Veteran Stories:
John Bishop

Army

  • 6 Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment. John Bishop served with this battalion during the Korean War.

    John McCall
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"When we went into Pusan harbour, there were dead bodies floating around the harbour. And when we got off the ship, where we moved for our accommodations, it was chaos."

Transcript

I was invincible as far as I was concerned. And I was just going to have a great adventure. I didn't even know where Korea was on the map. I had to look it up very carefully to find where it was.

But, believe it or not, within three or four months of the time that we joined, we went to war and we weren't very well trained. At that time the Canadian forces had been reduced so much from World War II they couldn't find more than five to seven thousand people in the [army] Regular Force that could go. And that's why little kids like myself were sent, some of them as young as 14 lying about their age went to Korea.

But we knew that we'd come through some pretty tough selection procedures and we believed in what we were doing. And we had a number of World War II people because World War II people had fought their way up Italy, and they were very good in the guidance because Italy is not much different from Korea when it comes to mountains, etc.

When we went into Pusan harbour, there were dead bodies floating around the harbour. And when we got off the ship, where we moved for our accommodations, it was chaos. And there were of course people starving to death, etc., there were dead in the streets. So it was quite an example of we've got a rough road ahead.

I remember leading our company as a leader, not as a leader of the unit but the guinea pig put out in front to lead them through a long tunnel. And we came out of the tunnel and then we marched a few more miles, and all of a sudden we came across American bodies. Everywhere. And we thought there were about 80 of them. And they were people that were supply people. They had trucks. And when they were coming back from the forward positions, they stopped for a sleep overnight and that was the biggest mistake because their sentries fell asleep, and the Chinese soldiers came in with a big patrol and killed them all. At that time no black soldiers could command infantry battalions. In fact the black [American] battalions were commanded by white officers. So the soldiers that drove the trucks and did the resupply of this group that were killed were primarily black soldiers, and they were almost all black soldiers. So that was, that was probably the most significant thing where it had a bit of effect on us when you see dozens and dozens of bodies.

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