Don Elliot

Ask someone to describe what hope looks like and their answer may surprise you. For Donald Allan Elliott, in 1941, hope looked an awful lot like sixteen ounces of milk powder, some butter, cheese, corned beef, sardines, dried apples, prunes, sugar, jam, a couple of biscuits, some chocolate, salt and pepper, tea and a bar of soap. That and just a few other items made up the parcels that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies distributed to prisoners of war during World War II.

Don was a 21 year-old bank teller from Saskatchewan when he joined the war effort in the spring of 1940, and was in England, trained and ready to navigate Wellington bombers.

On July 8, 1941, the plane Don sat navigating was hit by a German shell. The crew was ordered to bail out. All six members landed safely in a farmer’s field. Unfortunately, that field was right next to a German-occupied field. “For you, the war is over,” Don was told by the German soldier who captured him.  He spent the next two years moving from prison camp to prison camp – six in total.

In April of 1943, Don was moved to his final camp, the East Compound of Stalag Luft III, at Sagan in Southern Germany. Rooms were equipped with four double bunks, a table, wooden benches and a coal stove, and each prisoner was given a woolen Red Cross blanket. “My blanket was so necessary to my comfort that it was the only thing I brought home with me. I made sure that my three children slept under it – for good luck – and I still have it.”

In Don’s final year, he wrote a touching letter to the Canadian Red Cross to thank us for providing hope during his time as a Prisoner of War. To ensure we can continue to provide assistance to future generations, Don decided to leave a Gift in Will to the Canadian Red Cross.