Veteran Stories:
June Barron

Army

  • Major June Barron in the uniform of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, 1966.

    June Barron
  • Helicopter used for delivering and evacuating patients, Korea 1954.

    June Barron
  • June Barron's Korean 'Mama-San' with her children in front of her home, 1954.

    June Barron
  • June Barron, second from left, and medical personnel in front of No. 25 Field Dressing Station in Korea 1954.

    June Barron
  • Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps badges, buttons and crown from June Barron's uniform, circa 1954.

    June Barron
  • June Barron's Ambassador for Peace Medal from the South Korean government, following a revisit in September of 1998.

    June Barron
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"What had previously been an all-male establishment blossomed into a unit requiring the service of nursing sisters. FDS being so close to the frontline was able to surgically attend to battle casualties."

Transcript

My name is June Barron and it was June Clarke. I was in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps for 23 years and retired with the rank of major. I had service all across Canada in our various hospitals, big and small. And my one overseas service was in Korea.

I had a six-month posting in Korea to Number 25 Canadian Field Dressing Station. And we called it the FDS which formed part of the United Nations Forces. The FDS was situated 20 miles north of the capitol city of Seoul near the small village of Tokchong. It was on the main supply route for the armed forces and only 15 miles south of the front lines. The hospital treated servicemen with fractures, multi-burns, appendicitis, circumcisions, facial repairs, amputees and chest sucking wounds.

The Canadian Army in 1951 had moved the Medical Field Dressing Station from Pusan, Korea, to Seoul. Its mission was to set up a small field hospital for treating minor sick and injured personnel from the Commonwealth Division. Such cases were anticipated to be fit for full duty with their units in 14 days, thus eliminating the requirement of evacuation to Japan for treatment.

What had previously been an all-male establishment blossomed into a unit requiring the service of nursing sisters. FDS being so close to the frontline was able to surgically attend to battle casualties. It had its own helicopter landing pad enabling casualties to be flown in directly from the battlefield, which was a big advantage. The hospital was composed of a series of round Quonset huts made of steel on a cement base. It contained 100 beds - 30 beds for major surgery and 42 beds for minor surgery, and a 40 bed medical ward. There was a small ward for officers' patients and another ward for burn casualties. Radiology, ophthalmology, psychiatry, physiotherapy and pharmacy departments were established. The hospital treated all battle wounds except large abdominal, chest and head wounds, which were sent to an American MASH [mobile army surgical hospital] situated on the rear boundary of the Commonwealth Division or to a British hospital in Kure, Japan, where both Canadian doctors and nurses were stationed.

In July of 1953, an armistice was signed between North and South Korea, and a demilitarized zone was established. Prisoners of war were exchanged and Number 25 FDS received more than a thousand Commonwealth prisoners in a period of two weeks, including 26 Canadians. As the soldiers arrived they were directed to a specially prepared tented area where they gratefully shed their clothes, took a shower and were given new uniforms. They also had a quick medical exam and inoculations. They were generally in good health, apart from showing signs of vitamin deficiency and some undernourishment. The patients got excellent care and everybody was very happy there.

 

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