Veteran Stories:
Maurice Ypres “Junior” Snook

Army

  • Sergeant Maurice Snook, aged 17, in Dress uniform of The Essex Scottish Regiment, 1937.

    Maurice Snook
  • Roll Call list for "C" company after the Dieppe Raid, 1942.

    Maurice Snook
  • After being marched from Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf, Poland, to a hospital in Stettin, Germany, near the Baltic Sea in 1944, Sgt. Snook was made an administrator at a hospital there. Here he is having some fun with other POWs, while the doctor was away.

    Maurice Snook
  • Photo Taken at Stalag VIIIB (8b) in Lamsdorf, Poland, circa 1942. Maurice Snook is in the top row, far right.

    Maurice Snook
  • In response to reports that Canadian soldiers killed German POWs on a ship bound for England, Canadian POWs were forced to wear shackles for 11 months. These are the shackles Sgt. Snook wore for 11 months in 1942-43 while in Stalag 8B.

    Maurice Snook
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"We were fed each week four potatoes with skins on, small ones, one-inch in diameter and then we had a bowl of turnip soup. I don’t eat turnips to this day."

Transcript

We went on training for Dieppe and all our training was done on sandy hills but when we got to Dieppe, it was all rock climbs, cliffs or climb. We were to take out the E-boats [German Schnellboot] that were parked in the [English] Channel and unfortunately, we never got there. Germans had their cannons in the caves up here and this … over here had a machine gun and there was a machine gun at our back. And unbeknownst to us, there was a big hole dug out in the gravel, because the beach was all full of loose sand. And they [the enemy guns] were trained on that hole there and eight of my men went in the hill, went in the hole anyway and they were killed there, right there. I lay for nine hours behind a wall and then we got captured at 1:50 in the afternoon, the Germans got us, took all our weapons away from us and marched us into town.

When we got into town, a nurse there, Sister Agnes, took care of the wounded Canadians and the German pulled his pistol and said to her, stop working on the Canadians and do my men, I’ll shoot you. And with that another guy pulled his pistol out and said, if you shoot her, I’ll shoot you. So she finished her job.

We got on a train, we got into a place called Lamsdorf [Germany] in the dark and then we marched from there into the [prisoner-of-war] campsite and we were billeted to certain buildings, 132 to a building. The next day, we had one inch of bread, that’s what we got - we were fed each week four potatoes with skins on, small ones, one-inch in diameter and then we had a bowl of turnip soup. I don’t eat turnips to this day.

There were three guys to a bunk. One blanket. One paillasse. Do you know what a paillasse is? A straw mattress, like just straw, horse straw. That was it. You cover it and that’s what you had. You had coal once a week, you had a bucket of coal, that’s the heat we had. So we was treated very badly at the time but we had a lot of fun.

Actually, what we tried to do is to keep the Germans on their toes. We always found something to do that would get them mad at us. One time was really good. We sat in a bunkhouse, playing cards, no coat on or anything else. But we had chains on. The lock on each end of the chain is approximately 10-foot long or longer. When they’d put it around your cuff, they put them through there and locked it on the inside and we could always open them with a flat nail. But if you complained about it being too tight on your wrist, then they’d put another type of chain on with padlocks that we had. But you couldn’t get out of those but you got out of these all the time.

And by the time they yelled get outside with the chains, we walked outside with coats on! To this day, they don’t know how we got the coats back on but I was able to unlock those [chains] with a nail. And then slip them on.

We dug a tunnel in the barracks and there was a guard out, in a hut up on the roof – what do you call it - he had a machine gun. So we started a game going. One fellow had a sock and he’d run with a can of stones and they got one guy with it and then he’d try and hit the guy. And the German up there would be laughing so much, and while he was laughing, we had 30-some-odd people go in the tunnel. They caught them all but at least we got them out. There had a job to do and we had job to do. They were trying to work for Hitler and we were working the enemy. So nine times out of ten, we got along fine with them.

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