Veteran Stories:
Lloyd Swick

Army

  • Picture of men of 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry posing for camera after their return to Korea from Kure (Japan, 1952-1953)

    Lloyd Swick
  • Two soldiers of "A" Company 1 PPCLI posing in front of a jeep, 1952-1953.

    Lloyd Swick
  • Soldiers of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry attending a ceromony for their fallen comrades in Pusan (Korea).

    Lloyd Swick
  • Mr. Lloyd Swick in August 2011.

  • The "Two Kims", from "Stories from Korea" by Lloyd Swick.

    Lloyd Swick
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"And I do recall moving to the front and seeing some of the evacuations. In the first stretch I saw going past me as I was going forward contained the body of a sergeant-major whom I knew quite well."

Transcript

And I guess we were at sea for about a week or so and I recall to arriving in Pusan [port in South Korea] and we were transported to the front by railway cars equipped with, oh, pygmy-sized seats. And of course, we had our box meals, and at the time I recall laughing, because I compared the train episode I was experiencing as opposed to the time when I worked as a CNR [Canadian National Railway] waiter on those beautiful CNR lounge cars.

Upon reaching our destination, there was once again the smell of war, the stench, you could see the destruction of the infrastructures demolished, and of course, one in a warzone is always saddened by the plight of the families. And too often you see children alone and lost in the turmoil without home and without hope. And I do recall, moving to the front and seeing some of the evacuations [of troops]. In the first stretcher I saw going past me, as I was going forward, contained the body of a sergeant-major whom I knew quite well.

And then we had some training, moved up the frontline, and relieved 2 PPCLI - the people who did so well at Kap’yong,* that was about mid-October [1951]. And I recall, my company position, I recall all these, we were to the left of a hill, which is known as 355, Little Gibraltar. And it was on the night of the 24th of October – November – that we were stymied when you saw all these little stream of small red lights descending from that hill. And of course later on we found out that the Americans had to evacuate from that hill** and in the course of their withdrawing at night, those little spots of light, we saw red light, were the Americans, lit up on a cigarette in their retreat.

Now, I can tell you that life in the hill is monotonous, standing patrols, improving upon defensive positions, living in dirt, the cold, the dampness. It seems to be all, any trees that had been there had been blown away and we were subject to the cold Siberian winds. And luckily we could look forward to a rum ration daily.

I was a captain, I was 2IC [2nd-in-command] of the company and later on I took over the company for a period of two or three months. And then was shipped off to - not shipped off, but then went to, as chief instructor, at a Canadian Junior NCO School at Uijongbu, the village of Uijongbu. When a country is being ravaged by war, family dynamics continue and this is brought to mind. I had a house boy, many youth latched onto the military just for the sake of their food and their keep. And I had this little house boy and his name was Lee Bom Woo. And one morning, my sergeant -major said, “Lee Bom Woo has left this message for you.” And this is a kid, eight or nine, “To Captain Swick, from Lee Bom Woo.” Now, imagine, in English, writing this: “Today I go to my house, I live to the house maybe 10 days.” What he’s wanting to say is, “I’m going to be away for 10 days.” “Today, I go to Seoul only, and sleep, tomorrow I go to my house.” Now here’s what I meant, when family dynamics continue even while a country’s being ravaged by war: “I go to have not play time.”

Certainly, we put out a lot of standing patrols, and fighting patrols, but we never had an onrush onto our positions such as, that was experienced at Kap’yong. We certainly had the other aspects of the Chinese belligerency when they’d sneak up to your defensive wires and de-mine your mines and show they could have attacked you had they wished. But generally, it was a period of, my frontline, it was a period of boredom, largely. Of course, you always contended with the rats and, I did have some cats sent up to my position for rat control. And I found the cats were, anyone who has a cat as a pet know they’re very independent and while they were sent up, as I mentioned for rat control, I guess they didn’t like their job because the next day they took off and I don’t know whether they deserted or whether they went over to join the enemy. But they didn’t last very long with me.

[Items taught at the Junior NCO School were] how to prepare for a standing patrol, duties for a standing patrol, what to do in case you’re attacked, and you have to get out of a tight position, on the standing patrol. The functions of a listening patrol, how you select your recce,*** your positions. The importance of standing to in the morning and at night, the importance of clean quarters, factors how to keep up the morale, your morale and the men that you may have under command. Just basic things that can make life easier for you as a soldier.

These chaps were from private and you’re training them to be an NCO, right? And for all these factors I mentioned, the composition of attack or defence, withdrawal, there were instructional material and also instructional material as to, relative to the patrols I mentioned. And so that is the information you would pass on to them and teach them.

 

*2nd Battalion, PPCLI at the Battle of Kap’yong, 22-25 April 1951

**During the Battle of Hill 355, November 1951

***Reconnaissance

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