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Korea's No Man's Land

Heroes Remember - Korean War

Korea's No Man's Land

There was no-man’s-land, and it was called the Chamason Valley ( sp). And they had a creek that run through it, you see. And what we would do at nighttime is go on patrols, to go out there and see what the enemy was doing and what they were coming around see what they could do to us. So, that way, we have an idea who was out there, and what they were doing. It wasn’t easy, because you had to walk through a swamp. You went out there when it was dark, and you came in just when it was turning light, and that’s a long time. And you had running shoes on. Your feet were wet all night and all that. And when you walked, you could hear ‘swish, swish, swish’. Water in the running shoes, you know. And there was nothing stupid about those North Koreans. We said, if you turned around, they’d put one of them mortars in your back pocket. They could, you know. But we used to go out in no-man’s-land, and we’d go across that area on their territory, and go up the hills to see how far we could get up and see what was up there. And that’s where we used to come under the fire all the time. And they used to do the same thing to us. And we were always nervous There’s no good, a guy telling me he wasn’t nervous. I was nervous there at nighttime because you hear a little tingle down there, you’re looking around wondering if somebody’s down there. But when you got back, you felt a little bit relieved, and said, “Well, I’m safe now.” And sometimes you had to go, if they didn’t have enough men, you got, maybe, stuck the next night or the third night, to go back out again. Which nobody liked, because it’s like, pushing your luck, you know, going out there.

Mr. Niles describes patrolling in No-Man’s Land, the skill of the North Korean foe, and tempting fate.

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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