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Battling Boredom and Depression

Heroes Remember

Battling Boredom and Depression

In camp, you go through a, a very depressing phase early on when it just looks totally black. And I think a lot depends upon who you're with as far as companions that you can talk to. And in my own case, I found that I got very involved with the activities that were happening in the camp, and it wasn't just the theatre, but the fact that you could take courses, and I even learned some Spanish while I was there and it, it really made such a difference. And you get a, a new outlook on life and you realize, well, it's not going to last forever, just hang in there and it'll, it'll pass in time. We didn't know how long the war was going to last, and until we got the BBC news on a regular basis, it was pretty depressing because the Germans were very clever with their propaganda. You just felt that it was just going to go on and on. There didn't seem to be any real progress. There was the big lift when the D-Day invasion came, of course, and that was a real boost to us, and we got news of that pretty quickly. But other than that, you know, you get by with a, a minimum of things. But at the same time, you work up a camaraderie, and you get very close to people, and we found that if we sort of held it together and talked about experiences, that it really got you over the hump. But the food was another problem. That was very... you were, you were always with hunger pains. And even though you had the Red Cross food parcels, they weren't that reliable, that initially they were coming through, and then it sort of petered out and then, suddenly, it was back in again briefly. ‘Cause every day you wake up, and it was the same as the day before. There's boredom and lack of food and even, even your clothing, it... and we were allowed actually to write a postcard. Several times I sent postcards, which my mother got eventually, months and months, and much of it was blacked out with censor, but certainly, that helped a little bit. A number of prisoners got not out of the depression phase, or others who had been there a long time said, "This is just going on and on and on." And they would then try a desperate attempt at escaping and, invariably, it was a suicidal thing.

Mr. McKiel talks about failing morale and the inability of some to cope.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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