Guard of Honour for Syngman Rhee

WEDNESDAY 20th - THURSDAY 21st, MAY 1953.

A group of us was picked out to take part in a "Guard of Honour" at "A" Echelon area back behind the lines approximately ten miles south.

We went in a truck with our Lieutenant Crowe to practice drill all day with other troopers from other countries and to polish and 'blanco" our webbing and pouches, rifle and bayonet etc.

It was an easy day with fine and warm weather making everything pleasant. "A" Echalon was a giant parade ground complete with a small airstrip. The next day Syngman Rhee the President of South Korea was going to arrive by light aircraft to inspect the United Nations soldiers on parade. These men were from many countries that were helping his country to stop the North Korean and Chinese invaders.


After tea we had a general chit-chat before going to bed at 9.00 p.m., looking forward to the "Big parade" the next day.

THURSDAY 21st MAY, 1953.

We climbed out of our stretcher beds the next morning at 6.00 a.m. The Lieutenant walked in to our sleeping quarters - he looked white and ashen and very sad. He announced to us in a shakey voice that Pte. Ronald Rackley and Sgt. Keith Foran had been killed the night before. The sad part was that the "bosses' higher up than the Lieutenant would not let him go to the funeral parade for these two soldiers that he had got to know back in Australia. The Lieutenant had to carry on with his part of the parade for the President.

We moved out at 8.00 a.m. to assemble for the British Commonwealth Parade opposite the airstrip, I watched for the aircraft to land. It was a U.S. Airforce Beechcraft 'Twin Bonanza" all aluminium colour 5-6 sealer light aircraft - with a little bit of red trim outside. After the motors had come to a stop the right starboard side door was opened and the President climbed down the two or three short steps and all the officers saluted him and all walked to where we were standing at attention ready for his inspection. I looked straight ahead at eye level to see what the President looked like and as he came past I got quite a surprise. I had to look down as he was only about four and a half feet tall - a real little* guy.

After this inspection of about ten minutes he got back into the 'Twin Bonanza" aircraft and took off into the 'wild blue yonder' disappearing into fine warm weather.

After all this excitement we had dinner then went back to the front line in trucks, had tea, did the usual 'stand-to' as darkness descended with rain not far away. I went to bed at 9.15 p.m. with warm thoughts of the day and sadness for Keith Foran and Ron Rackley, killed in a mine-field the night before while on a patrol with Jack Barden and other men.


* Syngman Rhee was born 26th April, 1875, which made him 78 years old at the time I saw him, no wonder he looked small!

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