3rd Battalion PPCLI on Korean hillside.Don Landry
Don Landry in Korea 1953Don Landry
Paratroops on signals course at CFB Borden, 1950sDon Landry
Korean landscape, 1953
Platoon on parade in Korea.Don Landry
"Aircraft went flying across, screaming across, I thought it was a bomb and I hit the dirt. So then from then I learned what was incoming, what was out coming and what was aircraft"
The First Battalion, of which I was a member, was slated to go to Korea. However, 30 or 40 of us, I forget the number, were kept behind in a special paratroop platoon to put the guys from the Second Battalion that wanted to stay in the army through the jump towers that we had there in Calgary. And plus the fact that we were a little under age, we weren’t 19 yet, so 19 was the limit [the age for overseas service].
So when the regiment [Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry] went over and six months later, they needed replacements, we went to replace 50 of us. Well, 50 Canadians went over on an American ship with 2,000 other Americans across, for an 11 day shift over to the Yokohama and rejoined the regiment. Then when the regiment, its time was up, six months after I got there, they left and they were reinforced by the Third Battalion of PPCLI, of which I became a member then. So I stayed with them until June 1953 and came home.
[Paratrooper training] And from there, we went into aircraft, Dakota C-47s and I think our stick of jumpers was 10 on one side, 10 on the other, 20. So we hooked up with a parachute and a reserve chute and learned how to jump out that aircraft and have our chutes opened and drift down to the ground. Great thing, great thing. So we had five regular jumps and one night jump. Then that qualified us for parachuters, paratroopers. So off we went back to the regiment with our wings and our red jumper boats and our red hats and we were some tough, I’m telling you.
Oh yes, yeah, that was the thing, yeah, yeah, we wanted to be that. Yeah, and to come home with wings on your chest, big thing, you know, so, yeah. Yeah. And there was quite a family type camaraderie in the regiment, you know. Of course, our regiment was better than the RCRs [Royal Canadian Regiment] and better than the Van-doos [Royal 22e Régiment] but they thought the same thing about us. So you know, we had a few clashes in between but we were all part of the same family.
[Arriving in Korea] And we weren’t out of Pusan but dammit, the guerillas had blew the tracks up ahead of us or something like that so we were framed up there for a while. And then off we went again and as we went, we would see bodies being hung from the railroad trestles on the other side, some of them fresh bodies, some of them there for a while. And then we caught up to Seoul, which was a real mess at that time too, all bombed out. And we went to join our trucks to, where they were giving ammunition, joined our trucks to go up to our regiment. We saw people from there being led away for execution, they were spies or guerillas or something like that.
Into the trucks after the regiment, met somebody who said, you’re in Able Company and that’s at such and such a place. I had been in Dog Company at home so I wished to join that but I had to go where I was told. So I went up to where the trenches were starting and I started up the trench. Aircraft went flying across, screaming across, I thought it was a bomb and I hit the dirt. So then from then I learned what was incoming, what was out coming and what was aircraft, so.
[Enemy soldiers] Because they were terrific night fighters, they were excellent. They would come up through our wire and they were standing to there in front, waiting for them and guarding and you’d hear, clip, clip, clip, you hear them clipping their wire, right, and working through it. And you couldn’t shoot, you couldn’t throw a grenade down because if you couldn’t show a body, they’d find you $20 or something like that. That was a lot of bucks. Kind of stupid, you know, like here we are in a war and being fined because you had to show. Anyway, that was the story.
Because you could get too itchy in the nighttime because in the nighttime, when you’re standing guard, looking out in the patrol or out into the valley, you can see bushes getting up and walking around. No, they don’t but that’s what you see. One time I remember seeing a whole bunch of I was sure it was trucks going down the Chinese east side with their lights just dimmed out. And the sergeant said, no, that’s fireflies. I said, I know difference, I said, and that one, I think it was. And a couple of days later, we had an attack from them.
When the RCR was hit really bad, they came over, they gave us a lot of artillery fire for a couple days and it was starting to increase. And this one night, bang, it really came on. And up they came. They had come over the night before and laid under, camouflaged the bottom of the hills on the RCR on our side and came up. By gosh, you know, tremendous what they could do. But we fought them off, the RCRs got badly beaten then. I think that was in May 1953 or something.