They disbanded the Special Air Service [Company]* and I was a para-training instructor for a while, and then I got the opportunity to transfer into signals [Royal Canadian Signal Corps] in [CFB] Rivers [Manitoba]. So I just went there to support signals in Rivers. That’s where I transferred. It worked ground to air and, you know, did service like that. I was just a signalman then. I went from there to [RCAF Station] Kingston [Ontario], Vimy [Barracks] and took a radio mechanics course. I had volunteered to go, but they said no active service people were going. It was all going to be special force off ‘civvy street.’ But then they were short of tradesmen. So I went to Korea.
We knew we were trained for Korea, but, I guess, we were in Fort Lewis, Washington taking a mech, taking training down there too. And that’s when we were required — there was a lot of fluffle about Canadian troops going and the government, government things held us up from going, I think, because they kept a thing… thinking there was going to be a truce. Horrible. We were on a Liberty ship,** and it was creaky and cracky, and we hit the edge of a typhoon, and got pushed up into the Aleutians [Islands], so a trip that was supposed to take about 10 days took 14. And it was a horrible trip.
We went right straight to Pusan, Korean. We did about a week’s training and then we went up to the front. I was with the, attached to the Van Doos*** all this time from St. Lewis Fort, or Fort Lewis. I was attached to the Van Doos, and I was attached to the Van Doos as their radio mech [mechanic] all time I was in Korea. We only did first line repairs up in the field and if they were required a lot of parts or something, they went back to headquarters, to REME.**** You’re working long days, seven days a week. A lot of the time you were in the mud. You couldn’t, you could only get a shower about, oh, once every two months or something. Most of the time we sponge bathed. Your clothes were always damp. It wasn’t good.
* The Special Air Service Company was a versatile unit fulfilling duties such as army-air training, search-and-rescue missions, airborne firefighting and providing aid during civilian operations.
** Liberty ships were American cargo steamers used as troop transport during the Second World War and Korean War.
*** Van Doos was the nickname for the 22e Régiment. Three Van Doos battalions served in Korea at various times from May 1951 until April 1954.
**** REME is the abbreviation for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.