Veteran Stories:
George Couture

Air Force

  • Sergeant George Couture serving with The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

    George Couture
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"The people are hard working. If you ever, ever seen how they raise their rice [...], the rice is planted in the water and all the women and the children do all the work. And they fertilize it by the human waste."

Transcript

We did a lot of patrols and we weren’t attacked, not in my position. It was B Company of the PPCLI [1st Battalion, The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] for the whole month I spent up in the front line. There was a bit of firing and the Chinese fired back at us but no enemy attack in strength. I never had much to do with these patrols but they would come through our positions and they – Battalion Headquarters would advise who was going to be on the patrols and usually it consists of let’s say 25 men and different weapons. We didn’t have much to be scared to come out in the open and roam around and stay within our […] lines. The only time you’d hear shells coming in and you’d take cover. But the Korean people, we never seen any of them around close to the front lines. I spent 14 months – like I say, the first month I spent up in the front line. And then – in the battalion there was one transport sergeant who runs all the vehicles under the transport officer. Now he was a war veteran. He spent time – he was captured at the battle of Dieppe [August 19th, 1942] and after the war he joined the PPCLI and came as our transport sergeant in Korea. But he made a mistake of going up forward to change a flat tire in the commanding officer’s jeep and while he was in that front forward position, an enemy’s shell, a mortar shell I believe it was, come in and landed in the trailer of the jeep and blew this – part of his leg off. So they needed a transport sergeant so after they contacted me and made me the transport sergeant for the battalion. Which was very lucky, I didn’t have to go up to the front line very much, just checked on the drivers, made sure that they did their duties by delivering supplies and ammunition to the front lines. That was the biggest break of the Korean War for me. I found it quite the interesting country. I didn’t like the rats. The people are hard working. If you ever, ever seen how they raise their rice – maybe I mentioned that before – the rice is planted in the water and all the women and the children do all the work. And they fertilize it by the human waste. They’re set in their ways. You know those people, you got to admire them. On their A-frame – they’re not very big people – they carry on their A-frames, they must carry double their weight. They carry rice and we used them in our front lines to carry up ammunition and barbed wire and stuff for the front. And they carried that on an A-frame on their back. And the same with the old people who would haul wood for miles on the road and the roads are very narrow. And they’d have these what we call the old papa-san carrying a big pile of lumber on his back and I must say some of our drivers and co-drivers and very mean to them. They drive up alongside the road and the old fellow would be walking along and they’d grab his stick and toss the load and try to pull him and swing him around. You know for amusing themselves and of course the old fellow or whoever is on that A-frame would fall in the ditch and wood would be scattered all over. And that’s one thing I got after my drivers, I said, “Remember that mistreatment of the old fellow with his lumber.”
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