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RSM JJT McManus, CD Comments on 2 RCR in Korea
Notes taken by Mark McManus – Saturday October 21st, 2006
- 2 RCR left from Seattle in early April 1951 for Korea.
- 2 RCR had been training at Fort Lewis, Washington, prior to leaving for Korea.
- RSM McManus returned home by air in February, 1952. Jim flew into Vancouver, with a stop in Toronto before arriving in Ottawa. Jim’s brother, Donald, came to the airport in Ottawa, picked him up, and drove him home to Camp Petawawa.
- When Jim arrived in Vancouver, Air Canada paged him immediately to their counter, as they had an onward flight for him to Ottawa. So, by the time he got back to baggage, all the others had cleared customs. In his duffle bag, he had 11 or 12 bottles of whiskey. The Customs guys were dragging the bag along the ground and it took two for them to put it up on the counter. They asked what he had in there, and Jim told them he had a couple bottles of whiskey. “A couple??” they asked. Jim reached over, picked up the bag with one hand, pretending that it was light as a feather, and put it over his shoulder. He passed through Customs with no problems.
- His driver in Korea was Peck, an RCR soldier.
- His assistant was a Korean chap named “Shorty” who was about 5 feet tall. He spoke English and was able to act as an interpreter for Jim. He made sure everything was always in order and set-up for Jim…like the latrine, etc.
- The Korean soldiers did most of the heavy work. They had to transport equipment up a hill on an “A” frame on their backs. One day, Jim’s driver, Peck, after driving the Korean soldiers to the bottom of a hill where they had to bring the equipment up this hill, felt one of the Koreans wasn’t going fast enough. So, he told the Korean to take off the “A” frame. He strapped it to his back and completed the walk up the hill. When he got there, he was exhausted and he decided that he would never, never complain about how slow the Koreans were again. That is how heavy these packs were. In fact, the Koreans did work that the Canadians would never have been able to do.
- Jim made sure that the Koreans were paid at the top of the scale that the Canadian Army permitted for this work.
- Jim also made sure that the Koreans were given enough food and other such things such as chocolate bars, razors, etc, that came in the sundry packs of the rations.
- When the truck came with the rations, it was filled with food. Most was for the Canadians; the Koreans only got rice and dried fish. The Koreans had a difficult time adjusting to Canadian food; that is why they had the rice and fish menu; however, over time, the got more used to and were able to eat Canadian food.
- Jim maintained his dug-out at the “Y” in the road that was on the way to the Battalion HQ, with a mortar outside and the road to his dugout zig-zagged off the main road where they “Y was situated. So, no traffic got to HQ without his knowledge.
- When 2 RCR first arrived in Korea, they were debriefed by their sister regiment, who were leaving, the Gloucestershires. The debriefing was very important to the ultimate success of the Canadian Army Korean Special Force. One of the key learning was that ammo and food had to be where the guns were. This was how the British got trapped and lost some lives in a fight-out with the Chinese forces. When the surprise attack happened, they had no ammo where the guns were, and had to go and get it. So, Jim told all the CSMs, “Don’t come running to me for ammo when you are in the middle of a dog-fight. Put the ammo where the guns are.”
- One morning a group of Korean officers arrived in a jeep to see the “Commandant.” Jim stopped them at the “Y” and told them he was the Commandant, and after a little back and forth, the officers were placed where the Korean personnel resided, with instructions that they were to report to him in the morning. In the morning, they had not shown up – even though they could see each other – they were only about 75 meters away from Jim. RSM McManus sent Shorty down to advise the officers they had 15 minutes to report. Shorty came back, quite frightened of these officers, saying with hesitation and with much nervousness, that they weren’t coming. After the allotted time, Jim walked into their compound, and was successful in persuading one of them to comply. The rest quickly followed, up to where they were supposed to report, and there was no further problem with these officers. This was the only incident of such a nature that he had to be involved in.
- Similar to Iceland in 1940, soldiers had a ration of alcohol. Having learned the lessons of what can happen when alcohol is permitted on the front lines, Jim made sure that any soldier who wanted to drink had to go to the back of the line… “Go there, get plastered, and when you are sober and ready, come back to the front.” This way, you had alert and sober troops on the front lines.
For more information on the RCR role in the Korean Conflict, read the PDF at the link below:
(Thanks to Captain Ross Appleton, Adjutant, RCR, 2011 – Click the link below:)
The Queen’s Coronation_by Captain Ross Appleton Adjutant_RCR 2011