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Heroes Remember

One of the things that was intriguing about the camp was that because there was such a reservoir of skilled people in the camp, they said, "We should be having classes. We should be having some lectures." So, literally, a university sprang up within the camp. There were six people who were actually doing medical studies. They would do their studies, they would write their exams under invigilation, and then the results would be sent to Switzerland, and they would forward them on to London. In my early days there, I was being taken around to the Hut 104 to meet some of the other prisoners, and we went into one room and there was a skeleton sitting in a, in a armchair that somebody had created, and they said, "George, meet George, but don't tell the Germans he's still on ration." And I was naive enough to believe it, took me a couple of days to find out that they were pulling my leg. But that was typical of the supplies that we were able to get for the camp with this small amount of money, and we were able to order things from Berlin until quite late in the war. And it meant a great deal in terms of, of... probably a little more in terms of more the sports and so on, which raises a little side track. I had an e-mail from Jonathan Vance yesterday, who is a professor at Western University in London, Ontario, and he said, "You'll be interested knowing, George, that I have a graduate student who's doing his thesis on sports in Stalag Luft 3." So, the sports payments that we, the equipment that we got meant that we ran games, organized games of cricket, of course, and baseball and volleyball and even in the wintertime, we had skating because it was a huge water reservoir, sort of a fire protection reservoir, in the camp and when it froze over... I don't know how we acquired... We must have got skates through the same sort of purchasing thing. And then, suddenly the Germans one day relented and said, "Tomorrow, we're going to allow a hockey team to come from the east compound to take on your team that you've got here in the north compound." And we said "Oh, that's great." Well, as it turned out, it was terrific for me because who arrived with the hockey team from the east compound was my former WAG, my wireless op, and he was their coach. So, we had a whole hour together talking while he was shouting directions to his team, but I got, I found out what had happened to the rest of my crew, and that they had all got to the ground safely and had been picked up within a few days, as I was, and then put into the system. So it was a, a marvellous boon to me that this happened.

Mr. McKiel describes various diversions that took place in the POW camp.

George McKiel

Mr. McKiel was born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, on May 15, 1924. His mother was a war bride, and his family moved to Devon, England, when he was quite young. Mr. McKiel joined 405 Squadron, Bomber Command in 1943, and was shot down and captured shortly thereafter. He spent 2 years in a Polish prisoner of war (POW) Camp, Stalag Luft 3, where he helped 76 officers escape in the Great Escape. After his liberation, Mr. McKiel returned to Canada and eventually earned a PhD in Cancer Research. These credentials have allowed him to consult on Nursing issues as far away as Australia. Having recently returned to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Mr. McKiel is already involved with seniors' health programs in his community.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
George McKiel
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Bomber Command
Air Force
405 Squadron
Flying Officer
Air Bomber

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