Australia Sydney (1)
>> My name is Mick Kilhov. I live in Australia now. I served in Korea with the British Army, the 10th Regiment. I had never heard about Korea. I didn't know where it was. I couldn't even point on a map where Korea was, but anyway, I was serving in Germany and was sent from Germany back to the UK to familiarize ourselves with the Centurion tank, which is the heavy tank used with the armor, and after 6 weeks, we were put on a ship, the Empire Halladale, at Liverpool, and it took us 6 weeks to get from Liverpool in England to Pusan. When we got to Pusan, there was an American band on the docks. They were playing, "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked a Cake," which we thought was hilarious. We were then unloaded, put on to flatcars and sent on these flatcars from Pusan to Uijeongbu. We went to Uijeongbu. That's the only Korean place I can remember going up to. I remember Seoul. Yes, I remember that, but it was in the middle of the night, pitch black. We were given a bag of rations. The first ration we had was homemade sandwiches, an apple, which you couldn't eat because it frozen solid. During the middle of the night, the train stopped because they said there was going to be an air raid. There was no air raid, but we did stop there, and a little voice came out of the dark, and it wanted to know if we wanted to swap some food for what they had. All they had was apples. We gave them what we had, just sandwiches and a piece of fruit cake. That's what we were given, and they gave us these apples, and we could not bite these apples. We had to hit it with a bayonet, and it shattered like glass. It was frozen solid. Anyway, when we got to Uijeongbu, in the case of taking over from another regiment who were pulling out from Korea, and we took over their positions, and we had Alpha, Beta and Charlie squadrons. Three squadrons were sent to three different areas, some on the Imjin River. I don't know the name of the Korean location. I just know that it was Hill 355, Green Finger, Winston Churchill, Jane Russell. These were all features in Korea, and by then, we weren't told very much about what's going on. We just got what we called a sitrep every morning, a situation report. We were told what action was going on during the night, what action, what we had been through, and I remember being hit by 99 mortars one night on the tank. It didn't make much difference. It blew all the camouflage nets off and the antenna for the radio. It wasn't a very pleasant place. It was just a case of very, very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. Rations were very meager unless you got combat rations, which were supplied by the Americans. Normal British rations were bully beef and hardtack biscuits, and these tins of bully beef were 7-pound tins that were leftover from the Second World War, and when you took the top off, we had a hiss of gas coming from the meat, and the meat was black. So you had to cut the outside off with your knife and then get to the real piece of meat underneath, the bully beef, and we had hardtack biscuits full of weevils. We had to tap them on the side. We also had what they called pom, which is powdered potato, dehydrated potato, and I can distinctly remember the cook used to ask us, "What would you like today? Would you like a bit of steak and chips?" And you'd say, "No. Just give us the usual," and he'd say, "Oh, do you want your potato mashed, fried?" It was all the same. It was just boiled, boiled, boiled, powdered potato. That was what we had. Combat rations were good. Whenever we could, if we could get to an American camp, they were very generous. We could get from Marines anything you could pick off the table. Whatever they were eating, they'd give you, and at the end of the table, there was stuff donated by American firms. There were things like Hershey bars, writing material, torches, pens, writing paper, and right at the end, you put your name down, and you got a Chicago Herald Tribune sent to you once a month. Very handy because you had nothing else to read, and it was very useful at the end of that period to use as toilet paper as well. The thing that left me my lasting memory of Korea was the suffering of little children. It really left a mark on me. Normally, I wouldn't shed tears, but after seeing little babies and little girls and boys in the condition they were in, it really affected me. I did more than a year in Korea. I was then claimed by my older brother to his regiment. It was an artillery regiment. So I went over to spend another 3 months with them. We then went from Korea. We said farewell to our friends in Pusan who were lying sleeping in the cemetery. We went from there to Hong Kong for another year or just over, and by that time, because we had come from Germany with our own seas for 3 years, we went back to UK. And within 5 months of getting back to UK, I was then called up again for Cyprus. We were sent to Cyprus for a year. In the meantime, I got married on one day, the 22nd of October, 1955, and on the 24th of October, I was on an aircraft carrier on my way to Cyprus, where I spent a year. Having done that, I came back to leave the Army for a few months and got called up again, honored to be called up for Suez Canal trouble. So anyway, that's a part of my life, and I'm quite happy I've been married 62 years now to the same woman. I've got one daughter, and I live in Australia now. I'm quite happy with my lot. I've never been back in the UK. I have no desire to go back there. I've just been involved with the Korean War Veteran Association here. I've been their president for over 10 years. I'm still the president emeritus and their quartermaster. So I just do what I can to help my fellow man. I do a lot of hospital visits. I visit people who are in nursing homes who have had sickness, strokes, dementia. That's as much as I can do for my fellow man, and I hope one day, and I've also decreed that when I pass away and I leave this mortal coil that my body goes to research. I don't want a funeral. I don't want anything left of me. It'll go to the University of New South Wales. And I'll say my goodbyes there. Thank you.