A Canadian soldier having his lunch in a trench (summer 1952).Arthur Lortie
"The day we were coming out of the line, that was our last day supposed to be in there and that night early morning they attacked us. They started throwing artillery and mortars at us and me and my Lance Corporal was in the trench."
We were sent out, I think it was in early December in 1951. The 2nd Battalion [Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] had pulled out and they were coming home because we were late getting there because we were from Ontario and we were delayed because of the railroad strike, eh, in joining in the unit. And when the unit went over in November, a bunch of us, and a good bunch of us, from Ontario and east of Ontario, we got stuck in Fort Lewis, Washington for the winter. And that’s where we got our advance training. Where the Patricia’s were over in Korea in a place called Miryang and they were getting their no advance training.
Now, when they got there, they wanted them up in the front line right away and our Colonel, Colonel Stone, he was a very good man, he’s passed away now. He said, no, there was no way that his troops were going into battle until they were seasoned for it. So they didn’t move up ‘til February. And, of course, they were every time they needed somebody they were dipping into us at Fort Lewis to send people over. But being an NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer], I was stuck there with the battalion, you know. We were sent out to make contact but don’t engage. And this was in, I think, early December. And we went, we’re taken at two o’clock in the morning and put on, in trucks and taken up to the, right up as far as they could by truck and we took off and we took a hill. And nobody was on it. But their stuff was all there. They’d left all their equipment in their trenches and we watched and they were in a village down below.
And they had one, like, their habit was dress somebody like a Korean farmer and he’d be standing guard out front and the rest would be inside sleeping or doing whatever they do. Sleep, I guess. And they spotted us so they came out chasing us but we were told don’t fire at them. Get out of there. That’s all our job was to make contact with them, find out where they were and everything.
So they chased us and it started to pour rain in the evening. We grabbed a little hill and laid down there and they went by us and they ran into the Royal 22nd Regiment and I guess they took a beating there. But we were lucky they didn’t catch us.
The day we were coming out of the line, that was our last day supposed to be in there and that night early morning they attacked us. They started throwing artillery and mortars at us and me and my Lance Corporal was in the trench. We figured for the last night and they, we got hit by two artillery shells. The first one hit and the second one hit in the same place and buried us. Now, my Lance Corporal, he was on the side of the trench. He got most of it. And I’ve never seen him again since.
But I know he lived. I found out through Veteran’s Affairs that he lived and I got in touch with his wife. This is years later and she told me I’d just missed him. He’d passed away.
They were harassing us every single night. They used to harass us. But every once in a while they’d decide they’d want to shake us up so they’d attack. We’d have to fend them off. And it got to a stage, and this is no joke, that they used to occupy the same trench through the daytime. And we’d go and sit there through the night time. And they weren’t too bad. They, at times they used to even cut firewood for us for our little stove we had in there.