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Sam Martin's Story

  He asked himself if he could participate in the war, while he was tempted he decided he could not.

  On February 20, 1943 Sam Martin was called before the board to state his case.  He gave them Scripture references, told them that he was a member of a peace church before the war started.  Judge Harvey asked him a few questions and after 20 minutes dismissed him and told him he would not receive CO status.

In February 1944, a year after his hearing, he got a letter to report for military duty.  he returned the letter and said why he refused.  Another letter was sent to him urging him to report or else he could be arrested.  March 1 he was arrested.  March 27 he was taken to trial and sentenced to 30 days in a civilian jail.

Lethbridge Provincial Jail was place where inmates did farm work.  The first day Sam Martin was there he worked outside with armed guards watching him.

There were many different people in the jail.  One person Sam met was a prisoner so filled with hate he did not do anything the guards asked of him.  He was put in solitary confinement for the rest of his 2 year sentence.  He read books and passed notes to Sam Martin to pass the time.

May 20, 1944 Sam Martin was taken to Calgary held in custody for several days.  He was then forcibly inducted into the army.  Medical and IQ tests were done on him.  He was offered to take officer training which he refused.  He was issued an army uniform which he refused.  He was charged and sentenced 28 days detention.

The Curry Barracks army prison was not a nice place.  It was a place of punishment.  He was told by the commanding officer that there had never been a person he could not break.  Sam was told he would have to go naked or put on a military uniform.  Sam went naked.  He was given a sentence of 3 days bread and water.  The guards turned off the heat to his cell, and opened his window to try to force him to put on the military clothes.  After a number of attempts they gave up.

Bread and water - 3 slices of bread 3 times a day.  By law the bread had to be of a certain weight and could only be given to someone 3 days in a row and then a regular diet for the next 3 days.  The first 28 days he was on and off this diet the whole time.  Being weak the guards forcibly put the uniform on him.  He was then put in barracks with regular soldiers.  Once there he took off the uniform.

On June 26 he was brought to the commanding officer who had taken the time to learn about Martin and his beliefs.  He had sympathy for him, but was unable to help.  The officer said he could do nothing but sentence him to another 28 days.

  During these days he was not allowed to communicate with anyone.   His church or family was not told where he was taken.

He was so cold in his cell and tried many things to stay warm.   After 21 days his mail was brought to him - 35 letters.  He broke down and cried.

He was again found guilty and sentenced to another 90 days back in the army prison.

During this time 2 ministers started a petition to gain his release.  The people who signed the petition were people not from his church community.

The next day he was escorted by train to Lethbridge Province Jail.  He had been on a bread and water diet for 49 days and was very weak.  He was glad to be back at this jail.  He worked outside hoeing sugar beets.  One guard was very mean to him and always put him down because he was so weak and could not keep up with the others.  The work was hard, his hands bleed often because they did not give him gloves to use.

His court marshall was on November 15.  He was paraded in front of many others.  His sentence was read over the loud speaker.  18 months in the Lethbridge Provincial Jail.  He was devastated.

Sam Martin was eventually released.  He is grateful to many people.  The Salvation army looked after his spiritual needs.  Thankful for his church and the wider church who supported him while in prison with letters, visits, and prayers.

After all this his peace convictions were strengthened.



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