Intermission Stories (3)

Bill Campbell

Bill Campbell

A KOREAN VETERAN LOOK BACK

Bill Campbell, 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment

Bill Campbell was born in Glace Bay, N.S. on Breton Island, the son of a coal miner who passed away at 35 years of age, leaving his wife with 5 kids in the middle of the Great Depression.  Times were tough, but Mrs. Campbell raised them all on meager means.

In 1950, when the call went out for volunteers, the response was remarkable, as over 27,000 joined the Armed Forces of Canada to fight in a country they had never heard of.  Some would not return.  Bill joined up in Toronto and after training in Camp Petawawa, he was sent to Seattle to ship out for Japan and Korea.  “We left Seattle on a liberty ship…Most of the soldiers were really excited to travel to distant lands.  There were 2500 troops aboard, most of whom were American draftees.  They could not believe we were volunteers.   We laughed at them.  We were so gung-ho!  This would all change when we reached the front lines.”

“When we approached Korea, just as dawn was appearing over the horizon, a band awaited us at the dock of Pusan, playing, “If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d A Baked A Cake,” a song which was popular at  that time.  We were now in Korea, the “Land of the Morning Calm”.   The smell of the rice paddies (Fertilized with night soil) permeated the air, but dissipated as we journeyed North to the front lines by train.   One of the saddest moments on this trip was the incredible sight of orphans, many missing limbs begging for food and other hand-outs.  These memories never left us.  There were atrocities on both sides, but the Korean people somehow prevailed and overcame that difficult time.

Canadian Korean War veterans

Canadian Korean War veterans

The landscape in Korea was a delight to behold.  Beautiful mountains dominated the panorama.  The summer weather was hot; wet when the monsoons came with a furor.  In winter, the severe cold winds swept down from Siberia and Manchuria, causing temperatures to plummet to -25 Fahrenheit.  I still remember vividly the peaceful scenery of the Yonchon (Hill 187) area where white cranes came to alight on tree branches like snowflakes, when heavy bombardment reposed momentarily.

I ask my fellow vets whether they ever regret the decision to serve in Korea and they respond, unanimously that they would do it all over again.  They were proud with what they had achieved.

This story found at – KVACanada.com with a link HERE.

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Ronnie, the "Bren Gun Girl"

Ronnie, the “Bren Gun Girl”

Fellow blogger, Atomis Scout has an outstanding post on a WWII Canadian female icon, “Ronnie, The Bren Gun Girl” found HERE.

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Vince "Cyclone" McGlone

Vince “Cyclone” McGlone

Vince “Cyclone McGlone

Auckland’s Vince “Cyclone” McGlone, a gunner aboard one of the 3 Royal Navy Ships to pursue the German battleship, Graf Spee to its doom in December 1939, died at age 97.  One of the last survivors in the Battle of the River Plate, from either side, became better known for his gruff but strong reciting of the national anthem.  HMS Achilles was part of the Royal Navy’s New Zealand Division.

"Achilles" emblem

“Achilles” emblem

Rear Admiral Jack Steer said, “Vince was a great character who loved to visit Devonport Naval Base and yarn with today’s generation of sailors.”  McGlone enlisted as a boy sailor just shy of his 16th birthday; 2 years later, he was promoted to seaman and posted to the Diomede as a gunner; soon after he was promoted to able seaman and boarded the HMS Achilles.

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They were patrolling South American waters when it opened fir on the Graf Spee, a battleship far superior in its fighting capabilities, on 13 December 1939.  In 82 minutes, the gunners fired in excess of 220 broadsides at the enemy ship, forcing her to retreat to Montevideo where she was scuttled 4 days later.  “The Spee should have blown us out of the water.  We were laid down to go 32 knots and in the battle we got up to 35.  They weren’t expecting that speed and so we put them off their aim.”  McGlone said the ship burned for 3 days and they celebrated aboard the Achilles, “Unfortunately there was no open bar on the ship.”

McGlone wore 6 medals, including: the Atlantic Star, the Pacific Star, the British War Medal, the New Zeland War Medal, the New Zealand Occupational Medal and the Japanese Occupational Medal.

This information was brought to my attention by our fellow blogger, Haley from Tall Tales. me found HERE. 

stamp honoring the "Achilles"

stamp honoring the “Achilles”

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

"The Kissing Sailor"

“The Kissing Sailor”

Peter W. Baron – England & Canada; Royal Navy, WWII

David Colflesh – Kansas, Long Island & W.Palm Beach, FL; US Army, WWII, Colonel (Ret.)

Clifford Corbier – Glendale, AZ; US Army, MSgt., Korea

Dana “Dutch” Fisher – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Torrance

James Kealey – Hinsdale, IL; US Army, WWII

Harold Lichtenstein – Washington, DC; US Army, WWIIRoland V. Rakow – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, No. Africa, 83rd Squadron, POW – escaped

Glen McDuffie – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, (the famous “Kissing Sailor” photo)

Harvey Perritt, Jr. – Tabb, VA; US Army, Colonel, (Ret.), Vietnam, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, 8 Air Medals

Harold B. Nelson – Rotorua, NZ # 437324, 14th Fighter Squadron

William Vaugham – Silver Spring, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 17, 2014, in Korean War, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 62 Comments.

  1. Thank you for your comprehensive mention of Mr McGlone.

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  2. What an amazing mixture of images in this post. The pride, courage and innocence of young men, the rotten collateral damage of war and the resilience of the human being.

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  3. Thanks for a great post, I wouldnt have realized that 27,000 Canadians volunteered for Korea.
    I know a little of the Battle of the River Plate from one of my father in laws.
    His story was that the Graf Spee came into Montevideo for repairs, Montevideo being a neutral country, story he told was that the Captain of the Graf Spee made a run for it outside the safety zone into open waters intending to skuttle the ship, I think the three ships involved were the Ajax, Archilles and the exeter, just a family story passed down,cheers, Ian

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  4. Caught up with great fascination. I would like to comment on many aspects … but no time!

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  5. Forgive me, Gp…I am hopelessly behind and desperately trying to catch up…that was quite a post. Have you ever had the pleasure of reading Pearl S. Buck’s “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”? It’s a story about 4 little boys who are outcasts…orphans…in Korea…fathers were American soldiers, mothers Koreans. They all had to live under a bridge…such a story. Really. It is a story I recommend to any and all if you’ve not yet. BTW, the story starts out sad but DOES have a really happy ending. 😀

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    • No, I never read that book, it sounds interesting – fiction or non-fiction? I am always perpetually getting behind and apologizing to fellow bloggers, but I think we all realize just how much life does interfere – what can you do? LOL Just happy to see you, thank you for coming, Morguie.

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  6. I still like our Rosie better! One of the many parks likely named after her is but five minutes down the road from me.

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  7. I laughed when I read Frederick Anderson’s comment. Vince’s ears were indeed amazing. He could have picked up a great bit part in Lord of the Rings when it was being filmed in New Zealand. –Curt

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  8. “Charging soldier slips, impales nose on sleeping hedgehog” is human interest.
    “Sixty thousand fall in first four hours of Battle of The Somme” is a dry statistic.

    Most people do not—can not—think. Sympathies will of course lie with the poor old hedgehog in the first place (life is full of rude awakenings, and he was an innocent bystander); and the sorry soldier’s nose in the second (them prickles can really hurt!).

    Sixty thousand? Naaaaaaa … has to be a typo or pure propaganda—pull the other one, you don’t catch this dude that easily~!

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  9. GP – I am surprised all over again when I read a story like Vince “Cyclone McGlone’s and realize that so many of our World War II Heros were so very young…

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  10. Thank you for some very special stories. At one time I became a real expert on the Graf Spee – I think I was about nine or ten at the time and the story of the three cruisers, Ajax, Achilles and -what was the third one – Exeter, I think, really caught my imagination. Vince and I had one thing in common: those ears! They kind of make us a larger target, don’t they?

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  11. The Battle of the River Plate … as said, the German ship should (on paper) have blown the three wee terriers out of the water. Exeter took the thumping, Achilles and Ajax carried on and the rest is history.

    Somewhere I still have a thread I snitched from the very battle ensign flown by Achilles in that battle—the flag used to be kept in the RNZN chapel; I think these days it’s in a more permanent preservation case.

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  12. Great article. I don’t often enough think of other nation’s boys who fought in the Korean War. Remarkable stories.

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    • Right. We often think we are the only nation who have made the Korean War – forgotten – but other countries did the same. So, its only logical you wouldn’t think of them either. Glad you enjoyed the stories, Jacqui.

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  13. I really do like what you are doing here … and I look forward to each new installment. Kennedy said that a nation is known by the way it remembers its heroes … and this makes you a national treasure!

    Semper Fi

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  14. I noticed the ” night soil ” comment because a friend of mine described the same human fertilizer smell when he fought in Korea . It was one of his strongest memories .

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  15. I too enjoy the personal stories…and the details these chaps retain.

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    • I suppose having gone thru these types of experiences, some things were etched into their memories. I’m very happy you enjoyed your visit, Helen. I hope you’ll be back.

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      • I read each post with much interest…but don’t often comment. these personal stories bring the human element to the beastliness of wars..

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        • Thank you very much for that, Helen. There is no need to comment each time you visit. I only meant that sometimes when I alter the subject here, some people lose interest and I did not wish to lose you.

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  16. Thanks a bunch for the link-up to Ronnie’s post and the compliment as well. Also, I was moved by Bill Campbell’s recollections. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Certainly my pleasure. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying your visit here.

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    • Thank you Paget for your kind remarks–I am the bill campbell but never expected to see the story on line. Only as i got older could I express my deep feelings about the beauty that surrounded us in that far distant land.

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      • Warm greetings Bill. It’s wonderful to read your comment. Thank you so much for sharing your splendidly expressed memories. Now, when I think about the Korean war, I recall your words and feel closer to the events that once seemed like a story of a distant world. I hope that life has been good to you since – from your words I can sense that you are indeed a lovely man. 🙂

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  17. Another great posts. I do like the personal stories.

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  18. Yes. Honoring Korea. I don’t want to forget.

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  19. Lovely post! When Bill Campbell spoke of the mountains and cranes, it made me happy that, amidst everything, he still noticed places and moments of beauty around him.

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    • Isn’t that the truth! I was glad when I posted my own father’s letter from New Guinea and what he said about the countryside and the Japanese cemetery he found. It is amazing what men notice even during such hardships. Thanks for reading, Gina.

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  20. Reblogged this on Rose of Sharon Herbs and commented:
    A great firsthand description from a man who came to Pusan, Korea to fight in the war.

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  21. I love the first story with the descriptions of the land and the weather. It’s hard to believe looking at Pusan now that these things he saw actually happened where I’m now living. Thank you for posting these wonderful firsthand accounts. We need to read these stories to remind ourselves that our freedom has been granted at a dear price which others have paid on our behalf. I am so grateful to the men and their families for the sacrifice they made to bring freedom to South Korea. I’m proud to be Canadian in Korea!

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    • I know this is a story that touches you deeply and I thank you for coming to read it.

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      • I am thrilled to have found your blog. I thoroughly enjoy the articles you post. My husband and I are both very interested in the Pacific war and especially the Korean war.

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        • I’m glad to have you both. I hadn’t planned on researching Korea, Pierre Lagasse, fellow blogger and friend coaxed me into it. When I thought about it, it seemed fitting , since Korea was a direct result of the same events that caused WWII and by political events post-WWII. Thanks for adding this comment, it is much appreciated, Rosh.

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  22. Thanks for reminding us that these weren’t just battles. That there were people involved, many who didn’t come home and probably none that didn’t carry memories of battle throughout their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, myself prefer the eye-witness accounts, but it is impossible to do that for each move of a war. I find you are not alone, everyone prefers these posts to the daily statistical ones. Thanks for stopping in today, Dan.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. What a wonderful post – one that gives depth and humanity to otherwise colourless perceptions 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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