Korean War Legacy Project

Albert Grocott

Bio

Albert Grocott joined the British Army in 1948 and served as a gunner in the 34th Anti-Aircraft Brigade during the Korean War. He recalls his first impressions of Korea and compares them to modern Korea after having participated in multiple revisits since the war. He elaborates on his time spent on Rest and Relaxation (R&R) in Seoul during the war and shares that he encountered several orphaned children who needed food and clothing while there. He details providing for some of their needs and the means by which he did so in exchange for Korean language lessons. He avoids painful memories and chooses only to share the good as he reflects on his legacy. He states that he is proud of his service and hopes for Korean unification one day.

Video Clips

Korea Then and Now

Albert Grocott shares that he visited Korea three times since the war and offers a view of Korea then and now. He recalls small villages with outside toilets while serving and compares them to the metropolis that Seoul has become through the years with beautiful homes and high-rises. He states that the landscape has even changed but the people have not.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Poverty,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwkoLdylSv8&start=459&end=601

For the Love of Learning a Language

Albert Grocott recalls his time spent on Rest and Relaxation (R&R) in Seoul during the war. He shares that he encountered several orphaned children who needed food and clothing while there and details bringing them food from the mess hall and stealing clothing for them. He states that he did it for the love of learning a language, and the only payment he required was that they teach him Korean words and songs.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Orphanage,Poverty,Pride,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwkoLdylSv8&start=1126&end=1295

A Worthy Legacy

Albert Grocott offers a few words centering on what he would say to the orphans he helped while in Korea many years ago and adds that he wants to be remembered as a friend. He reflects on his legacy and likens it to giving to the least who were in need. He shares that he is proud of his service and hopes for Korean unification one day.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwkoLdylSv8&start=2706&end=2903

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

A:        My name is Albert Edward Grocott.  A L B E R T   E D W A R D   Grocott,

G R O C O T T.

I:          What is the ethnic background of this last name, Grocott?
A:        It’s Flemish

I:          Flemish.

A:        Yes.

I:          Okay.

A:        I believe, yeah.

I:          You believe.

A:        Yes, my family, I have a big family.

I:          I see.

A:        Eight sisters and four brothers.

I:          Ah.  But before, what, what, what is your birthday?

0:00:30

A:        Twenty-first of December, 1931.

I:          Nineteen thirty-one, and where were you born?

A:        I was born in a place called Keele.  K double L

I:          K

A:        K, K E E L E,  Keel in Staffordshire

I:          Staff

A:        Staffordshire.

I:          What is that?  Spell it please.

A:        Uh, um, S T A F F O R D, FORD, S H I R E.  Staffordshire.

0:01:00

Staffordshire.

I:          Staffordshire.

A:        Yes.

I:          Um hm.  And, is it close to here?  Is it close to Gold Coast or

A:        Oh no, England.

I:          Oh, it was in England.

A:        In England.  I’m British.

I:          Ah, you are the British.  So you born in England.

A:        Born in England.
I:          Ah ha.  And when did your family move to Australia?

A:        I came to Australia in 1954 after the Korean War.  I went back to England.  I then decided to go

0:01:30

to Australia.

I:          Why?

A:        Uh, I had two sisters living here.  And, uh, they said what a beautiful place it was.  And so I came to be here.

I:          Hm.

A:        A citi, I’m a citizen of Australia.  l love it.

I:          So you have a dual citizenship?
A:        No.  Uh, I’ve only been back, returned to the country, England, once.  Didn’t  like it.

I:          Oh, you didn’t like it.

A:        I still have five sisters and four brothers in England.

I:          Ah ha.

0:02:00

So then you were British citizen when you joined the Korean War.

A:        Correct.

I:          Ah ha.  So tell me about  your family when you were growing up in Britain.

A:        Uh, uh, when I, uh, I’m  number six in the family, uh.  I have a brother who’s 102 now, a brother 96, a sister 93, a sister 90, a younger brother at 82, and five more sisters.  I’ve lost three sisters.  They died.

0:02:30

I:          Wow.  It was a big family and big siblings.

A:        Eight, eight, eight, eight girls.

I:          Eight girls.

A:        Eight girls, four boys.  I was number, five boys,  I’ve got four brothers.  Still alive.

I:          Four boys.

A:        Yes.

I:          So you are sixth among those 12.

A:        Yes.  I was number 6 of the boys.

I:          Number 6.  So you are exactly dividing in half.

A:        Yes.

I:          Well what did, what did your parents do?

A:        Uh, my mother looked after the family of course.  But my father was a policeman.

0:03:00

I:          Policeman.

A:        Forty-five years.  Never caught anybody.

I:          Never caught anybody.

A:        No.  The village consisted, in those days, of six houses and a [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Uh huh.

A:        And he had an old motorbike and side car.  And you could hear it coming for miles cause it made a lot of noise.  So he never caught anyone.  He didn’t want to.

I:          That’s very nice actually, right?  So you don’t have to catch any people.  But still you can maintain the peace [INAUDIUBLE]

A:        We’d go and steal the apples from the orchards, you know.

0:03:30

I:          Very nice.  Very nice policeman.  So tell me about the school you went through in, in Great Britain at the time.

A:        I had a very poor education.

I:          What happened?
A:        The school I went to consisted of all, the teachers were all men.  They were all First World War veterans, and they were very cruel.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        You’d just pick your nose, and they hit you with a walking stick across the shoulders.  IO didn’t like that, so I walked out.

I:          Oh.

A:        So I’m self taught.

I:          Wow.

0:04:00

A:        I’ve learned experiences through life and family.

I:          Did you, did you read a lot of books?
A:        I, I, uh, I read a lot about music.  I’m a, been singing since I was seven.

I:          Wow.

A:        I still sing, every, every week.

I:          Wow.

A:        Once a week.  I go to nursing home, respite center for free.

I:          Wow.  So you are now 88, right?
A:        Eighty-eight,  yeah.

I:          Yeah.  And I, you told me that you still playing golf.

A:        Yes.  I, I, I

0:04:30

was B grade champion last year.  But unfortunately, I, I had 5 heart attacks, and now I’m down to C grade cause I, I haven’t been playing.

I:          Sir, you look great.  You, you look thin, and you look very, like, uh, 60 year-old man.

A:        Good food, good clean living.  I went to church yesterday and I said my peace and, uh, I go to United Church in Mudra Bar.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Love it.  And I work in op shop, opportunity shop every Saturday.

I:          Ah.

 

0:05:00

A:        Worked for years.

I:          I can’t believe that you had five heart attacks.

A:        Yes.  One actually was in the doctor’s, sitting, talking, just fell off the chair.

I:          Boy.  You were lucky.

A:        Yeah.  I was in the doctor’s.  And then I had four while I was in the hospital.

I:          You look okay, sir.

A:        They changed the medication.

I:          Ah ha.  I see.

A:        Now the medication is, instead of taking 40 ml of some stupid pill,

I:          Ah.

A:        I take five ml.

I:          Good.

A:        Yeah.

I:          So tell me about  it.

0:05:30

Since you’ve been self-taught, did you know anything about Korea when you were growing up?

A:        I knew it was far away place.

I:          Have you heard about the name Korea

A:        I heard, I’ve got, I seen in maps. I’ve seen it in the map.

I:          You’ve seen it.

A:        Yes.  In  maps.
I:          Ah ha.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Otherwise

A:        Otherwise, I know nothing about Korea.  Or their beautiful people.  That’s all I can say.

I:          So now you are Korean War veteran

A:        Yes.

I:          And you fought for the country you never knew before.

0:06:00

What do you think about this?  Why did it happen to you all the, you know, looking back all those years, what do you think?  How do you link the dot?  Becoming Korean War veteran but you didn’t know nothing about it.

A:        Knew nothing about it.

I:          And how do you like Korea now?

A:        I love Korea.  I’ve been back many times.  I’ve been back to Korea many times.  And during the War, I  sometimes say I don’t wanna talk about the War because

0:06:30

so many bad things.  But some good things which I’ve written down on paper.

I:          So let’s talk about those things as long as you, you are, you feel comfortable to talk about  it.  But , so you didn’t know much about Korea.

A:        No.

I:          Not at all.

A:        No.  Only they were in trouble.

I:          When did you go to Korea?

A:        In 1950.

I:          Nineteen fifty.  And, from Great Britain.

A:        From Great Britain.

I:          And since then, when did you went

0:07:00

back to Korea again?
A:        Uh, maybe six, seven years ago.

I:          So it’s about 2013?
A:        Yeah, something like 2013, 14, yes.

I:          And how many times you been back to

A:        I’ve been back three times.

I:          Three times?

A:        Yes.  First time I paid myself.  And then second and third time, Korean government paid.

I:          So the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs,

A:        Yes.

I:          MPVA invited you back, right?
A:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.

0:07:30

So  now it’s a very good time to talk about it.  You told me you didn’t know anything about Korea before.  And now you’ve been back to Korea many time, three times.
A:        Yes.

I:          Tell me the difference in detail that you saw Korea in 1950 and now 2000.

A:        Oh, the difference.  In 1950, I can remember the placed we went to were

0:08:00

small villages with outside toilets and, uh, I can remember they used to take the, watch them put their toiletry on the fields, on the paddocks, on the rice paddocks, uh.  Now it’s a metropolis of beautiful homes and houses and, and high rise buildings. It’s a completely different place in 1950.

I:          When you arrived in Korea 2013 or 14

A:        In Pusan.

I:          Pusan.

A:        Yeah, Pusan.

0:08:30

I:          No, 2013?

A:        Uh, oh  no.  [INAUDIBLE] talking about 1950.

I:          2013, when, where did you arrive?
A:        In Pusan.

I:          In Pusan?

A:        Yes.

I:          2013?

A:        No, no.  I apologize.  Seoul City, by plane.

I:          Seoul City.  Tell me about Seoul that you saw in 2013.

A:        Well, the railway was still there.

I:          No, 2013.

A:        Yes, yeah.

I:          Yeah?

0:09:00

A:        But I looked for the railway station which was still there.

I:          Yeah.

A:        That’s where I slipped.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        I, I  made a story about the railway station.  Uh, but I saw rows and rows of, rows and rows of buildings, uh, called New Towns I believe.  Uh, uh, they weren’t there before.  And it’s just completely changed.  The people haven’t changed.  But the buildings have.  And the landscape has all changed, too.  Where you, they were built on the hillside now, there were no buildings before.

0:09:30

So it’s a completely different country.  As regard building and the people.  I love the people.  I had many friends, Yang Kim is one of my, my best friend.

I:          Un hm.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Um hm.  So when you see those changed so, what were you thinking to yourself?

A:        I’d like to live here.  I could live in Korea quite easily, yeah.  I love the country.

0:10:00

I:          Um.  So tell me about, when did you join the military?

A:        I joined the military in 1948 in England.

I:          Forty-eight.
A:        Yes.

I:          Where, Army?

A:        In London Army, yes.

I:          Um hm. And when did you join the Army?

A:        Um, I was working for the, uh, London City County Council

I:          Um hm.

A:        In, in Britain, uh.  I’m a stone mason by trade . I work, I’m working with another friend,

0:10:30

and we both got sick of working there.  So we decided to go in the Army.

I:          Um hm.
A:        So we went to join.  I went in, uh, first, and I passed A1.  My friend went in, didn’t pass.  So he didn’t join and left me.  I joined the Army.

I:          So where did you get  the basic military training?
A:        In a place called Oswestry.

I:          Could you, could you spell it?

A:        Not really.  Uh, my spelling’s not the best.  Oswestry.

0:11:00

Uh, uh,

I:          Could you say it slowly one more time?
A:        Oswestry.

I:          Okay.

A:        Yeah.  It’s, it’s, it’s a training ground where they train with guns and tanks and other artillery.  Military, artillery.
I:          For how long?

A:        Oh, till 1949.

I:          So how long was it?

A:        I went to Kowloon.

I:          Three months or

A:        No, one year.

I:          You got basic training

0:11:30

for one year?
A:        Yes.

I:          Why is that long?
A:        I don’t know. I just did what I was told.

I:          Wow.

A:        And we went from there to Kowloon.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        In the new territory in Hong Kong between the Communists and the, you know, coming over from, uh, Communist China into, into Hong Kong.  They called for volunteers to go to Korea.
I:          Ah ha.

A:        Said those that want to go, if you’re married or, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to.

0:12:00

I:          You were not married.
A:        I wasn’t married then, no.  I was single.

I:          So you were in Hong Kong, and you were called to volunteer to go to Korean War.

A:        Yeah.

I:          And, how did you know of the break out of the Korean War at the time in Hong Kong?  Did you see the tv, or did you read

A:        Well, you hear, hear radio things, not much the tv I don’t think.  No.  Don’t see much tv in those days.  I, I never saw it.

I:          Right, yeah.

A:        And, uh, everyone stepped forward, said those who want to go step forward.

0:12:30

There, those that don’t want to go, remain standing.  Uh, maybe two, three married men didn’t go.  Everybody else went.

I:          Wow.  They, they were not afraid of

A:        No.  And we went to, uh, we landed, of course, in, for the War, in Pusan.  Then we went all the way up

I:          When did, do you remember  when did you arrive in Pusan?
A:        Not exactly,  no.  My mem

I:          Month?  What month was it?

A:        Oh,

0:13:00

probably January, ’50 I think,  January

I:          Korean War broke out in 1950, June.

A:        Yes.

I:          In June.
A:        Yeah.  19

I:          So you thought, you didn’t arrive there in January.  Was it 1951?

A:        No.  I was there, I was there for the whole of the War, right from beginning to end.

I:          From the beginning.

A:        Yes.
I:          Was it summer or winter?
A:        It was, uh, it was summer.
I:          Summer, right?

A:        Yes, yes.

0:13:30

I:          So must be, must be around June, July?
A:        Oh before then.  April maybe.

I:          No, no, no.  Korean War broke out June.

A:        Yes,

I:          June 25.

A:        Troops were still going there before then.

I:          Before?

A:        I’m sure.  Other troops were going there before then, too.  The Americans particularly.

I:          No.

A:        No?

I:          There were Korean on the  U.S. Military before the break out of the  Korean War.

0:14:00

A:        Yes.

I:          But you saying that you went to Korea

A:        Yes.
I:          Pusan before the break out of the Korean War?  Was it after the Korean War?  Break out?
A:        The Korean War started.

I:          June 25.

A:        Yes, I know it.  Uh

I:          Um hm.

A:        Can’t forget the dates.
I:          Right.

A:        But I was there before June.
I:          Oh, you were there before June.

A:        Definitely before June.  But

I:          Why?

A:        I don’t know.  We, we arrived with the 29th Brigade and, uh,

I:          Uh huh.

0:14:30

A:        On the  brigadier Brody and his tanks.  He had tanks, um.  Dates don’t mean anything.

I:          Right.  But it is important to know whether you

A:        I know

I:          arrived in Pusan before the breakout of the  Korean War or right after the Korean War breakout.   Has to be breakout,

0:15:00

right after the breakout, right?  Don’t you think?

A:        It’s very hard to remember.

I:          Uh huh.  Okay.

A:        Yeah.

I:          So you arrived

A:        I, I, I did.  I would, I should have written a diary.  But you don’t do that sort of thing

I:          Right, right.

A:        you know.

I:          Right.  So you arrived in Pusan

A:        Yes.

I:          and what was your unit?  You belonged to 29th Brigade?
A:        Twenty-ninth Brigade, yes.

I:          And?  What else?

A:        Anti, anti aircraft.

I:          Anti aircraft.

I:          Yes.  Thirty-fourth

0:15:30

anti aircraft.

I:          Thirty-four?

A:        Yeah, 34.

I:          Okay.  And tell me about Pusan you saw.  How was the situation there, and how was Korean people there?  How did Korean, uh, Korea look to you at the time?
A:        Oh, very hard to think of those  things.  Uh, different  from what I was used to, different country, different people.  I didn’t know the language.  I soon learned.

0:16:00

Um, but, uh, we just did what we had to do.

I:          Um hm.

A:        You know?  We went here.  We went there.  We had, Every  brigade had their own division sign, divisional sign,

I:          Um hm.

A:        you know, um, uh, on the side of their vehicles.  On the side of my vehicle was a, a white square with a black ring in the  middle.

I:          Um.

0:16:30

A:        That was a divisional sign.

I:          And?

A:        And, uh, we drove British Jeeps which were called Chumps.  They were Rolls Royce, like a Jeep but better than a Jeep.  But they were made by Rolls Royce engine

I:          Um.

A:        and they had a governor, only 60 K’s, no faster.  We weren’t allowed to repair them.  They sent people [INAUDIBLE] to repair if they’re damaged or got ruined.

0:17:00

I:          Um.

A:        Yes.

I:          So from Pusan, did you, what did you do at the time?  There were North Koreans coming down to Pusan, right?

A:        There, no.  Just North Koreans only, not Chinese.

I:          Right, right.

A:        Yes, that’s right.

I:          So tell me about those battle situations in detail.

A:        Oh.  Well, because there were no planes in act, there were no planes actually coming as far as Pusan at that particular time.

I:          Um hm.

A:        So the guns that we used were pointed that way, fired directly, not up in the air, directly.

0:17:30

I:          Right.

A:        And that’s how we used them.  We went in and out.  In and out.  In and out.  Boom, boom, boom, boom and back again.  From, from time to time, we’re all right up to Seoul, over the Imjin.  On the Imjin River, there was a big, uh, the Americans had put in a, um, a rubber pontoon.  You went down over the pontoon, right up the other side.  In the middle

0:18:00

of the bridge was a big sign said fresh drinking water.  So yes, there was a river  of fresh drinking water down the center of the, the Imjin.

I:          What does that mean?

A:        You could drink, you could fill your bottles with water.

I:          Wow.

A:        Yes.  There was a note that said drinking water in the middle of the bridge.  O, Over, before the put the teel bridge up, remember you got teel bridge.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        Uh, the engineers put a teel bridge up.  But this was an American pontoon bridge

0:18:30

over the Imjin

I:          Um hm

A:        on the other side.  Then we got pushed back, as you know, all the way back, um.  When you, in battle, you don’t think what’s happened, you just do what you’re told.

I:          Yep.

A:        And we went on R and R.

I:          Um hm.

A:        You know R and R?

I:          Um hm.

A:        We’d been up the front so we come back through Seoul City, and we all slept in the railway station in trucks, you know, the red transport.

0:19:00

I was on the floor inside the, and I wrote my story about it.

I:          What is that?

A:        Well, children came, four children came with no shoes on, and they were begging for food.

I:          Um hm.

A:        So I gave them lots of food, and I gave them soap and towels, anything.  But only if they’d teach me the language.  Slowly.

I:          Um.

A:        And sing for me.

0:19:30

So they taught me to sing [Santoki]

I:          Um hm.

A:        [SINGING]  You know, I’m still, I still remember most of the words, not all of them.  And then, uh, after maybe, uh, with two weeks R and R,

I:          Um hm.

A:        I was told not to feed the children anymore.

I:          Why?

A:        Send them away, well, we were going back in battle.  We left there and went ahead again.

I:          Where was it?  In Pusan or was

A:        In Seoul.

0:20:00

I:          In Seoul.

A:        In Seoul, yeah.  And I, I actually wrote on my paper, I wonder if those children are still alive and married and, you know.  They’re 14.  But, this big, this big, this big.

I:          Um hm.

A:        You know, maybe 7, 8 to 10, maybe 12, I don’t know.

I:          Um.

A:        I don’t, [INAUDIBLE] that age.  But I used to go into the canteen and leftover food and bring it.

I:          What were you thinking when you saw them?

0:20:30

A:        Uh, I was so sorry  for them. They end up, they didn’t have parents.  Most of the children didn’t have parents.

I:          They were orphans.

A:        Orphans, yes.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Strays.  But the y needed food and clothing, warm scarf.

I:          Yeah.

A:        I stole them.

I:          So you

A:        It, it cost me nothing.

I:          Right.

A:        It was friendship, and they taught me to, the language.  I could, at one time, speak very good Korean.

0:21:00

Now, you know, if you don’t use it, you’ll forget.

I:          So you told me that you can sing some of the Korean songs.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Santolki?

A:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Did you learn from them?

A:        Yes.

I:          You learn from children?

A:        Yes.  [SINGING KOREAN]

0:21:30

They, it was a lovely, lovely to learn it.  Good, and I, I spoke to other soldiers

I:          Um hm

A:        and the other, other men learn words they taught me like, uh, uh, [KOREAN PHRASE]

I:          Um hm

A:        I’m very pleased to meet you.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Uh, uh, uh, they, things, things slip away from my memory.

0:22:00

But I, I loved the, the, going to Korea.  I loved the food.  I still, I have a, a very dear friend, Korean man, who’s passed away now, Mr. Lee.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        I’ve got photographs of him.  He, he was a very good friend to me.  We used to go to Korean restaurant maybe once a month.  He would ring me up or I would see him at, at a meeting and he said Korean restaurant,

0:22:30

and we’d go.

I:          Do you like Kimchi?

A:        Oh yes, yes, yes.  It’s good.  Good for the stomach.

I:          Exactly.  But many people do not like it because it smells horrible.

A:        It’s too hot for them.

I:          Yeah.  Right .

A:        I used to, we used to go to this restaurant, and I had the big bowl, I can’t remember the bowl, though, of very hot food, hot soup, and they, we went to one place, a different place, and they, I’m eating away beautifully,

0:23:00

and the, the restaurant owner said to my friend, Kim, there’s no charge.  I’ve never seen anybody eat that food.  So they didn’t  we didn’t pay for the food.  Just once, one time.

I:          Yeah.

A:        One time.

I:          Um, so from Pusan, how, where did you go?  From Pusan, where did you go up to?

A:        Well, I went we were in Suwon

I:          Suwon

A:        Yes.  Kapyong

I:          Uh huh

0:23:30

A:        Uh, The Hook.

I:          Oh.

A:        And, I wrote it down on paper

I:          You were in Seoul, too.

A:        I was in Seoul, yes.

I:          Yes.

A:        Twice.

I:          Twice.

A:        Yes.  Went [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Hm.  What was your rank at the time?
A:        Just gunner. I was a paid marksman.

I:          How much was it?

A:        For payment?

I:          Yeah.

A:        In English money,

0:24:00

the man next to me got 27 shillings.

I:          Um.

A:       I got 27 shillings and [four pence]

I:          Um.

A:        I, I, I could hear the bullseye, you know. We used to go forward.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        We used to go forward before the troops to OP.  You know OP?

I:          Yeah.

A:        Observation Post?

I:          Yes.

A:        And we used to go up in the night

I:          Yes.

A:        and climb the hill, and we’d, uh, uh,

0:24:30

two officers, a Sargent and two gunners in a hole. Uh, we used to direct the fire, not me,

I:          Um.

A:        but I was there to protect them, etc.  But they, um, would be shouting, and the officers would be there, and they’d direct up

I:          Yeah, observation.

A:        Observation post, yeah.  A number of times, three, four time up the front and in the middle of the night dig a hole, yeah.

0:25:00

I:          That’s a very dangerous point.
A:        Yeah.  Actually I see, we went one time to dig and I dig up and I pulled up a body,  China.  Chinaman.

I:          Um.

A:        Had rubber sole shoes, rubber on his feet.  So they moved further.  Sorry.

I:          So you had a, so much bad memories.

A:        Yes, many.

0:25:30

Many.  I don’t like to talk about that.

I:          What are the good memories that you have?
A:        The good people.  They’re good people that, that you met on the road, civilians, all need your help.  We, we see children.  We would pull up.  If we had spare food, we’d give it to them.  To the people that were walking the streets, coming back again.  I was there when that bridge went,

0:26:00

was blown up, um.

I:          Where?
A:        Uh, was that the, the Hahn?
I:          Hahn River?
A:        Wasn’t the, the railway bridge blown up at, was it Hahn River?
I:          Yes.

A:        Yeah.  We were there when that happened, and we had our guns on the banks of the river doing that cause they, you could actually see people come, them coming.  And the, the bridge went boom.  Gone.  That, that’s what year was that?

I:          You saw that?

A:        Yes.  I saw the bridge.

0:26:30

I:          You were there?

A:        Yes, on the banks of it.  It was the Hahn.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.  Yeah, sorry.  It’s, uh, the people that suffered more than the troops.  We lost men.  We, we’re in, um, Kumpo Valley with the, um, Glousters.  They  lost 500 men in one day.  They lost the Regiment.

I:          Um hm.

0:27:00

A:        Uh, but on top of that, the civilians that were killed, two million I think something

I:          Yeah.

A:        I saw many things there.

I:          Were you in the Battle of Hook?

A:        The Hook, yes.

I:          Tell me about those.  I mean, you, I, I understand that it’s hard for you to talk about it.  But for the education of our young generation.

A:        I understand.  Well,

I:          Can you explain what was Battle of Hook?  Who were there and how was it and

A:        Oh, that’s too difficult.

0:27:30

Um, you were there, and you did what you had to do.  Um, put a gun down there. You put my foot on the pedal and boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.  More, more,  more, more, more, more, more.  And all in a big hurry.  And we used to be in a hurry.  We’d get set and went out.  Up and out.  In and out.  Many times, different places.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        I can’t remember more.

I:          Were you

A:        There were smaller place that not mentioned.

I:          Was, uh,

0:28:00

enemy Chinese or North Koreans?

A:        Uh, they were first North Koreans and then Chin, many Chinese.

I:          Many Chinese.

A:        And we took Chinese prisoner, you know.  Some boys maybe 15, 16 year old, and we gave them food, and they went bleh.  They had little rice.  They carried a little baggie with rice

I:          Um hm.

A:        in the, in the, on their waistline.  But they couldn’t eat our food.  They tried, and they just made them sick

0:28:30

I:          Uh huh.

A:        Yeah.  And you know Peace Bridge, Panmunjom?

I:          Yes.

A:        When were there in Panmunjom, uh, there was an exchange of prisoners.

I:          Yep.

A:        And they were Chinese prisoners.  And as they went over the Peace Bridge, they took off all t heir clothes and threw them away because they were Americans, KD’s

I:          Yeah.

A:        They had cream short trousers, and they took off

0:29:00

all their clothes and threw them over the, before they went on the other side.  And I was told by somebody, I don’t know, someone, if they didn’t wear those clothes over there, they would be shot. I don’t know that.  Because they were wearing American clothing.  That’s Peace Bridge, and not very big.  Yeah.

I:          Anything you remember particularly because of the situation you though that it was

0:29:30

unbelievable or something?
A:        Uh, it’s unbelievable how fast things happen, how fast you’ve come.  In the middle of the night or the middle of the day, it doesn’t matter.  [INAUDIBLE] You’ve gotta go.  And you have to go.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        You’re not running away.  You’re just, you’ve got to go.  It’s either that and it, and it’s either them or you, you know.  It’s either [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um hm.

A:        It’s either them or you.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        You have to, you have to

0:30:00

I don’t know.  And you’re loading trucks with ammunition and it, uh, in the middle of the night.  And moving out.  And a lot of times we would go past places where the Yank Americans had been, and their tents were still up.  And we’d go in there and raid them, for get some, new, new boots.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        I’d order American boots occasionally and a Colt .45.  Oh.

0:30:30

they left, they just left, the Americans left them.  They didn’t bother to clean up.  Many times tents, uh, beds.  When I first came, uh, I was, couldn’t sleep and, for no reason, or you see something on tv or someone mentions something, and you get flashback.

I:          Flashback like what?
A:        What you’ve seen.  I had a camera, and I took photographs

0:31:00

of a [INAUDIBLE], and it was confiscated.  It got taken off me.  One of the officers saw me taking photographs and took my camera.

I:          Um.

A:        And, uh, wouldn’t give them to, I didn’t want them for reasons, but what I saw.  And other people did the same thing, not just me.

I:          So flashback like, uh, sudden seen of those shadows?
A:        Uh, not so much about the, but the things that were happening around me or the people killed, you know?

0:31:30

A:        I lost, I lost my two good friends.  They, uh,

I:          How?  How did it happen?
A:        Shrapnel.

I:          Ah.

A:        Yeah.  But they just, they disappeared.  There one day, gone next.  And then you for, you, for, you for, I forget their name.  It, it just happened.  I’m lucky. I’m here.

I:          Um hm.

A:        But many, many, many men are still there, haven’t been found.

0:32:00

When a shell runs in a hole and hits something, body disintegrates.  They don’t, they, they just gone.  So it’s just, uh, it was terrifying.  I wasn’t afraid of dying at all.  But other people, I was lucky to be, I’m lucky to be alive.

I:          Um hm.

A:        I have a good life now.

0:32:30

A happy life.  I have a new partner, lovely lady.  She’s 88, 89 on Monday, uh, and a wonderful lady.  And we talk each, we talk about my wife, she talks about her husband.  So it’s a good relationship, you know.

I:          Um hm.

0:33:00

A:        He was a soldier, too, in the fir, Second World War.

I:          Ah.

A:        Yeah.  It’s difficult to, to put a, an insight on exactly what, uh, uh, because  you just do what you do.  You do what you’re told, and, and you go in there and you come out, and you, a new, a few days later,

0:33:30

you’re somewhere else, somewhere else.  In, in, in Su, Suwon there was a school.  And part of the building had been completely demolished.  At the end of the War, the, the end of this big War was this, a steel, round tank for making hot water with a grill you put wood in.  And the boys would fix the pipes so we could shower.  One night, uh,

0:34:00

stupid man in front  of, when we went on duty, and let the fire out, I thought.  So I went down to the tanker and got a small baked bean tinfoil patchel and threw it in, and it went [NOISE].  Burned my eyebrows off.  That was stupid.  But we had to get the fire going for the hot water cause some day you didn’t wash, and you didn’t wash and shower for days.

I:          Right

A:        You didn’t wash and clean.  You couldn’t.

0:34:30

And in the winter was the worst part.

I:          What is it?
A:        Well, we had dead men you couldn’t bury.  You couldn’t bury them, and they were stacked.  So that, that sort of thing that would stay in your memories.  That’s just coming back now.

I:          Those were the Australians or

A:        Yeah, uh, British.

I:          British?

A:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.  I’m sorry, you’re British

A:        Yeah, yeah, British.  No, don’t be sorry.

I:          So you still were in the unit of anti-craft unit, right?

0:35:00

A:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.

A:        We were, um, very little, very little fire that way.  We used as artillery guns.  And we went up and back, up and back.  I won’t be rude, but the, there was a white square on the side of the car with a black hole.  They called us the Flying Assholes.  Yeah.

0:35:30

I:          Did you know why you were there?

A:        Oh yes.  To, to  protect the Korean people, protect the country, keep the Communists from coming, overtaking the country as a Communist country.  There’s a lot of Communist things went down those days, uh, with McArthur and, uh, in America with the movie star.  They, even they got, uh, kicked out because they were Communists.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Paul Orbson , as a matter of fact.  This lovely singer

I:          Um hm.

0:36:00

A:        Paul Orbson.  He, um, he went to live in Russia cause he said he was a Communist,  Uh, uh, Charlie Chaplin, yeah, yeah.  We were fighting against Communism, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  but when you see, when you saw all these people dying and then you were in that, those terrible situations, have you ever questioned yourself why am I here?  What the heck I am doing here?  Have you

0:36:30

talked to yourself like that?

A:        Um, no.  I didn’t.  I was there because I was t here to do a job, do what, what, we, we were sent there to do the job.

I:          When did you leave Korea?

A:        Uh, April, no April, May, ’53.  April, I think April.

I:          You were there for how many years?
A:        From the  beginning to the end.

0:37:00

I:          Why?

A:        I, I

I:          Didn’t, didn’t you rotate?
A:        I signed, I, no, I signed only behind the lines.  Oh no.  I signed on for three years.  It was K Force.  That was my assignment, for three years.

I:          Wow.

A:        I was a volunteer for three years.

I:          But didn’t they rotate?
A:        No.

I:          No?

A:        We never left, we never left Korea.  The only time we, we went, left Korea was when the Pusan perimeter was on.  We went

0:37:30

offshore on a troop ship for maybe five days, six days, and then back on land again.

I:          Huh.

A:        That’s what happened.  There’s not many troops down in, in Pusan on the, on the per.  We went onto a, a, a troop ship off the shore and then came back again.

I:          Three years you were in Korea.
A:        Yes sir.

I:          Wow.  So you have seen a lot of

A:        I’ve seen a lot of country.

I:          Anything you remember particularly?

0:38:00

A:        Oh, no.  Not the good things.  No. I, I, I, I, I just remember the country, the hills, these hills and valleys.  I, uh, I don’t know.

I:          Um.

A:        I’m, um, what you call it, I talk to anyone,

0:38:30

even in shopping centers now, here.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        and someone was passing I’ll try and talk to them, ask them where they’re going, [INAUDIBLE] I ask

I:          [Yogi]

A:        Uh, that, that came to me then.  I was, you know, wherever you come from, how far have you traveled.  Uh, men, women and children, anyone.  I talk to them, yeah.  Cause there was no sho,

0:39:00

you couldn’t go to a shopping center in those days.

I:          So now after those three years in Korea,

A:        Yes

I:          you never knew Korea before

A:        No.

I:          and you were there for three years.  You’ve been back to Korea, and you saw, see changes we made

A:        Oh

I:          What is Korea to you personally now?
A:        It’s a beautiful place.  Beautiful people.  I said I could live in Korea.

0:39:30

Quite easily.  I’m too old to move now, uh.  And, uh, my good lady wouldn’t want to go anyway.  There’s too much to, I, I could go back for a return, not last year I think, the year before  And, um, uh, she wouldn’t go because she can’t get around that quick, you know, up and early in the morning, on the bus, here, there, there.  I loved it.  I love [INAUDIBLE]

0:40:00

Yeah.  I asked her, I love it.  Different restaurants, different food, yeah.

I:          You know Korean War been known as Forgotten War.

A:        The Forgotten War, yeah.

I:          Why is that?
A:        Because it never was a War I’m told.  It was a police action according to the Americans.  They said it was a police action.  So it wasn’t, they never called it a war which is silly cause everyone, everyone was there fighting in a war, yeah.

0:40:30

I never understood really, truthfully, why did the Chinese interfere at all?  And so many of them.  And so young.  Yes.

I:          Because North Korea and China was ally, and General McArthur wanted to go all the way, all the way to Manchuria.

A:        They won’t let him.  Yes.  They wouldn’t let him.  I remember that, yeah.

0:41:00

Uh, I know, uh, I never understand why Panmunjom, the huts, and the North Korea there, you can see the North Korean soldiers there, but you can’t go and shake hands.  You can’t.  You’re not allowed to make rude gestures either.  And I see them in, in, in the Panmunjom, uh, meeting house, big table, a red line goes,

0:41:30

that’s North Korea, this is South Korea.  How silly.

I:          Silly.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

A:        You’d go, go up and go shake someone’s hand.  I’m a Free Mason,  yeah.

I:          Yes.  Um, we are still divided.  North and South

A:        Temporarily.

I:          Yeah.  We are still technically at war because there is no Peace Treaty.

A:        There has never been a Peace Treaty, no.

I:          Right.  What do you think about this?

A:        I think it should be signed as soon as possible and make the Korean

0:42:00

people want.  They all speak the same language.  You ‘re not all speaking Chinese.  They should all be one, one country.  Parents and loved ones that are on that side of the border and on this side of the border.  No.  No.  It, it should be, they got unification out.  Remember unification still there?
I:          Um hm.

A:        Yeah.  Uh, it, it, and all those towers all around should all be demolished

0:42:30

and, I don’t whether they are now or not.  I know there was only one bridge over originally.  Now I think there’s five.

I:          More, no, more than, more than 30

A:        Wow.

I:          You have to count it.  You know the, I was in Korea with the Korean War veterans

A:        Yes.

I:          and we were running along the Hahn River.  There is a super highway

A:        Oh.

I:          and they were inside of the bus, and this one veteran was doing this, counting something.

0:43:00

So I, I asked him what do you count, and he said I’m counting bridge.  And he said that there was only one bridge.

A:        Only one bridge, yeah.

I:          But now, so what are you up to, and he said 21.

A:        Oh.  [INAUDIBLE] That’s in, yeah, there was only one bridge to go.  I know.  We were up there.  Oh.

I:          But look it.  Korea is now offering aid to the country who are in need.

A:        Yes.  I believe,

0:43:30

sir, that you supply electricity to North Korea, yeah.  Incredible.

I:          Incredible.

A:        So you should be one people.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Or, or one language, one people.

I:          So are you proud to be a Korean War veteran?

A:        I’m very proud to be a Korean War veteran.  I did what I was asked to do, and I’d do it, never regretted a moment.

I:          What is the legacy of the Korean War in your opinion?

0:44:00

A:        Oh, that’s hard, hard question.  The legacy.  No, I don’t know.

I:          What is your legacy as a Korean War veteran?

A:        Friends.

I:          Friends.

A:        Friends.  We have lots of Korean friends on the Gold Coast.  I have lots of, There’s a beautiful lady who I dance with, I have photograph

I:          Um.

A:        at the committee, uh, she used to,

0:44:30

She’d been here many, many years, since the 70’s.  She had a shop in Surfer’s Paradise.  She used to sell Korean, uh, food and, um, and I got into trouble one time going back to Korea because my wife was there, my, when my wife was married, when she was married.  We took four kilos of honey cause the Koreans liked, uh, Australian honey, and we got the other side, and they let me take it in.

0:45:00

Four kilos of honey.

I:          Wow.

A:        That

I:          You  mentioned about those young children that you shared food with them

A:        Yes.

I:          What would you say to them, and next year will be 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War.  That’s why Korean government Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs commissioned my Foundation

A:        Yes.

I:          to do, conduct this interview.  What would you say to those children if they alive now?

0:45:30

A:        I hope you remember t hat friend who gave you food and clothing.  If they’re still alive and got their own families now, and they can tell their own children the same story. There was a, a soldier, don’t know where he come from, you wouldn’t know where he come from, uh, who gave me food, gave me towel, soap, for free, for a

0:46:00

lot of learning the language.  I want you to learn to say something like, say good day to you.  Good day to, like say Australian.  If you don’t know anything, and I learned a lot from the children because they slowly spoke it, phonetically, you know.  [KOREAN WORDS], yeah. yeah.  So  you remember that.

I:          Um hm.  You said that the, the question of legacy is a hard one, right?
A:        Yes.

0:46:30

I:          You know what?  What you did 70 years ago, almost 70 years ago to those young children was something recorded in the Bible.  Do you remember?  Are you Christian?

A:        [INAUDIBLE] oh yes, yes.  [INAUDIBLE]

I:          No, no, no, no.  Yeah maybe.  But Matthew Chapter 25, the King came back and He divided the whole people into right and left, and He said to the people on the right

0:47:00

that you gave me food when I was hungry.  You came to prison when I was in prison

A:        Yes.

I:          you gave me water when I was thirsty, right?  And they replied back to Him when did I give you the food, and when did I visit you?  You were not in the prison.  You are my King.

A:        Yes.

I:          And He said, do you remember He said?  Whatever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.

0:47:30

I:          What you just told.

A:        That’s my legacy.

I:          That is your legacy.

A:        My legacy.

I:          Don’t you agree?

A:        I agree.

I:          Do you agree?

A:        I agree.

I:          Yeah.  That’s what happened.  There are so  many bad things happen I know.  It’s during the War.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Many kinds of bad things like, uh, rape and killing and torturing

A:        Yea.

I:          But at the same time,

0:48:00

there were so  many good things that you mentioned and you remember and you did.

A:        I did.

I:          I think that’s why something very good came out of Korea 1950.  That is Republic of Korea now.

A:        Yes.  And there should be one Republic of Korea [INAUDIBLE]

I:          One Republic of Korea.

A:        One Republic of

I:          Yes.  Sir, I really enjoyed this interview.

A:        Thank you.

I:          Do you have anything else you wanna share with me?

0:48:30

A:        I will show, show you my photographs, and then you can do what you wish with this interview because it’s been a great pleasure having it.  I, I’ll share my memories and say I won’t [INAUDIBLE] an y more, um.  And I don’t talk war.  [INAUDIBLE] a veteran.  I don’t talk war.

0:49:00

I’ve, I’ve, I’m, play golf with 50 veterans on a, on a Friday.  Some do, some don’t. I don’t.

MALE VOICE:  [INAUDIBLE]

A:        No.  Oh, they still, [INAUDIBLE]

MALE VOICE:  Tell the story about something related, but you won’t talk about the actual War itself.

A:        That’s right.  Yeah, yeah.  Um, I played with, last week, with a, a, a helicopter pilot who was, uh,

0:49:30

gunship, you know, on, uh, in Viet Nam.

MALE VOICE:  [INAUDIBLE]

A:        Yeah.  and, uh, he started talking and I said look.  Not interested, uh.  I don’t talk.  I talk to this gentleman here and tell him things that I’ve, uh, I could tell him more but I, I won’t because it’s, it’s no, it doesn’t get you anywhere.

I:          Albert, it’s my great honor to meet you, great pleasure to talk to you.

0:50:00

And thank you for your good memory of Korea, and you did beautiful thing for Korean people.  Thank you so much.

A:        The pleasure’s all mine.

[End of Recorded Material]