Fiery Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Evacuated

Just a short message to all my fellow bloggers that due to the extreme hazard caused by the nearby wildfires we have been evacuated from our beloved community. Until the evacuation order has been lifted and until we can to return home, we will spend the time at our sons’ places in Vernon, Vancouver and Victoria. Until our return, I will not be able to publish new posts. I also ask you for your understanding that I will not have the time to write comments. Let us hope and pray that our home and our neighbours’ homes will be safe. Thank you for your patience!

The Octopus Creek fire (10 km south of Fauquier) seen from Edgewood on July 18. Photo: Jeannie Little

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

Not so Pretty Sight

The following video should be entitled: Natural Horror of the Arrow Lakes. About 20 km south of where we live a wildfire caused by lightning is raging through steep and inaccessible terrain. The residents of Fauquier have received evacuation alerts from the provincial government. The smoke is so dense that the sun is hidden for most of the day. We can barely see the other side of the lake. I let the camcorder run for half an hour and then accelerated the video so it would fit into a 40 second runtime. Let us hope that the fire does not spread into our direction.

Fauquier has been evacuated. We now live in a trailer across the lake.

Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family – Part 16

Papa Lending a Helping Hand

Places Walter Panknin Mentioned in his Notes

The following night Jepson invited Captain Panknin to sleep at his place. For the first time in weeks, Papa had a good night’s rest. Refreshed from a deep sleep, having recharged his internal batteries, he set out to go to the police HQ to receive further instructions. He had barely walked a few steps when Leipzig came under a sudden and unexpected aerial attack. The bombs were already falling when the sirens belatedly began their alarming howling in the city. An incendiary bomb plunged into a neighbour’s house, which almost immediately burst into flames. Papa helped the poor inhabitants with salvaging valuables from the burning inferno. His clothes singed by the fire and exhausted from the hard work, he arrived at the HQ, where to his greatest surprise, he was presented with yet another marching order, this time to Dresden-Hellerau. He had hardly received his provision for this eastern journey when the order was replaced by yet another, which sent him back to the latest hotspot at the western front near Weimar, where the Americans had launched a major offensive under General George Patton.

On April 8, shortly after midnight, he arrived by train at Weimar, where he went straight to the police HQ. By 06:15, he was climbing with a small troop under his command onto an army truck, which took him straight to the provisional front line near Erfurt. From there, they marched to Schmira amidst a barrage of shellfire and attacks from the air. Upon arrival, Papa looked in amazement at the bewildering array of the hastily set up feeble defence measures, most peculiar-looking anti-tank obstacles, and highly questionable battle preparations. It was dead quiet; the shellfire had suddenly ceased. Was it the calm before the storm? In the ominous stillness of impending doom, Papa found time in a nearby inn to write a letter to Mutti and family, which he passed on to a female communication aid to deliver it if at all possible to his wife in nearby Gotha. All day long, he could hear the droning of enemy planes over Erfurt. After a restful sleep in the basement of the police HQ, he felt his confidence returning, especially regarding Mutti and the children. He began to contemplate the best strategy to survive during the remaining few weeks of the war.  In anybody’s reasonable mind, the fighting should stop. However, the regime-loyal fanatics were bent on dragging the German people into even greater misery than they had already suffered so far. Should he stay at the frontline and count on becoming a POW of the American forces? Or should he follow the marching order to Dresden, which was most likely already occupied by the Red Army and try his luck as a POW of the Soviet forces? As a higher ranking police officer, not quite fitting into the overall scheme of an increasingly chaotic defence plan, he had, in contrast to the common soldier, at least some freedom to move.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

Prairie Dogs Revisited

Last week, I presented a video on the prairie dogs. At that time, they were still shy and a kept a considerable distance from us, the intruders of their territory. One week later, we have become part of their family. Indeed, they have become quite aggressive. They know exactly our mealtimes and demand with a shrill sound that they be fed with the delicacies from our table. Corn, bread crumbs, and tiny morsels of the cinnamon buns at coffee time are their favourites. Our furry friends have excellent table manners and appear to fold their hands in prayer before starting to eat. Upon seeing each other for the first time in the morning, they run and meet halfway and give a quick kiss before parting again. Anyone who thinks I am telling a tall tale should go out into the woods where these critters live and stay long enough. I promise you will make the same observation. They also love playing games, of which peekaboo is their favourite. Enjoy.

Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family – Part 15

The Horrors of War

Small army units had found temporary shelter and accommodation in private homes. Opa and his war-weary comrades slept in a basement from 22 hours till three in the morning when enemy shellfire woke them up. The barrage lasted for three hours. Some shells exploded in close vicinity of the house, where he was staying. At 7:30, a series of fierce skirmishes erupted while Allied dive-bombers were pounding their position at Steigerwald, a district of Erfurt. One bomb hit their temporary home. It smashed through the roof and exploded inside, causing the building to collapse like a house of cards. Fortunately, the civilians had all been evacuated, thus preventing unnecessary injury and loss of life.

Incendiary Bombing of Leipzig – Before and After Photo Credit: Leipzigbuch


On Wednesday, April 5th, following the first marching order, Opa arrived by train in Leipzig at 22 hours. He quickly hid the wooden box filled with food supplies intended for his family while sirens were announcing another bombing raid. He managed to find shelter in a private basement room, from where he made a phone call to his superior and old acquaintance by the name of Jepsen. The German signal corps was still able to keep the lines of communication open, whereas the public telephone system had been out of order for some time. Opa received a heart-warming reception from his former colleague and friend. While he was being brought up to speed on the current frontline situation, he also received instructions about his role in the constantly shrinking space being held by German troops. Another bombing raid rained terror, fire and death from the unprotected sky. At three in the morning, Opa finally went to bed and found some much-needed rest. But he could not fall asleep.

Incendiary Bombing of Leipzig – Before and After Photo Credit Leipzigbuch


Worries about his family kept him awake. Hundreds of questions occupied his mind, to which he had no answers. Had the Americans already reached Weimar? Was the rumour true that their tanks have pushed their way to Gotha? How was his wife faring under these chaotic conditions? Was she still alive? And what about his stepdaughter Elsbeth? Then his thoughts turned to his twins Gertrud and Walter, whom he had held on his arms only two months ago? How were they doing? Was Mutti able to take care of them? When seen through the eyes of a caring and loving father, who must serve as a soldier fighting for his country, war takes on a new horrific dimension that goes beyond killing the enemy, worrying about getting killed, about death and destruction all around you. For every soldier killed in action, a mother will mourn the loss of her son. A sweetheart will never meet her lover again. A wife will have lost her husband and the father of her children. But when a soldier survives the horrors of the killing fields and returns home from a POW camp, and discovers that his entire family had perished in one of the horrendous aerial attacks, then what more is there to say about the utter and total senselessness of war? Having been a conscientious police officer and army captain faithful to country and convictions, Opa meditated deeply about things of concern to him. He often liked to share his views with friends and relatives in his massive correspondence later in the early sixties, from which I derived a lot of valuable information.

Natural Splendour of the Arrow Lakes

Wednesday’s Photos

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage in multiple languages meaning that complex and sometimes multiple ideas can be conveyed by a single still image, which conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a mere verbal description. Wikipedia If this is so, then a video should be worth a million words. To escape the intense summer heat, my wife and I are camping at our son’s property where he set up our travel trailer for the summer. Located directly at the Arrow Lake it is at least 10 degrees cooler than at home. We have been barely a few days at this relaxing place when prairie dogs, very curious rodents by the way, came to visit us and were looking for grub. I took out my camcorder and recorded them. Here is the video. Enjoy.

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