I didn't know where Korea was and I hadn't heard of it before. We were driven to Korea after Christmas 1951 and it took us six or seven weeks to get there by boat.
Went to the army eighteen years old. Started from Bethesda on the train. After doing ten weeks of hard training we were told we were going overseas. They were telling us we were going to Korea.
I didn't know where Korea was and I hadn't heard of it before. We were driven to Korea after Christmas 1951 and it took us six or seven weeks to get there by boat. We were going there to help the South Koreans because the North Koreans had invaded the South, and so the Yanks, Canadians and the Australians were there too.
I got a job driving this officer around and we went from one place to the other. The jeep I had was a really good one. She went up these mountains. There were only tracks there. There was this 355 it was a hell of a mountain.(1) I had to drive up there one day to fetch one of my mates, he'd been shell shocked. And on the way up I picked up some American and he said to me "I'll get a medal for this", and I said to him, 'if you get back alive', I said, because the shells were coming down heavily that day. And on the way down a mortar bomb landed in front of me. It blew up in front of me and we were thrown out of the jeep, the young lad and me. I tried to get back to camp anyway.
I went down to Seoul one day, took an officer there, and on the way home it was starting to get dark. I wasn't allowed to use my lights, so I wanted to come home. I wouldn't get fed if I was late. Anyway, on the way home - we called the front line home in those days - there was a tent and Yanks were having food and things there, and I stopped there to have a cuppa and a sandwich and I went over to the jeep to eat there. And who came out of the tent but this big Yank with his arms full of food. And there were these little children there with tins - they were nearly starving poor things - they were begging for food, of course I'd given them a sandwich and some tea. This Yank, now, he didn't like what these children were doing. He gave one of them a clout and he rolled down the side of the mountain, and I got very angry. I grabbed the rifle, put a round in the breech and when he heard the click he dropped all the food and ran, and the children were over the moon getting all the food.
After coming home from Korea, it was hard to settle. It took me about six months to get it together. When I was young, before going to Korea, I'd go to chapel every Sunday and we'd sing about little children in China and Japan, and we'd go around in the evenings collecting money for missionaries to send people over to talk about God to China and Japan. And do you know what, I never thought that I'd go there to kill them. Korean War - they've forgotten all about it, and the best thing for me to do is forget about it as well.
(1) "Hill" was the name of one of the mountains that was on the front line in the Korean War. Its name derives from its elevation.