Korean War Legacy Project

Allan A. Mavin


Allan A. Mavin was drafted to serve in the Korean War in 1953 into her Royal Majesty’s Service. Great Britain sent troops to fight in the Korean War to assisted the United Nations efforts in containing the spread of Communism. He describes his role in First Battalion requiring him to listen for threats in ‘No Man’s Land.’ He also describes many of the difficult living conditions he experienced throughout the war. He had the opportunity to revisit Seoul in 1998 and compares the city then to what he had witnessed during his service in the Korean War.

Video Clips

Night Patrol in No Man's Land

Allan A. Mavin details his responsibilities as a part of the night patrol in "No Man's Land." He describes having to sleep during the day to stay up all night listening for enemy troops sounds. He describes how his responsibilities coordinated with members of the ambush and intelligence patrols.

Tags: Front lines

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No Water and Warm Food

Allan A. Mavin remembers his most difficult moments during the Korean War. He describes his living conditions with no water, electricity, and living in tents. He describes lack of hygiene and warm food.

Tags: Cold winters,Food,Living conditions

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Seoul: Before and After

Allan A. Mavin recollects here on his journey back to South Korea in 1998. He describes the hospitality of the South Korean people. He also compares and contrasts what he witnessed changed in Seoul before and after the Korean War.

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

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


A:        My name is Allan Anthony Mavin.  Allan Anthony Mavin.

I:          What is your birthday?
A:        The 14th of the sixth, ’31.

I:          And where were you born?
A:        Bearpark, Bearpark.

I:          Bearpark.

A:        Uh huh.
I:          Where, in Durham?

A:        In County Durham.



I:          Um hm.

A:        Two and ½ miles from Durham City.
I:          Ah hah.  This is just lovely city. I feel like I’m in the Medieval Times with a modern sense.

A:        Yeah.
I:          I am so mesmerized by the looking at the big cathedral there in the hill with the lights.

A:        Oh yeah.

I:          I’m expecting, I would love to go there to see inside of it.

A:        Oh, you must, you must.  There’s a daylight memorial chapel.  And there’s also a daylight memorial garden out the back.



I:          Um hm.

A:        And every, every Remembrance Day, we hold a service in the cathedral.  Then the daylight goes out to the back, and we lay wreaths on the, in the garden. And the buglers sound the last post.

I:          And I did some research about the origins of this city named Durham.
A:        Yes.

I:          It’s a Dun Holm, right?

A:        Durham.



I:          Yeah.  But the old name was Dun Holm where that has a faint saint of the Bishop actually

A:        Well, that, I don’t know, I don’t know.

I:          And you didn’t know about it.

A:        You know more history than what I do.

I:          Okay.  So, we’ll talk about that later after this, uh, interview.  So, tell me about your family background when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.



A:        Right.  Um, my father worked for Bearpark Quarry Coreworks.

I:          Um hm.
A:        And he was down in the mine.  And um, he had a narrow escape.  So, he came out of the mine, and he got a job in Bearpark Brickyard.  So, he, he was a brick burner.  Uh, my mother well, she was an ordinary mother who just looked, looked after the house.


In those days, women didn’t work.  They took, they did the baking, all the rest, did the washing, everything.  And um, I was educated in Bearpark, in the council school.  And I went to uh, a secondary school in Sutherland which was during the War and um, saw some of the effects of the bombing in Sutherland.



Uh, the shops wrecked, and houses wrecked.  Where I lived in the quarry villages, we didn’t have that.  We had the blackouts.  We had the rationing, had everything else.  No road lights.  Buses and cars, their lights were really dimmed so they wouldn’t be seen at night.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Um, but we didn’t have the bombing like they had in Sutherland, New Castle and that.

I:          Um hm.


A:        And then after my education, I got a job in Durham City with an electrical engineering firm called Seahorn and Company, and I was an apprentice amateur winder.

I:          Uh hm.

A:        Now, I don’t know if anybody knows what an amateur winder is.

I:          What is that?

A:        He’s a person who repairs electric motors.

I:          Electric molds?
A:        Electric motors.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        Example, cord cutting machines, conveyor motors

I:          Um hm.



A:        Big pumps pumping water out, generators, alternators, anything like that.  And I did a five-year apprenticeship.

I:          What school did you graduate?  When was it?  Name?  Do you remember:
A:        Corb Hall.
I:          Could you spell it?
A:        Corb Hall.

I:          Um hm.

A:        It was in Sutherland, in Ashbrook where the cricket ground is.

I:          And it’s a high school?

A:        Yeah, it was.



I:          Yeah.  When did you graduate?
A:        Oh, oh God, ’47.

I:          Nineteen forty-seven, right?
A:        Uh, I think so, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.

I:          And let me ask this typical question in this, uh,

A:        Yes.

I:          In this series of interviews.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Did you learn anything about Korea?
A:        No.

I:          Not at all.

A:        Not a thing.

I:          Hm.

A:        I didn’t know where Korea was till I was told I was going there.


I:          Do you follow with, uh, what’s going on in Korea right now?
A:        Oh yes.

I:          Economy?

A:        Oh yes.

I:          Politics.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Tell me about what you know about Korea.

A:        Before

I:          Whatever you know.  Just share that with us.

A:        Well, when we got to Korea, I mean, it was a long journey.  I came, came from the UK by, by troop ship through the Sue, through the Mediterranean.



I:          Um hm.

A:        Suez Canal, down the Red Sea.  We stopped at uh, port side, Suez, Aiden.  Then we crossed to Ceylon, Columbo, and then across to Malaya, Singapore, then to Hong Kong.  We were taken off the ship at Hong Kong, and we did a month, six weeks with the Royal Oster Rifles.



I:          But my, my question is what do you know about the contemporary Korea right now?
A:        Well I, I know it’s very industrialized.  They, they, they were still doing big ships when we were packing building them in.

I:          Uh huh, uh huh.

A:        And um, how can I put it, it’s very modern now to when I was there.



I:          When were you there?

A:        Fifty-three.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        And um, there was very few roads out of the cities.  Pusan was the major port.  That’s where we disembarked.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Um, we were put on a train which took us back to the cowboy days in the films.

I:          Um hm.



A:        A big steam engine at the front with a big cow, like a plow, and all the carriages which are a little under the back and you stored, it was a big way to put the brake on.

I:          Um hm.

A:        But there was no glass in the, in the windows.  And the, and the train kept stopping for no apparent reason.  And we eventually got to Seoul.



And then half of the draft was taken off the train and taken into Seoul.  And we were put in with the Headquarters Company I believe.   The other half of the draft went on to the battalion.  While in Seoul, I was sent up to Suwon,

I:          Suwon, yes.

A:        I think it was Suwon.  There was an American Air Force base not far away.



I:          Yeah.

A:        And um, we were guarding some ruins. I don’t know what the hell was in the ruins.  But we were there for a short while.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Then they took us back into Seoul. And then the next thing we were up to the battalion.  And we joined the battalion at, I think it was Camp Casey.

I:          Camp Casey.

A:        Uh huh.  I think it was

I:          When was it?  Was it after the War or

A:        No no, this, the War was going on.

I:          War going on.  So, you joined the battalion which is Durham Infantry Battalion?



A:        The First Battalion

I:          The First Battalion

A:        Yeah.  And um, they, they were in the Commonwealth Division.
I:          Um hm.

A:        Um.  The Australians, they supplied infan, Infantry.  The Canadians.  They supplied Infantry.  The New Zealanders supplied the artillery.  I think India supplied the medical people



I:          Yeah.

A:        And uh, we were in that Commonwealth Division.  And then the Division took over part of the line, relieved some Americans, and they came out for the rest.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And uh, my first one was on 355, Kowaksan in Korea?
I:          Yeah, 35 hill

A:        355

I:          Yeah.



A:        That’s the height of the hill.

I:          The Little Gibralter, right?
A:        That’s it.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.  And I was put into D Company which is a rifle company.  And um,

I:          G Company you said?

A:        D, D Company, yeah.

I:          D.

A:        There were four rifle companies, A, B, C, and D.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And I was in D Company.


And when we went on, we were on the right-hand side.

I:          Um hm.

A:        First.  And then after about four nights, three weeks, no, four nights, we were relived, and we uh, had about a week off.  Then we went back in on the second, for the second time, on the left-hand side.

I:          Um hm.


A:        And that was um, that was where I would say we saw a bit of, a bit of action in the sense of we had to go out into no man’s land and do listening, listening forces.



Now these were, this was a patrol of about five, six men at the most, and you went out through the mine fields out into no man’s land and then um, we just laid down in shallow holes, and we were there for the rest of the night just looking and listening.



And uh, the NCO who was in charge, he had a, a radio.  And he would phone in if we had seen anyone, any movement or if we had heard movement and if we could only hear, we only guessed at how many people it could be.  And he would report that into the company commander.  And then they would know there was someone down there who shouldn’t be.


And we had all these listening posts strewn out in front of the battalion.  The idea was that if the Chinese or the Koreans were to be mounting an attack, these posts would phone in.

I:          So, the main enemy was Chinese.
A:        Chinese and North Koreans.
I:          North Koreans still there?

A:        As far as we know.

I:          Uh huh.



A:        And then

I:          Were you able to differentiate between those two?
A:        No, not really.  It was dark.
I:          Not really.

A:        We, we just, no.  We worked permanent night shift.  We slept during the day.  And the idea of being, that if there was a big build up of Chinese or North Koreans, the artillery would get them before they got up to the, the main line.



And so, we didn’t, we had machine gun, rifles and that.  But we didn’t shoot because we would have been outnumbered.
I:          Um.
A:        And we were not supposed to be, you know, we were there, had to keep quiet and um, just report in.  Also, apart from these listening patrols, there used to be ambush patrols which explains themselves.



Go out and try and ambush the enemy if he’s coming down.  Also, now and again, the intelligence people used to ask for a prisoner.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And so, I never had to do one of these.  A group of people had to go over to our minefield across no man’s land.

I:          That’s very dangerous.

A:        And (INAUDIBLE) to the Chinese, and they just lay about the Chinese trench waiting for so Chinese or Korean coming along.



And they would drop in the trench (INAUDIBLE) put a sack over his head, why I, I don’t know. Put him out, put him over their shoulder and get back, you know.

I:          Were they successful catch him?
A:        Yeah.  But the only trouble was it would have had to kill them.  They carried him back, he was dead but they, I supposed the idea was they do it when somebody’s shouting in the middle of no man’s land, you know.



So by knocking him on the head, you made sure that he didn’t shout anymore.

I:          Tell me about the Seoul.  You, you said that you were in Seoul for a brief time, right?
A:        Yes.

I:          Tell me, describe in detail the Seoul that you saw at the time that you were there. Describe in detail please.  Be a novelist or the, lit, you know, literary.


A:        Well, it was, it had been heavily bombed. Well actually, it had been captured four times, hadn’t it?  The North came down. The South pushed them back.

I:          Yeah.

A:        The North pushed us back.  The South pushed them back.  So, four times they’d had artillery.  They had street fighting, grenades thrown into the houses and whatever was there.



I think at the time, there was only one bridge over the, was it the Han River?
I:          Yeah.

A:        I think it was only one bridge over the Han River at that time.

I:          And almost destroyed.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.
A:        And um,

I:          Did you see that?

A:        Yeah.

I:          The bridge?
A:        Yeah, yeah.  And then out, as I say we were in some sort of headquarters because it had been a big house.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And we were billeted in the house.  And um, as I say it was headquarters.



There was jeeps coming in and out.   And we had, the jeeps used to be stopped as they were leaving, and the, the registration number of the jeep, the driver, his number rung him in, and whoever was with him had to be logged down and his destination recorded.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And then you would be going somewhere else to another company or something else, and he would be booked back in again.

I:          Tell me about Seoul, city itself, the people there and how they live.

A:        Never saw any of the people.



I:          Any of the people.

A:        Not really.

I:          No.

A:        No.

I:          Um hm.

A:        No.  It was all ruined, and we were just Army.  We were, how can I put it?  It was, while we were in Seoul, yeah, I, I’m, no.  I was in Suwon as well as I said.
I:          Um hm. Yeah.

A:        I was sent from Seoul (INAUDIBLE0 up to Suwon.  And there were the,


And there were the, this racket, I don’t know what it had been.  It was ruined.  But there was barbed wire around it, and there was a guard on it.

I:          Was it kind of big gate?
A:        No, no.  It was just one of those up and down poles, you know.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        And we used to, the guard was there, like a little (INAUDIBLE), and then he wouldn’t come, and he used to stop at the barrier, check him, left the bar and he would go in.  And um, I was up there for about a fortnight just doing this guard, you know.


We, we didn’t know what it was.  And um,

I:          Did you know why you were there?
A:        We, we were guarding this place, but we don’t know what was in the ruins.

I:          No no.  But the whole, the purpose of the War.  Why were you in Korea?  Did you know why you were there?
A:        Stop Communism.

I:          Stop Communism.
A:        Yeah.

I:          And you, did you know anything about the history between Korea and the United Kingdom before?


A:        No.  But we were told that prior to the start of the second World War, Japan had captured Korea, and they plundered it of all its’ large timber because they’re short on oil, coal, timber.  And so, they felled all the big trees.  And all the, all the in Korea was left was uh, our troops, um.



The Japanese badly treated the Korean population.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And that all happened before the second World War.  And then after, when the second World War finished and the major companies, Russia, America and Britian, were carving the world up.  China wanted Korea as a whole country.


The Americans said no.  We liberated the Pacific which they did.  And I think the United Nations said well look.  Split it in half, and the northern half China can be in charge of.  The southern half

I:          Soviet Union.  Soviet Union was in charge of North Korea.

A:        Well, well oh.

I:          Before the War.  Before the War, yeah.

A:        Right.  I know it was, um, Russian Mig fighters

I:          Yes.

A:        over, over, you know, in the air.



I:          Oh, did you see that?

A:        We didn’t see any air fights, not when we were there.

I:          Um hm.

A:        We saw the, um, the Americans dropping, was it Napalm?

I:          Napalm, yes.

A:        Napalm bombs on, we used to hope that they got the right transit line, and they didn’t get ours.

I:          So, you said that you didn’t know anything about Korea.  You didn’t know where Korea was at the time when you were finishing your high school.

A:        No, no.

I:          What was your feeling to be honest with the audience please.  What was, what did you feel about Korea when you landed for the first time there in your life?



You didn’t know nothing about it.  You just landed in a very strange country.  You were there to fight against the Communism. That’s all you did know.

A:        Yes.

I:          Nothing.

A:        No.
I:          So, tell me about, what was your feeling about Korea at the time?

A:        The, the first feeling was I was National Service. I was called up to do National Service.  Now there were regulars in the Army.



And the majority of lads were saying like why don’t the regulars go?  They want to be soldiers.  We didn’t want to be soldiers.  And uh, actually I think the First Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry was 75 to 80% National Service.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And the National Servicemen didn’t get the same pay as a regular.  They got less money.



And so that was a bit of a, and so, he’s getting more money than those that didn’t go out.

I:          That was your first feeling.

A:        Right.
I:          What about Korea itself?

A:        What?
I:          What did you feel about Korea?

A:        Well, we didn’t, we’d been told we were fighting Communism, to stop the spread of Communism. And um, as part of the United Nations, Britain agreed to send troops.



I mean, it wasn’t all the Army that went.  It was only certain regiments went, mainly Infantry because Korea isn’t a, a tank country, is it?  It’s not level plains like they had in Russia.  It’s about 50% hills and mountains.

I:          Seventy percent is the mountains.

A:        Se, ah, you know.

I:          It’s a mountainous country.

A:        Yeah.  It, it’s, it’s a bit like, how can I look at it?



We came to a conclusion.

I:          It’s like highlands in Scotland.

A:        Yeah.  But just north and North England.

I:          Yeah.

A:        There’s a thing called Hadrian’s Wall.  Now, that was a wall built by the Emperor Hadrian to keep the Scots out of England.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Now, the train system that we were in was similar to Hadrian’s Wall only it was a trench instead of a wall which we were keeping the North out of the South.



I:          But the Camp Casey you were there was not really hilly.

A:        No, no.

I:          It’s not really mountainous there.

A:        It was like in a valley.

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.

I:          So you didn’t have any kind of feeling about Korea, the city that you saw and people?  Was it

A:        Why it was the cit, the, the, the people appeared to be peasants.  They were all, the ones that we saw were in the paddy fields.  We never saw much city life cause there wasn’t any city life, was there?


I mean, Seoul was, was wrecked.  And um, I never got down to Inchon.  But probably it was the same, um.  Any lads who had a leave coming, they were flown to Tokyo.  That’s where they went for that, for the leave, um.  Very few got a, a leave in Korea, to my knowledge anyway.

I:          Have you been back to Korea after the War?
A:        Yes.

I:          When?



A:        Fifteen, 20 years ago.  The, the Korean government said if we paid our airfare, they would look after us when we got there.  And they did.  They really looked after us.

I:          So, when was it, around 2000 or 1999?

A:        Maybe, maybe in 1999, ’98.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Actually, in fact, you might regretted that.



Ciga, cig, matches.

I:          Yeah.
A:        From the Sofitel Hotel, Korea.

I:          I know this uh, it’s now Ambassador Hotel.

A:        That’s, that’s where we stayed.
I:          Yeah.

A:        And, and just the other day I did a, have you heard of Sambuca, a drink?
I:          Um hm.

A:        Well, you, you light your, you put a match to it, you know.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And you light it.

I:          Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

A:        Well, I was going out with my friends in here

I:          Uh huh.



A:        And uh, we had Sambucas.  And, a while back, and, and the waiter, he was trying to light it, and he only had a lighter, and he was under struggle.  So, we were here about a fortnight ago, and my friend said take some matches with you.  And I put my hand in me pocket, and these were in.  And the, obviously they don’t work.

I:          So, when you see Seoul in 1998 when you were invited by the Korean government, Ministry of Patriots and Veterans’ Affairs

A:        Yeah.

I:          It’s the MPVA.



A:        Yeah.

I:          How did you feel?  What did you see?  Tell me.  Tell students, young students in Durham and the United Kingdom, what did you see?  And what are the differences?
A:        Well, we landed, was it Suwon?  Where was it, Seoul airport?

I:          Kim, Kimpo, Kimpo airport.

A:        Yeah, we landed there.  And to us, it was a, a normal airport, same as an airport in the UK.


But after we got through the Customs and the excise, the Korean government was there.  The representatives were there.  And they gathered us all together, and there were buses waiting for us.  And they had on in Korean welcome UK Korean

I:          Um hm.

A:        War veterans, you know, big streamers along.  And there was a hostess to each coach.


Now the coach took us from the airport to the Sofitel Hotel an dum,

I:          How was Seoul?

A:        It was very good.  Complete difference to what we left it.  Um, the roads were immaculate. They were bigger, better than the roads in the UK, and um, lots of traffic on the roads.  And I say the road, the coach took us to the hotel.



And uh, we were booked in.  And there were two of us to a room sharing.  And everything was great, you know.  They really looked after us.  And at the same time, I think it was some Canadians in as well, and um, went down for, we had our breakfast there. And I think nine times out of ten, they gave us a pack lunch because we wouldn’t be coming back for lunch.



And then in the evening, we came back, and we had a smashing dinner.  But the chefs, it was roast beef, and I think the proper way to cook it is sort of medium rare if you know what I mean.  You could have sliced the meat up, and it looks raw in the middle, and it, like, over here, we like our meat well done.  And

I:          Mat, use your match.  [LAUGHS]

A:        [LAUGHJS] Yeah.



I:          But when you see that Seoul downtown

A:        Yeah.

I:          Full of high rises

A:        Yes.

I:          What did you think about your service?  When you were there in 1953,

A:        Yeah.

I:          Tell me the before and after picture to, to teach to students.

A:        It, it’s not coming back to me.

I:          Seoul you saw in 1953 and

A:        It was in ruins.  There was no major roads, um.



As, as you got out of Seoul, it was horse and cart, um.  Just a hard road, uh, cause in the winter and in the, well it did not rain out there as well, um, the roads were all mud and everything.  It was hard for vehicles to get through.  Rivers used to overflow.  But of course, when we were there, it was in the summer, and it was good weather.  We really had good weather.



And um, it just very enjoyable.  And they, they took us to the part of, either fortunately or unfortunately, the parts where we were on 355 was in, in North Korea.  So, they couldn’t really take us to the demilitarized zone, and we could see

I:          North Korea, right?

A:        North Korea.

I:          Yeah.  What do, what did you think about that?

A:        Well, from a distance, it just looked the same as South Korea. Um, we saw some lookout towers and watch towers and that, you know.



But there was this, uh, demilitarized zone is it called?
I:          Yeah, DMZ, yes.

A:        DMV, they reckon that’s the best natural resource for all animals.

I:          Exactly.

A:        Nobody come in there.

I:         No man’s land.

A:        Yeah.  We also, we also saw the end of some of the tunnels which had been dug.

I:          Underground tunnel.

A:        Yeah.  And um, we had American guides with us.  And, and they took us to the lookout point where you could see, you know.

I:          Um hm.



A:        But um, part of the tour took us to Gloucester Valley where the Gloucester made a name for themselves and um, we had a service there for them.  And um, we went to another one where the Canadians are there, uh, Northeast had a little place.  And I, I’ve got some good photos of, of sort, of uh, it’s about that thick, of Korea, trip to Korea.



I could bring it down for you if you wanted to see it.

I:          Were you proud to find that Korea now become 11th largest economy in the world?
A:        Yeah.  I,

I:          It’s almost like UK.

A:        It, it’s putting us to shame.  (LAUGHS) you know, um, all the, they’re doing well.  They are.  It’s um, we were amazed at the ruins, you know.  It, it looked like America, what we’d seen in America, you know, three and four lane traffic.



And um, we just got two lanes traffic over here.

I:          You told me that you, you saw only one bridge over Han River.

A:        Yeah.
I:          Have you, had you count how many bridges there when you were there?

A:        Oh no.  It was only, it was the only one that was workable, useable.

I:          No no, in 1998 when you went back to Korea.

A:        Oh, oh, um, I never thought about counting them.



I:          There are more than 30, 30 bridges there.

A:        Never.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        They took us to the museum, um, the Korean Village.

I:          Yes.  Folk Village.

A:        Aye. They took us there.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And that was very interesting.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And, and, and they showed us the, uh, the kiln where when they were making jugs and pottery and put them in.



And um, fire them up.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And then someone asked a question but how do they know when it’s cooked?  And there was no answers coming up and I said well, I think I can tell you. And they said oh?  I said my father was a brick burner and did the same.  They put the bricks in the kiln.  Put the fire in.  And then after so long

I:          Um hm.

A:        Done.  I said go on the top of the kilns and have a steel measure and they put the measure down.



And when it’s raw, it’s that high.  When it’s cooked, it’s that high.  So, the, they know by how much is shown.

I:          What was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea in 1953?  What bothered you most?  Or what was the most difficult thing?
A:        Living conditions.

I:          How was it?  Tell me about it.

A:        We lived in a thing called a hootchie. It was just a cave blasted out of the hillside.


I:          Is it bunker or, did you make a bunker or is it just cave?
A:        No, like a cave,

I:          Just cave.   Yeah.

A:        the hole blasted into the hill with a little entrance.  And you went in.  There was no electricity.  There was no water.  There was just these homemade bunks for want of a better word.
I:          Um hm.

A:        Two six-foot pickets, do you know what a picket andelion, what you string barbed wire to?



I:          Um hm.

A:        Two six-foot ones, two four-foot ones.  They were made into a frame like a bed.  And then signal wire was used to string across the, have you seen fishermen mending their fishing nets?
I:          Yeah.

A:        Well, whoever did it must have been a fisherman because it was all, looked great.


And so everyone went in with a blanket.  They used to say that’s to bury you in.  And so we had a blanket, and we had a sleeping bag.  And we used to put the blanket on this frame, then get the sleeping bag and put it in the middle cause the blanket was folded in two.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And slide it in like an envelope.



And then we used to get into the sleeping bag fully clothed with our boots on, everything, with the rifle, and we used to zip it up and, and we were there.  Mind the rats loved it cause it was warm as (INAUDIBLE) And uh the idea being you don’t take your clothes off cause they’re gonna start light your candle look for your boots.

I:          Exactly.

A:        Because you’re in the front line, you know.


I:          So, you pro, provided the residency for the mouse.

A:        Pardon?

I:          House for the mouse.  Your boots, yeah.

A:        Aye, yeah.

I:          Um hm.
A:        Uh, they used to, on the, on the roof, there was like a tarpaulin cause the, the soil and that was on the top of this

I:          So, that was the most difficult thing for you?
A:        Getting washed.  I mean, you know how cold it gets, and there’s no hot water.  You have a five-gallon um, of water, and you’ve got a little bowl,



And you put the water in there, and you have a shave and then, um, you try not to strip off because you just sort of roll your shirt up and rub underneath your armpits, the sweat points

I:          Um hm.

A:        And your knees and um, and also, we lived out of tins.  We didn’t get very many hot meals.
I:          Yeah.

A:        Um.

I:          What did you eat, C rations?

A:        Yeah.  It was a, a C4 pack I think that was for one meal for four men.

I:          Um hm.



A:        And you know, it, they were adequate.  And they had these little store things.  It was a little metal frame where you could stand a, a can on, and you can put a little tablet in and light it.

I:          Hm.

A:        And when you opened the tin, just stirred, you know, so you get some hot soup or hot broth or whatever, you know,

I:          Um hm.



A:        Um, now and again, Korean porters brought some cooked meals up.  They had the hump on their back.  And we used to have to go down with our mess tins and get it.  But by the time you got back to your hootchie, it was cold, you know.

I:          Um hm.  You know, the relationship between UK and Korea

A:        Yeah.

I:          Go back to, officially go back to 1883.  That’s the time that two countries signed the Peace Treaty, Trade Treaty, okay?

A:        Yeah.



I:          And after that, there was no relationship at all because Korea was under the Japanese colony, colony

A:        Yeah.

I:          And then until 1950, there not much relationship between UK and Korea.  But because of your service there, now Korea becomes 11th largest economy in the world.

A:        Yes.

I:          It’s just not from the UK

A:        Yeah.

I:          And then we have a very small country, smaller than UK

A:        Yes, yeah, yeah.



I:          And now we are one of the most successful industry in the world.

A:        Yeah.
I:          What do you think about that?

A:        You must be top dogs cause you’re beating us.

I:          Had you imagined that Korea would become like this?
A:        No, no, not

I:          When you were there?
A:        Not, not, not after the trains which was up and down and, and seeing the peasants, the way they lived, um.  I didn’t see so much in, in Korea.  But when we were in Hong Kong,



We were patrolling the Chinese border, and, with the Ulster Rifles, and we camped this night outside this village.  And when it got dark, they came out and they got the, the bullets and the, the donkeys and the goats and the hens and took them all into the house.  And they all slept together, together like that.  It wasn’t a two

I:          Right.

A:        It wasn’t a double decker house.  It was all ground floor.  Everything went in.



I:          Do you know now that Korea has a lot of global products made, manufactured by Korean peoples?  Do you know any Korean products?
A:        No.

I:          Do you know of any Korean companies?
A:        Oh, I uh,

I:          Automobiles?

A:        Ah, the cars.

I:          Cars?
A:        Um hm.

I:          Cellular phones?

A:        The what?
I:          Cellular phones, mobile phone.

A:        I, yeah.  Um, I’m not into electronics.



I have a mobile phone.  It’s as old as the hills.

I:          Um.

A:        And it’s in the glove compartment of the car.  And that

I:          Just for the emergency, right?

A:        Yes.  I don’t have a one that takes photos or why you can put money in the back of, no.  I:ve got nothing like that.  I’m

I:          So, what do you think about this close relationship between UK and Republic of Korea, South Korea now?  They never had really known each other.

A:        No.

I:          Now we are one of the closest ally.

A:        Yeah.



I:          And trade partner.

A:        Yeah, right.

I:          And

A:        You know, I mean Korea suffered during the War, maybe more than what we suffered during the second World War here.

I:          Um.

A:        Because two Armies fought over the country four battles up and down.  And all structures got ruined, hasn’t it?



I don’t think there was much infrastructure before that.

I:          Right.

A:        Um, it, it, it’s a bit like the United Nations and particularly the Americans then, it put it back on its’ feet by creating the roads that you have, the railway system which you’ve got and also helping with the ship building, the shipyards and everything.



Now if you look back after the second World War, Germany was flattened the same way as Korea.

I:          Yes.

A:        They started with brand new machinery.  Now the UK, we had the steel mills, I worked in the steel mills.  We were working in the steel works in, in, after the War.  And they went at it, being flogged to death.  But we didn’t get new steel works built up, steel works like the Germans did.



And that’s how the Germans, they, they lost the War but they won the bloody place.

I:          But Germany was one of the most powerful nations in Europe before World War I and before World War II.

A:        Yes.
I:          Korea wasn’t.  We didn’t know.  We didn’t know how to manufacture anything.  There was no industry at all.
A:        There was nothing, no.

I:          Yeah.

A:        No, we

I:          So, the German case and Korean case are different.



A:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  We didn’t know anything.

A:        Yeah.

I:          But we now 11th largest economy in the world because of your fight.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Are you proud of that service?

A:        Oh, I, yeah.

I:          Do you want to go back to Korea one more time?
A:        Well, if I could yeah, possibly year.

I:          Yeah.  The Korean government will pay for everything and half of your international airfare.
A:        Yeah.

I:          Before you paid all of the airfare?

A:        Yes.



I:          Now you can pay half of it.

A:        Yeah.

I:          If you want to go back, you let me know.

A:        Alright.

I:          Okay?
A:        Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

A:        You see, when I went back, I went back with the Alliance.  You know, there was about I don’t know, half a dozen of us.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And um, we had company, you know, we knew them.  We knew each other, you know.  But no, it was, uh, I would possibly have to take somebody with us cause I’m 86.



I:          You look very young still.

A:        And, and I’ve had uh, a coronary heart bypass.  I’ve got two stents in me heart.  I’ve got two metal knees.  When I go to the airports, I set all the alarms off.

I:          I couldn’t tell.  So, it’s, don’t mention about it.

A:        Yeah.
I:          Uh, tell me what is the legacy of the British Korean War veterans, about the Korean War?  What is the legacy of it?



A:        Hard times.  I mean, as I say, for getting back in the line, when we came out, out for a rest, we didn’t have any showers around.  They would take us to the Imjin, and we’d get a bath in the Imjin.  If there wasn’t the river anywhere

I:          The Imjin River.

A:        Uh huh.

I:          Yeah.



A:        If there wasn’t a river anywhere, but if there was a stream handy, we used to block the stream, make like a dam and get in it and have a bath.  If there wasn’t one of them, each company had so many 54-gallon, empty gallon tins of oil, you know.  The, the top had been cut off, and it had been burned to clean any stuff out.  Oh, and the top, it was turned over, so you didn’t castrate yourself when you got in.



And we used to go up six lads or so I’d say would go and get a, have a bath there, (INAUDIBLE) go down to the company headquarters, get one of these empty bottles, and each man would get a jerry can of water.  Go back to where your hootchie was, put half your water in, then draw lots for who went in first.  First man in soaped myself down, okay.  Second man comes down, pours the second half of his water over him



I:          And that’s it.

A:        And that’s it.  And then when everyone had been done, tipped the water out and say, they were the only ways we got a bath.

I:          Now it’s completely different.  You be shocked to see, look around the city, even compared it to the city that you saw in 1998.

A:        Yeah.

I:          It’s one of the 10 biggest metropolitan city in the world.

A:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Any other message you want to share with me and this interview?
A:        No.



I:          Do you wanna tell about your, any episode that you had?
A:        What, in the War?
I:          Yeah, during the War.

A:        Um, I can tell you some funny things.

I:          Yeah, tell me.  Just briefly because we don’t have much time.

A:        Well, I told you about the listening patrols.  And they were sometimes quite a way out.  And sometimes you got a fire fight.  And this patrol came in, and they had some casualties.


And there was no medical went out with them.  So, we had to carry them up and help them.  So, this guy came in, and he’d been shot. I don’t know where.  And they had more, the guy says oh I, I (INAUDIBLE) I said get on that stretcher.  And he said to the two lads, take him down to the medical center straight away.  And they did.  They picked him up.  Trenches were pretty narrow.  And the trenches aren’t straight.  I don’t know if you know that.  They’ve all got kinks in them.

I:          Yeah.



A:        That’s if a shell lands in it

I:          Right.

A:        It doesn’t go

I:          Exactly.

A:        So, the lads are carrying him down, and as they’re go round his back and the skin off your knuckles going around.  And I said where did he get hurt?  And he says, the lad said oh, Alice Springs.  That, that was the name of an outpost.  He says no, man.  Where’d you get hurt?  He says so and so.



Oh, I says, how, who carried you back?  And I said, uh, it’s a (INAUDIBLE) way to come carrying you.  And he says oh, I walked back.  So immediately they put the stretcher on the bottom and says you can go, and when he walked out the medical said that.

I:          And bloody.  Oh boy.
A:        I mean, there, there were quite content to carry him down.  But when they found out he walked back, yeah.


I:          Oh boy.  Allan, I think I’m sorry. I just have a limited time.

A:        That, that’s fine.

I:          And, and we have to wrap this interview now.

A:        Right.
I:          But on behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you, the British Korean War veteran who fought for Korean nation, the country you never knew before. Now that country is one of the wealthiest nation in the world.

A:        Yeah, yeah.

I:          And I want you to know that we are always thankful for your fight for the Korean people.


A:        That’s very nice.

I:          Um hm.  And we want to use this one for educational curricular resources so that we can continue to teach about your legacy.

A:        Yes. Yeah.

I:          I wanna thank uh, um, Alan Maggs who organized this.

A:        Yeah.

I:          And I’m very proud to be here in Durham, beautiful city, and Durhan Light Infantry, the first and second battalion.  And they are the core of the British Korean War veterans who fought for us.

A:        Yes.



I:          So, I want to thank you for that.

A:        Um, it was the, uh, it was the best battalion that was out.  And as I say, uh, at least 75% National Servicemen, um.  They gave us regular people the last six months.

I:          (LAUGHS) That’s good.  Finally, right?  You got the 100%.  Very good.  Thank you.




A:        By then, they brought us from Kore and put us in the Suez Canal zone.

I:          Um.

A:        And we were riding shotgun on the wagons because they kept getting knocked off.  Oh.  And that was all in National Service, not a regular.

I:          I see.  Great to meet you, Allan.

A:        Yes.

I:          And, and thank you for your story.

A:        Oh, you’re welcome, yeah.

I:          Thank you.

A:        Very welcome.

I:          Alright.