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You Eat What's Hot

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: What was the food like? Well their food, I couldn't eat it. I, I tried a few times but no I couldn't eat their food. They had stuff like vegetable marrow, and melon, and it all grew up on the roofs you know, and they thought it was good, but.. Our food, well once in awhile we got hot, or what they said hot, it was supposed to be hot I guess when it left but... Funny you should ask that because some, some of the staff came up one time, I think it was, no I don't even remember, but I know we was going to get hot rations. And a buddy of mine he had no tin plates, you know. We had tin, tin mess tins, and one would fit in the other and then you had a cup with that. Well he had lost his, so of course a hero like me, and well I gave him the larger of the two. And then you go down the line and get your groceries, or whatever you want to call it. And I come to the end and the guy says "Well, what are you going to have? Are you going to have tea or are you going to have peaches?" And I said "I got no room in here for nothing". So he dumped the whole works, it was just like eating out of slough pail, stunk about the same. Interviewer: And you had given your big... And you ate it, you darn right you ate it. It didn't taste good but hey, it was warm. If you had to eat out of a tin in the winter time, you put a dent in the tin with your rifle butt or whatever you had, threw it on the fire, and when the dent came out, you knew it was safe enough to eat. And you'd get it before it exploded of course. But the summer that, that kind of food, a little bit of that goes a long way, you know. Once it's opened you don't... you have your fill and never touch that tin again because it would kill ya, bugs, uhg. Interviewer: Hard to imagine for someone to be in that situation Well you had to have been there, to really know what it was like, you know you couldn't, you can't really tell anybody. I suppose these guys that went through the Second World War and in Europe had probably endured a whole lot worse then we did, but you just, you had to have been there to really know what it was like you know.

Mr. Reitsma recalls the diet in Korea, explaining conditions soldiers would have to cook in, and describing an instance when a lack of dishes for a cooked meal left him with slop.

Stuart Reitsma

Mr. Stuart Reitsma was born into a military family in Lacombe, Alberta, in 1928. His father served in the Second World War , and two of his brothers also served in Korea. Before joining the service in 1950, Mr. Reitsma worked with the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway (CNR). While participating in a CNR strike in Vancouver a fight broke out. Mr. Reitsma and a friend enlisted the next day, deciding if they were going to fight, they'd sooner do it in the Army. Soon after completing training, Mr. Reitsma was shipped overseas to Korea. During his year there Mr. Reitsma survived continued heavy action at the front line, a fact he attributes to the excellent training he had received. Returning to Canada after his tour ended, Mr. Reitsma received his discharge in August of 1952. He returned to work with CNR before accepting a position with Alberta Government Telephone which he held for 26 years before retirement.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Stuart Reitsma
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Machine Gunner

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