Harry Hawksworth volunteered for the British Army in 1947 as an 18 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, Harry Hawksworth had to retreat back to the Imjin River. While dug in Hill 144, he had to fight many Chinese assaults until they were told to retreat to Hill 235 with A Company. After fighting until the last bullet was used, Harry Hawksworth’s regiment were taken as Chinese prisoners of war (POWs) in Camp Changsong from April 1951 until the end of the war in July 1953. After surviving many camp escapes, Chinese brainwashing, and starvation, he was released across the Freedom Bridge at Panmunjom (the 38th parallel).
British Troopship to the Korean War
Harry Hawksworth was chosen for the Korean War after he volunteered for Army in 1947. After 6 to 7 weeks of training where he practiced trench warfare, he was sent to Korea on a troopship. With 7 weeks of travel to Korea in 1950, Harry Hawksworth's ship stopped at many locations to gather additional supplies.
Pusan Landing and Retreating to the Imjin River
As Harry Hawksworth was docked at Pusan, Korea when he arrived to the Korean War. African American US troops played instruments as they arrived and created a grand entrance. Starting in December 1950, Harry Hawksworth and the Gloucestershire Regiment traveled by foot up to the Yalu River without spotting a Chinese soldier. Even though he was told that he would be back home by Christmas, he knew that wasn't going to be true after the US and British troops had to withdraw to the Imjin River.
The Battle of the Imjin River on Hill 144
Harry Hawksworth and his B Company, Gloucestershire Regiment had to retreat back to a village near Choksong along the Imjin River in late 1950 due to the Chinese joining the war. After digging into trenches, performing reconnaissance trips, and guarding Allied trenches, he was startled by a possible Chinese invasion of Hill 144. Luckily, it was not the Chinese yet, but as the end of April 1951, Chinese were coming close to an assault with the British.
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 6 crates of 2 inch mortars to fend off Chinese troops. Once all ammunition was used, Captain Farrar-Hockley order "every man to fight for themselves," but everyone became prisoners of war (POWs).
Life as a POW in Camp Changsong From April 1951 to July 1953
Harry Hawksworth walked at night for 6 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 7 stones (98 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.
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 95 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.