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Recovering the dead

Heroes Remember

Well the Chinese had wiped out one of our patrols and then they put the bodies in the river, this little stream, the Naburi, it went along the front. Knowing that the Occidentals would come and get the bodies, you see. Anyhow, we sent our scouts and snipers out and they spotted the Chinese ambush on the river and they reported that so we did nothing for several days. Then the scouts went back out and they came back and said the Chinese were gone. So we went out to retrieve the bodies and uh, my people were specialists in booby traps and all this stuff. We had to go in the water and check these bodies over for booby traps, etc., mines attached to their feet or something, you know. And, of course they were badly bloated, you know, it’s tropical there in the summer, badly

Soldiers carrying fallen soldiers on stretchers.

bloated. So when we figured that they were clean, we said to the stretcher bearers that came with us, “Here they are” and uh, jeez, they didn’t want to touch them. So we had to heave them out of the water and onto the bank and onto the

Military medic truck rolls across a hilly road.

stretchers and uh, that was a lousy job, a lousy job. First of all, having to search these fellas, you know, pry open their mouths to see if there was a trigger in there or anything. That was a nasty one.

Mr. Bowen discusses the fact that the Chinese would set ambushes for stretcher bearers attempting to recover the dead, and would sometimes booby-trap the corpses.

Gerald Bowen

Gerald R. Bowen was born in Ottawa, Ontario on October 13, 1925. He attended Lisgard High School, and was a paperboy. His family had prior military experience. His uncle had served in the Air Force and his father in the Army, later becoming an historian with the Department of National Defence. Mr. Bowen enlisted in the Navy where he became a telegrapher, serving aboard a Royal Canadian Navy frigate on convoy duty in the North Atlantic until the war ended. He left the service for a brief time and re-enlisted in the Canadian Army, where he became a paratrooper and a specialist in sabotage. He later served as a peacekeeper in Cyprus. Mr. Bowen’s extensive experience in the Canadian military offers us some very informative and perceptive anecdotes.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gerald Bowen
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
Royal 22e Régiment
Pioneer Officer

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