So I went out and I found a chap crawling along a pathway and his name was [Gordon] Manktelow, and I got to him and he had been stabbed 26 times all over - you could see where the marks were, with his own bayonet on his own rifle.
Serving with The Royal Canadian Regiment in Korea, Sam Carr witnessed the bitter fighting up close. Trench warfare, close combat and casualties stick with him in his memories and have scarred him in profound ways.
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We were on one hill and we were closer to the left side of the flank of the whole front, and we had... let’s see, we had three positions - one up and two back, and this one up here we had the outpost to look after, and the outpost was about - oh, easy 1,000 metres out in front of us. And that was the ones where we had to take rations back and forth to them, and in front of that was a listening post. And the listening post we’d always man it with about four men, out in front of that, and then the outpost then would be... the Americans took over from that position once.
Anyway, I used to be the guy that takes the porters out, like I told you this before. And one night around about one o’clock in the morning I’m standing guard duty and it was pretty dark; I mean real dark, no moon, some stars, and I’m standing there and the Sergeant Major is hollering my name and I wouldn’t answer. And I knew something was up because I always go out to that position and I thought, ‘Well, here we go again’. So I ignored him and kept ignoring him and kept going around the whole position calling my name. And then finally he got up behind me and hollered my name and of course I hollered, ‘Sir’. And then he said, ‘We’ve…we’ve got a problem out in the outpost, they’ve been hit pretty hard and I want you to take from the A companies 26 stretcher bearers out and show them the way out and they’re going to bring back the dead and the wounded. So I want you to take three Sergeants with you and you have to tell them where you want the Bren guns [light machine guns]’. I said, ‘Sir, where I want to bring them’? He said, ‘You know the valley, you can suggest them that they put one in a certain position, and you know it better than I’. It wasn’t right for me to be telling these Sergeants where to put their guns.
But we did get out there and I told the Sergeant and I says, ‘If you put one down here because of the draw, and they could come across any enemy up there and cut us off’. And he said, ‘Who the heck are you telling me’? I said, ‘Only passing on information’. So I says, ‘You don’t have to... I’m only suggesting to you what I see’ because I said, ‘I come out here all the time’.
So I went up and I had the same thing. It was like a series of draws, so you had to cover those draws where you could easily get cut off if we were coming through. So then I took the stretcher bearers up to the position and it was starting to come first light by the time I got out there, and it took time for us to gather and we couldn’t move that fast - you know, we had to be careful because you didn’t know if there was another patrol that went ahead of you from another position.
So we got up to the position and got in and the first thing I did, because you could hardly see where anybody was at this time, or whatever happened, and I asked the Sergeants and they said, ‘Who is out in the listening post?’ I said, ‘I don’t know’. I said, ‘You’re the one who puts them out there.’ ‘No way’, he says ‘it’s the platoon commander’. I said, ‘Well, don’t you normally know exactly what he’s saying’? And he said…I think he was a little bit shook up because he was another Second World War veteran; we had a lot of Second World War veterans. And I said, ‘Well, did you not go out there to see’? He said, ‘I’m not going out there’ because the listening post had got hit, more so than the main position.
So I went out and I found a chap crawling along a pathway and his name was [Gordon] Manktelow, and I got to him and he had been stabbed 26 times all over - you could see where the marks were, with his own bayonet on his own rifle. But because of the parka that he was wearing, an Arctic parka and that double underneath padding, the 26 marks were on his body but... just broke the skin. And if you ever go back in the Toronto Star there was an article in there in that era that said ‘The Man the Chinese Couldn’t Kill’, and they had an article in the Toronto Star about this.
Anyway, I tried to pick him up, and he was six foot tall, your height, maybe bigger, and I could smell the gangrene and his whole back was... like was all shot up because off the pieces of shrapnel that hit him, and he had a grenade in his hand. When I picked him up and got him standing up I said, ‘You can drop that grenade’ without thinking that the pin was already gone, because I think the idea with the grenade was they gave it to him so he would kill himself, I suppose. So I checked and I was lucky; there was still a pin in. So I tried to walk with him but I couldn’t because he was too tall and his leg was dragging so I called for the stretcher bearers and we took him out.
When I got up into position one guy was killed, was standing outside the wire - not standing, partly laying in the wire where he’d tried to get back in because they had shelled that position fairly heavily - and he only got in there and he got killed just coming in the wire. The other one who got in the wire, the story about him was that he... the shell hit him or he got shot - we could never tell because he was shot in the head and he was also... a shell hit him in his back and peeled his whole back; it was just red flesh. Couldn’t find his legs, could find his boots, couldn’t find his feet. We found the feet two days later in the boots.
The guy that sent that other guy out there, this fellow had already cleared the whole battalion back as far as B echelon to go home and to go on a jump course because his battalion, second battalion was going home. His name was Gilmore and Gilmore was sent all the way back because they didn’t have a place for him to sleep, so they sent him all the way out to the outpost. None of us really know the real story of why he actually got backed up there that far - whether he had volunteered or wanted to say, ‘Hello’, to the boys, or something like that and not thinking we were ever going to get hit’.
The other guys, a friend of mine, his name was Mitchell, he was laying there with his eyes open, straight up, his eyes were looking straight up - blue eyes and this teeth gritting. I went over to him and I thought, ‘Oh my God, he looks fairly normal and nothing hit him on the top, over his stomach or any place’. Apparently, a piece of shrapnel had gone through his gum rubber boots that I was telling you about, and had spun around inside and severed the whole ankle and he bled out right away, like within seconds.
So I offered to carry him back on a stretcher because my job really, basically, was done. And I went to pick him up because he was tall on the stretcher and his foot kept hitting me in the groin. I said to the guy; I said, ‘Just hold it, I can’t do this’. And he said, ‘What’s the problem’? I said... he said, ‘He won’t see nothing’. I said, ‘What are you going to do’? So he put the palm of his hand on his knee and took it and broke it. And then he wrapped it up with wire and then he said, ‘Okay, pick it up’. I said, ‘No, I’m not doing this now’. I said, ‘Don’t you have any respect for these guys’? And I said, ‘It’s no matter whether you’re dead or not he’s still one of us, you know’.