Veteran Stories:
George “Red” Bonney

Army

  • Mr. George Bonney. August, 2011.

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"So he said, “Now, I want you boys to remember this because this is what happens if you fall asleep on guard duty.” So, from that point on, there wasn’t anyone falling asleep on guard duty, let me tell you."

Transcript

We took a mountain course at Miryang [Korea], [Lieutenant-]Colonel Jim Stone was our [battalion] commander, and we took, I think it was about six weeks training in the mountains. And we were hunting guerillas and learning different tactics that we would need when we were committed to the front. The Americans wanted to commit us immediately, but Colonel Stone had orders by the Canadian government not to commit us until we were properly trained.

And that was very important because we didn’t really have very much training at that point. We only had about three months in Canada, before we were shipped over. So, we took our six weeks course and so then we had about four and a half months and so then that is the time that we, in February [1951], that we went into the front, into action. And our first baptism of action and war, and brutality, etc., was, we came into this valley, and here was a bunch of soldiers laying burned and mutilated on the side of the road and Colonel Stone stopped a truck convoy for us to get out and mingle around these bodies. They were an American engineering company that had been murdered during the night, several nights before, and it was a pretty distressing sight for an 18-year-old coming from Canada. So he said, “Now, I want you boys to remember this because this is what happens if you fall asleep on guard duty.” So, from that point on, there wasn’t anyone falling asleep on guard duty, let me tell you.

So, one of the first actions that my company ran across, or was involved in, we started out one morning at about four o’clock in the morning, broke ice - this was in February - shaved, and had breakfast and started marching. So we marched all day, and we put in an attack at this particular hill, I can’t remember the number, at about dusk. So the particular action took about, oh, possibly, you know, it seemed like maybe 20 minutes or half an hour, but it was very likely about ten minutes. But in that time, there was several people severely wounded, and we did take the hill, and then we had, the Chinese counterattacked us. And we had a mortar, we had one mortar left out of three, that we had managed to salvage during the day, long day’s march, because some people had dropped out from fatigue. So we were called into action with the mortar and the mortar probably saved the day for us on that particular hill.

I was promoted at that time to a full corporal because of that action, by Captain Owen Brown, our company commander. So, you know we were all pretty tired after about, from daylight until dark marching with our, carrying our equipment, but someone had to take the wounded down to an aid post which would be around F Echelon, for Fighting Echelon, so that was down a mountain and following this main supply route. Corporals, I was a full corporal then, we didn’t have a map board, we didn’t have a compass, I had no way of knowing exactly where I was going. The only thing that guided me was artillery exploding into Chinese lands off to my right. So I used this as a guide and so I was in charge of four stretcher bearers, a medic, and myself. So we went down this mountain and it took us all night on this mountain to get down to the main supply route.

We fell in Chinese trenches we had just taken the way up, and it was raining and it was just a terrible, terrible night. We sheltered under a cliff for a couple of hours and as terrible as it was for us, it must have been absolutely awful for the guy that was on the stretcher, because we dumped him several times. And each time we’d get him back on, they’d pump full of morphine again, and on we’d go again. So we finally made it down to the main supply route and a jeep comes along and it was our Brigadier General Rockingham.* And he said, “Where have you boys come from?” Because you can imagine at this time, it was about close to 40 hours we hadn’t slept, we hadn’t stopped. And he said, “Where are you boys from?” and I said, “Well, 2 PPCLI up in the hill so and so,” - I can’t remember what it was. And he said, “Have you eaten anything?” And I said, “No, of course not.”

So there was two staff officers in his jeep and he unloaded them and took the rations and gave us the rations, put the stretcher on his jeep and roared off to a medical aid station. While they took the jeep and the wounded to the aid station. So then, we just went back up to our position again and kept on going. So that’s that story.

* At that time commanding officer, 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade

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