Gordon H. McIntyre
Gordon H. McIntyre served in the New Zealand Army as a Radio Serviceman during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. Near the front lines at the battle of Maryang-san he witnessed troops making preparations for immediate retreat if the Chinese broke through the Australian lines. He never felt afraid during combat, but he was injured when a battery exploded in his face. The Korean War left a lasting impact on him to the point of causing him PTSD. He feels the war should have continued until the Communists were defeated. He blames United States President Truman and the United Nations for calling the cease fire that prevents reunification to this day.
Arrival in Busan and Seoul
When Gordon McIntrye first arrived in Busan, the New Zealand troops were met by an American Dixie band. He describes seeing Seoul's utter destruction, claiming it must have been one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Fronts of buildings were blown out on either side of the wide streets, but he encountered a relatively untouched brick cathedral.
Life Near the Front
Gordon McIntyre transferred to an English unit due to the extensive loss of life in the English outfit. Near headquarters he noted a Canadian field hospital and rows of drums filled with napalm. Throughout his first night he was not afraid despite the explosions from incessant artillery fire. The next morning he left the truck to find an unexploded mortar shell that would have killed everyone at the post had it exploded.
Battle of Maryang-san
Gordon McIntyre describes five to six days of continuous fighting at the Battle of Maryang-san. He camped around eight hundred meters from the front lines. The second and third nights all soldiers stood ready to leave in the middle of the night if overrun. The Battle of Maryang-san featured combat between the Australian Army and the Chinese as the North Korean army had been decimated by that point. The danger did not scare him because he was too busy to think about it at the time.
Korean War in Context of War
Gordon McIntyre laments the political blunder of United States President Harry Truman in calling a cease fire rather than fighting to the end of the war. He acknowledges the Korean War as being a "forgotten" war, but he is proud of the the New Zealand effort, comparing it to ANZAC efforts during WWII. He has spoken about the Korean conflict at ANZAC parades and feels it should be taught in greater depth in New Zealand schools.
Gordon McIntyre discusses PTSD and and the effects of the Korean War on returning soldiers. During a return trip to Korea in 2008, he visited the DMZ and viewed Hill 355. Reminiscing on the death of a friend just before the cease fire, he reiterates that many men died in the last days before the cease fire. He considers the peace talks a big mistake. He feels that efforts at reunification are hampered by contemporary North Koreans' "skillful" ability to do nothing, and he doubts Donald Trump will be able to break that trend. He reminds students of the Korean War's lasting message: "Freedom is not free."
[Beginning of recorded material]
G: My name is Gordon Heath McIntyre. Gordon, G O R D O N, Heath, H E A T H, McIntyre, M c I N T Y R E.
I: Great. And what is your birthday?
G: Thirty-eighth of January, 1931.
I: So you are now 88?
G: Yep. I mean yes.
I: You look pretty good, sir. I mean it.
G: It’s the exercise we had in 1951.
I: Being in Korea? War exercise.
G: Oh yes.
I: Oh, okay. I’m looking forward to hear about it. But where were you born?
G: In Wangunie.
I: Could you spell it?
G: W A N G
I: A N G
G: U N I E.
I: U N I E.
G: It wasn’t Wangunie?
FEMALE VOICE: They’ve changed the spelling.
FEMALE VOICE: Faununie now.
G: W H A N G A.
I: G A
FEMALE VOICE: N U I.
I: N U I.
G: Um hm.
FEMALE VOICE: W H, yeah.
G: Pronounced Wha.
FEMALE VOICE: Whanganui.
I: Alright .
So tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings please.
G: Well, um, my mother was born in England. My father was born in, North of Ireland of Scottish parents.
I: Scottish. And what about your siblings, your brothers and sisters?
G: I have a brother who has just recently died.
G: And I have three sisters.
I: So you are the eldest?
G: I am the older.
And tell me about the school you went through there.
G: Well, I went to a, a multitude of schools at Whanganui and [Napataradile] and in Waiouru.
I: And so when you, did you finish your school, everything? When was it?
G: Uh, it would be, 1946, 1947
I think that I carried on with correspondence school.
I: Nineteen forty-six.
G: was the actual physical school. After that, it was correspondence.
I: What is correspondence school?
G: A correspondence school is a great foundation. It’s where they did your secondary education, uh, by mail. And they used to have visiting teachers.
I: Uh huh.
G: That was a great, great set up.
I: What did you learn from there?
G: Well, I, I, I think they made
I: This is just regular course?
G: Oh yes. English
I: Um hm
G: History, Mathematics, Chemistry
I: Okay. And did you learn anything about Korea in that school?
G: No, we didn’t.
I: No you didn’t. So did you know where Korea was?
I: Oh. How?
G: Well I, I was always keen on, um, Geography.
I: Yes. So you looked at it?
G: Not at that time.
I: The map.
G: Uh, yes. But I knew it was hanging on the left hand side of Japan if you’re looking down on it. Yeah.
I: So you have to mention Japan to
talk about Korea.
G: Well, I spent some time in Japan which was very educational.
G: Um hm.
I: Right. But Korea was not really kind of subject that people knew at the time.
G: Oh yes it was. Um, Japan was the staging point for us to be shipped down to, by train
I: Um hm
G: to a port called Sasebo.
I: Sasebo, yes.
G: Sasebo. And we got on a ferry after mine infected water,
and we ended at a place which we always called Pusan.
G: They call it now Busan.
I: Yeah, right. When did you arrive in Pusan?
G: Uh, that would have been in the late, probably, oh, September, probably late July, uh, October, 1951.
I: So 1951 October.
G: Um, you could say that, yes. That’ll be approximately correct.
I: Now, how did Pusan look to you, the people, the city, housing, everything, smell. Just be honest and tell me what did you see, what did you feel, what did you smell?
G: Well, first when we came of the ship, we were mesmerized because we were met by American Dixie band
I: Ah. Welcoming band. Yeah.
G: Yeah. And we, there were a lot of Korean laborers on the wharf
I: Um hm.
G: calling so that you’d know they were just laborers. And, of course, the perimeter around Pusan had been very, very closely, um, defended. The troops had moved back, and they were just North of the 38th Parallel that’s Seoul.
I: Um. hm.
G: Um, yes.
We were only there for a few hours.
I: Only a few hours.
G: A few hours, yeah. And then we were put on this train which was, uh, towed by, I think it was two GMC trucks with railway wheels on them with multiple stops on the way through to, um, Seoul.
I: But you didn’t stay there long either, right?
G: No. We were just, um, oh, the, the, the trip up, the line was very, very interesting.
And being very young, I think I was only about early 20’s
G: That the, um, the train would stop, multiple stops along the way, and a guy would get out with a rolled piece of newspaper
I: Um hm.
G: wrap it up on the, eh, platform. Another guy would come out with sticks of wood
G: and another guy would come out with a metal triangle. Another guy would come out with a billie of water.
So they’d light a fire to make a cup of tea.
G: But they never got it going because everybody had to get back on the train and carry on.
G: So that was a long train. But they got the fire going and the billie boiling at a place called Seoul.
G: Seoul. And, of course then, soon as they’re getting ready for the cup of tea, the troop trucks came along to tell you [INAUDIBLE] in the cup of tea.
I: So no tea time.
G: Oh, it was no tea.
I: Okay. But what, did you see
anything in Seoul
I: when you stopped there? Tell me about those detail because as I mentioned, this interview will be checked out by the young children
I: young children
G: It was probably what was left of probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
G: Yes. And I’m not joking, um. The streets were very, very wide cause we went right through the, the heart of Seoul. The buildings, the fronts were blown out. That took a shocking, um,
G: The, there might have been invaded and liberated twice.
G: And then, uh, we had got onto the trucks. It was in, oh, it was September. It would have been in September. Course, things were very, very hot, and the roads were very, very dusty. And I can remember we went
the Hahn River, is it Hahn? And on the left hand side going out was this big church
G: concrete, not concrete, brick church.
I: Um hm.
G: I believe it was in John’s Anglican Church. It was a cathedral for the, um, for that district, but you might correct me there. And, uh, it sustained very little damage. So we, we carried on, and the dust was terrible.
Uh, we had handkerchiefs wrapped around our faces, and we were just covered in this brownie, really brown clay, dust. And we just caked in it. And then we were just sent back to a, an English base, Fort George.
I: So when you see this completely destroyed city with a few buildings left standing
I: What were you thinking?
G: Terrible. I, I, I’ve seen documentaries of, um, Britain and Germany and places like that, and I thought well, this will never happen again to anybody.
G: But, um, seeing Seoul, um, emphasized that, that I’d hate it to happen to anybody. It was terrible.
I: Um. So from Seoul, where did you go?
G: Uh, we went, we crossed the Imjin, uh,
and that’s just a little bit Along the way, we, we pulled in, uh, this English Signals Headquarters Corps., and they had other ancillaries there as well cause I was in the Signal section. And we were, we were housed there for, for a little whole. And I got to know quite a few people. And then I was delegated to be
um, this is, October’s coming up.
I: Um hm.
G: We were, I was delegated or sent for to go up to an English Mortar Battery to look after their signals cause the, the, there’s, their number of troops had been sadly diminished. So I was just there to help fill a gap.
G: Um, but that particular mob went up, uh. will be mesmerized, mesmerized me. I can see it now.
Uh, the skyline was just pulsating light. You could read a newspaper with it. Just continuous
G: No. It was artillery fire.
I: Right. So artillery, yes. Fire.
G: Yes, both sides.
I: Um hm.
G: And those [hamerun tongs] going on, and
I: That’s how severe that was.
I: Artillery fire. That, all night.
G: All night. It, and, um, incessant, just continuous roaring, um, thunderous
thunderous noise, uh. But a young guy, you just say oh, well this is it. This is [INAUDIBLE]
I: Were you scared?
G: No. Uh, if for some strange reason, I was stupidly, I wasn’t.
I: See, that’s they youngness.
G: Um, the, we went to a forward slope going down. I can see on the side of the valley where the bright lights coming up with these poles with great big 44 gallon drums on them.
And these drums had, full of Napalm.
G: Uh, which was pretty safe because of the thoughtless Chinese put activate a break through. On the left hand side going down the hill, there was a, a forward field hospital by the Canadians. And when I pulled into the, um, headquarters, uh, for this mortar battery,
I was introduced and was taken to my barracks, and then the shelling, uh, started, and I was all dressed up in, in my, uh, Army best, and they allocated me a beer so I sat down there, and the shelling got louder and louder and louder, and the, the English people there, they’re all dressed up all nice, ready to go and said we’re not, couldn’t believe why these guys were so closely shaved and so clean and nice, nice seemingly new, new uniforms.
There were about eight or nine of them. And then the shelling got closer, and I thought I’m not gonna stay sitting, I’m sure and, uh, so I ducked, I got down under, and lay down on the floor. When I looked up, there wasn’t an Englishman in sight. They told me that there were being sent home the next day.
I: Oh. So they are ready to go back home.
G: Yes. So
I: That’s why they fully dressed up.
G: Although, yeah, all dressed up really well. So, um, when I got up in the morning and,
and had a look around the outside of our command post which was a truck with, uh, radios and maps, what we call ticking boards, uh, on an unexploded shell just outside cause the rotating band was off, the back was out of it and was split. Had that really decimated and gone off, it, it would have taken out that truck and me as well and quite a few others. So anyway, that was my, um,
I: What an introduction, right?
G: It, it, it was really. And then, cause that was the commencement of the Battle of Miryang, it was out of, you’d know it, Miryang han. It’s quite a problem battle of the British 28th Brigade was under by Australians, uh.
I: Um hm.
G: Our artillery, 16th Field Regiment which just off the record from memory, uh, at the Battle of Pyeong, I was not there.
I: Um hm.
G: But the guy that, who ended up being a Jeep driver for me, uh, when I was doing, uh, signals with [INAUDIBLE]
I: So you are radio operator.
I: Um hm.
G: Oh no, I was not a radio operator. I was a radio serviceman.
I: So what does that mean?
G: It means [there’s a fire, uh, out of commissioned or needed to see] , I was the guy to fix them.
G: And then if there were out, out of my control, that’d be, uh, be allowed which would beyond local repair. So we went onto a truck down to, uh, Fort George.
I: And what about unit? What unit you were in?
G: Uh, I was in the First Commonwealth, the 6th Regiment.
I: I’m sorry. Hold.
G: First Commonwealth
I: First Commonwealth, yes.
G: Yeah, Divisional Signals Regiment
I: Okay. And you don’t have any company or like that, right?
G: No. That, that was it.
G: That was, uh, sent to a British, a British unit.
G: And I was there for a while.
I: How was it to work with the British unit?
G: No problem.
I: No problem?
G: They, they were pretty good guys.
I: And you are Scottish and, and from
G: I’m a mixture.
I: Yeah. Yeah. You didn’t have any problem. And so what was your rank at the time?
G: Uh, m y rank in the Korean Army, sorry, in the
I: the Korean War.
G: New Zealand Army during the Korean War was a signalman which is equivalent to a Private.
I: Private. So you were pretty low.
G: I, I was of the lowest [INAUDIBLE]
I: So tell me about the everyday de, uh, routines, you know, what time do you wake up and, and what do you eat, where did you go, where do you take a shower?
I know you haven’t take shower long time, things like that. Tell me, and what did you do actually to do your job?
G: Well, my job comprised of servicing, uh, electronic radios, telephones,
I: Um hm.
G: and electric motors that charging batteries like batteries for the, um, 19 [INAUDIBLE] comprised of two big 6 volt batteries lying about,
just under 70 kilos each. So they’re quite heavy, and they take a day to charge each. So there will be a continuous rotation of those batteries.
I: Um hm.
G: Um, that was, that was one of my duties. Uh, that was a, the primary one with maintenance and to see that that was done. But also I took an interest in the job next door to me
and made sure that I knew somebody else’s job as well in case.
I: What was it?
G: Well, I so very keen on the artillery, very keen.
I: So, did you do some working with artillery?
G: Yes, when I went, got back to the New Zealanders.
G: In the, in the British Army, no.
I: And do you remember where you were with the British? Was it in, uh, Imjin area, right?
G: Yes, it was. Imjin was behind us.
And so Little Gibralter. Does it ring the bell to you, Little Gibralter.
G: I’ve heard of it, but I, I couldn’t tell you
I: You were not there.
G: Uh, this, this hill that I, I was on was, I think they designated was 218.
G: One eight.
G: Uh, and that was a very prominent feature. I’m not sure about the, the military name for it. But I know the district was Miryang.
I: Miryang, yeah.
G: Uh, and that, that
district there and when I got there, we, we were confronted by the Chinese.
I: So your enemy was Chinese, not North Korean.
G: Uh, the North Korean Army was pretty defiant.
I: Threat, yeah.
G: It was, pretty much nonexistent.
G: If that, that’s [where they are now]
G: Um, the North Korean Army was pretty well decimated at the Battle of Kapyong.
I: Um hm.
G: From, from our side.
G: Um, but the, this one was consistent in a very heavy, heavy fighting over a period of about five or six days nonstop.
I: Your job duty, was it in the frontline area or rear, in the back?
G: Not very far back.
I: Not very far back but not in the far front.
G: Uh, not in the firing line itself, no. Probably about, um, 800 meters to 1000 meters behind the front line.
I: That’s it.
G: I lived there for quite a while.
I: Were there any dangerous moments that you may have lost your life?
G: I can’t honestly answer that.
G: And, and that’s being pretty straight up. Couldn’t honestly answer that because pretty,
uh, horrendous. But I know during the Battle of Miryang,
G: Miryang Hon,
I: Um hn
G: Um, it was very touch and go. The, the second or third nights that I was there, we had what they call a stand two which was everybody had to get up, load the trucks, ready to move on out.
G: So, um, but the Australian regiment held together very, very well.
There was a North, uh, South Korean regiment there, uh. And don’t forget that that had been very, very badly [INAUDIBLE] before we got there in our, in the formative stages again.
I: Um hm.
G: Uh, yeah, that’s pretty much about what I can remember about that, that it was continuous nonstop.
I: Um. What were you thinking? Did you say to yourself what the hell am I doing here?
G: To be honest?
G: I was too busy.
G: Yeah. We used to have lots of little catch phrases. But they, they’re not appropriate at the moment.
I: Um. So looking back all those years, you were welcomed by the artillery fire during the day and night, and you were in that battle
G: That was not a welcome.
I: What were you thinking? I men, looking
back all those years. Why do you think that it happened to you? Why were you there, and what’s Korea now to you?
G: Korea to me is very important. Uh, I really honestly would like to go back.
I: Yes, please.
G: Yeah, I would like to.
I: Oh, you mean you want to go back to Korea.
G: And have a look around, yeah.
I: You never been back to Korea?
G: Oh, yes I have.
I: You’ve been.
G: Yeah, I loved it.
I: You loved, so when did you go back?
G: About 2008.
I: And when you went back and you, you must seen Seoul, right, and the area, Imjin area
G: Yep. We went to the Imjin.
I: Tell me. What did you see, and what was the difference between the Korea you saw in 1951 and 2008.
G: Want me to be honest?
G: I saw miracles.
I: You don’t have to be honest to tell me.
G: That’s a fact. Uh, the place was beautiful. That is down the main street and that
big square, um, in the center of town where the people go out and [INAUDIBLE] around and see the police on roller skates. They were fast. But if you go up the side streets, it was just like any other town.
I: Um hm.
G: You asked earlier on about the smells, what did I smell when we went down to Pusan.
G: And, uh, Kapyong. We went to Kapyong.
I: Um hm.
G: Uh, my wife recently died, um
I: Sorry to hear that.
G: Yes. Uh, what’s that smell? I said well, you really don’t want to know, but it’s fertilizer.
I: Yeah, right.
G: And, uh, it was a terrible smell. And, of course, they have open sewers in Busan, and you’re walking across these graves, and the smell is not nice. That has not advanced since.
I: That’s what we call honey pot.
G: Well, I oughta know what the honey cart is.
I: It’s, it’s human waste. We used to util,
uh , use it as a fertilizer.
G: I know, yeah, very rich in nitro gen.
I: So you didn’t like the smell. But when you
G: You got used to it.
I: Yeah, right. And when you go back to Korea 2008
I: uh, you didn’t smell that
G: In Seoul, no.
G: Pusan, yes.
I: Yes again?
I: You’re kidding me.
G: You, you get
off the railway station and you go into, uh,
I: You mean in 2008?
G: Yes. You’ll see that this, um, there are places in Japan which we were there, not this recently but before, they had open sewers, too. But they’re huge.
I: Um hm. So, see, that’s the whole thing. You are the living witness that can tell all the people, especially young generation including your daughter, that
the Korea transformed from honey pot to one of the biggest economy in the world. Do you know the rank of Korean economy now?
G: Oh, it’s about second or third.
I: No, that’s too much. It’s 11th largest economy in the world. The South Korea.
I: It’s very small country, but we have almost 10 times of population that you have.
G: But just think of the quantity of baby food we could send over there.
G: Probably the best in the world.
I: Yeah. That’s very good point.
G: So, you know, I’ve got to stick up for my country, you know.
I: And yeah, yeah. About 6,000 New Zealand soldiers were there, right, during the war?
G: Oh, but now I’ve got to mention that the first ones that went were artillery. There were about 900 men that went. A thousand were called,
The volunteers were called for of which they needed 1,000. Ten thousand people volunteered. So the Korean, the cream went to Korea first. And I was on about the second of intake.
I: So you are the living witness of these changes, right?
I: From nothing to very successful economy and democratic society.
I: But we are still divided by, you know, the 38th Parallel,
still North Korea, Communist country
I: we are the free Capitalist. What do you think about this division?
G: I think, uh, now, you’re gonna ask me to be honest, aren’t you?
I: Yeah, please.
G: Well, I think in my own time, we were sold out, the Koreans and all of us.
G: We were sold out by the United Nations and especially at the time I think it was President Truman
G: He, he called a [INAUDIBLE] and a cease fire.
G: That cease fire should never have happened.
G: We should have finished what we went there to do, and we would have had a united Korea.
G: Now I believe that in my heart .
I: Um hm.
G: And I would think you do quietly, too.
I: General MacArthur was fired by the President Truman because of that.
G: Uh, he wanted to put in an atomic bomb.
G: But he was the most successful
G: that America had in the Pacific.
I: Um hm.
G: He was the leader in the, um, Japanese encounter.
G: Who, who liberated Inchon?
I: Um hm.
G: It had to be a good man to do that.
G: And we always respected General MacArthur.
G: And you, you go to Seoul now. You go to Inchon. You see the statues to the man.
G: He’s almost God-like in stature.
I: Exactly. But this part of such good transformation
I: Korean War is still known as Forgotten War.
G: Sadly, yes because to my mind, it’s a sequel, and it’s as important as the first World War in Gallipoli when we fought those
G: One of the ironicable things was before that, uh, encounter at Kapyong, the New Zealand, they were there, the Australians
and organizing a reunion with the Turkish outfit [INAUDIBLE] And don’t forget the, the Turks were our opponents in the first World War.
G: And then the Battle of Kapyong took place.
G: So everybody was all in the mix.
I: Um, what was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea? If I ask you to pinpoint among many, what is it?
G: There’s nothing really, there were difficult things. But to say there was one thing most difficult, it, it’s hard to, to really pinpoint. As I said, we were all volunteers and to some extent it was an adventure, but it was not a good adventure.
I: Um hm.
G: Um, just out of interest, though, the New Zealand Artillery, the Battle of Kapyong, and bearing in mind I was not there, they’d fire something like 10 or 12 thousands rounds of 25 pound ammunition over a three-day period. Over the whole Korean encounter, they fired over ¾ of a million rounds of ammunition. Now, that’s larger and more, uh, larger quantity than
any New Zealand Artillery piece did in the second World War.
G: So I, that gives you an idea of how much the, the Kiwis put into it, and I, I worked it out the other day. At Kapyong, roughly 400 rounds of 25 lb. were fired out of each of the 24 guns.
I: So that tells us about the intensity of the Battle
G: Oh yes
I: only for three years,
and so many people killed compared to the Viet Nam War. You know, it lasted more than 10 years.
I: But there are more casualties in terms of the rate if you look, if you consider time dimension there.
G: Um hm.
I: But still, it’s been known as Forgotten War, and in New Zealand History textbook, they don’t talk much about the Korean War.
G: No which I think is a tragedy, um. I, I have given talks at different times
I: Um hm, What school?
G: Uh, [INAUDIBLE] You’re probably familiar with.
G: And I have, um, described the Korean Conflict, and I think it should be more, um, prominent in New Zealand history. I, I personally think head, the Korean Peninsula
be united under the North. It was a stepping stone for Communism and right throughout the Pacific.
G: And I feel that I parlayed my path
G: in, in doing it along with, uh, at any given time, there have been 600 to 1,200 men, Kiwis, at a time, but don’t forget we were being rotate d.
I: Um hm.
G: So I think that, um, 3rd Battalion Australian [INAUDIBLE] or Regiment, they would have 1,000, 1,000 men, uh, and we were [INAUDIBLE] Indian.
Now you, you, um, inquired about our hygiene, our showering. Um, we had shower units, uh, and we would have three 44 gallon drums.
G: strapped together with pipes, um, shell cases welded in the [INAUDIBLE] two across the
bottom and two across the top. And we had what we called the Benghazi Burner which heated a shower and sometimes was extremely hot.
I: Sometimes it’s so cold.
G: Yeah, depends when the water track poured the water.
G: Pardon me. But we would, um, walk for miles and miles and miles to have a shower.
I: Um hm.
G: And we were scrupulously clean as best as we could.
I: How often were you able to take shower?
G: Um, one or twice, eh, every two weeks.
I: Every two weeks.
G: Yeah. We [INAUDIBLE] if we couldn’t have a shower every month.
I: So you must be pretty much smelly, huh? But that’s actually pretty good because other, you know, Army soldiers, they never took shower for 18 weeks.
G: Well that, that’d be right.
G: But they, their body hygiene was terrible, you know. They’d break out in sores and ulcers. We had very little trouble like that.
I: Lucky you.
G: I, I think our worst injuries came off a football field if we cut ourselves on, on the, on the fuse because of the excessive nitrogen.
that’s in the soil. You know what I’m talking about.
I: Yeah. Um, so that’s why we are doing this. We’re not just preserving your memory, but we’re going to make it, your interview into curricular resources.
I: And many teachers in the United States working with my Foundation. They analyze this interview, and they write into lesson plan.
G: Um hm.
I: And they make a for primary and secondary resources that teachers can use
this in the classroom so that they can talk about the war that you fought.
G: Well I would like to make a special request.
I: What is it?
G: That the New Zealand education system be brought up to speed on that and that our efforts gave them the privilege to be able to do what they’re doing.
I: Mr. McIntyre, your request will be delivered, I promise you, because we already published
the, um, curricular resources in, in the United States.
I: We’re going to have another one book coming by the big Association in the United States, and now I’m talking to VA Office here, Elaine and your, um, Minister, Bernadine Mackenzie, and we talked about it. So I am trying to put together teachers here in New Zealand to write lesson plan about the war you fought using these interviews.
G: Oh, that’d be great. I think I t, uh,
if you can do, this will be worthwhile.
I: Yeah. I’m doing good job. I’m trying. I mean, it’s so silly. So many people being killed, two million civilians Korean people were being killed during the war, and 23, as long as I know, the New Zealand Kiwis being killed. Forty-seven thousand U.S. soldiers being killed, about 100,000 being killed and wounded, and we don’t talk about it.
G: That’s right.
I: It’s a shame.
G: But on the other side to admit, you look at all the kiddies that have been born and malnourished and no resource to look after them.
G: That’s terrible.
I: That’s right. So that’s what we are trying to do. Any other episode that you want to share with us? I mean you remember anything particular so that it appears in your dream?
Not on that.
I: Huh? No?
G: Not on that.
I: Now I think it’s time to invite your daughter to join you, okay ?
I: So please say your name.
N: Nicole Belunderin Robinson, nee McIntyre.
I: Um. And you are the daughter, right?
N: Dad’s youngest child yeah, and only daughter.
I: Only daughter, wow. So
N: One of five.
I: Great to have you both together,
and when did you know that your father served in the Korean War?
N: I think it might have been, I always knew that he was in the Army because Dad talked about it a lot.
N: And, um, I suppose he lives by a lot of his, Army drove, sort of, things that he’s learned like pants and shirt had to be pressed properly and
N: so sort of lived
N: that sort of I suppose.
I: Typical fathers.
N: [INAUDIBLE] for life. Um, but probably I think
I would have been about 11 or 12, still at primary school, but in one of my final years at primary school, and I had to do a speech cause I used to do Toastmasters and speech competitions. And the topic I chose was the Korean War which we didn’t study in school. I knew nothing about it, only other than the fact that, uh, Dad obviously knew about it, and that was a topic because that was spoken about it at home that I used. And I used it that year in my speech competition.
N: In fact, I found my little cue cards from that speech not that long ago.
N: Yeah. So that’s probably when I learned more about it and about that, probably when I was about 11 or 12. But if it hadn’t been for Dad, I wouldn’t ever had know even through my high school schooling, it was not talked about. In fact,
I: Not at all?
N: Not at all, um. Like I would say to my friends oh, my Dad was in the War and they’d say oh, he’s not old enough to have fought in World War II and I was like oh,
he was in the Korean War. But, no one knows or knew what that was, um. So yeah. So I did share that into my speech somewhat because it was I suppose close to our family. But I thought why doesn’t everybody know that, that’s like my Dad was injured in the War. My Dad spent his 21st birthday in hospital because of his injuries in the Korea War. So how come
I: You didn’t talk about your injury.
N: Um, so how come, you know, we don’t know any of, of, we’re not learning about it. So, yeah.
I: So you are the citizen of New Zealand, and think about the war that New Zealand soldiers been involved.
I: It’s, it’s, it’s the foundation of your country, 1840 or ’42. So what other big wars that you fought?
N: So we learned at school World War I, World War II
I: Yeah, that’s all world wars, you know.
N: Yeah. But we sort of even learned and touched on the Viet Nam War which I don’t actually think New Zealand had very much,
if any, involvement in. But
G: We did.
I: We did, but not, yeah.
N: Yeah, but the Korean War, nothing sort of really. So, um, but, you know, it was, to be fair, I didn’t take History during high school. But I know that it wasn’t part of it. I had friends that took it, and it wasn’t taught there as well. It was always just World War I and World War II really.
I: I wish that you say to me that you are the History teacher in somewhere in high school year.
N: No, unfortunately.
I: Do you know anybody?
N: Uh, that’s a History teacher?
N: I know teachers but not History teachers, yeah.
N: Well, my friends are all sport education teachers.
I: That’s why I’m doing this.
I: That’s why we are doing this. We have to. I mean, that’s your legacy.
I: You were injured, right? Where were you injured? I know you don’t wanna talk about it, but
N: Want me to talk?
I: Where were you injured?
G: Uh, in the back of my, wasn’t it?
N: You had a Battery
G: Uh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
G: I forgotten about that.
Uh, I, I honestly did. I had a pack of batteries explode.
I: Oh. How did it happen?
G: Well, there was a spark somehow that, um, should never have happened. It wasn’t my, my doing. But, uh, a whole pack of batteries exploded and that, and like, comprised of sulfuric acid. Then the gas liberator was hydrogen
G: Very explosive.
N: And he had burns on his face.
N: You had burns on your face.
G: Uh, yes.
I: Oh, that’s why you have some scars here?
G: No. That was a melanoma, skin cancer.
I: Oh, okay.
G: But that’s all cured.
G: Yeah, it’s alright.
I: So you were evacuated to the hospital?
I: Where, in the MASH unit or did you go to Japan?
G: No, it was a, uh, an Indian Forward Field Hospital.
I: I see.
G: Miraculous men.
G: But the memory out of that, of course, is, um,
I was with the New Zealand Army at this time, and, um, the continuous flow of ambulances that came in at night, just nonstop.
I: Um. Yeah.
G: But I, I’d say with respect to the New Zealanders of how fatal casualties were probably less than anybody else, and the degree of professionalism
of our soldiers was exemplary.
I: Um hm.
G: And bearing in mind, uh, that they were all volunteers. There were, uh, the officers by and large were, um, regular Army officers [INAUDIBLE] to go overseas, and they’re all very, very highly experienced men.
G: But there were a lot of guys in the, in the waiting to be sent back to New Zealand to be commissioned to carry on.
I: Um. So what do you think we can do
to, to challenge the realty that Korean War is not in the History textbook. Nobody talk about it.
N: I suppose the only thing, I mean, that we knew about in the Korean War was MASH because that was my favorite show [INAUDIBLE] But I don’t think anyone realized that it was actually based on true events or until you got on a bit older.
G: Oh, it wasn’t only them. The Norwegians had one.
G: Um, the Indians had one.
G: The Canadians had one.
G: We had a dental unit
G: Um. I don’t know definite. I can say those were definite, but the other ones I, I’m not sure about.
I: Yeah. There are six countries that actually sent a medical unit, yeah.
G: Well, I didn’t do too badly.
I: Um hm. You were not bad.
N: Yeah. I just think it needs to be part of our History textbooks. It’s part of, part of who we are and, um, New Zealand is a country that gets in and gives a hand everywhere, probably sometimes where we shouldn’t.
But the fact is that a lot of our, you know, dads and grandparents were in the war or knew someone in the war or were affected by the Korean War in some way, shape or form. So, um, I think it’s a very important part of our history.
G: And the sad thing is what we gave those people the right to, um, protest and, and go anti-war, anti-this, anti-everything and blow this off when the come back. Some of those guys came back
very, very deep emotional
I: Exactly, I see scars.
G: Uh, where my face scars, the biggest one, of course, is post-traumatic stress disorder.
G: And, uh, that doesn’t appear just like that. It just comes up over a period of time.
I: And one day you, you have a nightmare and yelling and, and screaming
G: What I know, in my case, it wasn’t like that. It was just a, gradually build up and
I: Um hm.
G: become a person separate and different to what you were before.
N: You’re grump.
G: Oh you can’t say [INAUDIBLE]
I: That’s why I love to have, put together, two of you.
G: You’ve got the loveliest father [INAUDIBLE]
N: Just as well as anyone.
I: We’re not promoting the War. We are not War monger, you know? But we need to l earn from this War, what happened. how did it happen, what is the result, and what is the outcome out of it and
how we can, what are the problems left to us, right? We are still divided. We are still divided.
G: Well, I think sadly, it’s gonna stay like that for a little while
I: Um hm
G: because the North Koreans are the most skillful negotiators in doing nothing that you’ll ever encounter. And I think that President Trump I s gong to find, find the same, same thing. They, every time they get down to the crunch, they get
concessions, but they give nothing. What have they given? They gave you Hyundai cars.
I: Yeah. So they, both of them, Trump and Kim Jung Un, are using these moments for their own agenda.
N: That’s right.
G: Possibly yes. But, uh, I, I think that, um, the last thing that Tim El Jung, is it?
I: Kim Jung Un.
I: Un, yeah.
G: uh, wants is his regime to be exposed to the world.
Course they’d string him up.
I: Yeah. That’s right. So whole point is that there are historical importance of the War itself, and there are things that we need to resolve
I: because we haven’t replaced the War with a peace treaty yet.
I: So technically at War.
N: Yes. [INAUDIBLE]
G: They tried and, Seoul is still arranged with the North Korean Artillery.
G: And they can go right into the heart of Seoul.
Only 40 miles from the DMZ, and they don’t need a missile? They don’t need, they don’t even need the short-range missile. They just need long-range cannon, artillery
I: and so will be, you know, devastate d again.
G: Oh, people will run, they’ll be devastated cause they’re living on, on the knowledge that that can’t happen.
G: And it can.
I: That’s what we wanna talk with the teachers. And so we want to educate our own educators
so that they can educate our young generation.
G: If there’s one thing that I learned when I went back was the Korean motto, freedom is not free.
G: And I think you’ve gotta keep that no matter where you go, you in particular
G: no matter what you do, freedom is not free. And how, and how much are you going to do to keep your freedom? You have to stand up for it.
I: See, that’s why I’m doing this.
I: Otherwise we cannot capture the
important points. Yes, freedom is not free.
I: And that’s the lesson we need to learn.
G: Now I think that was the biggest lesson I did learn in 2008, 2009, was it ?
I: Uh huh.
G: And she was terrified when we went up to the DMZ. She saw where we were, you know, on Hill 355
I: Hill 355, yes.
G: the one on the left way up there’s like a [INAUDIBLE]
G: and, um, one of my good friends was killed there doing exactly what I was doing, uh, a couple months after I came home, and a few weeks after that the cease fire was, um, announced. But the, um, the hammering and tonging and the confrontation was going on till the last minute to get that little bit of diplomacy, those, those, that important higher ground.
I: Um hm
G: Uh. a lot of men died,
and a lot of men need not have died.
G: Yes, Kaesong is where they
I: Very close.
I: Kaesong, yeah
I: Kaesong is North of Panmunjom.
G: Uh, no. Where the Peace Talks were
G: Panmunjom because we used to look down on that.
I: Um hm. Um hm.
G: And they used to have it marked with searchlights going into the sky so nobody do any night bombing. When I first went over there,
comical things. Watch the North, one North Korean guy, I don’t know who he was, but he, he didn’t last long, used to come over at night on a two-wing Monarch plane and drop hand grenades around us.
I: Yeah, right.
G: So somebody shot him down.
I: Bed check Charlie, yeah.
G: That’s him.
G: Bed check Charlie.
G: So I was there when that came. And the boys would say oh, silly bastard.
I: Nicole, do you know about modern Korean economy and so on?
N: Not a huge amount. Um, Out of the what you hear and see on, on the television. But I do know that, um, yeah, it has come a long way in the last 70, nearly 70 odd years. And it’s definitely not the Korea that Dad was living in.
N: when that was going on.
N: And that it’s been rebuilt somewhat. But I just don’t yeah.,
G: You do get attached to a place where you’ve been fighting.
I: What would you say to your father, loveliest father, and a Korean War veteran as you know about more Korean War? What would you say to him?
N: Oh, I’m just very proud of him and the fact that he’s, um, that he did that and that he’s still here and he’s still fit and at 88 he’s still living on his own
N: and that he’s here as a mentor to my son who’s named after dad, Heath.
N: Um, and that he can share his knowledge and
N: and with us and with Heath.
So just very, very lucky that Dad came home while he was injured. He’s come home in one piece.
I: One piece.
I: And that’s why we are doing this, to tell your son about the War that his grandfather fought.
N: Yeah. He was named after.
I: Um hm.
G: The, the, there were some, some things of note we should not be on that, but I’ll talk to you about it after when you stop because I
I: I will ask you to say something to Korean people in the context of 70th anniversary of the break up of the Korean War next year. What would you say to the Korean people?
G: Stand fast, and remember freedom is not free.
G: Be prepared to stand up for your principles. Don’t be talked out of it, and good luck.
I: Thank you, sir. This has been a great
conversation with you across the generation, and especially with your daughter, talking about she didn’t learn anything on the Korean War from the school or textbook. And that’s the realty that I want to challenge. But I need your help. So let’s work together, okay?
G: Um hm.
I: Thank you again.
G: Well may I say when you’re free, come out and we’ll entertain you and take you around, show you the district.
I: Thank you.
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