ROBERT O. FAULKNER

Private | Royal Canadian Infantry Corps

 

Shy of nineteen years of age, Robert Faulkner was held back from Korean deployment when the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment sailed for the first rotation.  It was not until the end of October 1952 following the deadly fight on Hill 355 that he joined his company on the line.  While the battalion recovered from losses and trained individual replacements like Faulkner, the weeks passed with little activity.  In January they were posted to the Hook for a month where D Company in particular was tasked with patrolling the area and replacing any wiring that had been blasted away.  On the night of January 8th, the company was assigned to investigate a knoll across the valley on which a light had been seen frequently flashing and cutting out again.

 

The company was split in two sections for the patrol and the half that Faulkner was in he felt was like the cavalry that would sweep in to rescue the others if they came into trouble.  Ahead of him with the first section was his buddy Newfie MacDonald, a true Newfoundlander who never seemed to stop talking and always had Bob reeling with laughter.  The patrol routine always opened with a five-minute barrage on the enemy position after which the first half of the men would sweep the ridge to investigate and retreat back under cover of a three-minute barrage.  It was a fairly quick and otherwise uneventful sweep and in high spirits the group returned to their bunkers to pass a bottle of rum.

 

“Hey, Newfie you’re being awful quiet,” chimed a voice among the party that quickly fell silent as they realized a man was missing.  The lieutenant radioed to request a search party, but headquarters felt a search was too risky and perhaps MacDonald was just lost and would find his way back.  Attempting the stifle their fears with hope, the men speculated how he may have gotten caught up in the barrage or just taken a wrong turn and he would show up in a few hours or the next morning, but his body was never found.

 

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After rotating with the 3d Battalion, Faulkner and others whose year in Korea was not fulfilled remained through 1953, and in early May were on Hill 187 where they were frequently shelled.  It became known that two bombs would fall in succession with a brief window to run for cover again before a third came screaming in.  One evening as they prepared supper – a concoction of the days issue of C-rations, blended together in a pot so no one was slighted and complained of getting the worst of the bunch – Faulkner stepped out to the latrine just before a barrage came in.  He had not had time to pull up his trousers when McCain called out to him that a barrage was coming, so he grabbed his pants from his ankles dashed to the ammunition bunker across from the toilet.  He waited for the third explosion and still holding his pants up to his wait, tumbled into his own bunker to the delight of the others.  McCain was laughing so hard he sat in his own dinner that he had put on his bunk, which only increased the volume of laughter.  It was a relief among the group that had been heavily engaged on the rugged feature for days.  For those who had come as replacements or in the second rotation, the May battle on Hill 187 was their equivalent of the terrible fight in late October the previous year.  They spent nearly a month and a half on the ridge and their numerical strength began to dwindle, slowly wearing their spirits.  To have a tinge of humor in any circumstance was a welcome break from the grind of combat.

Sources:

Canadian Participation in the Korean War, Part II. Historical Section, Army Headquarters, 1955.

“Robert Faulkner - Veteran Stories - The Memory Project.” Home - The Memory Project, www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2715:robert-faulkner/.

Mackowiak, Robert C, and Robert Faulkner. “With the RCR in Korea.” Dec. 2018.

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