Veteran Stories:
Smiley Douglas

Army

  • 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment in Korea. Smiley Douglas served with the battalion during the Korean War.

    Canada. Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / ecopy
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"I suppose they'd would call it you were in shock. You don't realize what's happened to you. You can't stand up, because your leg is pretty well knocked off. You have no hand."

Transcript

Whenever we were going up the line they were coming down and that's the way it usually worked out.  And they'd be coming for miles.  Hundreds of them.  You couldn't help but feel sorry for those people.  That was a terrible way to be treated.  They were pushed up and pushed down, you know what I mean.  They had to, tried to go home, and then there'd be another – the Chinese would come in and so they'd move back out again.  You couldn't help but, thinking that they'd worked all their life and all they owned was in a rolled up sheet or blanket on their back.  And that's all they had, you know what I mean?  And probably when they went back to their little town it'd be all burnt out.  There would be nothing there.  That put you in mind you sure didn't want that to happen to your country.  And we're pretty lucky we're about the only ones left – North America – that hasn't, that hasn't been treated like refugees.  We're pretty, pretty lucky to be Canadians.  I think we got the greatest country in the world.  You have to go somewhere else to realize that.

The [South] Korean Army was coming down the hill, just like a bunch of scared rabbits.  There was two and threes and singles, and they were on the run.  They had just dropped their rifle in most cases.  They didn't even have a rifle.  You didn't know who they were, you know what I mean, they were just on the run.  And they were getting the hell out of there, to get away from the Chinese.  We knew that, very short order, that the Chinese were going be down in our – looking us in the eye.  So, we pulled in there and didn't have much time, we had just, till say tomorrow morning.   We had to dig like hell and get our, our line prepared and that was about it.  The next morning they were, we were in business.  That night in fact we were in business.  That's when the big push was on was at night.

I think if you weren't afraid you're a damn fool.  I think everybody's afraid that gets into a bind like that.  You don't pick and choose your jobs.  But when I went in – on that little bit of a rise, there they were right in front of me, and I could see the grenade to my right, that they had tripped and they hadn't seen it yet, and I could see it laying, smoking beside the tin can.  And it was only a matter of I had to step over the guy and pick it up.  As I said, I was too damn slow.

I suppose they'd would call it you were in shock.  You don't realize what's happened to you.  You can't stand up, because your leg is pretty well knocked off.  You have no hand.  As I said, if you've ever cut the horns off an old cow, that's the way the blood was pumping out of your stump.  And if you held it up to your eyes, of course, you were blinded with the blood.  It was just a different experience that– I don't expect anybody to have to go through that.  I got an MM for that.  It’s a gallantry medal.  That's all I can say.  It came in the mail.  Yes, that's true.  There was no party when I got my MM.  I knew I was going to get something, but I didn't know what it was.  And it came in a registered mail.

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