Sheridan “Pat” Patterson’s infantry troop withdrew from Chai-li hill towing wounded soldiers on the back deck.
The operation, during the Korean War, hinged on taking the Kakhul-bong hill outside of town, but there was too much opposition. With the battle for the hill unsuccessful the Royal Canadian Regiment moved near the Ch’orwan Reservoir, sending out regular long-range patrols. However, during one patrol Patterson’s troop hit a mine.
“Mines were the worst thing. It was up there (near the reservoir) that we hit a mine. We didn’t know what had happened, the terrible explosion, we all bailed out on the ground,” said Patterson in his Memory Project interview. “Most of us were bleeding at the ears. The centre suspension on our tank had landed about 200 yards off the one side. The AV, armored recovery vehicle, came up threw out a section of track and said ‘fix this thing.’ We fixed the track but the explosion had warped the hull and we couldn’t traverse the turret anymore, so it was gone.”
Patterson’s story was one of eight recorded last November when the Memory Project visited the city. The project is an initiative by the Historica-Dominion Institute, a charitable organization that formed in 2009 when the Historica Foundation of Canada and Dominion Institute merged.
The Memory Project is a nationwide oral history project that allows veterans to tell their stories first hand and have them recorded so others can listen to their tales.
Eight veterans were interviewed in Nanaimo when Memory Project staff visited the city. The interviewees included: Bob Ducharme, Mona Johnson, Eileen Little, William Parker, Sheridan “ Pat” Patterson, Georgina Rosewall, Bill Ryan and Herbert Stickley.
People can read or listen to the veteran’s personal accounts, such as Patterson’s, at www.thememory
Alex Herd, project manager of Memory Project archives, said the interviews were edited for clarity, by historians working on the project.
The project seeks to record the personal stories of Second World War and Korean War veterans.
Currently the Memory Project is pushing to get 516 Korean War veterans, the number of Canadian soldiers killed during that conflict, to share their stories before the 60th anniversary of armistice, which is July 27, 2013.
“Personally I would like to surpass that number,” said Herd.
Herd said initially the Korean War was listed as a police action. The classification stemmed from the office of the U.S. president. It wasn’t until the 1990s that veterans received official Korean War medals recognizing their contributions, he said. Herd said that made Korean War veterans more reluctant to come forward and share their experiences.
“They’ve been overshadowed by the history of the Second World War,” said Herd. “Their story is less known than the World War Two veterans. Their stories aren’t as well known in public consciousness. Their recognition in Canadian history was neglected for a long time.”
Veterans who are interested in sharing their story can still have an opportunity to participate. The project will interview any veteran, no matter what nationality they are as long as they are currently a resident of Canada. Veterans or family members can call 1-866-701-1867 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a phone interview.
The Historica Foundation of Canada was launched in October 1999 with a mission to help all Canadians come to know the fascinating stories that make our country unique.
Over the years Historica nurtured and expanded its well-known programs such as the Heritage Minutes, the Heritage Fairs and The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Historica also added new initiatives such as Encounters with Canada and The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada to capture the imagination of students and adults alike. Several of the programs continue at the Historica-Dominion Institute.