Korean horrors linger for vet

RAY Roney cannot forget the horrors of the Korean War.

The war, which was from 1950 to 53, was commemorated last week by the Collie-Preston RSL.

Ray, then 21 years old, was in Korea in 1952 and 53, serving in the third battalion.

His battalion first landed in Japan where it spent six months mountain climbing to adapt to conditions expected in Korea.

The servicemen were subjected to arduous training and often resorted to using their rifles for walking sticks, which was frowned upon by their commanders.

Ray said that before they had landed in Korea, solders were told that the communists would outnumber them by 10 to one.

Early in his time in Korea Ray was a dispatch rider who would travel by motor bike, but that method of travel soon came to an end.

“They (the enemy) were knocking them off too quick,” he recalled.

Australian troops also had difficulty adapting to the extreme weather because they were not well equipped at first.

“At first we had no inner clothes.”

Ray said the weather was often between minus five and ten degrees.

“The cold wrecked a lot of fingers and toes,” he said.

The battalion would use gunpowder to ignite petrol, but there was a danger that the fire would attract enemy troupes so care had to be taken to keep it indoors and keep it covered.

Ray was based at Mount 355 for most of his time in Korea.

He said the Duke of Wellingtons took over Mount 355, but ended up losing the camp to the enemy.

Ray’s third battalion won it back. “We had to fight back and get it!”

Peace time was difficult to get used to and sometimes it was hard to speak to Collie residents who shared communist views.

For many years Ray’s efforts were not recognised because the Australian Government did not consider the Korean war as a “war”. Rather it was referred to as a “peace action”.

In 2010 Ray, and other Korean veterans, received a letter addressed by the South Korean President, Lee Myung-back, to commemorate 60 years since the outbreak of the war.

Mr Myung-back thanked the veterans for “enduring the unimaginable horrors of war.”

“You will always remain our true heroes and we assure you that we will continue to do our best to make you proud.”

Ray has proudly framed and kept the letter.

“It was just unreal for them (South Korea) to thank us,” he added.

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