Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

Memories of Korea – 1953

WO J.J.A. Pelletier
Pro Patria Issue No. 15, February 1973

On the night of 2/3 May 1953 I, was taken prisoner by the North Koreans when our position on Hill 187 (in the central section of the Jamestown line) was overrun. At the time of the attack I was a corporal section leader in 8 Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment.

In various stages, I was moved to a hospital situated on a prominent feature at POW Camp No 5 at Pyok Tong overlooking the Yalu River, arriving at that place about 20 May 53.

When captured, I was wearing my Regimental scarf and had managed to retain possession of it.

At the hospital. one means of drying clothes was to fasten them to a line strung between two long poles and then raise the poles into the air and secure them to buildings.

From this I formulated an idea and put into effect a routine whereby I washed my Regimental scarf every morning , fastened it to a long pole (about 20 feet) and hoisted it into the air. In this manner I proudly flew the blue, amber and black of The Regiment from a high hill in enemy territory for approximately two weeks.

Whether caused by an informer or suspicion of my morning ritual. I was called into the office of the hospital military supervisor and ordered to surrender the scarf. With no choice in the matter. I reluctantly did so.

From that time on I maintained a constant vigil for an opportunity to gain entry into the office where 1 had handed over the scarf in the hope that it was still there and that I could retrieve it.

The opportunity finally came when. in my appointment as librarian for the United Nations patients library. I had occasion to enter the office to pick up some new literature. A hurried search uncovered the scarf in a drawer and I quickly concealed it in my clothing.

At the first opportunity when I could act without being observed. I hid the scarf inside the straw mattress of my bed. Although prisoners were periodically subjected to strip and search sessions. there did not appear to be any concerted search for the scarf.

On the 29th of July, 1953, we were informed of the Armistice and on the 31st of July were readied for the trip South. All prisoners were ordered to strip, our effects taken away and clean POW uniforms issued. While dressing, and under cover of the commotion created by much scurrying about of other prisoners, I retrieved the scarf and again hid it inside by clothing.

While travelling in the back of a Russian truck on the last leg of the trip South and release. I donned the scarf and on arrival at Freedom Gate in Panmunjon I sported it proudly as I got off the truck and walked to freedom.

After twenty years I still have the scarf and intend to offer it to the Regimental Museum in the near future.

WO J.J.A. Pelletier
Combat Arms School
Formerly SA 2767 Cpl 3 RCR

Pro Patria

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