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Celebrating Christmas as a POW

Heroes Remember - The Second World War

Celebrating Christmas as a POW

At Christmas or around that time we were issued cigarettes from the Germans. I think they were made of wood chips, they tasted that way but ya we got cigarettes. We would save up Christmas stuff or Red Cross boxes so that we could celebrate on Christmas. Ya, that’s right, we still celebrated Christmas with whatever we had and we enjoyed it. We celebrated and put on plays too. Some of them put on plays for Christmas. Ya we had a real Christmas concert one year especially. And there was good actors and whatnot. Somebody would lead it, maybe there was a school teacher, maybe they had Christmas concerts, I don’t know. Christmas always meant something to us. We didn’t go without Christmas.

Mr. Coles share the story of how the prisoner never went without celebrating Christmas, albeit in their own unique way.

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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