For­mer POW do­nates ar­ti­facts to New Waterford mu­seum

Cape Breton Post - - GLACE BAY/ NEW WATERFORD - BY SHARON MONT­GOMERY-DUPE smont­gomery@cb­post.com

NEW WATERFORD — When­ever Dr. Mike Laf­fin dis­cusses his ex­pe­ri­ences as a pris­oner of war, he is al­ways asked the same ques­tion.

“Peo­ple al­ways want to know what it was like in prison,” said Laf­fin, who was a bomber pi­lot with the Cana­dian Air Force dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Laf­fin, 94, was shot down over Hol­land in 1944. Two days later he be­came a PoW and re­mained in prison un­til the war ended a year later. He was one of 1,600 pris­on­ers in the prison camp.

“We only got one small potato and half a can of soup a day. We would be taken on a death march, if you couldn’t keep up you would be shot, which is why it was called the death march.”

Laf­fin was the guest speaker at the New Waterford and Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, Thurs­day.

“I am here to do­nate some of my ar­ti­facts and doc­u­ments from the war and to an­swer ques­tions,” said Laf­fin, who is also a for­mer pro­vin­cial MLA.

One of the doc­u­ments was a tele­gram his mother re­ceived to in­form her he was miss­ing in ac­tion. Other doc­u­ments de­tail how his Hal­i­fax bomber plane was shot down and how he tried to find some­one to hide him.

“No one would do it as it was too dan­ger­ous.”

Nick Burke, a sum­mer stu­dent worker with the his­tor­i­cal so­cie- ty, said these ar­ti­facts and doc­u­ments from Laf­fin will be a great ad­di­tion to the mu­seum lo­cated at the Col­liery Lands Park.

“We have some orig­i­nal doc­u­ments in­clud­ing when he was cap­tured as a PoW as well as some of his orig­i­nal speeches as a MLA from the 1960s and 1970s.”

Burke said Laf­fin’s doc­u­ments are on dis­play at the mu­seum this week.

“The dis­plays are changed each week, but Dr. Laf­fin’s ar­ti­facts and doc­u­ments will re­main a per­ma­nent part of the mu­seum.”

Laf­fin, a re­tired den­tist, was born in 1918 in New Waterford. He served as an MLA for 18 years. He re­tired in the late 1980s but re­mained ac­tive in his community.

The mu­seum of­fi­cially opened for the sea­son July 1 and re­mains open Mon­day to Fri­day, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., un­til the end of Au­gust.

SHARON MONT­GOMERYDUPE  CAPE BRE­TON POST

Dr. Mike Laf­fin (right), a Sec­ond World War PoW, shows a model of the Hal­i­fax bomber he flew dur­ing the war, to (from left) Pat La­rade of New Waterford and his­to­rian Lenny Stephen­son of Do­min­ion, Thurs­day at the New Waterford and Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal...

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