A FAREWELL PARTY!

When it finally came time for us to leave Korea for Canada, my RMC Classmates and I gathered in the same Commonwealth Officers’ Transit Camp in Seoul through which we had entered Korea slightly more than 12 months previously. This was the first time in a year that we had come together in one place, so there was great reason to celebrate. Among our small group not less than four Military Crosses and two foreign decorations had been won – no small accomplishment, and one in which we all took equal pride. At some point during the year, senior British authorities had decided that there was a need for a proper, posh Commonwealth Officers’ Club for senior officers and for visiting dignitaries. A suitable location had been found and a building erected, complete with large outdoor swimming pool, overlooking which there was a balcony extension from the dining room. Very posh indeed! The facility was not yet officially open. Also located in Seoul was the 5th USAF Officers’ Club complete with slot machines, band, dining room and mile-long bar, where we had a grand dinner and no end of drinks. Many of the US officers went out of their way to make us welcome by buying us drinks and joining in on our singing and storytelling. We were well on our way to alcoholic oblivion when someone mentioned that the Commonwealth Officers’ Club was holding its Official Opening Ceremonies that very evening. No sooner was that said than there was a unanimous decision to move the party there – to “help” break in the facility. We piled into our jeeps and headed out the gate of the USAF compound. When we arrived at the Club we found it brightly lit with rows of coloured lights outlining the entire building, the pool area, and the large deck overlooking the pool. A band and the low murmur of dignified conversation could be heard. We entered the building and found the entrance to the pool dressing rooms, for we had already decided that our first chore was to inaugurate the swimming pool. In open lockers we found swimming trunks and towels … unfortunately, not enough trunks to go around. As a result, it was first-come, first-served! Those of us with trunks ran through the doorway and rocketed into the pool. High above us, and overlooking the pool, were tables of very senior Brit officers enjoying a fine dinner with their Red Cross and nurse partners. We were a noisy lot and the Brits kept looking down on us with both distain and disgust. Clearly, this was intended to be a General Officers exclusive function and lesser officer ranks were most certainly not welcome! It was at this point that the three without bathing trunks decided that skinny- dipping was in order. Without warning, three young, bronzed Canadian bodies came flying through the dressing room door and dove into the pool. In defiant response to the officers’ remarks, one soldier (who shall remain nameless) rolled onto his back and, lying face up and completely naked on the surface of the water, cried out, “I’m a submarine and here is my periscope!” That was the last straw! Within moments we could hear the distant sounds of sirens on Military Police vehicles. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Never have so many fled so fast wearing so little!” Early the following morning we flew out from Kimpo Airfield, en route to Japan. Farewell Korea!”

Andrew Moffat
Artillery Forward Observer with B Company, 1 Bn R22eR