Veteran Stories:
John H Sadler


  • John Sadler at an August 2012 Memory Project event in Ottawa, Ontario.

    John Sadler
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"3rd of January, 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, 1953, eating my chow. I never heard the mortar come in."


[Hill] 355 was a hot spot. That was the first hill I was on. 355 or “Little Gibraltar” and we were hit very hard there. And my next assignment was on – and then we’d come out – I think it was two weeks – and I went to a hill called the Hook. And it was supposed to have been a quiet time, but it was far from quiet. That was another hot spot. And then I went on outpost duty and the third hill was 187 and that was the worst of the worst. That was May 2, 1953. We lost a lot on that one.

Well they come in waves, one wave after another, and blowing whistles, bugles, scare tactics, yelling, screaming. And most times you can fend them off but sometimes you’re overrun and they make it in the trenches with you. I was fortunate that I didn’t experience that particular portion of it but the next platoon to me got hit very badly.

The fighting – you were assigned it to be fair. You had to take turns and they had fighting patrols, snatch patrols and jitter patrols, standing patrols, listening posts and outpost duty. I did 21 days on an outpost duty. Listening posts, you go out 100 yards maybe in front with another chap and a radio set and you’re listening and watching and if anything reporting it back to platoon headquarters. Fighting patrol, I was only on two I believe and thank goodness, didn’t engage the enemy. I seen them walking by at a distance in moonlight. A snatch patrol I was never on. That normally consists of about three people and the object is to grab a prisoner if you could. But while I was there, we were never very successful. We were in their country and they knew field craft like you wouldn’t believe. Far superior to ours – their size, their knowing the land, their uniforms. They were very, very good.

3rd of January, 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon, 1953, eating my chow. I never heard the mortar come in. And next thing I knew Corporal Denere had me on his – in his hoochie [hut], stripped me down. But other than being bruised and a few cuts and that, I couldn’t hear. All I could hear was a ringing. That was my biggest complaint. And he just said that’ll go away and back up the hill but it never did go away for a long time. And the fear of that was I couldn’t hear mortars coming in. The guys would be up, alert, and I’d be gaping around. And when I went back up that night to relieve my buddy on the fire pit, I couldn’t hear and he challenged me. Cocked the rifle and he was going to shoot me. He said, “Beer,” which was the first half of the password. I was supposed to respond with, “Cap.” I never heard him. So that’s one of my biggest memories.

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