Veteran Stories:
Joseph Ganin

Army

  • At the frontline in 1952, soldiers are ready to go replace American troops. Mr. Ganin is on the right.

    Joseph Ganin
  • Mr. Joseph Ganin of the 1st Battalion of Le Royal 22e Régiment during the Korean War, 1952-1953.

    Joseph Ganin
  • Private Ganin during advance training at Camp Borden, Ontario, 1951.

    Joseph Ganin
  • Joseph Ganin in the street of Seoul, 1952.

    Joseph Ganin
  • His tour in Korea over, Mr. Ganin poses for the camera aboard the boat that brings him back to Canada.

    Joseph Ganin
  • Picture of Korean women begging for food. Mr. Ganin is on the right. 1952.

    Joseph Ganin
  • Acting Sergeant Joseph Ganin in Germany, circa 1955-1956.

    Joseph Ganin
  • Mr. Joseph Ganin, April 2012.

    The Memory Project
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"In other words, it was a trap. So we withdrew. The next day, we went back, during the daytime. He wasn’t there and we never heard from him again. He never came back with the prisoners and that bothered me."

Transcript

I was part of the last company [D Company, 1st Battalion, Le Royal 22e Régiment]. When I got there, they were carrying out training in the “bullpen” [training area] with the 1st Battalion [Le Royal 22e Régiment]. The first Koreans we saw were in towns like Pusan [South Korea]. But when we went up to the frontlines, there were even more. They were directly behind the lines. Some of them had farms and they were directly behind the lines. I wouldn’t say that they were at the base of the mountain, but we were pretty far up.

The Chinese didn’t have any planes. So when they showed their heads, the American planes came. So the Chinese did all their attacks at night. During the day we slept, ate, and rested. Of course, there was guard duty and all that. At night, everyone was [ready]. Just before nightfall, everyone would wait. It’s more dangerous to advance at twilight. The same thing for the morning, because even if we thought they wouldn’t do it, it didn’t mean that they wouldn’t. So everything took place at night, in the trenches and we conducted patrols.

We conducted various patrols. Normally, when we patrolled, we took half of one platoon and then half of another platoon and went out. Or three of us would go out to see what was happening in the field. That would all be decided by B Echelon [commanders at rear positions]. It depended on what the “bosses” wanted, what the big “bosses” wanted. Then it was decided how big the patrol was to be. And when their orders came down to us, they would say, “We want a reconnaissance patrol and we want to know what’s happening there, there, and there.” Or they would ask for a fighting patrol, a “battle” patrol. They would tell us where they wanted us to go.

I did 17 fighting [patrols]. Some were large and some were small, okay. And I did eight or nine three-man reconnaissance patrols. During one of our fighting patrols, we lost [Private] Baker. We lost him and when he went down, I went to see him, and there were two [soldiers]. I was a bit further behind, but I was the one with the first-aid kit with the large bandages and all that. He had a hole in the head. The other soldier, we couldn’t see anything, but he was unconscious. So me and another guy, we decided to bring him with us, we dragged him because they were still firing at us. We dragged him but, anyway, he was dead. They told us that he was dead. So we left Baker [back] there.

I was in Ottawa, I had come back. We had 60 days. We were supposed to have 30 days of leave per year. The only time I had 30 was then, plus 30 special [days].  So I was sitting in the Rideau movie theatre in Ottawa with my girlfriend. On the screen, they showed the first liberated Canadian prisoners of war. And who came off the airplane? Baker! I never got a chance to talk to him again after that because we never saw each other again. I didn’t go see him to tell him that we had left him there, either. I guess he still had the bullet in his head. They hadn’t taken it out.

[Interviewer:] “You were certain that he was dead when you left him?”

Yes, yes, that really bothered me.

This was a guy from 2nd [Battalion] who contracted a minor illness. They kept him there. He had to rest. The 2nd left [to return to Canada] and they kept him [and transferred him to 1st Battalion]. They sent him back to the front and were attacked. He had gone out [on patrol], to an outpost. They put him on the frontline. In my opinion, they should never have done that, he had done his time. Anyway, he was at the outpost, I think his name was Ladouceur, but I’m not sure.*

We had an electrical minefield and we were being attacked from the side of the minefield. So we decided to go get them out of there. It was only supposed to be a patrol. Because there was a platoon in front of us and that’s where the action was taking place, we went to the side. When we arrived to enter the trail that was cleared, which we knew was cleared, he yelled out to us, “It’s an ambush!” In other words, it was a trap. So we withdrew. The next day, we went back, during the daytime. He wasn’t there and we never heard from him again. He never came back with the prisoners and that bothered me.

* Maurice Joseph Gaston Ladouceur from Saint-Jovite, Quebec; disappeared, presumed dead, 6 September 1952

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