Brian Simons as signals officer attached to 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment. May 1953.Brian Simons
Brian Simons as Second-in-Command (2IC) of Signal Troop, 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA). March 1953.Brian Simons
Brian Simons in front of his living quarters. February 1953.Brian Simons
A Korean elder that Canadian soldiers referred to as "Old Papasan" near Uijongbu, Republic of Korea. Summer 1952.Brian Simons
Brian Simons at a dinner hosted by Korean War veterans in Seoul, South Korea, 2002.Brian Simons
Brian Simons laying a wreath at the Republic of Korea National War Museum in 2002.Brian Simons
"What is particularly in my memory is the night of October 23rd, 1952 when the Chinese launched a very heavy attack on that particular hill where many of our buddies were killed or wounded. That was my first real experience with enemy attack."
When I landed in Korea, I knew I was going to be assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment as a signals officer. And in fact I filled that position as a deputy signals officer until the RCR, the 1st Battalion of the RCR, went home in November. So that was my first assignment. And I saw action while I was with that battalion.
I, of course, was not in combat personally. But I served with a unit that was definitely engaged with the Chinese. And in fact my first kind of frightening experience was when we were on Hill 355, which you may have already heard about, that was called Little Gibraltar Hill.
What is particularly in my memory is the night of October 23rd, 1952 when the Chinese launched a very heavy attack on that particular hill where many of our buddies were killed or wounded. That was my first real experience with enemy attack.
Fortunately, I did not experience anything quite like that again in the remaining year that I spent there. As a matter of fact, I was up on the hill, more like a mountain, when the attack started. I had been asked by the company commander of Charlie Company if I would take up a package that had been delivered by the postmaster from his family at home. And so I took that package up to him, in his headquarters bunker. And that’s when the attack started on the hill by the Chinese, the mortar rounds started to come in. And it started to become quite intense.
And at that point the battalion commander, [Lieutenant-]Colonel [Peter R.] Bingham, phoned and insisted with the company commander that he kick me out of there and get me back to battalion headquarters. So in fact, I obeyed his order and I took off and went back to battalion headquarters.
It's hard to describe. In fact, you know, in my whole life I have never really spent any time discussing details like that. I can tell you a story about a casualty that wound up being very sad. It concerned an officer who had just arrived from Canada and was posted to the 1st Battalion of the RCR. And I talked to him. I was in the battalion command post when he arrived. And I chatted with him for about an hour. And he was waiting for a jeep to come down and pick him up and take him up to his company.
And so when I said farewell to him it wasn’t more than half an hour later, I was on duty as the command post officer. I got a phone call from his company saying that a mortar round had landed right beside him as he was climbing up with the company sergeant major to be assigned to his bunker. And this mortar round struck the back slope of the hill and wounded his head.
And when he came back -- when he was brought back by the jeep ambulance to the helicopter pad -- a helicopter had already been called to take him away. But the medical officer was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to make it. And that was my first experience having just half an hour before spoken to this young officer, and then to see him in that condition was not very pleasant for me.