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I Might Not Come Back

Heroes Remember

I Might Not Come Back

They give you an invocation leave, I think. Seven days I came home, and my mother was in Montreal, and I stopped here in Halifax with my father for a few days. I didn’t want to stop too long with my mother, because she’d get nosy. She said, she asked me, “So where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to British Columbia.” “British Columbia? That’s a long way.” I said, “Yeah, you just write Canadian Post Office Box 5000,” and I said, “I’ll get all the mail and any parcels you want to send me.” Well, that was the overseas address for when you went overseas. She didn’t know. Interviewer: Tell me, why didn’t your mother know you were going overseas? Oh, she would have me pulled out. I couldn’t take that. If I went to join again, I’d have to start all over, all over again. She did try to get me out, when it was pretty near time for me to come home from Korea. And I had a good buddy in the office. He said, “We’ll cancel that. We’ll take it and we’ll send it to Hong Kong.” They sent it to Hong Kong. I was home and everything when they called me, and wrote the letter. I said, “I’ve been over in Korea and I’ve been back.” And he said, This ain’t no good.” I said, “What’s it about it?” He “said something about you being too young. I said, “Yes, I’m 19.” He said, “Well, we won’t worry about it.” If that guy hadn’t have picked that up, I would have been back home again. They wouldn’t let me out of the army, but I would have had to go another time, you see. Interviewer: When you spoke to your father, you used the same trick with him? No. I told him I was going overseas, over to Korea and that, and I said, “There is a chance that I might not come back.” “Well,” he said, “I know that, I know what wars are.” Because he was born in 1907. He knew about the explosions and everything. So I said, “I might not come back. " “Oh,” he said, “you’ll be back. You’re too bad for something to happen to you.” But other than that, he … he accepted it, even when I wrote him, when I was over there, you know. He told me, he said, “Just take it easy and come on home.” And I did come home so..

Mr. Niles describes how he told each of his parents about his deployment to Korea and how his mother tried to get him home before he finished his tour of duty.

Joseph Allan Niles

Mr. Joseph Allan Niles was born December 15, 1932, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the oldest of four children. His father enlisted for service during the First World War, but was released for medical reasons, and found work in the dockyards. Mr. Niles grew up in downtown Halifax, and at age fourteen, he left school to work as a labourer, working on many buildings in the Halifax area. Mr. Niles enlisted on May 4, 1951, at age 17, with the Canadian Armed Forces in Halifax. He became part of a Special Force with the Royal Canadian Regiment, serving in Korea. He commenced his basic training in Camp Petawawa, Ontario, and completed his advanced training in Camp Wainwright, Alberta. In March 1952, Mr. Niles left for Korea, first travelling by train to British Columbia, then to Seattle, Washington, where he boarded a troop ship to Japan and Korea. Mr. Niles took part in fighting patrols and saw action on the front lines in Korea. After his one year tour of duty was completed, he volunteered for an additional three year term in the army, and remained in Korea until the end of October, 1953. He was discharged from the Armed Forces in June, 1954, and settled in Montreal where he found a job with the railroad. His employment later took him to Truro, Nova Scotia. Mr. Niles died in the Veteran’s Memorial Hospital in Halifax, on April 30, 2007.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Allan Niles
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
Royal Canadian Regiment

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