GOODBYE  DANNY!

 by
Vince Courtenay

Clovis Ira “Danny” Bordeleau died on January 2 in hospital, following by a few months the passing of his beloved wife, Lila. He was 80 years old and went quickly.

We would hope that his chums gave him full military honours.

He assuredly was a pillar of strength for Korean War Veterans and particularly for the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, which he served with distinction for many years. Danny had held posts as national treasurer and served in more than one term as president of the National Capital Unit of KVA Canada.

Dan served with the 1st PPCLI in Korea and went over with C Company on the first two-company draft to replace the 2nd PPCLI in October, 1951. A and C Company sailed on the USNS General M.C. Meigs.

Dan Bordeleau, newly trained jumper, on embarkation leave in September, 1951.

After Japan they landed at Busan and took the infamous “Pusan Express” to the Tokchon railhead. To rid them of sea legs their boss decided to march them all the way to 2nd PPCLI’s B Echelon, more than 20 miles distant.

Danny and others cynically called it “The Pusan death march.”

They were in action very soon after that. Dan’s company replaced C Company of the 2nd PPCLI in the lines on a hill that they had captured a few days earlier.

Soon after he watched from his position as his friend, Private Donald Bradshaw attacked the enemy on Hill 566 with A Company of the 1st. Both companies were attached to 2 PPCLI and Bradshaw’s company was called “Able Green.”

Bradshaw was killed in action. Things were so hot as the attacking platoons withdrew that his body was never recovered. Dan and Donald had both trained with the Royal Canadian School of Infantry and then attended jump school together before hooking up with the 1st Battalion at Currie Barracks.

“He was from Kirkland Lake,” Dan said of him. “He wasn’t a very big man but he was tough. He lived every day like it was Saturday night.”

Also killed on the position on his 17th day in Korea was Sergeant Clarence Currie who had temporarily reverted to corporal when he left Canada. Also killed was Private Robert Arnott. Several men were wounded. The company was under command of Major J. P. Williams.

A feisty fellow, Danny had served in the Merchant Navy in World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres. He had signed on at age 16.

His brother Gerald Bordeleau had served in Korea with the 2nd PPCLI and had been wounded in the Battle of Kapyong. Dan was given special permission to meet with him at B Echelon before Gerry was sent back to Canada. He also met there Private Kenneth Barwise who had been awarded a Military Medal for bravery at Kapyong.

Danny’s brother had been wounded in the head with grenade shrapnel. In Canada he had to undergo emergency surgery sometime later for removal of fragments.

A little older, a little tougher in character perhaps than some of his chums, Dan was selected a few months later to attend the NCO School at Uijongbu.

He graduated as a lance corporal and returned to C Company in March, 1952. It was on the Hook and his company commander, Major Charles Short personally took him into a fighting trench to orient him to the position.

Short pointed out a long ridge line that led out toward a broad valley carved by a tributary of the Samichon River. At the end of the ridge, out about 700 yards, was a position called the Warsaw .  
“That’s where your platoon is,” Short told him. “Do you still want to join them?”

It was an academic question. Dan trudged between the rows of wire that marked a safe trail through the mines. He reported to Sergeant Dick Buxton, one of three brothers who served in 1st PPCLI.

“He was a very tough, harsh speaking fellow” Danny said of him once. “I wouldn’t particularly want to sit down and have a drink with him but I wouldn’t want to be in action under command of anyone else. He was a perfect soldier.”

Buxton put Dan in charge of a Bren gun section on the right spur of the Warsaw, overlooking the valley. The Warsaw was shaped like a horseshoe with the two ends facing the valley and the closed section facing the Hook behind it.

That very night enemy patrols were heard near the position. The platoon soon received a spattering of mortar bombs, then there was enemy contact.

With the platoon engaged on both the left and right spurs the enemy did a classic maneuver and hit them in strength from the rear – from the end of the Warsaw that faced the Hook.

Buxton quickly reorganized the defences. He took over one of the platoon’s Browning machineguns himself. The enemy came through the wire and were shot up badly by both Private Carrington, who was 16 years old and by Buxton himself.

Bordeleau and two men held the enemy at bay on the right flank.

“There was a little revetment and they had worked their way into it,” he said. “Every once in a while they would try to rush us. Not very likely!”

At one point in the action Buxton sent a man to the left spur to find out why the Bren team that had been firing opposite Bordeleau had stopped firing. They had taken a round from a flat trajectory gun through the trench parapet. It had killed both Corporal Edward Theobald and Private Lawrence Murray.

Allied artillery made the night so bright you could read a newspaper, Danny recalls. Adding to it was a stack of .50 caliber ammunition that had caught fire and was exploding, the big sputtering increments sailing into the sky. Danny believed tracer bullets from their own machineguns set it off.

There were less than 30 men defending and more than 80 in the attack. Dan recalled that around 0200 hours he was beginning to feel exhausted. The first attack had come in a little after 2300 hours.

The enemy wouldn’t back off and repeatedly hit the platoon for more than four hours.

When they were done the platoon had lost six men killed and eight were wounded, including Sergeant Buxton. Buxton was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. He refused to accept it without the survivors of the attack at his side.

Others killed that night were Privates Joseph Cote, William Fowler, Emerson Patterson and Raymond Sweeney.

The enemy lost 30 killed in action, one taken prisoner and an untold number of wounded. Their casualty rate was estimated at 90 percent, perhaps was 100 percent.

The platoon was relieved on the line for one day to attend Sergeant Buxton’s investiture ceremony. Buxton died many years later in a parachute jump and a Drop Zone at Garrison Edmonton is named in his memory.

continued on page two...

 

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