Veteran Stories:
Frank Woychsyn

Army

  • Frank Woychsyn on top of a Sherman tank

    Frank Woychsyn
  • Frank Woychsyn on top of a Bren Gun Carrier

    Frank Woychsyn
  • Frank Woychsyn in front of a United Nations traffic sign.

    Frank Woychsyn
  • Contemporary photograph of Frank Woychsyn taken at the Korea Veterans Association Last Hurrah reunion in Winnipeg, 2011.

  • North Korean pamplet for a "safe conduct pass." Propaganda used on Canadian soldiers.

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"The next day I told the pioneers about it, the guy who defuses bombs, and they looked for it, they found it about 20 feet from where I was."

Transcript

Well, I had read about the opportunities for people, not so much in the Army at that time, there was a war on, but for education after. I did go to school for two years after I got out of the army. And I took a correspondence course while I was Korea through the Department of Veterans Affairs because my mathematics was not that good and I needed this for what I was going to do. I needed equivalent of the first year mathematics that an Electrical Engineer would have. I only high school and yes, so I went to school in Manitoba here and I became a television repairman. I was the first fully qualified television repairman in Brandon.

Oh yes, yeah, I remember the training ride, yeah. We had one car, the passenger car, it was put in the middle of a passenger train. Nothing but soldiers in there. And 10:00, 11:0 at night, those guys were running up and down the aisles with their shorts on and people wanting to go from one part of the train to the other, the ladies were walking through and seeing these guys in their shorts shorts, pillow fights, feathers on the ground. And one lady went through three times.

It was difficult in that I wasn’t used to being bossed around as much as I was, like you know, but you finally learn that this has to be done because you’re going to have to learn later on when you get to advanced training that you have to do what you’re told. It’s not only your life you look after but your friends around you, if you do something wrong, they could be, you know, put in peril. So yeah, listen to this and got over and NCOs were very good, I’d say 90 percent of them were Second World War veterans at that time, sergeants, corporals, they were all Second World War veterans, yeah. So they’d been through the mill before they knew how to treat people.

The first time we went to the firing range in Ipperwash, we had the old 303 rifles which were vintage of the First World War guns. But they were good sniper rifles, that they had a lot of power and the bullets could go a long ways and they trained there and out of the company of 129 men, I was the top shot. But I cheated.

Well, we were all laying down shooting. Now, you get on your elbows like this, you lay on your stomach, your legs out like this and you sit like that for two or three minutes, they don’t care how strong you are your arms start shaking. And your back is arched in a ways normally it’s not arched, so what I do, I put the rifle on the ground, the butt, my arm over the top of the butt right here and they have this strap that goes over the shoulder to carry, I’ve got my hand on the strap here and I squeeze it, didn’t come up high enough, so I piled two to three inches of dirt, put it on there, put the arm down here, now I can, I’m right on the target, I can, I can see the target, no shaking. So then the guy would say shoot, we’d all shoot one round and then the fellows at the target had sticks with round things on, they would lay it on where your bullet went. Well, from training Camp Wainwright, this is where we went to Fort Louis in Washington to learn how to use and maintain a night scope.

Now, the Canadian army didn’t have any and they wanted us for the snipers. So we went there to train, we went to Calgary by a small little panel bus. We got a train from there and I forget the name of the army camp in British Columbia, it’s about 125, 150 miles east of Vancouver. [CFB Chilliwack] And from there, we got on the bus, that was about 20 Canadians altogether, six or seven were officers, all going down there, but we were the only, there were eight of us, were going down to learn how to use and maintain a nightscope, and that was a heat seeking device. As long as the temperature, was between a person’s body weight which was normally around 98 degrees, and 25 degrees difference, you could pick up the heat and you could see the people quite clearly. And the total weight of this outfit was about 35 pounds, I’d say 65 percent was the weight of the battery, it had a battery pack with it. And you had one carbine rifle, a regular gun and this thing’s mounted on top, it had a barrel about, as round as a toonie, six or seven inches long and then the tinned like this to about eight inch screen. And we watched on the screen.

As we all went to the Atomic bomb test, about 75 miles north of Nevada. they put us on the bus one day and the third day there, never told us where we were going or what we were doing and drove for about, I don’t know, 45 minutes I guess, all got out and then we were told what’s going happen. They said, see that tower way over there, about a mile and a half, you could see about 100 foot tower with a big bulb on the top. He said, that’s an atomic bomb, we’re going to explode it. You guys are going to see what it does. I looked around and I could see there was about three dozen vehicles, old vehicles, some new ones even motorhomes, spread from 100 yards up to a mile away from this bomb, they wanted to see how much damage had been done to all these vehicles. So we were taken to a trench in the sand, which is about three feet deep and I don’t know how they dig these but over the weeks and months, it gets windy, the wind fills these things, some are supported with sandbags, so we were told, you stay in here when you hear the long whistle, everybody get into there, as deep as you can and don’t look up, don’t look anywhere until you hear two quick shots of a siren.

Okay, we get in there, half an hour later, it was hot there, who, we had water but it was warm water, it was hot. So the long siren came, we all ducked down, everybody all ducked down. Five minutes, ten minutes passed over, nothing happened. Two quick shots of the siren. So we all got up, I guess that happened once more after that. Third time it happened, a lot of the guys didn’t get down, its not going off. Well it went off. The third time, here we here all in short sleeve shirts and one guy got all his skin burned off his arm, the blast hit him. Yeah, hit the sand.

So anyway, after everything started to settle, we were all told to get up, we’re going to walk to where the blast was. So we started walking and the stuff’s all coming down on us. We were never told radioactivity is going to hurt you but you all walked and when you got about a quarter mile from the blast site, if you ever walked on a mud puddle that froze and in the morning, all the water’s run out, and you’re walking on it and break it, the sand will crystallize from the heat and we were walking in that and breaking through just like ice.

One night I remember, I was on Hill 355, the one to the left of it. It must have been 10:30, 11:00. The mortars stats coming in from our, from the other side, all over the place. And then we started shooting back, you can hear the mortars, they hiss through the air, they hit. Anyway, everything went quiet, after 10 minutes, so I come out of the bunker, put my parka on and I said, before things start again, I’d better go and relieve myself and just about 25 inch from me was a urinal. What they used to use, they used to use a metal rocket cases the rockets came in and those ends of the, these cases had snaps on, you could snap two, three, four together at one time. So they would hammer one of these into the ground and for use. So I go there relieved myself and I hear from, ssshhh, bup, nothing happened. The next day I told the pioneers about it the guy who defuses bombs and they looked for it, they found it about 20 feet from where I was.

One night, the, there was the tank to the left of us, 45 degrees, 60 to 75 feet away, had a searchlight on it, about two foot searchlight. I guess they had two way radio on there, because big antenna up in there, 15 feet, so someone I guess called them up and said, turn the light on and sight such a place, and they was trying to sight little to the left, little to the right, about 1.5 minutes, North Koreans are shooting at this with anti-aircraft guns. Now, these bullets are six inches long and this thick and they were bouncing off that bank hear the banging the coming right towards us. So we all kind of ducked and one guy found one of these bullets twisted right in the middle, he took it home as a souvenir. I looked around, I couldn’t find any.

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