Veteran Stories:
Frank Poole

Army

  • Frank Poole's platoon in training prior to their posting to Korea. Poole is wearing the white coveralls in the centre.

  • Frank Poole's battle map from the period of October 1951 to January 1952

    Frank Poole
  • Frank Poole's battle map from the period of October 1951 to January 1952

  • Frank Poole's battle map from the period of October 1951 to January 1952

  • Frank Poole's battle map from the period of October 1951 to January 1952

  • A Christmas card from Chinese troops left on barbed wire fences in front of Canadian positions.

  • The inside of a Christmas card left by Chinese troops.

  • A photograph of a man whose body was exposed to an atomic blast in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, Japan. Canadian soldiers traveled to Korea through Japan and many such images were brought back with them.

  • Preparing the platoon headquarters bunker in January/February 1952

  • Korean "housegirls" who kept the Canadian tents clean and were waitresses in the Officer's Mess.

  • Preparing the platoon headquarters bunker in January/February 1952

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"There’d be a mine and then a trip wire running over to the next mine and that trip wire in the front row had been moved across the path and tied to a tree. And I felt that with my ankle. I almost hooked the wire and caused the mine to blow up. But anyhow I felt it and I traced it out to the tree and unhooked it and put it back where I had originally laid that mine."

Transcript

I’d gone to university for a year after WW2 and I obtained a job in the civil service in Ottawa. So I arrived in the summer of 1948 in Ottawa and I had a permanent position in the Department of Transport. In the meantime I met a chap who worked beside me, the next desk, and he had been in the Air Force and he was now in the Governor General’s Foot Guards. So I went with him one night over to Cartier Square where the Foot Guards had their headquarters, and I was talking to a Lieutenant over there and I found out that he had been in my squadron [RCAF 420 Squadron], The Snowy Owls, during the war. And he asked me if I had been commissioned and I said, “Yes.” And he said, “Well we’re looking for some officers now.” He said, “Would you consider getting your commission and going to Camp Borden for a six month training course?” And I said I would talk that over with my boss and I was granted six month absence from my job. I went to Borden and graduated as a Lieutenant and came back to the Foot Guards and the following summer the Korean War broke out. So I went down to Kingston and enlisted.

When I joined the Second Battalion [of the Royal Canadian Regiment] I was sent to B Company, Baker Company. And I got up there on the hill and I met my Platoon Sergeant and it was getting close to suppertime. And so we went to his dugout which was just sort of dug in to the side of the hill. It had sandbags for a door and a little shelf for a sleeping bag. And it had – for lighting it had – he had a spoon shoved into the earth and a candle was burning on that. And so he was briefing me on the names of the corporals that were commanding the sections and just then one of our soldiers came through the sandbag door and said, “The Chinese are here! The Chinese are here!” And I said, “Holy Christ.” I hadn’t been in the company more than an hour and I’m already ready to engage them in battle.

So the Sergeant snuffed out the candle and left me and I had no idea where anybody was located so I drew my pistol and I could hear some banging going on and popping and whatnot. And I ran out the door and I tripped in this little trowel trench that was outside the door. And I sort of rolled down the hill towards the barbed wire and I lost my pistol. And then I realized it was on a lanyard so I reeled it back in and I thought Geez, I’d cocked the handle and it might have fired and killed me. But I retrieved it anyway and I went down where I heard all the noise and there was a – the popping was these flares that they were throwing out down the hill and there was a Chinese soldier trapped in the wire. So we went down and retrieved him. He had a bullet wound right through his chest so the Major said, “Well get a stretcher party ready,” so they can get him back to the Regimental Aid Post and then go ahead. That’s what I did. I organized the stretcher bearers and a guard party and they went back to the Regimental Aid Post and the medical officer worked on this guy and they saved his life.

One patrol I took out, I had about – it was a fighting patrol – I had around 20 men altogether. And as we went out I had – near where my – on the left side of that minefield that we put in, we had a – there was a path and we had trip wires going between the mines to enlarge the front. Like there’d be a mine and then a trip wire running over to the next mine and that trip wire in the front row had been moved across the path and tied to a tree. And I felt that with my ankle. I almost hooked the wire and caused the mine to blow up. But anyhow I felt it and I traced it out to the tree and unhooked it and put it back where I had originally laid that mine. So that was a close encounter.

Then we went across the valley and there was a stream called the Samich’on in the middle of the valley and we had to ford that. And on the other side we established a firm base of a bren gun and two or three men, a Corporal and the rest of us spread out and went up the mountain a little bit. And then we were showered with grenades and rifle fire. They heard us coming I guess. So then we withdraw back to the firm base and I called in some artillery and these shells landed on the hill and it would prevent any enemy from following us and then we withdrew under cover of shellfire.

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