Veteran Stories:
William D. Campbell


  • William Campbell at a U.S.O. (United Service Organizations) Club in Detroit, Michigan, prior to leaving for Korea. January 1954.

    William D. Campbell
  • "Dead End Kids." William Campbell is back row, centre. Korea, 1954.

    William D. Campbell
  • Korea, 1954.

    William D. Campbell
  • William Campbell. Korea, 1954.

    William D. Campbell
  • William Campbell in Korea, 1954.

    William D. Campbell
  • Pintail Bridge across the Imjin River (looking downstream). 1952.

    W.A.D. Yuill
  • Seoul, Republic of Korea. Early 1950s. William Campbell recalls the night a British officer surprised him while on guard duty at a Seoul rail station.

    Charles Goodman
  • At USA Korea Veterans "Bull Session," Devils Lake, North Dakota. Left to right: Ed Taylor, John Carbno, Bob Nesbit, Bill Campbell, Hugh Mackenzie, Derry McKinnon, Ron Elsen.

    William D. Campbell
  • William Campbell with Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Werry at the dedication of the Monument to Canadian Fallen (Korean War Monument). Ottawa, 28 September 2003.

    William D. Campbell
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"All of a sudden – wham! – this guy grabs me from behind and he’s got a knife at my neck."


We had to, stand-to at first light and last light; it was just like the, you know, the war was still on sort of thing, eh?  And, we were on a Demilitarized Zone there, on guard duty and patrols – we went on patrols.  Just like, you know, they do during the war.  Fighting patrols and recce patrols.  We’d do guard duty on the Imjin River, on the Teal Bridge and the Pintail Bridge and, we had machine guns, you know, and fixed lines of fire, right in the middle of the bridge, sort of thing.

Our job, like, if the [July 1953] truce had of broken down, we were to hold the line for 12 hours, while the Americans manned the Kansas Line, which was their main line of defence [ten miles north of the 38th parallel].

Of course, then we asked what happens after the 12 hours – do we bug out?  They said no.  You know, we thought we’d make our way back to the Kansas Line ourselves, eh?  And beyond it.  But, I guess, they knew what they were doing, so.  If we could hold them for 12 hours ‘til the Americans manned that line, I guess we could’ve went back into that line, too.

It was kind of exciting.  I was on, with the British, you know we were sent over to – with them a few times, you know.  And, I know I was on this guard duty on the bridge; me and another fellow from Manitoba, Russell Moore, I think was his name.  Korean fellow was coming across the bridge so, stopped him, you know, I says, you know, “Where you from and where you’re going?” – Like he was coming from the British base.  [The Korean said,] “Oh, I cook for the Royal” – I forget what the British unit was.  So, I phoned over there.  Said, “I got a guy here, says he’s a cook for you guys.”  They said, “Well, hang on to him.”  About five minutes later, they come flying down there with a jeep and threw him in the jeep and away they went.

And, that night when we got off duty, I was in the canteen, there and I said, “Whatever happened to that Korean guy?”  And they said, “Oh, we shot him.”  You know.  He said he had maps of every position in our camp.  I said – but I don’t know if there’s any truth in that or if they were just giving me the gears, you know.  There’s no way I could verify it, or want to.

Well, they said he had maps underneath him, under his clothes, of all their gun positions and everything for the unit.

Well, you see, I was guarding the railroad station in Seoul, one time, and that was with the British, also.  And – two in the morning I’m parading around the compound, my gun on my shoulder.  All of a sudden – wham! – this guy grabs me from behind and he’s got a knife at my neck.  I went, “Oh, my God!”  Just about had to change my pants.  But, it was a British officer.  He said, “If this is how you do your guard duty,” he said, “you won’t live long.”  After that, I had my gun off my shoulder, the rest of the night.  My guess, I was half asleep.  I was awake after that, though.

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