This being Remembrance Day, November 11, 2010, I'm inspired to tell a story about Canada's Korean War soldiers that I first learned about while CLIMBING TERRY FOX MOUNTAIN* this past September, as described in the excerpt below:
...At one point - with Carol and June having lagged behind due to taking off layers of clothing and tightening their bootlaces - I caught up with the faster four just as they were discussing the biggest train wreck in Canadian history. It had happened in Valemount 60 years ago and there'd been a special ceremony in remembrance of it the previous week. Patricia was remarking on how amazing it was that the head-on collision had happened on the stretch of track in front of the mountain she'd picked to be named after Diefenbaker*, unaware at the time that he was the lawyer (many years before he became Prime Minister) who'd defended the switchman who CN blamed for causing the crash. Diefenbaker won the case by proving it wasn't the switchman's fault - he hadn't been asleep at the switch - but a technical problem with the telegraph wires. When I asked what happened they explained that one of the trains was carrying hundreds of Canadian soldiers on their way to the Korean War and many of them had been killed and wounded. This, to me, was a godcident because just that previous week I'd put an article on ORWELL TODAY from the brother of one of the POWS (prisoners of war) who America abandoned in North Korea 60 years ago...
Below are the Korean War articles as they appeared on my website two days before the TF climb, including the letter from Bob Dumas, the brother of Roger Dumas, a POW who is known to still be alive in North Korea:
MCCARTHY/JFK/BOBBY & POWS
(hearings/investigating/negotiating their release)
Ex-USA president in Korea to free USA prisoner
(Aijalon Mahli Gomes entered Korea from China)
Email/Reuters, Sep 16, 2010
KOREA POW PHOTO BEEN SEEN
USA POWS IN KOREA LOCATED
After climbing down Terry Fox Mountain that day, and going back to our rooms to relax and celebrate, I read through the Valemount newspapers and found coverage of the special ceremony commemorating the 1950 train wreck that injured and took the lives of Canadian soldiers on their way to join the Korean War.
It has been almost 60 years since that dreadful day, back on November 21st, 1950, when two trains both travelling the single Canoe River rail line collided head on. One train transporting men from the 2nd Field Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, the other train was a passenger train. The lives of 14 men came to an end that day, and others lives were likely scarred for life. Over 50 soldiers had received serious or extensive inujuries. It took several hours for medical personnel to arrive from Jasper. The Canoe River Crash was considered to be one of the worst train crashes in Canadian history. In 2003, a permanent monument was erected at the crash site by retired members of the Canadian Horse Artillery living in the area. A plaque is also on the monument, with the names of all the men who lost their lives that day. In 2004, the Canoe Train Wreck was recognized by Canadian Government and the names of the men were also added to the Korean War Memorial list.
On September 11th & 12th, the Valemount Legion Members organized a memorial weekend, beginning with a parade originating from Centennial Park going down 5th Ave, then arriving at the Legion. A memorial service, breakfast and lunch were held on Saturday, then a dinner for the general public later that evening with music provided by our Old-time Musicians. A pancake breakfast was held on Sunday morning. A trip back to the site was made by some of the local Legion Members, the members of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Regiment from Petawawa, Ontario, some locals, as well as two men from the train wreck, James Henderson and Dale Mainprize. Dale Mainprize is the father of local resident Art Mainprize.
"It was a long, cold day. It was wet snow and we were all cold and wet". James Henderson was 21 when he found himself bound for Korea... Henderson was the only soldier on the train crash 60 years ago near Canoe River who was present at the Canoe River Train Crash memorial held on Saturday in Valemount. Other Korean War veterans who were not on the train also came from as far as Ontario to pay their respects to fellow fallen comrades... Dong Han served in the Korean Army from 1958 to 1961. He immigrated to Canada and worked for SaskTel for many years. He now lives in Jasper... and is an active member of the Jasper Legion. "We Koreans honour their sacrifice in fighting tyranny and agression. Korea today is a vibrant democracy with a robust economy and we are promoting peace around the world," he says in a speech. "We are proud of what we have managed to accomplish and we thank all of you. Please accept our deepest gratitude and respect. Kamsamnida!"
John Kolanchey is a Korean Veteran who was part of the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry who received the Presidential Unit Citation and the Distinguished Unit Citation (now Presidential Unit Citation (US) from the President of the United States to recognize its stand at the battle of Kapyong during the Korean War in April 1951. The Patricias, together with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, which received the same honour, held the line in an attack by Chinese troops. "The Chinese general promised Mao that they would take Seoul Labour Day. It was not a big battle, but it was one of the most important battles of the war", says Kolanchey. He recalls vividly the scene of the battle. "It was night but everything was lit up like day. We ran out of ammunition, water and food. The planes had to drop supplies for us. We were dug into position but it was hand to hand kind of Mountain warfare. Kolanchey says that even after the battle, the mountain warfare was a hard reality of their position. We would stay 23-24 days without coming down. We were usually supplied by Koreans carrying backpacks of supplies. They were Korean conscripts. usually older." Kolanchey is one of many Korean veterans who have taken advantage of a revisitation offer by the Korean government....
...96-year-old Valemount resident, Bob Beeson, led the press...to the wreck site, and the cairn, which was moved from the actual site, because, said Beeson, they bulldozed the land so the railroad could run straighter around that fateful corner. The cairn is now at the crossing, which Beeson and Ralph Lebans put in to access their sawmill, above the wreck site... Dale Mainprize, retired conductor after 38 years, was the only one left that he knows of who was on the train. He was the head-end brakeman, and considers himself lucky to not have been up front; he was at the back doing rounds when the trains collided. He pointed out, "It could have been a lot worse," had they met at the bridge up the tracks. The only soldier in attendance from the trains was 81-year-old, Jim Henderson... Also present was the Korean man who aided in lobbying to change the name from "Korean Conflict" to "Korean War". Jasperite, Dong Han, said, "From the bottom of my heart I feel obligated to do something and continue recognizing the soldiers that helped my country. Han has written a story that will be published in CN Dreams, and also sent a letter to the Korean embassy in Ottawa, asking for official recognition of the sacrifice made by the soldiers. He added, "war is a very horrible thing, where both sides lose, and nobody gains... to achieve peace and freedom, we have to have harmony together, not you versus I, or I versus you".
The Canoe River Train Wreck
by Cpl. L. Eadie
Far in the Canadian Rockies
One cold November's day.
Two passenger trains collided
While rolling on their way.
One rolling to the Pacific;
One to the Prairies wide;
And no one thought this journey
Would be their fatal ride.
The fireman had a signal
To stop that westbound train:
He thought the man just waving...
And the signal was in vain.
The Westbound was a trooper,
The Flyer rolling east:
When this disaster happened
All thoughts of joy did cease.
There were soldiers bound for Korea
Who gave their lives that day.
For them and all their loved ones
This day we'll kneel and pray.
Seventeen soldiers will be honoured
As in some foreign land.
They died for King and Country
While going to make their stand.
The day will live forever,
In some dear loved ones heart.
Time will help to ease the pain
But in dreams they'll never part.
When I got back home from climbing Terry Fox Mountain, from the top of which I'd seen Mount Diefenbaker, the foothills of which is the site of the train crash that took the lives of our Korean-bound soldiers, I did a search for further info.
Diefenbaker and the Canoe River Wreck
by Bob Meldrum, Railways In Canada
In the book Korea: Canada's Forgotten War by John Melady (Macmillan 1983), there is a story about Canadian railroading which I had not read before. Perhaps railway history is slanted towards the corporations because the author needs the co-operation of the companies. In this story, Canadian National is shown in a different light. On November 21, 1950, at 10:35 in the morning, there was a terrible accident on the Canadian National main line 312 miles west of Edmonton. A 17 car westbound troop tram carrying 340 soldiers crossed a long trestle over a 500-foot mountain gorge. Just east of the hamlet called Canoe River, British Columbia, the troop train entered a long sweeping uphill curve. At the same time, an eastbound transcontinental express banked into the same curve. In the ensuing crash, the engine of the army train was tossed up and back onto the coaches immediately behind it. The wooden coaches filled with soldiers buckled like cordwood. Twenty-one men died in the wreck including four whose remains were never found. Seventy were injured including many who were hurt by the scalding steam.
On May 9, 1951, a manslaughter trial opened in Prince George, British Columbia. There, a 22-year-old CNR telegrapher named Alfred Atherton was accused of causing the wreck because he had allegedly sent an incomplete message to the westbound train. John Diefenbaker (who went on to be the thirteenth Canadian prime minister) was Atherton's lawyer. The trial was lively. CN refused to accept any responsibility for the crash and seemed to be using Atherton as a scapegoat. A notable exchange occurred between Diefenbaker and Colonel Pepler, the Deputy Attorney General of British Columbia, who was acting as Crown Attorney.... Diefenbaker won an acquittal after this turning point. The jury also felt that snow on the telegraph wires may have led to the incomplete message....
I also found a write-up on how the MOUNTAIN NAMED FOR DIEFENBAKER was chosen. Our Mount Terry Fox hiking-guide, Patricia, had been involved in that decision.
Also, shortly after getting home from climbing Mount Terry Fox - and learning all about the Korean-bound-soldiers train wreck there in the Rockies, the DVD that Bob Dumas sent to me arrived, and I watched it ASAP (the military term for 'as soon as possible'):
When the Korean War ended in 1953 hundreds of American POWs were left behind, abandoned in North Korea. When it became apparent that repatriating these men would not be feasible, the USA government declared them "missing, presumed dead". These missing servicemen were forgotten until POW/MIA advocates forced the USA Senate Select Committee on Foreign Relations to investigate the many recent sightings of American POWs in Vietnam and North Korea....
I plan to watch the DVD again, and will write a review at that time, but for now I'll just say it was an emotional experience to see old news footage of our American and Canadian soldiers over there - including of POW camps where many of them are still held to this day.
As I write this Korean War story of remembrance, on Remembrance Day 2010, the Prime Minister of Canada is in South Korea, and he laid a wreath in remembrance of Canadian soldiers. It's taken sixty years, but Canada is now finally remembering that "forgotten war".
Also, godcidently, there's news today that the body of an American POW in North Korea has been returned home after all these years.
It's approaching the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month as I finish this story, so I'll close now to bow my head in two minutes silence to pray.... and remember. ~ Jackie Jura
Body of Korean War POW returned to USA, AP, Nov 11, 2010
The remains of a Korean War POW who died in captivity in the 1950s have been returned to Colorado in a hero's homecoming. A dozen police officers, honor guards from the Transportation Security Administration and Fort Carson, as well as dozens of others gathered at the tarmac at Denver International Airport on Wednesday to pay tribute to 27-year-old Cpl. Floyd E. Hooper. Hooper, of Stratton, Colorado, was captured in February 1951 near Yangp'yong (junhg yen-yawng), Korea. He died of dysentery and malnutrition while a prisoner of war. His remains were only recently identified. Denver police Sgt. Richard Stager says all military personnel who died in wars, conflicts and active service get similar welcomes and send-offs at the airport.
Visit to Korea emotional for Canadian veterans
Inside Toronto News, Nov 10, 2010
The South Korean government has offered Canadian veterans gratitude and honour through the Revisit Korea trip taking place this week, Nov. 9 through 14. The program, which began in 1975, is an all-expenses-paid tour of Korean War sites. "One thing that sticks out in my mind is a visit to the UN cemetery," said Terry Wickens, president of the Korean War Veterans Association of Canada. "I saw the graves of two soldiers who did basic training with me. That was emotional, something I will never forget."
Often called the "forgotten war", veterans of the Korean War remember the thankless reception Canadians showed at their homecoming. The government refused to recognize returning soldiers as veterans until more than 40 years later. "They had this funny idea that it wasn't a war, it was a 'police action'", said Bill Campbell, president of the association's Scarborough chapter. "But it was war. People were dying and airplanes were dropping bombs." Campbell emphasized that every Canadian soldier in Korea was a volunteer, a fact that left many American soldiers incredulous. "One guy from Georgia asked me, 'When were you drafted?' I said that everyone on this boat is a volunteer. He couldn't believe me, and started to laugh. That laughter is still with me. He couldn't believe that someone would volunteer to go to war." The Revisit Korea program offers a warm return for Canadian veterans of the Korean War.
"Your sacrifice and dedication have been the foundation for Korea to become a free prosperous nation," said Yang Kim, Korean minister of patriots and veterans affairs in a welcome letter. The program usually provides guided tours of battle grounds and monuments, including a visit to Kap'yong, where Canadian soldiers were venerated for their exceptional heroism. It also hosts a large banquet at which Ambassador of Peace medals are presented to veterans. Wickens said the Korean government has "gone overboard" for this year's special 60th anniversary trip, which will feature a commemoration of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where UN troops broke free of encircling Chinese forces. "The trip brought back memories and it brought closure for me," Wickens recounted. "I'd never been back to Korea and never wanted to, but I'm glad I went."
PM Harper honours Canadian vets in Seoul
by David Akin, Toronto Sun, Nov 10, 2010
SEOUL, South Korea - About 20 Canadian veterans joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the leaders of the United Kingdom and Australia for a Remembrance Day ceremony here that paid particular heed to those who fought and died in the Korean War. More than 26,000 Canadians served under the United Nations banner in the 1950-53 war with 516 Canadians making the ultimate sacrifice. "Today we honour and remember those members of the Canadian Forces who fought in one of the toughest wars in our history, to defend South Korea against an oppressive communist invader," Harper said in a statement. "Our forces fought bravely alongside our Allies to defend South Korea and played a pivotal part in ending the hostilities." Robert Maginn of St. Thomas, Ont., a veteran of the Korean War, recalled losing a friend during the fighting. The Korean War has sometimes been referred to as Canada's "Forgotten War" but McGinn said recent initiatives in Canada to pay tribute specifically to those who fought in Korea have been appreciated by those vets. "I have seen improvement throughout the years so it's encouraging," said McGinn. Harper, along with U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian Prime Minister Julie Gillard laid a wreath in front of the Canadian plaque at the memorial's Gallery of the Monuments of Those Killed in Action. Harper is believed to be the first Canadian prime minister to mark a Remembrance Day at the Seoul memorial. In his statement, Harper also remembered those continuing to serve in the Canadian Forces in dangerous places elsewhere in the world. "Today I also want to pay tribute to our brave men and women in uniform who continue the proud tradition of defending peace and freedom around the globe in places such as Afghanistan and Haiti," Harper said.
TERRY FOX ATLANTIC WATER JUG
INUKSHUK & TERRY FOX STATUES
FOX FRIEND ALWARD CHANGED CANADA
CANADA'S KOREAN WAR TRAIN WRECK
TERRY FOX NEWFIE VODKA
CLIMBING TERRY FOX MOUNTAIN
TERRY FOX MONUMENTAL PERSON
LOOKING 4 TERRY FOX MOUNTAIN
MY TERRY FOX MEMORIES
TERRY'S FRIEND DOUG CARRIES TORCH
HONOUR TERRY FOX NOT LENIN-MAO
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~