In the Clutch of Circumstance: Reminiscences of Members of the Canadian National Prisoners of War Association


285 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919763-10-3





Edited by Tony Strachan

Rosalie I. Tennison is Editor of Communicator Magazine.


It is difficult to write about a book that is filled with poignant, often horrifying, reminiscences of prisoners of war. In the Clutch of Circumstance is a first-hand view of what it was like in the camps during three wars. The majority of the recollections are from World War II, but there are a couple from World War I and Korea.

The book is a collection of many personal accounts that, on the whole, seem downplayed; it is as if, by dealing with the horrors for the past decades, these people have shut out some of the memories of cruelty and inhumanity. Once in a while an image slips through the general description that results in a more shocking picture of what being a POW was like. Sentences like “3,000 German gypsy children were brought in, castrated and executed” and “In winter they used to take people and tie them to a tree stark naked and throw water on them until they were a frozen solid cake of ice” are examples of these isolated horrifying images.

Occasionally, there are glimpses of humor, courage, and human caring. These help to restore one’s belief in humanity in a world of war that was so obviously inhuman.

In the Clutch of Circumstance is not great literature. The entries are from taped interviews, diaries, and written accounts that were collected, in part, and edited by Tony Strachan, himself a “kriegie.”

Just as the Holocaust should never be forgotten, neither should the experiences and sacrifices of men and women who served their country as prisoners be ignored. By preserving the accounts of POWs, Strachan has performed a service that should be applauded.


“In the Clutch of Circumstance: Reminiscences of Members of the Canadian National Prisoners of War Association,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,