Korean War Legacy Project

Harry Hawksworth


Harry Hawksworth volunteered for the British Army in 1947 as an eighteen-year-old. He was trained in Northern Ireland and was sent to Bermuda for his first assignment. After returning home, he was sent to Korea to fight in the war starting in 1950 with B Company, Gloucestershire Regiment from Pusan up to the Yalu River. When the Chinese joined the North Koreans at the Yalu River, he was forced to retreat back to the Imjin River. He recalls how he and fellow soldiers, while dug in at Hill 144, had to fight many Chinese assaults until they were told to retreat to Hill 235 with A Company. His regiment members, with no bullets remaining, were taken as Chinese prisoners of war (POWs) to Camp Changsong where they were detained from April 1951 until the end of the war in July 1953. After surviving many camp escapes, Chinese brainwashing, and starvation, he and others were released across the Freedom Bridge at Panmunjom (the 38th parallel).



Video Clips

British Troopship to the Korean War

Harry Hawksworth recalls being summonsed to serve in Korean War. He recounts enduring a six to seven-week training program where he practiced trench warfare prior to departing for Korea on a troopship. He remembers the ship stopping at many locations on the seven-week journey to gather additional supplies.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Cold winters,Home front,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,Weapons

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Pusan Landing and Retreating to the Imjin River

Harry Hawksworth recalls arriving in Korea and docking in Pusan. He describes how African American US troops were playing instruments as they arrived and creating a grand entrance. He shares how he, along with the Gloucestershire Regiment, traveled by foot up to the Yalu River in December of 1950 without spotting a Chinese soldier. He remembers being told he would be back home by Christmas and shares how he knew that would not happen after the US and British troops were forced to withdraw to the Imjin River.

Tags: Aprokgang (Yalu River),Busan,Gaesong,Imjingang (River),Chinese,Civilians,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,South Koreans,Weapons,Women

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The Battle of the Imjin River on Hill 144

Harry Hawksworth and the rest of his company were forced to retreat back to a village near Choksong along the Imjin River in late 1950 due to the Chinese entering the war. After digging into trenches, performing reconnaissance trips, and guarding Allied trenches, he was startled by a possible Chinese invasion of Hill 144.

Tags: Imjingang (River),Seoul,Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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The Battle of the Imjin River and Being Taken as a POW

Harry Hawksworth's B Company, Gloucestershire Regiment fought the Chinese from Hill 144 until he was told to retreat to Hill 235 (Gloster Hill) in order to join with A Company and Captain Anthony Farrar-Hockley's troops. Due to the quick retreat, most of the troops had to leave their extra ammunition in the valleys below. Harry Hawksworth used six crates of two inch mortars to fend off Chinese troops. Once all ammunition was used, Captain Farrar-Hockley gave the order "every man to fight for themselves," but everyone became prisoners of war (POWs).

Tags: Imjingang (River),Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,POW,Pride,Weapons

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Life as a POW in Camp Changsong From April 1951 to July 1953

Harry Hawksworth walked at night for six weeks until he reached prisoner of war (POW) Camp Changsong in May 1951. Many of the British POWs escaped, but all were caught and punished by being placed in solitary confinement depending on the distance they escaped. After getting down to seven stones (ninety-eight pounds) due to eating only one bowl of rice with one cup of water a day, Harry Hawksworth became very sick. As the Chinese brainwashing continued, US and British POWs fought to survive every single day.

Tags: Chinese,Civilians,Communists,Depression,Fear,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Poverty,POW,Pride,Weapons

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The Release of British POWs After Armistice

Harry Hawksworth knew that peace talks must have been starting while he was trying to survive in a Chinese POW camp called Camp Changsong because the Chinese began to feed the POWs larger rations of food each day. This would help to fatten up the ninety-five pound Harry Hawksworth who had been held there since May 1951. Once the armistice was signed in July 1953, Harry Hawksworth and the other POWs were brought to Panmunjom at the 38th parallel. This is where they crossed over the famous Freedom Bridge back into Allied hands.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Panmunjeom,Chinese,Civilians,Food,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,POW,Pride

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