JAMES W. RAMSAY
Private | Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
Before pursuing further education, Jim Ramsay decided at age nineteen to do something with his life and do something about communism. He had just graduated high school when the Special Force was formed for the Korean emergency and figured he could take eighteen months off of his life to experience life in the army and perhaps see the world. On his return home after tallying the good and bad of his experiences on the front lines, Jim realized he had learned quite a bit, especially of tolerance and had grown and matured while still maintaining many of the convictions he shipped overseas with.
His Far Eastern tour was nearly stopped short when thoughts of the war ending before Christmas in 1950 set the P.P.C.L.I. back a few weeks in Japan and Korea. Before being committed to the front lines, the Chinese intervention changed the course of the war. While the men of the battalion were all well prepared for combat life, the officers felt that the unit as a whole still needed much work and it was not until weeks later when the Pats took the line approaching the 38th parallel. Jim qualified as driver-operator during the period and became close to the officer in charge of machine gun platoon.
Under command of Captain Andy Foulds, a rugged, moustached officer who command a platoon of Seaforth's in the last war, the machine gun platoon had arrived overseas as an advanced party and were affectionately referred to as the 'dirty thirty.' Foulds was well loved by his men, particularly due to his connections with the Vancouver breweries and his efforts to secure beer for his troops, though at $4.00 per bottle it was not likely they would see any until issued with rations. Instead they often resorted to gin diluted with chlorinated water.
As spring was breaking, the 2d Battalion had been advancing over rugged, icy hills against scattered resistance for about a month before settling on positions known as the Fish Line and quickly going into reserve after their long hike. Relief was short and on April 23 the unit began preparing for a move - checking equipment, ammunition and grenades, and other essentials for the foxhole lifestyle.
One hour into the 24th of April, Jim was in position with the battalion which was at a fifty percent stand to after news of the 6th ROK Division folding and the 3d Royal Australian Regiment meeting stiff resistance to their right front. That night, the lines began to disintegrate as the Chinese infiltrated Commonwealth and American positions and by morning the 2d PPCLI was nearly face to face with the Chinese 118th Division, rapidly approaching the battalion headquarters.
Anticipation lasted throughout the day with no rest for the weary Canadians. They struggled to stay safe in positions that were less than ideal as they watched Chinese swarm along the hills and into assembly areas below. Slit trenches dug as deep as possible into the shaly ground barely covered the knees and waist; no barbed wire or mine fields to protect the front; but morale was exceedingly high.
After nightfall, the Chinese forces attacked B and D Company lines first beginning with a twenty minute barrage of mortars. After four assaults, they turned towards the battalion headquarters where Support Company stopped them cold. Jim was prepared to fire or run in any direction, and when the attack came the platoon's guns were relentless. The mortar platoon, equipped with over 2000 bombs, had depleted their supply to only ten by dawn on April 25. They had held the night.
The next day saw continued attacks, but let up enough for a desperately needed resupply mid-morning and helicopter evacuations of wounded by noon. The rest of the day and into April 26, the American 1st Cavalry worked their way up to the Pats to relieve the battered unit, an exchange they welcomed warmly. Jim looked forward to a good sleep.
(1) “Korea Was a Good Experience.” Calgary Herald, 23 Nov. 1951, p. 10.
(2) Ramsay, Jim. “Lima Beans? No, Thanks!” I Remember Korea, by Linda Granfield, Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired, 2005, pp. 47–49.
(3)L/Cpl Davy. “Kapyong.” The Patrician, VII, no. 2, Nov. 1954, pp. 20–23.