PoW cello donated to museum

Justin Dickie
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AMHERST - In four years at a prisoners of war camp in Amherst, German captives had a lot of down time.

PoW cello donated to museum

AMHERST - In four years at a prisoners of war camp in Amherst, German captives had a lot of down time.

"They made a lot of artifacts up there during the war. They made them with very few tools because they weren't allowed to have knives and those types of things because they were prisoners," said Ray Coulson, curator of the Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum.

The museum had one more artifact added to its collection recently when a cello made by prisoners of war was donated to the exhibit courtesy of New Brunswick folk musicians Ivan and Vivian Hicks.

"(The prisoners) took metal and banged it onto other metal to make a sharp edge for scraping. That's what they used for making it," Coulson said.

The Hicks' gained ownership of the instrument roughly 25 years ago from Hazel Crossman, a friend of theirs from Sackville.

"All (Crossman) knew was that it was made by German prisoners of war in Amherst and the head was carved in the likeness of a sergeant that they didn't like," Vivian said.

Coulson said the cello was made sometime between April 1915 and September 1919 while the POW camp was located in Amherst. Prisoners made many artifacts, including a whole orchestra's worth of musical instruments.

Ivan said the cello still actually plays.

The new addition to the museum is a very important one, said Coulson.

"It's not just another piece. It's a very important piece," he said. "You can sit there and tell people when they come in about prisoners building these things, but they can't appreciate it until they see something they actually built."



jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum

Geographic location: AMHERST, New Brunswick

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