soon. Love to all.

STALAG VII A

November 8th, 1944.

Just a few lines to let you know I am getting along fairly well and am in good health. But I could do with a lot more to eat. The last two weeks my boy friend and I have been out harvesting spuds and believe me we’ve ate so many spuds that we almost look like a couple of spuds! When we come home at night we cook up two nice big dishes full for supper – and another for breakfast. I don’t know what the heck we’ll do when we are finished with the spuds! I guess my tummy will have to shrink a little bit more. I hope the war is over soon. I don’t like this life a bit. Write soon.

January 2nd, 1945. Rec’d March 17th, 1945.

A few lines to say I am fine, hope both there the same. Don’t worry, am getting plenty to eat and a good bed. Contact Red Cross about parcels and cigarettes. Hope you had a good Xmas. I attended church to celebrate our anniversary.

P.S. Send socks, towel, tooth brush.

STALAG VIII B [inserted] was in camp VIII-B for awhile [/inserted]

December 24th, 1944.

Well here it is Christmas Eve, again. I am still feeling fine, had a Red Cross parcel last night, been cooking and eating all day today. Hope everybody is fine at home. Hope to get the parcel you sent, soon. There was a ban on parcels for a while but it has been lifted since about the middle of October, so they should be coming through again alright.

STALAG IX C

November 5th, 1944. Rec’d January 16th, 1945.

Your cheering letters have still been arriving regularly. It is difficult to find things of interest that can be written but as usual I am keeping very well. The time keeps flying by, it is just a race closely run as to which will last longer this year or the war. With this letter goes my best wishes to you for the Merriest of Christmases. You say you have seen the movie “Going My Way”, with Bing Crosby, and here we have a record very popular in the camp, being one of our newest arrivals, with Bing singing the hit song from the picture. We are still not so very far apart, your letters have been arriving about one month after being sent. Still looking forward to receiving your books; they do take so long going through the censors. We have at last been granted a privilege of having a loud speaker in the camp. The commentary of the direction the boys are coming over is most interesting.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 21

November 25th, 1944 Rec’d Jan 26th, 1945.

Lately I have been most fortunate in hearing from you. Your mail and the June parcel which you sent me have arrived safely. What a grand selected parcel; and what a grand and novel idea you had in replacing the Christmas card, the snaps do carry my thoughts back to dear old Toronto and bring back many happy memories, and I do like having your picture here. Wishing you one of the Happiest of New Years.

January 15th, 1945. Rec’d March 23rd, 1945.

Everything is going allright [sic]] with me here. Receiving your mail regularly. It was also fortunate to have your books arrive safely during the holiday weeks. By the time I will have finished reading “The Robe”, “Moby Dick”, and “Mutiny on the Bounty”, I should be on the way home. What a cheerful bit of news to have heard that H. is back home. We did have some good times in hospital. Your blankets are bringing me a great deal of comfort these nights. To continue with my letter after a two and half hour interruption! During these intervals is a good opportunity for reading, many a book I have finished in this way. The greater part of my spare time is still spent plugging at my studies but the conditions in our camp are not the best for real concentration, often I do get fed up, still I try to keep at it, as I feel that progress enough has been made to see the task to a successful completion.

STALAG XI B

December 2nd, 1944. Rec’d Feb 22nd, 1945.

Today is December second. I hope that you all have a very nice Christmas although my first Xmas away from home won’t be all it is cracked up to be. Don’t worry as I expect to be out soon as the war should soon be over. Also we know that the Lord looks after his own. I wrote a letter once before but I have my doubts about it ever reaching you. This will be quite an experience to tell about. You never appreciate the Red Cross until you get in a position like this. Remember me to D. and everyone in fact, all the kids. This is about all I can write so I send all my love and don’t worry as I am okay.

December 16th, 1944. Rec’d March 8th, 1945.

Here it is December 16th and the war is that many days nearer an end. I suppose I will have to tell you all about my experiences when I get home. They say these take about two months to travel so I hope to be free once more that is before you get this. But you live in hopes in these places. You will have some souvenirs if these ever get through. I have a lot of time to read my Bible.

[Photograph of a group of men standing in a sports field] Photograph of a Ball Team at Stalag Luft III. Back Row, left to right: Lt. M.L. Taylor, (Eng.); Flt/Lt. L.A.E. Osbon (Eng.); F/O F.N. Scott (Hespler, Ont.); F/Lt. R. Coste (Toronto); F/O J.S. Acheson (Winnipeg); F/O A.R. Wallace (Toronto); G/C Larry Wray (Ottawa); Front Row, left to right: F/Lt. S. Pozer (Duck Lake, Sask.); F/O H.H. Beaupre (Waterloo); F/O E.R. Soulliere (Roseland, Ont.); F/Lt. D.W. McKim (Lynedoch, Ont.). Kindly lent by Mrs. Larry Wray of Ottawa.

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22 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

the thing is there is a lot you don’t really understand in it. I suppose D. and you are getting along alright. The dog should be fairly well grown by the time I get back. I estimate I will be home by July, we will see how close I have guessed. Well I will close this hoping for the best, putting my trust in God.

January 3rd, 1945.

Another issue of paper so will write every time they come through with it. Been under the weather for the past few days but much better today. Got a Red Cross box of food for New Year’s so made the day much nicer than Christmas was. I could sure use a pair of socks as I’ve been using the same pair since coming here, almost afraid to wash them as they may fall to pieces. I often wonder if you have my first letter yet. It will be three months on the 16th since being trapped. No use me asking you to write as I know you do. Please send cigs. Maybe I’ll be out of here by the time they get, but in case not could sure use them.

STALAG 357

January 17th, 1945.

I received five parcels today. 1 personal and 4 cigarette parcels. The personal one was sent last June and was in perfect order; everything complete and undamaged. The cigarettes were re-addressed from Italy.

STALAG LUFT III

November 6th, 1944.

Well, here’s my first letter for this month and my twenty-third since arrival in Lower Silesia. I’ve been sending home a couple of letters and a card per month for the last couple of months. Rec’d quite a bit of mail lately, latest around mid-September. Glad all O.K. at home and that my mail is getting there. Things are O.K. here; weather getting somewhat damp and cold, and I fear winter is almost upon us once more. Got both lots of snaps now – they’re always welcome. Thank everyone for writing for me. Received book parcel lately, also parcel from Toronto, books, etc. Also receiving cigarettes. Slippers, suspenders and a kitbag are items I could use in next parcel. If sending sweaters, make them vee-neck or sweatshirt style as I now have a sleeve-less and turtleneck type, please.

November 8th, 1945.

I really feel ashamed of myself. For three years I have felt as though I have known you very well and this is the first letter I have written to you. In the summer of 1941, we Canadians were very short of food, blankets, clothing and sports equipment. Due to your remarkable efforts in organizing the P.O.W. we now stand well ahead of any other nationality. For the past two years, I have seen thousands of Canadian Red Cross parcels arriving, as well as all kinds of sports equipment. You can well imagine the effect of all this work upon the morale of the “Kriegies”. The fact that we are allowed food in our clothing parcels in an achievement in itself! Group Captain Wray of the R.C.A.F., who was here last summer, was very impressed and immediately dispatched a letter to the P.O.W. and Red Cross for their excellent work. So, on behalf of all the boys at the receiving end – many, many thanks for everything.

November 25th, 1944.

One month to go to the third Christmas of the Captivity, that’s what there is to go to. This year, in contrast to last, when I became quite petulant at the prospect and wrote a letter quite unworthy of One of Our Brave Boys – I am prepared to accept it philosophically. Christmas comes but once a year, and when it comes it brings a “bash” if at all possible. We are greedily hoping that despite every obstacle the Red Cross Christmas Food parcels may arrive in time, and speculating wildly on what the Canadian Government’s Christmas Cars was hinting at – “a small Christmas present for your personal use.” Now do you think that would be something to eat? Life here is interesting. I am back at the trumpet again. (Somehow I can’t think of the sound I make during practice is giving pleasure to any ear other than my own, no matter how many yards of Lake Simcoe should lie between). I have a very small part (Prof. Willard), and a great interest in my friend’s production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”, with an all-Canadian cast. I am a book reviewer for “The Circuit”. – And I announce the public programs of recorded Swing and Jazz music.

November 28th, 1944.

This is a mere P.S. to the letter written a couple of days ago, provoked by the receipt of 3 letters from you yesterday – including one of Oct 17 – the fastest in a long time. The “in touch” feeling in boosted by your receiving my July letter.

December 6th, 1944. Rec’d March 15th, 1945.

Received a couple of September and October letters from you. As you can no doubt guess I am definitely brassed off at the idea of spending my fourth Christmas here, and I have warned everyone against wishing me a “Merry Christmas” – it will be far from merry. However, once it is over, we can always get optimistic again and reiterate the cry home by Christmas 45 (?). The main thing I want to tell you is that, on December 4th, there

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 23

was a dedication service at the new memorial for the … (censored) … It is in the little cemetery about 1 1/2 miles from the north camp. Seven officers were allowed to go from the compound, the East, and sixteen from the North, including the two Padre’s, and the bugler. I was one of the seven from here. The memorial is in the form of a large altar table with three scroll-like stones sweeping up at the back with the … names on it. We all lined up around it while the R.C. and C. of E. padres read a burial service, then the last post, after which the three Group Captains put wreaths on and then the Swiss Legation also put on quite a large one. It was well done and the memorial is really very nice.

December 7th, 1944.

Delighted to receive your two letters of August 14th and September 29th. Once again we were warmed to the heart by the news of all you are doing for us. It makes us feel very humble, but it is that humbleness born of pride. You make us realise how glorious a heritage it is to be a Canadian, and everyday we are here we become more aware of what that really means to us. Out of this experience we will return to Canada far better citizens than we were, for we have truly awakened to what we previously took very lightly for granted. Typically, our Canada has far surpassed all other countries in the help given to us Ps. O. W. and we regard you as responsible for a great part of that. The winter weather has made life slightly less pleasant here, and the reduction of our Red Cross food by half but we are getting by cheerfully and not too unpleasantly. Impatient, certainly, but always hoping that our return to you is just around the corner. Our theatre is averaging one production every 10-12 days, each running for 7 days, providing us with excellent entertainment. Educational program is going very strong and I am sending you under separate cover a routine report on that branch of our activities. The health of the camp, generally, has been excellent, really amazingly so. Regular hours are probably very good for us, although we do yearn for a little of the less regular. First chocolate has arrived so hope remainder will be here in time. A thousand thanks, a grand Xmas gift for us. All have been saving a bit here and there for months for Christmas, so we hope to have a grand day of it. We will be thinking of you all at that time particularly and sending in spirit our cheeriest greetings. From all the lads and myself our thankful thoughts and regards to you.

December 9th, 1944.

Received five letters from you to-day also two from friends. These are the first received in six weeks. Many thanks for them. Very sorry to hear about F.D. being shot up but I suppose it is much better than being shot down. I have been a little under the weather for a few days but am O.K. now. There is a touch of “flu” in the camp but nothing serious. We had a film last week which was a big event in the camp. It was called “The Spoilers”, a whooping, roaring gold-rush

[Photograph of a group of men on a field] Group taken at Stalag Luft III showing amongst others: F/Lt. G.H. Rainville, D.F.M. (Port Henry, Ont.); F/Lt. R.R. Smith, D.F.C. (London); F/O J.E. Loree (Guelph); F/O L. Stevens (Rosser, Man.); F/O W.V. Ransom (Ottawa); P/O T.E. Jackson (Vancouver); F/O J.A. Hawtin (Beaverton, Ont.); F/O G.P. Gardiner (Merlin, Ont.); F/O E.R. Soulliere (Roseland, Ont.).

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24 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

picture and everyone enjoyed it very much. We had a play called “The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. The boys did very well. The food situation is about the same on the camp and we are managing O.K. I am afraid we won’t have a Xmas as I did last year. The people there (missing in France for 6 1/2 months) were very good to me. The Germans are giving us potatoes, cabbage and swedes at present, which are very helpful. That blanket you sent which arrived on the hottest day of the year is surely useful now in this cold weather. To think that I was not very happy when I received it that day! I am still studying but am afraid I am like everyone here unable to concentrate on the subject for long.

December 10th, 1944.

My uniform arrived a few weeks ago and is a very good fit. Thanks very much. It was really a good idea sending it here instead of London because it could so easily have been lost and anyway I might not have been able to use it before moths got into it, tho’ I still think that we will not be here that long. Mail has been pretty good lately. I’m still doing a little work tho’ I have finished all the books from the Canadian Legion Educational Service which you or Dad sent. Neither of the ones on the soya bean or hydrophonies have arrived yet tho’ and I am looking forward to their arrival any day now. It’s a little late for Xmas Greetings but nevertheless Merry Xmas to all the family.

December 11th. 1944.

Mail is coming in fairly regularly, latest around mid-October. Glad to receive those snaps. This morning was surprised to receive an old July letter, but it was extremely welcome, containing as it did, snaps. All O.K. here and glad to learn that parcel is on the way. I’ve been very fortunate in that line so far and haven’t missed any. Could use pyjamas and summer underwear shorts in next parcel – but no Red Cross type or whatever they’ve been so far. They were far too large. Jockey shorts if possible, if not, the broadcloth type, but please a medium size. Also could use a bath towel, preferably a large and heavy type, like those ones we used to have at home. I’ve mentioned slippers already, I think, also shows.

December 23rd, 1944 Rec’d March 24th, 1945.

Two more days until Christmas. About all Christmas means here is an excuse for a big food dash. We have been on reduced rations for weeks, saving food for Christmas day, when we are going to have a gargantuan meal, or rather a series of meals. We have made a Christmas cake from ground biscuits. We have also decorated the room with painted toilet paper streamers and coloured and silvered paper from cigarette packages – it looks quite gay – we only wish the news was as cheering. Have not had mail since the beginning of the month. Am overdue a parcel from home – hope they concentrate on food – particularly chocolate – worth its weight in gold here – and spices which are valuable to relieve the monotony of our diet. Will be able to get to Mass on Christmas day.

December 26th, 1944.

I’ve written you a previous letter earlier this month, but haven’t received much mail since that time, only a couple of slightly overdue September letters. Still O.K. here, but the weather’s gotten really cold in the last week or so. The German papers came out with a met. forecast a few weeks ago, predicting the coldest winter in the last century, and it seems to be coming true. A good point about it, however, is that it guarantees a certain amount of skating and hockey, something that was altogether missing last winter, which was rather mild. There aren’t many skates around, and they are mostly the clamp-on type, but I’ve been out a few times already. Xmas was featured by American Christmas parcels, quite a large bash of food resulting therefrom, and a certain amount of slightly forced and artificial gaiety, which was dissipated fairly quickly. No Kriegie brews this year, as I think I’ve already mentioned, worse luck. So while the Merry Christmas theme was problematical, the Happy Returns motif is still uppermost in most kriegies’ minds. The Canadian chocolate was received – many thanks to the C.P.O.W.R.A. I’ve already mentioned requiring shoes, any type, preferably fairly husky pair of brogues or walking shoes, not necessarily black, also gym shoes. By the way, the sweater is a great blessing these days.

December 26th, 1944.

A Happy New Year to you my Censor.

A Happy New Year to you all at home. I received your letter of Sept. 25th and the snaps, also three other letters. We had a very nice Christmas indeed. The American Red Cross parcels arrived and they were very good. We had turkey, Xmas pudding, nuts and candy and it sure was a grand feeling to get up fully satisfied for once. In fact some of the boys did not manage to do so. We received the Canadian chocolate from the P.O.W. R. Ass., and it was very much appreciated by all the boys. Please thank them from us all. The Canadian and English Xmas parcels did not arrive in time, but will probably arrive any day now. Hope you all had a happy time together. My best to all friends.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 25

December 26th, 1944.

‘Twas the night after Xmas, everyone well fed – some too well fed – thanks to the American Red Cross, Can. Red Cross, Can. Relatives Ass’n (who are to be congratulated on their efforts on our behalf and we really do appreciate it) Xmas day was quite a success as for as we are concerned in these circumstances – dry yes – but it made us appreciate culinary efforts of our room cooks the more. We are having a cold season but it is excellent for ice skating – already we are well under way and have opened the season with two good games. Our equipment is good thanks to Can. Rel. Ass’n. Unfortunately the equipment D.M. sent has not turned up but we do appreciate your efforts and know what must have happened to it. Do hope you all enjoyed a good time and we feel that it just must be our last (said that now five times) but still one must be right some time if one tries often enough. Do pay my own hearty respects to the above mentioned organizations – they have certainly earned our respect. Say Hello to all and sundry – do ask them to write – getting that lost feeling with so little mail coming in. Photos are more than welcome.

December 26th, 1944.

Christmas has come and gone again without the five of us being together, but I do hope you were all home and carried on as usual. I’m curious to know what Mother got for each of you from me. The day before Christmas a Simpson parcel arrived. Haven’t had any mail since November 25th so Mother’s October 15th is my latest. It has been cold here for the last fortnight, so we have been able to freeze a good hockey and skating rink. It’s fun watching chaps who have never seen ice, learning to skate. Hope my skates get here in time. It was very thoughtful of you to think of sending them. Our Theatre is producing “The Drunkard” now and it is excellent. The American Christmas parcels arrived in time, so we had turkey and pudding for dinner. The Canadian chocolate also came in good order. You’ve no idea how we all appreciate the work you folks are doing for us. I only wish I could thank everybody personally. Perhaps some day I can. Well, with a bit of luck and hard work, we will be together this time next year, but in the meantime, don’t let things get you down and take good care of yourselves. I may be going on twenty-eight now but you will think you have a fifteen-year-old on your hands when I get going. I have just found out that we do not have street cars in London now. I’m still in good health and spirits, but I do get homesick once in a while, about every minute.

December 27th, 1944.

Another Christmas has come and gone, and here’s hoping it is the last one here. Our Christmas was not too bad considering the circumstances. We had turkey, plum pudding, etc., from the Red Cross parcels. Ginger worked overtime the week before, and we still have some of his home made mince pies to eat. We had intended having mince pies at our Christmas dinner, but after the plum pudding, we found we couldn’t eat anything more. We have had some cold weather lately, and we

[Photograph of a group of men] Group taken at Stalag Luft III. F/O J.L. McKeown is marked with X. Kindly lent by Mrs. Jas. McKeown of Smith’s Falls, Ont.

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26 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

were able to have an exhibition hockey match on Christmas Day. We were all able to get a turn at skating also. There was also an England vs. Scotland soccer game, and there was a big “fun fair” in the canteen to raise cigarettes for new arrivals. Our room entered a “horse” in the horse race, and were able to raise fifty cigarettes for each of the new arrivals in our room. I have been out skating the last four or five days. A hockey schedule is being drawn up and I am looking forward to a few games. I have been giving skating lessons to the others in our room, who are all English, with the exception of one. I am only allowed three letters and four post cards a month, so this is the last letter this month. I have been sending my post cards to some of the gang.

December 28th, 1944 Rec’d March 14th, 1945.

Sunday evening, church service just over and it is letter time. Received five letters this week and a Christmas card from Prime Minister McKenzie King on behalf of Canadians everywhere – a very kind and appreciated gesture. I am doing a bit of writing in our Quill club we have organized on the camp. Received parcel of gramophone records. Bing Crosby and T. Dorsey – a very good selection, and I am very grateful. Please thank the Sask. P.O.W. Relatives Association for sports parcel which was useful and practical. We play a little hockey and do some studying. Here’s hoping ’45 will see us all united once more.

December 29th, 1944 Rec’d February 26th, 1945.

We were quite busy Xmas week – grinding biscuits and barley for flour, breaking prune stones to use the inside for our cake. Ours must have weighed about 10 lbs with a chocolate icing. We also had four American Christmas and four ordinary parcels so we had a big bash; but I ate too much and couldn’t hold it. Suppose to be the coldest winter in 100 years so we have made a good hockey rink and three other surfaces for skating. We opened on the 24th with East vs. West Canada game. I played and we won 4-0. I wished I had known we would be here this winter I’d have asked for my skates. We have about 350 for 2,000 men. Clamp on skates!!! A few private jobs, but we manage. Have been fairly warm at nite with socks on and greatcoat over bed. Don’t know why the R.C. wouldn’t let J. send blankets: too late now, I really have no complaints!!!

December 29th, 1944. Rec’d March 14th, 1945.

I guess Happy New Year will be late but I can’t remember that it takes a couple of months for these things to get home. We had a magnificent “bash” over Christmas – thanks to the American Red Cross Christmas parcels. They had turkey, plum pudding, butter etc. We were hoping the British of Canadian ones would arrive in time to give us a big feed on New Years but we still have that to look forward to. Incidentally we Canadians in the camp are surely proud of the Prisoners of War Relatives Association and the Canadian Red Cross, they have done so very much for us. Had a letter from you today with snaps enclosed – they were really swell to get. We are having cold weather here and the skating is really good. B. et I are on the same hockey team and the games are a riot. I’m one of the stronger players so you can guess the standard of the team. Thanks for the menthols.

STALAG LUFT VII

Christmas Day 1944.

The day started at 8:00 with a parade. We are having only one today. Chief interest is eating the Red Cross food that we have saved. Aside from that it’s a normal day. Church Services and carol singing are a plenty; went to Welsh Club party last nite. Big soccer game this afternoon. We have stew, pudding, cake trifles and bread. All in good spirits. Red Cross Xmas parcels not here yet. Hope you aren’t worrying about me.

MARLAG UND MILAG NORD

December 26th, 1944.

Things are pretty quiet tonight – most of the boys from our room have gone to see the pantomime “Robinson Crusoe”, so I’ll take advantage and drop a few lines. Well, to begin with our Xmas here wasn’t bad, I think we all managed to get that usual stuffed to the brim feeling somehow and on the whole spent a fairly enjoyable day behind the wire. I think the odds are in favour of spending the next one at home – what do you say? I went to the Nativity Play, Carol Service and Watchnight Service and it was very well done. It is the first time I have seen such a service – believe it is more of an Anglican Service. The R.C.’s also held their various Services and masses too. Believe it or not I had a skate on Xmas Day. We haven’t got proper skated, but several of the old “gufangs” made them out of old hinges and any piece of scrap metal they could get their hands on. It really is funny to see them – all shapes and sizes. We skate on water ponds, which are near our huts in case of fire. So much for camp life. Mail is good lately – some of the boys getting five or six letters at a time. Latest letter in November.

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 27

January 1945

This is the letter I promised in my Jan. 4/45 card of a few days ago, and without further preamble, would say Milag is the Merchant Navy and Marlag the Naval section of this camp which is located in country district on N.W. Germany. In former compound a small town in itself, save for appearance, we have everything a community should have (save liberty) and many things it should not. Of first mentioned there is Administration from Chief Confidence Man (Mayor) right thru to Sunday, and street depts. Good theatre (produced from farce to light opera) “Pirates of Penyance” [sic] – Christmas attraction – 8 day run – Cinema, English and German films – library – school – C. of E. and R.C. Chopes, all sports, baseball, football, hockey, indoor, debates, talks, lectures, gardening. Our present population is 2,500 – mostly U.K. men. 100 Canadians, 70 N.Z. and Australians, Egypt, Indo-China, etc. represented. Colors, white black, brown, yellow. Opposition interests begins and ends in keeping us inside. Administration, all activities, our own work. Self? To sea before war search local color – became embroiled in conflict – 1st ship torpedoed Sept. 15/40 lost 23 men – joined another ended up here Mar 25/41. Experiences many and varied. Interests – Lit. & Art – Government social reform. Now reading up Mills “Political Economy”. Like helping others but resources limited. Dream dreams but in this materialistic world many go unfulfilled. Abhor strife. Believe in state ownership, national resources. International viewpoint necessary to just and sound peace. Future in lap if Gods but believe prospects good.

December 29th, 1944. Rec’d March 14th, 1945.

I guess Happy New Year will be late but I can’t remember that it takes a couple of months for these things to get home. We had a magnificent “bash” over Christmas – thanks to the American Red Cross Christmas parcels. They had turkey, plum pudding, butter etc. We were hoping the British or Canadian ones would arrive in time to give us a big feed on New Year but we still have that to look forward to. Incidentally we Canadians in the camp are surely proud of the Prisoners of War Relatives Association and the Canadian Red Cross, they have done so very much for us. Had a letter from you today with snaps enclosed – they were really swell to get. We are having cold weather here and the skating is really good. B. and I are on the same hockey team and the games are a riot. I’m one of the stronger players so you can guess the standard of the team. Thanks for the menthols.

DIRECTORY

Subscribers are urged to buy from the companies listed here as they are helping to defray the cost of this bulletin.

[Advertisements from Burton’s Limited, Diggon’s, Wm. Collins Sons & Co. and F.E. Osborne]

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30 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

[Advertisements from British Consols, Sweet Caporal, Charles Ogilvy, Hudson’s Bay Company]

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May 1945 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION 31

[Advertisement from Molson’s Brewery Limited]

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33 THE CANADIAN PRISONERS OF WAR RELATIVES ASSOCIATION May 1945

[Advertisement from Dawes Black Horse Brewery]

Collection

Citation

The Canadian POW Relatives Association, “News Sheet No 42 May 1945,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 27, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22545.

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