Gunners to Infantry
After all this Riot drill and duty in December 1950 we were told that we were to be converted to infantry. We did not regard this as good news and it caused considerable discontent among the NCOs and ourselves. No doubt this was occasioned by concern over the fierce fighting in Korea, the arrival of the Communist Chinese army hordes, and the reverses suffered there by the American and South Korean forces. There too was the possibility of an attack upon Hong Kong 1.
A Waste of Specialized Skills
Notwithstanding the concerns of many world statesmen the events in Korea were then way beyond our knowledge. It was however evident to us, and it should have been so to others in more exalted positions, that Internal Security and infantry duties were a complete waste of all our special skills and expensive training as Surveyors, and the Battery as a specialist artillery unit.
I believe part of the trouble in this misallocation of resources was with the General Officer Commanding (GOC). Old soldiers said he had got into trouble before about this use of troops whilst in India. Maybe for this reason the Battery was taken out of the Division and put under the direct command of the Colonel Commandant Royal Artillery (CCRA). Even so the Internal Security and infantry work did not lessen, and inspections by the CCRA him seemed to increase. Later our CO Major Dacre left for home and in his place we had Major CJW Pollard who at least had surveyor training in Sound Ranging (SRG) and under whom the Battery was to serve in Korea.
- Histories published since demonstrate the concerns at that time and even fears of a Third World War. It was made worse by General MacArthur in charge of the American forces in Korea seemingly threatening the Chinese with a nuclear attack.
This threat caused so much anxiety to the British that the Prime Minister Mr Atlee flew post haste to see President Truman. It also led President Truman to fire General MacArthur. Matters then improved in Korea
In my opinion, the American uncensored press reporting that the Hong Kong papers carried, and which we read was alarming in the extreme. So much so I would not send any of the local HK papers back home because of the likely concern they would cause to friends and family. In the UK it appeared the Korean War was largely ignored then, and as it has been since. ↩