John Pritchard volunteered for the Army and he was sent to Korea in 1952 as a craftsman for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers an Army Apprentice. As a 19-year-old, John Pritchard worked his way up from a 3rd Class Fitter to a Sergeant by fixing anything from tanks to mobile bakeries during the Korean War. Conditions in Korea were bad with civilians living in cardboard boxes and ox carts being used for local travel from Pusan to Seoul. After working with Americans and Canadians in their workshop, John Pritchard learned far more mechanical content than he ever thought he would on his own.
Why Join the Army?
John Pritchard discusses his reasons for joining the army at a young age. He was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers [REME] known as "Remes" created to handle all mechanical and engineering work for the British Army. He was trained as a mechanic and he even learned to make his own tools.
First Job in Korea
John Pritchard was dropped off in Pusan and was shocked to see civilians living in cardboard boxes without any sanitation. After one day, he was sent to Geoje Island to work in an American workshop to fix a water tanker. He was impressed with the tools available to the American Army.
The Various Jobs of a REME Engineer
John Pritchard helped a group of English entertainers by fixing the ambulance they were transported in after breaking down in transit. They kept a very unique souvenir hanging from their flagpole. This humorous episode was balanced by the realities of war, including one episode where John was sent off base to tow a mortared tank and came face to face with human loss.
Christmas in Korea
John Pritchard spent Christmas off for 24 hours due to his commander speaking up for his men. To show that he cared for the commander, John Pritchard and a few lads went to Seoul to buy a Christmas present for him, 400 cigarettes, and this made him cry.
R&R in Tokyo
John Pritchard took a 5-day R&R in Tokyo which was his first 5 days off after an entire year in Korea. Armed with a lot of cash, he and his mates were ready for a break. From the food to the stiff bedsheets, readjusting to normal life and conditions was odd for the men.