Less We Forget Poppy


The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.
A Canadian Hero

Less We Forget Poppy


Chapter 2: CAPTURE / PRISONER OF WAR / ESCAPE ATTEMPTS

Section 2.8 : Recaptured in Lunenburg

We then decided to go to Italy and returned to the Lunenburg marshalling yards at about 24:30 hrs.

When we returned to the marshalling yards that evening we couldn't find our coal train! After spending about half an hour looking for a suitable train we found a flat car loaded with cut lumber bound for Trieste. We found a reasonable hiding place – or so we thought. We had shifted the lumber in one of the cars, making a hideout just big enough for the two of us to squeeze into.

About midnight a yard engine shunted us about the yards making up a train. After the train was made up it was shunted to a strongly illuminated part of the yard and inspected. The inspector apparently had his suspicions aroused by the timber we had shifted. He shifted it back and found us and began to shout "Russians, Russians!" and we were immediately surrounded by Austrian workers and the BAHNSCHULTZ POLIZEI – the railway police.

Sidi and I were turned over to a detachment of S.S. troops and then sent to the local police H.Q.

Later we were sent to a French POW camp about 80km south of Vienna near Wiener Neustadt at a place called Mannerstadt.
(Editor's Note: Most probably Stalag XVII A - Kaisersteinbruch or Kriegsgefangenenlager Kaisersteinbruch located south east of Vienna near the town of Bruck an der Leitha near the Slovakia border.)
This camp contained a large number of French, Poles and Serbians.

A period of approximately 30 hours elapsed before rations were made available to us.

Arriving at this POW camp, we were confined to a "STRAFLAGER" – the German word for disciplinary or punishment cell. This STRAFLAGER, which resembled a dugout with a barred door, was situated at a distance of approximately one half mile from the main camp. We were confined in the STRAFLAGER for 8 days.

The French prisoners in the camp were well treated and so laxly guarded that 10 or 20 escaped every night.

We decided we would escape again too.

graphic of Hubert Brooks being beaten by German guard

During the fourth night at the STRAFLAGER, we had already pried loose one of the window bars of our punishment dugout and were at work on the second bar when the German guards caught us.

Upon being discovered, we were immediately confronted. For some reason they were extremely angry. The guard NCO informed us:
"Attempting to escape……. This will be a lesson to both of you……."

We were then severely struck with rifle butts and kicked by the guards. The NCO, who was carrying a stick in his hands, used it effectively on our bodies. This beating lasted nearly 10 or 15 minutes, however, to us it seemed like hours.

The drubbing they gave us and the double guards they posted night and day squelched our dreams of a quick escape, and a week later we were taken back to Stalag VIII B.

Around 29 September 1942, I was trialed by camp officials for attempting to escape, and was sentenced to fourteen days of solitary confinement. The only food I received for 10 days was bread and water. The other four days, I received the ordinary camp rations.

I resolved to make my next escape bid a successful one.



image of barbed wire


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