Mr. Brian Archibald, August, 2012.The Memory Project
"You were always paired with somebody else who had more experience than you and then later on you were the experienced one with somebody else. And you kept track of around you, what was going on; like we were always in support of our own people."
[…] the most horrible boat ever. Just like a junk… it was like a junk boat, you know, and the food was… Like it was good food once you got your nose out of the way, you know, it was good food and you ate it and you looked forward to it, because it took a few days – I can’t remember how many days it took us to get there.
But there was nothing to do; if you ran out of cigarettes you ran out of cigarettes. There was no booze at all and the food was basically… well just like paste… maybe the odd dumpling or something with a little bit of meat in it or something. But that’s all they had, that’s what they were eating too, hey. They weren’t being smart alecs, giving you the crap and eating the good stuff for themselves.
But the boat was just horrible… a little boat like you’d go to Lake Ontario and try and find one, you never would, and it’s not like a Hong Kong junk or anything like that; this was just an old… dirty old boat. And because they had so many troops to move then, and they were sailing both ways, then if you had a boat, you got a job. Like there weren’t specifications; if you had a boat, you got a job hauling them, and then you got…
I think we went to Incheon [South Korea] and then from Incheon we got on a train and on the train you had to be careful, like right away they… you got to see the difference in the cultures, like the kids would come up and they would want to buy your watch, or do something nutty.
Now some guys would try to figure they were going to trick these kids, hey, and they didn’t realise that there’d been thousands of Americans go by both ways for years and years, and you know, this was just peanut butter for them. They would… you know, I’ll give you a dollar for this, or I’ll give you… give me that, do this or that.
And the kids would say, let me see the watch, and they’d get the watch and as soon as they got the watch, it was a hundred yard dash and gone, and you’re stuck on the train – nothing you can do about it – and everybody laughing at you.
And then later on… like it wasn’t a long… I think we were overnight on that, but at night they had to run the train with no lights on and you had to sort of sit… like you were careful where you sat. If you were in amongst trees or something like that, you would sit up and that, but if you were in some flat areas… Because there were snipers and they would shoot through the windows and stuff like that. Nobody got hurt or anything, but it was there, if you were unlucky.
Like you were like a cowboy and you think you’re… First of all, you’re not going to admit that you’re scared, to start with, and once you see that nothing happens, right… like we weren’t… the train wasn’t exploding or there was nobody catching on fire. Later on there was stuff like that, but in this case you’re… you saw you were in a different area, this and that.
And everything seemed to work, like you got to the one place, you got on a train; you got to the other place, you went to a base. You were at the base and they end up giving you a lecture on how to use a condom and all this kind of crap. And then from there, you’d go on this horrible little boat and then you get on the train at Incheon, where the big landing had been, and the whole city is just cardboard and plastic and paper. You know, the place had been almost destroyed.
And then you get to Seoul [South Korea] and it is really freaking destroyed. And then you end up getting to your camp and it’s… you know, Saturday night movies. You’re still move or you’re with the frontlines and that, but you’re in areas that you know where you are, you know when you get to here, you know when you get to there.
You were always paired with somebody else who had more experience than you and then later on you were the experienced one with somebody else. And you kept track of around you, what was going on; like we were always in support of our own people. Like the odd time I went once to the British headquarters - divisional headquarters – and holy cow… that’s how you get your morale up, because you see all that they… you know, the food they had and well, not so much what they had; what they didn’t have.
So then you’d invite them to come up and visit you and you know, they’d say well, go, have another helping, you know, have another steak… do it. Because everything we had we’d purchased from the Americans, but we purchased it and because the Americans often like to run their mouth about stuff like that, everything we had in some ways had a tag on it. Like if we had a Jeep, it was there right on it, right on the front panel: this Jeep was purchased by the Canadian government from the United States of America at x-amount dollars, and is the property of the Canadian government… of the Canadian military.
Yeah, and the poor Brits… they had signal tracks from the Second World War… from the desert, you know, when they were chasing Rommel [Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel] in the Second World War.
Old, old vehicles like that. And like… if you have a set of vehicle, you always like to put it in a position where it’s not conspicuous… for your own safety and that, you know. But these poor buggers, they had to put it on the top of a hill, because if they had to get out of there, that’s the only way they could start it, was to push it so that it would go downhill.
But they would come and we’d trade off, like a couple of us would go up and work with their communications and then some of them would come and work with us. And it was like, they were all drafted… none of us were drafted.