Plotting and firing the 25 Pounder artillery guns.Francis Bayne
"So I got to get to know him a little bit and of course then arriving in Korea three months later, he gets killed there. It really was a hard thing for me to accept. So I felt that this probably was the most important story that I could tell our young people—what war does to people."
I was a gunner on a 25-pounder. That's what the artillery had. We had guns. You have seven members on a gun crew and you have them all, they're all numbered—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. And each gunner—we're known as gunners, not privates but gunners—and each one has their own job to do on the guns. One could be the sights, making sure the elevation is right. The other one is to load the ammunition; one is to traverse it around.
So everybody had their jobs to do. And of course we would be called to fire on a target and we would probably fire 50, 100 rounds in one area and our job was to keep the enemy away from advancing and with Ops [Observation Posts] in the front, watching where they are, we were able to track them and fire our weapons at them from probably sometimes a half a mile away. But we still were able to do it. So mainly that was my job.
The ones that stood out the most is I was also a signaler with the artillery and they had an OP, advance operation, and what you had, you had an officer there and you had a signaler, a gunner, which I was for a while, and they had two other people. So the four of us, we were an advance there, we were in a bunker and we could see the enemy through these bunkers and our job was to fire on them.
But then there was times that we had to try to close a bunker up if we could because the enemy would overrun it. There was a couple of times they did and it was scary but yet I was able, you know, to handle it because I think I'd already been there quite a few months then. But that's the scariest part at the time because you don't know. These bunkers, you can cover them up quite easy and the enemy could go right over them and not know you're there.
But when the enemy comes past you going towards your line, it makes you wanna think. So that was the only experience I had. I only did it for about a month but it was quite an experience and I don't know if I could do a long stretch of time because it's very nerve-wracking. It doesn't happen all the time but there is the odd time that the Chinese would come over the Hill 355 and they would swarm. That's the way they operate over there in Korea.
When I've been going to schools talking to our students on Remembrance Week, I try to do as much as I can and I remember going to Oromocto High School with 1,400 students sitting there. Many of these young students were about my age. I went on to tell 'em how a very good friend of mine was killed in Korea and it was hard for me to accept it because I was only 17. But I wanted to tell them. That there was someone, a friend that close. It was very difficult. But I thought that was important. Excuse me.
I thought that was important that these young students understand what war does to people. I've often thought about him. His name was Tommy. And he came from a little in Vancouver. That's where I met him when I was heading to Korea and of course we became very close friends. We were on the same gun crew and so these were the things that really impressed me about him, you know, that before I left to go on the ship in Vancouver, I got to meet some of his family, some of his sisters and brothers and so on.
So I got to get to know him a little bit and of course then arriving in Korea three months later, he gets killed there. It really was a hard thing for me to accept. So I felt that this probably was the most important story that I could tell our young people—what war does to people.