"First night I was in the lines, somewhere behind us there was 17 pounder. And they make an awful noise, especially at night. And you’re not expecting it, you hear this thing whack. And I think that’s the scaredest I ever was, when I heard this thing going, I wasn’t sure whether it was incoming mail or otherwise."
We left for Korea then, as a matter of fact, I sailed out of Seattle on my 19th birthday, the 22nd of April . But I learned a lot about the Americans then on that boat that we went over on, or ship I should say. There was quite a few of the fellows that were cooks or people in that category who were going over and were scared that if the infantry was shorthanded at that time when they got there, they would be pulled right straight into the infantry and they were not looking forward to that at all. That was one of their biggest worries.
I mean, sure they were trained but they weren’t trained. Like I went over, I had about a year and a half’s training with the infantry and all weather factors. So I wasn’t really concerned as far as training was concerned, all I had to do was remember to keep my head down, that’s all.
The people that I was surprised with over there, because no matter where you were, except the front lines in the south but if you were back in one of the echelons, there was always the Korean people hanging around the garbage cans, trying to get as much food, they didn’t care how old it was or what it was, as long as they get their hands on it, they would take it home for their family. And usually they were kids, eh? So I used to, when I was back in that position, I made sure when I went back to get rid of my food from my mess tins into the garbage, that I had a mess tent full of good food and I wouldn’t put it in the garbage, I would try to give it to the kids. I lost a couple of mess tins that way but you know, that’s life. I don’t blame them for running with it.
First night I was in the lines, somewhere behind us there was 17 pounder [Ordnance Quick-Firing 17 pound gun; anti-tank anti-tank gun]. And they make an awful noise, especially at night. And you’re not expecting it, you hear this thing whack. And I think that’s the scaredest I ever was, when I heard this thing going, I wasn’t sure whether it was incoming mail or otherwise. So, never told about it until after we were told that night that yeah, that’s one of our 17 pounders.
The Chinese were very good with their mortars and they used to pick off our vehicles when they were moving. And so whenever you were traveling back behind the lines for any occasion, you really didn’t like going back in a vehicle. They had different points in the road because they’d already used that particular ground, so they knew where the corners were, where you’d be slowing down and their mortars were laid on these corners, and they’d wait for you, and off come the mortars. And that’s where we’d lose a few of our guys.
Well, [Hill] 355 [23 October 1952; following heavy bombardment on A, B and E Companies, 1 Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, Chinese launched a raid, cutting off B Company; a counter-attack by 10 and 12 Platoon from E Company helped to push back the retreating Chinese forces] was a hell of a night. The Chinese come in and we got some of their offerings as well beside them but not as bad as what the RCRs [1 Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment] got it. But you can’t, we wanted to help the RCRs as much as we could but you know, it’s dark and you see people moving but you don’t whether they’re Chinese or the RCRs, so you don’t dare fire at them. You just sit and wait. When they finally stopped them advancing, and we saw them more or less leaving the area, then that’s when we really picked on them. We let that 50 cal [M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun] go, and it’s a very good weapon, you don’t just shoot one guy, you go through about 10 if you can get them in a row.
I don’t know what was the worst, the enemy or the rats. Because there were a lot of rats. I mean, a certain amount of food laying around that somebody might ate, part of, we had hard rations over there so you open up a can and you may not like what it is, so you kind of throw her over the side, you don’t want that. And the rats would gladly have it of course and so there was lots of rats. And you had to be careful that, you just didn’t put your hand out in front to feel around what’s out there. You don’t want them biting you.
Eventually got on the train to Quebec, from Lethbridge, Alberta, and went back to Lethbridge, Alberta and I got off the train at Lethbridge, Alberta and had I not stopped and Fort MacLeod [Alberta] and phoned my mom, so my mom and dad were there to meet me, but that was it. And then a week later, a guy from the newspaper wanted to come and interview me, I won’t tell you what I told him. I said, “Hey, why didn’t you see me a week ago when I was coming home?”