Scotland – Bathgate

Veteran Stories

>> My name is Alexander Ferguson, known as Sandy. I was in Korea during the Korean War from 1951 for 2 years. I was with Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers doing recovering, recovering tanks and suchlike and were based in various places: Incheon, Seoul, Daegu, a number of places. And there is such a tremendous friendliness about the South Korean people, who were so kind to us. I can't ... Anything else? >> Well, so when you went to Korea, what do you remember? >> I remember the fact that [INAUDIBLE]. I hadn't seen those before, and the oxen who'd carry, were pulling carts about, and the A-frames the gentlemen the gentlemen were carrying about, [INAUDIBLE], and the roads, the condition of the roads. They seemed to be years and years behind the times at that time. I don't mean to seem unkind, but it did seem very, very behind times then. I'm so pleased to see how Korea has come on now. In fact, I drive a Korean car. I remember different instances, rescuing tanks and backloading vehicles in Incheon to go to Japan when we agreed it was beyond local repair. And meeting the various different sections of the army, and different ones did different things, such as RASC. We saw them doing their work, supplying stores and things, the engineers building bridges and ourselves recovering and repairing vehicles. I can't think of much else at the moment. >> Well, what do you think about the Scottish contributions in the war? Not a lot of people know about it. >> Well, there were a lot of Scottish people in the regiments, in the infantry regiments there, which we're very proud of, but I wasn't with any infantry, although we did rescue vehicles from Gloucester Valley. It was known as Gloucester Valley after ... There was quite a large battle there. The army were called the Glorious Glosters. Yeah. Scottish people were ... There were only a few Scotsmen in there, in our unit. I think there was three Scots in it, and there aren't as many people in Scotland as there are in England in any case, but we ... Scotland was well represented in the infantry units. I think that's all I can think about at the moment. >> How did the war impact your life when you came back? >> When we came back, we got about 3 months leave of absence when we came back because we had only 5 days in Tokyo while we were ... All the time we were in Korea, we had only 5 days R and R, and we went to Tokyo and to Ginza Street and Ebisu Hotel, as they called it then, but that was a nice 5 days. And after we came back home, we came back in the [INAUDIBLE], having gone to Korea on the Empress of Australia, came back in the [INAUDIBLE], and I wasn't back very long until I got malaria which is apparently because tablets weren't taken aboard the ship, so they say. Anyway, I think just about everybody on that ship, all the troops in that ship, caught malaria, and it came back once after that and has been away ever since. I had about a year to serve after I came back which I served in Scotland which was the first time I had ever served in Scotland, in Stirling, and I didn't do a lot of distant driving, really, and I rode motorbikes for the units. I represented the unit in the Scottish Six Day Motorbike Trials. Needless to say, I didn't win. I didn't get anywhere, and then when I left the army altogether, I worked initially in a garage, and then eventually I had my own business making and selling carpets, and I then retired. >> Have you been back to Korea? >> No, I haven't. My wife and I would have liked to have gone, and I keep thinking we should go, but some of the cruise ships ... We've been on a number of cruises. Some of the cruise ships call in Korea. It's only for a day, and I am told I should go with a group. I don't know. It's quite a flight out there, but it's quite a long flight, whereas if you're cruising then you're whole [INAUDIBLE]. That's ... Our next cruise is at the end of April to Fort Lauderdale and then somewhere and then Bermuda and back home. We really should ... We should have gone or should go, but I don't know. Maybe I'm getting too old. I'm sorry about this. >> How old are you? >> Eighty-six. >> Eighty-six! >> Eighty-six last week. >> So you were ... >> The day after Robert Burns. >> So you were 22 when you went to Korea? >> I was 20. >> Twenty? >> Twenty, yeah, 19 or 20. >> Nineteen. >> I had my 21st birthday in Korea. >> Oh. What was that like? >> It was good. A American camp just along the road made me a birthday cake which was very nice, and my mother sent one which we didn't get for quite a long time because of the [INAUDIBLE] and so on. >> She sent a cake? >> She sent a cake, yeah. >> And you got it? >> Yeah, yeah. >> By the time you got it, wasn't it rotten? >> No. No. Put the right stuff in there, it'll keep for a long time. >> Wow. That must have been nice. >> And then of course in Korea we had to get used to the wons for currency, the Korean wons, and the British Army [INAUDIBLE], as I recall, if you spent any army money in [INAUDIBLE] or EX, or somewhere like that, but the Korean won currency, it ... Well, 1,000 won wasn't worth anything at all. A thousand won at that time would be worth about 25 pence in UK money today. I can't think of anything else, Hannah. >> Okay. That's okay. Well, what did you ... Did you ever meet civilians in Korea? >> Meet who? >> Civilians, Korean people? >> Oh, yes. Yes. There was a little houseboy that came with us, and we would [INAUDIBLE]. I went down, did what we were going to do and came back, and the American military police wouldn't let the little boy back over. They said, "You've got to stay south." And I said, "His parents are north." He said, "It doesn't make any difference. Everybody has got to stay south," and we felt really bad about this. So we told the wee boy, "Just go down the road and stay there, and we'll come back for you." So we went, and we went back there with two trucks, and we picked him up in the smaller truck and took him further down the road a bit, and then we came to the large truck, and we put him inside the big locker in the truck and shut the lid, and then we came back and crossed, and the American MPs looked inside and all over, and, "That's all right. We'll let us through," and he'd gotten back to his parents which he was very pleased about. >> Well, you know that the war never ended, right? >> Pardon? >> The Korean War never ended. >> Yeah, that's right. >> What do you think about that? The two Koreas are separated ... >> That's right. >> ... still divided. >> It's terrible. It's ... That idiot in North Korea, it's absolutely terrible. >> Well, I hope that in your lifetime the two Koreas will be united. >> I hope so, Hannah. I really hope so. We met a Korean, North Korean, lady once, and we gave her some breakfast or something, and somebody wasn't really pleased. Some of the South Koreans weren't pleased about this. They said, "Don't you realize that she's North Korean?" I said, "Well, she was hungry," and that was it. But ...
>> So how many veterans are in Scotland. >> There are only two that are going to be there. >> Two? >> They had the meeting on the 29th, and I was informed that basically the following day that there'd only be two. >> How many are there ... >> How many is there in the branch? >> Yes. >> Oh, a lot more than two. >> How many? >> Probably about 20. >> Twenty. >> [INAUDIBLE] and the other Scottish unit members. >> So many other units are there? >> Up here? >> Mm-hmm. >> Actually, there's none. >> Well, it's not ... It closed down, but they keep it going as a tea and coffee social. >> So there's right now only about 20 Scottish Korean War veterans. >> No, there's more, but a lot never joined anything, never made any effort. You'll meet one hopefully tomorrow morning. He's from Govan, and he phoned me [INAUDIBLE] Canada that contact me, and some of his workmates in the army have moved to Canada, but they kept in touch, so they told them to contact me, and he did. He phoned me and explained the situation, so I explained it to me, so Govan is about 20, 25 miles from here, and the ... We'll be pressed a bit for time tomorrow. We could take you to Govan and other places and get you back to [INAUDIBLE], so ... >> I know that I organized the event July 27th to commemorate it. >> I know. Yes, I know. Korea Day. >> But I do it on Saturday before because no one can come then if it's on the weekday, but you do it on a Sunday? >> The nearest Sunday to the 27th. >> Yes, I do a nearest Saturday. >> Aye, well, the reason for that is on Sunday, well, it's a day of rest. >> Yes. >> So the roads are a lot quieter, and then people my age, we're older, and so a lot of them can't drive themselves. They're disabled, so it's family. We drive them, so the drive up to [INAUDIBLE] on Sunday. >> How many gather? >> What? >> How many gather? >> Oh, it can be 100, 150, something like that. >> Oh, wow. >> Can be that. >> But they're not all veterans, right? >> No, there's the relative and associates, things like that, but it's a nice gathering. We have a nice service. >> The one in Bathgate, the memorial in Bathgate? >> They have that in Bathgate every year, and I think ... >> So July, to commemorate July 27th. >> I've been ... >> What is it called here? >> Pardon? >> What is it called here? Is there a name for the day? >> Is there a name for ... >> The day. >> No, no. >> Because now in America, we call it the National Korean War Armistice. >> No, there's nothing like that here at all. >> So only the Korean War veterans know what it is. >> The government, newspapers, they want to know it at all. >> Okay. >> They ignore it. >> So nobody from the government. >> Oh, the government hopes we're all dying off. They hope we die soon. They're annoyed. One of my friends is in the Lords in London in the houses, the House of the Lords, Earl Slim, John Slim, and John I've never heard of him speaking. He never speaks. He just goes there, collects his money in the bank, and that's it. You've heard offer. >> You've heard of Earl Slim. Have you? >> No. >> Earl Slim of Burma, who commanded the British forces in Burma during the war. >> During the Korean War? >> No, at the 1945 one. >> Oh. >> And they made him an earl, who is a general, and they kicked him up to be an ... >> When did you serve in the Korean War? >> 1953. >> Oh, towards the end. >> Yes. >> The last 6 months. >> Oh, before the war? I mean, before the armistice? >> Yes. Oh, yeah. I'm a veteran. >> So you were there when the armistice ... >> Oh, yes. I was in the [INAUDIBLE] in the last battle of the Hook, the battle of 355. >> Kumsong? >> The last battle of the Hook. >> A lot of people have been talking about the Hook. Can you explain that? >> Yes, it was a piece of ground, shall we say, in the valley shaped like a hook. It stuck out into the valley, but it prevented the Chinese passing and the North Koreans from passing, and they wanted it very badly. They commanded that area, and they wanted it, so they always attacked it in force, and they always get beaten off with an effort. >> What was your assignment? >> I was a driver. I drove trucks. >> Wow. >> I was also signalman. >> Oh, so was Grandpa Hoy. >> And I was also a gunner. >> What? They made you do all of that? >> I didn't do all of that in Korea though, but that's what I was qualified for. I volunteered. I was in the regiment fairly early, regiment, the Royal Horse Artillery, the third regiment, the oldest third regiment [INAUDIBLE] in the British Army. It was raised in India. >> You were raised in India? >> No, the regiment was raised in India. >> Oh, the regiment. >> Yes. Oh, way back in the times of the Indian uprising and all that, and it was taken over by British government originally and incorporated into the Indian Army and then into Britain. My great grandfather was a general in the Indian Army. >> Oh, in the Indian Army? Wow, what year? >> Pardon? >> What year? When? >> Oh, in 1800s. >> Wow. >> Yeah. He was a friend of Queen Victoria. >> Wow. >> Yeah. She liked him very much, and ... >> What his name? >> General Sir William Riley. >> Wow, the Indian Army. >> Yeah. >> I know the Indians ... Because the 68th Parachute Ambulance. >> Yes. >> Right, is that right? >> Yep, yeah, yep. >> Correct, 68th. >> They were there. >> Do you remember them? >> Yes, yep. They stuck needles in me from time to time. >> The medics? >> Yes, yeah. >> So explain the armistice and the battle and just right before the armistice and after because you stayed until when? >> I was there [INAUDIBLE] in November. Well, we set sail Christmas Day in the Indian Ocean. That was December. >> December, 2000 ... I mean 1953. >> You were there for 1 year? >> [INAUDIBLE]. >> But you saw the ... That must have been so interesting. You saw the height of the war and the largest scale battle, right, right before. I don't understand. I heard that the armistice was signed, but they thought that they would negotiate a peace treaty soon after, right? >> The peace treaty never ever took place ... >> I know but ... >> ... just a cease fire, an armistice. >> But they were going to negotiate it, no? >> No, they wanted to replace it soon. >> Maybe the American government wanted to do that, but certainly the Chinese didn't want it, the North Koreans. No. There is actually ... There is so much been written about the Korean War. >> You said so much? >> Which does not get any publicity in Britain. As I've said to you, British government would rather we all die. A lot of our members got or was exposed German warfare. I don't know if you know that, but the government [INAUDIBLE], and probably that is the reason why most of our casualties are all dying off with cancer. Yes. The incidents of cancer in the Korean War veterans is higher than in the general population. >> Really? >> Yep. >> What kind of cancer? >> Every kind. >> Really? Because I know in Vietnam because of Agent Orange ... >> Oh, yes, Agent Orange. >> ... that a lot of Vietnam war veterans have cancer, but I've never heard of Korean War veterans having cancer. >> Oh, yes. >> In Australia, Canada and America and New Zealand, if I remember correctly, they all acknowledge it. The British government will not acknowledge it. There was a British woman whose husband died, and she had heard about the Australian people making compensation, so she started a case up, and she won. Took a while, but she did win compensation, but they never agreed that it was caused by the Korean War. You can imagine if everybody had cancer started claiming. What kind of money would be we be talking? It'd run into millions. >> I wonder what about the Korean War caused cancer. >> You need to ask the American government. When you go to Australia ... You'll be going to Australia, won't you? >> Yes. >> You must contact Haning Spicer. >> Okay. >> Have you got the name? Haning Spicer. He's gone all over Australia which has [INAUDIBLE], and that's because of his service for the veterans [INAUDIBLE] but ask Haning about it. He'll tell you a bit more, so the consequence, I reckon, of it, and when I was in Canada, one of the men who became an officer was talking about it with an American general there, and they were [INAUDIBLE] was cleaning his boot with it, and I wandered over to see what it was about and saw them [INAUDIBLE] screws, and they said, "Yeah, we know, but the sides are all wood, and that's why we're going to construct some metal, and we're thumping it in with a hammer," so that was introduction, and we became friends, actually, and he said to me, he says, "Arnold, [INAUDIBLE]." I said, "Yeah. I've got tons of it. How much do you want?" He says, "How much can you get me?" I said, "What do you want?" He said, "I've got [INAUDIBLE] war, and I've got no ammunition for it?" >> Do you keep in touch with him? >> Oh, yeah. I still keep in touch with him. >> Oh, wow, and still lives in Nebraska? >> Yes, Central City. >> Why is the memorial here in Bathgate? >> Well, it was built or organized and paid for and built by the Bathgate branch. It was a much bigger branch then than it is now, so no government money was ever applied to any memorial, although the defunct organization, the BKVA, when they quit, closed, they gave £1,000 to help refurbish it. >> Oh, when was it built? >> Pardon? >> When was it built? >> Oh, I don't know exactly. It was some time ago, a few years ago anyway. Yep. >> Like in the 2,000s, like in the 1990s, '80s? >> Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would probably say late '90s, early 2, but up on MacKenzie up here will be able to tell you all that. You'll have a difficulty in stopping him telling you actually.
>> I am Adam McKenzie. I'm a member of the Bathgate branch of the Korean Veterans Association. I served in Korea from 1950 to 1951. I was stationed in Hong Kong when we were first told we were going to Korea. Nobody knew where Korea was. We boarded a Royal Navy ship and 4 days later arrived in Pusan. At that time, the Korean Army and the American Army were the only United Nation troops present in Korea, and they were [Indistinct] in a river called the Nakdong. We were moved up to there, and the Royal ... the Middlesex regiment and the Third Australian regiment, who were joined us just days later, crossed the Nakdong and made the breakout from it. That is why we have the only medal for the defense of the Nakdong. That medal, there was under 3,000 people entitled to wear it. It was the Middlesex regiment, the Third Australians and the Argylls. There is under 100 of us left today. After the breakout in Nakdong, we progressed up through South Korea and though we were probably 30 miles inside North Korea when the powers that be stopped us and ordered us to be dumped in 38th parallel.. During that time, the Chinese Army came in, and because we were on withdrawal, instead of the attack, we got pushed frankly back to where we started again. However, we started to regain country again, until we handed over to the King's Own Scottish Borderers in June 1951. We then returned to Hong Kong. [INAUDIBLE] got into any episodes that happened during then. >> [INAUDIBLE] you went in with no winter clothing. >> We had no winter coats. We had no winter clothing. We left Hong Kong thinking Korea was a tropical country, which it is during the summer, but not during the winter. We had no ordnance supply whatsoever. We were fed by the Americans. For clothing, bedding, etcetera, we begged, borrowed or stole off the Americans and the Third Australians. And we managed to live that way for a year. The Americans fed us. The only thing we had supplied from the British government was ammunition, nothing else. And we managed to survive for a year, and we were one of the only regiments that never lost a man with frostbite, although we had American dikes crossing the river which was frozen solid. Our vehicles sometimes were frozen in the morning when you tried to move them, etcetera, but we survived. Now basically, there's various episodes we could talk about. Like, Sariwon is one. We arrived at a town called Sariwon at approximately 3 o'clock in the afternoon. We asked for American tank support to take the town. The Americans said, "No, it's too late. Our tanks will be coming into town in the darkness, and we'll lose them." So we went into Sariwon without the tanks and took the town. The Third Australian then marched through us and took up a defensive position in front of Sariwon. We returned to the other side there and met the North Koreans and the Chinese coming in on the back wood. Because we were facing the wrong direction and we never wore steels helmets or anything, we wore a scarf tied up on our heads, they mistook us for Russians. And we back marched them, came round the back, contacted the Third Australian Regiment. We turned to face the opposite direction. We came in behind, and we took over 3,000 prisoners without firing a round of ammunition, nice. A very big problem for us was on the 23rd of September, 1950. On the 22nd, we took over a hill called 282 from the Americans who had been sitting on the hill for approximately a week and couldn't move off it. We took it over the 22nd, and on the 23rd, we put an attack in. Because the maps, etcetera, were so out-of-date and inaccurate, we didn't realize the next feature overlooked it. We took Hill 282, realized we're in a position where the enemy could look down on us and fire down on us, so we called for air support. Now air support was supplied by the Americans. We were supposed to put things out as air recognition panels. They were red, yellow and blue, and you put them out each day in a different design on the reverse of the hill. We did this. The Americans because they'd been dropping everything for 7 days on the one feature, came straight in and dropped the same load. The only problem was we were underneath it. We lost nothing, not one. Major Muir, who was our second-in-command, won Victoria Cross. It's a day we will never forget. >> Why is there a Korean War Memorial in Bathgate? >> Why is the memorial in Bathgate? Well I'm going back 20-something-odd years, and we decided we would do something, and at that time, I was the area rep. I covered the three branches that was in Scotland: the Northern Branch of Inverness, the Perth Branch and the Bathgate Branch. And I went to Birmingham for an executive meeting, and you had to put your propositions in 21 days before you attended. To me this was foolhardy because it gave the executive committee time to contact all the members, discuss it and make up their mind what we're going to do. Now there was only 13 area reps, but there was 22 executive members sat on the table, so if they disagree with you, you could be outvoted without any problem. I went down, and the proposition I put in that we were going to build a memorial was read out, and the chairman General Gadd, told me I was mad. I would never get it off the ground. All it done was reinforced us. I came back here, and I told all three branches that I was wasting my time and their money because it was pointless of me to go to Birmingham to the meetings, and that I resigned as area rep. We then we got together and contacted all the local councils, etcetera. We done collections, etcetera, and eventually we built our first memorial. In hindsight, we done it wrong. We didn't have sufficient capital to build what we wanted. However, we decided to go ahead with it, and we built it. And after we built it, we realized it wasn't really what we wanted. So we carried on, and we collected more money and funds, and almost 4 years ago, we knocked down the old memorial and rebuilt a brand-new one. Now since we built this new memorial, and [INAUDIBLE] put us down to one man, we brought a roofer all the way from Korea to put the roof on our memorial. All the tiles, etcetera, on it came from Korea. This man came and spent 1 week. The roof weighs over 4 tons. There is not one nail, one drop of cement in the whole building of that roof. And I think, by what I've heard since, he must obviously have spoke to people back in Korea after he returned there because we are getting feedback from the people in Korea who ... Yeah. That's basically ... >> That's amazing. >> You remember his name? >> Who? >> The Korean workman. >> No. No. No. What we done, we brought him here, and we found a family in Edinburgh who run a Korean ... >> [INAUDIBLE]? >> No, Korean restaurant, and they lived in Edinburgh. And what we done, we picked him up in the morning, brought him out to site, picked him up and night and took him back again. And it just so happens that one of our members was married to a Korean, and she used to come out and do an interpreter to pass on information to him. Because ... You possibly don't know this, but we've got the Korean Presbyterian Church coming here on the 28th of June. Now he was obviously a church member because that was the first thing he asked when we picked him up from the airport, where could he find a Korean church, as it was Sunday and he normally went to church on a Sunday. So we think he has passed the information on after he's done it. >> Explain what you're holding in your hand. >> I am holding this ... >> Show it to us. >> ... It has two names. It has two names. It's known as a Syngman Rhee Medal or the Nakdong Medal. It was issued to the troops who done the defense of the Nakdong in June 1950, when the whole lot was really pushed out and the country was actually in a point of being overrun. We couldn't wear this because we didn't have a British medal to counterbalance it when it was issued to us. The only way we could wear it is on the right-hand side here, which very few ever do. We keep it like this and we still have. Not for the complete time, but for 2,000 or not 3,000, the Middlesex Regiment, the third Australian Regiment and the Argylls were the only troops ever to be issued with it and the only troops entitled to wear it. That was under 2,000 or 3,000. There is less than 100 of us actually left now. >> How many died out of the 3,000? How many died out of the 3,000? What were the casualties of Scottish veterans? >> I have no idea. I have no idea of the total. I know what the total was for the British people for the complete time, but for sure not 3,000, not unless you pay [INAUDIBLE]. A very good friend of mine was in front of me the night we crossed, and what we done to break out the Nakdong, we had an officer who was a very good swimmer, and he swam the Nakdong at nighttime and took ropes across it, and we built a bridge. It was approximately 18 inches to 2 feet wide, and we walked across that one night. Got in everything we required with us. The man in front of me got hit by an SB gun shell or shrapnel from a shell and fell on the bridge in front of me. There I had two options: I could either pass my weapon to the man behind me and pick him up or push him into the river so as I could get off the bridge along with the other people behind us. We picked him up. He's still alive today, but nobody knew about this until many, many years later, in fact at his 70th birthday party, when he admitted he wouldn't be here except for what happened that night. >> What's that? >> What is that? That is my cap. That is the cap of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It is the largest badge in the British Army, and the only badge with Victoria Cross in it, which was way back long, long before even our time. >> Have you been back to Korea? >> Yes. I've done a revisit to Korea and was very surprised. Disappointed in one or two things, but surprised, basically because when I left Korea, Korea was in ruins. There was hardly a tarmac road in it. There was no bridges across the rivers, etcetera. Now there's so many roads and so many bridges, etcetera, they've even changed the name of the town. Where I landed was Pusan. Now it's called Busan. I've done a revisit. I done the [INAUDIBLE] at the memorial ... at the garden house ... the cemetery at Busan and also visited the car factory, and I actually drive one of their cars now. I can't go back because I can't get travel insurance because age ... I'm almost 90 years of age. Insurance companies just won't insure you any longer. So I'm the same as a lot of them who are getting too old, and insurance companies, etcetera, don't worry with us. >> Well, what do you think about the armistice between the two Koreas? The war never ended. >> The war will never end in Korea. I've seen an article, quite recently in fact. I can't remember who wrote it, etcetera, and they reckon they will see North and South Korea united and becoming one country again. I do not believe this will ever happen. There is too big a gulf between the cultures in North Korea and South Korea, but South Korea has problems. You have 15 million people who live in Seoul. They live in 15, 18-story buildings. There is no wildlife around the country, birds, etcetera. You don't see them. Where are they going to put population if it keeps increasing? They can't keep going up. They can't go out, so where are they going to go? Pusan is the same. Pusan has 10 million. It's multistory buildings. Where is the population going to go? I don't know. I'd agree you have prospered and have developed, but I think they're going to have to look at what they do to carry on your development within the country. >> Any other words for people watching this? >> Any ... >> Other comments for people watching this? >> No, no. I'd like to know, why is there no wildlife in the country? Even when we went right up to the 38th parallel, etcetera, [INAUDIBLE] the only birds you see is little fat ones that's so far fed and slow, they can't get off the ground to fly. Pigeons is the only bird that I saw the whole time I was in Korea. What I did do when I was in Korea, I don't know if you've ... Have you ever met a gentleman called Andrew Salmon? You have? >> I've not met him, but I know of him. >> I worked with him when he done his last book, "Scorched Earth, Black Snow." I worked with Andrew when he was over in this country and researching that book, and dug up various people for him to interview, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I met up with both him and his good lady when I ... on a visit back to Korea. He stopped being an author because I don't know what you're going to do with all this, after 65 years, if you tried this in a book, I think your number of books selling will be quite low. This is why Andrew gave up writing books, and I believe now he does his tour guide, taking people round about to where different battles were, like the Hook and some things. >> He still writes a column for one of the newspapers. >> Okay. >> And then we said, "Well, we're not ready to go. We don't have a driver for the train." So we had to use of our own members to actually just drive the train to take us up to where the Nakdong was, where we could [INAUDIBLE]. They didn't even have a train driver. Quite honestly, the country was in ... We got told that within 24 hours we had left Hong Kong and boarded a Royal Navy ship for 4 days later we're in Korea. So we had a 5-day period in which we got in there. As you also know, the 21 countries took part, but we were the first United Nation troops ever to go into Korea because the Americans weren't classified as United because they had been there beforehand. >> [INAUDIBLE]. >> ... supplied us with a platoon, 4-inch mortars. When they came to us they were under the influence and under the American way of working, and we changed them, and after they came to us for proper treatment, they didn't want to go back. They realized it. Our system was far better than their system, and they didn't want to go back to their own unit after about 3 months with us. I think that's Alan. Could you check? >> I will do. >> Did you go when it was unveiled? >> I was there, yes, I was there. I was very friendly with the PA to the Ambassador. She's gone back. She's now back working in Korea, but Jin and I were very friendly and I went there, and she was here when I arrived that morning, and I go in and ... >> So explain about the memorial there. >> I don't think it ... quite honestly the memorial is not ... there's no names on it. All right. It's a bronze statue, but the equipment is American, and it's something that we never used. >> The one in Bathgate, the Korean War Memorial, has names? The one in Bathgate? Bathgate Korean War Memorial has names? >> Yes, 1,089 names on it, every name of every man. In fact when we built the first memorial, when we built our first memorial we were getting people coming and visiting us and saying, "I tipped in at your memorial. So-and-so is wrong. So-and-so is wrong. So-and-so is wrong." So there was 40 of us got together, and we decided we'd contact every regiment, every Royal Navy ship, every RAF station that had people in Korea and ask them to give us an up-to-date record from their point, rather than use the one which they got from the Ministry of Defense, which we used the first time. We found a Lieutenant Colonel [INAUDIBLE] in Scotland, various other things, etcetera now, and as far as I'm concerned, that is the most up-to-date and accurate record, if people go. Where we even got four news reporters who was filming. There's one thing on it we do know. There was a boy sailor who was killed, but because he was a boy, they cannot record them as a boy without British rules and regulations, so they made him a Naval Seaman. He was on the HMS Jamaica. >> Oh, I didn't know that. >> And he was a boy sailor and he was one of the very first killed. I'll point him out to you, but he's on the roll as a naval boy [INAUDIBLE], but we knew that was wrong.
>> Good afternoon. My name is Arnold Corson Winery Shanthon. I'm a British Korean war veteran. I'm a member of a Reading branch of the British Korean War Veterans Association, the only association for Korean veterans in the country. I served in the Third Regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery, and I volunteered for Korea, and then I came to Korea, but I knew quite a bit about Korea to begin with, a bit of its history and its history involved with Russia, France, Britain and America, and that's gone back many years. In fact there was nearly wars over Korea in those days, and landed in Busan as we all normally did, and we got off the ship, greeted by an American band with beautiful shiny helmets and loaded onto a freight. Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Anyway, I took a long time from Busan up to, well, the ... this bussing area where everybody as sorted to where they would go or send to [INAUDIBLE], and I unloaded with all the rest, and I was a civilian mechanic through trade, so they sent me to Bentil Bridge [INAUDIBLE] of the [INAUDIBLE] of the 61st Light Regiment Royal Artillery. The trip comprised of four antiaircraft Bofors, and their detail was to guard in the event of another invasion of Bentil Bridge, and we controlled the road down to it. It was under our fire, and [INAUDIBLE] cable across the river. [INAUDIBLE], but the fighting was still pretty fierce, both at 355 and at the Hook. I was up. I drove a 3-ton lorry and very often a ration truck for the four areas, and up in those places quite often, and I was involved in a large part of the Hook and 355, primarily because of the truck carrying ammunition. I carried ammunition at the battle, at both battles, and that was it, and I remember in the Hook one in particular, there was two deaths from our units. There were lorries, and we had came back perhaps a couple of journeys, and we're loaded up with the ammo again, and we thought, "Well, we'll go in the van, drop the [INAUDIBLE]," and it started to get light, and we were having our tea when the WO came in and looking for volunteers to take ammo up to the front. Nobody said a word. I went out, and they came back in with a broad smile on his face and said, "Drivers of the two lorries, [INAUDIBLE]. I want them," so I had to step forward. He took us to his boarding, and he poured a lavish amount of rum into cups for us and bid us farewell, so we drove up, and when we approached the Hook, the road rose slightly and then dipped down slightly, and when we got to the top and went down. I've never seen anything like it in my life, and I never want to see anything like it ever again, the kind of eyes that were coming up full of dead and wounded. No. One funny thing about it is that one of our men from our unit, he drove a quad. A quad was a vehicle which made of basically thin of metal [INAUDIBLE] and the crew sat and saved this vehicle, and he had been given a trailer and had got it loaded with ammunition, and if I remember correctly, his name was Gunner Banyon. He must [INAUDIBLE] and carried straight on, and it landed in no-man's-land [INAUDIBLE] and he sat there all night. Everything quieted down, and when everything was quiet and daylight and the light started it up, back he came [INAUDIBLE] with this ammunition, and we did it [INAUDIBLE] so we took it back to the ammunition point, and [INAUDIBLE] because ammunition, so didn't want to do a thing, so eventually dumped it into the river. Perhaps, it's still lying there. Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] ammunition. Yes. I have had a little incident like most of us had. One of the funnier ones was the ... We were not supplied with any materials for building anything, no metal, no wood, nothing. We had to scrounge for it, and I sent out one day for a scrounging detail, and I went down. I went east, I should say. I didn't north, west or south. I went to the east. I'd never been that road before, and there was [INAUDIBLE] and I carried on along that road and on and on and on, and eventually, we came to an iron bridge, and we cut over the side of the bridge, and we were going to [INAUDIBLE] longest road when there was a convoy approached of American trucks loaded with men, and there was a one-star general's flag flying in the Jeep in the front. It was a major route, and the dust settled from the road was absolutely horrible, and you couldn't see through it, so you're only fumbling along and because there were about 6-foot ditches in both sides. Anyway, when we get through and the last truck had passed, and I'm driving in, and the Jeep came rolling up behind us with military policemen in it, and they stopped me, and military policeman says, "Where did you come from?" I said, "Well, I came from Bentil." "What?" "I came from Bentil. Why?" I said, "Well, the general wants to know, and he also wants to know have you seen anything untoward on your journey this way." I said, "No, no, nothing at all. I'm sorry. Why?" He said, "Well [INAUDIBLE] was captured last night again by the Chinese, and we want to take it back." I said, "Well, I've never seen a thing." I often wondered if they watched me get by and thought, "Nah, it's not worth shooting at," but yeah, lots of funny things, but when they ceased fire, we were sent up to 355 with the truck, and I had no idea what was going on. We knew there was a time when they ceased fire, but I had no idea about it, and I drove up to this particular [INAUDIBLE] still incoming and so forth going on, quite a bit of racket actually, and I drove in, and I get stopped by this officer, and he said, "Just sit there driver and wait until I'll tell you, and you'll switch on your lights." I said, "Are you nuts?" And he said, "Just do as you're told," so I sat there sitting, and some banging and crashing and all that was going on, and then it ceased, and he said, "Switch on your lights," and I switched on my lights, and they was finishing the flag pole, and they were lowering the flag, and that was [INAUDIBLE], and from then on, we started withdrawing all men and material from the front, and I was up one day, and there was an American, and I got pushed, and they're speaking to the chap, and I said, "Well, you're quite happy all once it's finished now," and I said, "[INAUDIBLE]." He says, "It's not you." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "We lost a man last night." Yeah. "What do you mean you lost a man?" "Well, all we found was his rifle. We didn't find him." "Oh." "And he says but we never heard anything," so they were losing men well after the cease fire, and then that was not a long thing. Anyway, from then on, it was spit and polish I'm afraid, back to the old grind, and when I left, I was sent Gimpo on the back of an open truck in December. It was about four or five of us [INAUDIBLE] with a bottle of brandy, and we sat and enjoyed that bottle of brandy. I don't think it won't stop us freezing, but we got there. Korea, I enjoy quite a bit Korea. Actually, I knew about it when I was boy. I was an avid reader, and I read quite a bit about it, and that's why I said to you about the [INAUDIBLE] wars between Russia, France, Britain and America. At various times, each of these countries had the men and the leading jobs like Postmaster and things like that. There was always this fight to control the country, and I remember when reading [INAUDIBLE] American warship. It was a sailing ship, not steel vessels like now. It was old sailing ships with cannons. They're were cruising along, and they needed water, so they sent aboard the shore with drums and bottles to get fresh water, and the natives slaughtered them, and the captain of the ship is rather annoyed about that, so he opened up the gullies with his guns and slaughtered back. Not a nice story, is it? But the [INAUDIBLE], but the train from Busan. Yeah. It stopped and started. It stopped and started. I was up in the luggage rack sleeping. Well, I tried to sleep anyway, and somebody lost their weapon, dropped their rifle [INAUDIBLE]. I wouldn't have to go and pay for it. When I ... I've been out to Korea about five times. Etta Green and I were roommates twice, and the change is remarkable, remarkable, and the people speak to you, and they're so grateful. It becomes an embarrassment. One gets embarrassed, but they're so grateful, and they say it and show it, and it's came on in leaps and bounds, but I've always said to you, the population growth is unbelievable. When we were there, there was ... Eventually, there three, I think, bridges there, but now there's about 30 bridges, and yeah. Very industrial people. Some lovely places in Korea too, and if I could afford that, I would go and live there. Yeah. I think I would go and live there in the summer, not too keen on winter, but the [INAUDIBLE] I was there. We were fitted out with gear for it and all that, and yeah. You could live reasonably comfortable, reasonably. Yes. Anyway, if you have any questions to ask. I'm Scottish. It's always been mostly English-staffed unit, very few Scottish people. I could tell stories on the ship out where there were Scottish troops on it, but I'm not going to. No, sorry. No, and it didn't put us in a very good light actually. Continued fighting between them and English regiments, and when we got to Singapore, no, Hong Kong, we took a field regiment, an artillery field regiment unit, and then formed the warming parties if there was any more. They would have to swim to Korea. We used to make them, so things were very comfortable after that. I didn't have as much as a Scottish accent in those days, and when I came back from the army, I was decidedly more English spoken than Scottish. In fact, walking along the street in my hometown when a chap staggered out the public house, bumped into me, and he said to me, "What's the time?" I said, "Oh, the time is such and such, and he called me an unpleasant English person, suggested I return to whence I came and staggered off, and I stood on the pavement, and I laughed and laughed and laughed, and I thought it funny, so funny. What the ... My own life, I was brought up on a farm, and my stepfather is a farmer. He'd been a seaman in his younger days, and all his sons had been seamen as well, and then I went to sea, and I became an officer, and my wife didn't like it, didn't like going away from home too much, and my son is a commander, and he operated out of [INAUDIBLE]. He was a warfare officer [INAUDIBLE] at the time, but now he's staying with in the National ... What's his name? Oh, dear, now I forget it, but it is sort of the getting money here, there and everywhere sort of things to be done in different countries, different organizations. Millions are getting away. He quite likes it. Adam doesn't know him though. Eric is dead now. He died a couple of years ago actually, and we took four out, but we couldn't take the fifth one out. An excellent man, Eric. He was a nice chap. He was a member of this place, and by the way, there is no KVA. There is no KVA. There was at one time, and I was a member of it, but when the colonel took it upon himself to shut it down and did even though 75 percent of the living membership voted against it. He still shut it down, and we knew what was coming, so we readied an organization standing by to take over, and that became the British Korean War Veterans Association, and that was a legitimate, registered organization, and we continually pleaded with the Korean government to recognize us, but they still recognize the BKVA, which doesn't exist. It only exists in the memory of the units who refused to join the BKWVA. It's tea and biscuits, social gatherings. [INAUDIBLE] Adam says.
>> I am Alvin Cameron, and I served in Korea with the King's Own Scottish Borderers in 1951 and '52, and we arrived in Korea from Hong Kong where we'd been stationed before, and it was a bit of a shock because we had expected to have a leisurely disembarkation, but it was the start of the big Chinese drive down through Kapyong, and so we were suddenly told we had to be up at Kapyong the next morning. We arrived as I say and were driven to a rendezvous point and just bellied down on the ground that night. We all had a blanket with us and a greatcoat, and we just put that over us, and we woke up next morning with frost all over the greatcoat, which was a bit of a shock having just come from Hong Kong. And then the Argylls who we were taking over from came through and left, and we went up to Kapyong front and spent the next 3 days digging in and withdrawing, digging, withdraw, marching back about 7 or 8 miles each day. So it was a bit of a abrupt entry into the war, but we didn't actually have any contact at that time with the Chinese or the North Koreans. From there, we went into our reserve position and then moved to another position just north of Seoul where we did have contact to the battalion, but I ... At that time, we were a bit of a spare file in the battalion because I'd been second in command of A Company when we arrived, but when the Argylls left, they left someone who took over that position, and I had nothing special to do. So when our intelligence officer was injured in a traffic accident, I took over as intelligence officer for about 6 or 8 weeks. The battalion then moved from that position over to the Kansas Line just south of the Han River, and I then took over a platoon. We were in a defensive position there, and there were minefields all around, and I remember, on one occasion, a Korean man was coming down the road towards our position and walking along the embankment on the side, which I knew was mined, and all the jocks were shouting at him and waving, saying, "Get off onto the road," and he didn't, so he just kept on walking until he hit a mine, so I then had to go into the minefield to get him out, and our regimental aid post came up took him away in a stretcher jeep. Shortly after that, I was given a different job where I was training potential NCOs at the battle school about 15 miles behind the front line, and I did that, again, for about 8 weeks, during which the battalion had a very stiff battle when they crossed the Han and advanced up [INAUDIBLE] commando. I was then ... went back to battalion as second in command again of A Company, and in November, we had a big battle where a Chinese division attacked the battalion position, and it overran two of our companies, but my company was in reserve, and we were expected to do a counterattack, but that was canceled, so nothing really happened. And after that, I became a platoon commander again in A Company, and we pulled back to a shoulder on Hill 355, which was the big hill in center of the division's line, front line [INAUDIBLE]. And one night we were on there, I was going around my sentries at about 10 o'clock at night, and 14th Field Regiment Royal Artillery had been firing over us all day in support of the [INAUDIBLE] who were just on our right front. I suddenly realized, this latest salvo was sounding very close, and in fact, it came in and hit our position while I was walking along, and I received a wound in my chest and in my left arm, and the platoon sergeant and medical orderly who we had trained in the platoon gave me first aid, and then some volunteers carried me down the hill up the back about 1,000 yards, and I was taken off by a stretcher jeep and ended up in an American MASH, Mobile Advanced Surgical Hospital, 8055 MASH. I woke up just before I was operated on, and it was ... And I was amused later when the television series "M*A*S*H" was brought in to remember my experience, and it was exactly like it had been on the film. And I was evacuated from there. I went to [INAUDIBLE] where I spent ... That was on the 21st of November I was wounded and evacuated, and the snow and winter arrived on the 23rd because I remember a chap coming into the tent in the MASH, and he was covered in snow and stamping his feet, and I said, "Yeah, I timed that rather well," and I didn't manage to get back until early March when I rejoined the battalion, and again, I was a little bit surplus to the establishment. I was given a job digging a defensive position along the Kansas Line again as a reserve position for the division if it was needed, and again, two Korean peasant women were cutting the brush for firewood, and of course they did it in the minefield, so both of them got blown up, and again, myself and the sergeant who was with me, we had to crawl into this minefield very carefully and eventually drag these two women out and get them evacuated. After that, I became second in command of D Company, and I just used to go up ... I used to enjoy very much driving up. We'd go up late at night, at about 4 o'clock in the morning, to do our resupply of the front line, and we'd go to a [INAUDIBLE], and then a man packed with [INAUDIBLE] always took front line, about 1,000 yards. And on the way back, the dawn would be breaking, and I remember it was such a lovely sort of feeling driving back to the camp in the dawn in Korea, and I really did enjoy that immensely. And eventually in July of '52, I moved upward on to the advanced party of the battalion which was now due to return to Hong Kong, and I left Korea in July 1952. As you can see, I had ... Although I did spend a reasonable bit of time actually in the front line with platoons, I never had any contact with the enemy when I was doing it, so I enjoyed my time in Korea basically, had a couple of frights, but that was about it. >> Have you been back to Korea? >> Yes, I've been back twice since then. >> What do you think? >> The first time I went back was privately. I went with my wife when I retired from work, and I was really surprised to see how big Seoul had got and how well developed and everything else because my memory of Korea was that everybody was wearing white. All peasants were wearing white, and there were no trees virtually on any of the hills. They;d all been either burnt off or shelled off with napalm and stuff, and all the peasants collected the brush wood underneath it for firewood. So I was really surprised when we drove up to my old platoon position in Kansas Line to see trees all over the hills and everybody dressed in what I would now call normal Western dress. It was the thing that really impressed me. The next time I went back was on an official visit when I took one of my grandsons with me. That was in November 2013. I was really quite humbled by the reception we were given and the way we were treated as such honored guests and how everywhere we went, talking to the ordinary people, as soon as they knew we were veterans returning, they all shook our hands and said, "Thank you. Thank you," and it was a very humbling experience, but I could understand why because, as stated, Seoul is only 30 miles from the border, and Koreans know what life is like on the other side of that border. I think that's about all I have to say really. Any interest to you? >> That's wonderful. I too am very grateful, and that's why I'm here. Thank you so much for your service. You're very correct. On the other side, north of the 30th parallel, they can't enjoy the freedom and prosperity that we enjoy. >> No, I mean, they live a terrible life in the north, on the whole, don't they? Ordinary people at least do, yeah. >> So hopefully in your lifetime there will be one Korea. >> One does hope so, yeah. There were two little incidents which I'd like to mention. First of all, shortly after we arrived, we were given a company of Korean porters whose job it was to carry all the resupplies and ammunition and stuff up the hills so that the soldiers just did the fighting, shall we say. And at the presentation when they were brought to us, one of our majors, Alan Smythe, was in charge, but he turned to this little sergeant who was actually going to be the person physically in charge of the porters' platoons and said to him, "Okay. They're yours now," and this little sergeant walked forward about five paces and started screaming at the porters in a foreign language which we didn't understand, and all the Koreans shot to attention. And then he shouted something else, and all the section leaders came out and formed a line in front of him, and he then went down the line slapping each one on the face left and right. Of course, Major Smythe went absolutely berserk, saying, "What on earth are you doing?" He said, "I have just told them, sir, in Japanese that, during the Second World War, I was a prisoner of the Koreans up here, having been captured in Hong Kong, and that they were beastly to me then, and now I would be beastly to them if they didn't behave and do what I said." And we all thought, "What a chap." He had been 2 years in Korea with just a jersey and trousers even through the winter, so he was, shall we say, a bit bitter about Koreans. But the [INAUDIBLE] I was saying, when we were at the Kansas Line where I rescued the two women from the minefield, one of the porters there, although they were civilians, they were subject to military law, and this chap had been absent or something like that and had been sentenced to two strokes of the cane every 2 hours, and every 2 hours, an officer or NCO would come along with a whipping cane. He would bend over, take his trousers down and get two strokes with a cane on his backside, and we all thought, "God, how uncivilized can they be?" It was really weird. That's it. >> Do you know why he was whipped? >> No, he ... I think he'd been absent without leave, and literally every 2 hours, they'd come up, give him ... with a cane on his backside. >> A Korean person? >> Yep. >> Interesting. >> Yep.
>> ... the two mounds, which the shrine is in the middle of ... >> Okay. >> ... are in the shape of the ying and yang. >> Oh. Who designed it? >> An architect in [INAUDIBLE]. The original one was done by a student here at Heriot-Watt University. >> Mm-hmm. >> But the new memorial was done by an architect [INAUDIBLE]. >> Hmm, yep, and we brought the ... >> The fir. >> We brought the tiler from ... >> Korea. >> ... Korea and 10 tons of tiles. >> All these tiles came from Korea. >> They're all genuine old tiles from Korea. >> And the fir, the tree, the tree ... >> The trees came over [INAUDIBLE]. >> And were grown ... They were grown for us at the Botanical Gardens ... >> Botanic Gardens. >> ... in Edinburgh. And then ... >> Wow. >> Then the second place [INAUDIBLE]. >> Shotts Prison. >> Wow. >> Yeah. Once they got too big for the ... >> Botanic Gardens. >> ... Botanic Gardens to hold them ... >> We look for some place to grow them on because they were still in pots, and they went to one of the biggest prisons in Scotland. >> Prison? >> Prison, prison, and they grew them on for us. >> Yes. Yeah. The architect originally wanted the green oak that the shrine is built of to be kept yellow with oil, but I actually wanted it to go gray like this so it would actually match with the tiles on the roof, and so that's why it's all now gray although ... >> [INAUDIBLE] in the navy. >> All thousand ... How many? Sixty-eight thousand seventy? >> One thousand [INAUDIBLE]. >> These trees have been planned in memory of veterans of a branch who have since passed away, and we have a lot of plaques and each one a remembrance. That's our latest one we've [INAUDIBLE].

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Memorial Site

Scotland, as part of the United Kingdom, participated in the Korean War from June 1950 to November 1953. The United Kingdom dispatched one of the largest forces to Korea, second only to the United States. Prime Minister Clement Attlee sent one marine commandos, two infantry brigades, and a fleet of 17 vessels including an aircraft carrier.

In total, the United Kingdom deployed 56,000 soldiers and suffered 4,908 casualties. According to the statistics provided by the South Korean government, there were 1,078 killed in action, 2,674 wounded in action, 179 missing in action, and 977 prisoners of war.

The Korean War Memorial in Scotland is located in Bathgate. It is made out of 8 tons of tile and fir trees transported from Korea and lists the names of the British Armed Forces members who served in the Korean War.