Korean War Legacy Project

Alistair S. Rae


Alistair S. Rae’s dream of flying began with his enlistment in the South African Air Force in 1950. His training began on the Tiger Moths but later advanced to Mustangs and Sabres. While in training, he learned of the outbreak of the war and that the pilots would likely be destined for Korea. He served as part of the Two Squadron, also known as the “Flying Cheetahs”, in the South African Air Force. The main mission of his squadron was to strike designated targets within Korea. He flew 128 sorties during his two deployments to Korea. flying both Sabres and later jets.

Video Clips

Training and First Impressions

Alistair S. Rae recalls Korea as a land of lots of hills and mountains ascending from the sea. He notes few encounters with Korean cities and people beyond times spent on rest and recuperation. He shares his wartime training on more advanced planes beyond the Spitfires he learned on in South Africa.

Tags: Basic training,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),Weapons

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Mission in Korea

Alistair S. Rae shares his squadron's mission during his time in Korea. He notes his main mission while flying the Mustang was dropping bombs on target. He recalls crossing the North Korean border quite frequently. He explains that he flew 75 sorties during his deployment and later returned to fly jets to bring his sortie total to 128.

Tags: Front lines,Pride,Weapons

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Flying the Sabre

Alistair S. Rae details the main missions of the Sabres which included interjection and target bombing. He notes they were also told to shoot down any enemy aircraft they encountered. He shares the dangers he faced while serving in Korea. He recalls having very few close encounters with enemy aircrafts, but recounts "Bed Check Charlie" encounters.

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,Pride,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

A:        Alistair Sinclair Rae. A L I S T A I R

I:          Um hm

A:        Sinclair S I N C L A I R and Rae R A E.

I:          Rae.  And can I call you Al?
A:        Yes, right.

I:          What is your birthday?

A:        30th of August, 1929.

I:          29.  So now you are 80

A:        9.


I:          89.  Wow.  You have keep up your health.  You look very good, sir.

A:        It’s not too bad.

I:          Um.  And tell me, oh, where were you born?
A:        I was born in Durban.

I:          Yeah.  And you just gave me the address where were you born.

A:        Yes.

I:          Can you tell me?
A:        567 Stemford Hill Road, Durban.

I:          Durban.


And that’s the Harbor City, isn’t it?

A:        That’s the main job in the city, and the house is still standing as far as I know

I:          Uh hu.

A:        been down there and checked.

I:          And tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings, if you

A:        My parentage by my father was an inspector of mines and machinery

I:          Oh.

A:        and they put him in various places,


and we ended up here in Johannesburg over the years going not many places that we spent a long time in and, uh, that’s where I spent my time here in, in Durban.

I:          And you, did you have brothers and sisters?

A:        Did I have what?

I:          Brothers and sisters.


A:        Of, of

I:          Were you only child or did you have brothers and sisters?

A:        Oh.  I had two, two, two sisters.

I:          Two sisters.

A:        Two sisters, sorry.

I:          And.

A:        No brothers.

I:          No brothers.

A:        No brothers, two sisters.

I:          You are the only son there.

A:        They all passed away a long time ago.

I:          Um.  And can you tell me about the schools that you went through in Durban or Johannesburg?
A:        Oh, [INAUDIBLE] I guess.


And then I went to, for the smaller schools I can’t remember much about.  Then I went to Potchefstroom Boys High School [INAUDIBLE] do this with my fingers.

I:          Uh huh.  No, no problem. [INAUDIBLE]

A :       And I went to, the last, the main things are to perform a trick.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Was Potchefstroom Boys High, and I got my


career, the, the, um, what you call

I:          Diploma?

A:        What?

I:          Certificate?

A:        Certificate.

I:          Um.

A:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          When was it?  When did you graduate your high school?

A:        Hoo, well I was 17, so you can work that one out.

I:          Seventeen, so 1946?

A:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.

A:        I was 17.

I:          And what did you do after the graduation?


A:        I, I looked for jobs.  My parents were at various other places.  I don’t know exactly in what order, uh, they were there.  But I looked for jobs and took various jobs that were paying something.  Then I thought of flying.

I:          Oh.  So, your dream was flying?

A:        Uh, yeah.  [INAUDIBLE]  I, I, you know, they don’t use it as a flying school anymore.

I:          Um hm.

A:        But I went out there, and I said do you take on people for flying and they said of course we do.  That’s what we’re here for.

I:          Wasn’t it expensive to be in that school?
A:        No, they paid you.  It was an Air Force

I:          Oh.  You talking about the military.

A:        Yeah, the military.

I:          Um.

A:        And, and that’s how it, uh,


how it started.

I:          When was it?  Is that, was it 1948?

A:        I was, I had my 21st birthday party here.  And then I went out

I:          Twenty-first.  So, 1950.

A:        I spent about two years in the, uh, training part of it, training.

I:          Um hm.  What kind of training did you receive?

A:        Tiger Moths.


I:          What is that?

A:        That’s a very light aircraft, one engine, two wings, and that was the basic trainer when you learned, learned how to fly.

I:          Ah.

A:        Two, two positions in the thing for the instructor and the pupil.

I:          So, two people sit in there.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Were you good flyer?
A:        Hm?

I:          Were you good?

A:        Oh, it was lovely.


I  never looked back after.

I:          I know you loved it, but were you good?

A:        Hm?

I:          Were you good pilot?
A:        Was I a good pilot?
I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah, I think so.

I:          Oh ho.

A:        [INAUDIBLE]  I didn’t want to throw me out or anything like that which happened to a few others that just didn’t quite take to it.

I:          Oh.  So, some of them are dropped out?

A:        Yeah.

I:          Ah.  And did you know


at the time that you were in the, the school the Korean War broke out?

A:        Yeah.

I:          How did you come to know of it?

A:        Well, we were, uh, in training, and the, the word came around that we were wanted for, what you call, to go over to Korea. And I didn’t know much beside that.

I:          Did you know where Korea was at the time?

A:        I had to look up it on map


I:          Oh.

A:        No, didn’t know where it was.

I:          You didn’t know any history or anything?
A:        Nothing.

I:          Nothing about Korea.
A:        Not a thing about it.

I:          Um.

A:        But they said there you go.

I:          But it was a voluntary system, wasn’t it?

A:        [INAUDIBLE] Had a talk to Leslie last night about this.

I:          Well, what did you tell her?

A:        Volun, voluntary was you go.


That’s voluntary.

I:          [LAUGHS]  That’s not definition about being voluntary.

A:        We had a, a, in the government, we had a [INAUDIBLE] Erasmus.  He was a Minister of, I don’t know what the hell do you call it.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And they said  it’s [INAUDIBLE]


And that’s what happened.

I:          So, it wasn’t voluntary.  But they say you go.

A:        You go.

I:          Okay.  I understand that.  So, were you afraid?

A:        Oh, not at all.  Not at all.

I:          You were, you were going to war, and you could be killed.

A:        Yeah.

I:          What do you mean yeah?

A:        Didn’t make any difference, didn’t make any difference.  It’s not, and absolutely didn’t make any difference to me


because then I would have stayed out.  And a lot of the person, people that were on that course did exactly, uh, they said no, damn it.  I’m not going to cross career and get my

I:          Um.

A:        neck shot off or something like that.  And no, it didn’t worry me.

I:          So

A:        When you, when you got over there and saw that they weren’t talking rubbish.  They were


talking, truth was how many boys get out on the flight and come back on the flight and all the rest.  But, and we didn’t lose a hell of a lot of people.  We lost, what, 50’s or 60’s, 55 I think.

I:          Um.  But let me ask this question.  So you were, do you think that you were trained enough to be in the war?

A:        No.

I:          Tell me about it.

A:        But you, well,


I think you got your training in actual happenings over there.  And then you knew you were in a real war.

I:          Um.

A:        But we used to get feedbacks from the [INAUDIBLE] who were there while we were still on course, to give us an idea of what to expect.

I:          So, when you told your parents that you are going to go to Korea,


what was their reaction?

A:        No problem whatsoever.  No problem.  My dad was in the last war, and he was taken prisoner up in the Western Desert, excuse me, and he spent two years in a prisoner of war camp.

I:          Your father?

A:        My father.

I:          During the World War II?

A:        During the Se, second world war.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Oh.

A:        And we didn’t see him for two or three years.


I:          Where?

A:        Back here.  In [Durban]

I:          Oh.

A:        [INAUDIBLE] when the war was ended.

I:          So, it must been really hard for your whole family waiting for your father to return.

A:        It’s, she said, my mother got over very, very well.  We had our house, we had all this, and that is the time I went to [INAUDIBLE] Boys High School


so, she was still getting money and all the rest.  And then he, he arrived back.

I:          Safe.

A:        Uh, he was, I wish I could show you a picture where he was shot by escaped the Italians went to [Brook] fell.  Now don’t ask me the date.  But where, [Brook] fell to the Germans up in the desert,


my dad and his contingent, he was a Major, said we are getting the hell out of here.  And the one bloke put his pistol in through the [INAUDIBLE] and shot him and shot him in the head

I:          Oh.

A:        So, they escaped.  This was [INAUDIBLE]  Had a deep hole in his head.

I:          Oh.  And he survived.

A:        Huh, he survived.


The, the Italian doctors looked after him.

I:          Oh.

A:        And he survived, no brain damage, no this, no that.

I:          It’s a miracle.

A:        Yeah.

I:          So your father didn’t mind you going to country?
A:        No, not at all.
I:          Um.  Was it, at the time, the, also threat from Communist country around the South Africa here?

A:        I, I was only interested in, uh, [INAUDIBLE] , anything like that.  I, I,


I never have been, I wasn’t at that stage of the game.

I:          Um.

A:        But when, when I got to know more of why the war was on, it changes things a bit.  And that was it.

I:          Um.  So, do you remember where, where you departed from here to Korea, and when?

A:        Bloemfontein Aerodrome.

I:          Uh huh.


A:        I don’t know what it is now.  But that is south of Durban.  And, uh,

I:          When was it?

A:        Huh?

I:          When was it.

A:        I’m glad you asked me.

I:          1950

A:        It was when I was 21, 21, 22, 21.

I:          Okay.  So ’51 or ’52?

A:        No, ’52.

I:          ’52.  And you left from the area close to Durban?


A:        Bloemfontein, yeah.  Bloemfontein with packets of cigarettes, lighters from United Tobacco Company, uh huh, climb on the airplane and I reckon I finished 500 cigarettes before we crossed the Limpopo River.

I:          Five hundred cigarette.

A:        Yeah.  And that’s where I started.


I:          So, did you go through the ship, or did you fly?

A:        I flew.

I:          Flew.

A:        I flew.

I:          And to where?

A:        Flew from here to Rome.  And then from Rome to an aircraft across west, uh, east and went through various countries, to Singapore and all those places and arrived in

I:          Tokyo?

A:        Tokyo.

I:          Uh huh.


A:        Tokyo.

I:          How was Tokyo at the time?

A:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Huh?

A:        What’s that?

I:          How was Tokyo at the time when you landed there?

A:        Oh, they were fine.  We had a, we had a ball.  We really did.  There were six of us, I think, on the airplane.

I:          Only six of you?

A:        Of the people who were going over

I:          Yeah.

A:        On that.

I:          Um hm.

A:        The rest had gone by ship when the, when the


Korean thing broke out, they had ships going over and taking the [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

A:        My career at war lasted for two, three, four years.

I:          Yeah.

A:        I’m not too sure on the

I:          Three years.
A:        Three years.

I:          Um hm.

A:        I was there till the end of it.

I:          And what was your, um, at the time, what was your rank?

A:        Second Lieutenant, yeah.


I:          And you are in Two Squadron.

A:        Two Squadron.

I:          Of South African Air Force.

A:        Yes.  Flying Cheetahs.

I:          Flying Cheetahs, yes, yes, yes.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Do you remember?  Where did you land in Korea?

A:        We landed in Korea on the west coast of Korea somewhere.

I:          West coast?

A:        Yes.  We landed,


it was a, I can’t remember the place.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        Chinhae was one thing where we trained from once we arrived in Chinhae.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Was bulleted there for a couple of weeks to go on to Mustangs and all those.

I:          So, let me ask this question.  You told me, you told me you didn’t know


where Korea was.  You didn’t know much about Korea.

A:        No.

I:          And you landed in Korea for the first time.

A:        Yeah.

I:          What did you see?  What is, what was the image of Korea to be honest with you, I mean, to me?

A:        Lots of bloody hills and mountains and all the rest were down the sea and upwards and all the rest.  And that was all because we trained, and we did this and we did that,


and all the rest of it.  And that was it.

I:          Any, did you see any, I mean how did Korean people look to you, and how was the city?  What did you see there?

A:        Didn’t see the cities at any stage until you went on R and R, rest and recuperation.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And then you saw the cities, and they showed you where to go to a hotel to have your one week off,


five, three days or two days

I:          Yeah.

A:        holiday.

I:          Um.

A:        That’s the only time you saw it.

I:          Yeah.  How was it when you saw those cities?
A:        Oh, very nice, very nice.

I:          You mean, are you talking about the Japan or Korea?

A:        I was talking about Korea now

I:          Korea.

A:        When we landed in, in Korea. You take off at Anita which is the Japanese place.

I:          Airport.

A:        And go into the, the others.  That was Korea.

I:          Okay.

A:        It’s just across the

I:          Yes.


A:        across the road.

I:          Yes.  What about training?  So, you were trained with a very light plane in South Africa

A:        Yeah.

I:          and then you came in in Chinhae.

A:        Yeah.

I:          What kind of aircraft did you train yourself?
A:        We, we trained here before we left.  We trained in Spitfires.

I:          Spitfires, yeah.

A:        Yeah.  So that’s the closest we came to Mustangs that we flew over when we got there.


And we trained on that, and I said that’s, uh, further, [INAUDIBLE] when you, when you arrive in, in Korea.

I:          Was it?

A:        Yeah.

I:          What kind

A:        set into the written exam.

I:          Did you have to take a written exam?
A:        Yeah.

I:          In Korea to, to, to fly

A:        Fly Mustangs.

I:          Oh, really?

A:        To fly the Mustang.

I:          Ah, I didn’t know that.

A:        Yeah.

I:          And you obviously passed.


A:        Yeah.  You got through.  Yeah, you got through it.

I:          And how was the Mustang?

A:        It was a

I:          What kind of aircraft was it?  Did you like it?

A:        Most beautiful bloody aircraft that I flew the Sabre after the Mustang over in Korea.

I:          Sabre meaning F86.

A:        F86.  So, my two favorite airplanes are the Mustang and the F86.


I:          Which one do you like most?

A:        Well, the F86 are totally different jet.

I:          It’s a jet.

A:        And the, and the, uh, what you call, was, uh, [INAUDIBLE] beautiful airplane.

I:          Um.

A:        Old as the hills.

I:          How long did it take for you to, uh, to be able to fly this, uh, Mustang?

A:        Immediately.

I:          Immediately?

A:        Yes, yes, immediately.  They put you on the runway.  They said do the bloody runway.  There’s the mountain.


Don’t hit it.  Climb  over it.  And this was on the Sea of Chinhae.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And off you go and they’re giving you a circuit to do and bring you back again and put it down on the runway and not in the sea.  And that’s how we learned.

I:          [LAUGHS] So you born to be a pilot.

A:        What?

I:          Huh?

A:        Yeah.

I:          So, you didn’t have any problem flying that Mustang?


A:        I, I, I didn’t have any problem.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Progress.  A few chaps ran out of bloody petrol, and they were lost after doing that exercise.  But I wasn’t.

I:          So, from Chinhae when you finished the training,

A:        Yes.

I:          where did you go?  Did you stay in Chinhae or

A:        We stayed in Chinhae for a long time, and then they came with the news that we would have to go up


to K14.

I:          K14 which is

A:        Was, that’s more towards the front line.

I:          Yeah, nor, north.

A:        North.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And we used to the Mustangs up to K14 and do what we had to do from K14 across the line, come back to K14, and, uh, back to Chinhae.

I:          Back to Chinhae.

A:        Yeah.


I:          Did you fly from Chinhae to, uh, involving the  mission?

A:        Yes, oh yes.

I:          Tell me about it.

A:        I, not from, not from Chinhae, not

I:          Not from Chinhae.

A:        No, no.  That was too far back.

I:          Right.

A:        That, uh, I’m trying to think of the other names there.  But that was too far back.

I:          Um hm.

A:        We had to go up to K14 and then onto the coast.  When we got Sabres, we went up to K55.

I:          Um hm.  And what was your mission?


What were you supposed to do?

A:        We were supposed to bomb, um, the bomb line moved, as you must probably know, moves, uh, as the ground troops move up, you got a system and moving further up on, so you hammering the enemy from that bend.


And that was, that was what our business was with the Mustangs, dropping bombs

I:          Bombs.

A:        and stopping and all the rest of it.

I:          Hm.  So did you fly over to North Korea?

A:        To?

I:          Over North Korea?

A:        I flew over North Korea.

I:          Um.

A:        I crossed the border quite frequently and, uh,


which wasn’t allowed.  But I reckon the war was ending at that stage.

I:          Until

A:        So you could do it without they came back.

I:          Um.  Were you, were there any enemy, uh, jet, I mean the aircraft?

A:        I, they had the Migs jet.  It could go higher than we could in the Sabre.
I:          Right.

A:        But it wasn’t as fast.


And they, the Americans had a squadron there that only did into direction for us air to air.  They, they scored quite a few times.  I didn’t.  I would like to, but I didn’t.

I:          So American pilots engaged in dog fighting  [introdicting] this Russian Mig.

A:        Yeah.

I:          And your main mission was to bomb the targets

A:        Targets.

I:          Um hm.

A:        that they gave you over the radio when you arrived at the, uh,


place, wherever the front line was.  But till you got onto this, you can see, and they gave you on the frequency there’s so and so and so and so and so and so having gone.  Give ‘em hell.  Drop your bombs on there.

I:          How accurate was it, the bombing?  Were you good?
A:        Yeah, it wasn’t too bad.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Wasn’t too bad.  Most of the bombs that we lost over there


were shot on, from ground fire but never in Mustangs.  That’s as far as I know.

I:          Were there any occasion that you were threatened by the anti-aircraft artillery?

A:        The what?

I:          Anti-aircraft  artillery from your enemy?

A:        Yeah, yeah.  We’d be shot  at, and nobody ever made a hole in my airplane.

I:          You never been hit?
A:        No.

I:          Wow.

A:        Never been hit.


I:          That’s quite lucky, isn’t it?

A:        Yeah.

I:          How many [INAUDIBLE]  sorties did you finish?

A:        I finished two, one hundred and twenty-eight sorties.

I:          One hundred

A:        I did 75 sorties.

I:          That’s the minimum, right?
A:        That was the minimum.  Then came back to this country and then heard they were getting jets.  So, I applied


to go back for a second tour.

I:          You were crazy.

A:        And everybody said that.  But, uh, I said I wanted to improve my business of flying.  Yeah, really.  It was, it was the case.  And they sent me back and, uh, the Sabres had just come in, and we went through a similar training program as we did with the Mustangs.  And, uh,


finished 28 sorties on that 75, 128, I don’t know how many of it.  And it, and it ended, the whole bloody thing ended.

I:          Think you must be the, the, the pilot, South African pilot that has recorded most of the sorties

A: Who has?
I:          I mean, mostly the General Mul, Muller, he said that it was a 60 something.

A:        Oh no.  He, he, he, yeah, Muller.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.  He was, he came back,


and he didn’t go over there again.  Bob Rogers, you must probably heard of,

I:          No.

A:        He was a, a O.C. of the Air Force when everything was over.  He did the same thing.  He came back, then he went over again.  Yeah.

I:          So, you were not afraid.

A:        Uh uh.

I:          [LAUGHS] You were not married at  the time.

A:        No.  No, I only got married

I:          Did you have a girlfriend?

A:        1954.  What?


I:          Did you have a girlfriend at the time?

A:        No.

I:          So, you were single, and you flying everywhere you want.

A:        I didn’t have time for girlfriends over there.  No time for, I had to go a, I sent the odd letter to [INAUDIBLE] so I had a good laugh over it.  But no, nothing solid as far as girlfriends are concerned.

I:          Do you remember when you left Korea first time?  1952, right?


A:        I’ve got a logbook here, but I can’t remember.

I:          Uh huh.  And then you came back to Korea, you went back to Korea

A:        Yeah.  I came back, stayed around for a couple of months, and they said ok, you can go back.  The Sabres have arrived.  You can go back and [INAUDIBLE]

I:          So, tell me about the Sabre you flew.  How, how, how, yeah, how was it?

A:        Beautiful.

I:          Stu, student doesn’t know anything about it, so tell them please.


A:        My, uh, it was  quiet .  It was very quiet.  Whereas the Mustang was noisy.  And this thing went like a bomb.  But it is a fantastic bloody airplane.

I:          And so, at the time, the, the Sabre was the best aircraft fighter, right?
A:        Yeah.  That we flew.

I:          Um.

A:        And then the Sabre came.


Magnificent airplane.  And

I:          What was your main mission with the Sabre, same mission?
A:        It was same mission was, was, uh, interjection and, and if you had bombs aboard, they would tell you got bombs aboard, they’d tell you your target is that on the other side where the lines are, and air-to-air, if you are


surprised by enemy aircraft, shoot the bombs down.

I:          Were there any encounter with the Mig?

A:        No.

I:          Yourself?

A:        No.

I:          No.

A:        No.

I:          Um hm.

A:        No.

I:          So, you completed more than 100 sorties there.

A:        Um hm.

I:          Wow, that’s a record.

A:        What?
I:          That’s the record, more than 100 sorties that you flew.

A:        Oh yes.  I, yes, yes, yes.


One hundred and twenty-eight.

I:          Hundred twenty-eight.

A:        Some people did 150, and I’m not too sure  I told you about his [INAUDIBLE] He, he stayed, stayed there for another 75.

I:          Another 75.

A:        [INAUDIBLE] He died recently.  When I say recently within the last year.

I:          Were there any dangerous moment where you could have lost your life?


A:        No, except for running out of, possible running out of petrol.

I:          You mean the gasoline?
A:        Of the, I took a flight out on a training flight from K55.  We spent a bit too long outside, so we were short of fuel coming back.  And the one by my number two


said he’s got no prayer to live, so I said well, jump in front of me and land.  There’s the field which he did.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And I came in after him, and I turned off the runway, and the engine ran [NOISE]. That was close.

I:          Very close.

A:        That was close.

I:          Maybe a minute later you could just fell.

A:        No.  It would, it could have been, and I would have had to bail out


and lose a bloody Mustang, um, a Sabre and all the rest of this because didn’t use the cork properly and [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.  How many pilots did South Africa lose during the Korean War?
A:        Oh, 55, what, 34, okay. Total.


MALE VOICE:  Plus, plus two [INAUDIBLE]

A:        Yeah.  Mostly all Mustangs.

I:          Yes.

A:        Mostly all Mustangs.  Twenty-four.

I:          Um.  How was enemy Air Force?  Was it strong or

A:        They did nothing.  They, they, they just flew and tried to frighten people.

I:          Did they succeed?
A:        They didn’t do anything.  Not when I was around anyway.

I:          Hm.

A:        They didn’t  attack us


on the ground there or anything.  They used to send off Bed Check Charlie

I:          Bed Check Charlie

A:        used to send that out, and send it over Seoul just in the evening when all the boys are at the pub drinking having a good time.  And then the siren would go, and Bed Check Charlie was coming across, and it was a, a very light  airplane.  They worked this one out.  I didn’t


capture one as such, but they said it must be a very light one.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And it just made a nuisance of itself to save us for that.

I:          I heard that they actually threw hand grenade from the. hand grenade from the plane.

A:        Oh, from the plane, yeah.  That

I:          Bed Check Charlie.

A:        Yes, because they couldn’t get very high.  They were full, full of fuel and all the rest [INAUDIBLE]  Bed Check Charlie.


That’s the closest they came.

I:          Um.

A:        Didn’t drop any bombs.

I:          So out of this 128 sorties, you didn’t have any, encountered any dangerous moment?  You are blessed.

A:        I’m blessed.

I:          Um.

A:        I, I am blessed.  What a thing.

I:          Were you able to go around some cities in Korea while you were there?

A:        Cities?
I:          Yeah. Like Seoul or,

A:        Seoul I knew of, we used to up there on


occasions.  For what reason, I don’t know.  But, um, and I saw a bit of Seoul, the old place, old city of Seoul from high up on a hill there and all the rest of it.  And we had that.

I:          Um.  How was it, the city?  Was it completely destroyed, or was it okay or, do you remember?


A:        Buildings that were still going up.  That was, it was [INAUDIBLE] it, it wasn’t completely destroyed.

I:          Um hm.

A:        The other cities I don’t know.  The other cities I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t know about at all.

I:          So, let’s talk about the soft side of the story.  Um, where did you sleep?  What did you eat?  How was living there?

A:        I flied under the Americans.

I:          What do you mean this?


It was during the war.

A:        Under the Americans.  Oh my God.  The Americans Officers Mess.  They looked after you.  And you could go in there and order bloody steak and eggs and whatever.  You had to pay for it, but  very fantastic.

I:          Real egg?

A:        Huh?

I:          Did you eat real egg?
A:        Real?

I:          Real egg, not powder.

A:        [STAMMERING] powdered egg possibly.


Possibly powdered egg.  But it didn’t make any bit of a difference to the taste of the thing.  But they looked, the Americans looked after us.

I:          So, you’re relationship with American pilots were good.
A:        Very, very good.
I:          Um.  Did they drink a lot  or smoke?

A:        Not, not as much as the South Africans drank.  True.


I:          What was your favorite drink?
A:        Well, it was beer at the time.

I:          Beer.

A:        Yeah.  That was all.

I:          Any, uh, how much were you paid by the way?  A pilot.

A:        How much did it pay?
I:          Yeah.

A:        There you’ve got the, you know, it was, I don’t know what we were, that’s in this country.  But we were paid double salaries for going over to Korea.

I:          I see.


A:        I don’t know how much it was in this State.  But you got twice that you would have got by sitting back home and listening to the radio.

I:          Were you able to write letters back to your family?
A:        Yes.

I:          How often did you write, and what did you write?

A:        Oh, just said having a good time, no problem.  We weren’t allowed, it was censored in any case.

I:          Um.

A:        What you wrote was censored.

I:          Really?
A:        If you, yeah.  And if you tried


to say that this happened or this happened or this happened, they just screwed it up.  You couldn’t send it.

I:          Were you able to receive letters from your family?

A:        Yes.  Very infrequently because of, uh, transport practices.

I:          And do you still keep those letters with you or is it

A:        Um.

I:          No, no, no, no, no.


I:          So, let me ask this question.  What was the most difficult thing even though you had a very good time with the American pilots, and they look after you.  But what was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea?  If I ask you to pinpoint one, what was the most difficult thing?

A:        This is, this is bloody difficult because I didn’t find

I:          You didn’t seem to have any difficulty.

A:        I just didn’t  find anything that difficult at all.


I didn’t find anything that difficult at all.

I:          This is some kind of interview of misinformation for our children, you know/
A:        I didn’t.

I:          You didn’t have any difficulties.  He was not afraid of any war, and he completed 128 sorties

A:        One hundred and twenty-eight.

I:          Yeah, 128.

A:        I think it was one, yeah.  One hundred and twenty-eight.   But, you know, there wasn’t, uh, anything that else I wouldn’t have gone back onto the Sabres.


I, I said to them when I came back from the Mustangs, when you get Sabres and you want people, I want to go back.
I:          Um hm.

A:        And [INAUDIBLE] You signed up and he said you could go back.  So that was  it.

I:          So after you left Korea, have you been back to Korea recently?

A:        I’ve been back to Korea.

I:          When?


A:        Twice.  [INAUDIBLE] who’s now dead.  He was, uh, also over in Korea, and he was saying I went over with him, with Chuck, and we spent three or four, three or four days there.  Lovely.

I:          Who invited you back?
A:        Hm?

I:          Who invited you back?

A:        Uh, this was a thing that I, that they started


for people who’d been there who could do it again free of charge, free, uh, flying, free accommodation, etc., etc., etc.  That soon stopped I think cause people were climbing in all over.

I:          No, we still running that program,

A:        You still run it.

I:          Yes.  Korea Revisit Program.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Do you remember when was first time you went back?  Was it 2000 or is it


A:        Oh no.  It

I:          1980’s?

A:        I wasn’t, I don’t know.  I wasn’t married then.  I wasn’t married.  That’s, 1954 I got married.  This is in 50

I:          No, no, no, no.  I’m talking about

A:        Going back

I:          Had you ever went back to Korea after the war?

A:        Yeah.

I:          When?

A:        Well, that first one with Chuck  [Layler] that I talked about.

I:          Um hm.


A:        And a second with, uh, another General, but he’s also dead now.  We left [INAUDIBLE]or whatever it’s called now, and we went back.

I:          So

A:        They saw, they saw the change there, yeah.

I:          Tell me about the changes that you witnessed.  Compare.  Compare the Korea you saw in 1950’s when you were in the war.

A:        Yeah.


I:          And the Korea that you saw after the war.

A:        Yeah.
I:          Give the detailed comparison to students please.

A:        There was a big change.  There was a big change, and I, I think I mentioned it earlier.  You climb up to the top to a restaurant on top of a hill and look down on the city.  The guide that takes you up says there’s the old city, and you could see the old city.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And they’ve got modern hotels, uh, all, all over the place.


So that’s the only time, I went over there twice.

I:          What did you think about it when you saw completely different

A:        Very nice, and glad that one had taken part in it.  Yeah.

I:          Right?  Were you proud of yourself?
A:        Hm?
I:          Were you proud of yourself that you fought there in Korea?
A:        Yeah, I think so.  Yes, I think so.  I think so.

I:          Um.  The Korea you saw in 1950’s were completely



A:        Yeah.

I:          You know where Korean economy is now?
A:        Well, they were number 3 or something and, and

I:          Uh, that’s too much [LAUGHS]

A:        Their ship, I’m talking about their shipping [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.  Shipping what used to be the number one in the world.
A:        That used to be number one.

I:          Yeah.

A:        I thought it was number three or something.

I:          Now it’s, uh, two or three because China is there.

A:        Yeah.

I:          But used to be number one.


A:        Yeah.

I:          But we did not know how to build the very large oil carrier.
A:        Yeah.
I:          We didn’t know it until 1970’s.

A:        Yeah.

I:          But we made one, okay, and we were, you know very large oil carrier, right?

A:        Yeah.

I:          And they, when they make it, they make it two parts because it’s too big.

A:        Yes.

I:          And then at the end stage, they put it together.

A:        Together.

I:          You know what happened?
A:        What?

I:          It didn’t fit.


It didn’t fit because we didn’t know.

A:        You got it happening now.  What?  Cause it, cause it what?

I:          Because we didn’t know how to, to put it all together. That’s how we started.  But now we are the

A:        One piece was [STAMMERING] the second piece was made by a different person.

I:          No.  We made it together, but it didn’t fit.

A:        It didn’t fit.  Well, now, now it’s fitting.

I:          But that’s how we’ve become


the largest ship builder in the world.

A:        That’s right.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Still.

I:          Uh, it’s about two or three now.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

A:        I remember being told that about the largest ship builder, etc.

I:          So, Korea is now 11th largest economy in the world, and one of the most

A:        Eleventh compared to our economy, what

I:          I don’t know what, where is your economy now?

A:        I, I don’t know where, where it stands.

I:          Um hm.

A:        You do?


MALE VOICE:  53 or 4.

A:        Hm?


A:        54.  That’s amazing.  Amazing.  Well, they deserve it.

I:          So, what do you think about all this transformation that took place in Korea when you were there and now, and you’ve been there twice.  So

A:        I don’t know what’s going on there at the moment.


We don’t go too early to get news that we get in the paper.

I:          Um hm.

A:        [INAUDIBLE]  you can’t even go onto the north/south borders and that, that is, uh,

I:          What do you think about that?  I mean South Korea is now trying to normalize the relationship with North Korea.

A:        No.

I:          What do you think about that?

A:        I, I think, uh, the, the, the North and the South should combine.


I don’t see why the necessity to have this bloody bomb that makes atom bombs and all the rest of it.

I:          Yeah.

A:        I don’t think it’ll happen.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And I’m not a very political person

I:          Yes, I know that.  [LAUGHS]  I can tell right away.  Yeah.  But you support for reunification of Korea, right?

A:        I would say yes.  They’re the same people.


I:          Same people.

A:        They’re the same people.

I:          So, by 2020, in two years, there’ll be special commemoration of the Korean War, 70th anniversary.  Do you have any message to the Korean people about that?

A:        Oh, too, too far ahead.  See what happens.  Too far ahead.

I:          Sometimes you need to be political, okay?


A:        No.

I:          Any message to Korean people?

A:        To the South Korean people.

I:          Yeah.

A:        No, [STAMMERING] well, I don’t know really.  It, it seems to be working there, and everybody’s happy and all the rest of it.  They’ll be happiest to live there North Korea and the, in the thing and not fighting with them all the time.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And that’s about it.


I:          That’s about it.  So

A:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          I want to thank you on behalf of Korean nation for your honorable service

A:        Thank you.

I:          and you completed 128 sorties

A:        Yeah.

I:          and because of your service, Korea has a chance to rebuild our nation.

A:        Yeah.

I:          And we going to make it as a educational material so that teachers and student can learn from your experience.

A:        Alright.

I:          Thank you so much again.

A:        Thank you.  Thanks a lot.

I:          Excellent.


I:          Now, Al is surrounded by his two beautiful daughters, and would you please introduce yourself please.


I:          You are the eldest.

FEMALE VOICE:   of the three daughters, yes.

RESPONDANT:  Tracy Rae.  I’m the middle daughter.

I:          Middle daughter.


I:          And let me ask this question.  Did you, has your father mentioned or talk about his war experience when you were growing up?

FEMALE VOICE:  Yes, he definitely did.


Um, but then again as he said, you know, he didn’t find anything scary or anything like that. He just told us a little bit of what it entailed.

I:          Oh, that’s a very exceptional because most of the Korean War veterans didn’t mention about it.  What about  you?

RESPONDANT:  Uh, Dad used to show us photographs

FEMALE VOICE:  Slide shows.

RESPONDANT:  of his time in Korea.

I:          Um.

RESPONDANT:  That’s how we were aware of it.

I:          So, what did you know about Korea while you were growing up.


RESPONDANT:  Very little.

I:          Very little.

RESPONDANT:  Very little other than that they were

A:        Very little.

I:          How about you?

FEMALE VOICE:  No, the same.

I:          Same?


I:          And I heard that you are the principal of, uh, K, K7, a primary school.

RESPONDANT:  Yes yeah.

I:          Do they teach anything about the Korean War?
RESPONDANT:  Not the Korean War.  They doing new South African history currently.  But, um, they,


very little on the Korean War.

I:          Um hm.

FEMALE VOICE:  They should actually do that because it’d make life more interesting.

I:          Wow.

A:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          That’s, I wanna hear more about it.

FEMALE VOICE:  Yeah.  I just feel they should.  We need a little bit of diversion, you know, from what we are at, currently getting it about Africa.

I:          Um hm.

FEMALE VOICE:  And I think it would be interesting.

I:          And you know that, go ahead.  I’m sorry.

FEMALE VOICE:  Um, no, nothing.

I:          So, you know that Korean, Korea when your father was there almost like a ruined.


Now we have about, you know, 11th largest economy in the world.  We are just one 1/5 of your whole territory.  We don’t have any natural resources like you.

A:        No.

I:          No diamond, you know.  But we become one of the strongest economy in the world.  Why didn’t we teach about this?

RESPONDANT:  You’re right.  They should be teaching.

I:          Um.

RESPONDANT:  They should be teaching.

I:          Um hm.


Are you proud of, go ahead, sorry.

RESPONDANT:  Yeah, very proud of my father. Very proud of my father.  He [INAUDIBLE] to all of us, very good to be able to share the history.

I:          So, do you have children?

FEMALE VOICE:  I have a son.

I:          Son.

FEMALE VOICE:  Twenty-one-year-old son.

I:          Twenty-one.

FEMALE VOICE:  He’s in Pretoria at the moment, and he just loves the Korea.  He does.


I:          Why?

FEMALE VOICE:  He just thinks they’re fantastic people.

I:          Has he been to Korea?


I:          You know, we, government has a program.

FEMALE VOICE:  I know we’ve talked about it before, some time ago.  But it’s hair raising.  I mean, it’s about this big, you know.

I:          He will take care of it.


I:          So, ask him please, yeah.


I:          Dr. Kirk will take care of it.  And your grandson will go to Korea, and he will see the Korea, okay?


A:        Yeah.

I:          Seventy years after you fought.


A:        My grandchildren are [INAUDIBLE]

FEMALE VOICE:  Twenty-one, Michael, and Ashley is 24.

A:        Ashely.  Now she’s nearly 30.

FEMALE VOICE:  She’s not going to be, no.  She’s 24.

A:        Yeah.

I:          So, anything that you wanna add to your father about his experience as a Korean War veteran?

RESPONDANT: For somebody who was not political,



he’s had a amazing foresight to want to go back.

A:        Who?

RESPONDANT:  on sacred ground.  To coming back.

A:        No.  We’re going back to Korea.  [INAUDIBLE]  That, that’s uh, that’s alright.

I:          How about eldest daughter?  What would you say to him?

FEMALE VOICE:  That I think he should have spoken more about it quite frankly, you know.


Brought us riding into, we must probably didn’t ask the right questions.  You know what I’m saying?

I:          Um hm.

FEMALE VOICE:  I would have said I’m very proud of my dad.

A:        Having the time to speak about it to, to see what it’s about when you do one of those tours over there because it’s, uh, everything is laid out here.



A:        That, that’s the big problem.

I:          Um hm.  That’s why I think we need to do this.

FEMALE VOICE:  Most definitely.


I:          We going to preserve your memory forever.

A:        Yeah.

I:          You going to keep talking in 20 years. Anybody who access to your website,

A:        Yeah.

I:          they will be able to hear from you, and at the same time we want to engage without future generations about the war you fought.

RESPONDANT:  It’s important.  But I don’t think our children ask history. I don’t.  Too  many children just assume that life carries on.  They don’t find out the history, where they come from,


FEMALE VOICE:  What it’s all about.

RESPONDANT:  What it’s all about.

A:        All about.

I:          So, would you allow me to visit your school?


FEMALE VOICE:  Give him your business card.

RESPONDANT:  I’d love to come and visit my school.

I:          Well, this is one of the most impressive, uh, interviews with a beautiful, beautiful Honey Hill.  It’s really on hill.  And you are the happiest father because you are surrounded by two daughters.  Thank you again.

RESPONDANT:  Thank you.

FEMALE VOICE:  Thank you.,

I:          Thank you.

A:        Thank you.


[End of Recorded Material]