So for the next 10 months, that’s what I did, played the guitar and sang. We went to a two week tour up to Tokyo. We went two tours over to Korea with the show, two different shows.
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I joined up in 1950, went to Camp Borden [Ontario]. Met a friend [Paul Tessier] there who I didn’t see again until Korea but he played guitar and at that time, I played guitar and I sang. So he would play a song on the guitar and I would sing a song. And it would alternate back and forth for a couple of hours. I don’t know, I can’t remember one song now but that’s age.
He [Paul Tessier] transferred to the Royal Canadian Regiment, the RCRs, and I went with my father’s old regiment, the PPCLI [Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry], first battalion. I was there [Korea] for approximately a week to two weeks, I’m not exactly sure the time frame. But we were digging holes in the ground so we could set up a bunker. This is going to be our home for the next year. Not too inviting but nevertheless. The roof wasn’t on it yet and we had just came back from getting our rations for the evening and finished that and we were going to put a roof on and the Chinese started to shell us. And you could hear them coming in closer and closer and there was two that came right overtop of our bunker.
A friend of mine I was bunking with at that time, I can’t remember his first name, his last name was Kingsbury and I yelled at him, I said, “Kingsbury, duck!” and I swung around fast and I was carrying a U.S. marine knife and I came down on top of it. It came out of the scabbard and it penetrated two layers of webbing, my uniform, everything. And I stood up and it was sticking out of me and oh my God. I pulled it out and I had cut myself previously the same day with that same knife and I said a nasty word and I threw it as far as I could throw it. I put my hand down and there was blood coming out and I said, “Kingsbury, I think I stabbed myself.” Funny now but not funny at the time.
So we proceeded down the hill going to headquarters company where the medical unit was and the Chinese, I think they were a mobile unit and they could see us walking down the road from their position and they were starting to shell us. And we dove for the road at one occasion and after that, it landed right behind us, I got up and I ran. I didn’t care about blood or anything, I was trying to get out of there.
While I was in the hospital, you remember I had said there was a friend of mine from Camp Borden, Paul Tessier, he showed up at the hospital. And I’m in the hospital bed and he came in, he said, “Doug,” and I said, “Paul.” Oh. This was over a year later [after basic training]. So he was still in the RCRs and I said, “How are you doing?” He said, “Well, I got wounded and I came back here and I’m now entertaining in a variety show [Johnny Canuck Fun Review] that the army’s putting on.” I said, “Oh, really?” He said, “Doug, can you get out of here and come down to see our officer?” He said, “There’s a chance that you can get on with this army show. And I said, “Well, I have to go to rehabilitation first.” So about two weeks later, I went down to see the officer in command who was Lieutenant Gordon Atkinson and quite a popular CBC entertainer at one point in time, theatre, etc., etc.
So anyway, I could play the guitar, not great but good enough. I sang a few Hank Williams songs and I could, yodel. And that went over great. So as soon as he heard that, he [Gordon Atkinson] said, “You’re on, then I’ll get you transferred to the show. So for the next 10 months, that’s what I did, played the guitar and sang. We went to a two week tour up to Tokyo. We went two tours over to Korea with the show, two different shows. And after that, I came home.
But an interesting story while we were up in Tokyo, we were playing the U.S. bases, air force bases, hospitals, everything, we played the Ernie Pyle Theatre in Tokyo, which is not there anymore. It’s, I don’t know what it is now but the officer in charge of it had come up to our officer, Gordon Atkinson, and he said, “I don’t think your show has enough quality to play this theatre.” Oh, okay. We filled the theatre two nights in a row and after that, he came to each and every one of us, shook our hand and apologized. So that was kind of nice.
I played the guitar for, what was his name, I think his name was Charette. And he was an excellent singer and it [the song he sang] was “Golden Earrings.” So I played guitar for that. The western portion, we had a, one of the acts was the “Moonshiners” and it was a hillbilly act. Did all kinds of stupid things on stage. [Another act was circus themed] Fellow from Timmins, Ontario, a Corporal Ed Couture, laid on a bed of nails and then he ate fire. No, that was Bob Silicker, Bob Silicker, I think if I remember correctly, was from Brandon, Manitoba or Portage de Prairie. I think it was Brandon.
Lots of interesting stories about the show but I think the most interesting story that I’m curious as to why there has never been any story about this show and about the participants who were all soldiers, most of them wounded or injured in action, and came back to entertain. But there has never been anything said.