|In 1941, our family moved from Montreal to Grande Ligne, Quebec, as a result of my father's army transfer to the Feller site, as a chef assigned to the Canadian Army General in charge of the prison camp. Our home was located one mile east (red brick house) of Feller, heading towards St. Blaise. I was nine years of age at the time.|
|The Feller complex was transformed into a Maximum Security Prison, with several rows of barbed wire, guard towers (complete with search lights), surrounding the entire area, with several towers fronting the main road. At the rear of the prison camp, was a bridge from the main compound and buildings, which passed over the barbed wire and security fencing with gates and towers at each end. The purpose of the bridge was to allow the prisoners access to the Feller farm, where the prisoners worked in growing select grains, vegetables, raised cattle and horses. Any prisoner who elected to work on the farm, was allowed over the bridge and essentially considered on parole after agreeing not to try to escape. Anyone caught not respecting and violating this privilege would deny the entire prisoner population this opportunity to enjoy the farming environment. To my knowledge, no prisoner had ever escaped from the Feller Prison farming area while on parole. The Feller farm was worked by the prisoners, until the camp was closed, at the end of the war.|
|There were several escapes by prisoners over the camp's history and I remember the sirens being sounded, search lights from the towers, commando's lining the Grande Ligne Road, every fifty feet, towards the railroad tracks and the endless traffic of jeeps and trucks with armed soldiers.|
|One event that I remember very well was when a group of prisoners escaped (about six as I recall), and the entire area was secured for about a week. At that time, I attended the little one room school house at Grande Ligne (near Feller) and we would pass through the security zones on a daily basis. Subsequently, all of these prisoners were caught and returned to camp. It wasn't until I read a recount of this escape in 1964, that I found out this escape was allowed to progress, as the allies were informed that these high level prisoners were very important to the Germans. The plan was for them to escape and make their way to Halifax, where a German U Boat would surface and take them back to Germany. The Americans and Canadians wanted to capture the German U Boat, to gain access to the advanced systems on board.|
|The entire plan failed, as some of the prisoners were captured as they went South over the US border and others were captured by farmer's etc., as they made their way East to Halifax. I have tried to locate the book I read on this subject and have so far been unable to do so. It was the story of the RCMP during WW II and I believe it was titled, 'The Horse Soldiers."|
|As a young boy, I used to work for the farmer's and the property immediately to the East of Feller was owned by Mr. Lord. In working on the farm during the Summer, we used to meet & speak (as much as we could despite different languages) with groups of prisoners, only separated by the same fencing that exists today. They were usually only accompanied by several Canadian guards. As mentioned previously, the Germans would not violate their parole privilege when they went over the bridge from the main compound.|
|During the war, food such as butter, sugar, fruit, etc., was rationed
and in short supply throughout Canada. This was not the case at the
prison camp, as supply trucks proceeded to the camp on a daily basis, loaded
with all foods that were not available to Canadians.
|During the last two years of the war the SS type prisoners were
moved to other camps in Canada and the prison population at Feller were
mostly made up of prisoners who just wanted to see an end to the war.
Some of them were allowed out for church services at the church on the
hill, where some played the violin and sang during the services.
|I remember one Winter, after a massive snowstorm which blocked the
entire Grande Ligne Road down to Route 9B. In order to get the food
supply trucks to the prison camp, about three hundred prisoners equipped
with shovels, shoveled the road clear of snow right down to the main highway.
Along the way they would also shovel out driveway's. We would talk
to them and offer them coffee. They were friendly and very
cordial with the local residents.
|When the war ended the prison population held an auction and sale
to sell off their assets accumulated over the war years. There were
paintings, all types of wood furniture, cattle, horses (all pure bred),
and various other things that the prisoners had made. I always wondered
where the revenue of these sales went, to the prisoners or back to the
|Following the departure of the last German prisoners, the barbed
wire fencing and guard towers were removed and the entire Feller Complex
returned to the same state as before the war. The beautiful trees,
however, that were existing prior to the war had all been removed, to provide
the guard towers with maximum visibility. Consequently, for several
years the area around Feller was quite barren, until new trees could be
Floyd A. Maybee
Class of '51
|In addition to the the brief that I submited on feller during the
war some of these escapes occured by tuneling. On the occasion of the escape
by a group of prisoners whom the RCMP and the army were aware of they actually
tracked the escape underground with the aid of listening devices and consequently
know of the exact timing of the German plans. I remember my father telling
me that the Germans had strung tin cans with wire underground for air to
breath when working underground. If someone can find the book on the history
of the RCMP during world 2 this escape is well documented. I was
in Grande Ligne during this escape but was not aware that the Rcmp allowed
it to occur in order to capture the German U-boat off the coast of Halifax
until the mid 60's when a lot of this confidential information was released.
There was a book that I read many years ago on a escape from the Feller Prison camp that involves the RCMP. I remember that escape very well. The book was the history of the RCMP during the 2nd world war, it could have been called The Horse Soldiers. So far I have not been able to find it..more later Floyd
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