Language selection


Jumpy Nerves

Heroes Remember

Your try to forget a lot of it, but it does come back to you all the time. It don't actually haunt ya but it, it brings back a lot of things. Like if you see something happening in, in, say in Canada, or you look at the television and see it somewhere else, that brings back that moment that you where there under that fire. It brings it all back to you. I know after I, after I come home, I ended up with a lot of . . . not shell shock, but when I go to sleep at night, I'd have some of these flashbacks that would come to me. And if anybody went to wake me up, if they ever grabbed me by the shoulder to wake me up, the first thing I did was pop ‘em. It didn't matter who it was. So, my children, after I, I was, after I was married and after my children come along, if they wanted to wake me up, they kicked me in the feet and I'd stand right up. So, you couldn't stand anybody touching you. You know, like, it, it was something that you did was respond immediately to try to protect yourself. But, you know, after you get home, and you, you have a few experiences. I had one when I was in, in the city of Toronto. I was going to visit a friend of mine and I thought, well, okay. I was still on leave at the time and I thought, well, I'll just buy a new suit. So I went to the Tip-Top Tailors and bought a new grey suit and new shoes, a new shirt. All dressed up. And it had rained and I was coming along the street and this kid . . . It was just in, in May, about the 24th of May and he threw a firecracker behind me, lit on the street and went "bang!" I went over this little fence where these people had planted a new lawn, down into the mud and I was mud all over. And this lady standing on the veranda, she wondered what happened and I told her. And she said, "Well, you come on into our house, here." She said, " I'll take your, your suit, everything to the cleaners." And she gave her little guy hell for throwing it. But she, they didn't know who I was. They had no idea, I had just had come home from Korea. They had no idea. But they were understanding people.

Mr. Gowing describes how although memories don't actually haunt him, events can trigger flashback type memories. He then describes how his jumpy post-war nerves made him a dangerous man to wake up, and recalls how he reacted to a firecracker thrown at his feet weeks after returning from Korea.

Gerald Edward Gowing

Mr. Gowing was born in 1931 in Listowel, Ontario. At the age of nine, Mr. Gowing was taken in by the Stratford division of the Children's Aid Society because his mother had passed away and his father was unable to take care of him. Looking for adventure, and to take part in something with purpose, Mr. Gowing joined the army in October 1950, requesting to serve in Korea. Sent to Calgary, Alberta, for basic training at the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) barracks, he was only there a few weeks before shipping overseas in January 1951 as reinforcement Bren gunner for the 2nd Battalion PPCLI. Mr. Gowing saw heavy action in Korea, including the Battle at Kapyong (Hill 677) for which the entire battalion was later presented with a Presidential Citation medal, the highest award granted by the United States, outside of the US. Reluctant to return to Canada, Mr. Gowing left Korea in May 1952, after his tour had ended. He left the military in November of 1952, but returned in November of 1955, to serve as a signaller for three years before being discharged for good.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Gerald Edward Gowing
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Bren Gunner

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: