Australia Sydney (3)

>> I'm Harry Spicer. I'm a Korean War veteran. I was in the British Army, and I went to Korea in August 1950, and I was there for 10 months. Then we went back from there back to Hong Kong, where we were before we went to Korea, and then I spent 3 months in Malaya and came back to Hong Kong again, and then I transferred to the Parachute Regiment, and I went back to England in the December of that year, and I joined the Parachute Regiment. It was just [INAUDIBLE] and we met our ex-colonel, a Korean War veteran, and he wanted to get a monument for the Korean Veterans in Sydney. I met with him, and then a few of us met with him, actually, and we decided we'd form a committee, and he was the president of the committee. I was the vice president, and we got together. We started talking about the monument. We always said just we want from the government just the land to build the memorial on and that we didn't need money because the Korean colonel had said, "We don't need money. We just want the ground to put the memorial on." So I got my local member of parliament to try and get an interview with Morris Iemma, who was the Premier of New South Wales then, to talk to him about getting the land to build the memorial, and whenever I met with him, we told him that, "We just want the land. We don't want money," because the colonel says, "Don't worry about the money. Money will be okay." So he accepted that, and at the next meeting of the Korean Veterans, which they hold 1 day a year in Government House in Sydney, and in his speech, he spoke about it, and he said, "I'm behind it 101 percent where possible and to get everything we can done to get this memorial. We've just got to get the memorial built." So then they formed a committee with the government, and basically, the government took over the organizing of the monument, and we had the committee. I was on the committee. There was a number of government people, the government surveyor and finance minister from the government and the Korean from the Korean Veterans Association, and we got the committee to start doing the memorial. The first thing, of course, was to get the land, so the government looked at a number of places that we could get, and they offered them to us, and we looked at them, and what they offered wasn't suitable, we didn't think. Then they came up with the site at Moore Park in Sydney, and we looked at that and said, "Oh, yeah, that's it. That's the place to build the memorial." So the decision was made, and we told the government that we would like to have that in Moore Park, and they accepted that, and then we started working on the memorial itself, the design and everything else of the memorial, and I don't know how many meetings we had, but it used to be every week, every couple weeks, once a month, at different times just when it was needed to make decisions on what we must do, but all the work was being done by the government, the architects, detail with parliament, the government surveyor, government finance, all the bodies that were needed for to build the memorial. They all had a position on the committee. So we was there, and we made our suggestions of what we want, and they'd ask us exactly what we wanted, what sort of thing we wanted. So it was decided that we get some quotes of designs, and I think we had about five. Lots of people gave us a design for the memorial. We went through them. We picked the one that we do have now, which as far as we were concerned was the number one pick, and by the response we've had from people since it's been built, we made the right decision, and so then it was there from then on. We got to ... So then we got onto raising the funds for the memorial. We did tell the government that we won't need money, but the colonel's idea was ... He was the fella who said that we don't need money, but we didn't know at the time, he had cancer, and it wasn't long after, we got the decision from the government that they were going to support it, and he passed. So I took over the presidency of the committee, which is the Australian and Korean War Memorial Association, and then from there on, we just carried on with the government, and gradually got all of the things necessary done and got to the building of the memorial and the design. They came up with the design of the memorial, but some of the things on it, they didn't. We got the names of all the countries that served in Korea on the pathway on the memorial. That was my idea, and we also put the names of all of the battles that the Australians served at and that became battles, and we got the names of all those on different stones within the memorial, and also then we got the Korean national flag, and we had poles with the national flag on them in the memorial, and we also had the copies of the medals that the Australians received, the United Nations medal and the Korean medal, and the Korean medal is the same as is given to any of the Commonwealth forces that fought in Korea. When the British got the medals, they all got the war medal for Korea. >> What have been the reactions of ... What do the veterans feel about this memorial? >> They're happy with it. >> Mm. >> They are happy with it, yeah. I don't think we've had any comments that was against any part of it, so it's worked out that we liked it. They liked it, so that's it, and nobody's ever said, "We should have done this. We should have done that." >> Oh, yeah. >> I think people are happy with what we finished on. >> And the significance of the area, the surrounding area? >> That's got no significance with regards to the Korean War. >> Oh, you're right, but the significance of this area with Anzac Parade. >> Yeah, no, that didn't come into it either. It was just the place where ... >> I know, but isn't it still very meaningful that it's ... >> Oh, well, it's on Anzac Parade. >> Yeah. >> It's on Anzac Parade, yeah, yeah. >> And where it's the Anzac Parade across where they're commemorating World War I. >> Yeah. >> Yeah. >> There's a memorial, yeah. >> It's not just a ... >> A special dedication ... >> It's not just randomly located in a remote area. >> Yeah, yeah. >> It's a pretty significant road part. >> It is, yeah. >> Yeah. Now let's go back to your experience in the war a little bit. So do you have any recollections, something, I don't know, like an anecdote from the war, your time in Korea in 1950? >> We went there in August of '50, and there was the Middlesex Regiment and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and at that time, we only held the Pusan area, around the Pusan area of Korea, and I think, basically, the North Koreans had run out of steam, and they were getting their reserves up and everything before they moved on, and in that time, of course, there was getting more troops out there. We were the first troops after the Americans to go there, the British who got to do so, and we was the 27th Brigade. Then in the ... I think it was about October ... The 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment joined us, and then we became 27th British Commonwealth Brigade. Then after that, we had New Zealand Artillery join us. They came into the brigade, and we also got the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battalion join us, and there was an Indian medical team that joined us, and so we was the Commonwealth Brigade. We was always under strength, and the units, when we took over an area from the Americans, we'd have a battalion to take over where they had a brigade, so the ... A brigade is about three times the size of a battalion, so we was taking over a much bigger area, which made it more dangerous because with people on the ground compared to what they were, and the first thing that we had as far as the war was concerned is that we was in positions on the Nakdong River, and we got shelled and mortared, and the noise, it's unbelievable. It was just so loud, and there's nothing to do. What we'd do is just sit in our trench and hope that it didn't land in our trench, which it didn't, thank goodness, and a short time after that, we had to ... We set out on a platoon patrol across the Nakdong River, and it wasn't a fighting patrol. It was just to observe, see if we could find out what was going on, went across the river. There's sand beaches each side of the Nakdong River, and we turned left as we went across from the boats, and we left a section with the boats, and then the other two sections went along the beachline, from the beachline along, and we must have been probably about a mile or so along there, and we looked up in the hills, and we saw the enemy up on the hills, and we saw them waving. They was waving people from the other side of the hill, and they were all of a sudden [Indistinct] gunning at as with machine guns, and we couldn't touch them because it was too far for us with our rifles or [Indistinct] guns to extend, and so we hit the ground as soon as they started, and where the river goes along, most of the other section, the two, was along the line of the river, but my section, I was in section one. My section went from the edge of the river up to this bank where the other section was, so it went ... The shots was going around us, and they were so close. I just thought myself, "If you're going to hit me, hit me," because the tension was so, so great, and then as soon as there was just a lapse in the machine gun fire, [INAUDIBLE] in the bank, so we dashed it to the bank. We had with us four Americans. They was for if we needed artillery support. As soon as the Koreans opened fire, three of the Americans took off, and it was on officer, sergeant and two others, but the officer stayed, and one of the Americans, when they took off, got hit. He got right through the middle, but he was okay. So when we finished up, we carried him out, and when they fired, we'd get down, and when they stopped firing, we'd get up and move, and we also had our own machine guns on the other side of the river firing at them to keep them down as well. So we come in on the way back, and I was right behind that [INAUDIBLE], and walking along, I said to him, "I think there might be a reception or something [INAUDIBLE] that come down and try and block us off," and he said, "Yeah," because he was that tense, and then all of a sudden, there was a noise of machine gun, and we hit the ground, and he was still standing up. I said, "Was that you, sir?" He said, "Yeah." His machine gun went off, but anyway, we found out when we got back the boats, the other Americans was there, the ones that took off, the two that took off, and they'd have taken the boats if we hadn't got the section out, and there was a party coming down to meet us, but our machine guns opened on them, so that broke them up, so we was right there, so we got back in the boats, and we crossed the river, and that was that. The night before we went down to the river, we slept in Korean houses overnight, and we went overnight, went through their clothing. We got back, and that was okay, and then after that, we moved forward across the river, and we was given the job of taking a particular hill, which was later called Middlesex Hill because that was the British [Indistinct], and we had platoon go first with a small hill and then a large hill went on from there, and the platoon went, just one platoon, went and took the small hill, and I think they got two killed taking that hill. Then the rest of the company took the larger hill, and we lost ... I think we lost about three or four taking the hill, and it took us nearly all day to get up to the top of the hill, and the Koreans, there was some dead, and some had took off, and when we got there, they had fires, and one the North Koreans had got thrown into the fire, and his clothes was burning, and his ammunition was exploding out of his body, and [INAUDIBLE], and it was with his own [INAUDIBLE] explode. Then at the nighttime, they mortared us, and we had another one killed when he was wounded. The next day, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was to take another hill the other side of the road to where we were, and when they went up, we used to have color signs that we used to have made out on the ground. They'd be red or yellow or whatever, and they'd be sort of in a cross one day, two lines together another day, all different sort of shapes so that the air knew that we were friendly. Well, they had their colors, and they had them on the floor, but the Americans came and they bombed them, and with the ... what? What do they call the bombs? >> Mortar? >> No, fire. >> [INAUDIBLE] bombs? >> No. >> Flash bombs? >> No, the ones they drop from the airplanes. >> Air bombs? >> What? >> Air bombs. >> What? What'd you say? >> [INAUDIBLE] >> No. Once you're up there, you drop the bombs, and it's just all fire, flame and ... >> Yeah, napalm. >> Napalm, they dropped ... We'll have to sort that out. They dropped napalm on the Argylls, and I don't remember how many they killed. I think there was about 20 or something killed, and then the second-in-command of the Argylls, Major Muir, he won the VC on that, but they came down, and we were still on a hill. My company was on this hill over here, and the rest of the battalion was down behind, and they went up and helped get the Argylls get down. Then we moved on from there, and we did a little bit in the country, looking for any North Koreans who might be hanging around. Then that's when the Australians joined us, and we flew up to Seoul to keep [INAUDIBLE] airport. The Australians stayed there for a while cleaning up, and then we was at the airport probably about 3 days [INAUDIBLE] and we started moving north, and so every day, we'd get in our trucks, go north, stop at night, dig in. Maybe we'd have some action. Maybe we wouldn't. Maybe we'd run into some action. We'd just keep it as we went, and we did that all the way up, and there was a number of battles. I can't remember what they were, all of them, but there was a number of battles, and we got as far as ... What is it? I can't think of the damn name. [INAUDIBLE], I think it was. I think it was [INAUDIBLE]. We got as far as there, and then the winter started coming in, and then all of a sudden they said, "Chinese on horseback," you see, and the Chinese came into the war, came across the border, and they stayed there quite a while. We didn't even know they were there. They didn't know [INAUDIBLE] and there was hundreds of thousands of them. They came [INAUDIBLE], and when they did, our brigade was out on its own, and they were saying nothing could save the British 27th Brigade because the north would surround us and we would be gone, but anyway we did. We got out. We came back, and as we came back, we had to fight and withdraw, and we got action, and that is when some troops stayed in their position to let the others come through, and all the time when doing that, when we were in our position, we were expecting the enemy to be right behind them, so you'd expect that you're going to get caught, but luckily, we didn't. We just got away with it, but we got back and went way back down to the other side of the border, the 38th parallel, which I think we stopped there. We dug in and everything else. Then the Chinese came, and then there was a backwards and forwards, and we left in the ... June, I think it was, we left. June, we left and then went back to Hong Kong, and from there, from Hong Kong, I went to ... The battalion had to stay there another 10 months or something to complete their 3 years, but I volunteered for the Parachute Regiment, and I went back to England to join the Parachute Regiment. >> Mm.