Chad quoted Winston Churchill:
"Prisoner of War! That is the least unfortunate kind of prisoner to be, but it is nevertheless a melancholy state. You are in the power of your enemy. You owe your life to his humanity, and your daily bread to his compassion. You must obey his orders, go where he tells you, stay where you are bid, await his pleasure, possess your soul in patience. Meanwhile, the war is going on, great events are in progress, fine opportunities for action and adventure are slipping away. Also, the days are very long. Hours crawl like paralytic centipedes. Nothing amuses you. Reading is difficult, writing impossible. Life is one long boredom from dawn till slumber. "
In WWII, there were 9,000 POWs:
- 1946 were captured at Dieppe
- 1,700 were captured in Hong Kong
- 26 were taken at Buchenwald
- 10 were from Brantford
The POW barracks were densely populated. Each barrack had 12 rooms and a latrine. Each room was 14 x 16 feet and held eight sets of triple-deck bunks, or 24 men. The rooms held a small table and a source of heat/cooking - usually a woodstove. During the winter, each room was alloted 12 peat bricks a day. One peat brick lasted about 1/2 hour. The barracks were uninsulated, draughty and windows were often broken and unrepaired. It was not uncommon to awake in the morning to find snow in the room and the men near freezing. Sanitation and hygiene were unheard of. Bedbugs were rampant. It was very claustrophobic. The men were not given a change of clothes, but sometimes could barter for a new piece of clothing.
Red Cross parcels became the lifesaving items for the POWs. Initially men were issued one parcel each week. As the war progressed, that changed to one parcel for every 12 men once every month. The parcels of each country were packed differently and it was never a given that you would receive a parcel from your home country. The most envied parcels were the Canadian parcels. These contained:
- 5oz chocolate (usually Baker's chocolate)
- 32 oz biscuits (these were like Farley's Rusks and would turn to a mushy cereal when hot liquid was added, making them more filling)
- 3 oz sardines - the cans became useful when made into various "tools"
- 16oz powdered milk
- 6 oz prunes
- 8 oz salmon
- 12 oz corned beef
- 7 oz raisins
- 8 oz sugar
- 4 oz tea
- 4 oz cheese
- 16 oz marmalade
- 16 oz butter (this became the envy of other prisoners who were reduced to a fat-based margarine)
- 10 oz spam
- 3 oz soap
Chad's talk was very informative and he gave a remarkable insight into the tedium of the daily lives of the WWII POWs.