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Two Men Killed

Heroes Remember


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There was a little bit of snow on the ground because I could see our tracks and I walked up to the tree and said, “Okay Corporal Mullin, this is your line. From here you go straight out that direction towards (whatever it was— a clump of something or a bump) but right along there.” And then the other two Corporals I said, “Back about seven or eight yards is your line and then your line.” So Mullin, who was to lay the first row, had the best time of any team in training and therefore won the honour of laying the line of wire, the fence closest to the enemy. That was kind of the competition we had set up when we were doing our training. That the team that did it best and fastest would have the honour of laying it closest to the Chinese. So we could see our footprints and there was going to be no mistake because Mullin would go back to that tree and get started. We went back up then and picked up the team with the initial load of stores. We carried our own stores down initially. We had our own weapons with us. I had a fire plan that I could call on to fire in case of an emergency or interference, and we had a couple of outposts put out in front of us by the British that were supposed to be in place in the event of something happening they would give us early warning. We loaded up and started down and as we went down this very steep front of this feature, down into the valley, we got not too far from the tree and I heard a little bit of a commotion behind me. Part of it was a long way behind. It was the Koreans struggling with the stores and not being all that quiet but there was sort of a thud and a gasp behind me and I turned around and looked back and saw that my signaller, who was about third in line, had fallen, fourth in line. So I said to Mullin, I said, “There’s the tree, you know where to start to lay out the fence.” And he said, “Yeah, okay sir.” So he took two steps, I took about two steps back and there was a god awful roar. And what happened was that Mullin stepped on a mine and he was about a foot from that damn tree in among the footprints where we’d already sort of milled around that tree when we were talking about laying out the fences. And for some reason the four of us who’d been there earlier had not stepped on that mine but Mullin in leading off going further to do the job stepped on that damn mine. He was killed instantly. It was a “Bouncing Betty,” we referred to them as, and they were tripped with a small charge which lifted them four or five feet in the air and then they exploded again and what they did was they tended to spread stuff latterly around. And because we were in such a straight line behind him I guess he took almost the full force of it because we couldn’t find any trace of his head except a small piece of a jawbone, in collecting him. And the man behind him was a man by the name of Batsch who was also on the ground and moaning when I ... I was just about opposite him, just behind him when the explosion went off and I could see Mullin was beyond help and I went to Batsch and Batsch was gasping for breath at this particular point in time and I said, “Where are you hurt?” And he, all I could hear was sort of breathing sounds, nothing. So I pulled apart his parka that he was wearing and I put my hand in and his chest was just a mass of blood. It turns out that only, and I didn’t know it at the time, but only one piece of shrapnel had entered Mullin’s, or Batsch’s chest, but it had severed a major artery to the heart. So he was dead within, I don’t know, seven or eight or ten seconds of the explosion and I was still trying to work with him. He was, sort of died in my arms. Here we were, before the job had even started we had two men killed.

Mr. Pitts describes a time when two of his ground crew were killed while laying wire in a minefield, on November 30, 1952.

Herbert Pitts

Mr Pitts was born in Nelson, British Columbia in June of 1929. After graduating from high school, he entered a four-year program of the Canadian Services College at Royal Roads, graduating from the Royal Military College in June 1952. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant, in the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). On arrival in Korea in July, he served for a year as an Infantry Platoon Commander with 1st and 3rd Battalions of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He was awarded the Military Cross for Gallantry and Leadership with that Regiment. Mr. Pitts remained in the Forces serving with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and the Canadian Airborne Regiment. He traveled extensively during his service, retiring as a Major General from National Defence Headquarters in 1978.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Herbert Pitts
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)
Platoon Commander

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