Veteran Stories:
Morley Balinson

Army

  • Morley Balinson with Bren light machine gun at hilltop position in Korea.

    Morley Balinson
  • Morley Balinson at B Echelon, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment. Korea, 1951-1952.

    Morley Balinson
  • Like many Canadian soldiers, Morley Balinson took photographs of his Korean surroundings – in this case, a couple of Korean children.

    Morley Balinson
  • Morley Balinson and a Korean boy tasked with chores around B Echelon, 2 PPCLI.

    Morley Balinson
  • Another example of Morley Balinson’s Korean surroundings – in this case, a Korean village.

    Morley Balinson
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"You had a cliff on one side and a gorge on the other – and you were exposed to potential fire from across the river. So there was that. And there was a sign saying, “Beware, there could be fire.” It gave you a warm and comfortable feeling."

Transcript

When I was assigned to the Princess Patricias, they were already designated to go and they needed people and they were short of signallers and that was my military training, was as signaller. So we had to wait at Petawawa [Ontario] for the railway strike to end. Went by train to Calgary, and then we went up to Wainwright [Alberta]. I think we did a little bit of shooting, there. Then we went by train to Fort Lewis, Washington, in the States. And the Canadian brigade was forming up, so they had a large parade there, and the 2nd Battalion was going, so we went up to… what was the port of embarkation, in Seattle. We got on the US troop ship, the [USNS Private] Joe P. Martinez.

They needed the trades filled, so I was a driver and a wireless operator. I had my own three-quarter tonne truck, and a trailer, and a Bren [light machine] gun, and a radio set, a 31 Set,* which was used in World War II. Ancient, but it worked. And then we got to Pusan in Korea, and I had picked up my truck, and my Bren gun, and then we started to move north. I was more or less in B Echelon and we did the communication, we provided the mail; we saw that the ammunition went forward. So, we were a working group.

We had to be able to defend ourselves if we were overrun, but, we weren’t at the sharp end, even though we were infantry. We were that far behind and because it’s hilly, we didn’t really get engaged unless somebody shot over the hill at us. But there’s parts where the road faced – you had a cliff on one side and a gorge on the other – and you were exposed to potential fire from across the river. So there was that. And there was a sign saying, “Beware, there could be fire.” It gave you a warm and comfortable feeling.

I was out laying wire one day, and somebody thought that somebody shouldn’t be there, so they started shooting in mortar bombs and they’re exploding nearby and shrapnel flying. I picked a chunk of shrapnel out of a tree and I brought it home with me.

We had to handle wounded sometimes, you know. The signal office shared a tent with the corporal – medical - so he handled slivers, or knife cuts, or the odd guy decided that war wasn’t for him, so he’d accidently shoot himself through the hand, put himself out of battle. They would be transported back into a field hospital to get patched up.

Kap’yong – they were under heavy attack, and they needed ammunition. So anybody that wasn’t engaged in their trade, was carrying ammunition to them, which I did. I was carrying magazines of Bren gun – magazines up. I took it to the [Kap’yong] River, to a pontoon bridge and crossed on foot, and passed it on to the people that were waiting for them. They took them away from me, I didn’t go up to the front with them. I passed them on to those that needed them and they took them away from me as fast as I could bring them. The messages were, “Keep the ammunition coming, and fuel and water.” And of course, we had to send food up to them. They couldn’t come back for the food. We had field packs of food, but it was nice for them to have a hot meal. In fact, the cooks had the American stoves, which were much an improvement to World War II, and we had fresh meat. They had steak. They had bacon. They had shell eggs. And the cooks, they had turned the lids over on the stove and that was one huge fryer. They’d put margarine in, flipped the eggs in, and they’d have a couple of dozen on the go.

*Wireless Set No. 31 portable radio

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