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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Camp 30 Preservation


With the recent creation of a Clarington Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, issues concerning heritage landmarks in the region are coming to the fore. The Clarington Branch of the ACO has stated that: “One of the first priorities of our local branch is the preservation of Camp 30, the last remaining intact German POW camp in Canada.” To highlight this project, this post will focus on the history of the Bowmanville Boys’ Training School and Camp 30.

It all began in 1922, when John H.H. Jury, of Jury & Lovell Drugs, ventured to Toronto to hear Alex Edminson speak about the perils of juvenile delinquency. Jury was inspired by the speech, so much so, that he decided to donate his 150 acre Darch Farm. The land was used to establish a Training School for Boys, which opened in the summer of 1925. The property served as a school from 1925 to 1979, with the exception of four years during the Second World War, when it was utilized to intern German Prisoners of War.

From 1941 until 1944, the federal government took over the site of the Bowmanville Boys’ Training School to use as a POW camp. Camp 30 housed high ranking German officers captured by Allied Forces. Some of the more infamous of the inmates included: General Von Ravenstein (one of Rommel’s Generals in the African desert), and Otto Kretschmer (the famed UBoat 99 Captain).

Throughout this time, there were many escape attempts by the inmates of Camp 30. The most well-known of these has been called the “Battle of Bowmanville.” The battle, which lasted from October 11-13, 1942, occurred as a result of the shackling of Germans during the raid of Dieppe. A ripple effect forced the decision of the War Office in London to have the German POWs shackled. When the Camp 30 inmates refused to submit to the orders, they barricaded themselves inside several buildings and fought the Canadian Guards. It was during these events that the only recorded gun shots were fired inside the walls of Camp 30.

Camp 30 is no doubt an important facet of the history of Bowmanville, and should be celebrated as such. Sometimes, the purpose behind preserving this site comes into question; yet, it can be noted that by housing these POWs Bowmanville made a tremendous contribution to the Allied war effort.

If you would like more information about the efforts of the ACO in Clarington check out their website http://www.arconserv.ca/branches/show.cfm?id=39 or contact the Clarington Branch President, Clark Morawetz @ acoclarington@arconserv.ca

For more information on Camp 30 or the Bowmanville Boys’ Training School come see our gift shop for a great selection of books!

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