Veteran Stories:
John Larry Smith

Army

  • Canadian soldiers on Hill 355.

    Don Landry
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"You lived to try and get through another day and then you’d try and put that out of your system because you knew that probably the next day was going to be as bad, if not worse."

Transcript

Well, it was a ragged and torn country and you know, there wasn’t much to see. And all you’re seeing was that that, you know, the demolition, the destruction, all the way up to where you’re going to be building it, whichever hill your platoon or company was being assigned to. I was assigned to Charlie Company, Third Battalion and we were on Hill 355. Our first initial engagement was, I think it started around 11:00 in the evening, I’m not quite sure of the time but it was around that time, probably between 10:00 and midnight sometime when we started. But we were all dug in and that and we were fairly high up on the hill and the Chinese started working up the hill and when we started to fire down. And it went off pretty good. The first attack was fairly good. The second attack was more intense and there was more, more Chinese than North Korean troops. So it was, but it was, it still wasn’t as bad as some of the other ones that I know people went through. I survived it, so, and I’m still alive today and I thank my higher power for all the things that, you know, took place in my life over there. That I’m still here and I lost some friends over there, so both friends in our unit, the Patricias [a nickname for the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment] but some Van Doos [a nickname for the Royal 22e Régiment] when we’re out on echelon rest and that, you know, from the other units, the Van Doos and the New Zealanders which were on our other side at that time, the Van Doos on the one side of us. And when I got there, they were just finishing an attack but the hill was held by the U.S. And then the Canadians had to go back in and take it but that happened just before I got to the line. You know, I had a lot to be thankful for, because you’d be working your way up, trying to get through their lines to get to your lines, if you were starting at the bottom of the hill up, you know, and you’d have to go through all these trails and the Chinese were noted for coming in and changing a minefield on you. You’d walk out one direction and coming back in, you didn’t know it was but when you get to that spot again, it wasn’t there, it was someplace else, maybe 100 feet the other way or 100 feet more in front of you. But I guess that’s all part of war. And I think we took it in our stride. We took it in our stride because you know, our leaders at that time, you know, they were all good military people. And they knew what was going on through their observations in that reports and that they got, so they’d know where we’d have to be in certain trenches or in certain dugouts, you know with an arc of view. You lived to try and get through another day and then you’d try and put that out of your system because you knew that probably the next day was going to be as bad, if not worse. So you know, you would contemplate what was going to be the next step, I think. At least I always took it that way. And I know some of the people that I were with had the same kind of thoughts as, as I did. And a lot of us that were there at that particular time, you know, they were at that age of being 20, 21, 22 years of age and the people that were running us were maybe 10 years old or five years older, but we relied on them to get us through any particular instance. And I know today that when I look back on it, life was probably hell. But at the time, it didn’t seem like hell. But then when we got there on our revisit last November and you seen these places and it threw a different light on it all. You know. That you were stupid enough to go through something like that, even at that age. How did we ever survive?
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