Veteran Stories:
Robin Dent “Denny” Denman

Army

  • A Canadian soldier standing near the Demilitarized Zone shortly after the armistice was signed in July 1953.

    Ron Wardell
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"And they’d managed to outfit their Koreans with kilts. I don’t know how they did it, but they had Black Watch kilts and these guys averaged about four feet eight, a lot of them, so they were proud as punch."

Transcript

The Korean troops [Katcoms, Korean Augmentation to Commonwealth] who were in [Canadian units beginning in 1953], Canadians intermingled them very well. I gather some of the regiments didn’t. The platoon was mixed of Canadian and Korean troops. Probably, I would think almost half and half. I think my platoon had maybe 12 Canadian troops and eight Korean troops, or eight or ten Korean troops. So it was intermingled, completely. Every platoon had at least one Korean who could speak English. I don’t know how they found them, but they did. I think maybe they’re good with languages or something. We had like a Canadian sergeant and a Canadian corporal and we had a Korean corporal, whose job basically was to translate and so on, but it worked very well. In other words, the integration worked very well. The forward posts [along the Military Demarcation Line established in July 1953 between North and South Korea] and I think our company had it [turn manning the line] and we’d be up there for a week. There’d be a tent, for the days, and they had outposts, people to be there with their binoculars and one group for the day and one group for the night and there’d be like I think three people, two-three people, at each outpost, and we were to keep in touch with them by radio. And again, there were Koreans, and everything mixed up. I think they had their separate tent for sleeping, but as far as the outposts, there was always at least one or two Koreans at each outpost and a Canadian, at least one or two Canadians. The Black Watch [(Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada] had been there, I think it was sort of a year, each regiment was there, I don’t know. But certainly, the Black Watch was the first to go, to leave [in November 1954], and they had a march past, everybody was out to cheer them on. And they’d managed to outfit their Koreans with kilts. I don’t know how they did it, but they had Black Watch kilts and these guys averaged about four feet eight, a lot of them, so they were proud as punch, they were marching by, marching to the pipes and with their kilts down to their ankles and wearing a Black Watch hat. God, that was the class act! That was I think, everybody, you know, the other Canadian regiments, watching the Canadian Black Watch on their march past, was a high point. I think a high point was certainly the friendliness of the Koreans in their own milieu. Like, we went and visited around and we had marches and so on and route marches and ambles, to keep us in shape. And we went through little Korean towns that were in the process of being rebuilt, because they were sort of, seemed to be bamboo and grass, rice straw kind of thing for like the roofs. But they also would kind of bow to us and we’d bow back and they’d be applaud to the Canadians and we applaud back, and that was fun. And the little ladies were there and the kids that had been driven way south or perhaps simply overrun.
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