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Consequences at Home

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Anne Baerg, wife of Henry R. Baerg, gives a woman's perspective on the CO experience.


“I was married to Henry in Coaldale February 23, 1941. In August, just before harvest, he was called up with 35 others for ASW [Alternative Service Work]. He was farming together with his brother John four miles south of Coaldale. I was expecting [a child] and inexperienced in farming but now had to assume unanticipated new responsibilities. The brothers had lined up a threshing run which had to be carried out. This, with the added loneliness, put a heavy burden on me. I took my turn feeding a threshing crew of seven men. Fortunately, Henry's cousin, Anne Thiessen was in a similar situation, her husband Nick also being one of the 36 taken from our community for ASW. She came to live at our house, helped me with the cooking duties for nearly a month and taught me many things. We also tried to comfort each other since we were both expecting. We got up at four in the morning to fix breakfast for the threshing crew. With each other and God's help we got through the harvest and managed our other responsibilities."


“We did not know until later, that the COs' service was to be for four months, the same as basic training for those in the army. I was due a week before the men's term of service expired. Henry got out of camp a week before the other men. I had some difficulties with the birth of our first son but the Lord sustained me and the prayers of friends and family were answered."


“Throughout 1942, we were able to stay together and to carry on farming and family pursuits. However, we had taken the train with our one year old son to celebrate Christmas with our parents. While there, Henry got his second call for service, this time to Seebe, Alberta (Kananaskis). He left me and our son in B.C. with my parents as well as his parents. During the months of separation, we tried to update each other on special events and on the progress of our little son by correspondence. Mail days were always special."


“After two months I took the train to Calgary so I would be close enough for Henry to see me on weekend leaves. My son and I lived in a small downtown room with a hot plate and sink, since rooms were hard to get during the war. When Henry got a long weekend leave we took the train to Lethbridge and I settled back on the farm for spring work, gardening and farm duties. At the end of June, he got permanent leave from ASW. Once again we were together, back on the farm and in our church work."


“Although we did not have the uncertainties and anxieties of the men in the military, we did have stress and burdens. However, we had the prayers and love of our friends, family and church. In 1943, since the COs in camp received only 50 cents a day, the church began supporting me with $15 a month. We certainly went through many lonely days, but none of our men were “missing in action.” We were spared such hardships and have many reasons to be thankful.” [ASP, 35-36]

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