René Levesque of the C.B.C. Interviewing Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. Dextraze, Commanding Officer, Royal 22e Regiment, Korea, 16 August 1951.
National Archives of Canada (C-079007, photo by Bill Olson).

René Levesque of the C.B.C. Interviewing Lieutenant-Colonel J.A. Dextraze, Commanding Officer, Royal 22e Regiment, Korea, 16 August 1951.

 

Life in Korea was difficult for most Canadian soldiers for many different reasons. First, from a strategic or tactical standpoint, Canadian troops had been trained to fight a mobile style of war reminiscent of Second World War battles in north-western Europe. In Korea, the terrain was mountainous and generally unsuited to mobile and set-piece battles. Instead, the geography favoured the Chinese, who were lightly equipped, highly mobile, adaptable, and all battle hardened veterans of their long civil war.

Trooper Asleep on Back of Tank, Korea, 7 September 1951.
National Archives of Canada (PA-143954, photo by Paul E. Tomelin).

Trooper Asleep on Back of Tank, Korea, 7 September 1951.

Andy Parenteau, of "C" Squadron, Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) takes a break from guard duty. His squadron was guarding a likely Communist fording spot on the Imjin River.

Battle situations for Canadian troops varied widely. The Canadians in Korea experienced extreme and arduous combat conditions, such as those that existed at Kap'yong and Chail-li. They also suffered through long periods when the battle lines were static and little activity occurred. As one soldier claimed, life on the Jamestown line (the 38th parallel) was, "ninety per cent boredom and ten per cent pure terror." Regardless of where the soldiers were stationed, they had to contend with rugged, hilly terrain. They also endured a climate, which they had been told was "tropical," but which, in fact, went from the extremes of high heat in the summer to bitterly cold, damp, sometimes snowy, conditions in the winter. Moreover, as in the First World War, rats and other vermin infested the soldiers' trenches and encampments.

Column of Royal 22e Regiment Soldiers Slogs over a Muddy Ridge, North Korea, 20 June 1951.
University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections (Winnipeg Tribune Collection, PC 18, 334-1-11, 18-334-001).

Column of Royal 22e Regiment Soldiers Slogs over a Muddy Ridge, North Korea, 20 June 1951.

 

The Canadians were also ill-prepared for social aspects of service in Korea. In general, they were completely unfamiliar with Korean culture and society. Canadian army training pamphlets were woefully inadequate to prepare the soldiers. Whatever the cause, Canadians in Korea, unlike their counterparts during the Second World War in Europe, were isolated from the local social conditions.

Private David Waterbury of the 2nd Royal Canadian Regiment with a Korean Farmer, Korea, October 1951.
National Archives of Canada (PA-141869, photo by Bill Olson).

Private David Waterbury of the 2nd Royal Canadian Regiment with a Korean Farmer, Korea, October 1951.

 


Warrant Officer, Second Class Maurice Rice Juteau, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, Distributing Food to Refugees, Korea, 3 July 1951.
National Archives of Canada (PA-129118, photo by Bill Olson).

Warrant Officer, Second Class Maurice Rice Juteau, 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, Distributing Food to Refugees, Korea, 3 July 1951.

 
 

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