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A Tunnel to Freedom

Heroes Remember

I was on the escape committee, and I was one of the escapers. And we had a very successful tunnel which worked very well and got fifty-two of us out into the open country. But of course the problem then was you were so far from any, any place where you could get help. You were on your own in a hostile country with lots of people looking for you and in fact nobody succeeded in getting home. But they, we all tried. you lost all your, you had no physical strength left. You’d been... It’s easy to say you should have done so and so, but you, you haven’t had enough food and couldn’t carry enough food and very few of the people who got out made it home. I mean there were, there may have been fifty out in a year and seven get, made it home.

Colonel Merritt was a senior officer on the Escaping Committe at the prison camp. In time, the prisoners constructed a tunnel to freedom.

Charles Cecil Ingersol Merritt

Colonel Merritt’s father was killed in Ypres during the First World War. 7 or 8 of his uncles from both sides of the family also served during the First World War - three of whom were killed in action. He received his early education in Vancouver and Victoria and then went on to Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. He articled with a Vancouver lawyer for three years before being called to the bar there in 1929. During this time, he joined the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada militia unit - the unit with whom he enlisted with when the Second World War was declared. Eventually, in late 1941, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, and served with the Regiment until the war was over. During his service he earned the Victoria Cross for his gallant efforts on Aug. 19, 1942 in the Dieppe Raid. Mr. Merritt was taken prisoner during the Dieppe Raid. Following the war Mr. Merritt returned to his law practice in Vancouver and served in the Canadian Federal Parliament from 1945 - 1949. He continued to live in Vancouver until his death on July 12, 2000.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Charles Cecil Ingersol Merritt
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
South Saskatchewan Regiment
Company Commander

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