WELCOME
by Art Johnson

     Now about hills 187 and 166, as you will be aware the UN Forces moved into this area relatively un-opposed. I arrived at ‘C’ Coy 2 RCR a week or two after the advance, some time in October 1951. Our draft left Sasebo Japan for an overnight ferry trip to Pusan, where we debarked and then headed for Britannia Camp where we shed our steel helmets. Next morning there was a long trip in a train up to the Uijonbu area, and from there by truck to Brigade Headquarters. An incident took place there that is worth mentioning, I’m sure it is as close to a mutiny as anything the Canadian Army has ever had. It seems that the Pats had heavy casualties and the Brass decided to replace them with men from the RCR. You know it was funny, guys who had done nothing but gripe about the RCR became the most loyal and vocal Royal Canadians that you could find on the face of this earth. Fortunately in view of such opposition the Brass backed down and we proceeded to 2nd RCR in trucks via road and river bed. Myself and another chap were assigned to ‘C’ Coy and were taken up to the company by RSM Rocky McManus. I’ll never forget that evening, we had been on the go since early morning and it was now about 1730 hrs, old Rocky seemed to be taking six feet in a stride and the other chap and I were dragging our asses along the path just under the ridge that ran to the East from 187. All of a sudden there was a loud crash and after a few seconds the sound of raucous laughter drifting down from the ridge. This was ‘Camels" way of welcoming us to the sharp end. (Camel was one of the Shermans from ‘C’ Squadron Lord Strathconas)

   We arrived in ‘C’ Coy Just at sundown and landed up in nine platoon which was without a platoon officer, Davie Renwick had been posted out on a course somewhere. Eight platoon didn’t have an officer either, Lt. Barrett was also out on some other duties. Sgt. Stevens went over to eight platoon as commander and Cpl. Art Scott took over nine platoon. The first night was spent in a slit trench with Ken McOrman, as a matter of fact slits were all we had at that time. During the next few weeks we continued to dig and wire in the position, and had a small celebration when we heard that Granny Rowden was awarded the MM for continuing to man his Bren gun while wounded, during a previous action. We all gave Granny our rum ration that night. I might point out that the maps in ‘Strange Battleground’ showing our positions at that time are in error and probably refer to a later period.

   Nine platoon had one exciting evening during this time when a Van Doo’ patrol came through our area. We had received a new platoon officer, Lt. Howard, and by this time the wire had been laid across the valley between ‘A’ Coys 2 platoon and ourselves. The patrol commander was a young Lieutenant recently arrived in Korea, he had come up in the afternoon for a recce, then led the patrol out later that evening. Lt. Howard and Cpl. Scott took them down the path that skirted our position and out to the wire. At this point Lt. Howard returned to the platoon area and unknown to me Cpl. Scott continued out into the valley with the ‘Van Doos’. Art Scott was a fine fighting soldier and he wanted to make sure that the patrol got out beyond the area where we had planted some mines in a creek bed. About a half an hour after Lt. Howard returned to the platoon I heard some creaking on the wire and let fly with a grenade. Believe me the air was blue with some choice East Coast epithets, and when Art returned to the platoon area it took a couple of guys to restrain him from cleaning my clock. We all stood to. A while later a voice came from the bottom of the hill calling for the RCR, and saying he was a Van Doo and that they needed help with some wounded men. Cpl. Scott at once took over and told the Van Doo to stay where he was, and then proceeded to round up some men including myself, then lead us out into the valley. Once beyond the wire we went to ground and deployed in all round defence while Cpl. Scott attempted to establish contact with the Van Doo that had called up to us. After establishing contact we proceeded to the area where the patrol had come to grief on one of our mines. We established a defence screen while the uninjured Van Doos and some of our men aided the wounded back to our positions. For his prompt action in handing with this situation Cpl. Scott was awarded the MM.

To continue on with this episode, the next day a patrol under the command of Capt. (Tea bags) Hayes took us back out to recover the Van Doo officer's body. It appears that during the patrol's trek around the valley they became lost and entered the creek at a point behind where they had been left by Cpl. Scott, and stumbled on to one of our mines. Soon after this incident the remaining mines in the creek were removed, and Cpl. Conners also removed some booby traps he had put in a nearby house.

Our next exciting night was 2 Nov 1951 when ‘A’ Coys’ 2 platoon was attacked, it started about nightfall when mortar shells began landing on 2 platoons position. At first it just appeared to be routine but by 2000 hrs the tempo had picked up and we knew something was brewing. About 2200 hrs the attack began in earnest with all kinds it small arms fire from the attackers and defenders. Then later the DF tasks from the 25’s, 4,2’s and the 81’s started raining down, boy I’m telling you I thought I could reach up and touch those 25’s they sounded so low. The Vickers from ‘A’ Coys’ HQ area added their chatter to the din and finally 2 platoon withdrew from the position bringing their wounded with them. The next morning you wouldn’t believe the dust that was still in the air, this combined with the morning fog made it impossible to see anything down in the valley, but we could sure hear Lt. Miller from ‘A’ Coy leading his platoon to retake the position. Fortunately the only enemy left there were either dead or dying. For their actions during this engagement Pte. Bauer was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, ‘Black’ Johnson received the Military Medal and Lt. Mastonardi the Military Cross. The official history says that ‘C’ Coy supported ‘A’ Coy in this action and except for some fire from 9 platoon and flares from the mortar section that is not true as we were warned not to fire unless attacked, the reason being that it was thought that the attack on ‘A’ Coy might be a diversion and if we fired in support we would give away our positions.

The attacking enemy force was estimated to have been of battalion strength and that they suffered very heavy casualties. The official Regimental History comments that "This was perhaps Second Battalion's finest hour".

Arthur Johnson was born in Toronto, 1929 and lives in Scarborough, Ontario.  He is married with two children and nine grandchildren.  Art served with The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1st and 2nd Battalions, C Company.  He was severely wounded 12 August 1952 on Hill 355.  He is  a member of KVA Unit #57.

Home

Story Archives