Korean War Legacy Project

Donald St. Louis


Donald St. Louis grew up in a farming family in Cornwall, Canada. When the Korean War broke out, he was working on his family’s farm. In 1950, he joined the Canadian Army to find employment and make money. Once enlisted, he received basic military training in Ottawa. His specialty was as a mortar-man in the Canadian Infantry. He did not know anything about Korea before enlisting. While in Korea, he was injured by a mortar, recovering in the military hospital.

Video Clips

Two Attempts to Enlist

Donald St. Louis describes how he did not know much about Korea before joining the military. He elaborates that he joined the military because it provided a job at the time. He shares enlistment took two attempts before finally earning acceptance to the program.

Tags: Basic training,Impressions of Korea,Prior knowledge of Korea

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Mortar Shrapnel Wounds

Donald St. Louis elaborates on his wound from mortar shrapnel while stationed in Korea. He recounts he was in Korea for a majority of the war while healing in the military hospital. He mentions how he is unaware of how prosperous Korea has become.

Tags: Front lines,Modern Korea,Personal Loss,Weapons

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The Destruction of Seoul

Donald St. Louis describes what he saw in Korea while serving overseas. He remembers the country's geography filled with rice paddies. He recalls how devastated the city of Seoul was during the war.

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

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

D:        My name is Donald Herbert St. louis.

I:          Donald

D:        Herbert St. Louis.

I:          St. Louis.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.  What is your birthday?

D:        December 4th, 1930.

I:          Nineteen thirty?  Where were you born?

D:        Uh, in Cornwall.

I:          Cornwall, okay.  Tell me about your family when you were growing up, parents, your siblings.


D:        Uh, well, mostly we grew up on the farm.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I joined, I joined the Army in, I went to Korea.

I:          When did you  join the Army?
D:        Nineteen thirty.

I:          Nineteen thirty?

D:        Yeah.

MALE VOICE:   Nineteen fifty I think.

I:          Nineteen fifty.

D:        Uh, 50.

I:          And what were you doing in


the time that the Korean War broke out?

D:        I was

I:          Before you joined the Army, what did you do?

D:        I guess I was on the, on the farm.

I:          Farming?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Did you like it?

D:        I didn’t have much choice.

I:          Right.  So where did you go to get the basic military training?

D:        Ottawa.

I:          Ottawa.  What was your specialty?

D:        Oh,


I was, um, um, um, what the hell do they call that?  Um,

I:          Infantry?
D:        No.  Um,

I:          Radio?

D:        No.  Watch you call a mortarman.

I:          Mortarman.

MALE VOICE:  But, but in the Infantry, a mortarman in the Infantry.

I:          Yeah.  Did you know anything about Korea at the time?
D:        No.

I:          You didn’t know where it was?
D:        No.

I:          Why did you go there then?

D:        You couldn’t get a job for one thing.


There were, just joined the Army, thought it was a good thing to do, and you can get a job.  They were hard to get.  So I went to, uh, from Cornwall I went to Ottawa to see if I could get a job.  And I had a hard time.  They told me to come back.  I went back the second time, and then the second time they took me.


I:          You remember was it Pusan or Inchon?

D:        I was on one of the boats

I:          Uh huh.

D:        I forget which one.  [INAUDIBLE] If I, uh, platoon they call it

MALE VOICE:  Is 81mm mortar or 3.5?

D:        Eighty-one, yes.

MALE VOICE:  Eighty-one mm.

D:        Yeah.  I got wounded in Korea.


I:          Where?  Where were you wounded?

D:        I forget, the arm, legs, yes.

I:          Um hm.

MALE VOICE:  How did it happen, shell or shot?

D:        Uh, um, a bomb, uh, um, mortar from [INAUDIBLE]

MALE VOICE:  Another mortar, Chinese mortar landed on you.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Do you have any regret?

D:        No.

I:          No?

D:        No.


I:          Do you know what happened to Korea after you returned, now Korea?

D:        No.

I:          Do you  know anything about Korean economy now?

D:        No.

I:          You don’t know.  You never been back to Korea.

D:        No.

I:          Um.  How long were you in Korea?

D:        The full, uh,

I:          One year?

D:        For, [STAMMERS] more than that.

I:          More than that.

D:        Yeah.  I was, I was


there, well, like I said I was hit by a mortar.  I was in the hospital for a while.  Hard to remember things.

I:          Um hm.  Do you wanna go back to Korea?

D:        I wanted to go back, but I never did.  Uh, that was


uh, there was a, it was a, it was a country developing, aye?  But the corn, the corn fields and all that

I:          Um hm.

MALE VOICE:  What did you see yourself when you [INAUDIBLE]

D:        Rice, rice paddies

MALE VOICE:  You saw rice paddies.

D:        A lot of rice paddies.


D:        But we lived in them of course.

MALE VOICE:  See many towns?

D:        Uh, no, no.

MALE VOICE:  Do you remember seeing Seoul?

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          How was it?


D:        It was a city but the people going up in it [INAUDIBLE]  All kinds of people.

I:          How badly was damaged?

D:        Real, the worse I seen it.  I went on a, on a, whatch you call, on leave?  And I got on a train with some


of the boys, and we ended up where they dropped the, the Hiroshima bomb

MALE VOICE:  In Japan you went on leave you mean.

D:        Yeah.

MALE VOICE:  Hiroshima, you saw that.

D:        Yeah.  I was, saw where they dropped the bomb.  And we ended up in the wrong place.  That’s how come we ended up there.

MALE VOICE:   Oh, you didn’t mean to go to Hiroshima.

D:        No.

MALE VOICE:  That’s where you ended up.  That’s a story.

D:        We ended up on the train on, going, and we ended up in Hiroshima.  Had some


good time there.[INAUDIBLE] there.

I:          Anything you remember about Korea?

D:        Not too much.  Oh yeah.
MALE VOICE:  Tell us about  them.  What were they like?

D:        Very, very nice people.  Do anything for you.  They, uh, they were good workers, you know.  They had, um, well, all it was  was, just, the only place around there was


what you call rice paddies.

I:          Why?

D:        Well, that’s all they grew there was

I:          Um hm.

D:        rice, rice, rice, rice.  One paddy it was like a, there’s, you know, top.

I:          Yeah.  Like a stairs.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Um.  Did you see many dead bodies t here?

D:        A few.

I:          Ay.


Were you scared?

D:        Uh, not really.  Lot of dead, uh, Koreans.

I:          Um.

D:        Wasn’t that many Canadians.  There was mostly all

I:          Korean people dead.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.


D:        They took the, the punishment.

I:          What was the most difficult thing in Korea?

D:        Well, I, I got hit with, uh, from the, from bomb, what you call, um, shattered, bomb, whatever you call that.

MALE VOICE:  Shrapnel?

D:        Yeah.

MALE VOICE:  Do you remember Hill 355?

D:        Yeah.


MALE VO ICE:  What happened there?

D:        Got the shit pounded out of us.

I:          Very nice meeting you.  Thank you.

D:        Thank you.

[End of Recorded Material]