From a post by John McGillivray in the MLU (Maple Leaf Up) Forum back in 2005 at:
citing to Howard Margolian’s book “Conduct Unbecoming” (pp. 90-94):
“In contrast with the murder and mayhem perpetrated at the headquarters of Gerhard Bremer's 12th Reconnaissance Battalion, the treatment accorded to Canadian POWs at the HQ of Bernhard Siebken's 2nd Battalion on 8 June was downright civilized. A large group of Canadians, in excess of a hundred, was transferred without incident from the 2nd Battalion to the command post of the 26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, which was located a few miles to the south, in the tiny hamlet of Le Haut du Bosq. Meanwhile, a smaller group, totalling forty prisoners - Lieutenant William Ferguson, Sergeant James Reid, Corporals George Brown, Roger Firman, Clare Kines, James Kyle, Hector McLean, and Robert Scott, Lance Corporals Stewart Culleton and John Hill, and Privates Walter Booth, Ernest Bradley, Walter Daniels, Arthur Desjarlais, Gordon Ferris, Robert Findlay, Lant Freeman, Lawrence Guiboche, Charles Horton, Henry Jones, Elmer Lefort, Gordon Lewis, John MacDougall, Angus MacLeod, Frederick Marych, Wesley Morrison, Percy Parisian, Alfred Peterson, Frank Ryck-man, Kjartan Sigurdson, Edward Smith, and John Thompson, all of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Private Richard Smith of the Queen's Own Rifles, Lieutenant Reginald Barker, Sergeant William Beresford, and Gunners Hilliard Birston, Weldon Clark, Thomas Grant, and Alvin Harkness of the 3rd Canadian Anti-Tank Regiment, and Private Donald Burnett of the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa - was held at 2nd Battalion headquarters pending the return of the Feldgendarmerie escort. During the interval, Siebken's men gave the Canadians water and dispensed first aid to their wounded. In view of the solicitude shown the prisoners, one might have expected their conveyance to the rear to have proceeded uneventfully, in much the same fashion as had that of the earlier group. Unfortunately, although through no fault of Siebken's, this did not prove to be the case. For the forty Canadians being held at the Moulin farm, the change in their circumstances would be sudden, terrifying, and devastating.
The first hint at the turn for the worse in the prisoners' fortunes came a few hours after their capture. Late in the afternoon on 8 June, Siebken received a call from his regimental commander, SS Lieutenant Colonel Wilhelm Mohnke. Reporting that he had taken custody of the large batch of POWs dispatched by Siebken earlier in the day, Mohnke, who was obviously annoyed, told him not to send back so many prisoners. The battalion commander took this to mean that prisoners should not be taken in the first place, and, if they were, that they should be shot immediately after capture. Surprised and repulsed by Mohnke's barbarous and patently illegal order, Siebken quickly regained his composure and replied that he was going to send prisoners to the rear all the same. Later in the evening, he did just that. Upon learning of the return of the Feldgendarmerie escort, Siebken ordered the forty Canadians brought from the barn in which they had been held to the front of the Moulin farmhouse. After looking over the prisoners, whose ranks included at least two stretcher cases, Siebken had them form up in a column under the guard of seven or eight men. The escort consisted both of Feldgendarmerie and regular SS troops. Sometime after 8:00 PM, Dietrich Schnabel, Siebken's special missions officer, sent the prisoners on their way.
The column proceeded southward along a path that led out of 2nd Battalion headquarters, past fields in which crops were already standing. Had the prisoners continued on the footpath, they eventually would have reached the Caen-Fontenay-le-Pesnel road. By crossing this artery and continuing for another quarter mile or so, they then would have come to a secondary road that ran directly into Le Haut du Bosq. A mere one and a half miles more and they would have arrived at Mohnke's headquarters. Despite its proximity, the Canadians never reached their intended destination.
Around 9:00 PM, at a spot just north of the Caen-Fontenay road, the column of prisoners was intercepted by a staff car. As the column halted, an officer resplendent in SS uniform and overcoat got out and strode over to the sergeant in charge of the escort. It was difficult to make out the officer's face in the enveloping darkness, but those who survived the encounter with him will never forget his demeanour. From the outset, the officer was very agitated, and he seemed to become increasingly incensed as the conversation with the NCO went on. Two of the prisoners later recalled that the officer had yelled at the escort leader, while another was of the view that he had actually threatened him. Whatever the case, after a few minutes the martinet abruptly terminated the conversation, angrily pointed in the direction of the Caen-Fontenay road, and issued a torrent of orders to the hapless NCO.
The sudden appearance of the officer and his subsequent violent outburst must have been profoundly disconcerting to the Canadian prisoners. At least a few of them guessed his real intentions. Though he did not understand German, Private Gordon Ferris of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles remembered thinking that the guards were going to kill all of the prisoners after the way that the officer had carried on.1 This opinion was shared by Corporal Hector McLean, also of the Winnipegs. According to McLean, his worst fears were confirmed by Lieutenant Reg Barker of the 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment, who was one of two officers among the forty Canadian POWs (the other was Lieutenant William Ferguson of the Winnipegs). The American-born Barker, who spoke some German, told McLean that the escorts had in fact been ordered to kill the prisoners, but he promised that he would try to talk them out of it."
Following the officer's orders, the SS guards escorted the Canadians to within sight of the Caen-Fontenay road. As the column approached the road, a large number of vehicles, including tanks and half-tracks, could be seen heading in an easterly direction. Heartened by the sight of all this firepower, a couple of the escorts waved and yelled out 'Panzer! Panzer!' Continuing on its way, the column was marched southward until it got to within a hundred yards of the convoy. Halted at a road junction less than a mile northeast of the village of Fontenay-le-Pesnel, the prisoners were diverted in a westerly direction into a grassy area adjacent to a grainfield. After going another fifty yards or so, they were ordered to sit down, facing east. Ominously, the prisoners were bunched together in several rows, with the stretcher cases placed in the middle. While the Canadians sat and waited in anxious silence, the Germans deployed menacingly around them.
The prisoners' stay in the field must have seemed like an eternity. In fact, only three or four minutes had passed before the last half-track in the convoy peeled off the highway and headed for the spot where the prisoners were sitting. Dressed in khaki camouflage uniforms and armed with machine pistols, several SS troopers jumped out of the vehicle and approached the sergeant in charge. A brief conversation ensued, after which the NCO ordered all but two of his men over to the vehicle. There one of the new arrivals exchanged the escorts' rifles for machine pistols, while another man pulled clips from a haversack and passed them around. Armed to the teeth, the men from the half-track and the original escorts advanced together towards the prisoners. The impromptu execution squad was joined by the two remaining escorts, who had retained their rifles.
As the SS men closed in on them, even the most optimistic of the Canadians now realized what was about to happen. Any lingering hopes were dashed when Lieutenant Barker, who was in the front row and who would surely face the first salvo, calmly advised, 'Whoever is left after they fire the first round, go to the left [i.e., north].' At a distance of about thirty yards, the Germans stopped. One of them taunted his intended victims, saying in heavily accented English, 'Now you die.' At that moment, the executioners opened fire.
Hit by the initial burst, the men in front were mowed down where they sat. Many were killed instantly. Others were only wounded and lay writhing in agony on the ground. In the middle rows, pandemonium erupted. As bullets thudded into flesh and soil around them, those who had not yet been hit scrambled in desperation. Shouts, curses, and heart-rending screams filled the night air.
Only those prisoners who had been sitting in the back row had any chance of survival. By advancing in a straight line and neglecting to cordon the area, the Germans had left an escape route open. Acting on instinct, several men made a break for it. Gunners Weldon Clark and Thomas Grant of the 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment ran off together. Clark made his getaway into the adjacent grainfield, but Grant was cut down after having run only a few yards. Corporal McLean and Private Ferris of the Winnipegs also ran in tandem. McLean was hit, but both men reached the adjacent field, where they took cover amid the standing crops. Corporals George Brown and Robert Scott and Privates Gordon Lewis and John MacDougall, also of the Winnipegs, followed McLean's and Ferris's example, but all were struck down by the Germans' second salvo. Of these men, only Private MacDougall, who was wounded in the leg, was able to make good his getaway.
The most hair-raising escape of all was that contrived by Private Arthur Desjarlais of the Winnipegs' 15 Platoon. Sitting in the back row, Desjarlais actually froze when the Germans fired their first burst. Failure to hit the dirt when bullets are flying around is usually a prescription for disaster. Yet somehow the upright rifleman was not touched. Suddenly realizing the extent of his predicament, Desjarlais got onto his belly and slowly crawled towards the grainfield. Their attention diverted by the chaotic scene in front of them, the SS thugs never noticed him, and Desjarlais was able to slip away.
Of the forty prisoners who found themselves in the Germans' gun sights on the fateful night of 8 June, only five - Corporal McLean and Privates Ferris, MacDougall, and Desjarlais of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, along with Gunner Clark of the 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment - lived to tell about it. Unfortunately, all five men were recaptured by other German units almost immediately after their brush with death. Thus, it would be months before they were repatriated from POW captivity and were able to tell their stories. By that time, potential German witnesses had either been killed in battle or were missing, and the evidentiary trail had largely gone cold. Hampered by false leads, Canadian war crimes investigators never were able to establish with certainty even the units involved, much less the individuals. This was a failure of tragic proportions, for if any of the crimes committed by the 12th SS Panzer Division 'Hitler Youth' cries out for justice, it is surely the cold-blooded murder of thirty-five Canadian POWs on a moonlit back road in the countryside of northern France. Indeed, the machine gunning of the thirty-five prisoners near the village of Fontenay-le-Pesnel on the night of 8 June ranks as the single worst battlefield atrocity perpetrated against Canadians in the country's military history. So dastardly was this crime that some have since labelled it the 'Canadian Malmedy,' after the strikingly similar and much more famous (or infamous) massacre of American troops during the Nazis' last-ditch Ardennes offensive.”