Monday, December 5, 2011

Changing the Guard

This Week - 68 Years Ago

The first week of December 1943 marked the first official change in the Veterans Guard detachment stationed at the camp. The Veterans Guard of Canada, which I mentioned here, was the official military guard compliment that supported a Civilian Guard force. Each Veterans Guard company spent only a few months at a PoW camp to prevent the guards and PoWs from getting to familiar with one another and Riding Mountain Park Project was no exception.

The first Veterans Guard compliment at Riding Mountain were among those that escorted the PoWs to Dauphin and were selected to stay. Commanded by Lt. Shewfeld, these men spent a little over a month at Riding Mountain before being replaced.

The new guards were members of a platoon of No. 23 Company, Veterans Guard of Canada. No. 23 Compnay was one of two Active Service companies formed in Manitoba, with No. 22 based out of Winnipeg and No. 23 out of Brandon. About twenty-five men were selected for guard duty at Riding Mountain and the majority of these men were locals from communities like Clanwilliam, Neepawa, Brandon, and Minnedosa. One can imagine that they must have been happy to be stationed so close to home.
Lt. Mann (crouching in the front row, far left) and his platoon of the No. 23 Coy. VGC during training at Port Arthur, Ontario

The officer in charge, Lt. Colin "Scotty" Mann of Neepawa had enlisted shortly after war broke out in 1939. He and his men had already served in various internment camps including those at Gravehurst (Ontario), Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge and were well experienced in guarding PoWs.

Despite three or four years experience, the PoWs at Riding Mountain would soon put these men to the test...

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