David Carpenter joined the Marines in 1949 in England. He was a Marine for seven years. During WWII, his father was stationed in Scotland helping to run a military hospital. His brother was in the Royal Artillery and the Fleet Air Arm to support the Allied war effort. He volunteered for the Marines in 1949 because he did not want to go into the Army or Royal Air Force. He recalls that training was difficult because if you were not strong enough to be in the Marines, you would be back-squaded, and this really motivated him to stay in 561 squad. During his training, he had to cross rivers on ropes, do nine mile speed marches, rock climbing, and thirteen mile training with only a compass. Once he entered the commando operations in Korea, his job was maintaining weapons to help defeat the Chinese.
The Green Berets
David Carpenter participated in extreme exercises while in commando training. He recalls how if a trainee did not pass the test, he would be thrown out of the Marines. Training included cliff climbing, nine mile speed marches, a thirty mile trek with a seventy pound backpack, and crossing rivers on ropes. After surviving this training, they were awarded the Green Berets which signified that they had passed the All Arms Commando Course.
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Korean War Reinforcements
David Carpenter was a reinforcement for different Marines groups that had fought in Korea for over two years. His regiment replaced the wounded or killed. At least twenty-five percent of the casualties in Korea were from frostbite.
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David Carpenter lost four Marines who were taken as POW's off the coast of Wonsan. He stayed on Korea's islands until peace talks began in 1953. He recalls going on leave to Japan to get some rest and relaxation (R & R) before he returned to England.
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[Beginning of Recorded Material]
David Carpenter: My name is David Carpenter. I was a Marine for seven years, and I joined the Marines in 1949.
Interviewer: Which unit were you with?
D: My first unit was 4-1 Commando. I did the twelve months training in Deal, Lympstone, Bickleigh. Commando training was completed in Bickleigh.
I: So, David. Just before we get onto your Commando life and everything else, just tell me a bit about where you’re from, what your family life was like. What was the Second World War like for you? What was your education like?
D: Well, I was educated at Filton Avenue, but my father ran an ambulance station in Feeder Road and we lived on the ambulance station. But during the war we were bombed out of there
and my sister and I were evacuated to Exeter. My elder brother was in the Royal Artillery in Libya. My second brother Cyril/Searle was in the Fleet Air Arm in the Pacific on the Implacable Carrier, so the family were all spread out. My father was in the REMC and he was stationed in Scotland running a military hospital, and my mother
lived in Bristol and she worked for the BAC. So the whole family were spread out all over the world. My sister and I were also bombed out of Exeter and my sister was buried under a load of rubble in one of these standing table shelters. My mother came down and she got rescued, took back home. I was evacuated eventually to Buckland Brewer, a village in Devon,
nearly six miles from Bideford. I was there. I enjoyed that because I was hay making and milking the cows and things like that. Then the Austerlitz came to an end and I came back to Bristol.
I: How old were you when you were evacuated?
D: Oh, about two years. I went several places in Exeter because we were bombed out of one and I went to several others, and I eventually finished up in Buckland Brewer.
Bowden Farm it was called, in Buckland Brewer.
I: Did you remember being bombed?
D: Oh yes, yes. Well we were in Anderson shelter in Feeder Road. There was a brick wall between the Anderson shelter and the house but they were dropping incendiaries on the house. The roof caught fire, but it didn’t burn out. It was put, the fires were put out.
Um, my grandfather was the warden of Jones Store in Bristol and I got written account in there on the raid on Bristol November the 24th. And they rated this raid to my father who’s written it all down and I’ve got it in there. My grandfather went on and he was still working at 90 for the Bristol Royal Infirmary and when my father retired,
my grandfather had to ask for a day off to go to his retirement party, [Laughs] and he got presented with a silver tankard by the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Anyway, he, he died. He went to work one day, came home, weren’t very well, and he passed away in Ham Green Hospital. But the family all got back together and Mum rented a house in Filton Avenue. 173 Filton Avenue.
We lived there for 30 years. My elder brother lived in Bristol for while and he got married and moved to Essex. My other brother, he joined the Royal Marine Reserves. Cyril/Searle, and um became a sergeant in this small boat section.
I: Oh cool.
D: But he died a couple of months ago. My elder brother died about 10 years ago. So, it’s only me and my sister left.
I: Yeah. What was your… I mean obviously there was…, you were moving around all over the place. What was your education like?
D: Well, on Filton Avenue when I came home, I finished my education there. I left school at 14, but prior to that, when I was evacuated, I went to about six different schools. Exeter, it um were both evacuated to, the farm, so my education was a bit scarce. [Laughs]
I: Did you ever get taught geography? Did you have any sense of the world and where you might end up, in terms of Korea and what have you?
D: No, not at all, no. I didn’t know where Korea was in those days. [Laughs]
I: It sounds like you had quite a military family. So, was that a natural calling to become, to want to join the Commando, the Marines?
D: Well, no. I was due to go in national service, though I didn’t want to go in the army or in the RAF. I wanted to go in the Navy, basically.
I went down to Victoria Street where the Royal Navy Recruiting Office was, and I said “Can I join the Navy?” And he said, “Not for two years. If you’re in the Navy or in the Marines, you’ve got to join for seven because there’s two years training. Especially in the Marines, you know.” So I said “Okay, that’s all. I’ll go in the Marines.” [Laughs] I do all these exercises. Makes you all fit. And I wore glasses, so I took my glasses off,
and I never wore them after that, in the Marines, until I came out. [Laughs]
So I went back, I went back and told my mother I had joined the Marines for seven years and she wasn’t very pleased [Laughs].
I: Yeah. I suppose this is 1949, yeah?
I: And how old were you?
I: Okay, so, I mean you know, like you did a few press ups and a few pull ups in preparation, but what was that, what was it like
becoming a, some of the training? Tell me about, what are some of the stand out memories for you while you were preparing to become a Marine?
D: Well, it weren’t long after I was drafted into the Marines, and I went to Deal in Kent. Not Deal. I tell a lie. Stone House Barracks in Plymouth was my home port and I spent three months there, drilling, discipline, things like that. You know, parade, parade stuff. Then after that…
I: Did you enjoy it?
D: Oh yes! Well, you know [Laughs]. No, I did enjoy it. Yeah. Got me up early [Laughs], and three months where [unintelligible] I pointed out and then we went to Lympstone. Near Exmouth. Infantry Training Camp, and I did three months infantry training, climbing walls and going on wood pretty common.
Doing exercises with live firing and things like that. You know, all to do with infantry training. Three months of that…
I: Any memories? Any standout memories?
D: Uh… there was a fitness place on the side of the Exe. River Exe. and we had to water, we had to train in there. It was hard work. Going through underwater tunnels and climbing these ropes and you had to do it.
If you didn’t pass all of these examinations, you were back squadroned. I was in 561 squad. And if we didn’t pass any of the tests, you were back squadroned to 562 squad and you had to do it all over again.
I: Did you get back squadroned?
D: No. Oh no. I’m determined I’m not going to get back squadroned. [Laughs] It was hard work. But I enjoyed it, you know. The nice runs in Exmouth
and Exeter. I’d score leave weekends, and I’d ride my bike to the station and get the train back to Bristol on weekends and get back on my bike again, and ride from Exeter to Lympstone at four o’clock in the morning back to camp. [Laughs]
D: Uh, anyway, after those three months, I was sent to the hardest part of my training in Bickleigh, in Plymouth. Just outside Plymouth. Commando training. That was horrendous. And there again, if you didn’t pass all the tests, you were back squadroned. In fact sometimes some guys fell out and they were thrown out of the Marines. They weren’t fit enough to be a Marine. You know, that happened a lot of time in my 561 squad. Some just thrown out. But a lot were back squadroned.
I; But when you say it was much harder, tell me some of the training that you were doing there. Because Lympstone is synonymous with difficulty…
D: Well, cliff climbing, abseiling, crossing rivers on ropes, you know. Um. And we did 9-mile speed marches. And we had to do a 30-mile trek across Dartmoor with a 70 lb pack on our back. All we had was a map and a compass,
and we were told to get to Okehampton across the moors. We had to go to several checkpoints on the way. We had to get to, they bring a drop to this checkpoint, they would give you a grid reference to carry on. You know. We had a compass and everything. So, that was hard work.
I: Were you developing a specialism at this point or are you assigned a specialism after you’ve passed?
D: After I passed. Yeah. Well, I eventually, I did make it. Through Bickleigh. I did pass everything. Then we were awarded our Green Berets.
I: What was that like?
D: It was wonderful. Getting your green beret. Oh yeah. Proudest moment of my life. [Laughs] We became the king squad as we passed out as king’s squad at Bickleigh with our green berets.
I: So, what year? This is 1951 now is it?
D: Coming up, yes. Yes.
And then I was stationed – going to be stationed in Malaya. To fight the terrorists in Malaya. And aboard the troopship, about 200 Marines. I suppose the rest were Pongos, were soldiers, and uh we left on the Empire Pride. And we got as far as Colombo on the Empire Pride and can’t remember his name.
Captain Chamberland, he paraded the Marines on the deck of the Empire Pride, and he said, “I’ve got 30 volunteers here who are going to stay on this ship and go to Korea.” And he read the names out in alphabetical order. Marine Carpenter.” [Laughs]. So, I didn’t get to Malaya, but got to Singapore and all the rest of the troops got off. The rest of the Marines got off to go to 4-5 Commando
to serve in Malaya. And I had a friend in 4-5 but he expected me to join him but you know I never got there. And we went on to (Kure?). We landed at Kure, went to shore, and we were stationed in Australian barracks in Kure. And we were issued American uniforms. All we kept was our Green Beret. All the rest was American, khaki
uniforms. You know. And parka, issued us with cold weather clothing, parkas and things like that. And all our weapons had to be changed. Instead of 3 inch, and I was in the heavy weapons section then. I volunteered for that. Captain Thomas was our commander and um we had to retrain on 81mm mortars instead of 3-inch mortars
and we had garand rifles instead of 303 rifles. The garand rifles were quite good because they held twenty rounds and you could fire them straight off. And with the 303 you had a bolt action didn’t you. So, we had to train with those and um the different machine guns, water-cooled machine guns instead of air-cooled. Um, light machine guns. Burp guns instead of Sten guns. [Laughs]
So we had a couple of months training with all these weapons in Kure. After some training in Kure, they sent us up on the, to camp McGill in Japan. And that was American camp, the home of the 7th Calvary, that was. [Laughs] Yeah, it was quite nice there. Nice PX. That’s their NAAFI, PX, and they had plenty of food, could buy anything at that PX.
I: Did you get on with the American Marines?
D: Oh, yes, yes. Well, yes. Yes. It was very good there, yeah. More so when we were into Korea.
I: What was it like for you to hear and see these Commandos that had come back from a real fighting in Korea…
D: That’s right. Well, we were the reinforcements, you see. We made up for the people who were killed or wounded. And uh 25% of the casualties in Korea were frostbite. And the lot of them, they went home.
Of course, when they came back they were sent home.
I: Did you see, did you see some of the Commando come back from…
D: Oh yes. Well, we were all stationed together, in these Australian barracks in Kure.
I: And do you remember having conversations? I mean, what were you thinking? You’d gone in as a super-fit Commando and then you’re meeting Commandos that have taken a hammering…
I: …that were frost-bitten and in a terrible state, and have lost friends, but was there a change in the morale? Can you remember?
D: No, not a lot. No. No but the Marines don’t get disheartened [Laughs]. No, they were mostly alright. A couple of them went on leave a couple of times in Kure, but you know, we enjoyed ourselves. But then we were sent up. Well, my, my B troop were sent up to Wonsan Harbor. Up on Ryodo Island.
I: Okay, so yeah you were talking about the islands. You were talking about the islands…
I: And I asked you, but before we get there, what was Drysdale like?
I: Had you met him at this point?
D: Yes, yes. And Major Holdridge. Of course, he was a major figure in Korea. Major Holdridge, and uh, well the whole unit was very, uh, family. You know. Well, the Marines were always a family. And, but uh 4-1 Commandos especially so.
You know. You, you made friends, and friends for life, but that didn’t work out because you were posted away from people later on, weren’t you. If you make friends with somebody in the Marines and then you get posted or they got posted, you know. So, you uh, you lose your friends, but you always make new ones.
I: Yeah. Do you have any memories of Drysdale? When you met him, or when he spoke to you, or anything that stood out with him?
D: No, not really. Yeah, I never actually spoke to him. He addressed us, you know, because um in Japan we were all stationed in a cinema and all the camps beds next to each other in this cinema. That was our accommodation for a couple of months. He came and spoke to us there, you know. Apologized for the accommodation.
I: And what about Holdrige?
D: Well, he was a top teachers in there, but Americans, they awarded. Well, they awarded 41 Commandos citation, didn’t they? The Americans. They thought the world of us. Our berets. They offered us $50 for a beret. A green beret. Drysdale said if anyone sells their beret they’re … Yeah, we became attached to the Marines.
Especially in Wonsan, on the island, you know. Because one of our jobs on the islands was to protect the Shore Fire, the American Shore Fire control team. They were on the island and they had their own compound, and they used to spot targets in Wonsan itself. Trains, convoys, anything that moved. They would call up one of the U.S. ships in Wonsan Harbor.
There was two that used to come up: the Toledo. USS Toledo and the US St. Paul. They were to take turns and come to the harbour and the Shore Fire Control Teams would go onto the ships, get the guns firing at these targets, but they were so slow manning the guns that the targets had gone. The only difference was the HMS Belfast came up and uh when they told the Belfast…
… a target, they were there in five minutes, firing. The Americans couldn’t believe it. How quick they were. They invited the watches – starboard and port watch alternately aboard to have a good meal, a drink in the NAAFI. You know, it’s good. Watch a film show and everything, you know, and they sent us back with fruit and vegetables, fresh stuff, and then alternate it’s the starboard watch and the port watch went first.
And a couple of days later we were good to go. Starboard on board the Belfast to be given a knees up sort of thing, but you know she’d sail before I’d got on board. [Laughs] She weren’t up there very long. But of course being a Marine on Tae-do Island, we had to have a parade ground so the parade ground got leveled, trees got knocked down and we had a proper parade ground. We used to parade every morning on this. [Laughs]
I: When you say you, what was your role, you were on defense for the watch?
D: The island, you had to stop them invading the island, and uh getting rid of the Americans you see. Because they were a thorn in the side, really.
I: And how many Marines were on the island?
D: Uh, about 200, I suppose. I was in the heavy weapons section, and uh we had mortar pits dug and we zeroed our mortars onto the beaches, so all we had to do was put the uh shell down…
…and they would land on the beach automatically. We were already zeroed in and we had a machine gun post all around the island. All zeroed in, watching the beaches. Uh, they did try to invade the island once, but they were picked up on the American radar, ship’s radar. They picked them up and they didn’t reach the shore. But we didn’t want them to get ashore because there were gooks and the Chinese, and they all look alike don’t they?
We had gooks on the island already. The fishermen. But they never got ashore. The only time they did get on the shore was on the island of Modo. We had four, uh four Marines on Modo, and the rest were ROKs, which is um…
I: Korean Marines.
D: The Korean Marines. Now there were 24 were always on there, and they were invaded and the ROKs didn’t want to know,
so our four guys had to hack, they set fire to the hut they were in and hacked their way out the back of the hut. It was only a mud hut. I got to the top of the hill. At the top of the hill was one of these big cannon machine guns, which they used to have on the flying fortresses up there so they went up there to man that. And, uh, the gooks didn’t come after them. They, they retreated back to… The Marines on the other islands were sending
landing craft over to retake the island, so they disappeared.
I: You didn’t go on one of those landing craft?
D: Uh, well, oh yes. Not from the ships. When we did the raids we did the USS Montrose. A big landing craft ship. They had all the landing craft in the hole.
I: Oh, yeah, but I’m on about you personally. You didn’t go to the other island when they…?
D: No, no. I didn’t go because I was in heavy weapons. They didn’t want mortars. [Laughs] Machine guns.
We were there for the defense of the island. And, uh, we had a saw engineer named Corporal Brady. Oh, he was the comic of the unit. You know, he was brilliant, he was. He used to tie up a tin of bully beef and trail it along behind him. That was his pet dog [Laughs]. I used to talk to it. He was a real comic. He was the life and soul of the party, Corporal Brady. And the American compound,
they put up a Union Jack in their compound. Corporal Brady was incensed with that. He was a saw engineer. He went out and cut down a huge tree, took it up to the top of this highest hill in Tae-do. He got a Union Jack off the Belfast and he put this huge Union Jack up on this island and you could see it for miles. [Laughs]
The Americans took theirs down. And we were often shelled, from the mainland, you know. But there were some buildings on Tae-do. And they were a leper colony. Well, that we got the leper colony evacuated back to the mainland.
I: Did you see them?
D: Yes, yes. Yeah, terrible. We were all frightened to death of catching it, but they said you can’t catch leprosy.
It’s not, uh, you know. It’s not, uh…
D: Contagious. I guess that’s the word I was looking for. Well done.
I: Um, what were we talking about then? We were talking about you being shelled a couple of times.
D: Yes, uh, but, uh, the trouble is when they shelled us, you see, they could point their guns and the ships used to fire back so they didn’t shoot at us very often.
The only time they did have a go at us when it was American Independence Day, and the Americans on the island, they wanted to celebrate. They, they thought to show a film. They put a screen up on the parade ground. I remember showing a film but I don’t, forget what it was. We were all watching this film, you know. And, of course, the screen all lit up – big bright light – they started shelling us, and we were going in our trenches, but we were still watching this film. [Laughs]
Explosions going on [laughing]
I: Really?… Tell me a bit about some of the raids you did.
D: Well, the main one I went on was one we blew up this railway line. It was saw engineers blew it up. We were on the B corps when we went to the Montrose, got in the landing craft like I’ve got photographs of me getting into the landing craft, and we went to shore. It was quite foggy.
There was no opposition there. They were actually waiting for us further up the coast. They thought we were going to land about five miles up the coast, but we went to Sonjin and the railway line there went into a tunnel. And there was no opposition of such. And, uh, the saw engineers were there blowing the railway line up, and that was put out of commission for a couple of months I think.
But then we came back.
I: What’s your… What’s your role? Describe what you do on one of these assault landings.
D: Ah, well, because you’re in the landing craft, you know, then spread out in the perimeter to protect the engineers whilst they were doing their job. So, just our job was to protect the engineers in case the North Koreans attacked us.
I: Were you using, were you on the mortar there? Or were you…
D: No, I didn’t have the mortar. Didn’t need mortars, no.
With mortars, you’ve got to zero in, and things like that, you know. No, we had machine guns and light machine guns, the A4 light machine guns, but that was all we had. But we think. They came back, but we’d gone by the time they got back to us.
I: Should have done this in the first place. She looks a bit better in here, but anyway.
D: Is that better?
I: Yes, good. Ok, yes, sorry. You were telling me about that right.
So, when you say that there was no opposition, did you see anybody? Did you meet anyone?
D: Oh, yeah. There’s a village there, and um there was a few Americans with us. And I think, I don’t know why, but they shot the head man of the village. I don’t know why. You know. We were a bit annoyed about that.
I: The Americans did.
D: The Americans shot the head man, In the head… It was only a small village. We evacuated it before we blew up the railway line.
00:27:00 [Abrupt beginning of recorded material]
Interviewer: The Americans.
David Carpenter: Oh yeah, definitely (laughter)
I: What do you do about dogs? If you’re if you’re a raiding party with dogs you just have to shoot the dog if you get a dog barking at you we just leave them?
D: No, we never had that problem. No. No problems with dogs.
I: Okay, that was one one raid. Did you do any others?
D: Yes. We went on one intention was to go ashore and ambush a patrol,
D: and bring them back as prisoners back. So, we went on the landing craft so far. Then we had to transfer into rubber dinghies because of this noise. And we were paddling ashore but ahead of us had gone. Lieutenant or sergeant Haywood, no I got it all in there, and they were in the canoe reckon the beach for us. About two
canoes went and we heard firing and the Lieutenant and sergeant were killed. So, they obviously knew we were coming, or they heard us coming. And Captain Stoddart was a gung-ho type of officer, he still wanted to go ahead on this raid and capture these prisoners, but he was overruled to withdraw, which always very pleased about because I was in a rubber dinghy with a radio on my
back. And I thought If I go again, I need to go straight to the bottom. So, I’m quite pleased when you abandon that
I: When a decision is made to not go when you say was overruled, he overruled it. The rest of you?
D: Proper major Aldrich overruled it. He hadn’t been there, but he was on the radio in a cup and started started cabinet Stoddard procedure. Captain in charge of the raiding party that he wants to go ahead gun ho type he
I: How is morale? I mean, you know, that’s the first time you’ve been out on a raid and actually lost somebody. How did you feel what was your idea?
D: You know, these guys just one of those things, you know. That obviously upset the loose comrades, but that’s what we’re there for really. Not to get killed. When I went on raids, I’ll almost wrote a letter to my mother to be
posted. If I didn’t come back. We had this all engineers have built a toilet and they put this toilet right on top of this hill. And you want to sit up there on this toilet all open do your business. And when we were told to record on the rate that used to be a queue to get on the toilet. laughter
I: A nervous poo?
D: Yeah, but the most of the raids after that were smaller
fares. And they’re mostly done to occupy the troops you know that to keep troops there to resist our invasions as they say. But what else? Well, what else happened? Our Flying Fortress crashed just off the island. And the crew was saved and
landed craft picked most of them up they managed to get out the aircraft. And in the rubber dinghies on board these aircraft there’s $1,000 in gold, which the crew could use if they were captured, the crew could use to bribe but that went missing. (chuckle) We don’t know what the American Crew had or any of our chaps got it. It was never found. (laughter)
I: A thousand dollars
D: In the dinghies
I: In those days. Huge money.
D: Another thing we lost we lost four guys. They were on the island of Modo, smallest island the one nearest to the coast. Well, you can on the Yodo you can, you can see they’re guys along cliffs, you know, binoculars, but I’ll no doubt very rough, rough
weather and when landing craft on the beach and it got a bit rough on that side of the island. So four guys have been round. One only had his bathing trunks on. Went round to move it to the lee side of the island away from the rough water and they set off and the engine broke down. And they had no radio which was really against the rules. Anyway,
they got washed, they got washed ashore on the mainland, retaining prisoner. And the Fishman told us afterwards, Korean fishermen came back, said they were paraded through bomb sand with their green berries on top of poles. I think one of them died in captivity. One of them. It was a Scotsman. The Scotsman used to get on the
radio one sound to the ships, because the North Koreans couldn’t understand them. So, they use them to pass the stitches. Scottish accent, but he was one of the ones who got lost. So that was four we lost four there. Then the peace talk started. And they didn’t see a need for us to be on those islands anymore.
So well, we were sent back to Japan. But I had leave the islands, you had R&R leave, I was sent back to Japan for a week to the Yamanaka Hotel, which was just outside Tokyo. And you go horse riding all the comforts of home there, you know. Good night’s food and everything. Bit snooker table tennis, skiing, you can come ski.
And before we went to Korea, we went to a training camp, the foot of Mount Fuji. And we did some training there a camp called Camp McGill. And was a training camp basically. And we wanted to climb Mount Fuji not Cliff climbing and because there was a path going up, actually. That the Japanese didn’t let us go up. It was a sacred island. And they didn’t want British troops
tramping up there.
I: Ah, that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful, beautiful mountain isn’t it?
D: Oh yeah. Got lots of pictures of it there. Yeah. Yeah, so nothing good runs in Tokyo. Really enjoyed that. Let me run leave. Japan was American occupied Japan then is still occupied by the Americans.
I: Did you go to Hiroshima?
D: No. No, didn’t go there. When you only
Tokyo, and Yokohama went to Yokohama and Sasebo of course me finished up and Sasebo. It’s a Japanese flying Flying Boat Harbour for their flying balloons. And we’ve lived in tents on there. And I made some friends with Japanese there are my laundry man was a Japanese and he did my laundry for me.
And he invited me to his house one day to meet his family. But it sat on the floor on the mats and the meal you know, (chuckle) with the chopsticks
I: What were the Korean Did you meet any Korean rock? I know you weren’t with him. But did you meet any of them?
D: No. Only only the Yes. Corporal walk up on Corporal Kim. He was he was he was nice got on well and then he could speak English so we got on all right with him but we didn’t
have many rock marines with us. But they weren’t really reliable. They changed sides. You know? It did on Modo. They didn’t want to know when the North Koreans are landed.
I: And what about the Koreans on efficient and on your island and what were they like?
D: Oh, they were okay. Yeah, they used to change their flag they have been flag up when they left us they change it up way across the North Korean flag over land there fish in Wonsan
and you know. The only up corner right with the children and everything. You know, the Korean children we played with them and make friends with them. guy on the right with the locals on Tito.
I: So, when when you knew the peace talks are on how much? You know, did you expect to move on was that what was the sort of fear that we restless as well?
D: Well, the talks broke, and we were hoping that the war would end you know, which it did eventually. But the talks went on for ages didn’t there. And they didn’t want they didn’t want the Marines raided Korea when the talks were on, so that they decided to send it back to Japan.
I: And then from Japan, where did you go next?
D: Came home then. After a while on the Empire Fowey
Oh no, it was a trip ship of course. When we arrived in Plymouth, we got the tapes down there 23rd January, I think it was. When we got to Southampton, my parents had come down to meet the ship. And I was on the front page more than national newspapers. There is my mother and grandmother greeted me is Southampton.
Actually. It was a well, one annoying to us. But when we got to Southampton, Full of troops, of course coming back from Korea, the rosters and everything. But the allowed the, because all the press were there, the ring band was there, and all our parents and girlfriends and wives were there. They let the Marines go ashore to greet them all. Photographs, TV,
everything is all filmed. And the rest of the troops on the ship are furious, because we’ve been allowed ashore to be our families and they’ve had to stay on board to the next day. So it didn’t go down very well with them. Because they done just as much in Korea as we had, you know, the clusters and things like that earlier where you had to go back on board then and then we came off the next day.
I: How long would you get back in
Blighty before you’re off on your next assignment, then you may as well finish your time as a Marine for me?
D: Two weeks leave of course eventually. And we were allowed to march through Plymouth with fixed beignets when you came to Plymouth, the commandos and the Lord Mayor gave us a toy Teddy. Teddy okey. Cornish pasty, who were given one each.
We marched down Armada away with fixed beignets and everything. But I knew what all that was over. I went on leave for a couple of weeks. Then I went back to Plymouth. Then I do sea time then. Because “Per Mare, Per Terram” by land by sea by sea pilot. So I had to go on the ships and I’ve on HMS Devonshire county class
cruiser, and it was a cadet training ship. The cadets came on board from Britannia at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College, they had to do sea time. So, they came on board. The Devonshire above many Marines were on there for security basically the one many Marines on their guts. That guns the guns were not anything like that.
I: Did you have your own mess deck?
D: Oh, yes! Mid ships, midships, always a mid-ships, submarines that going back through history, as you know. We were there to protect the officers from the crew. But yeah, so we are three cruisers that year on the Devonshire. We went to the Caribbean for three months, came back for Easter leave.
Then we went to the Mediterranean for three months, came back for autumn leave. Then we went up north to Scotland and Norway for three months. And that was wonderful. No, and you would came home for leave after three months. And they changed these cadets got changed over and they had to go on the ship to get seat time. The cadets,
I: How does the marine stay I just thinking about how much training
you went through to become a Marine. And then you’re on a ship for nine months of the year. How do you keep up your fitness to really
D: Well, when I was training, I had a month in Portsmouth to do gunnery at the Royal Gunnery school and we had to learn naval gunnery, not that we ever used it but we had to learn that we had to go on board ship trading ship in Portsmouth Harbour to learn how to live on a ship.
So, we had to do that for two weeks. That was all included in the training, additional training. But onboard the ship on, the Devonshire, when we got to the West Indies to be stopped at a place called beef Island. And the Marines had to go ashore and do a dummy raid and things like that, you know to keep us on the
ball. We also spent the night ashore once looking after ourselves. But then after the Devonshire got broken up. Jobs we did on the ship or security, like Corporal the gangway, bridge sentry, looking after the captain keyboard, looking after the keyboards looking after the weapons, that was our job. There weren’t many of us on there.
But it was a good, good life. It was but then she was decommissioned, and we were transferred to the Triumph, light fleet carrier, and she did the same thing. Three months the Caribbean whilst we’re in the Caribbean, we went to Barbados, and we saw a test match between England to the West Indies. Len Hutton Godfrey Evans Dennis Compton Tom Gravely the wicket
keeper that happens when we were allowed ashore a watch that match. Wonderful I got pictures of it there all the all the players. and then came back leave Mediterranean for three months, came back and up north again to Kristiansand. And we did a cruise all down flam. The flam that in the fjord wonderful. That was beautiful trim. And when he got the flam or the village
invited us ashore for these up, you know things. It’s wonderful. That was the better times you get good times and bad times, don’t you, in seven years, but those two cruises I had real wonderful. When I finished my sea time. So, I had to go back into commandos again. So, I joined four or five Commando. We were sent to Malta. A place called height of fear in
St. Paul’s Bay, and I was Corporal Stormer. Nice to look after the weapons into stores and issue them when they were needed. You know, I had my own, started out to sleep in the store so I had my little cubby hole there. It was very nice all to myself then we spent time and enjoyed it and Malta.
I: Did you do any a cliff climbing in Malta?
D: No, but we do. I’ve got picture of me there Climbing a cliff. frightened to death. One of my favourite I’m pretty good for heights and Cliff Climber not my favourite occupations. But you want to do it, you know, and some of the Marines they decided to be Cliff Cliff leaders, you know, and they go up first with the rope and the rest of them follow but that won’t for me (laughter).
We did a lot of that in Plymouth in our training you know. So we were in Malta and enjoying ourselves and then we were sent to Cyprus. So, I spent the rest of my time in Cyprus chasing the Macarius and Grievous the grid leader once again now is the charter that stores that we went to
a two dos islands, ah two dos islands Troodos Mountains. Mount Olympus we were stationed up there and the we would go on raids four o’clock in the morning raid in villages. And going through the mountains that were supposition was to be the brain con you’re going to bring a gun on top of the driver cap
and you want to man that going down through the hills. And if you’re ambushed the first one who got it was a brain and the driver, so none of us fancied going up there on these raids. So, we did that quite a few times.
I: Did you eat hedgehog?
I: Did you eat hedgehog while you were there?
I: Okay, it’s the Cyprus have hedgehog apparently.
D: Oh, do they? No, not that problem. Separate whiskey? Get separate
whiskey mountain whiskey, beautiful run our Bunsen burners on that (laughter)
D: We had a couple of were killed on these ambushes. Of course, a worse place to be was in Nicosia. Because we went ashore in Nicosia. The cooks know the term is to throw hand grenades in the cafes and bars and blow up the Troops,
but we were in Nicosia very often we’re up in the Troodos Mountains most of the time place called Platres it’s Platres was the hotel splendid was our headquarters, but we went further up six feet up top of the Troodos Mountains. We did ski ski patrols up there sometimes. We ah, didn’t have too many casualties over there.
I: Did you? How often do you use your
rifle in anger, if at all?
D: Well, I chose more to machine gun mostly. I didn’t choose my rifle very much. Even on the islands, you know, there was mortars and machine guns were used. The Garand rifle was great, right. Good rifle, that was. The American one.
I: So, did you go back to the 303. When you came back to
D: Yes. When we came back to back
I: to the ship?
D: Cyprus? Cyprus? Cyprus? Yeah. So, 303. They didn’t have these AK machine guns they got now. AK rifles.
I: They still, the 303 was the First World War rifles and you’re still using it in the 50s?
D: Yes, that’s right.
D: Yes. It was reliable. But
I: What do you think of the separate terrorists?
D: Well, not pretty much actually. things in there,
asking us to surrender and things like that. Leaflets say you threw around us. I know. Why are we fighting? You you’re getting killed the British government all this business, you know.
I: Did you get Korean propaganda on the islands?
D: No, no.
I: on the mainland, they’ve made you know, propaganda.
D: Oh, yeah. Well, the prisoners that you know, they got
programmed with communist and things like that. But in Korea, our biggest enemy was a Chinese really. There’s lots of North Koreans but the Chinese are 1000s of them, you know, in that Chosin, they use the machine gun them and kill that needs to yell blow trumpets and charge you know. They weren’t worried about casualties. They to overrun our American positions in our positions. The numbers
I: I mean,
obviously you didn’t really come into contact with the Chinese and the Koreans when you’re in when you’re in Korea is an opposition but yeah,
D: in only when we raided it. Yeah.
I: But in Cyprus, you’re actually confronted
D: Oh, yes.
I: Unmasked the enemy
D: Terrorists. Yes, yeah, you could distinguish they weren’t in uniform, you to know others to just be a guy walking by the turbine and shoot you. in Nicosia places like that.
I: Did you use your
mortar in Cyprus?
D: No, no, no, we just would raid the villages and try and capture the terrorists and things like that. But don’t do your machine. Bring Gun The only thing we used heavy weapons. No mortars and machine guns we didn’t. Fighting terrorists, you know, it’s not like an enemy in front of you didn’t know who the enemy was.
Anyway, the end of my career, we were chasing General Grievous of the Troodos Mountains. And the cover his tracks he struck the set fire to the forest. Course he spent the next time trying to put out these forest fires. We want to give up chasing him. We’re slaving away up the mountains. And the Jeep pulled up the lieutenant this Jeep and he said marine carpenter. I said that’s
- He said, Get in the jeep. Your seven years is up. You got to go back to UK. And I didn’t get a Jeep go back to camp, get all my gear, went down to the airport. And I flew home and a Hermes aircraft back to England. Just like that next day. And I left all my mates and friends. I never had a chance to say goodbye or anything. Yeah, I just take
forest fire firefighting. He said, Come on. You’re seven years is up (laughter)
I: You didn’t get the opportunity to stay on there.
D: No. Well, I could have done five years reserve as well. You’d see. I spent five years as a reservist, but I didn’t want to stay on. So, I came home.
I: And how did you find that adapting to that normal life after seven years of a really remarkable and amazing career where you’ve been all over the place?
D: All over the world. Yeah, that’s true. Well, that I’m getting used to. But Cibona backpack to lympstone, the Suez Crisis happened and all the camp went to Suez. And I had to stay behind the camp to man it to look after it with a few others. So, I stayed on for a couple of more months before then they all came back and Suez then I was released. I could go home again.
And I I got a job at BAC the metallurgist
I: Did you ever have any sort of you know, issues with being a marine afterwards?
D: No. No.
I: Do you miss it?
D: Well, I did at the time. Yes. Oh, did miss it was working with the BAC I was working in doors. And I couldn’t get used to that. Be that
seven years I’ve been all over the world and Jacci work and after two years, I packed it and went to work for my brother. He was ice ball was ice cream depo manager in thunderously in Essex and the Sunbury wanted extra staff. So, I went down to work for him live with him and drove up and down south end seafront sell and bought ice cream. Well, that’s how I started my sales career. I was in selling in then all the time I finished up being working for Kraft Foods, and I finished up a real sales manager for Kraft after a long setting career with different companies.
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