Veteran Stories:
Charles “Chic” Goodman

Army

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
  • In the uniform of the St. John Fusiliers,Chic Goodman had the photo taken in Saint John, New Brunswick, to give to his mother, 1942. He was 16 but his documents claimed he was 19.

    Charles Goodman
  • Chic Goodman in the cadets at Beaconsfield School in west St. John, New Brunswick, 1939.

    Charles Goodman
  • Charles Goodman working at the time as the United Nations Liason Officer to the Greek Cypriot government, Cypress, 1969.

    Charles Goodman
  • Chic Goodman at 18 years old in Holland, Winter 1944-45.

    Charles Chic" Goodman"
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"Each night we had three men out on a listening post, a corporal and two men. The frequency of patrol was probably one a week and the term was “one officer and 10 men,” and that sent the shivers up your spine when it was mentioned because it could be dangerous, and it was dangerous."

Transcript

What I expected, of course, was much based on my experiences in World War II, but it was an entirely different type of war, as I soon found out.  It was in my experience, and talking to some of my relatives who had served in World War I, more like World War I with a lot of patrolling.  We never advanced.  By the time I got there, there was no more territory.  We were stopped with a truce, negotiations going on.

We went into the, the battalion was out for a rest when I arrived and I was allocated to a platoon in A Company of the 2nd Battalion [Le Royal 22e Régiment].  We moved back into the line taking over from a British battalion.  Now, there was, it was a top of a hill.  I think it was, [Hill] 166* was the name of the hill that we were on, A Company was on.  And the trenches were much like you would imagine from World War I.

There was big front line trenches that, in the company position probably ran close to, I’d say, up to about 1,000 yards.  And then there were small trenches moved off from that, which held the light machine guns, the Bren guns,** and so on.  The troops slept in bunkers, which they dug and built themselves, but in this case we had moved in where the British had been and the bunkers were built, already built and the trenches mostly dug.

Now, when we moved into Hill 166 we had to re-dig some of the trenches and we had to cover up and camouflage some of the three machine gun posts we had, plus we had some Vickers machine guns*** that were allocated to the company.  So our organization was slightly different than the British and we always had some work to do to redo the trenches, or whatever.

Now, in front of the trenches in our particular position, which overlooked the Sami-ch’on River Valley, they, our enemy, the North Koreans and the Chinese, were probably about a mile or more away.  And so here is this river valley with a very small river, the Sami-ch’on River, which you could wade in the summertime, and was a little swampy along some of the edges.

We patrolled out in that.  Now, in patrolling, we always had listening posts**** out in front of our own positions at night.  So there’d be a corporal and two or three men would be sent out to be a listening post out in front of our platoon positions.

In front of our, oh, something I mentioned, should mention, was that when you think of World War I, you think of great big barbed wire barricades.  In front of my platoon position, we had seven double aprons of barbed wire — those are fences, barbed wire fences — and in-between them we had rolls of Concertina wire,^ too, to prevent an assault or to help deter an assault upon the company positions.

We also had a sort of an S-shaped, not an escape route, but an entrance route in a no man’s land between us and the enemy.  And so that we, when they’re sending patrols out, we’d go up and go through those.  On top of all that, the place was lousy with mines that the Allies had, the United Nations troops had laid, and some of the details over those mines were, were very sketchy.  And during my time there I know that we had two or three casualties from our own troops who ventured into our own mine fields.

Now once we got through the mine fields and out into no man’s land, it was pretty flat and we could walk patrol out to the Sami-ch’on River and if it was a fight patrol, we might lie in ambush waiting for the enemy to come by or we could go across and harass the trenches on the other side of the river.

Each night we had three men out on a listening post, a corporal and two men.  The frequency of patrol was probably one a week and the term was “one officer and 10 men,” and that sent the shivers up your spine when it was mentioned because it could be dangerous, and was dangerous.

On my patrols, which I took out, I made no contact with the enemy.  But one night, as I was very embarrassed about this, we were very close to the Chinese lines at the time, and I heard a rustle in front of me.  I was leading the patrol of 10 men, and we stopped, and it was pitch black and [I] listened and listened and listened, and nothing happened.  And the Chinese were excellent at field craft,^^ so I wasn’t quite sure that they weren’t there.  And as I stood up, a pheasant flew up from underneath my feet and I involuntarily shot it.  I was very embarrassed afterwards.

Oh, I might mention that when I was liaison officer,^^^ I was on top of a hill one day and an officer from the [25th] Canadian [Infantry] Brigade came by and said he had a telegram for me.  I opened it up and looked at it and it said, “Congratulations, you’re now the father of a seven pound girl, who’s name is Charlotte Elizabeth Goodman.”  My daughter was born in early June while I was in Korea.  I didn’t see her till I got home at Christmas time six months later.

 

*Hill 166 was the site of multiple raids involving Canadian troops, including a fierce battle on 9 November 1951.

**The Bren gun was an easy-to-handle, light-weight machine gun used by many Commonwealth military outfits in Korea.

***The Vickers machine gun was the standard heavy machine gun used by many Commonwealth forces.

****Listening posts were advance posts set outside the outfit’s perimetre in a location that enabled soldiers to keep a close watch on the enemy position and give an early warning in case of attack.

^Concertina wire is a razor wire that is formed in coils that can be stretched out to form a security barrier around a military position.

^^ Field craft involves the skills to be able to operate without detection and with stealth in an outdoor military environment.

^^^A liaison officer communicates and coordinates between various military units.

 

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