U-Boat Commanding Officers imprisoned at the Bowmanville POW Camp:
Left to Right: Horst Elfe (U-93), Wolfgang Heyda (U-434), Friedrich-Wilhelm Wentzel (*),
Otto Kretschmer (U-99), Hans Engel (*), Gerd Schreiber (U-95), Hans Ey (U-433),
Curt von Goßler (U-49), Joachim Matz (U-70), Günther Lorentz (U-63)
German Officers, ‘Prisoners of War’ at Camp 30, Bowmanville
Story One: Clash between German POW and Canadian Soldiers
The infamous ‘Battle of Bowmanville’ – a clash between 150 to 400 prisoners revolted against the POW guards. German P O W’s and Canadian Army guards which went on for several days in October, 1942, resulting in injuries but no deaths.
Lt.Col. James Taylor had asked German senior officer Georg Friemel to supply 100 prisoners to volunteer to be shackled as part of the ongoing international dispute. When he refused, Otto Kretschmer and Hans Hefele were also asked to provide volunteers, but refused.
Taylor ordered the guards to find 100 officers to be shackled by force, and Horst Elfe, Kretschmer and others barricaded themselves in the mess hall, arming themselves with sticks, iron bars and other makeshift weapons. Approximately 100 Canadian soldiers requisitioned from another base arrived, and together stormed the mess hall using only baseball bats, so the two sides remained evenly matched. After several hours of brawling, the Canadians brought high pressure water hoses and soaked the cabin thoroughly until the prisoners agreed to come out peacefully.
During later incidents in the battle which spanned several days, Volkmar König was wounded by gunfire and another bayoneted, and a Canadian soldier suffered a skull fracture from a thrown jar of jam. After calm had returned, 126 of the prisoners were transferred to other camps.
The buildings were first put in place in 1925 as the Home of Delinquent Boys. They then became Camp 30 for German prisoners of war as these began to accumulate in Canada.
After the war, they reverted to Ministry use again as the Pine RIdge Training School.
Story Two: Escape Plan
In the fall of 1942, Officer Kretschmer, nicknamed the Atlantic Wolf, devises an escape plan that would allow four officers, including himself, to escape from the camp. The other three are also submarine officers: Kapitänleutnant Hans Ey of U-433 sunk on November 16,1941, Horst Elfe of U-93 sunk on January 15, 1942 and Joachim von Knebel-Döberitz, executive officer. In a L’Action catholique article published in 1957, Krestchmer explains how he came to choose Pointe Maisonnette as the rendezvous point.
The escape from camp was planned through a tunnel whose exit is fairly far outside the camp and the barbed wire. To fool the guards, they dig three tunnels at once. After four months, two of the tunnels are abandoned so that efforts can be concentrated on the third one. More than 150 men work on the tunnels, taking turns on night and day shifts. Some men prepare the materials required for the prisoners’ escape, such as dummies to substitute for the escapees, false identification papers, civilian clothing and goods.
One week before the date set for the escape, plans are abruptly changed because of two incidents. One night, while the prisoners are sleeping, the ceiling above which they piled the earth from the tunnel caves in. The earth removed from the tunnel is hidden in the dormitory ceilings. The guards, alerted by the racket and intrigued by the quantity of earth fallen from the ceiling, begin looking for its source. As camp authorities did not discover the third tunnel, Kretschmer, faced with the urgency of the situation, decides to take action the same night. However, on the day he proposes this, a second incident occurs which puts an end to the four German officers’ escape plan. While a prisoner digs close to the camp fence to fill his flower boxes with earth, the earth beneath his shovel gives way, uncovering the third tunnel’s exit to the guards. The prisoners who were to escape are arrested and put under close watch.
Story Three : OPERATION KIEBITZ
Wolfgang Heyda, another officer incarcerated at Bowmanville, proposes his own escape plan, based upon is arguments on the presence of the German submarine off Canadian shores. Heyda makes his way to Bathurst, New Brunswick, on September 26, 1943. He then continues on foot until he reaches the rendezvous point of Pointe Maisonnette
Shauenburg commander of U-536 heads for the Canadian shores to arrive in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on September 16, 1943. Unfortunate for Heyda is he is captured and the UBoat U 536 escapes the Canadian Navial search to be sunk on November 20, 1943.
Rodney Martin, Silent Runner- Wolfgand Heyda, Uboat Commander, ISBN 0-970651-0-2 or Email email@example.com
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