Veteran Stories:
Peter Chisholm

Army

  • Captain Donald Eadie (left), commander, No. 1 Troop, 4th Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers, and Lieutenant Peter Chisholm (right), on occasion of the redesignation of the 59th Independent Field Squadron as the 4th Field Squadron, RCE in October 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • The service of thanksgiving held at 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Headquarters, commemorating the ceasefire in Korea. 2 August 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • Front cover of the program for the service of thanksgiving, commemorating the ceasefire in Korea. 2 August 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • 28th Field Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers in battle dress, participating in a Remembrance Day ceremony while in Korea, 11 November 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • Staff Sergeant Lou Evans (left, foreground) and Lieutenant Peter Chisholm mapping minefields, August 1953. Lou Evans subsequently wrote the book, Find the Dragon: The Canadian Army in Korea, 1950-1953 under the pseudonym Robert Hepenstall.

    Peter Chisholm
  • One of the many Korean civilian grave markers near the Demilitarized Zone, September 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, now known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Peter Chisholm took this photograph while on leave in Japan, November 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • Looking up through the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall dome. Peter Chisholm took this photograph while on leave in Japan, November 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • Soldiers in Korea were permitted to hunt game if the opportunity arose, to add a little variety to their diets . These pheasants were shot by Peter Chisholm, Major Gerald Montenaro, Royal Engineers, and Sergeant Charlie Frost, Royal Canadian Dragoons while on a day off in October 1953. The shot guns were provided by the Navy, Army & Air Force Institute (NAAFI).

    Peter Chisholm
  • Members of the Korean Service Corps, August 1953. The Korean Service Corps included Korean males who were unable to serve in combat roles because of age or disability. They worked on infrastructure projects such as building roads and drainage ditches. In emergencies, they acted as ammunition porters.

    Peter Chisholm
  • An unexploded American mortar bomb embedded in a cedar tree. September 1953.

    Peter Chisholm
  • An enemy propaganda peace badge found by Peter Chisholm in August 1953. As he notes, "Recovered from an enemy bunker in a minefield behind Canadian forward defence line. The bunker was open, a metre and a half deep, and contained a large stack of propaganda leaflets which I delivered to 59 Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers headquarters. I was not allowed to keep anything, but the badge was in my pocket. Two enemy bodies were identified near 'Fox Gap,' passing through the minefield and reported with the propaganda."

    Peter Chisholm
  • Peter Chisholm’s service medals (left to right): Canadian Korean Medal, Canadian Volunteer Medal for Korea, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, and United Nations Service Medal (Korea).

    Peter Chisholm
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"It was within days that we started to map up the minefield locations, secure the fences, destroy ordnances left lying around, recover bodies… all those tasks were started quickly after the 27th of July. "

Transcript

We arrived in Korea as supernumerary junior officers. And, the general approach was to assign us each to one of the troops, in the 59 Field Squadron, which was the Royal Canadian Engineer field squadron serving the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade at that time. And, I was assigned to No. 2 Troop of the RCE. The commanding officer was Donald Eadie, I believe. And, shortly after that, the 59 Field Squadron was within the 1st Commonwealth Division, and was assigned tidy-up duties after the truce was signed. As such, we – at least I’ll say I – didn’t serve as a troop commander. Instead, I did work for several of the troops, and the work that I did, was coordinated by the 28th Field Engineer Regiment, which was the [British] field engineering regiment within the Commonwealth Division. And the work that we did was to secure minefields, along the Commonwealth Division, to make sure that people would not stray into the minefields. The work that we did was to repair the fences, and to map them on air photos, and all of that work was coordinated by the intelligence officer at the 28th Field Engineer Regiment. His name was Captain John Elderkin.

Serving with Captain John Elderkin, as I say, our principal duty was to secure the safe passage along the Demilitarized Zone and to help with the mapping of minefields to make sure that they were properly located for the future. During the field reconnaissance episodes, required to secure the Demilitarized Zone, and the demarcation line, as I’ve mentioned, we were also required, when we encountered unexploded ordnances, to map the location of these pieces of ordnance, and to return later to demolish them. And, that work was usually undertaken by individuals, rather than groups, because of the danger to larger formations of people. We also, as well at that, had to demolish some of the residue from the war, and also to mark the location of casualties or human remains left in the field, map them, report and take pictures, and send them through the 59 Field Squadron office to the [Commonwealth War] Graves Commission for subsequent securing of the human remains, either to the North [Korea] or to the South [Korea], depending on the nationality.

On the eve of the day that the armistice was to be signed, I think it was the 27th of July [1953], we were all confined to our troop locations, we weren’t allowed to move out of them. And, in my troop, No. 2 Troop, we were viewing – on the evening of the ceasefire – we were watching a movie film in our troop area in the dark and a mortar bomb came and landed within a few metres of the area where we were all sitting. And, it didn’t explode, but a lot of the mortar bombs and shells and things like that in Korea didn’t work very well anyway. That’s why there was such a surplus of unexploded ordnance lying around. The next morning, after the truce had been signed, we were – our troop position was just southwest of Hill 355, and Hill 355, as a feature, sort of extended almost directly west, and the Chinese locations, west of Hill 355, were four hills referred to as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - the four Apostles – occupied by Chinese. And I don’t know which one of the hills it was on, but when we got up at first light, on the 27th of July, the Chinese had erected a banner – it must have been two or three hundred metres long, bright blue - and we could readily read the lettering on it from where we were. And what the lettering said – excuse me – was “Don’t fuck up the peace boys.”

It was within days that we started to map up the minefield locations, secure the fences, destroy ordnances left lying around, recover bodies… all those tasks were started quickly after the 27th of July and continued, and that, not only did we do that, we also – on an individual basis – I accompanied the Military Armistice Commission officers to investigate alleged violations of the truce conditions and that would have been early in August, after the 27th of July. So, we got on to that very, very quickly and that was necessary, because, with the shelling at nighttime, there was not a lot of repair done to defensive locations and there was an awful lot of work to be done to re-establish minefield fences and to establish minefield locations and I think under the terms – like I don’t know specifically, but my recollection is that – to answer your question – we got to work on that very, very quickly, after the 27th of July.

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