Veteran Stories:
Alex Sim

Army

  • 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Korea.

    Canada. Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / ecopy
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"He said, "Man, I heard you Canadians were crazy but I didn't know just how crazy until right now.""

Transcript

One of the humorous things on the ship going over, I was standing talking to an American sergeant. He said, "How long are you drafted for?”  I said, "Well, we're in for 18 months or as long as His Majesty may require our services." And he said, "What do you mean, as long as His Majesty may require your services?" And I said, "Well, you know, as long as the government wants us to serve we stay serving.” And he said, "Well, how long is your draft?" And I said, "Well, we weren't drafted." He said, "What do you mean you weren't drafted?" And I said, "We volunteered. Everybody is a volunteer, we joined.” And he said, "You mean, all you Canadians on this ship went down to an army recruiting station and volunteered?" And I said, "Yeah, that's right, we volunteered." "And you volunteered to go to war?” "Yeah." He said, "Man, I heard you Canadians were crazy but I didn't know just how crazy until right now."

It was a bit worrying for me, that… When we left Calgary to go to Wainwright [Alberta], and we left Wainwright, I had sent letters back to my cousin's wife and my brother's wife and to my mother, and said, you know, "Don't worry about these two, I'll take very good care of them." That's a nice gesture when you're sitting in Wainwright. It changes a little bit when you're on the other side and the shooting starts you begin to wonder, just how well can I take care of them? I've got a job to do and they've got a job to do.  We're going out on a situation on patrol and we're out there alone, and if something happens, am I going to bring them back? Are they coming with me? Or – you worry about everybody, but you're certainly worrying more about your brother and your cousin, when you get out there, and things start getting a little hairy – can I get them all back and particularly can I get those two back. Because you've already made the promise, I'm going bring them back.

The Battle of Kap’yong [22-25 April 1951] itself is so well known in Australia. The Australians have monuments to Kap’yong everywhere. They have Kap’yong memorial services everywhere. When we were in Kap’yong this last April [2011], the Australians had all kinds of senior officials there, military officials, government officials, you name it. We were, fortunately, we were very well represented by the Korean-Canadian senator – was Senator Yonah Martin. None of our political masters saw fit to go there. The Minister of National Defence didn't go, Prime Minister didn't go – laid a wreath at the National War Monument in Ottawa.

But, I think that, Canadians didn't really have any great interest in Korea before the battle of [Kap’yong], before the Korean War. It wasn't really an important war, except it was to the Koreans, and was to us who were there, and certainly it was to the survivors or the surviving wives and mothers and fathers of those who didn't make it home – so it was an important war. And our Canadian politicians just didn't look at it in that light. I think they wanted to forget it.

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