Peter Ford was born in the borough of Waltham Cross in London, England, in 1932. As a young man, he and his friends would pick up shrapnel from the bombs that were dropped on London during World War II. He left school at the age of fourteen and secured a job at a Co-Operative cabinet factory in Enfield. He worked there until he was “called up” for service in the Royal Army Services Corps in 1952. After training as a driver, he received orders to go to Korea. During the War, he was assigned to the 26th Field Ambulance Unit of the 1st Commonwealth Division where he performed driving duties that included resupplying rations as well as the evacuation of wounded soldiers.
Arriving and Korea
Peter Ford speaks about arriving in Korea in 1952. He describes driving through Seoul. He discusses how he had no idea why he was assigned to the 26th Field Ambulance, explains where the unit was set up, and recalls being told what his assignment was. He shares a story of being stopped for speeding.
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Freezing Water and Oil
Peter Ford speaks about the cold weather. He gives an examples of how quick water would freeze. He shares that he had proper winter clothing and the effects the cold could have on vehicles. He explains a scenario where he made a mistake in the cold.
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Peter Ford recalls how he received news that the Armistice had been signed. He recounts how the Commonwealth division he was assigned to was comprised of various nationalities and how it decided to hold a sporting event. He comments on his participation as a runner and recalls placing third in the event.
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[Beginning of recorded material]
Peter Ford: My name is Peter Ford. I was in the Royal Army Service Corps, which has since been changed to probably the Royal Logistic Corps, the Royal Corps of Transport, I think it’s now the Royal Logistics Corps. My rank was driver, but when I moved to Hong Kong after leaving Korea, I was promoted up to Lance Corporal for a while.
Interviewer: OK. So, Peter, just before
we get into the nitty-gritty of Korea and stuff, where are you from? What was your life as a young person, as a boy, pre-war?
Peter Ford: I was born in Waltham Cross in 1932. My life growing up was, was quite good. Like all youngsters at the time, we all went to school, but I got on quite well at school. Unfortunately, schools then were not like they are now.
I left school when I was 14, started work. I went into — I was interested in furniture making, I went into wood machining, and I got a job at the Co-op Cabinet Factory in Enfield. I stayed there ‘til I was called up for National Service but as I was going to college at the time, I got deferred for a year
or so and after my deferment, I ended up going into the Royal Army Service Corps when I got called up, and I signed on as a regular.
Interviewer: When you — When you were at school at Waltham Cross, leaving at 14, just tell me a little bit about your education. Did you — What was your geographical knowledge of the world like? Did you know of Korea at the time?
Peter Ford: No, no, we never knew anything of Korea at the time, not at that age. We was only young kids at the time
and we used to go out, we had the blitz on at the time, I can remember I, at the time when the war started, the Second World War started, I was about seven, seven or eight at the time, and I can always remember the sirens going off at 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning on the 3rd of September, when the war started. And us kids
at the time, you know, it never really — I don’t know, it never really bothered us, we never bothered. We used to have the raids coming over. Myself and my friend John, we used to go round the morning after the raids, picking up all the bits of shrapnel and stuff, and if you was to see some of the stuff that came down, you could understand why, you know, people got killed with all this shrapnel, it was big chunks.
Sometimes we’d pick up the base shells and they were quite large, they was about 3 inches in diameter and about a quarter inch thick. And also, being right near what was at the time the Royal Gunpowder Factory, where my father worked during the war, there were all the raids, a lot of them were targeted round that area. But then, you know, we had the escalating
of the doodle bugs, the V1s, that used to drone over and stop and everybody used to stand holding their breath and waiting for them to go down.
Interviewer: Was there any direct hits on the gunpowder park, or the …
Peter Ford: No, there was a near miss one day when all of us kids were up the road, we was playing football or cricket or something or the other one afternoon when there was a tremendous explosion
and we looked down towards Waltham Abbey and seen this plume of smoke going up, so we all rushed in, got our bikes and pedaled off as fast as we could down to Waltham Abbey. And at the time, where you go into the Abbey where the factory was, there used to be a little hump-backed bridge that used to cross the canal. Well, that’s as far as we could get because the other side of the canal,
of this bridge, there was a massive hole in the road. All the pipes were alight and everything else.
Interviewer: When you got conscripted, what year was that?
Peter Ford: Oh . . . I think it was about 1950, ’51.
Interviewer: So had you heard of Korea then?
Peter Ford: No. No. It wasn’t until I was actually in the army, after I’d done all my basic training and driver training and
what-not, I got posted to HQ Southern Command on staff cars, and it was from there that I got posted to Korea, from there.
Interviewer: So just talk a bit about what you were doing pre-Korea, then, as a conscript.
Peter Ford: Well, like everybody going in, you got your normal basic training. After I’d done my basic training, they sent me on an N.C.O.’s course. Well, nothing happened after that,
I don’t know if they thought I wasn’t any good as an N.C.O. or what, but I got posted to HQ Southern Command at Wilton, just outside Salisbury. I was there for a while until I got posted to Korea.
Interviewer: Did you want to be a driver?
Peter Ford: When I went in and signed on in the Army, you had a choice, you know, of what you could go into. And I thought, as I’ve got to do two years,
I might as well sign on and do the other year, and do whatever I wanted to do, go into whatever branch. And I decided to go into the Service Corps and learn to drive and everything else.
Interviewer: What were you driving?
Peter Ford: Well, I passed my test on a lorry to start with, and well, we drove anything after that, really, once you’d passed your test.
Interviewer: OK. So then, so then you got word about Korea. Were you nervous about it? Did you look into it, or …?
Peter Ford: No, no, no. Like everything in the Army, you get told what to do and when to do it, sort of thing. No, we … I went on leave after I … on embarkation leave, and when I came back, we got sent off down to Southampton and got put on the Empire Fowey, and off we sailed to Japan, which took us four weeks. Down through —
Down through the Bay, through the Med, down through the Suez Canal, we had one or two stops. We stopped at Aden, Port Said, Singapore, Hong Kong, and then we went on to Japan, Kuri in Japan. That …
Interviewer: Had you travelled before then, much?
Peter Ford: No, no, not at all. No. I think it was the first time
for all of us going, where it was, really, going out there. But …
Interviewer: What year was it? Do you remember?
Peter Ford: Oh, ’52, 51, the end of ’51, 52, something like that. And after … it wasn’t ‘til we got to Korea, you know, that you got posted to your various units.
But when I got there, we went … we got put on a train and we went to this aerodrome. We got on the train and we went up through – I can always remember, we went through Hiroshima. I can always remember that name, because as we was going through there, you could actually see the bowl, the shape of the ground, where the atomic bomb had been,
because you know, you could still see it, like a dish.
Interviewer: A dish?
Peter Ford: Yeah, and they took us to this … There was only a … This is what I can’t understand, there was only a few of us they’d to take over to Korea. Instead of going by a boat to Japan to Seoul to Pusan, they stuck a few of us on this Dakota and flew us over. They give us parachutes and Mae Wests
and put us on this old Dakota and you can imagine walking across the tarmac with this parachute dangling behind your legs. I don’t know what they expected us to do, but … Yeah, but why they only flew a few of us over, I never did find out why. Then I got sent up to 26th Field Ambulance.
Interviewer: What do you remember of the landing and sort of coming out and seeing Korea? Was it in Seoul, was it
that you landed?
Peter Ford: I can only … I can only .. Yeah I can only assume it was Seoul. To be honest, I didn’t take a lot of notice of where we landed. I can only assume it was Seoul, but — or just outside. I can remember driving through Seoul at the time and a lot of it was flattened where, you know, all the activity had been. Of course, we moved further up
where the unit was at the time, it was in reserve.
Interviewer: Why were you posted to 26th Field Ambulance?
Peter Ford: I don’t know. Only the Army can tell you that.
Peter Ford: But why I was posted there, I’ve no idea.
Interviewer: So, you were a driver and then you just …
Peter Ford: Yeah.
Interviewer: So, you were on the ‘Blues and Twos’?
Peter Ford: Pardon?
Interviewer: You were on the ‘Blues and Twos’
Peter Ford: No, we never had ‘Blues and Twos’ then. You know. You just drove anything. You’d get assigned to a job. You could be doing anything, one day driving a lorry,
a truck, anything.
Interviewer: Tell me a bit about … You know, you said the 26th Field Ambulance was in reserve. What do you remember sort of arriving there? What was the set-up like? Was it a hospital, or was it just a reserve base, or … What do you remember?
Peter Ford: At the time it was just a reserve … What I can remember of it, it was just a reserve base. They was in reserve at the moment. The Indian Field Ambulance was there, and I can remember we took over from the Indian Field Ambulance, but a lot of the things are a bit sketchy.
There was a load of mug tents and everything else and you got assigned to wherever, whatever we was doing because part of the unit was the transport and the other part was the ambulances, you know, which is all part and parcel of one thing. So, all the transport was one side, the ambulances, the ambulances was … the medics were the other side, but it was all one unit. But … We were there, they were there, but
it was all one.
Interviewer: OK. And do you remember your first job there, what was your first … When you were sort of like ‘This is how it is’. Do you remember your first sort of …? What is your first memory of that role? And what — do you remember what you were driving?
Peter Ford: Er, yeah, I’ve got some photographs in this album here of one of the trucks what I was driving …
Peter Ford: The trucks I was driving at the time. So, there’s quite a few photos in here,
some of which might jog memories and what-not but … This album here I picked up in Korea whether I got it off somebody, off an American P.X, I can’t vaguely remember, but, yeah, that’s where I got it from.
Interviewer: How would you get a job? I mean, how did it work? Were you just given a ticket with a time, did you have a . . .
Peter Ford: No, no. The sergeant would come round and say “You’re doing so and so, you’ve got to go here, you’ve got to go there” or something had come up, it’s . . .
It was just you’d carry on doing what you were assigned to do.
Interviewer: Did you have a driver’s mate or anything? Or a doctor with you?
Peter Ford: No, no. Sometimes I was … Well, a lot, a lot of the times, I was on my own. Once I got stopped by the M.P.s for speeding — I don’t know how ridiculous that could be, in a theatre of war you get stopped for speeding, but I got pulled up
in front of the Old Man, the major in charge of the transport, he told him to go and take a jump. It’s absolutely ridiculous. We did have a laugh about that, though. You know …
Interviewer: What do you remember about the landscape because you were obviously going here, there and everywhere?
The landscape? Well, the roads were only graded, there were no tarmac roads.
As you can see from some of the photos in this album, when it rained, it was like a quagmire and when it rained, it did rain. And when it was hot, it was hot, and the cold, vice-versa.
Interviewer: And do you remember being … Do you remember, you know, any of the particular sort of landmarks that you could see around you, and stuff? Did you … Were you crossing over the Imjin?
Peter Ford: Yes, at one time, when we moved up, we was on the north bank of
the Imjin, and I remember one morning, it was either a Saturday or a Sunday morning, I know it was one morning, we was on the north bank of the Imjin, we’d just moved up, we was on the north bank of the Imjin and on the south bank was the Yankee Engineer Battalion. And early one morning we heard these jets come over, these Sabre jets, and they started strafing and bombing up one of their own units.
So, we all dived into trenches and everywhere else. So yeah, that was quite an experience, that was, to see that happen, but, you know, but how it happened, hell only knows.
Interviewer: And where were you … when you were moving out to, you know these different places, how … what was your accommodation like? What . . .
Peter Ford: Well, there was one place where we moved up, there’s some photographs in this album, of …we were just dug into the hillside
and everywhere else. You we … you just done as best you could, really.
Interviewer: So, were you in huts, like everyone else? You weren’t under canvas?
Peter Ford: In the main unit, there was canvas, but when we moved up, like I said, you just dug yourself in.
Interviewer: And what about food? What do you remember about the food you had?
Peter Ford: Oh . . . To be quite honest,
I can’t remember. I know one Christmas, the Christmas there, we had … I’ve still got the menu from that Christmas, in here. But I still can’t remember what … I did get … I have got a photo in here of our cookhouse, well, just a makeshift tent, really. A lot of the times I used to take
the wagon and go down to the quartermaster’s stores, pick up the rations for the unit. I used to go down in the big Q.L. and pick them up.
Interviewer: What’s a Q.L.?
Peter Ford: It’s a three-ton Bedford.
Interviewer: So, when you were driving, were you driving … What was your sort of role? Were you driving an ambulance, or were you driving a vehicle, like …?
Peter Ford: We drove anything.
You wasn’t just assigned, you know, you drove anything, really. not just one vehicle. Sometimes you might have a vehicle, one vehicle for a few days, but you just drove anything.
Interviewer: And when … if you had an ambulance then? Were you picking up injured people?
Peter Ford: We’d pick people up … You see, what would happen is the casualties would come down from C.C.P., which is the Casualty Clearing Post, and from there
they’d come down to the Field Ambulance, and from there down to M.A.S.H.
Interviewer: So, you were connecting with the M.A.S.H.?
Peter Ford: Well, they used to come down to us and then the chaps used to take them down to M.A.S.H.
Interviewer: Oh, right, so you wouldn’t take them to the M.A.S.H.?
Peter Ford: No. Well, you might do sometimes, but it depends really what you were doing. Like I said, you know, anybody done anything wanted at the time.
Interviewer: You mentioned about these Sabres coming in and rattling the Americans.
Do you remember … Do you remember hearing battle in other environments? Or were you too far back?
Peter Ford: I think we was too far back. That was … I think that was a one-off at the time but, you know, we was a bit further back at times for that. Sometimes you might hear something, but not very often.
Interviewer: What about rats? Did you see the rats?
Peter Ford: Rats?
No, never seen any rats.
Interviewer: Just in terms of your own health, did you have to take the Paludrine tablet?
Peter Ford: Yeah, we used to get Paludrine tablets sometimes, and sometimes we used to take them, but quite often we didn’t. No, I never got malaria out there. The only time I did get malaria was when everything was all finished and the armistice and after that
I got posted to Hong Kong. During the winter, it used to get really cold. If you put a bowl of warm water outside, you know, it had frozen over in a matter of seconds, it was really cold. But we did get issued with winter clothing, which was quite good.
Interviewer: What about the vehicles and stuff? Didn’t they need … Did you have to do special things to keep the vehicles running, and what have you, in the cold?
Peter Ford: Well, on the ambulances and that, they used to use
pure glycerine in the radiators so it didn’t freeze. But to be quite honest, I slipped up one day, I should have drained one of the vehicles off overnight and I didn’t, I’d forgotten. I went to start it up in the morning and I realised that the block had frozen so I casually left it, I didn’t start it up, I casually left it until later in the morning and luckily enough it had thawed out.
Interviewer: Did you ever go to a convalesence area, Inchon?
Peter Ford: Yeah, I went to Inchon. Yeah, I spent … You were supposed to have gone on R and … what they call R & R, every three or four months, but I was out there for about 9 months before I got any leave to Inchon. And I also … You also went on R & R
to Tokyo. And I came back from Inchon only to find out that my application for Tokyo had been approved and I was more or less on my way back again, on to Tokyo. But then I had trouble with a mate of mine, he said he’d put all my gear in the Q stores, er
and he didn’t, and they come round and they was inspecting and all my gear was there, so when I come back, I was up on a charge before the Old Man. And there were two charges in one day, one for speeding and one for not having my gear stowed. Luckily enough, I got away with both of them.
Interviewer: Did you … When you were driving around, did you meet other Commonwealth regiments?
Peter Ford: Yeah, we often used to bump
into various ones. One day, I happened to be going down to the ration point to pick up some stores and I come across this American jeep in one of the monsoon ditches. Some American General, goodness knows who he was, he couldn’t get out and I give him a tow and ended up with a big packet of Lucky Stripe fags.
Interviewer: Did you meet the Turks?
Peter Ford: No, I don’t think I did. No. Unfortunately, the only ones I did see was at one of their memorials when I went to the Military Cemetery in Pusan. Originally the cemetery at Pusan just had wooden crosses on the grave but now
all the crosses have been changed, they’re all in marble now.
Interviewer: Why did you go to the cemetery? Oh, was that when you left?
Peter Ford: When we left, yeah. Yeah. On our way back out.
Interviewer: What about … You mentioned E.N.S.A. What do you remember of E.N.S.A.?
Peter Ford: Well, I remember we had, we had two, two lots. The first one we had, there was an Australian
They used our ambulances as dressing rooms, which I’ve got photographs in the album. And the second one we had was some time later, was a New Zealand, a Maori touring party. They done the same sort of thing.
Interviewer: How important was that sort of thing? Was it good for you?
Peter Ford: You know, I think it … I think it bucked the morale of the chaps up, because obviously, you know,
being out there all that time, we hadn’t seen anything like it or heard anything like it, you know. So, it did make a nice change, sort of thing.
Interviewer: Did you have a Major Downs? Was he your leader?
Peter Ford: A Major Downs? No.
Interviewer: Who was your kind of commander then, your C.O.?
Peter Ford: Our Major? Oh . . . Our N.C.O. was a – What’s the –
I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name. He was a Major.
Interviewer: So, obviously, you’re in an ambulance, you’re picking up injured people. Are there any that stand out? Any of your experiences?
Peter Ford: Not really. We’d have these, these helicopters used to come in now and again, they’d got stretchers on, you know, either one or both sides of them, which were covered over with … any injured parties were taken off in the helicopters
and they used to land occasionally. But there again, I’ve got some photographs of those as well.
Interviewer: And so, were you taking injured people to the helicopters, or were you bringing them off the helicopters?
Peter Ford: Taking them to.
Interviewer: Any of your casualties that stand out, that you can think of? I mean, were they being looked after in the back or were you just literally driving them there and they were fending for themselves?
Peter Ford: No, no, the medics more or less took care of all
the casualties. We just done all the … what was necessary, like, but, yeah, the medics were taking care of all the casualties.
Interviewer: What was the relationship like between the medics and the drivers?
Peter Ford: All right, there was no animosity, anything. We all got on. We all had a job to do and we just got on and done it.
Interviewer: Did you ever have any sort of feeling about the Koreans and the Chinese as an enemy?
Did you ever have any dealings with them? Did you see … Were they ever injured and carried by you guys?
Peter Ford: No. We had one or two, I can always remember, towards the end of the hostilities, we had one or two Koreans in the camp that used to help out, but… No, we used to get on all right with them, we never had any problems
Interviewer: Did you ever see any of the propaganda that the Koreans were doing?
Peter Ford: No, no.
Interviewer: Too far back.
Peter Ford: Yeah.
Interviewer: Did you go up to the Hook
and Hill 355?
Peter Ford: Yeah, we was behind the Hook at one time, and 352. At one time, we was up behind the Black Watch when they were there.
Interviewer: Did you ever see the, like, the cable thing that ran up 355, taking stuff up and down?
Peter Ford: No, no,
Interviewer Did you ever see the barrage balloon? There, that was the Peace balloon?
Peter Ford: No
Interviewer: Did you ever have journalists?
Peter Ford: Have . . .?
Interviewer: Journalists. Did you ever have journalists accompanying you?
Peter Ford: No, no. I never bumped into … Whether there were any there, I don’t know, but I never bumped into any of them. I never saw any of them. The only really civilians we seen were the E.N.S.A. parties that turned up. But as I say, there might have been some journalists about, but I never saw any.
Interviewer: What about the general Korean population? Because you were further back, were you more — Were there . . . [unintelligible] ?
Peter Ford: Yeah,
yeah, they was further back, we never had any up where we were, no population at all. Because all that up there, the Korean peninsula, that part, it’s all very hilly, more hills than anything, you know. So it’s not what you would call flat. But apart from civilians, there was no civilians up there.
Interviewer: But did you ever get scared in the job, like when you were –? Were you ever get exposed, when you were driving to places like
the Hook and that? Were you ever under Chinese observation and . . .
Peter Ford: Well, I suppose we were, at times, but I don’t know. We never seemed to bother about it, I don’t know whether we was naïve or what, but . . .
Interviewer: Did you ever carry napalm injuries?
Peter Ford: Napalm injuries? No.
Interviewer: Right. You talked about — Were you there for the armistice?
Peter Ford: Yes.
Interviewer: What do you remember about that?
Peter Ford: Well, when everything finished, we got a message one day to say all the hostilities had finished and the armistice had been signed. And as we were all part of the First Commonwealth Division, there was all these different nationalities in this Commonwealth Division and they decided that after all this had finished, they decided to hold a sports meeting.
A gathering, a what’s-er-name. They’d made this track up and they decided to have this what’s-er-name, sports event. Whereas I’d done a lot of running before, I used to do a lot of running, and there was a chap in our unit, one of the medics, he used to be the Southern Areas cross-country champion, or he was. And after all the hostilities, we used to go for a run
together like, you know, but . . . I could always outpace him. So, we decided to have a go at this sports meeting. And the last event was a three-mile event, so me and him entered this three-mile event. I don’t know what happened to him, but that day I got my tactics all wrong and I only come third. So, I came third in
the Commonwealth Division three mile out of all the lot.
Interviewer: How many?
Peter Ford: I don’t know, all that entered out of the Commonwealth Division. There was — The race was won by a New Zealand chap. I can’t remember who came second, what nationality he was.
Interviewer: Do you think you could have won, though?
Peter Ford: If I’d have kept up with the front, yeah, probably. But that’s another story. Like when I was at training camp.
They had a sports meeting and we had this drill sergeant, he thought he was the bee’s knees. Because I used to go down on the track and do a bit of training and they had a meeting one afternoon and the first event they held was a mile. So I entered the mile and, well,
coming round the last bend, nobody seemed to be moving at all, so I just pulled out and passed the lot of them, and I won the mile. Later on in the afternoon, I thought I’d enter the haf mile, and when I went down, it wasn’t, it was a quarter. A quarter mile. And I thought ‘Oh, God!’ Anyway, I drew the inside lane, so I thought, ‘Oh, well, there’s nothing for it’ so I got my head down and just kept going, so I won the quarter as well.
Later on in the afternoon, this sergeant, they had the three mile and he thought he was going to win that. How on earth things turned out as they did, I shall never know, but the chap who came second to me in the mile, we decided to run together in the three mile. So we was going round, we was about half way, and he dropped out and left me. I was last
and we was quite a long way behind the others. And I thought, ‘Oh, well, got to keep going’ Anyway, as I went past the start, I asked the old Corporal, ‘How many laps to go?’ and he said ‘Four’, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll catch them up in a couple of laps, and have a couple of easy, or an easy lap behind them’. Anyway, I did manage to catch them up and I just outpaced them at the end, so I won the three mile. So it was a mile, a three mile and a quarter,
all in one afternoon.
Interviewer: That’s . . .
Peter Ford: That was a good afternoon, that was, you know. But — That’s, you know –That’s not fiction, that’s fact.
Interviewer: Good for you! Did you carry on running, after that?
Peter Ford: Well, after that, I got posted to, posted to HQ at Aldershot. No sooner had I got there, somebody came round from the Battalion office [
and wanted me to run for the Battalion in the Aldershot Games. That was a disaster, that was. So, you see, nothing had been said by me when I got there, so you can see how things travel. Word of mouth travels, things like that happen. But that was a disaster. No, I got nowhere that day.
Interviewer: How did you feel, you know, when you knew there was, that Korea was ending? What was the morale like?
What was the feeling like?
Peter Ford: Well, if you — You can see by some of the photos in here, it was quite cheerful. There was, you know, jubilation, like. You know. Things — Things got moved on, people got reposted to help elsewhere. I got posted to Hong Kong, so . . . My three years that I done, I spent about four, five months in England. The rest was spent abroad.
I spent a year in Korea, another year in Hong Kong. Then I came home.
Interviewer: So for a young man, that must have been really quite an enjoyable experience.
Peter Ford: When I got to Hong Kong it was, yeah.
Interviewer: How do you reflect on Korea now?
Peter Ford: Well, when I went — When I went back, the Korean people were quite hospitable, and to be honest, the Korean Government looks after the veterans,
the Korean veterans, better than the English Government does. There’s no — There’s no comparison. They treat the veterans out there a lot better than, you know, our Government does. Not only that, we’ve all been given the Korean Peace Medal and an Ambassador of Peace certificate, which I’ve got copies of there,
which they sent to me. Well, they’ve also sent me a copy but I got presented with mine when I went back out there. All these various functions that we attended, like, you know, we went to the British Embassy, a garden party at the British Embassy, and various other functions. We also handed out sponsorship to the Korean children while we were there.
Interviewer: What about this sort of thing that it’s a ‘forgotten’ war?
How does that make you feel?
Peter Ford: Oh, it makes me annoyed really because a lot of the World War Two and World War One and things like that and Afghanistan and Iraq and all that are mentioned and not never a thought was given to Korea, and there was more casualties and people killed out there in Korea than in the others put together.
Interviewer: Did you ever lose anyone out in Korea?
Peter Ford: Not to my knowledge. The only one that I ever lost was a mate of mine, he got court-martialed for sleeping on guard duty, and I never see him again after that. [From this point on, Peter Ford makes many references to photographs in his album]. That was out there, that was one of the ambulances, the K2s. There’s a couple, three of the chaps there. You still see them ambulances about now, you see a lot of them in the old films, the old K2 ambulances.
Interviewer: Did you have a preference for a vehicle? Was there any that you liked better than any others?
Peter Ford: The old K2s were all right, these ambulances. Yeah, they — We had them when we was in Hong Kong, we used these. They were quite — They were quite good, they were quite rugged and they got four stretchers in the back, two on either side, one you raised up and the other one was on the bottom. Um . . .
Interviewer: Did you have to look after the vehicles?
Peter Ford: Oh, yeah, you had to look after your own vehicles. That’s why I said that day I forgot to drain that vehicle off and — Oh, well, I got — eventually I did get away with it. But these are a lot of the what’s-er-name, that’s our cookhouse, there. This was where we was dug in, some of the places. There’s one of the helicopters with the stretchers
on the side. There’s a bigger one, there. Those two there. They’ve got covers over them. The only reptile we found out here was, one of my mates, he found this snake and he shot its head off.
Interviewer: Did you — Were you armed?
Peter Ford: Well we had — We did have rifles, but you were not supposed to carry them
on the ambulances.
Interviewer: Why was that?
Peter Ford: Well, Red Cross vehicle. Red Cross vehicles weren’t armed.
Interviewer: So, you were a Red Cross vehicle?
Peter Ford: Well, all the ambulances were marked with red crosses. If you were an ambulance, you were — Some of the larger ambulances had probably got, you know, rifles or whatever in them. Stens. That was a . . .
Interviewer: So, did you ever fire your gun out there?
Peter Ford: Not in anger, no, No. That’s the state of the road. Well, if you could call it a road, that is what it looked like, that. That one there. And that was when we left, there. That’s one of the old helicopters going off, there.
Interviewer: Did you see other aircraft? Did you see, you know, you talked about the Sabres, did you see any of the Brits, the Austers or anything like that?
Peter Ford: No, no, no. That fish there
came out of the Imjin, we got that out of the Imjin.
Interviewer: Did you swim in the Imjin?
Peter Ford: Me swim? I can’t swim! Me and water don’t mix. Only in the bath. . . . This is what happened after the arm –, after the ceasefire. Where we moved to, there was a stream
behind the camp and later on during the day, they used to dam the stream up so it raised the level of the water and everybody used to jump in, either jump in or get thrown in fully clothed! Which one of the chaps did, I think there’s a picture of him here, he got thrown in fully clothed. And there’s a –
As you can see, as there’s no females about, there’s a few bare bodies there!
Interviewer: Did you enjoy your R & R in Tokyo?
Peter Ford: Yeah, yeah. I spent my, I spent my 21st birthday in Korea. That’s me on my 21st birthday. I’m reading the local paper. I think it made the front page of the local paper at home.
Interviewer: Was it tiring?
Peter Ford: Umm?
Interviewer: Was it a tiring job?
Peter Ford: Sometimes. Yeah, sometimes it was. These were taken at the end. That was me in the three mile there, in that, in the games that they had at the end. These were some of the other chaps running here. But they had all sorts of different events, but . . . But they had all sorts of different events, but . . . Yeah.
One of the boys took that one of me. And that one there is the cemetery, that’s how it was then, but all the crosses are changed now, all that. But all the other ones are Hong Kong.
Interviewer: Right. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to button off now. Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.
[End of recorded material]