Veteran Stories:
Robert Nutall

  • The Memory Project, Historica Canada
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"We were on our hill one day and things were fairly quiet, and suddenly three planes... American planes, came back, travelling south. And one was quite low and... its wings were tipping back and forward. And I felt that if I’d been standing upward and reaching up, I could have touched his plane."

Transcript

Actually, the patrolling was done by the infantry rifle companies, rifle sections.  And my patrolling, most patrolling I did personally was done during World War II.  I was only 19 at the time, but as a lieutenant, but the machine guns didn’t really go on patrol unless they were to take up a position.  But I am thinking of night patrols at the outset.  But we did go on daylight patrols.  As a matter of fact, we went on, we did help the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

[Lieutenant]-Colonel James R. Stone, I had to go and see him, and he gave me a position to set up some machine, a machine gun section on a hill near, not too far from the 38th Parallel.  And the Van Doos of the Royal 22e [Régiment] were to advance that day commanded by Major Joseph P. Gosselin.* I think he was 2IC [second in command] of the battalion.  And when we were traveling up this hill, which hadn’t been travelled, we came to a huge boulder right in the middle.  The road went to the left and right.

So my driver said, “Which way do we go?” And since our position was on a hill to the left, I told him to go left.  And we got positioned up on the hill with our machine guns to support the Van Doos, and when they came up carrying on into their patrol, they went on the right lane, the right road, which was dirt roads.  And as we were watching them move along, there was suddenly an explosion and the lead scout car went well up into the air and Major Gosselin was killed that day.

And a few days after that — oh, I should mention adjacent to us on the right was a man-made lake called the Charwan Reservoir.  And we were on our hill one day and things were fairly quiet, and suddenly three planes, [North American F-51] Mustangs,** American planes, came back, travelling south.  And one was quite low and it was, its wings were tipping back and forward.  And I felt that if I’d been standing upward and reaching up, I could have touched his plane.  It went down just over our hill and into the Charwan Reservoir, and obviously he had been hit.  And I put the, placed a sergeant in charge and got a couple of men, and we ran across a rice paddy towards the Charwan Reservoir.  And as we were running across the other two planes came down, and began to strafe us.

So we stopped and I put a rifle down into the ground by the bayonet and stood up and waved my arms at them, and they thought we were Chinese troops I guess.  So when they saw, they dove very, very low and I think they identified us as UN troops so they veered off.  So we dived into the Charwan Reservoir, and the plane was sitting on the surface at the time and the pilot was still in there.  And we couldn’t tell if he was still alive or not.  He still had his parachute on.  And we got him out of the plane and dragged him in to shore.  And his name was Captain Carlson.*** He had $47 in his wallet, and he had died, and we had him in his parachute.  So we sent for the jeep ambulance to come up, and the padre came up with it and took him away.  But I never heard from him again.  But I did have his address and meant to write to his family, but lost it.  But that was quite an unnerving day.

He had been shot actually up through the fuselage, the lower fuselage of his plane, into his groin, and he could not extricate himself from the plane.  So he had drowned.  His blood was floating on the water surface, and he seemed like a very young person.

But things settled down after that, but I think the Van Doos did do their patrol and finished their patrol, and then returned safely.  I forget now if they had any casualties.

But another day, I commanded a patrol and we were to cross a stream, which hadn’t been explored before.  And I was in command of the patrol.  We had a section of mortars, a section of flamethrowers and a section of anti-tank guns.

And when we proceeded down this road, we began to prod for mines and we found several mines.  I’d say three or four mines in the ground.  When we prodded we had bayonets and sticking it into the ground and feel for the mines.  And we, eventually we came to a stream that was sort of in between two smaller hills.  And the road ran sort of across the stream.  There was no bridge.  It was sort of a shallow stream.  And there was huge rocks there.  And we were standing at the edge of the stream pondering whether to, we should continue across the stream.  And I remarked to John Barrett, who became the brigadier general, he was a good friend of mine and I said, “John, we should prod that stream bed for mines.”  And just as I said it, from the village to our right, I forget the name of the village for now but there was fire opened up,  mortars and machine guns, rifles and we had to take off.

John Barrett ran behind a big rock.  And I ran up the, one of the hills. And my signaller came out of our jeep.  Our vehicles were sort of trapped in the gully between the hills and I got the signaller up.  And our anti-tank people dragged a 75 mm [anti-tank gun] up and started firing into the village, which was quiet effective.  It wasn’t on my orders.  They did it on their own.  They were being commended for that.

But I got my map out and got the village pinpointed.  And got word back to the artillery, and the very first artillery line that, artillery round landed right in and smack in the centre of the village.

So things quieting down and, I guess, they retreated, and that’s as far as we went.  We, I got back to battalion headquarters and we were ordered to return.  And it was just what we called a patrol, a contact, to see if there were enemy there.

 

 

* Major Joseph P. Gosselin, The Royal 22e Régiment, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, killed in action in Korea, 9 July 1951.

** Able to handle long-distance missions, the North American F-51 Mustang fighter-bomber was flown by the United States Air Force during the Korean War

*** Captain Raymond J. Carlson, US Air Force, 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, was killed in action on 4 July 1951.

 

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