"Ted" was a cinema operator in the RAAF and served in Japan and Korea 1950 to 1952. He was discharged in 1956 and retains an interest in service organizations to this day where he resides in East Ballina New South Wales.
I was stationed at G.T.S. Forest Hill in 1950 awaiting a Basic Fitters Course. Things were getting a bit boring so I applied for re-muster to my civilian trade of Motion Picture Projectionist and volunteered for posting to 77 squadron when the Korean War started. I arrived in Iwakuni Japan in September 1950 and took over the theatres in Iwakuni and responsibility for all of the 16mm mobile projectors in the area. The base theatre ran 2 sessions per night 7 nights per week and I had an American top Sgt. Charlie Betts as an assistant. Charlie would take over the running of the shows when I had to take my trips to Korea. I would fly to Korea in a 30 Transport Squadron DC3, with temperatures in the aircraft well below zero. The idea was to take turns going up to the cockpit to warm up as it was the only part of the Aircraft that was heated. I would take a 16mm and selection of films (all of our films came from the American Special Services Division so it was the latest and the best).
I would normally set up in the Canteen (Boozer) tent and show a couple of movies, cartoons and news reels per night. I would stay for about a month and while I was there I would train a volunteer in the basic use of the projector and from then we would just send over film from Japan. This could have been a great idea except the squadron moved so often that the equipment was quite regularly lost or just disappeared, so I was backwards and forward quite often.
On one occasion I was asked by the C.O. of the Turkish Contingent to screen a film for his troops as they had no projector. I set up in a field with a generator and they gave me a Turkish comedy film, it was 4 hours long and all in Turkish no sub-titles, it was the most boring 4 hours I have ever spent.
When we had to leave Pusan in a hurry we left everything on the strip, I hope the Chinese enjoyed our movies. I went back to Korea when the squadron moved to Kimpo outside of Seoul, this was the most permanent base we ever had in Korea. My boss F/O Leach Amenities Officer 91 Wing Iwakuni and I spent three weeks installing systems throughout the tent lines to pipe radio, music and messages (not to mention air raid alarms to the whole 77 Squadron area in Yong Dong Po. ) Our air raids mainly consisted of a single enemy aircraft nicknamed "Bed check Charlie" who would come down under the Radar about 2 a.m. and throw out half a dozen mortar shells and hand grenades, not much to worry about, but it taught you to keep your head down.
My job was to entertain the troops and apart from the movies I was responsible for running stage shows and making arrangements for visiting artists. Gladys Moncrief and Strella Wilson put on an excellent show for 91 Comp Wing Iwakuni and for troops serving in and around Ham Hung Korea. I produced and acted in quite a few variety shows both in Japan and Korea. We would load a DC3 with generators, lighting, curtains, sound equipment and costumes and take off for bases in Korea where we put on shows for troops of the United Nations. It gave me and the members of the concert parties great satisfaction to see the enjoyment on the faces of the troops we entertained, troops who had spent months in the bleak and inhospitable countryside of Korea without any amenities whatsoever. I don't think any show produced by Hollywood was ever as well received as our efforts in Korea.
Another of my jobs to entertain the troops and make their lives a little bit more bearable was Staff Announcer on radio W.L.K.U. " the voice of the R.A.A.F in Japan" and some parts of Korea. This consisted of arranging programs, maintenance of the vast record Library and conducting my own show at 4p.m. each day . "Services Concert Hall" which was a one hour session of classical and semi classical music. Pilots coming back from Korea used our signal to home on Iwakuni Air Base. Even though we had limited transmission power, on a clear day we could be received quite clearly in North Korea and most of Honshu Japan.
In all, my service in Korea was, to say the least, very busy and very interesting, but I would also like to think very worthwhile. As the old saying goes, " I never saw a angry man", but as Australian Servicemen we went to a country in distress and did out best to solve the problems of that country. We answered the call of the United Nations and I think that every Australian Serviceman whether Army, Navy, or Air Force can be proud of the job they did in Korea in the war they called "A Police Action".
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