Saturday, May 5, 2012

Richard Beranek

Through my research, I have been fortunate to come into contact with a number of family members of former PoWs who spent time in Canada and a couple who's relatives spent some time of the war in Manitoba. They have been extremely gracious in providing me with information, documents, and pictures of their relative's experiences and today I would like to share some of this.

A few months ago, Linda ( forwarded me a request for information from an individual in Germany seeking information about his father. I got in touch and was able to provide some information about his time in Manitoba. Anyways, here is his story.

Richard Beranek
Richard Beranek was born on November 8th, 1926 in Mendrik, Czechoslovakia. By June 1944, at the age of 17, he was an infantryman in the 13th Company of the 915th Grenadierregiment. The 915th, as part of the 352nd Division, was assigned to coastal defense duties in the area around what was to be known as Omaha Beach. With the Allied invasion of June 6, 1944, the 352nd was pushed inland and the 915th found itself near St. Gabriel. Here, on June 8th, Richard was captured by the British and a week later, he was transferred to a PoW camp in the UK.

On June 27, 1944, Richard was transferred to Canada aboard the Empress of Scotland and arrived in Halifax. He and his comrades were then loaded on a train for a four-day trip to Camp 132 at Medicine Hat, Alberta. In the summer of 1945, Richard volunteered for farm labour and was eventually selected to assist with the fall harvest. Retracing his path across the Canadian prairies, Richard and the other volunteers were offloaded in Manitoba and began their work on farms in the Grassmere region.

Group of PoWs with Guard at Mafeking
Once the fall harvest was completed, it was requested that thirty men from the Grassmere project were to be transferred to a small lumber camp at Mafeking, Manitoba. The Mafeking camp, originally 100-men strong, required replacements for injured and transferred PoWs. Richard was selected as one of the replacements and arrived in Mafeking in November.

For the next few months, Richard worked at the Mafeking camp until its closure in the spring of 1946. The remaining men were transferred to Monteith to prepare for their transfer to the UK. Eager to be one step closer to home, Richard arrived in the UK in May of 1946. He and his fellow prisoners were put to use in various labour projects in the UK and it was not until the following year that Richard would return home.

A special thanks to Richard's son Lutz for sharing his father's stories and photographs with me and thanks to Linda and Robert for the help!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure Lutz will be happy about this post. Thanks for mentioning my blog!