UNFINISHED BUSINESS  
MASS MURDER

An excerpt from the recently published book
BEYOND THE DANGER CLOSE
The Korean Experience Revealed
 by Hub Gray
 

Those of us who fought in Korea witnessed horrific methodologies of killing.  Napalm, a deadly agent of death, administered unbearable suffering through an intense heat that could melt the flesh off a living body, wasting it away in a slow and torturous drip, drip, drip. It has been estimated that the UN Forces used 70,000 pounds of Napalm (jellied gasoline) upon the enemy each day.1  What has not been revealed prior to these writings is the horrific agent of instantaneous mass annihilation employed by our enemies. In war, Man's inhumanity to Man knows no bounds. Let me tell you about a personal experience that occurred on May 15, 1951 .

We are standing to from 0500 to 0600 hours. It is the morning ritual, time of day when armies commonly launched an attack so we are in slit trenches, weapons at the ready. After an hour passes we prepare to have our C rations for the 24th consecutive day. Tinned C rations were necessary in the mountainous country, as transport could not deliver hot meals. But now A Echelon was nearby, the connecting gravel road was of a good quality, and the enemy was about 34 Km north of our static position. For whatever reason we continued to consume C rations, and after a time they become monotonous. As well, one has to contend with the system of distribution. For many weeks, Captain Andy Foulds, of the Medium Machine Gun Platoon, thought there were only beans and wieners, until he discovered that his batman, Private Jimmy Wanniandy, was exclusively consuming the beef and chicken. Wanniandy, by default, won a transfer to a rifle company and Foulds began to enjoy a broader selection of victuals. We endeavoured to enhance our reparative diet by scouring farmers' fields for onions and other delights and while the added flavour was immediately rewarding it occasionally proved to be disastrous as the fields are culti­vated with human waste and the product inflicted havoc upon our limited western digestive systems. We are fortunate this day though, there are no intestinal causalities.

D Company is in Battalion reserve, about half a mile or more behind the Main Line of Resistance. We have occupied this position since the first of May, soon after defeating the Chinese 60 and 118 Divisions at Kapyong. Our position is about 25km south of Kapyong, 3-4km NE of Seoul. Battalion Headquarters is a km or so to our rear, adjacent to Tokso-ri. The Eighth Army has withdrawn, breaking contact with the enemy to consolidate our forces in a strong defensible position. The Chinese have taken such a brutal beating they have broken contact to collect casualties and regroup. Refugees are coming along the adjacent road everyday. We are cautioned not to fraternize with them as they may be Chinese soldiers in disguise however, the troops ignored the rule and passed along many an unused C ration. Most of these bedraggled groups possessed few belongings and included several young children, hapless victims of this war. Many children were orphaned and wondering aimlessly on their own, begging for food. The Patricias were sympathetic to the pathetic plight of the Koreans and our battalion "adopted" a number of "Korean House Boys" who ran errands and were fed and clothed. I wrote to a former teacher in Canada who sent over a number of school text books for the kids and Andy Foulds spon­sored one of them bringing him to Canada. He is now a producer with CTV in Winnipeg. I found the Patricias to be most sympathetic to the pathetic plight of the Koreans.  
      
                                                               
On the 14th of May Lieut. Hugh Cleveland, of Montreal, was leading an early morning patrol out of A Company when he unfortunately misread the map of the minefield and detonated a "Bouncing Betty" anti-personnel mine, and suffered severe wounds to his legs and groin.  Hugh was bleeding terribly and in tremendous pain but amazingly rational and able to speak.  He asked Lieut. Brian Munro to ensure that the photo of his father in his kit not go astray. Though he was quickly evacuated by helicopter he passed away from loss of blood. Hugh had a great sense of humour and was nicknamed "Foo-Foo" by the troops, for his interpretation of the noise made by the two-man operated rocket launcher.                                                                                                                                         

From Line Golden, our Brigade, the British Commonwealth 28th Infantry Brigade, is mounting patrols each day to search out enemy formations and strengths, prior to launching an offensive. Patrols vary in size from a single platoon to a battalion, the latter usually having air and armoured support. Sometimes we engage the enemy, though frequently we do not. Today my platoon, 12, is to be transported by tanks to the rail stop at Gumcochyi, on the main rail line east of Seoul. We are to proceed north on foot until 1300 hours or until engaging the enemy.

Click on map to enlarge 

We do not realize it but we are about to embark upon one of the most bizarre patrols of our lives. We are about to witness a scene of mass murder committed by an uncaring government - but whose?  

       
A squadron of Patton tanks of the United States Army 73 Heavy Tank Battalion arrives at 0730 hrs. The approach road is of gravel and delivers a cloud of dust as they come to a halt. We have received reinforcements after Kapyong and at 34 men I now have the greatest number of soldiers under my command during my entire time in Korea. As usual we are undermanned, still six men short of establishment number my average number was about 28 or so. Stone thought our low numbers re adequate.2 We mount the tanks, I confer with the American officer, checking maps, destination and timings. The tankers give our boys a set of instructions, which mainly consist of where not to stand and to get off the tanks immediately if we are attacked, and of course some bright soul immediately placed his foot on the exhaust and in half a second the sole of his boot vaporizes! His indignant scream alerts all of us.

After we disembark at the rail station of Gumcochyi, the tanks draw up under the shade of trees and park, while I brief the men on our instructions again. We are to locate the enemy, take a prisoner if possible return to base. Formed up in single file we move north on foot and by the time we are underway it is about 0900hrs. Unfortunately we are told the tanks do not have communication equipment that will enable us to contact them by wireless. An oversight?  

Each soldier is equipped with: a Lee-Enfield bolt action .303 rifle 100 rounds of ammunition carried in two bandoliers slung about his neck two #36 Grenades attached to chest webbing, a water bottle, two sandwiches and an apple - a delightful break from the inevitable C rations.  There is the usual establishment of one Bren Light Machine Gun in of the three sections. It is a blisteringly hot day, about 85 degrees. The warm weather has come on suddenly, commencing about the 20 April. We are still attired in our winter battle dress uniforms namely, heavy trousers anchored by putties at boot level. Everyone wears rolled shirtsleeves. We are saved from one US infliction: instead of wearing heavy steel helmets we are equipped with soft berets, a few have Brit­ish army balaclavas. American soldiers incur a $15 fine if caught with­out their steel helmets positioned upon their heads. As the Chinese are largely without medium and heavy artillery, our Brigade Commander does not foresee the necessity of wearing heavy steel helmets for protection against fragmentation bursts.  

As we move off we are confined in a narrow valley about 400 meters across. Soon the valley broadens to become about a mile wide. It is treeless, although the hills to our right are spotted with sparsely spaced trees that become relatively dense higher up. To our left the coverage is limited on the lower, almost bare hills. The rail line continues on its eastern axis while we move north. Making our way along a rough track we feel exposed. Our uneventful patrol continues for almost three hours when we sight an enemy formation about half a mile ahead. Sergeant Major, platoon sergeant, and I bring the men to a halt and into a defen­sive formation. I examine the enemy through my binoculars. I can hardly believe what I see. The enemy does not move, the soldiers main­tain an almost parade square formation, steadfastly in column of route. We are totally exposed in the middle of a broad treeless valley. Are we walking into an enemy trap, to be ambushed from our right flank or from the rear? For some time I carefully observe our front and flanks. Everything is so still. We are in an inverted "V" formation: two sections forward one in reserve, everyone at the ready in case we are ambushed.  

We advance unopposed towards our enemy. It is so quiet our nerves are on edge, anticipating that at any moment a sudden burst of fire will engulf us. The silence becomes deafening. The heat of the day under a cloudless sky is increasingly oppressive. After a cautious and tense 10 minute advance we come full upon the enemy formation, comprising two officers, three NCOs and 51 soldiers - 56 in all. They are lined up in four ranks in column of route, a captain at their head and a lieutenant and sergeant to the rear. There are a number of features that I had never encountered before in my Korean experience and I cannot believe what lies in front of me.  

First - these men are armed to the teeth. Never have I seen the enemy with so much weaponry and such generous allotments of a variety of ammunition. The officers have high-powered binoculars, much better than ours. There are burp guns, two medium machine guns, grenades and a light mortar. The enemy we had previously faced was always short of weapons. Prisoners taken at Kapyong were instructed to acquire additional arms, ammunition and food from us!  

Second - these troops are not dressed in the standard issue green "Mao type" uniforms. They are attired in a summer drill formal kaki dress and the tunics have dull brass buttons.  

Third - they are all sitting on their haunches, torso bolt upright, uniformly at attention. It is as though they were seated in formation resting between photographic shoots.  

They are all dead. Stone dead. A concentrated examination does not reveal a point of penetration on even a single body.  

Once again I pause to examine both our flanks and rear for any sign of movement. None. We are strangely alone, exposed in the middle of a plain about a mile or more wide with 56 dead enemy soldiers, positioned like statues about five or six miles forward of our armoured support. Where is our living enemy? And how the hell did these men die? What and who snuffed out their lives, and why are they positioned here, appearing like chessmen?  

...continued page two

 

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