"It was kind of hairy because on a couple occasions, we were shelled with mortar but fortunately, one of the sergeants that was with us, he could hear the incoming and told us to lay low and so, which we did, and, and then carried on from there. So for a person of my age at that time and had never been involved in war, I found it quite frightening."
So we said, “Well, let’s go to Winnipeg [Manitoba], so,” one of the fellows suggested, “let’s pretend we’re joining up.” So we went to Port Osborne barracks and we went through all the tests, bloodwork, etc., etc., like that, and then when the week was over, the personnel selecting officer called us into his office and asked us what we were going to do. So anyway out of the four people, two of us joined the army. So that was March 17th, 1951.
And I was chosen to go on a draft as they were looking for mechanics to go to Korea. And so I must admit, we had a couple of parties celebrating my leaving and I left on the train, ended up in Jericho Beach in Vancouver [British Columbia] and then from there, they transported us by train down to Seattle, Washington, where we got on a boat and sailed away for 17 days and arrived in a small little village. We ended up going on a smaller ship and ended up at Inchon [South Korea]. We got off the boat there at Inchon and then we were put on a train which was in very bad shape, the windows were blown out of it and things like that and there was a lot of carnage as far as vehicles and ruination of South Korea as we drove along, rode along in the train, up to where I was now posted with actually the 81st Field Regiment which then became Fourth [regiment] RCHA [Royal Canadian Horse Artillery] and took over I think from the third [regiment] RCHA.
So I was one of the mechanics in the field there and I had my own shack built out of ammo cans and I had a canvas over the roof, etc., and I was right next to the guns and they were firing at different times of the day and/or night and these, this shack was built out of ammo cans which were perforated with sort of like nail holes and every time the guns ran off, sand came out of the ammo cans and in the morning when I woke up, for instance, that’s if I got to sleep, we woke up covered with sand. But it became a routine thing.
I also volunteered at one time to go up to the frontlines and help dig an observation post there, which we went in at about 9:00 in the evening under camouflage because the road was what they call a camouflage road , it was a stretch there that the North Koreans seemed to be able to pick people off with mortars. And anyway, we had a helmet and a small shovel and our rifle and away we went. We ran up there, all the way up to the hill and then we dug through until about 5:00 am in the morning and then we had to proceed back to camp, ran back to camp and then we were allowed to sleep and eat, etc., etc. And I did that a couple of times there. It was kind of hairy because on a couple occasions, we were shelled with mortar but fortunately, one of the sergeants that was with us, he could hear the incoming and told us to lay low and so, which we did, and, and then carried on from there. So for a person of my age at that time and had never been involved in war, I found it quite frightening.
Egotistically speaking, when I arrived in Brandon [Manitoba], I thought there’d be a band there playing returning of the soldiers, etc., etc. Well, I think I was only one person that got off in Brandon and there was my mother and my girlfriend there, so that was the start of civilian life right there.