Archive for the ‘POW’ Category

Story Ninety: Battle of Bowmanville


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

October 1942

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.

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowmanville_POW_camp


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.


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.

Further Reading

Rodney Martin, Silent Runner- Wolfgand Heyda, Uboat Commander,  ISBN 0-970651-0-2  or  Email  elmtree55@sbcglobal.net

For more  details see source:

Source http://www.mnq-nmq.org/english/vivez/impacts/operation.htm


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Story Eighty-Eight: Prisoners of War


Approximately 9,000 Canadian soldiers, airmen, naval sailors and merchant seamen were captured by the enemy and held as prisoners of war (POWs) during the  Second World War.

The first Canadian POW  was  Flying Officer Alfred B. Thompson of Penetanguishene, Ont., who had joined the RAF in 1937  and was  captured on Sept. 9, 1939

1,946 who were captured during the raid on Dieppe in 1942 alone


The Great Escape

One of the most famous was  Flying Officer Clark Wallace Floody of Chatham, Ont. who  was a Spitfire pilot with No. 401 Sqdn.

A Canadian Flying Officer, Clarke Wallace Floody, was called the architect of the “Great Escape” – perhaps the most famous POW escape of the Second World War in which 76 Allied prisoners escaped Stalag Luft 3, a German POW camp in 1944. After he was shot down over France, Floody was captured and put in the camp. While imprisoned, he used his pre-war mining experience to help survey, design and engineer three tunnels, nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry, which were built as possible escape routes. Harry— the tunnel the men eventually used for the escape—was more than 100 metres long and was 10 metres underground.

Extensive story found at Legion Magazine by Hugh Halliday



Philip Lagrandeur, We Flew, We Fell, We Lived

Hong Kong Prisoners of War

Oshawa’s  veterans who were POW  in Hong Kong included: Jack Arthur, Edward Bolton, Henry Galbraith, William Lee, Edward Lott, Jeffrey Marston, Fredrick Mason and Mathew Murray.  A  PDF resource kit is available created by History teacher, Flora Fungfrom Oshawa Central Collegiate Institute Oshawa, ON  see resource http://www.hkvca.ca/teacherszone/index.htm

Important to note that two Canadian Nurses were POW in Hong Kong, these nursing sisters, Kay Christie  of Toronto and May Waters of Winnipeg.  they were the only Canadian Women as POW’s

Canadians in Buchenwald Concentration Camp

Twenty-Six Canadians among a total  of  142  airmen which were  British, American, Australian and New Zealand airmen, spent several months in Buchenwald Concentration Camp in eastern Germany in the summer and fall of 1944.

A rarely seen documentary from PBS on the conditions of the concentration camps.  Nazi Germany killed 11 million people in the various camps.

Caution:  Video is very graphic


No information on the cities of origin of these Canadians

A NFB  movie  by Director  Michael Allder produced  a  movie detailing their trails  and tribulations  called ”  The  Lucky Ones” in 1994.


Watch Soundslide



To read various  POW  stories  visit


Interesting educational video produced by US Airforce  teaching the soldiers how to escape


POW  and board game  Monopoly

According to the recent newsletter from the War Grave Photographic Project

http://www.twgpp.org,  January 2009  newsletter

Only recently in 2007  this story has been declassified in the UK which reported  that the Waddington company produced speciality pieces for the popular board game to include a  silk map, various currencies and a compass.  Apparently  1/3 one third of the 35,000 POW allies  who escaped used this popular game

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