ESCAPING THE FRONT LINE
To see the Korean scenery
This day will be fine and warm. I am on 24 hours leave to do whatever I like, but I can't leave the boundary of South Korea.
I read (probably a Zane Grey, Western novel) and loafed around all morning. After dinner I was bored, and so decided to have a look at the scenery down south of the "Front Line". I started walking, my only friend my trusty 303 rifle. After a while a young American soldier passed me travelling south. He stopped to give me a lift. I hopped in sitting with my rifle butt on the floor and barrel straight up. He had some kind of automatic weapon, it was mandatory to carry your weapon everywhere in Korea in case a chinaman or North Korean turned up in front of you. We were told it could happen anytime.
The American said, "Hi Aussie, where are you going guy?"
I replied "I'm going south, as I have the day off. I am from the Second Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. "
"Why are you going South?" he asked.
"Just to look at the scenery" I replied "I like hills and mountains."
He became very quiet as we drove past Korean villages which had been destroyed, and small army camps etc. Trucks jeeps and tanks were moving around everywhere. After about 10 miles a large U.S. army camp lay off to the right. He pulled up and said this is where he turned off, pointing to the army camp. I thanked him for the lift as he speedily drove off and I started walking south again. After about 10 minutes I saw this jeep heading south, instead of slowing down he sped straight past me ignoring me. It was the same young American on his own - didn't want to blow me.
Eventually I got sick of trudging south as it was getting cooler in the late afternoon. I turned around and somehow got a lift back to near the front line. I arrived just after tea and in time to see half of the movie "A Yankee in Indo-China" I got back to my bunker around 9.00 p.m. finally falling asleep around 10.00 p.m.
Years later I was dwelling on why the young American jeep driver grew quiet, when I told him I was going south to see the scenery. He probably thought I was going AWOL to somehow escape out of South Korea. I think he was probably frightened to say I anything as he was driving and I had a loaded 303 rifle that I was holding in front of me. I would say that he probably was trying to work out how to get rid of me, after all he wouldn't want to be part of helping a soldier deserting the front-line.
Ernie R. Holden.
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