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Ms. "The First World War"

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page 28

The first week we had a few short examinations. The commandant asked us if we were going to work as prisoners. In the executive office we were asked as to our ability and preference for work. In the hospital we had our fingerprints taken, and received a physical examination. The medical examiner inquired into our past history, habits, ancestry etc. Finally a group of C.O.’s and others were taken to [the] chaplain, Major S. He made a speech something like this: “To those who made an error in the service of their country I express my sympathy, but take courage and thank God for the chance for restoration to duty, if after a few months you prove your fitness for further service; but concerning those (speaking of C.O.’s) who refuse to participate in this most holy war, I reserve my opinion.” It was no difficult matter to guess the Chaplain’s opinion, but that opinion was soon destined to be changed. His action later showed that he considered the C.O. an all around desirable man, and a model prisoner. about When we reached the D.B. there must have been about 100 C.O.’s there already. Fourty-five [sic] had just arrived from Camp Travis[,] Texas, and were the subject of street gossip. Most of the boys chose farm work.

My place of duty at first was in the fifth gang, a gang which was composed entirely of C.O.’s numbering about fifty. Our work was with hoe and scythe during the summer months. Other C.O. gangs worked at the stables in the dairy industry, or on other projects. Many individuals were scattered among other gangs working on construction work or in the quarry. A fair portion of our boys were used inside in office work. One young Mennonite served in the post office and was rapidly promoted. He has later in civilian life served the Lord as a minister of the gospel

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