Previous Article Next Article FNPI Search Home Previous Year Next Year Year List


Indian Veterans Remember Continued...Allan Bird SL4779

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      OCTOBER 1989      p05  
I joined the army January 29, 1952. I was there for there years. My basic training was it Camp Petawawa, Ontario. After six months, I didn't come back once to Montreal Lake to visit my family From there, I went to Wainwright, Alberta for the summer training. I stayed there for about two months.

From there we went across the ocean on a ship. It took us about fourteen days. We got to Yokahama, Japan. In the meantime, on our way to Korea, I was outside on the ship standing on the rail just thinking about home and why I had to leave home. Yet I was very glad I joined the army because my father was in the First World War. My brother was in World War 2 and I thought I might as well join the army too. While I was at the railing in the ship, just standing there and being very lonely, I saw another man there. He too was just looking. He looked like an Indian to me. I went to say hello to him. I asked him if he was lonesome and he said yes. "I wondered why I crossed the ocean. I was already overseas in WW2", he said. "While I was there in Germany, during the war, I won myself a George Cross, next to Victoria Cross for bravery." He told me how he won the cross. then he told me, "I'm not coming back until I win the Victoria Cross in Korea", he said. he told me lots of stories about the war. At the end, I asked for his name. "Tommy Prince", he said. That was the most decorated Indian in the Canadian Army. Sergeant Tommy Prince died in Winnipeg not too long ago. He died poor. He didn't want very much help. He said, "I came into the world poor and I'll leave the world poor."

While we were in Korea, we stopped at Japan for a week. Then we crossed Japan to Korea. While we were in Tokyo, Japan, the people there gave us a tour. I saw where the atomic bomb fell in 1945 by the Americans. It looked like a fire went I through there. Everything was burnt, even the steel buildings. The steel bars were bent from the heat of the bomb at Hiroshima.

After one week in Japan, we went to Korea. We have six submarine and aircraft escorts. When we landed, we stayed on the ship. At night we were put on a train in boxcars. We were being sent to the front lines. We were there for thirteen months. Sometimes we had fun, sometimes we were scared. We hauled food and ammunition. We did all this mostly after dark. No lights because the tail lights on the vehicle would show. We never could do anything during the day. The war was on at night mostly.

Back in Japan, Sergeant Prince was with the same outfit in the P.P.C.L.I., the same as me. We would do patrol. Sergeant Prince took five men with him to patrol at the enemy lines. While they were at the front lines, he got hit with shells. Prince got shell shock. From there, he left to get back to our line. Prince and one other fellow returned, leaving the other three behind. He didn't know that he had left the three behind. They had been killed. Sergeant Prince was sent home with shell shock.

One day I volunteered to go on patrol to find out what was going on at the other side. We had our English Corporal by the name of Webster from London, England to join the Canadian Army. It took us all night to get to the front lines. There was tall grass, so we crawled to see what was on the other side. In the meantime, while we were crawling, our Corporal told us to lay down quiet. Something was wrong and we knew it. Then I saw the enemy about three feet away. They were looking for us. They were not sure where we were but they knew we were there. We lay quiet for two hours, waiting to get orders from our leader. Then he told us we could sit up to stretch. He radioed to headquarters and we were told to return. While we were walking, the sky would light up from flares. It was like daylight. We would fall on the ground. When it grew dark would start running again. Finally we got back.

I remember after the war was over in Korea, July 29, 1953-54. There was a line there where sides were able to see each other. One morning I was called to go patrol that line. There was a tower there about 25 feet high. I didn't have any live ammo or rifle, nothing but my hands to fight with. About five in the morning I got up in the tower just to look around with binoculars. There was a big valley in that area. I saw people running from bush to bush. They were coming closer and closer. I didn't feel very good about what was happening. I was getting very suspicious so I radioed headquarters. They were coming towards me. The Military Police came. I heard the trucks rumbling over the hill. I very glad to see five vehicles coming. The Commanding Officer asked me to come down off the tower, but I didn't want to, as I would lose sight of the enemy. The enemy stopped when they heard the vehicles. After capturing them, they brought them back. The CO told me to search them. He told me they were mine, all five of them. They had knives and machine guns. For food, all they had was rice.

I still have the picture of the Koreans and myself. They took a picture of me. This was a seven in the morning. I had done a days work before breakfast. I didn't even get a thank you or take a day off. I still stayed at the tower all day.