Entries tagged as 'Wainwright'

Wainwright Internment Camp No. 135 - more details

Link to Wainwright Internment Camp No. 135 - more details

The "Wainwright District" site includes "The Camp Wainwright Story" with several additional pages of information about the POW camp:

January 1945 to June 1946 - by Marsha Scribner; Pages 37-44 excerpted from her book Transitions.

We Meet Again - by Erika Foley, with details on a visit by former POW Hansgeorg Mertsch. Among other tidbits:

Memories came back of making wine from berries with a makeshift still located in the bathroom areas outside between the barracks. A Canadian guard found the site one day before the wine was ready, and they talked him into waiting one day before he dismantled it. “Both sides were satisfied,” he commented. “We had Operation Musk Ox - a really big party.”

POW Collector Visits Wainwright covers a visit by collector Robert (Bob) Henderson and his brother Brett, with Captain Kevin Winfield of the Wainwright base, and then former guard Leo Hamson and former POW Siegfried Osterwoldt.

The Enemy Within discusses the documentary by Eva Colmers.

Buffalo National Park News Stories features clips from 1909-1921.

And of course: Recollections of a Guard Officer at POW Camp 135 by Leo Hamson, which we featured earlier.

Related Posts:
   1. Big red circle (Jul 21, 2010)
   2. "A Brilliant Escape" (Jul 12, 2010)
   3. War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan 15-31 (Apr 26, 2010)
   4. Documentary (2003): The Enemy Within (Apr 23, 2010)
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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: May 1946

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: May 1946
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

A full year after "Victory in Europe" day...

Excerpts from May 1946: (emphasis added; skipped days are not marked; all typos in original)

8 - Dull, overcast. One year ago Proclamation announcing end of the war with Germany was read to the PW. To-day, remaining PW in Camp are still anticipating a return to their homeland. Very strong wind with dust storm in afternoon.

9 - Quite cool and clearing. Snow flurries at 0830 hrs.

14 - Cool and overcast. Telegraphic warning that Draft Ten, PW to U.K., received. (562) all ranks to go. No other instructions as yet. Preparation going forward.

19 - Clear and bright in A.M. ... Final Identification, search of personal and hand luggage, also Medical and Dental Inspection of Draft Ten, being transferred to UK carried out. ... Entrainment of Draft Ten commenced at 2225 hrs. Completed and train moved away from Camp Spur at 0050 hrs. 20 May 46. Final exit from Enclosure and Entrainment proceeded smoothy and without incident.

23 - ... Movement Instructions arrived at 1330 hrs. and all is set for final exit of PW.

24 - Bright and warm. Search of PW hand baggage at 0900 hrs. completed at noon. Identification Parade of PW at 1700 hrs. and entrainment commenced at 1715 hrs. in groups of (45). Entrainment completed at 1615 hrs. and PW train left with (250) Offices and (25) O.Rs. on board from Camp Spur at 1840 hrs. Major Hamilton in charge. This leaves Camp 135 at Nil PW strength.

27 - Clear and warm. Preparation for closing of Camp going forward.


14 - Weather clear and warm. Internment Camp 135 and No. 27 Company, Veterans Guard of Canada were reduced to " Nil " Strength.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan-Apr 1946

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan-Apr 1946
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Months passed uneventfully at Camp Wainwright. Here are some excerpts starting from early 1946. (skipped days are not marked; all typos in original; the diary no longer shows the day of the week)


16 - Colder. Escort personnel selected for escorting PW to U.K. are being inoculated, given Schick tests, Typhus, T.A.B.T. & vacination.

30 Jan - Weather quite cold. Instructions received that 43 PW Other Ranks are to be despatched at once to Lethbridge for embarkation to U.K.

31 Jan - ... Preparations being made for PW other ranks to proceed to U.K. this is first draft to leave Canada, Word received that 14 O.R. PW are to proceed to Lethbridge to work on individual farms


19 FEB - Fine clear day, about 6 degrees above zero Lieut. Halstead Naval Intelligence arrived to-day and gave a lecture to PW


28 - Weather clearing. ... 70 PW with Escort 1 Officer and 14 OR's left Camp for Lethbridge at 1600 hrs.


12 - 40 above and cloudy. Inspection of Enclosure 1030 hrs. Quarters clean. Concert held in the Enclosure at 2000. Commandant and a Senior Officer attending. Very good.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: July 1945

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: July 1945
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

It wasn't practical to return POWs to Germany right away, so life in Camp Wainwright continued. After discovering how some Allied POWs were treated in Germany, rations were reduced (apparently at the request of the British Government, which had formal control of the POWs in Canada).

Excerpts from July 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

10th - Tuesday - Quite hot but cooler towards evening. Received new reduced Scale of PW Rations. ... "Sweet & Low Down" shown at 1915 hrs. ...

If anyone takes the time to look up these articles, please send copies! (typos are in the original)

24th - Tuesday - Hot & Sultry. ... Article in Edmonton Journal regarding PW in this Camp causing considerable controversy as to its truth. ... "Laura" was shown in the Drill Hall at 1915 hrs.

25th - Wednesday - Continued hot with slight showers in the afternoon. Second news item in the Edmonton Journal in regard to this Camp.Four O.Rs.leaving this HQ for Discharge this week. ...

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Victory in Europe!

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Victory in Europe!
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Canadian Escapades concluded in April 1945, but history marched onward.

Excerpts from May 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

8th - Tuesday - V E DAY. Sunny. Telephone call from from Major Gore-Hickman at 0900 hrs. to say that the War ws officially over in Europe and Instructions previously issued re Proclamation to PW were to be carried out. Colonel Bradshaw ordered a parade of all PW for 1000 hrs and Camp Spokesman was brought to Admin. Bldg at 0930 hrs and told the news.

At 1000 hrs the Commandant accompanied by the Adjutant, the Intelligence Officer, Interpreter Officer, Quartermaster and Adjutant entered the Enclosure. The Proclamation was first read to the PW in English by the Adjutant, then in German by the Interpreter Officer. The PW received the news very quietly, there was no fuss or excitement of any kind. ... For many of the Camp Staff it was business as usual.

Moving on to June ... and a reminder that the war raged on elsewhere:

1st - Friday - Cloudy & cool. PW stage Musical Revue to which Camp Commandant and other Officers were invited. Dr Boeschenstein of International Red Cross had Conference with Camp Spokesman and his Adjutant. ...

14th - Thursday - Sunny. ... Five Officers and 10 O.Rs. of Camp Staff volunteer for Pacific Service. ...

A detailed count was included at the end of the month:

   Officers:- 448 Army, 82 Navy  257 Airforce
   N.C.O.s     16   "    2  "      7    "
   Privates   178   "   52  "     27    "
   Civilians:-      19
   Total PW Ration Strength in Camp:-  1086.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: recaptured

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: recaptured
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from April 1945: (emphasis added; skipped days are not marked; all typos are in the original)

21st - Saturday - Cloudy, windy & snow flurries. ... Information received from Provincial Police that our Two Escapees has been apprehended in Gary, Indiana, U.S.A.Gestetner Duplicator received from Calgary, relieving a hitherto tough printing situation.

26th - Thursday - Clear & cool. ... Word received that Two PW Escapees were being sent to Gravenhurst and would not return to this Camp.

But that doesn't mean Camp Wainwright is free from trouble!

27th - Friday - Fall of snow early morning, cool & cloudy. Surprise search made in PW Enclosure of Hut #18, result in discovery of Tunnel 20 ft long running towards Wire from a shaft 8 ft down. ... Picture "In Society" shown in Recreation Hut at 1930 hours. Winter Clothing ceases to be "In Wear" as from this date.

28th - Saturday - Sunny & warmer. ... Two PW sentenced to 28 days detention for planning an escape and damaging Government Property.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: April 2-19

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: April 2-19
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from April 1945: (skipped days are not marked; typos are from the original)

2nd - Monday - Continued fine weather. Parole walks started at 1400 hours by PW.

5th - Thursday - Still cloudy and cool. No 36 Coy was relieved by No 30 Coy. V.G.C.,the latter arriving at 1120 hours and the former leaving at 1620 hours. Guard re-inforced during hours of darkness by roving Patrol back from Wire from Tower 4 to Tower 7. Lt.-Col. Jull of District H.Q. arrived to complete Court of Inquiry re Escapes of 2 PW. Camp all C.B'd and everyone on the Alert in case of PW trouble, trying to take advantage of New Guard Coy. Col. Jull and Capt. Ashbury made Special Check of Guard Towers at Midnight.

7th - Saturday - More snow in morning but warmer after dinner. ... Advise received from Ottawa that 46 PW from Grand Ligne & 283 from Bowmanville are to arrive here next week.

12th - Thursday - Snowed at 0800 hours, cleared up later. ... Total PW Count now 1094. President Roosevelt passed away (63 yrs old)

13th - Friday - Sunny & warmer. ... Commandant permitted 4 dogs, brought from Bowmanville, to be kept in Enclosure.

15th - Sunday - Cloudy with strong, cold wind, snow flurries. Church Services in Recreation Hut for All Ranks, the theme being in all cases,eulogies of the late President, who was buried this date at Hyde Park, N.Y.

18th - Wednesday - Mild & Sunny. Capt. Pierce of R.C.E. in Camp to destroy bombs found by PW in Parole Area. A PW Officer Gundlach was removed from the Enclosure at the urgent request of Camp Spokesman who claimed his life was in danger from other PW. PW O.R. Luszak paraded to the Interpreter and admitted he was impersonating PW Baumann from Grande Ligne, as PW Dental Identification was in prospect.

19th - Thursday - Snow flurry early morning, cloudy & cool. S/Sgt from H.Q. arrived to fumigate PW Quarters that are reported to have bedbugs. Careless thrown cigarette butt by one of PW on Parole Walk, cause a grass fire, which was brought under control in 3/4 of an hour.Rehabilitation Questionnaires called in from VGC Personnel in Camp.

Stay tuned for next week's post....

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 19 escaped!

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 19 escaped!
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

I included the previous War Diary entries to give a sense of daily camp life. Here's where the diary overlaps the beginning of Canadian Escapades.

Excerpts from March 1945: (emphasis added; skipped days are not marked)

19th - Monday - Reported that Two PW had climbed through Wire. Count held at 1600 hrs.-2 Missing. Identification Parade attempted but PW refused to co-operate. The whole Camp was C.B. and an all-night vigil kept in Admin. Bldg to await developments. Lt.-Col. Pender and Capt. Yule,(Intelligence) interviewed Commandant & Lt. Sorensen. Capt. Geo Les Strange of Ordnance transferred to Calgary.

20th - Tuesday - Fine & Sunny. Identification Parade at 1430 hrs established that PW Lt. Meuche, E and PW Lt. Conrad, K. were the two missing. Camp was declared 'A Detention Camp' at 1030 hrs, later lifted at 1930 hrs. Lt.-Col. Coombs, D.S. & T.O. in Camp. "Sundown" & "Ferry Pilot" shown in Recreation Hut at 1930 hrs. were appreciated as CB still in force.

21st - Wednesday - Dull & mild. Court of Inquiry ordered to inquire into and report upon the circumstances surrounding the escape of Two PW. Camp Standing Orders being distributed a total of 34 copies issued. "This is the Army"-Technicolor shown at 1930 hrs.

23rd - Friday - Clear, mild. ... Major Gibson presided at Court of Inquiry re Escape of 2 PW Officers. Five PW Officers transferred to Int. Camp, Seebe, Alta. "Secret Command" shown in camp at night.

27th - Tuesday - Clear & mild. ... Major J. Gibson concluding Court of Inquiry relative the escape of 2 PW. Bingo played in Recreation Hut-1900 hrs.

28th - Wednesday - Lt. Col. Parsons and Major Young of HQ MD 13 accompanied by Major Ramsay NDHQ were visitors in Camp.

29th - Thursday - Major T.O.B. Gore- Hickman and Major Sheppard were visitors from DHQ also Col. Cunnington who made an inspection of Camp with Major J.Gibson

31 - Saturday - Clear and mild. Routine normal.


Alta. - Alberta

C.B. - Confined to Barracks

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 4-19

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 4-19
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from March 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

4th - Sunday - Quite Cold. Usual Church Services for R.C. Personnel. Protestant Padre unable to get here - couldn't start his car and Camp Cars also Frozen up.

6th - Tuesday - Warmer. PW Officer had acute appendicitis at night. Bingo played in Recreation Hut at 1900 hours.

7th - Wednesday - Weather mild. As Municipal Hospital at Wainwright refused admittance to PW Officer operation was performed by M.O. in our M.I.R. The nurses from the Hospital volunteered to help and also loaned the necessary instruments. The operation was a success.

14th - Wednesday - Snowed but later cleared up. Pay Parade at 1300 hrs for HQ Staff. ...

16th - Friday - Cloudy. A total of $236.00 collected for the Red Cross from Camp Personnel. "The Reckless Age" and "The Rainbow", the latter a Russian Film, were shown at 1930 hours in K. of C. Hut at South Side of Camp.

19th - Monday - Frosty and sunny. Mr Maag, representing Int. Red Cross was in Camp.

The rest of Monday's entry deserves its own post....


  • M.O. - Medical Officer
  • M.I.R. - Medical Inspection Room ?
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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 10-28

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 10-28
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Someone else's escape attempt!

Excerpts from February 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

10th - Saturday - Mild, grounds quite icy. Preparations being made to receive PW now En Route from Gravenhurst. At 2040 hrs. telephone Message received from Dist. H.Q., Calgary that there was trouble on PW Train and to have a strong Guard ready to assist on arrival. Commandant returned from Edmonton.

11th - Sunday - Clear and cool. 172 Officers and 73 O.Rs. all PW arrived at 0900 hrs. from Gravenhurst. One PW Officer under Arrest, having attempted to escape on the way. Escort from 40 Coy. VGC under Capt. Montgomery, Officer i/c Train. Total PW Count in Camp now 769.

12th - Monday - Weather fine. ... PW 51981 Oblt. Malischewski, B. sentenced to 28 days detention for attempting to escape from the train bringing him from Gravenhurst to this camp. PW 91083 O/Lieut. Koke, W. paraded before Commandant for Impersonation and was remanded in custody of Camp Spokesman until instructions receieved from D.H.Q.

15th - Thursday - ... Temperature 38 degrees below zero with strong wind blowing and all Quarters very cold.

16th - Friday - Very cold, wind moderating. Search of Effects from PW from Gravenhurst continuing; large library of Books and Gramaphone Records creating quite a problem. The extreme cold is holding up work of putting up Inside Wire Enclosure Fence. ...

17th - Saturday - Clear, moderating, no wind. Mr Boeschlin, Swiss Consul finished interviewing PW and reported to Camp Commandant that PW have no complaints. The PW from Gravenhurst objecting to Mail being distributed to each Man individually by Camp Interpreter. ...

19th - Monday - Sunny. PW 19630 Hpt./G. BRUENDEL, E. was awarded 5 days Detention for Insolence to the Camp Interpreter. Mr. Dale Brown of International Y.M.C.A. visited Camp and had an interview with 5 PW Officers. ...

27th - Tuesday - ... M 35842 Pte. Cardinal, W. J. (Cook) appointed A/Cpl. (Unpaid) Meals in the Mens Mess have shown considerable improvement since his arrival. ...

28th - Wednesday - ... Strengths:- PW Strength is 575 Officers, 15 Civilians and 179 O.Rs. Total - 769.

H.Q. Personnel:- 7 Officers and 34 O.Rs.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 1-9

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 1-9
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from February 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

1st - Thursday - Clear and cold. PW being counted 3 times daily, at 0815, 1315 and 2145 hours. Camp Commandant held a conference with Camp Spokesman and his Adjutant. ...

3rd - Saturday - ... PW Fire Piquet consisting of 10 Officers & 10 O.Rs., had Fire Drill.

4th - Sunday - ... PW Counts changed to twice a day. ... Camp Church Parades held R.Cs. at 0830 hours and Protestants at 1030 hours.

5th - Monday - ... Information received that more Prisoners would arrive from Gravenhurst on Saturday, namely 174 Officers and 74 O.Rs. Moving Picture "Double Indemnity" shown in Mens Canteen at 1900 hours.

6th - Tuesday - ... Camp Engineer Officer and Camp Q.M. busy making minor adjustments within Enclosure, as requested by PW. ...

7th - Wednesday - ... Representatives of T. Eaton Co., Edmonton visited Camp in connection with purchases by PW. ...

8th - Thursday - ... Vehicles supplied to Camp in very bad shape, and in spite of RCEME Detail working all the time, are constantly breaking down.

9th - Friday - Sunny and cool. PW 91083 O/Lieut. KOKE, W. was discovered to be impersonating PW 54741 Lieut. VON HAGEN, Wilhelm and was brought before Major J. Gibson who remanded him to appear before Lt.0-Col. C.G. Bradshaw, when he returns to Camp. ...

Glossary and notes:

PW - Prisoners of War

T. Eaton Co. - a large department store

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan 15-31

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan 15-31
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from January 1945: (emphasis added; skipped days are not marked)

15th - Monday - Quarters now available for Officers but no Cook. Weather, continued mild. Moving Pictures shown 3 times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Mr B.C. Garrity K. of C. Supervisor in charge. Tonight "The Great Moment" was shown at 1900 hrs.

18th - Thursday - Dull and moderate wind. Engineers rushing completion of Outside Wire. ... Free Bingo for the Men in the evening in the K. of C. Hut.

20th - Saturday - Clear and cold, 20 degrees below at 0600 hrs. Capt. McFadyen, Medical Officer and Lt. Hankey, Interpreter reported.

24th - Wednesday - No change in weather. Fire caused by a Gas Explosion in Hut 11 within the Enclosure at 1630 hrs. Fire Brigade responded promptly and had blaze extinguished at 1650 hrs. Court of Inquiry ordered immediately by Camp Commandant.

Information received that first batch of PW consisting of 403 Officers, 105 O.Rs. and 15 Civilians would arrive at 0650 hrs. 29 Jan 45; 36 Coy V.G.C. to suply the Escort.

26th - Friday - ... Moving Picture, "Adventures of Tartu" shown in K. of C. Hut at 1900 hrs. Dance held at 2100 hrs. in Separate School Hall for the benefit of the Camp Personnel.

29th - Monday - Weather quite cool, 13 degrees below. 523 PW arrived from Seebe Camp, unloading started at 0845 hrs and all PW searched and in quarters by Noon. Tower Guard mounted at 0800 hrs. Moving Picture shown "Then We Were Young and Gay" at 1900 hrs.

30th - Tuesday - Still quite cool. Engineers rushing Inside Enclosure Fence. ...

31st - Wednesday - Very cold. PW getting settled. ... Strength of Headquarters at this date: 6 Officers and 29 O.Rs.


K. of C. - Knights of Columbus (?)

Related Posts:
   1. Wainwright Internment Camp No. 135 - more details (Sep 27, 2010)
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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan 5-11, 1945

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Jan 5-11, 1945
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

As noted last Monday, POW camp Wainwright was known as Internment Camp No. 135. Here's the first of several excerpts from the official War Diary.

January 1945

5th - Friday - Capt. B.G. Ashbury, Adjutant was first member of Camp Staff to arrive.

6th - Saturday - Lt. Col. C.G. Bradshaw, New Camp Commandant and Capt. St.G.D. Clarke, QuarterMaster arrived. As no quarters or Rations were available, they had to go "On Command" and live at Wainwright Hotel.

7th - Sunday - Camp Staff consists of 3 Officers and the Colonel's Batman Smillie. Everyone busy trying to get equipment to start an Orderly Room.

8th - Monday - ... Two Officers and 54 O.Rs of No. 36 Coy. V.G.C. arrived from Medicine Hat.

9th - Tuesday - ... One officer and 20 O.Rs. of No. 36 Coy V.G.C. Advance Guard from Neys Camp, arrived.

10th - Wednesday - Ordnance removing Stores from buildings that will be inside Enclosure. 150 Engineers and 40 Civilians working on Enclosure Wire and lights. Frost has gone into ground 5'7", so digging post holes is a slow job.

11th - Thursday - Weather mild. Two Officers and 113 O.Rs. belonging to No. 36 Coy V.G.C. arrived to act as Guard Coy. ...


Batman Smillie - [updated] a batman is an officer's orderly or servant

O.R. - Other Ranks (enlisted men)

V.G.C. - Veterans Guard of Canada (emphasis added):

Corps of First World War veterans between the ages of 40 and 65, formed in May 1940, for full-time and reserve service during the Second World War. It grew to 10,000 men in 1944 with another 8,000 on part-time service. The great majority served in Canada with a few companies in Newfoundland, London (England), Nassau (Bahamas) and Georgetown (Guyana). Some veterans stood guard power plants, factories and other installations deemed essential to the war effort but most served as guards at the POW and enemy aliens internment camps in Canada. In 1944-1945, some went to India and Burma as “mule skinners”. The Veteran’s Guard continued to serve after the war until March 1947 when the last veterans were disbanded.

Related Posts:
   1. Veterans Guard of Canada (Sep 02, 2010)
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Wainwright Internment Camp No. 135, then and now

Link to Wainwright Internment Camp No. 135, then and now
ASU Wainwright

Page 1 of Canadian Escapades opens in POW camp Wainwright, officially known as "Internment Camp No. 135". The camp is located in the village of Denwood, Alberta, very close to the town of Wainwright.

(The above image include a reproduction of the POW camp guard towers.)

Some history:

In 1944, it was decided to site a POW Camp here and on 29 January 1945 the first 523 German prisoners arrived. At its peak, the POW Camp accommodated almost 1,100 German POW's, consisting of Officers, enlisted men and a few civilians, and operated until 24 May 1946 when the last of the POW's were returned to England for demobilization. The Camp staff and Guard company were reduced to nil strength a few weeks later, marking the end of this chapter of CFB/ASU Wainwright's history.

Note that POWs were held for a year after the war ended. That's a story in itself.

This part will be familiar to those who have read the book!

During the 16 months the POW Camp was in full operation, only two prisoners made a successful escape. These two bold individuals were recaptured just over a month later, but not until they had reached Gary, Indiana!

(That passage also made the Wikipedia page for CFB Wainwright.)

The military base now includes the Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit (CFB/ASU Wainwright), the Land Force Western Area Training Centre (LFWA TC) and the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre (CMTC).

Oh, and what came before the POW camp? Buffalo National Park from 1909-1939.

Going back to the beginning: On 8 July 1940, a little less than one year after the closure of Buffalo National Park, Dr. Middlemass, the Mayor of Wainwright, travelled to Ottawa and persuaded the Department of National Defence to take over the vacant park as a military training area. His efforts were successful and in 1941, the first military forces arrived to establish a permanent camp at the site of the park.

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