Veteran Stories:
Garry Williams

Army

  • Mr. Garry Williams, August 2011.

  • Mr. Garry Williams (center) taking a humorous pose while aboard the ship that is carrying him and the 1st Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment to Korea in 1952.

    Garry Williams
  • During the Korean War, the Canadian soldiers were assisted by many local South Korean civilians and/or military, as seen here on this picture provided by Mr. Williams.

    Garry Williams
  • Sketch made by Mr. Williams showing the position of the different companies of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment in Korea in the Fall of 1952.

    Garry Williams
  • Mr. Garry Williams posing here in his winter combat gear.

    Garry Williams
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"Well, I was behind the hill, so you know there’s someone over there who was taking a shot at me, so I quickly ducked into a trench. But when you hear that snap in your ear of the bullet going a foot, two feet away from you, you duck in a hurry."

Transcript

They were very small statured people, typical of oriental. I would say they were good soldiers [the Chinese soldiers], very brave but not very well trained. As a matter of fact, their commanders would send them on, it’s a wrong name for it, Banzai charges, which was Japanese Second World War. But the Korean and the North Korean and the Chinese, they were very brave. They were underequipped. In a lot of the charges that were done, maybe over 30 percent were armed and the others weren’t. They were just sent as targets, if you want to call it. And not the way the Canadian soldier would do things by a long shot.

They had some good snipers who took a few of our men. I was shot at twice by a sniper on two separate occasions. He missed. But that’s the way it goes.

Well, I was behind the hill, so you know there’s someone over there who was taking a shot at me, so I quickly ducked into a trench. But when you hear that snap in your ear of the bullet going a foot, two feet away from you, you duck in a hurry.

Well, this quite late in the year that we were there. We could see from our position, I was on Hill 355, what is known as Kowang-San and we repelled a Chinese-North Korean attack there, which was quite brutal [the Chinese assault of October 23rd 1952, repulsed by the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment]. We were very too darn few soldiers to be called a battalion and to hold such a large hill in the area. But we were attacked in October, the attack lasted approximately three days. And the Chinese overran Baker Company [B Company] who were the company right in front of us at the bottom of the hill. We were on top of the hill, my company. But Major E.L. Colin was the major in charge of Baker Company, he called all his men that he could reach into the bunkers and then he called on our artillery on his own position. So it got a little bit lively. I think we lost 37 men that one night, one of which was my buddy, Bill Ryan from Montreal [Quebec]. And we had chummed together all through basic training and what have you but he didn’t make it. He was in Baker Company, yeah.

We’d have the Vandoos [soldiers of Le Royal 22e Régiment] on one flank, the PPCLI [Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] on the other flank and we’d be in the middle of them. From our position on Hill 355, we could see the searchlights shining in the sky from Panmoon Jong [Panmunjom, Korea] where the peace talks were going on [the armistice signed on July 27th 1953].

It’s interesting, I was in Baker Company for the most part of the time I was in Korea and I had a run in with a replacement sergeant which was the second or third time I got charged and sent up in front of Peter Bingham [lieutenant-colonel Peter R. Bingham, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment in Korea]. And the sergeant gave me all hell because I wasn’t dressed properly and he was a parade square type, spit and polish. And I told him he could go and perform an unnatural act on himself, if you know what I mean. And he put on charge. So I went up in front of Peter and Peter said: ‘Corporal Williams, you’re here again.’ He said’ ‘You know, you can’t talk to your sergeants that way.’ So in order to avoid any conflict, I’m going to transfer you from Baker Company to Able Company [A Company]. And two weeks after that, Baker Company were overun. So I am very lucky to be here. I think I would probably be one of the 37 that didn’t make it.

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