Monday, 14 December 2015

Requiem (continued)

   Did you know that there were POW camps in Ontario?  Wikipedia tells me that there were 13 POW camps in Ontario.
  After reading "Requiem", I wanted to learn about the camp that was mentioned in that book- Angler, Ontario.  It was not the camp where the protagonist of the novel lived, but it was mentioned with a list of other camps.
   I discovered that Angler is near Neys Provincial Park on the north shore of Lake Superior.  In the summer of 1942, there were 650 people of Japanese descent living there, purely because they had Japanese blood.
   The camp was actually built for German prisoners of war.  And my research showed that some of the German POW's planned an escape.
   Actually, this escape was before the Japanese arrived, but I still found it interesting.
  The prisoners dug a tunnel 150 feet long that reached outside the wall, with side tunnels entering some of the barracks.  Because the ground was very sandy, they had to reinforce the tunnels with wood beams.  However, after three days of rain, the tunnel began to fill with water.  By noon on April 18, 1941, the day of the planned  escape, the tunnels had 12 inches of water.  That night, 80 prisoners attempted the escape.  28 made it outside the walls before the guards heard a noise and interrupted the escape.
    Most of the escapees were either shot or arrested, but two made it as far as Medicine Hat, Alberta by hopping on a train, before they were captured and returned to Angler camp.  They were sent back to Germany after the war with the other POW's, but later one of them returned to Canada, where he got a job, settled and raised a family.

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