Korean War Legacy Project

Ian J. Nathan

Bio

Ian J. Nathan left teacher training in Wellington, New Zealand to enlist in the Army with K Force serving in the workshop platoons.  He arrived at Pusan in September of 1951.  Much of his work involved maintaining the vehicles near Euijeongbu.  The workshop platoon lived, as well as the Korean people he met during his service.  During his service in the military, Ian J. Nathan traveled through Seoul and witnessed the complete destruction of the city due to combat.  After seeing the progress and evolution of South Korea after his service during the Korean War, Ian J. Nathan felt proud, but still sad due to the civilians who are separated after the armistice.

Video Clips

Platoons within Ten Company

Ian Nathan arrived at Pusan in September of 1951. After three weeks organizing the vehicles and men of Ten New Zealand Transport Company, his workshops platoon moved north to merge with other platoons. There is a lot of equipment needed to maintain military vehicles, but the jobs are shared among the skilled company of about fifty men.

Tags: Busan,Euijeongbu,Suwon,Basic training,Front lines,Living conditions,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3MiEWkz9E&start=246&end=496

From Teacher Training to K Force

At twenty-three years of age, Ian Nathan entered teacher training college, but he left to join K Force. He trained in Burnham Military Camp and then he transferred to Darwin. In Darwin, he joined the rescued soldiers from the Troopship Wahine that had run aground on a reef outside Darwin. They flew to Japan and then to Pusan.

Tags: Busan,Basic training,Home front,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3MiEWkz9E&start=113&end=242

Winter Quarters: Engineering a Tent and Shower

Ian Nathan and the workshops unit designed warmer quarters with petrol tanks for his troops. They pieced together a building for relatively warm showers in the frigid Korean winters. Many of their projects involved re-purposed military equipment to make new supplies the soldiers needed.

Tags: Euijeongbu,Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3MiEWkz9E&start=915&end=1144

Small Boys, Heavy Loads, and Weather

Ian Nathan pictures of his time in Korea. One photo has a small Korean boy carrying a load supported by an A-frame pack. Other photos represent living conditions, such as a tent covered in winter snow, and a swollen creek blocking access to the latrines in the rainy season.

Tags: Euijeongbu,Civilians,Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions,Pride,South Koreans,Women

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3MiEWkz9E&start=1152&end=1282

Letters to Mom

Ian Nathan did not have a girlfriend at the time of his service in Korea, but he wrote to his mother and brother. His brother helped him identify Venus from his observations of the dark night sky from his tent. Ian Nathan visited Seoul once during his time in the Army, but the city was in shambles due to the fighting that occurred there. Markets were set up, but most of the goods had been created from scavenged items. He contrasts his experience with pictures of modern Seoul.

Tags: Euijeongbu,Seoul,Civilians,Front lines,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Letters,Living conditions,Modern Korea,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,South Koreans,Women

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3MiEWkz9E&start=1606&end=1777

Democracy v. Totalitarianism: Walls Don't Work!

Ian Nathan considers the Korean War very important to world history, particularly due to the development of South Korea as a highly educated, economically strong nation with a stable government. He feels the seventy-year time span since the armistice is unfortunate, with gamesmanship and the sadness of separated families between North Korea and South Korea. He compares the divide between North and South Korea to the Berlin Wall and the Donald Trump wall on the southern United States border.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Seoul,Civilians,Communists,Front lines,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Message to Students,Modern Korea,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3MiEWkz9E&start=2016&end=2262

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

I:          My name is Ian James Nathan.  My surname I’ll spell.  N for Nellie, A for Able, T for Tango, H for Hotel, A for Alpha, and N for November.  Nathan.

J:         What is your birthday, sir?

I:          Ninth of July, 1926.

J:         Twenty-six?  So now you are 90?

0:00:30

I:          Two.

J:         You can cheat the people by saying 72.

I:          Okay.  Ninety-two, 1926.  And my wife is three years older.  She’s actually 95.

J:         Oh.  And still alive, right?

I:          Still pretty well at the moment.

J:         Yeah.  Where were you born?

I:          In Wellington, New Zealand.

J:         That’s where I’m headed to, to do more interviews there.  And

0:01:00

tell me about your family background when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.

I:          My father was a, worked on the railway.  He was an engine driver.  My wife, my moth er never worked apart from home duties.  I have three brothers.  Peter the oldest, myself in the middle one and Mark my youngest one.

J:         Um.  And tell me about the school that you went  through.

0:01:30

I:          Primary school, I went to Hawera which was in Taranaki.  And I went to [TAMARI] District High School which is in the middle of the King country, [TAMARI].  I left school at the age of 14 and went to work on the railway, and I served an apprenticeship as a fitter.  At the  age of 23, I decided I had a better future somewhere else, so I entered  Teacher’s Training College

0:02:00

But this training was interrupted because I volunteered to serve in K Force.  So in June, 1951, I entered camp with K Force.

J:         You joined the K Force voluntarily.

I:          Yes, yes, volunteer.  I had, had enlisted in the [TERRITORIAL] Force earlier  [INAUDIBLE[  But I enlisted in K Force and went to camp in June 1951.

0:02:30

J:         Um.

I:          And I, uh, trained briefly in Burnum Camp, and then I was sent to, or transferred to Trenton which is in the North Island just North of Wellington.  And in August I went through to Sydney.  We spent one night there and flew down to Darwin where I joined up with my college who had been on the Wahini which had been ripped

0:03:00

on the reef and soldiers brought back to Darwin.  I flew from New Zealand to Sydney up to Darwin and met them all there.  I had about, um, three weeks I guess there.  I was posted to [INAUDIBLE], well not [INAUDIBLE], to the Workshop platoon, and when the unit was formed in Pusan and south Korea, um, I must go back.

0:03:30

We, we flew to [IWAKUNI] in Japan where we were fitted with clothing suitable for Korea.  Ands we crossed the strait to

J:         Pusan?

I:          Pusan.

J:         Um. When did you arrive there?

I:          Probably around September  1951.  And I joined up, we set up our workshop with, um, tools and all that sort of equipment

0:04:00

that was necessary to run the, a workshop.  We took to our vehicles.  I can’t remember how long we were in Pusan.  But we motored North from there as a, we must have had two or three weeks for picking up our vehicles, checking them for [INAUDIBLE] All the vehicles, most of them anyway, had previous service in the British Army.  We had two platoons from [INAUDIBLE] Bedfords, uh,

0:04:30

plus machinery wagons and recover vehicles in the [INAUDIBLE] platoon plus various load carriers as well.  So we traveled North in convoy.  We stayed overnight  at two or three different places. [STAMMERS]  Anyway, the third one was Shoehorn.  I remember that.

J:         Yes.

I:          Shoehorn.  Then we moved up to Uijeongbu

J:         Um.  So before we go into more details of your, um, battle experience or  service, let me ask this question.

0:05:00

Did you know anything about Korea before you leave from here for Korea?

I:          Didn’t even know where it was on the map.

J:         Anything you know about Asian history at the time?

I:          No.  Not really.

J:         Not really.  You didn’t even know about China and Japan?

I:          Oh, I was aware of them, of course, yes.  Well we were concerned in those days about cheap Japanese toys coming into the market and that sort of thing.

J:         Ah.

0:05:30

I:          And I can remember having a little tin plate car that was made in Japan and I was very taken with it cause New Zealand is not a manufacturing country.  And, most of those things are imported here.

J:         Um.   So you didn’t really know much about Korea.

I:          No.

J:         No.

I:          No.

J:         And when you were dispatched to Korea, what was your unit?

I:          Ten Company.

J:         Tenth Company.

0:06:00

I:          Ten Unit or Transport Company.

J:         Transport.

I:          Yeah.  [INAUDIBLE]

J:         And what was the regiment and

I:          And the actual platoon I was in was Workshop Platoon.  I have a photograph here of the platoon.

J:         Yes.

I:          The platoon was about 50 people, 50 men of various trades, um, mechanics, blacksmiths, [INAUDIBLE], um, carpenters, tentmakers, um,

0:06:30

tinsmiths, yeah.

J:         What about the bigger unit?

I:          It was a transport company.  When we arrived into the operational area up at, uh, Uijeongbu, we linked our [STAMMERS] another company with transport, a transport platoon which had been there since the 31st of December, 1950.  They were equipped with Chevrolet three ton trucks, and they became a platoon of 10th Transport Company.  So the other two transport companies

0:07:00

were B and C.  A further platoon in the company was a [INAUDIBLE] platoon which was designed to handle rations and break down rations for individual units in, within the company.  The Workshop Platoon sent us the [INAUDIBLE] from the three companies.

J:         So your specialty was driving?

I:          No.  It was in the workshop.

J:         Oh.  So tell me more detail.  What did you do?

I :         The workshop was composed,

0:07:30

as I mentioned, of about 40 or 50 blokes of various trades as I mentioned, mechanics, [FIXERS] tinsmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters and what have you, um.  Some [INAUDIBLE] truck radiators, mechanics, of course, on the main from mechanical defects and so on.  And we operated as a workshop.  It was set up in three sub units.  There were two

0:08:00

vehicle units and a general one which covered the vehicle mechanic trades.  The officer was a, uh, I think Tom was a Lieutenant, A. W. Cooper.

J:         Um.

I:          And, um,

J:         So from Uijeongbu, did you go further North or what happened?

I:          I think we turned off the

0:08:30

[MSR] at Uijeongbu and moved up to about two or three kilometers.  I’m not sure of the distance.  We set up on a flat area with a little creek running alongside.  Uh, no.  That. the 2nd post [INAUDIBLE] the creek.  There was no water there.

J:         So you were in the rear region.

I:          Yes.

J:         Yes.  And how was the situation in the front line at the end of 1951?

I:          It was fairly stable.

0:09:00

There wasn’t a great deal of movement, um.  Uh, occasionally I’d go up to the guns.  I had a friend who was a gun Sergeant and, um, things were fairly static at that stage, um.  Kapyong had been six months earlier than that.  And [INAUDIBLE] rockets.  I’m not a gunner.  The gunner seemed fairly stable and not moving.  We, of course, as a woodshop, we didn’t go anywhere.  We stayed there, and people came and vehicles came into us.

J:         And you repaired those, take care of.

0:09:30

I:          Well we, we had a system, um, of ours.  I became a Sergeant fairly shortly after we landed in, in Korea

J:         Yes,

I:          [INAUDIBLE] Sergeant.  And we, the, the detached a Sergeant  every month, and he was, we used to call in, um, eight vehicles a day comprising fire to load carriers, three toners,

0:10:00

so we’d have two from each, two companies, one from the third, and they would have long load vehicles such as water tanks and jeeps and so on.  And the Sergeant was detached, he would thoroughly examine each, each of those vehicles, eight of them, and lots of defects was passed on to the ordinary room who then passed it to the workshop, operational side.  By doing this, we maintained independence, um.  I myself did about a month on that,

0:10:30

and at the final part [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Um.

I:          And so at that time, they was running about 150 vehicles in the company comprising each of the transport companies would have three, 30, uh, presumed 30,   I presumed 30, probably have 34 [INAUDIBLE] and make sure they could maintain the tasks allocated to them.    I’m going back 70 years.  You know me.

J:         Yeah

0:11:00

I:          Um,

J:         You’re doing good.

I:          So each of the units also had a mechanic, and we called in the vehicles once a month and the mechanic who was attached to the unit, he would also examine them fortnightly, fortnight, after we’d done workshop.  And so the work, defects, what we found on the vehicle when they reload

0:11:30

as I said [INAUDIBLE] dispatched worksheets to the technical people who [INAUDIBLE] from within the unit.  And, and so while doing that, doing vehicles, we generally finished up round about, um, oh, 27, 5, 27, 28th of the month.  So we had no vehicles coming into the workshop for repair on, on, [INAUDIBLE]  fixing towards the end of the month.

0:12:00

Awe, of course, did get vehicles that broke down on the road.  But this is rather rare because, in fact, by having this rigorous examination every month, and it was a rigorous one, we sort of kept the vehicles in good shape, um.  And so what that meant towards the end of the month, we sort of ran out of work, not really, but for something to do.  Uh, we also had a problem because the vehicles were beyond local repair or even beyond economical repair.

J:         Um.

I:          Um, and these were put aside

0:12:30

If they  were beyond local repair, we could somehow make the components to repair them, put them back on the road, we’d do that.  But if they were beyond economical repair, the, uh, they were transferred somewhere, back to Japan or someplace, I’m quite sure.

J:         Were there any Korean people working with you in the shop?

I:          Not really.  We picked up a Korean orphan, a little boy about 10 years old, and he would, we had a very good cook,

0:13:00

two cooks actually.  But they both cooked.  And we had this lad working for them, fed him, clothed him and gave him [INAUDIBLE].  And he scrubbed the pots and what have you, yeah.  Um, not at that location but at a later one, we had a lady appeared, and she used to wash, do our dirty, a washing her clothes and things, um.  What she wore, where’d she sleep?  I don’t know.  She was there.  And you take your clothes and you’re lucky you got them back the next day or whatever.

0:13:30

J:         And you’d pay them.

I:          I guess so.

J:         Yeah.

I:          I presume so.

J:         Um.  What were you thinking when you see this orphan working for you, looking for anything?

I:          Well, he was perfectly happy.  He loved it.  He was [MORE FAIR] I can tell you.  You lived in the cookhouse, you get the, cooks are never

J:         He was lucky kind of.

I:          Well, I guess he was.  Where he came from, I don’t know.  We saw very few Koreans, uh, on the ground.  I’ve got  a photograph of him

J:         Yeah, take it out, take it out.

0:14:00

And

I:          I’ve got various photographs here.

J:         When you were there, were you able to see some Korean cities?

I:          Yes.  We used to run a, um, as I say, getting back to that working schedule, if there was no work in the yard on Saturday, we would fire, we worked six days a week, Monday to Saturday.  And towards the end of the month, we, if all the work for Sunday, the yard was clear, um,

0:14:30

we’d work on Saturday or Sunday.  That was a good day off cause it was pretty intense.

J:         So where did you go?

I:          Oh

J:         On Sunday.

I:          I rested.

J:         Rested.  But

I:          That photograph the workshop.

J:         So please.  Show that to the camera.

I:          That’s me in the middle there somewhere.

J:         Middle somewhere.

I:          All I know.  Well, there’s the boss who, who was dressed slightly differently.  And that’s me

0:15:00

right next to him.  That’s [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Ah.

I:          Those chaps on this side were three, works at Warrant Officer.

J:         Okay.  What else you wanna show?

I:          Oh, that’s not a problem.  This is the, this is what, this is us, this is at wintertime.

J:         Tent?

I:          There’s the three of us.  That’s me

0:15:30

on this side.

J:         Um.
I:          The chap standing in the middle was the Workshop Warrant Officer.  And the other two, the third chap was the Administration Sergeant.  And there was a tent, and to make it more comfortable, we elevated it by putting rows of ammunition boxes around the base and put a bigger center pole so we could literally walk around inside the tent

J:         Um.

I:          And there you can see the door, one, one half of the front of the tent.

0:16:00

And boxes, wooden boxes they were, and we made, and if you look at the door, you’ll see that we made a door, again out of wooden boxes

J:         Yeah.

I:          And at the top, the windows, [INAUDIBLE] we came from the Norwegian MASH which was down the road a couple of kilometers.

J:         I see.

I:          And you’ll also see a chimney there

J:         Yes.

I:          And on the side somewhere, you’ll see a four gallon petrol can

J:         Um.

I:          And, uh, we

0:16:30

each got a medal as a workshop, we have the tools to make things and do things.

J:         Right.

I:          We experimented with that I suppose.  We had several fires.  But I think this might be the finished one.  And we still had four gallons of petrol a night from that tank they had to go through.  Uh, one of us would [INAUDIBLE] in the middle of winter, we’d turn, we’d lock the heater and, four gallons used to last about 7:00 the next morning.  So

J:         Yeah.

I:          It kept us warm over night.

J:         Yes.

0:17:00

I:          That, that tree was only put there to make it look like a home.  But it wasn’t actually growing.

J:         I see.

I:          Again, being

J:         You could make all these things because you are the one who could.

I:          Here, this is our workshop.  This was our shower unit.  As you can see,

J:         Shower?

I:          Shower, yeah.  We found, just sort of found,

0:17:30

an 800 gallon tank which we put up on the top of the hill, and we [INAUDIBLE] watered down to about 44 gallon drum.  And we, we sort of through the middle of it a chimney made of expired 25 caliber gun ammunition

J:         I see.

I:          which we got from the until, and they sat on each other and because they were brass and [HEATED], they  locked on and became airtight.  Towards the bottom, um, about two or three,

0:18:00

three or four inches from the  bottom

J:         Um hm

I:          we put sand into it, at the bottom of it and it had a base, and we drilled holes around it and petrol fit straight into

J:         Genius

I:          And would go up and it heated the water from the shower.  We had three shower heads.  But because the guys were pretty reluctant in the wintertime as you may know, Korea has a very,

J:         Very cold.

I:          A very cold winter.

J:         Hm.

I:          And the guys were reluctant to have showers.  So we actually had another heater we put in, inside the, any rooms that were down the front here.

0:18:30

So that was the whole shower unit with three, with three shower heads.  But again,  my, we had tinsmiths on the ground.  We had mechanics, fixers, you name it.  We’re able to do the job.  So that was our

J:         Yes.

I:          And we, the water got, just our drinking water would fill a 700 gallon tank which sat on the side of the hill.

J:         Uh.

I:          And that’s, uh,

0:19:00

J:         What is that?

I:          Here I’m with one of the local people with his A-frame.

J:         A-frame.

I:          And you, a little boy which I was surprised, was also with his Z-frame.  Heavy load.  I don’t know how these children managed to carry these things

0:19:30

because we weren’t allowed to wear shorts

J:         Um.  Can you show it up to this point?

I:          There I am with my undies on.

J:         Hold on.

I:          That’s me with my undies on, wearing beret and boots and gators, in my [INAUDIBLE] and my underpants.

J:         Hm.  Amazing that they can carry so much, right?

I:          Oh I, I, really, and the man, too.  That’s a huge load.

J:         Hm.

I:          And they’re not big people.  I mean I’m not hugely tall.

0:20:00

But see how much taller I am than the, the man?

J:         Yeah.

I:          He’s quite, um,  We’re talking about how, this was a winter shot of us, of me standing outside our tent with the snow.

J:         Um.

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Yeah.

I:          And you see heavy ropes to hold the tent down.

0:20:30

J:         What is that?

I:          I mentioned a second post we were loading.  She came and did the washing for us.

J:         Yes.

I:          And she washed them in a creek.  But then the rains came.  So we had, we had made a very bad tactical mistake.  We put the toilets on the other side of the creek.  So when the rains came,

J:         Almost flood.

I:          and there, too.  So we had to run

0:21:00

this old truck chassis on a narrow plank so the guys, all of us, could get across to the toilet which was on the other side.  And this is what it looked like in the middle of the rainy season.

J:         Um.

I:          Oh, these are photographs of camouflaged roads.

J:         Um.

I:          You’ve probably seen this sort of stuff before.

J:         Um.  Camouflage.

I:          Yes, camouflage.

0:21:30

J:         Alright.  So let me ask this question, sir.  What was the most difficult thing.  If I ask you to pinpoint during your service in Korea, what really bothered you?

I:          Nothing really.  Um, we were kept fairly warm, um.  As I mentioned, we had the, shouldn’t tell these stories out of turn, but the Administration

0:22:00

[INAUDIBLE] was one of the three of us.  And when the wintertime came, we were issued British sleeping bags.  And, and we were issued two.  And in the, and after.  But mistakenly, one of us hadn’t been issued.  It was stored outside our tent and somehow or other, we got a third one which we used as a mattress on our

0:22:30

J:         Any other, uh, dangerous moments during your service?

I:          Well one day I was watching, I was in the woodshop and I noticed a group of beings standing in a circle right down the  end of the woodshop area and I was curious to what was going on.  So I went down there and discovered to my surprise it was a group of very brave Kiwis had a snake in the middle of the group, and they, including me, were quite terrified

0:23:00

of this animal cause New Zealanders don’t know much about snakes, and we were scared of them.  But fortunately,

J:         Because there is no snake here in New Zealand, right?

I:          Yeah.

J:         Yeah.  You really never seen any snake here?

I:          No.

J:         No,

I:          Never.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Exactly.  Anyway, one of the chaps in the workshop was actually an Australian, and he knew how to deal with a snake, which he did.  But, uh, you know, I’m terrified of snakes, and I, I can understand why because I’m a New Zealander,

0:23:30

and the first snake I’ve ever seen, um.  Anyway

J:         Um.
I:          So that’s one thing that, um, I never saw another snake, uh.  I did see a snakeskin that one of the [DENTAL] Sergeant had shot, and he’d skinned it, and it was about 6’ long.  I was quite surprised.  [YOU HAD] to go looking for it.  But we did have one funny experience, thought.  One day, not at this location but somewhere, other location,

0:24:00

we discovered on the ground a little owl, and we thought it was a baby owl.  And so Jim, my tent mate, and I, we picked this thing up and we put it in a shoebox and we tried feeding it and it didn’t feed or anything like that.  So we didn’t know quite what to make of this thing.  So, uh, eventually next day, we looked up in the tree and found there were one hundred of these damn things up in the tree.  It wasn’t a baby one at all if we presumed right.  It was the first owl I’d ever seen, and there it was.  It was a mature one that had fallen out of the tree.

0:24:30

So it wasn’t a scary experience at all.  We were being kind to this little animal.  But uh, this little bird.  But, uh, anyhow.  Never mind.

J:         Um,

I:          We did have, you mentioned problems and things.  As a, as vehicles, um, some of the  drivers who were less than savvy about driving in cold conditions,

0:25:00

and they would tend to, some of them, would tend to top up the, uh, vehicles with water and thereby weaken the anti-freeze.  Now the problem of this was that because the anti-freeze had been diluted, it meant that  it froze.  And, because the winter was so cold we had a lot of trouble with, with, um, you’d see a truck going down the road steaming

0:25:30

it’s heat off because the anti-freeze was not circulating around the whole, just around the top of the engine block.  It was like a steam engine.  But, uh, another problem was with, of course, with, uh, if water got into the petrol line, it would freeze and block the petrol going through.  So that created a problem because you had to uncouple the whole, the mechanics did, uncouple the whole part, or couple line and thaw it all out.

0:26:00

But sometimes the whole engine would freeze up.  We had on issue to us, uh, these emergent heaters, and we had a 44 gallon drum and we’d fill it with water and we put this diesel [INAUDIBLE] thing in the engine and boil the water.  And we’d have to throw buckets of water at the truck to thaw out the engine

J:         Um.

I:          which was quite a tedious and quite unnecessary job.  But, um, the drivers are not always the sharpest knife in the drawer and, um,

0:26:30

without thinking this is what they’d do.  So that was some of the problems we had in the woodshop.  And

J:         You were not married at the time?

I:          No.

J:         No.  Did you have a girlfriend at the time?

I:          No.  I had on girl write to me occasionally, but, uh, no.  I have, uh, I have it right here.  [INAUDIBLE]

J:         The letter you wrote to your mom?

I:          Yeah.

J:         Oh.

I:          I took the envelope here.

J:         Where is it?

0:27:00

Show that to me.  Show that envelope.  Let me look at it.

I:          The stamps been taken off.

J:         Ha.  Can you read that?

I:          And on the back of it, I’ve got, um,

J:         Can you read what you wrote in the

I:          Uh, Mrs. C. Nathan, 19 Bombo Street, Nio, Wellington N4, New Zealand.  Along the top of the envelope I’ve written  On Active Service.

0:27:30

J:         Yes.

I:          And on the back I’ve got Sergeant I, J. Nathan, Workshop Platoon, [INAUDIBLE] NZAPO444. This was on the back of the envelope.

J:         There’s no contents in it.
I:          Oh, it’s been 70 years.

J:         What did you write about?

I:          Oh, I don’t know.

J:         Hm?

I:          I don’t know, can’t remember.

0:28:00

Oh, I remember once writing to my, I also wrote to my older brother, and I was interested one night to see in the sky a particularly bright star I’ll call it.   And it was rather intriguing most of, several nights I, I took out a compass and got the bearing.  I also estimated its angle and I wrote home to my brother who was also in Wellington.  And he went to the [INAUDIBLE] so he came back with a reply that it was Venus, the planet Venus.

0:28:30

So I was quite impressed.

J:         Um.

I:          And you see these things when you’re not living in a house with electricity.

J:         Were you able to look around any city in Korea while you were there?

I:          No.

J:         No.

I:          We used to run a truck on a Sunday down to Seoul.  Um, I went once, and in those days, it was really a derelict city.  I don’t think anybody lived there.

J:         Tell me about the details of the city

0:29:00

you saw.

I:          Well, it was just a shambles.  And it had markets set up and the local people were very ingenious and, and scavengers.  They could haul empty beer cans and make all sorts of interesting things out of them.  Uh, one thing that I did  buy which I found interesting and I sent it to my brother was a pair, 6 x 30 binoculars which had the hammer and sickle on them.  I thought that was rather interesting.  I was just wondering what her story was.  And I gave it to my brother.

0:29:30

I never saw it again.  But, uh, it was something unusual that I saw, um.  I’ve seen pictures of Seoul now and I think gosh, what a wonderful city.

J:         Have you been back to Korea?

N:        Never.

J:         No.  So are you following up with what’s been done in Korea?

I:          Oh yes, I do.  Sure, sure.  I’m interested.  But I’d never go back, uh.  We have the opportunity to go, we did have, but I was declined and, um, I have no real reason for going back.

J:         Um, so you know that Korean economy is now in the world, the 11th largest.

0:30:00

Oh, I wouldn’t be surprised.
J:         Why not?

I:          The people are hard working.  That’s pretty important, isn’t it?

J:         Hm.

I:          You’re saying yes.  Agreed.

J:         Yeah.  Yeah, but other, other people in other countries, they work hard, too.

I:          Yeah.  I don’t know.  I’m not an economist.

J:         When you left, when did you leave Korea ?  When you leave Korea?

I:          Yeah.

J:         When did you leave Korea?

I:          Oh.

0:30:30

It doesn’t say.  I served in Korea one year and 26 days.  I must have left there round about, um, September, October.

J:         October.

I:          October.

J:         October 20, ’52, right?

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

0:31:00

J:         And

I:          Yeah.  And, uh, it doesn’t say when I left.  That was in my, um, details of my promotions and things, see.

J:         Um hm.  Yes.  You, it looked like you left ’52 January.

I:          No, it wasn’t January.

J:         No.

I:          No.

0:31:30

It would have been September.

J:         September.  And

I:          I guess.  Because, um, we heard a rumor went around, rumors can spread, and we heard that our Staff Sergeant was returning home to New Zealand with six Corporals, instructors to train our replacements, replacement drivers for 10 Company.  And there were only four Staff Sergeants in the unit, and I was one of them.

0:32:00
And we discussed this a lot before and, uh, we just didn’t know, of course.  Anyway next day I called up the Command, Company Headquarters and they said you’re going home to New Zealand tomorrow [INAUDIBLE].  And so I went back to, uh, Seoul and we stayed at the British Army Transfer Camp and flew back to, to Japan to Hiro where the New Zealand base camp was.  And I got

0:32:30

a photo somewhere of us, this is a photo of us taken, Iwakuni Airport waiting to catch a plane to return to New Zealand.  That’s me on the front there with, this one here is me.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Um.  So I, we, I came home to New Zealand and I, uh,

0:33:00

well we, we flew from, uh, Iwakuni to Guam to Portmothby to Sydney.  And we stayed overnight in Sydney and flew back on a, um, [FLYING BIRD] to Wellington.  And after a few days’ leave, our, I went to Waiouru initially and then eventually to, um, [INAUDIBLE] as a Warrant Officer training,

0:33:30

assisting in the training of replacement drivers.

J:         Okay.  What is the importance of the Korean War in world history in the 20th century in your opinion?

I:          Well, I think it’s very important to have a, an Asian country, we were very stable economy, a very stable government.  You look around and see what’s going on in, in, uh, Myanmar or Burma, um,

0:34:00

Cambodia, Viet Nam, they are not stable, particularly North Korea, um, consider we are [WINDOW DRESSING] for, foreign observers.  But South Korea being a very stable country with a very good government, um, they are very educated people, um.  I think it’s very important to have in Southeast Asia.

J:         Um hm.

I:          Yeah.  They make very nice cars.

0:34:30

And, and Hyundai I see in the news last night, uh, earth moving machine made by Hyundai, Hyundai they  pronounce it on the television  [INAUDIBLE] Korean War.

J:         Next year, which is 2020, will be the 70th anniversary of the War.  I mean, it’s been 70 years since we signed the Armistice.  But never been replaced with a Peace Treaty.

I:          That’s right.

J:         What do you think about  that?

0:35:00

I:          Well, the first world war is the same.  They’d only had an Armistice.

J:         Yeah.  But, I mean the first world war is [INAUDIBLE] yeah.  And there, there has been the, but this one is the 70 years, 70.  What do you think?

I:          Yeah, it’s, it’s a bit unfortunate.  I, I think there was a lot of [GAMESMANSHIP] here I guess is the right word.  But it

0:35:30

was always interesting to me that when they were having the Peace Talks at Panmunjom that, uh, South Koreans and Americans would have their little flags there.  But the North Koreans would have bigger, higher flags.  And there’s always this gamesmanship.  If one had two things on the table, the other had three.

J:         Three, yeah.

I:          You know what I’m talking about.

J:         Childlike.

I:          Exactly.  And you know what I’m talking about.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Um.  It seems sad to me those restrictions in the North,

0:36:00

and you got families who are restricted and can’t get back to see their family in South Korea who are enjoying a prosperous life.

J:         What would you say to young New Zealand students about the war you fought for?  We’re not promoting the War.  But is there any lesson or anything that you wanna say to them?

I:          Yeah.  War, wars don’t usually solve anything, do they really?

0:36:30

Maybe get those games I just talked about, [INAUDIBLE], whatever, um.  We see it going on in the States now with President threatening to, well, he has.  But, um, emergency powers to build his wall which will accomplish nothing because walls can’t keep  people out.  Building walls [INAUDIBLE], and now we’ve got the Korean one.

J:         Hm.

I:          It doesn’t really stop North Koreans getting down.  But the South Koreans

0:37:00

don’t want to go up North.  It’s a one-way trek which tells you something, doesn’t it?

J:         Yeah.  But it has a very strong contrast between North and South about the economy, the way of life and democracy versus totalitarians?

I:          Well, North Korea’s only got one friend, and that’s China.

J:         Um hm.

I:          Unfortunately, China’s got 1.4 billion people, and it’s a very powerful nation

J:         Yes.

I:          who’s threatening New Zealand.

J:         Um.

I:          Us poor innocents.  They’re down here.

J:         You’re threatened by Chinese here?

0:37:30

I:          Well, you read the papers.

J:         Why?  They buying too much here?  Um.

I:          Well, live and let live.  I’m more concerned about, uh, power change.

J:         Climate change.

I:          Which the  President of the United States denied this.

J:         Yeah.

I:          But why are we having, it’s the first time ever in New Zealand t o have these huge fires.  Look at something in Australia.  It’s not fires, it’s floods, heavy rain.

0:38:00

J:         Yes.

I:          Look what’s happening in Queensland.  Bloody crocodiles swimming up the main street.

J:         Um.

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Northern Queensland, yes.  That’s what’s happening.  But anyway, is there any other message that you wanna leave to this interview?

I:          I enjoyed my time up there, um.  It was quite interesting.  One of the things I did wonder, and I was just [INAUDIBLE] I asked my best friend why did they come to Korea?  One chap’s

0:38:30

answer was which rather surprised me that his friends used to drink in the hour or so on a Saturday night and he couldn’t.  Said by going to Korea, he could join the [RCA].  But back to your original question.  Very, very few knew where Korea was and, uh, that tells you something about our education system.

J:         Yes.  And that’s why we are doing this.  We are making curricular resources for the teachers in the United States

0:39:00

that’s been published by the biggest, uh, Social Studies Association in the United States.  And could you read the title in the cover?

I:          Korea’s Place In Teaching World History.

J:         Yes.  Could you show that to the camera?

I:          Oh, there it is there.

J:         And we are making same kind based on these interviews of Korean War veterans about the Korean War and its’ legacy.

0:39:30

So that’s why we are doing this, okay?

I:          Well, you got such a strong economy that you can do this sort of thing.

J:         Um.

I:          Oh, I like Korea.  I don’t have problems.  I had no wish to go back to Korea again.  I was pleased to be there.  It was a surprise to come home.  When you, when we went, we didn’t know, there was a strong number that was introduced later

J:         Um.

I:          would be quite some time  but now it seems, I told you it was going to be 18 months.

0:40:00

We knew nothing about that when we enlisted.

J:         Yes.

I:          Um, and I suppose one of the reasons I enlisted, I received an effect that I had no chance of serving in the second world war because I’ve got circumstances not of my making but government policy [INAUDIBLE] my attendance, my services.  But, uh, I never regretted going to Korea.

0:40:30

J:         Hm.

I:          I think it was a great place.

J:         Great, Ian.  Thank you for coming and sharing your story and wonderful pictures.  Thank you again.

[End of Recorded Material]