Harry Hawksworth volunteered for the British Army in 1947 at the age of eighteen. He was trained in Northern Ireland and was sent to Bermuda for his first assignment. Upon returning, he was sent to Korea to fight in the war with B Company, Gloucestershire Regiment. In 1950, he traveled 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. His regiment members, with no bullets remaining, were taken by the Chinese as 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).
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.
Pusan Landing and Retreating to the Imjin River
Harry Hawksworth recalls arriving in Korea and docking in Pusan. He describes how African American United States 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.
The Battle of the Imjin River on Hill 144
Harry Hawksworth shares how he 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.
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. He shares how most of the troops had to leave their extra ammunition in the valleys below due to the quick retreat. He describes how he used six crates of two-inch mortars to fend off Chinese troops. Once all ammunition was used, he recalls that Captain Farrar-Hockley gave the 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 shares how he walked at night for six weeks until he reached the prisoner of war (POW), Camp Changsong, in May 1951. He remembers how many of the British POWs escaped but notes that all were caught and punished by being placed in solitary confinement depending on the distance they escaped. He recalls becoming very sick after getting down to seven stones (ninety-eight pounds) due to eating only one bowl of rice with one cup of water a day. He recalls brainwashing sessions held by the Chinese and remembers how the US and British POWs had to fight to survive every single day.
The Release of British POWs After Armistice
Harry Hawksworth recalls knowing 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. He shares how this helped him fatten up after being held captive since May 1951 and weighing only ninety-five pounds. He explains that once the Armistice was signed in July 1953, he and other POWs were brought to Panmunjom at the 38th parallel. He recalls that it was there where they crossed over the famous Freedom Bridge back into Allied hands.