Veteran Stories:
John LaFrance

Army

  • John LaFrance in Hiro, Japan before being shipped to Korea.

    John LaFrance
  • John LaFrance (left) with comrades on a train from Quebec to Vancouver, British Columbia, on the first leg of their trip to Korea.

    John LaFrance
  • John LaFrance as he waited for his transport ship to Korea.

    John LaFrance
  • The British detention barracks where John LaFrance was posted for three months in 1952 before returning to Canada.

    John LaFrance
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"One shell came in through, we said, that one came in pretty close. So the corporal told the lance corporal to go see where that one landed. So he came back running, he said, “Well, Maisonneuve was his name.” He said, “Maisonneuve will never see it again.” He said, “He got it.”"

Transcript

We were right on the Manchurian border, right up, way up towards 38[th] Parallel.  Boy, was it cold up here.

Once time we went on an outpost.  It was so moonlight, that it was just like broad daylight.  So the corporal phoned the platoon officer and asked if we could go back.  He said, “You wait until 8 o'clock.”  At eight o'clock we were told to go back into our lights.  So we got there, we cocked our rifles.  Couldn’t even cock it, all the oil was frozen solid and if we’d been attacked, would have been hand grenades.  Couldn’t even cock the Bren [light machine] gun.  Everything was frozen solid.  That’s how cold it was.

Well, we were digging a big dugout and the section corporal told the private, we were both privates, he said, “You’re going to stay here and clean the mags for the Bren gun.”  So they started their shelling.  One shell came in through, we said, that one came in pretty close.  So the corporal told the lance corporal to go see where that one landed.  So he came back running, he said, “Well, Maisonneuve was his name.” He said, “Maisonneuve will never see it again.”  He said, “He got it.”

So we jumped out of the dugout.  Went over and seen it.  His head was split right off, top of his head blowed right off.  And he face was turned right around. Awful sight.  But you get used to it.

This other time we were one patrol.  This officer said, you and I are going on a recce [reconnaissance], broad daylight.  We’re frozen, we’re walking and he said, “Hold it there, private.”  He said, “We’re in a minefield.”  So he said, “Turn around and back track and just follow your steps out.”  So were there for about four hours.  But we made it out all right.

Yeah.  We lived like rats over there.  They used to have a big beige PX [Post Exchange, for non-issue items] used to come up to the lines.  And I bought a fruit cake and in the wall we had ammunition boxes empty, like for shells.  And that big fruit cake I put in there, so the boys had to go have some fruit cake and a cup of coffee.  Got in there, half my cake is eaten, open the lid, there’s a big rat in there.  Ate half the cake.  Cut a piece off where the rat was, we ate the rest.

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