Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Today - Sixty-Eight Years Ago...
October 31, 1943

Nineteen Prisoners of War were found missing from the camp only five days after their arrival! Some during the day, these nineteen men had left the camp for an afternoon "hike". This was made much easier by the minimal security of the camp. Common to PoW bush camps of the era, no fences or guard towers enclosed the camp compound. Instead, the dense Canadian wilderness was deemed to be enough to prevent any notions of escape and, as such, red markers were tied onto trees to denote the camp boundaries. However, this "escape" showed that this was not to be the case!

The missing nineteen men were only noticed to be missing at roll call but sent the camp officials scrambling. The numbers were double and triple checked and once it was confirmed they were missing, the camp guards began an immediate search of the area. The guards, which will be discussed later, numbered approximately sixty men and the majority were in their early fifties. After five hours of searching, the RCMP were brought in to assist. All detachments around the park including Wasagaming, Rossburn, Dauphin, Ste. Rose, and McCreary were put on immediate alert and sent out on patrol along the park boundaries. In case the prisoners had already left the park, the Brandon city police, Railway Police, and Border Guards were also told to be on the lookout. Too late for any widespread search, a manhunt was organized for the morning.

For the nineteen prisoners left alone in Riding Mountain National Park, light snow began to fall, bringing about an introduction to the Manitoba winter they would never forget...

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