20th - 29th April, 1953


We were training on the top of our position on the "Kansas Lines". This was a row of tall hills called "Yamas". It had been established about 5 miles behind the front line, by the United States Army, and was to be used as a line of defence in case the North Koreans or Chinese overtook the existing static front line and started to force us back. The sides were very steep about 45' and comprised of loose earth and rocks. We would climb daily to the top to dig the trenches deeper and practice night and day manoeuvres. Sometimes we slept in the trenches, and as the snow had just finished, it was very cold.

One night in our practice manoeuvres we were split up into two groups. I was in the group of soldiers to protect the trenches against the enemy, attacking and overtaking our positions. The other group was going to creep up after midnight and attempt to attack. If we saw anyone we had to challenge them and if they said the password, the words already established between the two groups earlier, they would be captured and be a "Prisoner of War". There was no moon this night so it would be pitch black.

I was in my trench position watching and waiting. I sensed someone creeping closer and closer. They were wearing a'great coat' and carrying a rifle with bayonet attached. I knew that the person knew where I was. Somehow I could tell that he also knew that I knew he was creeping up to get in the trenches and try and capture me or "kill me". With my night eyes I realised it was young Spike Watson approaching.

As he came closer I challenged him very softly - "Who goes there?"

He stopped a while and didn't say anything, and then crept gradually closer. I challenged him again and again no reply. After a while I said "Spike, give me the password," he refused about 3 times. I did everything to give him a chance to surrender as a POW. He was only an arms distance away, and I was shaking. I lifted my rifle sideways and pushed it into this chest and he tumbled in the darkness down the steep slopes about 100 feet.

He must have hurt himself but he never murmured a sound once, or cried out. I felt very sorry I had to carry out this act, but it was my duty as a soldier in training. Spike Watson could have been a real enemy in later weeks when we got to the front line.

I kept clear of Spike the rest of my time in Korea, as I did not want to bully him again. But we still crossed paths on patrols and meal queues.

As I was being taken out on the stretcher on the morning of the 28th May, Spike was somewhere near the front line trenches, as I passed him he looked concerned, but I guess maybe he felt relieved that Ernie Holden would never bully him again. Spike's best mate and a big brother figure to him, Corporal Albert J. Wells was killed later, I think by a Chinese mortar bomb on 24th July, three days before the truce was signed. He was aged 22. 1 note in the book "Home by Christmas", that Spike got through Korea okay and then went to war in Malaya and again came back uninjured. I am glad he survived, he was a good bloke.

Pte. E. R. Holden, 10 Plt. D Coy, 2 RAR, morning tea, Kansas Line, April, 1953
Pte. E. R. Holden, 10 Plt. D Coy, 2 RAR
Morning tea, Kansas Line, April, 1953

Ptes.  Leo Allsop and Spke Watson, 10 Plt. D Coy, 2 RAR, 'The Hook' area, 1953
Ptes. Leo Allsop (left) and Spike Watson (right), 10 Plt D Coy 2RAR
"The Hook" area, 1953

Ernie R. Holden.

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