Korean War Legacy Project

Kenneth S. Shankland


Kenneth Shankland was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1937. Trained as a Sea Cadet in high school, he volunteered for the Royal New Zealand Navy and in 1957 traveled to the East Sea to prevent the North Koreans from invading the south. He served as a member of the Far East Strategic Reserves, stationed on the cruiser HMNZS Royalist with six hundred other sailors. His ship bombed railways when the North Koreans began transporting weapons on coastal railway lines. After leaving the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1961, he became active in Korean War organizations and presentations throughout New Zealand.

Video Clips

A Peaceful Solution for a Divided Country

Kenneth Shankland recalls how he knew nothing about Korea until he was sent to the East Sea to patrol the Korean coast. He shares that since his service in Korea, he has closely studied the developments of the Korean War, from the actual fighting to the Armistice that has not resolved the war. He adds that he would like for Korea to find a peaceful solution between the North and South.

Tags: Chinese,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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"When Can You Start?"

Kenneth Shankland recalls undertaking compulsory military training in high school. He shares how the army did not appeal to him, so he decided to train as a sea cadet. He recounts how learning to sail led to his love of the Royal New Zealand Navy. He describes enlisting in 1955. He shares that after training in Australia, he specialized in guidance technology such as weapons systems, communications, and tracking.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Home front,Pride,Weapons

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Retrofitted Ships and Bombed-Out Cities

Kenneth Shankland recalls how his ship, The HMNZS Royalist, had been modified for atomic, biological, and chemical warfare. He shares how the ship sailed all over the Pacific Ocean, eventually landing in Incheon and Pusan in 1957 to enforce the peace. He recounts how Korean civilians were living in terrible conditions among piles of rubble. He remembers naked and hungry children begging for food.

Tags: Busan,Incheon,Yellow Sea,Civilians,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,South Koreans,Weapons

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Bombardment of North Korean Railways in 1957

Kenneth Shankland describes his ship patrolling the eastern and western coast. He shares how he participated in the bombardment of North Korean coastal railways in order to stop the movement of weapons by Chinese and North Korean Communists from the mountains down to Pusan. He recounts how The HMNZS Royalist served as a significant deterrent so he did not need to worry about attacks from enemy gunboats.

Tags: East Sea,Yellow Sea,Chinese,Communists,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Weapons

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The Korean War Legacy and Hope for Reunification

Kenneth Shankland explains that the lag in understanding about the Korean War arose from soldiers in the Royal New Zealand Navy being under orders to maintain secrecy about their maneuvers. Until the 1970s, soldiers risked death by firing squad for talking about their service in Korea. He believes the legacy of the Korean War is the recovery and modernization of South Korea, but he laments to separation of the two Koreas. Kenneth Shankland shares that he does not trust either Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un to successfully reunite North Korea and South Korea.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Modern Korea

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

K:        My name is Kenneth Steven Shankland.

I:          Um hm.

K:        Kenneth is spelled K E N N E T H.  Steven is S T E V H E N.  And Shankland, my surname, is S H A N K L A N D.

I:          What is your birthday?
K:        My birthday, I, I hate to tell you this.

I:          Well, how  many, how many birthdays did you have?

K:        My birthday is on Anzac Day.  I don’t know if that means anything to you, the 25th of April, 1937.

I:          Um hm.  1937.

K:        Yeah.

I:          You are the youngest one.

K:        Maybe.

I:          So how old are you now?

K:        Eighty-two, nearly.

I:          I’m sorry?
K:        Eighty-two.

I:          Eight-two.  Wow.
K:        Eighty-two in, in, uh, April.

I:          April.  But why do you, is there any other hidden


secret about your birthday?
K:        Yeah.  The Anzac Day.

I:          That’s it.

K:        Anzac day is a day we, Australia and New Zealand returned service people celebrate the, uh, past.

I:          Yes.

K:        And their glories.

I:          Um hm.

K:        And their sadness and, every year.

I:          So that ‘s the day that you were born.

K:        That’s the day I was born.
I:          Great.  You’re born to be

K:        It means I’m a true Kiwi.

I:          Right.  That’s right.


Where were you born?
K:        I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I:          Christchurch.  That’s where I’m headed.  And tell me about your family when you

K:        My family

I:          when you were growing up, when you were growing up.

K:        I’ll start before that.  In, in, uh, about 1830

I:          Um hm.

K:        my family came to New Zealand as whalers and sailors.  That was their business.

I:          From where?


K:        From all over the place.  But basically from Britain, England.

I:          So they were catching whales?
K:        Catching whales and, uh, and processing them and making money.

I:          Um.

K:        And the, the whales died out strangely enough.
I:          Um hm.

K:        And so they changed their business to farming.
I:          I see.

K:        And they went to the Chatham Island as farmers

I:          Um hm.


and grew sheep.  And after a few years, that disappeared.  So they went to Christchurch.

I:          Um hm.

K:        and built houses.  They became house builders.
I:          Um hm.  How many siblings do you, did you have at the time, at the time?

K:        How many

I:          Siblings.

K:        Oh, siblings.

I:          Brothers and sisters.

K:        Me, at that time.  I don’t know it was still being thought about.  The siblings came later, 1937.

I:          You brothers and sisters I’m talking about.


K:        Yeah, I have no brothers and sister.
I:          You don’t.  So only child.

K:        And, yeah.
I:          Okay.  And tell me about your educational background, the schools you went through in Christchurch when you were growing up.

K:        I went to Somerfield Primary

I:          Um hm.

K:        And then I went to St. Andrew’s College, um.  How old was I, 13, 14, 12, no, before that.

I:          Um hm.


K:        About, uh, 10 years of age I went to St. Andrew’s College and on

I:          So the college here means middle school and high school.

K:        The whole, all of them.

I:          Yes.

K:        It was primary, middle and high all in one.

I:          Okay.

K:        Yeah.
I:          Um hm.

K:        And I, um, had a great interest in electronics and communications.

I:          Ah.

K:        So I was unable to, uh, find suitable work in that area,


and after I’d, uh, explored it, I looked at the Army, and they weren’t I wanted.  I looked at the Air Force, and they weren’t what I wanted.  And then I looked at the  Navy

I:          Why don’t, why didn’t they want you?

K:        No, I didn’t want them because they never had the, the range of expertise that I was looking for.  And the Navy was the one.
I:          Um hm.

K:        And, uh, I got my, um, what do you call it, school certificate


in Mathematics, Science and Chemistry which is what the Navy wanted.

I:          Yeah.
K:        So they sent me to Australia, to Melbourne, for 14 months
I:          Um.

K:        of high- pressure learning.
I:          But before you talking to the military, uh, career, I wanna talk to you, talk to you about when did you graduate school?

K:        What year?

I:          Yeah, what year.

K:        Uh,

I:          You young.  You have to remember it.


K:        I think 1949.

I:          nineteen forty-nine.

K:        Yeah.

I:          You graduate high school?

K:        Yeah.
I:          Yeah.  And at the time, did you learn anything about Korea from the school?

K:        Never knew it existed.

I:          You didn’t know.

K:        No.  This is 19, uh, 49 [INAUDIBLE] um, uh, I, I mean I’d heard that we, we formed a, an


organization called K Force.

I:          Um hm.

K:        K Force standing for Korea Force.

I:          Yes.

K:        And it was Army, and it was volunteers.  But what I didn’t know was, later on I found out the Navy, within 24 hours of Korea calling for help

I:          Um.

K:        was on its’ way, two ships.

I:          Yeah.

K:        straight away.  No arguing.  The Army had to wait until, uh,


uh, that December of that year because they  had to train people.  They didn’t have anybody to send.  So they trained a special group of people called K Force.

I:          Yeah.  So you didn’t know nothing about Korea.
K:        Not  really, no.

I:          Now you are Korean War veteran.

K:        Oh yeah.  I men I, I learned a lot, um, during my naval career about Korea cause


I went there.

I:          Yeah.  So how do you link this thought?  Nothing.  Now you are almost everything about Korea.  I mean, you are the, you know, few thousand, one of the few thousand of New Zealand soldiers who know about Korea now.  what do you think?
K:        It’s, I mean it’s, um, what can I say?  The whole, the whole business of Korea, um, was shocking


really because the, uh, the threat in New Zealand was Communism.  And the Communist Chinese jumped the border and attacked South Korea

I:          Um.

K:        and almost, almost from the map.  And then the Americans take them and, uh, them, um, Inchon, they came in on the back and almost destroyed the, uh, the Communist Chinese and


pushed them right back to the mountains.
I:          Um hm.

K:        And they should have gotten rid of them.  But  no.  The United Nations said oh no, you can’t do that.  Go back to the 38th Parallel, shake hands and be friends. Well, it didn’t work.

I:          Exactly.

K:        There was a lot of arguing and [nodji bodji] There was not, no, no end of the war.  It was a, a cease fire that’s all

I:          Yeah.

K:        which is [INAUDIBLE] Armistice there.


And, uh, it’s still in effect.  The war is not finished.   We’ve never had a peaceful solution. And that’s one thing we need to have is a peaceful solution.

I:          Ken, I think you are one of the most knowledgeable Korean War veteran about this whole history, yeah.  I mean, do you know any war that broke out in the   20th century in the world that lasted more than 70 years after official cease fire.


Do you know of any other war?

K:        Yeah.
I:          What war?

K:        Malayan War.

I:          Oh.

K:        Yes.  the, um,

I:          Are you talking about Malayan War?
K:        Malayan War.

I:          But, when did it break out?

K:        Nineteen forty-eight till 1963.

I:          So it’s not 70  years.

K:        No.  that, that’s the duration of the actual war.

I:          Exactly.

K:        But, it’s still being, um, uh,


talked about and discussed what we are with Korea

I:          Yeah.

K:        now.

I:          Yeah.  So that’s why we

K:        I’ve got, I’ve got a Malayan War medal here from, um, here, this one here.

I:          That’s the one?

K:        That’s the one.  That’s [INAUDIBLE] to me by the Malayan government.

I:          So let’s talk about that a little bit later, okay?

K:        Yeah.
I:          So what do you think about the Korean War now?  I mean, you are Korean War veteran.  You didn’t know nothing about Korea.  What do you know about Korea now?


K:        Uh, I, think it’s fair to say that I know everything about Korea now.

I:          Tell me.

K:        I know, I know that, um, that, the country has progressed beyond belief.  It’s a massive, beautiful high rise, wonderful place.
I:          Have you seen it?

K:        I haven’t, no.  I, I’m desiring to go.  I put my name down on a list last November to go


this year or next year, whenever.

I:          I’ll make sure that you visit with your daughter.

K:        I would, I would like to be there on the anniversary of the 70th

I:          Next year is

K:        Next year, isn’t it?
I:          Okay.  So you wanna go next year?
K:        I’d love to go next year.
I:          Okay.

K:        And I’ll take her with me.
I:          Yes.

K:        You’d go, wouldn’t you?


I:          Here we have, uh, Ken’s daughter, names Janice.


K:        Janet.

I:          Janet, I’m sorry, yeah.  Could you tell us your full  name?
J:         I’m Janet

I:          Um hm.

J:         Ann Shankland, Ken’s daughter.

I:          Daughter.  And you joined us today.

J:         I am.
I:          Thank you for coming.

J:         Thank you for having me.

I:          Yeah.  So I will ask you to join us later, okay?

J:         Um hm.

I:          Alright.  So let’s go back to Ken.  So what, what do you know about Korea now?


Tell me more.  Detail.  Because young New Zealand students will learn from you about Korea.

K:        It’s an exceptionally progressive country which is involved in trade all over the world including New Zealand.  And, um, uh, the, the feelings I have with young people from Korea has been exceptional.  They’re


very interested to learn about me and my country and my people, and they just love it.  And, uh, almost every year, I’m lucky enough to meet some Korean youth thro ugh the, the KVA which is  Korean Veterans’ Association.

I:          Um hm.

K:        Of those I met, um, the last number of South Korean war veterans who’ve come


to New Zealand and had a look around and talk and talk and

I:          Um hm.

K:        and it’s very interesting.

I:          Yeah.  It is amazing, isn’t?
K:        Yeah.

I:          The country you fought for 70 years ago, almost 70 years ago, was completely devastated.  But now we are the 11th largest economy in the world.

K:        Exactly.  And almost the same thing, [INAUDIBLE] slightly happened in Malaya.


Malaya was a nothing country. And now it’s a huge growth,  unbelievable, um, wealth compared to what it used to be, and here it’s the lone New Zealand sitting here.  We’ve made no gain at all.

I:          But it’s beautiful country.  You have a wonderful, wonderful territory, beautiful mountains

K:        I know.

I:          oceans right there.


K:        Everything [INAUDIBLE] you touch.

I:          Yeah.  So Malaysia is growing, too.  But South Korea has never been, never been precedented because from dust and ashes, now 11th largest

K:        That’s right.

I:          and by 2030, we are projected to be number seven in the world.
K:        Oh, absolutely.

I:          Yeah.
K:        And I often think, why doesn’t the New Zealand government go to the, Korea and say will you [INAUDIBLE] everything,


and we’ll be your supplier.

I:          I mean, you supplied the [INAUDIBLE] to, to the  Korean, uh, U.N. Forces.
K:        I know.

I:          during the war so that they would, can be, you know, maintain the warm.

K:        In the second World War, New Zealand supplied all the troops in the Pacific, Americans, Australians, whatever, with food.

I:          So let us talk about what you did after the  graduation of your high school


What did you do?

K:        Um, I, I searched for employment.
I:          Um.

K:        And I worked at a, at several, um, small factories developing in New Zealand,

I:          Um hm.

K:        in the, um, in the, um, communications industry.  But that didn’t satisfy me.  So I explored the Navy, and then I applied to join the Navy,


and I was accepted straight away.

I:          When?

K:        This was in, um, in 1955.

I:          Fifty-five.

K:        Um.
I:          So that’s after the war.

K:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So you knew that Korean War broke out.

K:        Um.

I:          Um hm.  Okay.  Where did you get the basic military training?

K:        Well, before I joined u with the Navy, I was


I:          You were K Force.

K:        No,  no, no, no.  I was a sea cadet.

I:          What?

K:        A sea cadet

I:          Um hm.

K:        You know what, um, uh, what do I call it?  In New Zealand at that stage, we had compulsory military trainings in the schools.

I:          Ah hah.

K:        In the schools.

I:          Yeah.
K:        So we all learned, uh, various trades within that meaning.

I:          Um.


K:        And I started off with Army training, and I didn’t like it.  And I requested to go to Naval training which was called Sea Cadets.

I:          Sea Cadet.

K:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Sea, as in s e a c a d e t

I:          E A C A T.  Yep.  So what did you learn there?
K:        Oh, I started to learn, I learned how to sail a boat, how to row a boat, how to be disciplined.

I:          Um hm.

K:        and the, the basics of how the Navy’s put together


and how it all works.

I:          So you were ready.

K:        I was all ready.

I:          Um hm.

K:        I’d already, I knew the weaponry.  I  knew how to pull weapons apart on the deck and put them together again and all that, all that stuff, throw hand grenades and

I:          Um hm.

K:        and so on.

I:          So

K:        But when, when I went to the Naval recruiter, he asked me my background and I told him and he said when can you start.  I said now if you like.  He said no, come tomorrow.

I:          Okay.


So where did you go from there?  Did you, did you, did you go to Japan or, uh, directly to Korea?

K:        From there, I, I went, well then about, um, two months, I went to Australia to Victoria, to the, um, to the um, it was called.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Um,

I:          What kind of, uh, training did you receive from there?
K:        Fantastic.

I:          What kind of training?
K:        Electronic



I:          Electronic.

K:        Um.

I:            Give me more detail.  What kind of electronic?

K:        Oh, everything from, uh, weapon systems, guidance systems, communications, um, the whole range of, of Naval electronics.  Um,

I:          And it was free, right?

K:        Free, right.  And I got paid, too.

I:          Yeah.  That’s awesome.

K:        And it was a place called


FND, Flinders Naval Depot.

I:          Ah hah.

K:        Uh also known as HMAS Cerberus.  It’s still there.

I:          Yeah.

K:        And, and that is the, um, the, uh, the main electronics and communications school for the Royal Australian Navy.

I:          What was your specialty then?


K:        My specialty was guidance.

I:          What?
K:        Guidance.

I:          Guidance, okay.

K:        Yeah, automatic, um,

I:          Coordination?

K:        Tracking of targets.
I:          Oh.  So you had to use a lot of radar technology.

K:        Yeah, all radar, all electronics, all, um, state-or-the-art stuff.

I:          I see.

K:        Yes.  I, I desired about that time


to become a, um, a registered, um, electronics person as a civilian, and my, my naval bosses weren’t keen on that, and they said oh, as soon as you get that, you’ll leave.  I said no, I want to say that when I do leave,  I’ve got something that I can prove to others that I’ve been


there and done that.

I:          Um hm.

K:        So after a lot of mucking around, the Navy decided that five of us could do this examination, and, uh, part of that was taking the hierarchy from the, the civilian tr, training group on the ship and showing them around.  And they were just awestruck.  They didn’t know that Naval people did, did this sort of work.


I:          So you are world of very few.

K:        One of the very few that

I:          learn from there the most advanced electronic stuff.

K:        Yeah.

I:          Good.

K:        And then, then after that, they became, um, what do, integrated between the civilian way of doing it and the Naval way of doing it, and it’s remained like that to the present day.

I:          I see. Your father is a live.

J:         Yes.

I:          So after that


acquiring so much of state-of-the-art technology, electronics, uh, from Australia, what  happened to you?  Where did you go?

K:        Then I, um, I went to, to join a cruiser which is a large warship

I:          Um.  What is the name of it?

K:        It was HMNZS Royalist.


I:          Royalist.  So let me repeat it.  HMNZ

K:        Yeah,

I:          S

K:        as in sugar

I:          Sugar and Royalist.

K:        Royalist.
I:          Okay.  It’s a destroyer.
K:        No, it’s a cruiser.
I:          A cruiser.  Okay.  And explain to the young student who listen this, what is cruiser,


and what is the difference between cruiser and destroyer.

K:        Um

I:          Do you know?

K:        Yeah.  In the, uh, thirty days of Naval organization, you had, the battleship was the kingpin.  And then that had a protection ring of cruisers.  They, in turn, had destroyers.  Destroyers had frigates.  Frigates had minesweepers and so on.


So even with the whole number of ships that specialized skills

I:          Um hm

K:        to keep the whole thing afloat.

I:          And where cruiser fit?

K:        A cruiser was at the top of the, almost to the top of the line.  New Zealand in its’ wisdom otherwise decided to purchase three cruisers from the British Navy.  It was the, um, Bellona, Black Prince and Royalist.


I:          Um.

K:        The Bellona and Black Prince were, were modified to become technically comparable for the age.
I:          Um.

K:        Royalist was fairly modified to become, um, capable of atomic, um, uh,


biological and chemical warfare.
I:          Ah.

K:        It was purposely adjusted to cope with these situations where the other two cruisers weren’t.

I:          Okay.  So most advanced among the three cruisers.

K:        Very, it was the most advanced cruiser in the world at that time.

I:          And how many

K:        Six hundred crew.

I:          Six hundred.  So it’s pretty big.

K:        Very big.

I:          Yeah.


It’s like a floating city in the ocean.
K:        Almost, yeah.
I:          Yeah, um hm.

K:        It’s, uh, interesting because they’ve got a program on tv now with the latest British aircraft carrier.  And, uh, it only has a crew of 7,000.  I worked on a ship called the USS Philippine Sea which had a crew of 5,000 and two fighter wings of the


aircraft, a bomber, helicopters.  You name it, it had it.  Huge.  Was like a city within a city.

I:          Um hm.  So you were in cruiser HMNZS, and where did you head?
K:        We went all over the Pacific.

I:          Um.

K:        Everywhere.  We went to the usual places.  Singapore was the, the usual place.  You went from Auckland to Singapore, Singapore to Hong Kong,


Hong Kong to [KOVEEY] or somewhere in Japan.  And eventually we went to Korea, went to, uh

I:          When was it?

K:        Uh, we went to, uh, let’s see, probably about ’58.

I:          Nineteen fifty-eight.

K:        Yeah.  We went to Inchon and Busan.
I:          Um hm.

I:          Now known as Pusan.


I:          And tell me about Inchon and Pusan you saw at the time.  You didn’t learn anything about Korea.  You didn’t know where it was, whether it was existent or not, and now you went to Korea and saw the Harbor of Inchon and Pusan.  Tell me the detail.

K:        I couldn’t believe how, how terrible the living conditions were there.  It was, all the buildings were broken. They’d been bombed and smashed up.  Snow was on the ground,


and kids running around with no clothes on and

I:          Even ’58?

K:        Yes.  And calling out for food, food, food.

I:          Fifty-eight.

K:        Fifty-eight.

I:          Wow.

K:        And after that, things started to get better.
I:          Um.

K:        Um, in maybe, maybe the ’58 should be ’57 when I think about it now, ’57.

I:          Um.  But why, why did you go there after the war?  It was, uh, five years after


the war.

K:        We went there because we were part of the Fifth Cruiser Squadron which was part of the Far East Strategic Reserve which had a job to do after the end of Korean War to hold the peace because there was no peace.

I:          Far East Strategic

K:        Reserve.
I:          Oh.  So you want to maintain the peace?
K:        That’s why we were there.  We patrolled the sea,


and then in, um, British Naval terms, showed the flag.  Here we are.  We’ve got guns.  We’ve got men.  We’ve got , don’t cause any trouble cause we’ll come in there and sort your out.  And that’s, that’s how it was.

I:          So how long did you stay at actually in Inchon and Pusan respectively?

K:        Oh, these were just, um, one and two day visits.

I:          Uh huh.

K:        At, at both of their time was at sea doing our job, not having a hold on


I:          Can you provide more detail about your impression of Pusan and Inchon?

K:        Well, it was like the war stopped yesterday.  It was bombed out, uh.  There was no, no public services, was almost impossible to get a phone call in from Inchon to New Zealand.  We had to do it through the regular telephone service which was very expensive, um.  It was just a broken place.  Not a


place that we had any urge to go back to.
I:          Um hm.

K:        Although it’s different now.

I:          Um.  And, so you patrolled the Korean seas.  Where?  East Sea or

K:        The East and the Western Coast, right around.

I:          Right around.

K:        Yeah.  From the Yellow Sea right around into, uh, some of these patrols could last up to 90 days when you’re at  sea for the whole time doing the same old boring job


I:          Um.

K:        Uh, we did, we did, uh, couple of coastal bombardments for the, un, Korean Army I think it was.  Um,

I:          Was for training, right?
K:        No,  no.  These were, these were, um,

I:          In ’58?

K:        In ’57, yeah.  Fifty-seven.

I:          What, what was the  target then?

K:        The target was a railway that ran along the Coast to stop the movement  of, uh, of, um, Chinese Communists


and their activities.

I:          In 1957?

K:        Yes.

I:          No.

K:        Yeah.

I:          You bombed where, in North Korea?

K:        No, in, the railway line that runs along South Korean, um, Western border I think it is.

I:          Um hm.

K:        It run, it, it, it started in the mountains and run all the way down to Pusan.

I:          Um hm.

K:        But it was being, um,


uh, utilized by, by the North Korean Chinese.

I:          Uh huh.

K:        So we popped a few shells here and there to put them off, and they went away and never came back.

I:          Really?

K:        Far as I know, yes.

I:          So that was 195

K:        Fifty-seven also.

I:          Fifty-seven, you  bombed, wow.  That’s uh, I never heard about it.


So what were you doing at the time?

K:        Patrolling at sea.
I:          Yeah.  And where did they bomb?  You were, were you in the boat, I mean the cruiser?

K:        Yeah, yeah.  I was part of the gunnery system.

I:          Wow.

K:        We were just given an order to get a certain latitude and longitude and look for a target and fire a few shots and come home.

I:          Alright.  Um, were there any immediate threat against your cruiser in the sea


from  North Korea?
K:        No because, um, on a few occasions, we saw a small gunboat which was obviously North Korean coming up.

I:          Yes.
K:        They took one look and turned around and disappeared.

I:          Hm.

K:        Cause I think we were

I:          They were no match to you.

K:        I didn’t wanna, no.  Well we, we had, um,  we had, uh, four turrets.

I:          Um hm.

K:        With two barrels


in each turret

I:          Yeah.

K:        And, uh, the, um, the barrel size was 5.25”.  So quite large.  The shell weighed 80 pounds and, uh, the rate of fire was 19 rounds a minute per barrel.  So with eight, eight guns firing, it’s a lot of, a lot of stuff being sent into the air. It did a lot of damage.
I:          Yeah.  So they, they were no match.


So there were no real rivalry in the sea, right?
K:        No, no.

I:          No.  Uh, that’s what I

K:        That, that, that’s why we were there.  We were there to

I:          Make sure

K:        to, no, have a show of power so that they wouldn’t come and try any tricks.

I:          I see.  Preventive.

K:        Preventive, yeah.

I:          Yeah, yeah.

K:        And that, that went on until, I mean, the last trip I did there was in 1959.  But I’m not sure whether that was done under


the United Nations command or, or British command.  I, I couldn’t tell you that now.  But that was the last trip I did there was 1959.

I:          Um.

K:        And it lasted about six months.

I:          Any other special episode you remember during your service in the cruiser Royalist?  Any, any other special episode that might have been danger to your, you know, life or


K:        We did a lot of bombardments around the Coast of  Malaya, um.  They were too frightened, I think, to retaliate.
I:          Um.

K:        If, if the y had, it would have been a, a bit of a shocker.  We used to do patrols through the Formosa Strait, um, escorting, uh, British cargo ships from Hong Kong to the Yangtze River.  And, of course, uh, um, the, um, um,


the Formosa Strait was a funny  place because on this side you had Nationalist Chinese, and on that side you had Communist Chinese, and they didn’t  know who we were.

I:          Um.

K:        So they’d come out and harass us.  They’d fly at us and, and at the last minute then they’d fly away.

I:          Yeah.

K:        And we’d be following them with their guns or with our.  We never fired at them.  But if they had fired, we would have.

I:          Tell me about the life inside of the


cruiser.  Where you sleep, what did you eat, how often you shower?  I mean, you were, you were wise to choose Navy versus all over Army because if you were in the Army, on the front line, you couldn’t take a shower for like, uh, 18 weeks.

K:        Well, when, when we were in a, an action condition, we weren’t able to share or initiate salt water.  The, uh,


the engine room used to manufacture 40 tons of water, fresh water a day, and this was used for the boilers.  We weren’t allowed to have it to, uh, wash you and all that.  You drank a little bit,

I:          Um hm.

K:        But it was carefully measured.  We slept in the hammocks.


I:          Um hm.

K:        You know what a hammock is?
I:          Yeah.

K:        And, uh,

I:          I know inside of the aircraft carrier.  So,

K:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

K:        So, uh, we had about 14” of [INAUDIBLE] space between the hammocks.

I:          Yeah.


K:        It was all rub the heat on the shoulders literally .

I:          Yeah.

K:        And, uh, you ate and you slept and you had your happiness in the same place.

I:          Same place.
K:        No change.
I:          Um hm.

K:        And, um,

I:          But still you are guaranteed to have a nice sleep, right?

K:        Yeah, we got fed.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Um, sometimes the ship was running out of food.  So we’d have to go fishing and use the, drop a discharge over a bunch of fish.

I:          Um.

K:        Well that was the sea baits and, and pick out all the fish.  I mean, we’d be headed in we’d have nice fresh fish for a meal.

I:          Oh, I I envy you.  Do you, do you eat raw fish?

K:        Yeah.

I:          Oh, you do?

K:        Um hm.

I:          So must been good for you.

K:        Oh, yeah.

I:          Ah.

K:        Fish is, fish and fishy things are good.


I:          I went to Scotland, and the fish and chips in Scotland is so good, so fresh

K:        Yeah.

I:          And yours are good, too.

K:        Yeah.
I:          I’m trying already, twice already here.

K:        Same people.  Scottish  people came to New Zealand, and they all own fish and chips shops.

I:          They know how to do those things, you know.

K:        And I had to do it.

I:          It’s amazing.

K:        Um.

I:          Um, were you able to write letter back to your family?


K:        Uh, yes.  Sort of, because of the,  the shift routine, uh, which was four on and four off, four hours on working and four hours off sleeping

I:          Yeah

K:        Uh, you, you, you didn’t have it very, um, um, what we call it, comfortable life shall we say.  You were continuously tired, and you couldn’t be bothered writing letters [INAUDIBLE]


Is that your bag?
I:          So, um, before I forget, what was your bigger unit?  What, where did you belong?

K:        Navy.

I:          I know.  But after that?

K:        Navy.

I:          Navy what?  Do you have any other lower unit to belong?

K:        At that time, New Zealand had an Army administration, an Air Force administration, and a Naval administration, all separate.


They  never, they never

I:          Yeah.  It’s all separate.  But Army has, uh, battalion and regiments.  Did you have anything like that?
K:        No.

I:          No.

K:        It’s a crew on a ship.

I:          That’s it.
K:        That’s it .

I:          Okay.

K:        There  were, there were Royal marines.  I haven’t  menmtioned them.  Royal Marines, uh, oh, Naval sailors.
I:          Um hm.

K:        Uh, sorry.  Naval soldiers.  They, they


serve two roles on a ship.  They  man some of the guns, and they’re available to go ashore and fight hand-to-hand, um, fighting.

I:          And

K:        And they used a lot, in a lot of cases we, um, where did we go?  We went up to, to Inchon and, uh, there was a bit of uncertainty about whether things would be happy or not.


So we landed sailor, soldiers for the ones that had been [INAUDIBLE] just to show that we were there, our presence, our force.

I:          Um.  Where did you completely leave off of the Korean Seas?
K:        Never.  We never really left there because, uh, I think  I mentioned earlier

I:          You been around.

K:        We, we belonged to the, um, Far East Strategic Reserve

I:          Yeah.

K:        which involved, um,


the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and t he U.S.A..  we were working together.

I:          So then let me ask this.  When did you retire from Navy?

K:        I, I finished with the Navy in, uh, ’63.

I:          Nineteen sixty-three.  So until that time, you’ve been on and off of the Korean Seas, overtime.

K:        All around,

I:          Yeah.
K:        the Sea of Japan, the, the whole

I:          That’s what we call East Sea rather than Sea of Japan,


the Korean people.
K:        Well, it’s, we call it the Yellow Sea.

I:          Yeah.  Have you talk about your service, Korean, uh, I mean, it was after the War so Korean Operation to your  family member like your daughter here?  Have you talked to her?
K:        Not really because, um, she was too young to really know what I was doing.  You didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

I:          Um.


K:        And I, I was there, you probably didn’t even know I was there.  I was gone.

I:          Um.

K:        And back, and gone.
I:          Oh.  So you were married at the time.

K:        Yeah.

I:          Um.  Got it.

K:        Shock.

I:          So when did she born?  When was she born?

K:        Um, ask my silly questions.

I:          Why don’t you join us?

J:         Nineteen sixty-four.

I:          Nineteen sixty-four.

K:        Uh huh.


I:          So you born 1964?

J:         Yes.

I:          Join, sit very close to your father so that I can have you, both of you, great.  Okay.  Um, so Janet?

J:         Um hm.

I:          Janet, could you tell me about what you are doing now and what do you know about Korea?

J:         Um.  Well, what I, what little I knew Korea before my


own career and growing up life was from Dad.  But like he said, very little.  I knew he was away.  I knew he was in the Far East.  But it wasn’t until I returned back to New Zealand as a grown up really that I knew anything about it

I:          Um.

J:         um, and started joining Dad on functions cause he would get invited by the Korean Embassy in New Zealand,

I:          Um.

J:         to attend various ceremonies.


And then I became to know a lot more about it because I’ve gone down and seen the Korean Veterans Association members and the monument  they have here to, uh, you know, um, knowledge and everything that happened between the New Zealand and Korean relationship.  I really didn’t know.

I:          So what do you know now?
J:         Now

I:          Yeah.

J:         whenever you say Seoul

I:          Um

J:         Korea

I:          Yeah

J:         that he mentioned before about it, its’ amazing economic situation


current where it stands in the world positioning.  But it’s actually growing so fast, it’s very modern and a lot of advancements have come out  of Korea, you know, um.  You think of Korean businesses that are doing really well internationally, um.  Apart from that is the country.  Of course, I know there’s still a divide, and I know that there is the DMZ zone.  I haven’t visited d Korea myself, but  I’m, you know, know a lot more about it because Korea’s


profile is quite big in today’s economy.  And the people that I’ve met, Koreans through Dad and his networks here in New Zealand there’s actually quite a big Korean community in New Zealand.

K:        Yes.

J:         And a lot of recent immigration as well, um.  And I’ve enjoyed going along and meeting them and seeing their families here, you know, grandfathers right through to the little children.  So I’ve met some more Korean people,


more than I would have by living in the UK where I’ve been away for the past, I just immigrated back to New Zealand three years ago purposely, which is why we’re sort of become reacquainted with the story

I:          Yeah.

J:         because I’ve been away for  a long time,

I:          Yeah.

J:         since my early 20’s.  I guess I got  a wanderlust from Dad because he always talked about his story.  But again, I think when you’re a young, when you’re like a teenager, it’s not like yo don’t have an interest  in what your parents are saying.


But it’s kind of like, it’s not until you’re older that you realize that history is actually really important because the stories just get forgotten.

I:          Yeah.

K:        One thing I’d like to say regarding my service

I:          Um.

K:        A lot of people that served in the Navy, we’d had to sign an article called The Official Secret State which got us talking about what we were doing, where we’d been   and we just weren’t


allowed to discuss it.

I:          Yeah.

K:        The  punishment for breaking these rules, you’ll have to laugh at this, was death by firing squad, and it was that way until 1974.

I:          Um.

K:        So that’s the reason why I didn’t, I wasn’t able to freely talk with people about what I was doing in Korea.  So it was sort of like a, like a door shut part of my life.

I:          Got it.  Um hm.

K:        If you can understand that.

I:          Um hm, sure.


J:         Plus as Dad said that because he still worked on ships even after the end of his service.  So I knew about him traveling all around the world by ship and working on ships there in Auckland  [INAUDIBLE]  So you know, I think that I’ve always had an interest in sea faring and sea  going  tales because of it and tracing back our family history, you know, how very, dad mentioned right at the  beginning.

K:        Yeah.

J:         The very first Shanklands were whalers and sailors,  you know.  There was something


about the sea

I:          Um hm.

J:         and, you know, subsequently I’ve been on ships myself, and I’ve got  a fascination wit h that.  So it may have come from the stories.  Maybe I didn’t  really register the stories as a young girl.

K:        When, when I left the Navy, I worked for a  telecommunications company

I:          Um.

K:        called Pilometric.  It’s an international company.  But anyway, after a while, the Dutch put their finger in it, and I had a lot to do with


Dutch in the past, so I didn’t want to work there.  So I left .  And I started working on merchant ships around the Coast of New Zealand doing the same job as I did at sea, electronics communications.  And there I used to get dragged down to these ships with me, and she loved it.

I:          Um hm.

K:        and, um, a lot of her interest in shipping came from all that activity really.

I:          It’s by blood.


J:         Yeah.

I:          Let’s go back to the important question you brought up in the, before we began this, uh, interview.

K:        Um.

I:          Why did it take such a long time for everybody to recognize about Korean War and what’s been done after the Korean War,  in Korea?  Why do you think it’s the case?

K:        Well, firstly, as I just mentioned, all of the, uh,


all the troops were sworn to secrecy.  So they  never talked about it.  There were too frightened to talk about it.  So nothing was published in the  newspapers or anything about  what we were doing.  The Navy, in those days, was known as the Silent Service.

I:          But still, you could talk about the War in general, you know.  You don’t have to reveal the secrets.  But still, you could talk about Korea.
K:        Oh, you couldn’t say


we just came back from Korea cause it was a secret.

I:          No, come on.

K:        Yeah, it was.  You couldn’t say we’re going to Malaya next week to fight the

I:          Maybe because you were there in that late, 1958 and 7, and there was kind of secret mission.

K:        Well, the whole thing was secret, and I wasn’t, wasn’t until, um, uh, probably 90’s,


the 1990’s that people because inquisitive and wanted to know what happened in Malaya or Korea or

I:          Um hm.

K:        Suez Canal, that’s another place I went to.  Didn’t expect to go there.  I never volunteered to go to any of these places,

I:          Um hm.

K:        was you, you and you, go.

I:          Um hm.

K:        So it was, um, yeah, part of the Secret Sailors.

I:          So what do you think about the whole Korean War and its’ legacy?


What  is the Korean War legacy?

K:        Well, the legacy of the Korean War probably is good for the South Koreans

I:          Um hm.

K:        in hindsight  because they’re such a beautiful, progressive country.  But  it’s still a shame that they should be spread in half, and half of them live up there and they don’t get to mix with these ones here and vice versa.  It’s crazy.  I can’t understand it.

I:          Yeah.  Exactly.

K:        It’s, I mean, it’s, it’s just, from here


to that building literally, and you change from one country to another.  It’s completely different.  Same people, same colored skin, same

J:         Language,

K:        Same language.

I:          Same history.

J:         [INAUDIBLE] political thought, isn’t it?

I:          Yeah.

K:        Yeah, it’s shocking.  It’s just terrible.

I:          Yeah.

K:        And, um, to me, we should be pulling to stops  here everywhere to make them one.

I:          Um hm.

K:        Something either by trade or


financial aid or, I don’t know what it is.

I:          So what do you think about the negotiation between Trump and Kim Jung Un?

K:        Well,

I:          Be honest.

K:        I actually don’t trust either of them.

I:          Huh?
K:        I don’t trust either of them.

I:          Okay.

K:        They say a lot of words

I:          Yeah.

K:        But nothing happens.

I:          Um hm.

K:        And, uh, but we gonna have this two pair of


meeting saying why didn’t it happen last year?  Why aren’t they on the job now pushing the buttons and making it happen?  So I’m, I’m doubtful.

I:          Trump is boasting that there has been no nuclear weapons test or new missile test, and that’s he said that he deserved Nobel Peace Prize.

K:        They have had missile tests.  There was one last month.  We  have seen the North Koreans, uh,


using a supersonic missile that travels at three times the speed of one of

I:          No, that’s a Russian.

K:        But North Koreans are doing it, too.

I:          No.  North Korean didn’t do that.

K:        Yes they  have.

I:          But anyway, so you don’t trust Trump, right?

K:        No.

I:          No, I don’t either.  What do you think?  Janet?
J:         Um, yeah.  I think there’s a lot of, uh, what do you call it, blowing hot air from politicians generally.


But  leaders such

K:        There’s no substance to his political yak yak.

I:          It’s for  his private agenda.  I hope not.  But that’s really bad.  Um.

K:        You know, I know he has done a lot of good for the  American citizen.  Their economy is better.  Their, their minimum wage is being put up.  I’ve seen quite a lot of good things that were,


these are only surface things.

I:          I have, um, I have a little bit of disagreement about that.

J:         Yeah.  Um, it, it’s, it’s like, um, it’s very [INAUDIBLE]kind of policy, though, isn’t it?  You know, back t racking on a lot of global initiatives.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Stuff like that.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I think you can sort of see why if you’re looking why he comes across like that and makes these sort of policies.  But the global, it’s looking at it from an


[INAUDIBLE] way as opposed to the world we owe

K:        The Pacific is a dangerous place right now.
I:          Yeah.

K:        because we have America trying to dominate all of the Pacific Islands.  They’re trying really hard.  They try to be nice guys that all the time sneaking in, and we have the, um, the Japanese busy with their whaling again and fishing and causing a whole lot of trouble.  And then you’ve got the


um, Australians and New Zealanders and Canadians playing their little game of trying to act as goody goodies.  Who knows what they’re up to?

I:          Um.

K:        I know what they’re up to, keep America out.  That’s what they want.  But it’s a hard, a hard road.

I:          Um hm.  Any of your family have, uh, teachers in high school, middle school, teaching history or social studies?  No?

K:        No.

I:          Hm.  Um, I would like to wrap this interview with your comments about


what does it mean to witness 70th anniversary of the break out of the Korean War?

K:        I live in hype everyday that the seaman who come to any, with a final piece settlement.  That’s what I’d love to see.

I:          Um hm.

K:        That’s my hope.
I:          Um.

K:        And if I could see the 70th and that happened, I’d be extremely happy.


I:          Great.  And any message to young Aus, uh, New Zealand students about the war that you participated?  Or military service?
K:        It’s tainted with a lot of, um, hot [INAUDIBLE] rubbish, and people, people who went, uh, consider military service as a, uh, a viable option.  I mean,


there’s been some good in the paper recently writing letters, what do we need the Navy for?  Why are we buying new ships?  Why don’t we just dump it?
I:          Um hm.

K:        The thing is, the Navy has nothing to do with war as such.  The Navy has a big role to play in fisheries protection such as the Japanese mucking around their whales down in the Antarctic and Russian fishing boats coming into the Antarctic and fishing illegally.  Well, they have to have a license.


And that kind of thing.  Well that, that has to be done.

I:          Um.

K:        And nobody else can do it except the Navy.

I:          Right.

K:        You can’t put a policeman down there and say oh, tell these guys to [IJNAUDIBLE]  You  have, you have to go down there and be, be active.  And this, there’s a lot of Naval activities which are not war-like but they’re going on all the time.   People don’t see them.  They don’t hear of it.  As I said to you earlier,


the Navy is known as the Silent Service.  They don’t talk.  The Submarine Force

I:          Yeah.

K:        is known as the Unseen Service.

I:          Um hm.

K:        cause they’re hiding under the water all the time.  So it’s a very difficult situation. And, and we’ve got a funny situation now  where, um, the previous Prime Minister allowed information on Victoria Cross holders to be made public.


In the past, it was only done when the person died, not while they were still alive.  And it’s, [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

K:        Janet, anything you want to say to your father as a Korean War veteran?
J:         Um, I’m sure that a lot of people aside from myself that are proud of what you did there after the efforts, you know, to help.

K:        Well, it’s funny you should mention that because I’m sitting down in the foyer here

I:          Um hm

K:        five women

I:          Um.

K:        came after me

I:          yeah


and kissed me on the cheek and said thanks for your service.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Now, I’ve never experienced that before.

I:          Oh really?

K:        And, um,

I:          I need your jacket with the medals so that

K:        Alright.   [INAUDIBLE]  but, um, I’ve been in other places with the jacket and the medals, and nobody said boo.  They just walked past you like you’re nothing.  You don’t even exist.

J:         I, uh, I think people need to, need to be educated about what happened

I:          Yes.
J:         in the Korean War.
I:          Yes.


J:         And, uh, you know, Dad wasn’t so much active on the ground like you  mentioned

I:          Um

J:         but he played his part.
I:          Absolutely.

J:         Everybody deserves to be proud for what they did.

I:          Absolutely.

J:         You’re right.  I think people, education about stuff will affect their awareness of issues because somehow I think just because it will or not so, the not the will to unify Korea is the only reason that, you know,

I:          Um hm.

J:         must be ways [INAUDIBLE] I don’t know what [INAUDIBLE] Korean themselves what they, what they want.


I:          Yes.

J:         It would be interesting to know.

I:          Um hm.

K:        Here’s my service life.

I:          Show it to the camera, to your, yes, that’s right.  Let me refocus it, yes.  And year of the Veteran honoring those who have served, certificate of appreciation.  The government and people of New Zealand express their thanks to Kenneth, Ken Steven Shankland for the service


given to New Zealand during the Swiss crisis, the Korean War, Malayan Emergency and Deployment to the Thai Malay border.  Uh, Lieutenant, uh, Honorable Hollan Kluck, Prime Minister, oh, Honorable Rick Bar, Baker, Ministry of Veterans Affairs.  Great.

K:        See that?  I’m proud of that.  I, I wasn’t gonna bring it her until Edith checked I and [INAUDIBLE] handy.

I:          Oh yeah.  Sure, it matters.



K:        You see, the Korean War is a misnomer cause nobody here at [INAUDIBLE] is a war.  I mean, I do and, and Janet does and you do.  But the general public don’t know enough about it to make it a war.  And then we have the Malayan Emergency

I:          Um.

K:        which was a war.  People got killed.


[INAUDIBLE] and at last it’s from 1948 until 1963.

I:          Um hm.

K:        It’s not a war.  It’s a nothing.

I:          Yeah.  That’s why we are doing this, to educate our future generations.  So I hope that we can make the New Zealand version of the curricular resources book that we just published last year in the United States, and there your interview will be used, okay?

K:        I’ll tell you a funny story, not last year, the year before, I was asked to go to a school


to give a talk on German ships that, that, um, caused havoc in World War I and II to the Coast of New Zealand sunk ships.  So I was telling this story, and this little fella put his hand up and he said please sir, please sir.  I’ve got something to say.  I said okay sonny.  What, what’ve you got to say:  He said that’s all bullshit.  Never happened.  Now that is the general impression

I:          Yeah.
K:        that the public of New Zealand have about  these wars.

I:          Um hm.  But yeah.  We need to, to be careful about this kind of reactions because we don’t want, I am not and you are not, war monger, okay?

K:        No, no, no.

I:          We want to learn from the history.  And that’s why we are doing this.  And great to see you,.  Thanks for coming, especially with your beautiful daughter, Janet, and we’ll, we’ll continue to contact.  Okay?

K:        Yeah.  [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Great.  thank you, sir.

K:        Okay.

J:         Thank you.

I:          Thank you.

K:        Thank you.

J:         Thanks a lot.

I:          Thank you, Janet.

J:         [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Thank you.


[End of Recorded Material]