St. Andrews College Old Boy Was
All in When He Crossed Dutch
Border and Was a Free Man

A little more than two months ago Pte. J. Gerrie Burk of the Little Black Devils, of Winnipeg, crawled by night through bog and dangers that threatened on every hand, hunted by hounds, fired at by German sentries, on his way from the prison camp at Rennbahn, Westphalia, to the Dutch frontier. This morning he visited his old school, St. Andrew's College, and the lads gave him a reception that lads can accord a hero.

Mr. Burk is staying at the home of his uncle, A. W. Burk, 44 Huntley street, on his way home to Port Arthur. He and his brother were the first to enlist at that place, and he was aken prisoner on April 23rd, 1915, at Ypers. He was one of 200 Canadiens who were surrounded. Since that time, gassed as he was, he has suffered the privations of a prison camp. Diggind ditches, working in the mines and at the coke ovens was his lot. The fare was not the best. Even horse meat once a week began to pall. It was the Red Cross and the parcels from home that kept the prisoners alive.


Early in August Pte. Burk decided to escape, though the fate of others who had mde unsuccessful attempts was not encouraging. A Parisian priest wha had attempted to escape by removing a board from his hut was notice by the guard just as he was coming out, and shot without any enquiries.

Finally, on a night early in September, when rain was falling in torrents, Burk and a companion named Tustin tokk their chances and bolted. They made a clean get-away, and from then till they passed the Dutch frontier, 105 miles away, ten days later. they travelled fron ten o'clock at night till four o'clock in the morning.

"I had a map which I had bribed from a guard, and a torch which we had also got from a guard," siad Mr. Burk.

"This watch I am wearing," he continued, "and this ring I had saved when we were captured, by putting them in my hat. We had a compass also.


"We kept away from main roads altogether, and hid in hedges. The first day we hid in a hedge at the edge of a wood, and we were bothered all day by children and by hunters with dogs. After that we kept away from woods altogether as we knew that if they looked for us, it would be there.

"One day we hid where two hedges came together at a sharp angle. Just on the other side was an acre of barley or oats that had been cut, and girls were at work raking it u[ into a big pile right close to where we were. Whe they had finished they sat down and made a meal of brown bread. If they had put out their hand they could have touched us. While they were there an old German came along and told them about two Englishmen who had escaped, meaning us.

"At one place we lost our way. We had come to a place where there were crossroads branching off in all directions, and in the centre there was an old waggon covered with tarpaulin or something. We almost bumped into it, not knowing it was a guard waggon, and we found that they had dogs tied under it. The dogs gave voice, and we ran. The guards turned out and loosed the hounds. We took to a pond and a couple of the dog came to the edge, gave a bark or two, and went right on. Later on we struck a road, and just as we did so, one of the dogs came up. He looked us up and down, sniffed a little, and then went on with his head up.

At another time we were hidden down the road, and saw a piece of newspaper that some workman had wrapped his lunch in. It was Dutch. A little further on we met a couple of soldiers. We knew from their dress that they were guards, and we asked, 'Are you Germans or Hollanders?' They told us they were Hollanders, and gave us their lunch. My that ws good. It was thick bread and ham, and I have never tasted anything like it."

Mr. Burk is a first cousin of Sir Sam Hughes. [NDLR: actually a distant cousin to Sam Hughes's wife ]