Private Raymond Trevors, 2nd Battalion, The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. 1950s.Raymond Trevors
Private Raymond Trevors, 2PPCLI. Picture taken in Currie Barracks, Calgary, Alberta. 1951.Raymond Trevors
PPCLI soldiers on training with Lee-Enfield rifles, 1950s.Raymond Trevors
Three soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, PPCLI. 1950s.Raymond Trevors
A street scene in Asia. 1950s.Raymond Trevors
PPCLI soldiers in Korea, circa 1951-1952.Raymond Trevors
Group portrait of Canadian soldiers belonging to various units. Korea, circa 1951-1952.Raymond Trevors
A Turkish Army graveyard in Korea, circa 1951-1952.Raymond Trevors
"And my section Commander, Corporal [Norman] Woodcock, was in to go out front in my trench and he was killed that night [on October 2nd, 1951] in a trench that I had dug so that was a very emotional thing."
I left in August of 1950. I enlisted in the Army, 1950. There, we took our training up in Fredericton [New Brunswick] which is about a two hour drive from here [Miramichi, New Brunswick]. Not our training, I should say, and our medical and then we were shipped to Petawawa, Ontario which we stayed there for two weeks. There was a train strike on. And then they had picked out people for, mostly for what regiment they would be going to. Most of the Francophones went to the Van Doos, the Royal 22nd Regiment [Le Royal 22e Régiment]. This was infantry I’m talking about. And the RCRs [soldiers of The Royal Canadian Regiment], they stayed right there. And then there wasn’t enough to fill the ranks of the PPCLI [The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] in Calgary [Alberta] so I was shipped off to Calgary.
I’d done basic training in Calgary. And then from Calgary we were shipped to Fort Lewis, Washington. Did some more training there. There wasn’t a base in Canada at that time to train a brigade and that’s why we went to Fort Lewis, Washington. And after, oh, three or four months training there in March of 1951 we were all shipped off to Korea on an American troop ship.
That was in March of 1951 when I left in, my regiment was already there. They left in December of 1950 and I joined them there, around the end of March, first part of April in 1951.
We’d be doing night patrols and involved in other engagements, one particular one I remember is our company was involved to engage the enemy, it would be in the summer of 1951. We were engaged in a battle to take a certain hill. I forget the number of the hill [during the Korean War, hills were not given a name but a number reflecting their respective height above the sea level]. And we scouted it for two or three nights, something like that. So we eventually, early one morning, our company, “A” Platoon, Charlie Company [‘C’ Company, 2nd Battalion, The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] I was in. We took the hill with a number of casualties on both sides.
And after we took the hill that night, this was early in the morning, that night the Chinese counterattacked. Our section which comprises about 11 men were digging in on a knoll on the far side of the hill and I was on the Bren Gun [a British light machine gun] with a chap from Campbellton [New Brunswick] up here. And we dug our trench and that night, when the Chinese and the [North] Koreans counterattacked, the sergeant of our platoon wanted an exchange from my trench and I was to go on the reverse side of the hill. And my section Commander, Corporal [Norman] Woodcock, was in to go out front in my trench and he was killed that night [on October 2nd, 1951] in a trench that I had dug so that was a very emotional thing. I guess he was looking after me up there. They counterattacked that night and that was the only, we had a few wounded but that was the only fatal casualty we had that night was Corporal, Corporal Woodcock. I believe he was from Winnipeg, Manitoba. And it was sad to see him over the hill, on a skyline, but that was one them, and we had different ones and night patrols were scary.
And then, some of them I can’t remember, we’d go up. Our first reminder of the war which if I’m getting behind myself now is when we were walking up to the front line when we first went there, we seen these six American bodies. And we hadn’t been, had not been in the battle then, at that time and they were stripped of all their clothing with their feet tied together. And that was the scary ones. It was in the winter months. So that was sort of our first time we’ve seen anything like that.
And people that were wounded, it was hard to look at, at first. You know, a young lad just coming out of a small town or whatever, didn’t matter I guess where they came from, it was something all new for them. I myself was, got a blast in the right eye some time along my career there. It, oh, I just got a black eye and a little bloody at the time. But now I’ve since lost that eye through that whole trauma. It’s horrifying. I have a prosthetic eye in there in my right side.
Mostly your task was putting up barbed wire. Out in the front you’d use coiled wire, and then on the inner line, you would put those steel posts in the ground and run wire there. I was a little smaller at the time and now I had a big tall lad I used to stand on his, sit on his shoulders and hammer the rods into the ground. So we’d have to string that wire. We’d have to look after our personal stuff. The lavatory was usually on the reverse side of a hill so we’d go down. If there happened to be a brook there, we’d shave. If we could shave every other day, you know, then we would do it and a change of clothes was hard because you could be up there. You’d only take one small pack and couple pair of socks and I remember in the wintertime, all we wore for underwear was like cotton pyjamas. And we’d get to go back maybe every two or three weeks for a shower. They’d take a bunch of us back in a lull and if we were in the reserve, you might go in reserve for two or three weeks. Like, someone else would take your position. You’d go back and then you’d get to sleep in a pup tent which is two people on the ground. You know, there’s nothing there. Otherwise, in the hills, you dug your trench and that one end of your trench was your bunker, it was all one. And your bunker was all aligned with these gray blankets. That’s all we had.
We weren’t allowed to wear our hoods on our parkas because they found out, our Colonel found out that there was a lot of Americans were killed right in their sleeping bags. And they said, well, we’re not, you know, we’re not going to do that. So if you did get a chance to sleep, you’d do that. And we weren’t equipped too well with footwear, stuff like that, and we were the only troops over there with bolt action weapons. You know, like all Second War and First World War veterans. And we tried to, we had a .30 calibre and .50 calibre American weapons [machine guns] and we then we had their mortars and the anti-tank guns were changed from 17 pounders to 75 [mm] recoilless they called them, shot from the shoulder for anti-tanks. And then we had to do away with the [British] Vickers machine gun because they couldn’t get the water up on the hill there. Water cooled. So we went to our own Bren guns and the .30 calibre. The .50 calibre was more or less, if you took a position and were going to hold that position, the .50 calibres were set up with a certain position, that way; maybe this way and they met in the middle. And they were on what they called a fixed position. The .30 calibres you could carry around with you and the mortars. Stuff like that.