See also Kingsley Brown, Bonds of Wire: A Memoir (Toronto: HarperCollins, 1989), pp. 119-120, 124.
Kingsley Brown, “Waiting Games in a PoW Camp.” Jane Dewar, ed., True Canadian War Stories (Toronto: Prospero Books, 1996), pp. 246, 249.
“Hear the latest, old boy? Wow! Twenty-five nurses have just been taken prisoner. They’re on their way here now!”
It was just one more of what we called in Stalag Luft III a ‘latrine rumor,’ the kind of phoney news dreamed up in the prison camp wash-house.
“Yeah, 25 of them, they say, right from the States. Shot down in North Africa in a Yank Dakota. Boy, things are looking up!”
There was not, of course, one grain of truth in it, something most of us knew the moment we heard it. In RAF vernacular, it was not ‘pukka gen.’ But it was the kind of latrine rumor we loved to hear, very definitely the stuff of which prison camp morale was made.
There were no women in German camps for Allied PoWs (unlike those that held Russia’s female front-line fighters!), but by some mysterious sorcery woman’s spell drifted through the barbed wire to become a vital component of the prisoner of war psyche.
* * *
Stories in the apocryphal category, such as that of the shot-down nurses, included a whole repertory involving camps where Russian women prisoners were incarcerated. One of the most popular scenarios, which routinely went the rounds about every six months, followed an escaping Brit or Yank who had found refuge by wriggling through the wire in to a Russian women’s camp. Three days and nights later, he surrendered to the Germans, more dead than alive, and was now recuperating in the camp lazarette.