UK Scotland (3)

>> 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.