Thursday, May 18th 1916 (Escaped German Prisoners)

//Thursday, May 18th 1916 (Escaped German Prisoners)

Thursday, May 18th 1916 (Escaped German Prisoners)

1605-18edAlthough the war was based in Europe, there was always a threat of attack on the North American continent. It was well known that Germany had been preparing for the war for over a decade. Furthermore, it was common knowledge that Germany had been gathering intelligence on “every country under the sun.” One author said “She had reduced treachery to a fine art. France, Russia, Great Britain, Italy and the United Stated were honeycombed with spies.” Canadian intelligence, of course, was aware of this and many civilians, deemed to be a threat to Canadian security, were interned across Canada. There were over twenty prison camps across Canada during the First War. James would later minister to German prisoners at a camp in Vernon BC, during a short pastorate there in 1918.

Before the 11th Canadian Field Ambulance had left Canadian shores it had already encountered the threat and intrigue of war.  The train journey to Halifax was filled with excitement. The Diary of the Eleventh recorded;

Sensation was cause aboard the train when on the fifth night many rumors filled the air of escaped prisoners and of spies bent on train wrecking. Sentries were placed at every entrance to the train and in the neighbourhood of Truro the track was guarded at every few yards. At Truro itself an inspection of every man’s kit was made by the officers. In the search for explosives all packs, and those tightly stuffed kit bags, had to be emptied, while officers flashed their torches into every nook and corner of the train for the deadly time-bombs. Poor Reinhorn who, at the last stopping place, had sent back the most innocent of telegrams, was placed under arrest as a suspected spy.

The time was very exciting; the prospect of being “napooed”

[WWI British slang for being put to an end] through a train wreck before one had even got out of Canada, was not a pleasant one. However, the bunks were made and sleep obtained as usual that night, and in the morning, all bombs having been swept from the track or sought up in the cow-catcher, the train stood safely in Halifax Station.

(Diary of the Eleventh, 13)

Still on the train. We passed thro’ Truro in the evening and learned that some hundreds of German prisoners had escaped. Our train was guarded and all the bridges along the track were guarded. We had to have our blinds down and no conversation to be held with anyone outside.

Information was received from the intelligence depot re. Reinhorn – one of our men – sending a telegram. He has since been guarded and they are awaiting orders re. him.

(Personal Diary)

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2017-02-23T18:07:26+00:00

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