Veteran Stories:
Keith “Duke” Sherritt

Army

  • Chinese prisoners of war, Korea, 1951 or 1952.

    Keith Sherritt
  • Keith Sherritt and South Korean people, 1951.

    Keith Sherritt
  • Keith Sherritt at the Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria, BC, November 2011.

    Historica Canada
  • Keith Sherritt and friends in Japan, on their way home from Korea. Keith Sherritt is standing, wearing a cap.

    Keith Sherritt
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"I moved into the bunker there and the night we got surrounded, they hit the RCRs on the spur, the little hill down below us, and they killed a bunch, captured a bunch and they broke through. And one artillery officer, not mine, called down, fire on our own position because we were surrounded."

Transcript

What I liked most about joining the army was that they made a man out of me. And all the discipline, which I didn’t like at first, all the discipline paid off. Especially when we went to Richmond [Manitoba], I went to Shiloh [Manitoba] for training, I did my jump course there, and then we finished the training and then the accident at Canoe River in British Columbia, a lot of the guys were hurt and some died [21 November 1950, near Valemount, British Columbia, Canada, when a westbound troop train and the eastbound Canadian National Railway Continental Limited collided head-on. The collision killed 21 soldiers from 2 Field Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery]. And I was a radio operator and we brought a train into Shiloh and we went straight down from there to Seattle and boarded the boat. Because they were short of radio operators I guess. And then it took us about 16 days from Seattle, Washington, to Yokahama, Japan, and then we left there and went to Korea. And I think it was Inchon [Korea], but anyway, we had to go in by landing barges. Not, we weren’t attacking because it was ours but I understand so many ships were sunk that they couldn’t get the big one in. So we had to go in by landing barges and then when we got there, and we lined up and everything, everything is new to us, and we were standing there and the people we were relieving didn’t have any clothes, I mean, to go back to Canada in. And we lined up and like this guy was about my size and I gave him my grey coat and so he’d something warm to wear. This is a true story. And then I got a parka and everything else and then we moved out to the front, or close to it. I was scared, to tell you the truth. And then when we got there, we had to relax a little bit and, what was I going to say? And then we moved into our position and I was sent to Hill 355 because that’s where they needed a radio operator at the observation post. And that’s where your officer calls down to fire. And I radioed back to the guns, like it goes like he’s spotted something and he’ll say, and I’m on the radio and he says, “Battery target, battery target, battery target.” I get on the mike on the radio and I say back to the guns, and I say, “Battery target, battery target, battery target,” and they all run to the guns. And then he makes corrections and everything else. [Hill 355, 23 to 24 October 1952, after intense enemy bombardment, Chinese soldiers launched an assault on B Company, 1 Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment’s position on the hill, the advance was halted due to counter-attack from D Company, Royal Canadian Regiment and heavy artillery fire from 1 Battalion, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery] But then after that, I moved to Hill 355 and I was on there a long time. And it wasn’t bad until they mortared us pretty badly and then at the bottom of the hill, they called a spur [Kip’un’gol], and to get there, you’ve got to drive there and for, they called it the bowling alley or the mad mile because you’re under enemy observation for a whole mile on the big hill across from us. And they can lay down mortar fire and try to knock you out. But anyways, what was I saying, anyways, I moved into the bunker there and the night we got surrounded, they hit the RCRs on the spur, the little hill down below us, and they killed a bunch, captured a bunch and they broke through. And one artillery officer, not mine, called down, fire on our own position because we were surrounded, and they pounded fire in there, right on our own position and then the Princess Patricia’s [1 Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] counter-attacked and drove the Chinese into the wall of fire and cut them to ribbons. And then that’s how we got relieved. And like I said, I was 19 and very scared but I didn’t run and neither did anybody else and that made me feel proud. When we come back, there was no parades, no flag waving. They put us on a train and sent us home for a couple of days and they forgot about us. And that’s why they called it Canada’s forgotten war.
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