Korean War Legacy Project

Alan Maggs


Alan Maggs, a British veteran, vividly recalls both his childhood in England during World War II and his service during the Korean War. He describes his journey to Korea, which took him through Hong Kong and Japan and recounts several dangerous experiences, including the time he was wounded. Sadly, he explains that Korean War veterans in England have not received adequate support from the government. Nonetheless, he is proud to have been a “small cog in a big machine,” contributing to Korea’s development into the advanced country it is today. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Korean War Veterans Association in Durham County, England.

Video Clips

The Journey to Korea

Alan Maggs recounts his long journey to Korea, which began when he was just eighteen and too young to join the war effort. Initially sent to Hong Kong and then Japan, he recalls attended a school for signal training. Graduating at the top of his class, he notes he was deployed to Korea just two weeks before his nineteenth birthday.

Tags: Pride

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Dangerous Moments in Korea

Alan Maggs recalls several dangerous moments he experienced in Korea. On two separate occasions, he narrowly escaped being hit by shells. However, he was eventually wounded near Hill 355. Fortunately, a passing jeep was able to transport him to the medical team, a stroke of luck that ensured he received timely care.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Personal Loss,Weapons

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Lacking Support for the Remembrance of the War

When questioned about the legacy of the Korean War in England, Alan Maggs mentions that in a sense, there is "no legacy." He explains that while the government has funded other war memorials, they declined to do so for the Korean War memorial, citing the argument that these soldiers fought under the United Nations' banner, not specifically for England. However, he and others were fortunate enough to raise the funds needed to construct their own monument.

Tags: Message to Students,Pride

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Early Days in Korea

Alan Maggs recalls arriving in Pusan and then taking the train to Seoul. He describes Seoul as largely devastated, with few buildings still standing. Despite the destruction, he remembers the local people as very welcoming. Maggs also provides details about his duties and the pay he received during his service.

Tags: Busan,Seoul,Civilians,Communists,Impressions of Korea,Physical destruction,Poverty,South Koreans

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I Had a Job to Do and Did It

Alan Maggs does not reminisce about any particularly difficult times in Korea. He simply acknowledges that while he may not have felt brave, he had a duty to fulfill, and he did so. He shares details about life on Hill 355, mentioning that he only had the opportunity to take an actual shower only once during his entire stay there.

Tags: Front lines,Living conditions

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

A: Well, my full name is Edgar Alan Maggs.

I: What is it?

A: Edgar Alan Maggs.   Yeah.  Um, I was the Secretary of the [INAUDIBLE ] Branch of the British Korean War Veterans Association.

I: Could you spell your name again?  I-D-S you said?

A: Edgar is E-, E-D-G-A-R.

I: Edgar, okay.

A: Yes.  Uh, Second Christian name Alan, A-L-A-N.  That’s the Scottish way.


There’s two L’s in the English way.  And, uh, the surname, M-A-two G’s and then S which

I: So, your first name officially is Edgar.

A: Yes.  But my father’s name was Edgar, so everybody called Alan.

I: Yeah.

A: That’s right.  

I: So I’ll officially title you as Alan Maggs, okay?

A: That’s right, yes.

I: Okay.  What is your birthday?

A: The sixth of April.

I: And, what year?

A: Uh, 1934.


I: Thirty-four.

A: I’m 83 years old.

I: Eighty-three.  You are young Korean War veteran.

A: Yes.  Well I just got in, uh, near the end, uh, as a, as a, I only was in the line twice.

I: Um hm.

A: The Regiment was there for 12 months, but I was there for about four.

I: What is your birthplace?

A: Bishop Auckland.

I: Could you spell it?

A: B-I-S-H-O-P

I: Um hm.

A: The other, new word, Auckland, A-U-C-K-L-A-N-D.


I: And it’s in Durham County?

A: It’s 11 miles

I: Eleven miles.

A: In Durham Country, yes.  That’s where, um, actually where the Bishop in Auckland Castle while the Bishop of Durham is, resides in [MISHEBO], and that’s why it’s, it’s called Bishop

I: I see, I see.

A: Yes, yes, yeah.

I: And tell me about your parents and siblings when you were growing up?  When you were growing up.

A: Well, I, um, no, no. That’s a big question.  


Um, I was, I was first 25 years of me life was spent in here in Durham City.

I: Um hm.

A: Um, at that time, my mother and father had a fish and chips shop in Durham, um.  I’ve never drunk tea or coffee in me life because when I come home from school, I got a glass of lemonade and something, a bag of chips cause they were busy.

I: Oh.

A: And, uh, I never got and, uh, I’ve never smoked,


and I’ve never drunk alcohol the rest of it.  I  never, I didn’t tell you this.  I’m a British Buddhist.  I’m not a Christian.  And, uh, so the 5th  priest at this, don’t, uh, drink fermented drinks which cause mindlessness.  And, uh, I’m, uh, I’m the second child which I’m the oldest living because, uh, me mother had a, a girl before me.


But she only lived for two weeks.  And, uh, then at 11, 11 years gap, and then I have two brothers.  Yeah.

I: When did you finish your education here?  

A: Um, what would it be?  It would be, um, [MUMBLING] I started school in 19939 and I left at 15.


 That’s, uh, 49.

I: Forty-nine.

A: Yeah, 1949, yeah.

I: And tell  me, did anybody teach you about Korea while you were in school?

A: No.  I, when we found out we were going to Korea, I never heard of it before.  No.

I: So there was no Korea in your History textbook?
A: Not at all, no.


I: Not at all, no.

A: No.

I: Ah hah

A: Well, 

I: Now you are one of the leaders of Korean War veteran, British Korean War veterans in this region.  What do you think about it?  You, the country you never knew before, and now you are all in it.

A: Well, actually we called Korea the Forgotten War, and we, it is forgotten in this country which, um, the Korean government, uh,


Korean’s will do more for us than what the British will do.

I: Um hm.

A: It’s, um, it’s a big thank you to the Korean actually, just, um, especially to three families in.  It’s part of my job to find them, you know.  It’s, uh, it’s, uh, after all this time, some of them was moved on, you know, and things and, uh, 

I: Why has it been forgotten?

A: Hm?

I: Why?  Why has it been forgot ten?

A: Well, it’s been with the ones after it, you know what I mean?  It, uh, it might have got the Viet Nam and, uh, Britain


out of the Faulklands War and, uh, and, uh, you know, sent, they tend to remember the last war, the, the whatever it was.  Even the Faulklands is getting forgotten now thanks to, uh, what they call the North Korean President?  Kim Jung Un?

I: Yeah.  

A: Well, they, it’s getting, uh, it’s, it’s in the news now.  Yeah.  It’s,

I: So, tell me about the e Korean War veterans in this region of Durham and the vicinity.  You are in char,  you are the commander of this or what, what are you called?


A: No.  I, I, I’m the, I was, well, I’ve had a few different jobs which, um, I, I, the longest one I’ve been the Secretary.  Before that, I was the Chairman and before, before that I was the Entertainment and the Social Officer.  That’s a job I’ve still got since nobody else wanted it.  So, even this year, I’m organizing a t rip,  you know.  So, it’s

I: To, trip to where, Korea?

A: No, to First Christmas Spectacular.  It’s in Norfolk.  It’ll be the 6th year we were going, we’re going, yeah.


I: When do you go?

A: We go in November.

I: November.  For what?

A: Three days.  Um, we, we stayed in Norwich with, well, the first day we go down.  The, the second day we go to the Spectacular, and the third day we come back home.  So it’s three days and two nights in Norwich, and

I: Where?

A: Norwich.

I: Is it Norwich?

A: Yeah.

I: Is it

A: N, N-O-R-W-I-C-H.


I: Yeah.

A: It’s the County town of Norfolk.

I: Uh huh.

A: Yeah, yeah.  It’s in East Anglia,[INAUDIBLE] earlier, yeah.

I: How  many veterans around this region do you know?

A: Well, I’ve lost track of some of them now because we disbanded over two or three years ago.

I: Oh, disbanded.

A: Uh, which, uh, at one time, [STAMMERING] when we were really going, we had 184 members in the Branch, the second biggest branch in the country.


I: Uh huh.

A: Um, now I’m in touch with about 28.  That’s about tit, yeah.

I: That’s about it.

A: Yeah.  Some has gone, passed away and, uh, others are more less housebound, and things and I’ve been involved with, uh, one in, uh, just now, uh.  He’s got Alzheimer’s and he’s just like a vegetable.  And his wife was struggling because she had to be, uh, 700 and something pounds, it goes to his descendants and things and, uh,


I’ve been in touch with [INAUDIBLE] in the British Legion, and I’ve got, uh, payments.  He’s getting $49 pounds per week to help, and she’s really happy with that.  

I: Have you reached out to schools here around the region to talk more about the Korean War?

A: Not so much the schools, um.  I’m, I’m in charge of say here this, in this country, Remembrance is remembered on the 11th of November

I: Yeah.

A: which is when the Armistice in the first World War was signed.


I: Um hm.

A: And so, it’s all in with that.  But I am involved with that.  I am the Parade Marshall and [marched by the sea and is _____where I live].  And, uh, the schools are always there.  The, the school children [Ring out the Road of Honor] of all the to the war grave cemetery. And, uh, we, we talk to them there, you know.  And, uh, if they ask us, we will, yeah, yeah, yeah.


I: So obviously you know my Foundation is to educate our own History teachers about the Korean War.

A: Yeah.

I: So please let me know if I can be any helpful to your, uh, goal to reach out and promote the legacy of the Korean War veterans, okay?

A: Um hm, um hm, will do.

I: So, after graduation, what did you do?

A: You mean from school?
I: School, from 1949.  What did you do?

A: The very first job, I was


apprentice, uh, to an electrician.

I: Ah ha.  

A: Uh, with the United Bush Company.  It, it doesn’t  exist now.  But I didn’t stay there long because, um, we lived in Durham and, the, uh, the United Bush Company Works was in Darlington.  But I had to go down every morning at half past six in the morning to catch the free bus to, to, to, uh, Darlington.  What used to go and pick up people all the way.


We were traveling over two hours to get that way.

I: Um.

A: And then when I was there, um, it was nearly two hours coming back the same, dropping them off all the way.  And I was, uh, at work and sleep.  That’s all there was.  And, uh, I just, uh, said no, it’s just too much.  I left that.  And

I: How, how much were you paid per week when you working as apprentice?

A: Yeah.  Twenty-two and sixpence.

I: Twenty-two?
A: No, twenty-two.

I: Yeah, twenty-two.

A: One pound, two shillings and sixpence a week.  Yeah.


I: So, twenty-two shillings.

A: Yeah, and sixpence, yeah.  That’s not, we, we don’t use the pound shillings in France now, but we did then, yeah.

I: Was a pretty good for you to leave independently with that money?  Can you leave with, uh, twenty -two shillings independently? Can you get the space for living and

A: I was living at home with me parents which, um, 


I: No, right?

A: No.  [STAMMERS]  It wasn’t enough, not on your own.  Apprentice, you see, it’s, a, it’s a, actually I, I used to pick potatoes every October I went to school.

I: Uh huh. 
A: I used to get 30 shillings which would do [INAUDIBLE]  Yes, uh,

I: And by that time, you didn’t know nothing about Korea, right?

A: No, not a thing.

I: And  how did you come to know of the breakout of the Korean War?


How did you, news?

A: Uh, newsreels and, uh, and, uh, pictures in the papers and things there.  But, uh, of course, that was 1950, um.  The deal I didn’t get that till [STAMMERS] 1952.

I: Right.

A: And without a [LEE] cease fire, after the cease fire.

I: Did you, did you think that you going to be in the War because of the Korean War breakout?

A: Oh, as soon as, soon as we, uh, I was called up actually, yes.  In them days, 


um, when you were 18, you, if you passed  your medical, you went in one of the services,  you know.  The, you couldn’t get, it was compulsory, National Service.

I: Uh huh.  

A: And when the Korean War started, used to be 18 months.  When the Korean War started, they put up the two years.

I: Uh huh.

A: Yeah, you had to serve two years, uh, full time.  And then afterwards, you had to do 3 ½ years in the Territorial Army.  

I: So, when, were you 


conscripted or did you volunteer?

A : First of all, I, I was, uh, conscripted for National Service.

I: When?

A: Um, would have been, no.  It’s when you’re 18. So that’s, uh, 1950, n0, 1952, yes, ’52.

I: Um hm.  So you joined the Army?

A: Well, the first thing that happened was I let it drop through the, through the, through the letter box in the front.


I had to go to, for a medical.  I passed that year one, so that was it.  I was in.  

I: Um hm.

A: And, uhm, there’s one job in the British Army, um.  It’s, it is, it’s initials are the PSO, and it stands for Personnel Selection Officer.

I: Um hm.

A: And it’s a job that’s useless because he asks you what, what you’d like to go in, what, in the end they put you where they want you.

I: Yeah, right.


A: And, uh, the local regiment was the DLI, Durham Light Infantry and, uh, I had to report to Brancepeth which the, was the, um, Depot, [INAUDIBLE] and then followed for the DLI.  

I: Where did you get the basic military training?

A: Well, it, it comes in two parts.  You do the first six weeks [STAMMERS] basic training.  Well, we, we, the term we use is [SQUARE BASHING]  cause it’s all marching and learn how to drill and things, 


you know.  That’s what you start off with.  And then we got a week’s leave, and then we had to report to [STRENSIL] which is near York.  And we did 10 weeks continuation training.  And that’s, um, all the rest of it, you know.  We, um, we used to go out at night on the moors and things and, uh, find somewhere to sleep.  I remember one night sleeping, uh, and found two sheets of corrugated, uh, iron.  I slept one and put the other one on top of me cause it was raining.  Yeah.


Yep.  And then we went [INAUDIUBLE] out some trenches and we did, I went to sleep in the trench, and when I woke up, there was frost, it was frosted on my uniform, yeah.

I: Yeah.  


I: What was the mood in the basic, the boot camp, when people know that they going to go to War?  Did you know that you were going to a war?

A: No.  We, we didn’t find that out until we got the [STRENSIL], um.  


You see, when I went in, they formed two platoons, um.  The early ones, which is myself, were in extra platoon called Salamanca, and the afternoon ones, we got there later, was in Sam Platoon.  [INAUDIBLE] were in the British Army and they named after them.  And, uh, I remember when I got the branch, uh, of course I was in the morning, so I got my lunch in the


first [INAUDIBLE] and, uh, when I went down to the, uh, mess hall, it looked nice on the plate.  It was, it was cod in butter with chips, you know.  But when I cut the cod up, there was no white flesh.  There was only the black skin inside it.  So, I had butter and chips for my first meal, yeah, yeah.  The, the Army food, oh it wasn’t at times, you know, yeah.

I: So, when did you leave for Korea, from where?


A: Well after the 10 weeks continuation training, it’s a funny thing about this because all the, all the people we trained with transferred to the Somerset [INAUDIBLE] and they went to Malaya to fight the Communists in Malaya.  Only four of us got two weeks of the cold, cold fatigues when you’re living close to the bodies of waters, you don’t know how it is.  And then we had to go back in the DLI going to Korea.

I: Um hm.

A: four of us, you know.  That, that whole lot went to Korea.  Yeah.


I: So when, where did you arrive in Korea, and when was it?

A: Ah, I didn’t go, didn’t go to Korea directly.  You couldn’t go into the Korean War until you were 19.  

I: Uh huh.

A: We were still 18.  So when we sailed from Northham, Southampton, the troop ship was called the, uh, [ARSTURIOUS] They’re all, not the HMS, they all HMT, Her Majesty’s Troop Ship, and we sailed to Hong Kong.


And when we got off at Hon Kong and, uh, we stayed there with the [INAUDIBLE] rifles because we’re a light division.  We don’t march like the guards or the heavy when we, well we did different drill, different orders.  So, we got to be with the Light Division Regiment who loads the rifles.  We stayed with the Light Infantry there.  There, um, do our drill and things.

I: Um.

A: And then from there, we sailed on the aircraft carrier HMS Unicorn.

I: What is it?  H


A: Aircraft carrier.  

I: Aircraft carrier.  What is the name of it?

A: HMS Unicorn.


A: Yeah.  Unicorn.  U-N-I

I: Yeah, C-O-R-N.

A: That’s it, yeah.  

I: Uh huh.

A: To Kurae in Japan.

I: Um hm.  That’s a British aircraft carrier.

A: Yes.  One of them.  We had six in the Korean War.

I: Um hm. 

A: We just got one now.  We hadn’t any [INAUDIBLE] before that.

I: And?


A: Well, at Kurae, we got, we wondered what to call it, JRBD which is, stands for  Japan Reserved Base Depot and, uh, uh, they asked us, um, what, what do these courses, they could go on these courses.  And most, most of them wanted to be put down for driving.  But four of us put down for signals.  We went to the battle school in [HALAMUER] in Japan, and we did a full week signals course there.


And after we’d done that course, I came up with 100%, the highest marks of all.  And the, uh, we got an old B3 which signals qualification.  So, we’re fully trained signalers.  And then, um, they called the signalers with the DLI, they called them, um, Tonkinson, uh.  It was 


one of our [BRIGHT PRESIDENTS]  in the Durham – [INAUDIBLE] branch.  We saw all the DLI officers it didn’t natter where they lived.  Wanted to join in the different branch.  And, uh, he, he said, um,  he was short of signalers.  So, we got there, over there, he said well we, we’ve got four, there’s only one.  What should we call the [INAUDIBLE] it was, he’s doing his National Service in the RAF and rejoined again, you know, three year mark.  And he said there’s only one.  The other, the, the, the other three, he said, they’re, they’re only 19.  He says


how old are they?  I said well, the youngest, that was me, will be 19 in two weeks.  He said get them over.  I’m sure they’ll want them.  So, we went straight over to, to Korea and joined the battalion.

I: Um hm.  So, when was it?  When did you arrive, and where was it?

A: Well, my birthday’s in April, and I wasn’t 19.  So, it would be about the, uh, beg, end of March, beginning of April 1954 I guess, yeah.

I: Um hm.  

A: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

I: And where did you arrive?


A: We sailed into Pusan, which is Busan now.  But Pusan it was then.  Yeah.

I: Pusan.  So that was after the War.  

A: No.  I was still on when it, was still on there in ’54.  It did, it’s, um, it’s, um ’53, sorry, no I’m a year out.  ’53.

I: Fifty-three, right?  Yeah

A: Yeah.  You know, it’s a long time ago.  

I: So, tell me,


you, you, I asked you whether you were aware of where Korea was, anything about Korea.  You said nothing.  And that seems to be the all the case for other Korean War veterans here.

A: Yes, yes, it is.

I: They didn’t know anything about Korea.

A: No, no.  

I: When you arrived in Pusan, what did you feel?  What was striking image of Pusan or what, anything?  Just be honest.  When you see the, the part, harbor city of Korea at the, you know, the


A: Well, I didn’t see much of it because we were picked up by a, but, uh, what, what stuck in my mind was the Americans were very good putting signs up.  And there was a big archway across, and it, it had, said on it Under this arch marched the best soldiers in the world.  And somebody in graffiti put underneath and the Amer, and the Yanks.  Yeah.  And, uh, you know.  So, we went through that archway. 


The, the, they said, uh, there was only four of us, so they sent a, a light, a 15 underweight for us, to pick us

I: And where did you go from Pusan?

A: To uh, Busan train station, and we boarded a train to Seoul.

I: Seoul?

A: Yeah.

I: Um.

A: Yeah, yeah.  Yeah.  Well, there was only four because everybody else was Americans in the train, yeah.

I: Oh really?

A: Yeah.  I always got on very well.

I: Uh huh.

A: We didn’t insult them.


I: So, so you saw Seoul.

A: We saw Seoul, but there wasn’t much to see.  

I: Tell me, describe detail because this one, this interview will be checked out by the young generations in, in the  U.K.

A: Well, Seoul, if you know had been, by the time we got there, it had been fought over twice, changed on us twice.  And I remember the drum lines in the road.  Would, other side just rubble.  There was nothing, no buildings standing or nothing, you know.


There was one or two.  But, most of it just, uh, remained absolutely flattened [INAUDIBLE] Yeah.

I: Did you see Korean people?

A: Yes, we saw some, but not much.  Uh, 

I: How did they look?

A: Uh, well, they were really welcoming.  But, uh, we, we, we didn’t see them much.  [STAMMERING] there wasn’t, it was really early in the morning when we got there, you know.  There weren’t many about.


I: What were you thinking when you see the rubbles in Seoul City?  What were you thinking?   Did you know why you were there?  And tell me about your feeling.

A: Well, you see the thing is, during the Second World War, we were bombed by the Germans and, uh, and we seen people, places like London East End, it was more less flattened the same, you know, this, uh, it was not unusual for us to see, uh, the, the devastation, you know.  


So other thing is, uh,

I: Did you know why you were there?

A: Oh yes, by then, yes, yeah.

I: What?

A: We were to fight the Communists.

I: Communists.

A: Yeah, yeah.  We knew it was, when, the Chinese then were involved.  So, yeah.

I: So, you belonged to First Battalion, right?

A: First Battalion.

I: And unit?  What company and, and

A: Yeah.  I was in the, I was a signaler, so I was in the Signal Platoon.

I: Signal Platoon.

A: Yeah, the Signal Platoon is part of HQ Company, Headquarters Company.

I: HQ, okay.

A: Yeah, yeah.


I: And what was your specialty?

A: Well, I was a, all of the signal and things, um, uh, were radio, telephones, uh, telephone wire, anything to do with signaling, you know, yes.

I: And what was your rank?

A: I started as a Private, and I finished as a [INAUDIBLE]

I: How much were you paid?  How much did they pay you?


A: Well, they, actually when we came on to Korea, all of us, on, wanted to call a, a lot of money into a charity because there was nothing to spend it on.  So, we, we only drew, I only drew 10 shillings a fortnight. So, the rest built up and, uh, you know, credits, that what they called it, credits.

I: Um hm.  

A: You had a little bit of credits, yeah.

I: How much were you paid actually, totals per week or monthly?

A: Four shillings a day.

I: Four shillings day?


A: Yes.  Based on seven days, 28 shillings a week when we started, yeah.  But, u h, we didn’t get any overseas allowance in Korea.  We got overseas allowance in Hong Kong and places.

I: Why is that?  Hong Kong was in war.

A: Well, there was nowhere to spend it on, was there you know?  Nothing [INAUDIBLE]

I: But still, you risking your lives, much dangers and 

A: Oh, we were getting paid for, full, full, full range.  But, but we didn’t, we weren’t drawing it, you know.  It, it was, there was nowhere to spend it.


I: But still you are doing oversea works, right?

A: Yeah, but the money, we’re still getting the full pay, you know, full Private’s pay I was getting [INAUDIBLE} But had nothing to do with it.  There was no shops or nothing.  Even when we, when we come out in the line and rest, we were, we were, nothing there, you know.  That’s all there was.

I: So, you stayed in Seoul?

A: No.

I: What, what happened?

A: When we got to Seoul, um, 


there was a, a 15 hour wait from, from the Battalion waiting for us.  And it took us from Seoul to the, uh, Battalion HQ.

I: Uh huh.  Where was it?

A: Un, the, at the time, it just, [INAUDIBLE] uh, the position was on 355.  The hills are all numbered.

I: Little Gibralter.

A: Yes.  So, if you’d murdered, you’re in Hell Hill you know, yeah.  It was Gibralter, yeah.

I: How was it?  Little Gibralter.  Tell me.  Describe


A: I was put on the line, you know.  It was really high up, yeah.  The only thing that you’d get to the top was a jeep, nothing else.  You’re climbing.  That, that was steep.  But all, all the supplies went up on rope hoist.  Yeah.  It was, we sent them up on the hoist, you know.  

I: Can you describe the configuration of topological configuration there?  How was, hilly or what happened?

A: Lot hilly, mountainous at times, you know.  It was big hills.  They’re all hilly.  They, uh, tended to be,


you were on top of one hill.  The valley’s No Man’s Land, and, and the Chinese or the North Koreans were on the other hill piercing you.  And, uh, what we used to do, all, most of all our casualties were caused on the patrols.  At night, they used to patrol No Man’s Land and things.  Other patrol would go out and try to capture, capture somebody.  And, I never went on patrol, but I spent  a lot of nights in the, uh, M M and G which is the


biggest machine guns.  Uh, and that which is all night, were on the set, two of the patrols which, of course, we didn’t speak to them because they didn’t want any noise when they were out.  we just listened all night and, uh, if they got into trouble, we could call help down, down for them because everything in front of you was marked as a DF number.  And they knew exactly which DF number they wanted, where it was.  I mean, 


bugged out once, uh, went on patrol out and, uh, they, they called for five minutes DF5, for five minutes.  So I, the shortest thing I just said we’ll pull out, told the two machine gunners, uh, DF5, five minutes, set the gun up, knew exactly where to put  the gun, just fired [INAUDIBLE] po, positive ground.

I: Um hm.

A: And the fighting went on for five minutes.  Yeah.

I: So were there


dangerous moment that you might have lost your life during your service there?

A: Three times [INAUDIBLE]

I: Tell me about it.

A: Well, when we first came to the Battalion, we came to it the, uh, the road which was dirt roads, you know, and, and forked like a Y and, uh, the Battalion was a, dip which we start ed, and the [INAUDIBLE] shoe was in this dip.  And we came up, and we just turned left  off, off the road and down into the dip.  About three seconds after he left, I spotted a shell on the bank.

I: Oh.


A: If we’d been seconds earlier there, earlier the Chinese had fired three seconds earlier.  That’s when we got there alive, you know.  And, uh, another time was when, uh, the second position we were on was on Yongdong which is, um, next to the Hook.  That was a hot spot there.

I: Um hm.

A: And, uh, About two [CENTURIAN] tanks with us.  There weren’t, normally we’d have been dug in a hole down.  


But these were just out on the ground.  That was outside of mortar range.  I was walking past one side of the tank and a shell landed on the other.  Just like that.  Nothing happened to me, you heard a bang on the other side of the tank and probably where I was, you know.  It’s, uh, I was wounded in Korea but not by the enemy.

I: Um.  You were not wounded at the second occasion, right?

A: No, on 355.  Yeah.

I: So

A: I was, I’d been up all night 


in, in the MMG which is the biggest machine gun place.  And what, what usually happened was, the only time, there was quite a few times up there.  This, this listening and patrolling, if we wanted any help, we’d call the, the, down for them.  And, uh, usually what happened was every morning there would be, be a Corporal would come in.  He’d stick his head through the door and said Signaler to the back now, and we’d go back.  So, I had to walk back down cause, uh, 


I was with A Company which was on the reserve behind it, 351 and a little hill behind it.  I had to walk back down myself, and the artillery used to fire 4.2” mortars.


We had 3” mortars for the Battalion.  But sometimes the fin would break off and you’d hear sh, sh, sh, and it was twisted in the air.  And they almost hit the back of  355

I: Um hm.

A: So, I was walking down, and I heard sh, sh, sh.

So, I thought I saw a hole, I’d dive in, but I couldn’t get my legs in.

I: Oh.  

A: So the, uh, the mortar bomb went off and, I got up afterwards and I thought, it just felt like, uh, stone hit me leg.

I: Uh huh.

A: You know, my leg and my left  ankle.  And, I got up and my legs were wet with blood, that’s right.  But, uh, I was lucky because a jeep was coming down

I: Ah.

A: and, uh, everyone was on a, a field dressing.  But of course, I was wounded in two places.  [INAUDIBLE] 


So, I thought I saw a hole, I’d dive in, but I couldn’t get my legs in.  So, he, he put mine on my right knee and that, and he put his on my left ankle.  I got in the jeep with him, and he took me down to the Indian Field Ambulance.  You see, um, 

I: They’re the medical team.

A: Yeah.

I: Yeah.  

A: It, uh, actually [INAUDIBLE] about that.  Um, like Jeff [INAUDIBLE] says  in the book, he talks about Brigade.  We were, we were a  Brigade, but we were the First Commonwealth division which is three Brigades.  And, uh, 27th Brigade


was all British.  Twenty-five were all Canadians, and we would try the 8th Brigade, and [INAUDIBLE] was the [Odds and the Suns Brigade] because, uh, we had two British battalions, the Aly and the Royal Fusiliers.  And one battalion knew the Royal Australian Regiment.  We had New Zealanders units firing the 425, 25 pounders.  And, ,uh, had the Indian Field Ambulance and, uh, 


we’re a mixture.  We were a Commonwealth, you know, all together.  And, uh, he took  me to the, didn’t take me to our MO.  He took me straight to the Indian Field Ambulance.  And when I got there, this, they, the just sent me straight down to NORMASH.  They, the only American MASHES were NORMASH was Norwegian.  And they, they fixed me up there, yeah.

I: So, in America when you were, uh, wounded, they give you, they award Purple Heart.  


What is the medal

A: Nothing.

I: Nothing?

A: No, I shouldn’t get, we shouldn’t get wounded  in the British Army.  You should be more careful.  No, there’s no

I: Nothing, nothing awarded?

A: Nothing at all, no.

I: Ah.  So that’s the British spirit, that you need to be careful, and it’s your fault if you’re wounded.

A: Yes, yes, yeah, yeah.  No, we’re different.  There’s nothing for getting wounded, no.  I wasn’t even recorded as wounded because, uh, the Bat, Battalion didn’t know where  I was,


you know.  I got to go straight to the Indian Field Ambulance, yeah.  

I: That’s a real British.

A: Oh, yes.  Well, I’ll tell you what [INAUDIBLE] as well and, uh, um, it’s your own, it was your own fault in a way cause the Norwegians, uh, I was only there overnight.  And the, the Norwegians, um, give me an envelope with a piece, piece of, you know, and it said when you get back to the Battalion, it said, give this to the MO which is the money officer.  And, uh, he said, 


he said to me well, who, who sent you there?  So, I said the Indian Field Ambulance.  They took me there and left me there, you know.  I didn’t  know which way 355 was or anything.  And, uh, then I saw a DLI chopper, I said oh, good.  I’m glad I saw you.  I said which way is 355?  He says why do you want to go there for?  I said well, that’s where I came from.  He said no, we left there last night.  We pulled out.  We’re now at 15.  I said, uh,


well, where’s that?  He said I don’t know.  He said I come down to get a tooth out, and they said just left me here as well.  So, he said I think we came down this road.  Said well, that’s more idea than I have.  So, we, we went up that road and across, and everybody will just stop and give you a lift.  So we went up the road and nowhere, it’s a, uh, we saw this, um, like, what, what, in this company we called it a fire by gate, like an, a, a fire brigade, you know.  On the other side, I saw the Green Beret and the


bugle marchers, you know, banged on the top of the thing.  This’ll do us, you know.  We got back up there, yeah.

I: So, um, what was the most difficult thing in Korea when you were there during service?  What bothers you most?

A: Nothing really.  You know, no, we, I

I: The cold or

A: It was a job.  [STAMMERS]  I wasn’t brave,  you know.  I, I had a job to do, and I did it.  That was it.  I knew, I knew what was involved, and I just got on with it, you know.  Yeah.


I: Tell me about the life, uh, around the Hill 355.  Where did you sleep?  What did you eat?  How often did you take a shower, things like that.

A: We only had a shower once.

I: Once a what?

A: Once, uh, whole time, it was only once.  The whole Battalion once in a year.

I: Once a year?

A: Yeah.  Well they, it, we did, we used to go on what they used to call swimming parties.  There’s a, um, it was a bit, small, small beach by the Imjin River.  


I think it was the Pintail Bridge, by the Pintail Bridge.  And we used to go, you, you, you would wash yourself in the river, in the Imjin.  In, cause where we were, the Imjin was behind the line you see.  We, we used to say we never find a shortage of Korea.  It was all in  North Korea.  Yeah.  But, uh, we never, never saw much of the Koreans at all.  They, we s aw, we had, uh,


200 Korean Katcons with us.  They were [INAUDIBLE] I actually saw one when we went back to Korea in the Revisit.  He said ooh, that was my [INAUDIBLE]  And, uh, they’re the ones with a boat.  They used to carry the stuff on a boat and that was it.

I: Hm.  

A: I never saw any civilians, no.  Yeah.  

I: And, when did you leave Korea?


A: We left Korea, um, the, my, I don’t, I don’t know exact time but more less the, at this time, the end of August, beginning of September, that sort of time, yeah.

I: Fifty-four?

A: Oh, yes, af, after the, uh, after the cease fire, yeah

I: Oh, so ’53.

A: Fifty-three, yeah.

I: Yeah.

A: Yes, yes.  Oh yes, sorry about that.  I didn’t catch that ’54.  Yes, uh ’53.

I: And


you know, have you been back to Korea?

A: Yes.

I: When?

A: Nineteen eighty-nine.

I: That’s, uh, one year after the Olympics.

A: Olympics, yes.  We, we actually saw Olympics.  It was a, shown us Olympic Stadium.  Yeah.

I: So, when you visited Korea back again in 1989

A: Yeah.

I: how was it?  Describe in detail.

A: Uh, it had changed.


There was no, [STANNERS] We stayed in Seoul, Ambassador Hotel, [INAUDIBLE] that one.  And, uh, everything was  built up.  As I said, when, you know, [STAMMERS] there was no rumble or nothing.  The whole city of Seoul was there, you know.  It had been rebuilt and everything, yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah, it was, um, I remember my wife got a bit of trouble in the hotel.

I: What happened?

A: Well she walked 


in, and we wanted to go in the lift which we, we knew, uh, our room wasn’t ready.  She wanted to press the button for the lift and there was a Korean lady standing there in, in the Korean costume.  And she said no, no, that’s my job.  She, [STAMMERS] you’re naming the girl and just, just to call the lift for you, you know.  

I: So when, the Seoul was completely changed.

A: Absolutely. It was, it was, um, fine.  We did, there’s one thing 



up in there, the, the, the students were rioting at the time.  And the, uh, the University and the  Ambassador Hotel are quite near each other.  

I: Yeah.  [INAUDIBLE] University.

A: Yeah.  It’s [STAMMERS] above a wall

I: Yeah.

A: that bends around to the left

I: In the hill.

A: Yeah, yeah.  And they were throwing battle bombs on the, and things and, and rioting. And the chopper just roared through them, you know.  It’s not bothering them.  And the funny part about it was they only arrived in June, uh, the time they would have been at the  University.


After it was all over, he said you watch this.  And the students in the place were altogether cleaning the mess up afterwards.

I: What were you feeling when you, you didn’t know nothing about Korea.  You came to Korea.  It was rubble.  And 1989 you saw all different things?  What were you feeling?

A: Oh, it was, it’s, it was, you know, the Korean people are really doing well.  It was 


completely changed, you know.  It, it, it was nothing like what it was in, when, when the War was on.  It’s quite a modern city.  [INAUDIBLE] yeah.  And, uh, our guide took us to 81 shopping till we was poor to shop.  He said, the, the you know I said what, what a good deal for these people, you know and things.  

I: Were you proud of your service?

A: Not really, no.  I’m not, I’m not, not, uh, I’m not, I’m not a silent person.  And pride is something


I don’t, uh, 

I: But proud, proud that, uh, Korea has developed such beautifully.

A: Oh yes, yes, yeah, yeah.  We, we, we, not so  much proud.  We were, we were delighted, pleased to see the, see what they’re doing with the country and things, yes.

I: But when you left Korea in 1953, 

A: That’s right, yeah.

I: Had you, had you imagined that Korea would become like that?

A: Well, if anybody had said, it was in ’53, that [STAMMERS] 


some of us are driving Korean cars, we would have laughed, you know.  But we do, with Hyundai and things, yes.  Uh, 

I: Um hm.  

A: Yeah.  

I: You know, the, if you look at the history between United Kingdom and Korea

A: Yeah

I: It was 1883 that first these two countries signed a, a trade treaty, you know?
A: Oh yeah.

I: And

A: I didn’t  know that one.

I: Yeah.


I: And after that, there was nothing happening between these two countries now until the Korean War, and then we began our, uh, industrialize our country

A: Um hm

I: and build a democracy.  And now it’s the 11th largest economy in the world.

A: Um hm.

I: It’s our country is much smaller than England.  We don’t have a drop of oil.  Everything was completely devastated after the War

A: Yeah.

I: And now it’s 11th largest economy in the world.  


And we are very close to each other now.

A: Well, you should be proud of that. Yeah.  [STAMMERS] when we went back in ’89, it was unrecognizable to what we, we, we, remembered, you know.  It’s, it’s, it was a modern country and, uh, I mean, the only time we saw the civilians was when, uh, we left, uh, we went out afterwards and we were in the train going down from, down to Pusan


and we stopped at one place and, uh, people in the field and everybody waved to us, you know, sort of thing.  [INAUDIBLE]  Yeah.

I: So as a leader of  British Korean War veterans in this region, what do you, what do you think is the legacy of the Korean War and legacy of the Korean War veterans in England?

A: Well in England, uh, there’s no legacy in the


War because we were the  only ones that had to prepare for a long war more or less that and [FALL] script, um.  An MP did say to me, I said to him at the time, I said, uh, all these, the Fauklands, all these [INAUDIBLE] down near the British come and paid for them.  But you won’t be for hours he said.  Why you didn’t  fight  for Britain.  You fought for the United Nations.  That was an MP said to me.  So, I said you know who sent us?  But [INAUDIBLE] did here was to cart a rifle and raised the 35,000 pound.  That, we had to pay for the memorial.


Yeah, yeah.  With [INAUDIBLE] he was a  British [INAUDIBLE] Uh, the idea is we didn’t fight for Britain.  We fought for United Nations.

I: What do you know about the  British World History  textbook in the high school and middle school?  Do they teach anything about Korea?

A: Uh, I don’t think so.

I: And that’s the reality, uh, that I want to address because

A: Yeah.


I: Think about it.  All the wars that United Kingdom, uh, involved since World War II,

A: Yeah.

I: Faulkland and, and Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, all this war, and name any war that has ever produced very successful like the Republic of Korea.  I don’t think so, right?

A: Oh, we, well, I did put something in which, uh, I mean Jeff, Jeff [BRODER] you know, him in America, 


the Americans said they were the first defenders against Communism.  And I put something in there that said I thought the  British were fighting the Communists in, in Malaya in 1948.

I: Forty-eight.

A: Yeah.  And so [INAUDIBLE] But, uh, one time we were very stretched when the Korean War, Britain was very stretched.

I: Yeah.

A: We were fighting the  Malaya, in Malaya.  We had an Army on the Rhine in Germany.


We were fighting the  Mao Mao in Kenya.  We were fighting the, [INAUDIBLE] in Cyprus, and we also had a gelation on the Suez Canal, the guys in Hong Kong, guys in Gibralter.  So [STAMMERS] we were really stretched.

I: Yeah.  So, my opinion, I think we need to teach about the legacy and the lessons of the Korean War

A: Um hm.

I: And your honorable service, and that’s why my Foundation annually


 hosting teachers conference

A: Oh yeah.

I: In the, in the United States.

A: Oh, that’s [INAUDIBLE]

I: And I want to work with the History teachers here in the United Kingdom

A: Um hm

I: And John Waller, John Waller

A: Uh, well, you made my best friend, yeah.

I: His daughter, his daughter is actually teacher.

A: Oh yes.

I: Yeah.  So actually, I asked him to see if his daughter, Mrs. Stobbs, he’ll see if she wants to, uh, 


work with my Foundation so that I can invite her to the United States next year.

A: Yeah.

I: And see if you, do you know any History teachers around your region?

A: No.  Um, I usually deal with, uh, they’re called, uh, somebody with that [STAMMERS] parade marshal, sent [INAUDIBLE]  And the people I’ve talked to are the friends of [INAUDIBL] call them.  So, the group, you know, people

I: Um hm.


A: Course it’s a what, uh, it is listed in the British Wallgrams and things.  This, uh, 17, First World War [INAUDIBLE] was in two Second World Wars.  That’s how he is when, uh

I: Uh huh.

A: Yeah.  

I: So, if you know of anybody, History teacher or Social Studies teacher here in the United Kingdom who wants to work with my Foundation, please let me know. Introduce them to me so that I can invite them, okay?  My Foundation on will cover most of the expenses, every, 


I think we’ll cover everything including the airfare.  So please let us know.

A: Well, I’ll try to see if I can find anything for you.

I: Yes.

A: But, um, I’ve never been involved in that side much, uh.  What I’m mainly doing now is helping, uh, the veterans that need help, trying to get help for them, you know.

I: That’s a very noble thing to do.

A: Well, we’ve got Alzheimer’s.  One of them is, uh, housebound.


I: Um hm

A: As I said before to, with, um, this lady with, and now I just got through the, suffer 

they call it

I: Um hm.

A: soldiers, sailors and, uh, got a, so much money a week.  So, I help out, you know.  that’s another thing.  

I: So where do you live?

A: I live, we live in Redcar now.

I: What?

A: We live in Redcar.

I: Redcar?

A: Yeah.  R-E-D-C-A-R, yeah.

I: Redcar.


A: Yeah.  It’s an old British all one word.   It’s in, uh, [INAUDIBLE] in the area, now it is [INAUDIBLE] in Cleveland which, um, one of the new counties

I: Um hm.

A: They’re near the, Durham Country used to be [INAUDIBLE] in the Northeast [INAUDIBLE- long sentence] near the mouth of the TEAS which the one in the South.  The one in the North, the Thine, goes to Newcastle and [INAUDIBLE]

I: I see. 

A: And the one here in Durham, is the [INAUDIBLE]



I: Weir, the River.  

A: The River Weir.

I: Yeah.

A: Yeah.  And, uh, I’m losing the topic what I was jawing about.  Um, the [INAUDIBLE] new counties and, uh, we had the time when we was like this which took apart away, the Northern part of Durham County and the Southern part of Northumberland, and the Mayor of the County of Cleveland which took a bit off the South end of Durham and then [INAUDIBLE] YORRKSHIRE,


But Cleveland didn’t exist any more now that they decided it wasn’t nothing to save [INAUDIBLE – sentence] and all these places.

I: Um hm.  Um hm.

A: didn’t exist anymore.  But they made them like, [INAUDIBLE Sentence] 

I: Alright.

A: And one time if you crossed the Teas, you’re in Durham, and if you crossed the Tine, you’re in the Northumberland on the other side, yeah, yeah.

I: I think we covered most of it.  


Anything that you wanna add to this, uh, interview?

A: Um, yes.  Well, might be of interest to people.

I: Yeah.

A: I remember Coronation day, you know.  The Queen was uh, colored, uh, crowned in 1953

I: Yeah.

A: and, uh, we would put a firework display on.

I: I’m sorry?

A: We put a firework display on

I: Uh huh.

A: [INAUDIBLE] well, not fireworks.

I: Um hm.

A: [INAUDIBLE] was firing red, white and blue smoke.  The artillery fired full of star shells, and we


had to jump over in full view of the enemy and the trenches and give three cheers which we all did.  The Chinese which we’d taken by surprise didn’t get anything [about it at all].  I remember afterwards just one parachute flare went up, and the, we’re bucking the Chinese lines.

I: Um.  

A: Must have said wonder what all the, all the, uh, smoke and, uh, it was, that was the Coronation day.  It was 11:00 Korean time which would, would, would be the same time there which, uh, was the right day,


the right time which was Korean time which.  Actually, it, Korean made an advance in about eight hours.  We had eight hours afterwards in 11:00 on that day which was not what we did.  Yeah.

I: What day was it?

A: The, um

I: July?

A: Uh, no.  It was in, uh, she got, the crown, the Coronation was in June I think, yeah.

I: June?

A: Yeah, yeah.  Yeah.

I: So you remember that.

A: Oh yeah, I remember that one, yeah.  Yeah, yeah.  And, uh, used to get


some laughs at times because, you know, why Jeff Pruitt was in, in the [INAUDIBLE] the Second Division.  And, uh, they put them on the way, Second Division, second to none.  So New Ze, New Zealand gunners were right beside them, and they put a sign up, none.  They took it down after I told them to and [INAUDIBLE]  [STAMMERS] That sort of thing goes on between the different people, you know.  Yeah.


I: Alan, thank you so much.  Um, first of all, this city is really, really beautiful.  And I am going to look around this afternoon

A: Well, I’m, I’m gonna stay here all day.

I: Yeah, and we’ll, we’ll see about, I wanna thank you for all the arrangements and your guidance.

A: That’s just part of my, I’m, I’m, I’m doing t hat all the time.  

I: And, um, I, on behalf of Korean Nation, I wanna thank you and all other your members of British Korean War Veterans for their fight.


Because of your fight, we were given an opportunity to rebuild our Nation, and we are very proud of what we have now, and that is Republic of Korea.  We still have a lot of problems because of the  North, and division is ridiculous.  It’s been more than, almost 70 years, and

A: Well, the trouble is that if the Chinese hadn’t become involved, you would have had a whole lot, you would have built one country north and south would have been a, [INAUDIBLE] did get  to the [INAUDIBLE] at one time.


I: Um hm.

A: But the  Chinese had been involved with  it [INAUDIBLE] Well I wasn’t there at that time, but it looked like the War was nearly over.  But then this happened, too [INAUDIBLE] yeah.

I: Yeah.  So, I wanna thank you for everything.  Alan, my friend, thank you so much.

A: I was only a small cog in a big, big machine.  

I: Alright.  Thank you.

A: Right.


[End of Recorded Material]