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WW2 Canadian Prisoners of War Murder by the Nazis By Wesley Perrin Timeline 1942 February - Japanese-Canadians sent to internment camps. April - Canadians vote in plebiscite to support conscription. August - Raid on French port of Dieppe by Canadian and other Allied forces, about 900 killed 1200 wounded 1900 captured. 1943 July - Canadian troops take part in the invasion of Sicily and mainland Italy. December – Canadians win battle of Ortona, Italy. 1944 June 6 – D-Day, Canadians join with British and Americans in the Allied invasion of Normandy in Northern France. June 7 – Lt. William Ferguson, along with many other Canadians are murdered by Nazis. Lieutenant William (Bill) Ferguson “On the morning of 8 June, the 2nd battalion of the 26th PGR had overwhelmed Putot-en-Bessin and scores of prisoners were taken. Most were from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. The one officer captured, Lieutenant Bill Ferguson, was perhaps typical of the combat leaders in the 3rd Division. An athlete and RCMP constable before the war, he hoped that a decent war record would stand him in good stead. On departing Canada, he was miserable over leaving his wife and infant daughter but he steeled himself „not to think of that and [to] do such a good job that the sacrifice Sala [his wife] and I are making will be worth all heartaches.‟ Ferguson was one of about thirty prisoners (several of them wounded) marched south from Putot- en-Bessin. Another group of about ten prisoners joined them, and were all herded to the battalion HQ at Le Mensil-Patry where they were „looked over‟ by some officers. Although they were kept in a barn for several hours, the prisoners were not mistreated or even interrogated. In the late afternoon they continued south until their column was halted by an officer in a vehicle. He began to berate the sergeant in charge, and one prisoner who understood German thought the sergeant had been instructed „to get rid of us.‟ The Murder of Canadians About dusk, the column came within sight of the Caen-Fontenay-le-Pesnel road and the men were moved to a grassy field and told to sit down with the wounded in the middle. They watched as a convoy of field artillery and armoured vehicles passed along the road. One of the guards who could speak a little English commented reassuringly that it was only another three quarters of a mile to the camp. But ominously, one of the field was left behind and trained on the massed prisoners. They watched with even greater alarm as the guards pressed the men to sit closer to each other. Suddenly a vehicle pulled up and another nine soldiers joined the guards. As two soldiers dismounted from the vehicle, they were saluted. In the presence of these officers, a line of guards, automatic rifles at ready, they approached the huddled prisoners. One Canadian, Weldon Clark, realized that they were poised for slaughter, and he prepared to run. Ferguson and another officer, Lieutenant R.D. Barker, cautioned the men to hold fast while they tried to reason with the guards. Barker called out, „It looks as if we are going to get the gun. Stand steady and I will try to talk them out of it.‟ He never had the chance. Moments later rifle fire poured into the massed Canadians. Those that could ran. As Clark fled he looked back and „saw the Germans going among our fellows and shooting as fast as they could.‟ As well, he heard the screams of men being finished off as the Germans went through the dead and dying prisoners.” This is a letter sent from Bill and Sala Ferguson about the hardships they are going through, and how sad they are that Bill has to leave to fight soon. They are sending it to some close friends of theirs, but they cannot give them many details due to security. The letter says that although they are not happy about him leaving it will probably be for the best, and will all be worth it when he returns. William Stewart Ferguson was a constable in the RCMP (right), and a member of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (left) before he left for the war. Dear Bill, It has been a while since either of us have written each other, I feel sort of bad for that. I have been telling little J’anne that this will all be over and we will get to see you soon. She has been asking me to read your letters over and over again, we both miss you so much. I am slowly teaching her to read from your letters, she is growing up so fast. I have enclosed some warm socks because yours must be getting old, I have also sent you some cigs and a lighter. I can’t wait to see you again, hopefully soon. I love you very much. Love Sala Two Dozen Don’ts For Prisoners Of War This is list of don‟ts for soldiers in case they get taken as prisoners of war. “D.O.Y.D.M.” is repeated several times, it stands for Don‟t Open Your Darn Mouth. They believed this to be important to get across to prisoners because when you are a prisoner of war they often interrogate you and you may end up giving away confidential information that could jeopardize battles, lives, and even the war. Dear Daddy, Mom is writing a letter to you for me, it is also helping me to learn how to read. It has been a long time since I have seen you, I am starting to forget what you look like. We are sending you presents for Christmas, I hope you like them. Mommy says that you would probably need socks because of how much time you spend walking and running. I heard that war is a very scary thing, but I know that you are brave and not afraid of anything! There are posters around telling us that people like you are hero’s, I know that you are my hero! Mommy also says that you will be coming home soon! I cannot wait to see you. When you get home mommy says that you will teach me how to swim in the lake! I will see you soon! Love your daughter, J’anne This was a letter sent to Sala long after her husbands death. The letter was sent to try to let her know that her husband was a good soldier and that there are many people who feel sympathy for her because of her loss. Dear Sala, Thank you very much for the warm socks, lighter, and cigs. They arrived just in time, my old socks had worn thin and there were many holes throughout them. It has been a fairly rough journey so far, but I hear that it will get worse before it gets better. I miss you and J’anne now more than ever. It feels like it has been a lifetime since the day I left, but hopefully I will be able to see you soon. Love you always, Bill First Letter of Burial Place This letter was sent to Lt. William Ferguson‟s wife. It states the location of his burial place (Beny- sur-mer, France). The letter also tells her that there is not yet a permanent cross, and she will be able to create an inscription on the cross when the permanent one goes up. The letter is dated September 28th 1945. Lt. William Ferguson was murdered in France on June 8th 1944, only two days after D-day. A Temporary Cross Ferguson‟s mother. It is This letter was sent to William dated July 8th 1947, two years after the original letter was sent to Lt. W. Ferguson‟s wife, and three years after he had been murdered. There has still not been a permanent grave made for him. The Final Resting Place A photograph and location of Lt. W. S. Ferguson‟s final resting place. Bibliography www.users.zetnet.co.uk/parkes/2dozen.htm „Casual Slaughters‟ – A book of war crimes and murders in WW2. **Many of my sources/articles came from items which I already had.
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