Tales from the Crowbar Hotel

By William O. Larson

Finally we moved out of Pusan, to settle into a quiet place by the river called Miryang.

From there the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry would get its training in mountainous warfare before going into battle. Training consisted of hunting infiltrators, or guerrillas as they were called, from a mountain area not far from our camp.

In the meantime I had set up a guard tent for those soldiers who had stepped out of line in Pusan, and also a Field Punishment tent, for those convicted for disciplinary or disorderly conduct. This tent area was surrounded by barbwire, and those persons committed did everything on the double. This meant two hours pack drill with forty pounds of sand in their backs, in the morning and again in the afternoon. Spit and polish as well as kitchen fatigues were the order of the day. Col."Big Jim" Stone had his methods and ways of correcting and disciplining his disorderly troops.

Now let me tell you about the "Hole in the RiverBank." One uncooperative soldier was paraded before Col. Stone for a more serious breach of Queens Regulations and received for punishment, "Three days bread and water in the Hole." The big problemówe had no Black Hole to incarcerate this offender.

In the army there's always an answer. The Engineer Platoon was called in and was told to construct suitable quarters for this situation. A hole was dug into the riverbank. A plank box, approximately 4 ft. wide by 6 ft. long and 6 ft. high, was constructed, and set into the river bank hole. The front was a large hinged door, with only a small slot to check periodically on the prisoner. The door had to be opened from the outside to pass in bread and water, or to let him use the latrine. His only luxury was his bedroll. Very tight quarters indeed.

I looked in on the prisoner periodically during the day. He seemed to be content on bread and water diet. On the second day of inspection I noted my prisoner was in an exceptional happy mood. Strange emotions for two days with no real meals! The nights were bitterly cold (January 1951) and something to my mind did not add up. I became suspicious.

At 4 a.m. on the last day of my subject's incarceration, I took a jaunt to the riverbank to check him. My god! It was like Buckingham Palace in there.

My customer had his sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders and was sitting over a jam tin containing hot charcoals. By candlelight he was reading a comic book. I unlocked the plank door to get a good look. Candy bars, hot coffee in his water bottle, more reading material. What luxury!! I immediately took my prisoner up to my tent with all the evidence, where the two of us had a nice quite conversation.

It didn't take too long for my man to unwind and give me the names of the guards who had felt pity on him.

At that time I employed eight Regimental Policemen, the pick of the battalion. You wouldn't believe it, all eight had contributed to this poor fellow's three day comfort. I put my man back in his cell, less all his goodies, to complete his sentence as prescribed by "Big Jim Stone."

"Eight more Regimental Police, Sir."

At 8:00 a.m.at the change of guards, I placed all R.P.s under arrest. I then contacted Captain Turnbull, the Adjutant, by Tel-e-L set, and requested eight new Regimental Policemen.

Turnbull appeared excited and reminded me he had given me eight of the battalion's finest just the previous week.

My reply, "I know sir, but I need someone to guard them, they are all under arrest."

Well as it happened, at 10 a.m. on C.O.'s orders, all eight R.P.s were paraded before Col. Jim Stone. Big Jim, with sternness in his voice laid down the message to those boys as well as the threat, "Next time you fellows will be doing the prisoners' time!"

No further problems ever happened after Col. Stone's warning. They turned out to be a fine group of soldiers, smart in appearance and very, very dependable. As a matter of fact they made my position as Provost Sergeant much easier from that point onward.

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