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Different Stories about the Camps

Heroes Remember

Different Stories about the Camps

It’s kind of hard to believe, in our camp in 8-B, there was 13,000 prisoners. That’s a small city, 13,000 prisoners. A lot of those were French, you know, that were taken and a lot of them taken in Africa and whatnot but 13,000. And the Red Cross complained about that it was too crowded. Well we all slept in bunks and whatnot. I was just reading the other day, they had it down to about 12,000 and we were sent out to another camp, 2-D camp near Stettin, that’s where we spent our last days. You hear different stories. I read a book here not too long ago that one of the guys in here gave me to read, a soldier that was on the Dieppe Raid. And we would go out on wood parties rubbing stumps for our firewood. And I don’t know, I thought it was a nice outing. In fact, this one time we stopped in a pub. We had marks and they’d give us marks, I don’t know what for. But anyhow, it was non-alcoholic beer but anyhow us boys, you know what men are, how we talk, I have no idea. And the girl in there was taking it all in I guess and before we left she talked English to us. Well, we could have crawled under the table wondering what we said. But this fellow in this book said it was nothing of a holiday, we had slave labour and we had to do that. We didn’t have to, at least I didn’t, he might have been with a different bunch, I shouldn’t say. But we didn’t have to, we wanted to. And then we would get back to camp and they had a buck saw for us and we would saw it up for firewood. So you hear different stories.

Mr. Coles acknowledges the idea of different stories from different POW prisoners during their time in camp yet emphasizes that he felt that his experiences weren’t that bad.

Elmer Cole

Mr. Elmer Cole was born in Roche Percee, Saskatchewan on December 22, 1919. At age 15 he started working and left school with a grade eight education. In 1940 he joined with the South Saskatchewan Regiment taking basic training in Winnipeg and in Feb. 41 he came back to Brandon, Manitoba for mechanical training, switching over to The Calgary Tanks as a trooper on the Churchill tanks. Mr. Cole travelled overseas to England where he was given more training until the summer of ’42 when the Dieppe Raid occurred. Mr. Cole fought through the battle only to surrender with other Canadian soldiers where he became a POW until ’45 when they were set free. After returning to Canada, Mr. Cole worked with the Department of National Defence, then carried on as a mechanic but with the strong desire to always be a wheat farmer, he and his wife bought a farm in Oak bank, Manitoba until he retired at the young age of 54. Mr. Cole and wife Isabel adopted two boys. Now widowed, Mr. Cole spends much of his time playing cards and socializing with residents of his retirement home as well as spending time with his grandchildren. In 2005 Mr. Cole was presented with an Honorary Life Member certificate of the Kiwanis Club in his local community. Presently, at age 97, Mr. Coles continues to enjoy a relaxed and healthy lifestyle.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
July 29, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Elmer Cole
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Calgary Tanks

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