Photograph of William Thompson in training in Canada - bottom rowWilliam Thompson
Mr. and Mrs. William Thompson at Korea Veterans Association reunion in Winnipeg's at the Last Hurrah event, 2011
Mr. and Mrs. William Thompson at Winnipeg's Korea Veteran Association Last Hurrah event, 2011
"The only time they scared us when, the first time we went up there to hear the artillery shells going over the head, going, bombarding the other one [hill],"
He starts talking about it and damn, maybe I should go down there too. So I went down one time when I went to Regina, Manning Depot they call it. I signed my name there to join the Army. I stayed there for about a week, you know, figured everything out, medical and everything. Everything they figured out. And they ask me, “okay, we going to take you now pass all the experiments.” And “where are you going, where do you want to go, what office do you want to go?” They give me two choices. One was infantry and the other one’s artillery, electrician. Which one you want to go? Well, my brothers and my uncle are now infantry, so I want to go to infantry. I don’t even know what the other ones are. So they put me in the infantry. And they asked what outfit, what outfit do you want to go to. And I started giving them all the outfits again, the RCRs and French Van-Doos they call them, there’s that, that infantry. And there’s PPCLI, Princess Patricia Light Infantry.
We went down there to where our line was supposed to be, where we’re going, frontlines. That’s where we were supposed to because, I didn’t know. You know they didn’t tell you where you were going to go, just take you. But when we go in there, we had seen that great big sort of a mountain. It’s supposed to be a hill, we call it Hill 355 they called it. It’s this pretty steep sides, that’s where the Chinese is used to come trying to get out to that hill because they go through that area to look around and see what’s going on. They’re trying to get a hold of that but they can’t. They where we are, but there’s no going out, they’re trying to go on that one so they won’t climb up.
Yeah, they attacked; they come quite a bit of the time, lots. They showed on TV that they go like ants but not there, not where we are, not that way. They just sort of … now and then they come in different directions, not in one bunch at one place. But they… where we were, there was hills, kind of sharp, you know, both sides.
After the ceasefire was signed, when the first ceasefire was signed, they send word, the officer, our officer, he lives down below the hill, he sent word that there’s no more firing, no, hold your fire, ceasefire. everything stopped. So, alright, and all of a sudden towards the evening, the sky lit up the flares, all they had in front there, they shot up in the air just to light up, because it’s ceasefire, don’t need it no more, in a way. And it’s just like daylight, Christ you could see good earth.
After ceasefire, next morning, we all went to bed, I went to bed right away. I got up in the morning, everybody was up already, looking around. They went our trenches are here, there’s a little road going down this way. They went down that way that direction and they said, “yeah there’s all dead people down there, he says, must be Chinese, couldn’t be Canadians because the Canadians, cause take their dead out right away. They must be Chinese down there or Koreans.” Awe the rotten stink. Smelly. That’s when I used to smell the damn thing while standing up in the trenches, goddamn smell coming in. Well, that’s when I asked the Sergeant, and he said, “ah, it could be a dead deer or dead cat down there, might be dead.” So we didn’t mind nothing but geez, afterward there dead people down there. Not only that, along there, might be some too because might be dead down below the hill too, I don’t know. They don’t take their dead out, they just leave them there.
Not much difference I don’t think from the other one and most of them [Chinese or North Koreans] didn’t have uniforms on, like we have here fatigues or something. They just everyday clothes on. They must have had them but I don’t know. See on the television, they’re all dressed up and all that. They got no shoes on like that either. They’ve got sort of a, not a moccasin, sandals, yeah, sandals, sandals.
No, I didn’t fire nothing just hid myself. Of course we use rifle when they see them coming in but not on the attack of the artillery or mortars out. We’d just hide until it was quiet again. Then they had to go and attack. But most of the time, they’re trying to get hill over there and they hear firing going on out here, we watch over here. See if they’re going to go this way but they don’t. But we shoot harassing fire they called it, just to rake that thing up just so they wouldn’t come up this hill here that’s all.
[Being scared] Not really, godammit, I thought about that, the only time they scared us when, the first time we went up there to hear the artillery shells going over the head, going, bombarding the other one, the other side. That’s when I got scared. What the hell am I doing over here? All night I just hear the thing going over and going over.
Well, they sent it up once in a while, maybe give us a good shot of rum, rum ration they called it. One time I got up there, I got, I kind of got drunk and passed out because the other people don’t drink. They didn’t want to throw it away so they, ah, put her here, we just got cups, tea cups, put her here, I’ll drink it up. And I did drink it up, it didn’t last long.