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1953 2-3 May 3RCR, The Battle for Hill 187


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« on: April 20, 2009, 07:30:59 pm »

Hill 187 – 2-3 May 1953

by LCol E.H. Hollyer, MC, CD.


Background


On 7 August 1950 the Prime Minister announced the raising of an infantry brigade plus certain supporting arms and services to be called the Canadian Army Special Force (CASF); term of service to be 18 months, to be expanded if necessary under certain conditions. Many legal and administrative difficulties arose, some overcome by legislation, but mostly by improvising. By 26 Aug enlistments numbered 8000 with a number of officers, NCOs and specialists drawn from the Regular Force.

Between the 11th and 22nd of November 1950 the bulk of the CASF was concentrated in Fort Lewis forming the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group commanded by Brigadier J.M. Rockingham. 3PPCLI was created to take the place of their 2nd Battalion in Korea and 3RCR and 3R22eR were raised as reinforcement training battalions. The Brigade Group underwent some very extensive training and on 21 February 1951 the decision was taken that the whole brigade would be going to Korea as originally planned. The Brigade Group less 3PPCLI sailed between 19 and 21 April. The 3rd Bns went to Wainwright.

The summer of 1952 at Camp Wainwright was a busy one. Most of the units there were being trained as part of the next rotation to Korea. In addition, 3RCR was also providing reinforcements to 1RCR in action in Korea. This resulted in the dispatch of drafts of our trained personnel overseas throughout the summer, leaving us with a confused training situation in which we had to accommodate a continual influx of new recruits sent, in most cases, directly from Personnel Depots across Canada where they had enlisted. It was difficult to understand how an infantry battalion, warned for action in Korea could be trained for war as a unit and at the same time be providing replacements to our 1st Battalion in Korea.

The platoons were very big. Newly arrived platoon commanders would find themselves in charge of a platoon of about 80 to 100 men with possibly only a newly appointed Sgt and Cpl to help him train these soldiers for war. In order to provide additional junior NCOs whatever, of the precious few individual training records available were reviewed looking for any hint that the soldier might be able to take on the task of being a junior, unpaid, non-commissioned officer. Armed with very little information the Platoon commander and his NCOs would assemble the crowd for inspection in order to select potential candidates on the basis of their turnout, appearance, previous service and what little was known of their activities in the platoon. It was soon realized this was not the best way to select your junior leaders.

The shortage of reinforcements for Korea was of continuing concern in 1952 to such an extent that training was affected in peculiar ways. To make up for the constant dispatch of trained troops to the war zone, we were compelled to adopt a system known as "integrated training". The concept applied to the training of new recruits who were arriving regularly straight from civilian life. It was also referred to as "the buddy system": team up a new recruit with a soldier who had received some basic training, and the soldier would teach his new pal what he had already learned about such mysterious things as the rifle, the Bren gun, the hand grenade and so on, shaving time off the training schedule. No, we did not believe in this system of training soldiers for war, a system obviously higher command's response to a situation not of their making, nevertheless, we had to go through the motions of arranging for "buddies" and hoped for the best, while carrying out the normal basic training as best we could.

The 3rd Battalion did many route marches that summer as part of scheduled exercises that were worthwhile training. Marches meant good physical exercise, toughening up feet and legs and allowing soldiers to learn various tactical formations, dig trenches and get used to living in the field. Unfortunately many new recruits arrived as the Battalion was setting out on a march the result being badly blistered feet and therefore designated by the medical people as unfit for duty until recovered, thus missing more training.

Because the terrain in Korea is mountainous each rifle coy in turn would be sent from Wainwright to Jasper, Alberta for familiarization in a mountain environment during the summer. During the week there the Coys spent most of the time climbing up and down hills in Platoon and Section groups, but no large-scale manoeuvres took place. It was good training however. By the fall when the Battalion returned to Petawawa training was well advanced and the recurrent drafts to Korea did not unduly hamper the daily routine. Both Battalion and Brigade exercises had been conducted and the Battalion was practiced in patrolling, wiring, use of Bangalore torpedoes, the laying of minefields and manoeuvre exercises with Bde support.

Training for war in Camp Petawawa was not quite the same as in Wainwright where we finally completed our formation training and route marches that summer. Now we concentrated on platoon and company training that became limited when the snow came. In the winter we went out on bivouac, living in Arctic tents. Training was limited: we were not equipped for Arctic warfare nor trained for it, which would have made a great difference. However before the snow fell we were able to use the firing ranges, which gave the troops the opportunity to practice firing their rifles, the Bren, the Sten and the new US rocket launchers.

The Last Battle


The 3rd Battalion's battle of Hill 187was the last real battle of the war fought by the Canadians on the night of 2 - 3 May 1953. This is not the story as presented by the official historians, but events as seen and experienced by a platoon commander. The 1st Battalion was out of the line when we arrived and we were able to have a proper hand-over parade; LCol Campbell taking over from LCol Bingham. For the next few weeks’ 3RCR carried out some battalion exercises and us newcomers physically learned the height of those Korean hills. All the newly arrived officers had an opportunity to visit other battalions in the line, experience, for the first time, unfriendly fire and spend a few days on the positions they were to occupy to get a feel for the situation from those to be relieved. Three of us attended a Brigade Patrol Course.

On the night of 19-20 April, 7 Platoon 3RCR took over from 7 Platoon 3R22eR occupying the right forward position of the battalion on Hill 187, Point 97. I confided to my sergeant that I was not too impressed with patrolling and being a forward platoon we undoubtedly would be spared that duty. He confirmed that the feeling was mutual. This feeling of relief was not to last. The next day I had a phone call from the Battle Adjutant who invited me down to Bn HQ to have lunch with the CO. I thought this a nice gesture until I learned from experience that social events with the CO were inevitably a precursor to a patrol. 2Lt Spencer of B Company, who commanded 3RCR in the 70s, and I, that night, had the honour of carrying out the first reconnaissance patrols of the Battalion.

The next day the Chinese started their shelling and mortaring of the Battalion position with the brunt being taken by 7 and 8 Platoon. 8 Platoon was on the rise immediately behind 7 Platoon. Sgt Stone, my Platoon Sgt, blamed me for this action by the Chinese as he claimed we stirred them up when I fired a few mortar rounds behind their lines just to let them know 3RCR had arrived and was fighting fit. This harassment by the Chinese continued for 13 days until the night of the attack. Since the bombardment was restricted to the daylight hours the night was spent trying to restore fire positions while, some Chinese lady, over a loud-speaker, counselled us American soldiers to lay down our arms and join the happy Chinese and our buddies to the North. At the beginning of the broadcast, she always invited us to sit on the edge of our foxholes and promised that we would not be fired on during this period. I am sure this invitation was to allow some observer to plot our weapon slits. The thing that really surprised us was that the Chinese evidently did not know that the Americans had turned over Hill 187 to the Canadians some considerable time before.

7 Pl saw very little of the enemy during this period of shelling, but every night 8 Pl reported Chinese on the wire. Of course we in 7 Pl figured 8 Pl was just jumpy. All patrols exiting the right flank of the battalion had to go through our piece of real estate, as we owned the gap in the minefield. It was obvious that the Chinese knew when our patrols entered the gap as almost invariably they were shelled. The source of information became apparent after a couple of days as one of my riflemen sighted two camouflaged Chinese in a lay-up position just outside the gap in the wire. Without a doubt they were reporting our movements.

I requested permission from my Coy Cod to fire on them since there appeared to be no way we could get through the gap unobserved in order to try a capture. I got the order to "Wait out" and later was informed that a member of the Sniper Platoon would be up with a sniper-scope. We kept the area under observation, but by the time the member of the sniper platoon arrived only one enemy observer could be seen. He was dispatched with a single round. Later that evening a message relayed from Brigade advised that the Chinese might attempt to recover the body and if they did we were not to fire on the rescue party. Apparently Brigade had intercepted a broadcast from the Chinese requesting permission to retrieve the body. That night we kept a close eye out for a rescue party, saw nothing, but in the morning the body was gone. The shelling of exiting patrols ceased.

Two things particularly bothered me about my platoon position; first communications. The line back to Coy and Bn HQ went out with the daily shelling and radio communication often left much to be desired. My other concern was that of control. With my sections dug in on the forward and side slopes of the hill and my command post on the reverse slope with no alternate position from which to observe and control the fire of my sections, I had concluded that it was almost, if not impossible, to fight the platoon as a platoon entity. I contacted both the Signals Officer and the Pioneer Officer and they both agreed to come up to 7 Pl and discuss these problems. They came on the evening of 2 May. Knowing that A Coy would be sending out a patrol at 8:30 they arrived at about 7:30. The Signals Officer quickly made some useful suggestions to improve radio communications and we then discussed the control problem.

As usual, the day had been one of heavy shelling and mortaring, with one man killed in my OP when it received a direct hit. Three others had been wounded earlier and all had been evacuated. It was relatively quiet, at this moment, as the day's harassing fire had stopped so we went out onto the ground to discuss my concerns. The first phase of our recce was to the top of the hill to visit my OP, which was really a reinforced trench with some camouflage netting over it. It was a shambles, but was being made operational by a member of the platoon who had OP duty for that night.

From this vantage point one could see the Chinese positions across the valley, approaches to Hill 187, but more importantly, to our position on Hill 97. Most of the fire positions of my sections were also visible. My concept was to expand and revet the OP, install good overhead cover and dig tunnels to my sections thus allowing me access to them as necessary or the ability to direct their fire from my newly conceived OP\CP. Both of my visitors agreed that my plan was workable: the Signals Officer noted that line could be laid to each section as the tunnelling would provide good protection from a direct hit and the Pioneer Officer promised to provide some special material and guidance on the best method of tackling the construction. The next step would be to outline the plan to my Coy Comd, who had been made aware of my concerns, and get his permission to use some of the Korean Service Corps personnel to help with digging.

We went back to my CP in time to meet the A Coy 16 man patrol that was to set up an ambush in the valley to try to catch the Chinese recce patrols that were continually being seen on 8 Pl wire. As usual, I guided the patrol to the gap and watched to see it safely through after which I returned to my CP for a cup of coffee with my two guests.

It was very dark that night so the Coy had not stood down, but were to wait until the moon came up. About two hours after the ambush patrol had gone out, firing was heard from the valley. I left my CP and went to the gap in the minefield. I could see that a firefight was going on, but worse I saw numbers of the enemy on either side of the gap taking up positions for an assault. The fact that they were in a minefield did not seem to bother them. It probably had been cleared some time before; perhaps even before 3RCR had taken over Hill 187. I rushed back to my CP to inform my Coy Comd and CO and was told that a previously warned patrol from 8 Pl was on its way forward to assist the A Coy patrol and I should try to stop it. I took my signaller and went forward in time to see the rescue patrol passing through the wire and being ambushed. I reported to the CO and at the same time called for DF SOS tasks to be fired. I could see the enemy moving through the minefield and dispatched my Sgt to direct the fire of the section on the far side of the hill while my other two sections engaged the enemy to the front and right flank. I moved the artillery fire in closer to cover all the approaches on the slope of the hill. My six Bren guns and a .30 cal MG provided devastating interlocking fire on all sides of our hill. At this time I lost contact with Bn HQ so I returned to my CP where, with the help of the Signals Officer, I re-established communications.

Then all Hell broke loose and I went forward to take part in the action, but found the Chinese already in the trenches and hand-to-hand fighting going on. The Chinese had come in three waves; the first wave blowing gaps through the wire, the second wave throwing grenades to cause us to believe the arty was still bombarding the third wave and us being the assault group. Through all of this one could still hear the chatter of our .30 cal. It certainly had not been silenced. I could see that we were fighting a losing cause and something had to be done to get the Chinese to back off. I informed the Section Commander near the gap to pass on to all possible that in about five minutes I would call for artillery on our position. I fought my way back to the CP and asked for fire on our hill and was informed that proximity fuse fire would be provided. The Signals Officer went forward to warn some of the men and stayed to man a Bren gun. At this time I did not know what had happened to the Pioneer Officer who was no longer in my CP.

During this period some remnants of the A Coy Patrol had made their way back and a small stretcher party from A Coy had appeared to evacuate some of the wounded. One of the soldiers was an old friend. We had served together as junior NCOs when the Battalion was stationed in Brockville from 1946 to 48. We greeted each other, but there was no time for lengthy conversation and he left the CP to carry out the task of evacuating the wounded. I did not see him again until after the cease-fire in July when I visited him in hospital. He told me that, that night after I had chased him from my CP he went outside and saw someone in a padded suit, which he assumed was one of our Korean Service Corps personnel, struggling with a stretcher. It was soon brought home to him that this man was not Korean but Chinese. Ernie, on one end of the stretcher, was hustled across the valley into the Chinese lines there to spend the remainder of the war.

The Pioneer Officer (Lt Gordon Owen) was also captured. He had left the CP and was making his way toward the action when some enemy soldiers attacked him. I had an old sandbagged crapper on the side of the hill. He ducked into this and was able to stave off the Chinese for a while by firing his pistol through a crack in the door. However, one Chinaman managed to sneak up on him, get the door open and fire in a couple of grenades. One lay on the floor of the outhouse that he wedged against the wall with his foot, the other when down the hole. Slightly wounded and some smelly poor Gordie was captured.

You will remember that earlier I had sent my Sgt forward to direct the fire of one of the sections. He did not arrive. During the intense bombardment, prior to the Chinese hitting our trenches, one of the bunkers received a number of direct hits that dislodged some of the sandbags. Sgt Stone just happened to be passing at the time and he was rendered unconscious and partly covered by the debris. When he came to be was indeed surprised to find a Chinese signaller using him as a seat while he passed messages on his radio. In the words of my Sgt, "I lay very still until he left".

The first of our artillery came down. It was an intense bombardment. After some time I asked for it to be lifted and I went forward with a soldier to see the situation. I preceded the soldier from the bunker and as I left a round came in and I hit the ground. A mortar bomb exploded beside me and the shrapnel went over my body. Out water supply came from the fields and was collected in jerry cans and placed on a shelf cut out of the hill outside my CP. Here it was treated with tablets and arranged so the purified water was at the end of six jerry cans. The shrapnel from the exploding mortar pierced these cans and they poured over me. For some few seconds I was not convinced that the wetness was water. We went forward and found the position still overrun. There were Chinese everywhere and lots of dead and wounded. The Chinese were rolling bodies over the side of the hill where litter bearers were taking them away. We were returning to my CP when we were jumped by three of the enemy who we both managed to evade. We both dived over a sand bag revetment, but my escort was killed by burp gun fire. How I escaped I do not know. I finally drove off these Chinese with grenades. I returned to my CP and again asked for fire on the position. When it was finally lifted I again toured the position gathering what troops I could still locate. There were scattered enemy, but most were returning to the Chinese lines and on my request the Commonwealth Artillery hampered their withdrawal.

The battle was over except for more Canadian Artillery action. The returning Chinese Battalion was caught in the open by our Air OP who directed devastating fire on it. The night's action, a raid in Battalion strength, had cost the enemy more than 80 fatalities; 3RCR lost 25 killed, 27 wounded and 8 taken prisoner. The immediate awards were 2 MCs, 3 MMs and 5 MIDs.1 All members of the Battalion involved fought with skill and bravery. I was proud and I am sure all the others were also of being a Royal Canadian.

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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

2008            President. Niagara Branch
                   The Royal Canadian Regiment
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 07:33:17 pm »

  The Chinese attack Hill 187


The battle of Hill 187 occurred on May 2-3, 1953. Mr. Meagher was there and recounted his experience. Two officers he knew, Lieutenants Gerard Meynell and Douglas Banton, both of The Royal Canadian Regiment, were killed during the engagement on May 3.

"I was in my slit trench at 2130 and it was pretty black. I heard our Able Company patrol, led by Lt Meynell, patrol get hit. There were about 20 of them out there by the Sandaecheon River. I heard bursts of gunfire which meant the patrol was ambushed. And then I heard the staccato sound of a Sten gun, our light machine-gun. And then I heard a soggy grenade go and that was it. Our patrol had walked into about 400 assault troops that were headed to assault Hill 187 and Charlie Company.

"Lt Banton, who had been my platoon commander, was a gun-ho guy who always got to places first and he felt he could win the Victoria Cross. That´s what he told us back in Canada. He headed down into the minefield gap, put up his arms and said "Come through me, come through me!" to the patrol that was scattered and wounded. He lasted about two minutes. There is a rule in the front line that you never stand up when you can sit down and never sit down when you can lie down.

"After the patrol got hit, a bombardment came in on the Princess Pat´s to the right of us. A bombardment means that you can´t distinguish one shell from the other. The sky lit up there and I thought there was an attack coming. They lost two soldiers in it. Then, there was artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire coming from the Chinese all over the place. They had massed their guns for the attack. The telephone lines linking the battalion were destroyed by the guns.

"At exactly two minutes to 12, on May 2, there was a 20-minute bombardment of 20 rounds and everything was shaken. The place lit up; it was brighter than day. Grassfires broke out all over the valley and all over the hills, the minefield, wire and trenches were destroyed, the bunkers caved in because the bombardment was so heavy. And the Chinese came in under the artillery barrage."

http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/lf/english/6_1_1.asp?id=3012
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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

2008            President. Niagara Branch
                   The Royal Canadian Regiment
                           Association
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2009, 07:36:45 pm »

  Kenneth Albert Himes   The Royal Canadian Regiment  Korea.

http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/hrp/hrp_detail&media_id=1551




Patrolling



Transcript
Interviewer: Do I understand it that the Allies were basically along one ridge of hills, and the Chinese would be along another ridge?

Yeah.

Interviewer: With the valley in between being No Man's Land?

That's right.

Interviewer: During the nights, it's my understanding that the Canadians in particular were expected to patrol, and that was a point of pride.

Yeah.

Interviewer: That the Canadians were to own No Man's Land.

Yeah

Interviewer: At night.

Mm hmm.

Interviewer: Can you describe to me what types of patrolling would be done?

Well, you have a recce patrol, they're just going to see what's out there, not going to, hoping not to do much fighting. A fighting patrol, and their job is to go and pick a fight. There's also a patrol called the snatch patrol, and that's try and grab a prisoner. So there are various things that they go on out there, and sometimes a patrol changes it, its job description pretty fast.

Interviewer: You were on a number of these patrols? I think I had four, four is all is I got onto. It's...unlike the outpost or anything like that, but I don't count that as a patrol.

Interviewer: Do you have any vivid memory of those patrols? They're dark and scary.

Yeah, it's one of the things you really, you're hoping that you don't want to be too close to anybody but you don't want to get too far away so you can't find them.

Interviewer: How many men would normally go out on one of these patrols?

You could have about half a dozen, or up to a dozen. You don't... considering there's all different kinds of patrols going out and from different spots.

Interviewer: If you blundered into a Chinese patrol... Your going, now you're going to be fighting.

Interviewer: In the dark...

Yeah.

Interviewer: What happens if one of your men were hit? And wounded?

We'd try and get you out, but I mean we can't guarantee. Cannot, can't... I mean, if a person is killed, there's no sense in trying to help them. Probably you could, you could have somebody go out there another night very early and try and draw get them in, but as you probably know there's bodies still missing so...

The Enemy

Impressions of the Enemy

Mr. Himes recalls his impression of the Chinese enemy, particularly his shock at the numbers of bodies sacrificed.

Interviewer: What was your impression of the enemy that you faced in Korea? I think they've got to be stupid the way they throw their bodies away. But that's what they're using, is mass, mass, mass force. When they attack, they attack.... the ones in front could either have rice mats or whatnot and their bodies stayed over the wire, and then the other ones come behind with burp guns or hand grenades, and then people come along after that with ammo and just pick up the burp guns, because they haven't got any, so it's... Interviewer: But it'd be a terrifying thing for a person from the West to see this. Yeah.

*******


Coming Home.


Transcript
Interviewer: When you look back on your time in Korea, do you ever wonder why it is that Canadians, and more particularly the Western nations don't remember the Korean engagement in the way they ought to?

I think it had a lot to do with the attitude of the legions. Legions were started by the first, people of the First World War who didn't like the people from the Second World War. And the people in the Second World War didn't like us, so, I don't know. Because we were told it wasn't a war. It was a police action. That's what they told everybody: it's a police action.

Interviewer: And because presumably the numbers were somewhat smaller, it was considered to be that police action.

Yeah.

Interviewer: Tell me a little bit about that. Did you experience that kind of prejudice, in a legion hall?

Yep.

Interviewer: Can you describe a little bit about that?

Oh, one time I went into, I was going to join the legion, thought I'd give it a whirl, and I got the application form and I said to the guy in the office, I said "Is it alright if I go in and have a beer and I'll fill out this form?" And he says sure. I was filling out the form, guy looked over and said "What are you doing?" I said "Filling out the form." He said "Well they only take Veterans here." I said "Ok, no problem." He looked down he says "Korea?" He said "That wasn't a war!" He said "I was in a World War." I looked at him, put the pen down, shook my head, I said "You're right. I can't join your legion because you fought the whole world and lived." Got up and walked out.

Interviewer: Well that.... I know you're smiling, but it must've hurt a great deal, that someone...

Yeah... I belong to the legion now! But, that's the way we were treated. And, there was quite a few others that I know of that got treated exactly the same way. In London, Ontario, as long as we were in uniform we could come in and use the facilities but we weren't able to join. So it took me a long time to actually get around to joining the legion.
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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

2008            President. Niagara Branch
                   The Royal Canadian Regiment
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2009, 08:11:02 pm »

  Kenneth Albert Himes   The Royal Canadian Regiment  Korea.

http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/hrp/hrp_detail&media_id=1551

Mr Himes was born February 6, 1932, in Fort William, Ontario. He left school while in Grade 6, and worked at various jobs. After joining the Militia in an attempt to make money, he was posted to Churchill in the medical corp. While there he met men from the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) on training - he was so impressed with their skill and level of training, that he decided to join the RCR, and no other unit, as soon as he came of age. Canada was already looking for volunteers for Korea at the time Mr Himes became eligible to join, and thus was sent to Winnipeg the same day he signed on. After basic training in Petawawa, special training in Wainwright, and mountain training in Jasper, Mr Himes was notified Christmas Day 1952 that the RCR would be shipped to Korea - they arrived in Seoul in late April. Within two weeks of arriving in Korea, Mr Himes found himself in the middle of the Battle at Hill 187 - it would prove to be the worst action he participated in during his tour. After the peace accord was signed, Mr Himes remained in Korea with the RCR for an additional 8 months, patrolling the demilitarized zone. Having 3 years served under his belt, Mr Himes left the military soon after returning to Canada, but joined the RCR again when he found himself out of work. He remained with the RCR until he retired from active service in 1962.

Off to War...


Transcript
Interviewer: When you had made your intention known, what was the reaction of your family? Well, mother didn't think I was going to go anyway, so that didn't matter. And... until one day I walked, came home, there's a little bit of a story here. I was taking a girl to the show one night and I happened to walk by the recruiting armouries, and there was a sign that said recruiters inside. So I went in, I haven't seen that girl since, and next morning I went to work. They said if I was still interested to go back in the afternoon, one o'clock. So I went to work, boss was home sick, and I got my cousin to look after my, I was with bread route then, and I told him to look after my route, I'm gonna check on this army bit. And at one o'clock, at three o'clock in the afternoon I had a ticket in my hand for the train that night, going to Winnipeg. Went home, wrote, mother wasn't there, left a note saying if you want to see me at eleven o'clock train, and left. Interviewer: Did they in fact see you off? My mother got down there. Wanted to know where the heck I was going! Interviewer: Did she have any words of advice that you can remember? No. She knew I was going to do it anyway, so that's the difference.

Premonitions of death...

Transcript

It was aboard ship, and we were all... just before we got to Japan, and a chap by the Corporal Doug Newol. Did basic training together, he was from Newfoundland, he had the bottom bunk and I had the top bunk I got used to that with my brother. And he said to me one night, he said "Come up on board, on the deck" and it was dark, and he told me a story, and he said "You know," he said "in the Second World War," he says "my two brothers were killed, and neither one lasted two weeks." And he says, "I'm afraid that's going to happen to me." So I kind of said, you know, "Don't worry Doug, we'll, we'll get through it, that's just you know coincident that, that happened." Well I went to "A" Company and he went to "C" Company, and on May the 2nd, on May the 2nd he had come up with a group to pick up food for the, for the "C" Company, and him and I happened to just run into each other, and all he said to me, he said "Ken. It's close." He was killed that night. And that was on the fourteenth day. Interviewer: What impact did that have on you and your morale? I didn't know that he was killed right then, but I got tasked in with removing the bodies, the casualties, we had a lot of casualties during the night. I think we had somewhere around like eighty people were wounded, killed, missing. And so on the 4th my company commander, Major Bates, called me up and he said "You're taking that party out there and picking up the bodies." And I went out, because I've asked people before if they've seen Doug Newell and nobody seemed to know him. But as soon as I got out there, they had brought a lot of the bodies into one spot and I just looked down, I seen his back, and I said "That's Doug Newell."

Interviewer: And that was all within two weeks, of coming up to the front.

Yep. Well this all happened in one night.

Interviewer: And it was within that two week period that Mr. Newell died.

Yep. That he died, yep.

***


Interviewer: You had mentioned, Mr. Himes, that this action where your friend Mr. Newell was killed, that that happened within two weeks. You indicated that you've gone to the front in about a week and a half, so three or four days later... was it the first three or four days relatively quiet until the battle that you're referring to?

Well, they did a lot of ranging in. The Chinese were ranging in and so they wouldn't put a big barrage down until they'd send over, you know, a few shells here, there and whatnot. And that would.... ranging in... oh maybe one gun was firing so.... the time between another shot. And... but they were putting another one being ranged in, and all that...different spots.

Interviewer: So the trick here was that they were trying to get all of their artillery pieces sitting in the right area and they were then assumably getting ready for an attack of some sort.

Yeah.

Interviewer: What, what actually did happen?

"A" Company sent out a patrol, for a fighting patrol, there would be probably about thirteen, fourteen people on it. And when they entered into the valley, they ran into some Chinese. The patrol ran into some Chinese and a fight, fire fight started, which started the whole thing. And then all the artillery, the Chinese artillery and mortars were being dropped onto "C" Company, and a group of us, ten of us from "A" Company we got word that we had wounded down there, from the patrol. But by the time we got together and started down with stretchers we got about half way and it was time to throw the stretchers away, and carry on into the battle. As I say, I didn't see Doug Newell that night at all anywhere, and it was pretty well chaos. The Chinese were shooting at us, our own artillery was firing on our own hill. The lieutenant in "C" Company, he called down for a barrage from our own artillery and our mortars were fired, and... so we had everybody shooting at us I think. The armoured corps were firing their flat trajectory weapons, and machine guns, and... So on the way down, all I could, as I approached the hill, all it was just like a red cherry, the explosions were that fast.

Interviewer: What else do you remember about that night?

That we were very busy, and the time flew actually. I found the time just flew, I guess we were so busy.

Interviewer: And you were tending to the wounded at that time?

No way! No way. The wounded just have to wait in those cases there.

Interviewer: You would have to wait? ]

Yeah, see I wasn't a, I was just a stretcher bearer what they called... I knew first aid and I carried a rifle. And I also carried, when I went down there, I carried a bag that had the red cross on it. Well I got rid of that right away, because I was going to be shot if I was caught.

Interviewer: Why would you have been shot?

Disguised myself as a medic. And with a rifle in my hand!

Interviewer: Ok. So you would be seen as trying to camouflage what you really were.

Yeah.

Interviewer: Which was in infantry.

Yeah.

Interviewer: But your job, actually that night was as a stretcher bearer.

I was, supposed to go. Yeah.

Interviewer: And in a time of chaos and crisis you were expected to become an infantry man again. Yeah. Always an infantry man.

Interviewer: After the Chinese backed out and the battle came to an end, was it light or dark?

It was light when they started, they were pulling out. It was over about, just at dawn they were on their way out.

Interviewer: And you men then went about the business of taking the wounded back?

Yeah, the wounded were coming back. They were going out from different directions because it was hard to keep track because a wounded person, if you could still walk - he was walking out himself, so....
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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2009, 01:45:13 pm »

Really good histories here, thanks for putting them up and thanks to all who gave their time and experience to write them...it is some which can now , not be lost...rong
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2009, 02:55:59 pm »

I will be speaking with at least two veterans who were there on the 9th, Ron. Wilf Pearson was the FOO on the adjacent hill and Buddy Brennen survived being assigned to Vancouver Outpost when the proverbial s really hit the fan.
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1977-1RCR  Italy PL, B Coy, Mortars
                   Pioneers, Delta Coy
                   CFB London

1979-3RCR  M Coy 12C,  Sigs, Pipes&Drums
                   Mortars
                   CFB Baden WG

1982 1RCR  Mortars 51B, Dukes, BBC (Cyp)
                   Mortars, WO-Sgts Mess,
                   CFB London

2008            President. Niagara Branch
                   The Royal Canadian Regiment
                           Association
rong
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2009, 12:52:05 pm »

It will be interesting to hear what they have to say..i wonder if either of them knew Harvey or Ray Henrickson?? They were both Gunners over there..rong
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