Veteran Stories:
James Milton

Army

  • Winter in Korea at the Ordnance filed park (Tea Time) with Sgt. Murray in the foreground, Cpl Dallman in the back ground, 1951. Courtesy of James Milton.

  • Republic of Korea (ROK) wounded soldiers, Seoul 1952. Courtesy of James Milton.

  • Wash up time on the Imjim river, Korea 1951. Courtesy of James Milton.

  • James Milton and the Sherman tank that was used in Korea, circa 2002

  • James Milton's Medals (L-R) : Canadian Korea Medal, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal for Korea, United Nations Korea Medal.

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"The thing most soldiers remember about coming to Korea was the amount of poverty and how poor the people were. They had been exploited and persecuted by the enemy soldiers, had little or no food and their houses had been destroyed by the surrounding battles."

Transcript

My name is Jim Milton and I'm a Korean war veteran. When I was 18, I joined the reserve army, the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps. And in June of 1950, I needed a career change and went to the regular army. We travelled from Winnipeg to Montreal for my basic training. When the Korean war started, June 1950, I volunteered for the Canadian Army Special Forces. We were issued our overseas equipment: a kit bag, extra uniform, socks, boots, mess tents, rifles bayonets and other equipment. Everything I wore was either on my back or in my kit bag.

In November of 1950, we went from Montreal to Vancouver by troop train. About seven to eight days as I recall and then on by bus to Fort Louis, Washington. It was in Fort Louis that all of the sections of the 25th Infantry Brigade were brought together to train as a combat unit. There were about 5, 000 Canadians stationed in Fort Louis, Washington. We trained from November 1950 'til April 1951, gathering our supplies and organizing the brigade. Some elements of the brigade were set ahead in November of 1950. One of these units was the PPCLI, an infantry battalion. One of my friends got to go with them, but I had to stay with the rest of the brigade until spring.

In April of '51 we left Fort Louis by bus for Seattle to board a troop ship. The USNS Marine Adder for the trip to Korea. I had never been on the ocean before nor on a troop ship either for that matter. When I first went onboard, I asked an American sailor if this is what took us to the troop ship. He replied, "This is a troop ship." I was amazed. How small it seemed to be. I found out later that the ship had a displacement of 12, 420 tons. A length of 523 feet. Beam was 71 feet and a speed of 17 knots. Accommodation for 3800 troops. This is small by today's standards but that was what was available after World War II. To put the size of the ship into perspective, the Marine Adder would fit inside a football stadium.

We had two troop ships to take us to Korea. The Marine Adder and the private ... Munamori. Both were about the same displacement. The journey took 14 days from Seattle, Washington to Pusan, Korea. We landed in Pusan, Korea, the southern-most port on the Peninsula. An American army military brass band met us at the docks and played military music to welcome us to Korea. It was here that we unloaded our supplied and formed up for the trip to the front. We travelled by truck over a distance of about 250 miles, using makeshift roads and trails. None of us knew the country but the military police marked out the routes which we were to take. Sometimes we only travelled at night to avoid strafing or being shot at by the enemy. The thing most soldiers remember about coming to Korea was the amount of poverty and how poor the people were. They had been exploited and persecuted by the enemy soldiers, had little or no food and their houses had been destroyed by the surrounding battles.

We were the Ordnance Corps and my job was spare parts for the technical store though I had a truck that had bins and cabins on the back of it and I was responsible for spare parts for the vehicles to keep them working in the field.

We were there until 1952 and then we rotated out. Special Services were only supposed to be in there for 18 months.

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