A Maple Ridge veteran was awarded the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador for Peace medal posthumously for his involvement in the Korean War.
Arnold William Jardine, Bill to those who knew him in the army, served in the 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment from 1952 to 1965 and survived one of the Korean War’s final and most brutal battles – the Battle of Hill 187.
Jardine passed away Oct. 7 of pancreatic cancer.
His daughter Elisa Jardine accepted the medal on behalf of her father at the Korean Consulate in Vancouver two weeks ago, along with her brother Patrick.
Bill Jardine was born in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia in 1936.
His father served in the Second World War, and although he survived, he never returned to his family.
Jardine and his three siblings were raised by their mother. However due to poverty Jardine and his brother were placed by the Children’s Aid Society on a farm where they worked from early dawn until late evening each day.
“In Nova Scotia in the late 40’s if a family was destitute the children were often taken and placed with local farmers and treated like slave labour,” explained Jarine in his memoir, Memories of a Reluctant Soldier.
At 13, Jardine left the job to hitch-hike across the country. He made it to Toronto.
He recalled to his daughter how he slept in old barns along the way, eating raw eggs and squirting raw cow’s milk into his mouth to sustain himself.
In Toronto, he lived on the streets as he struggled to find work.
One day after leaving an unemployment office, a recruitment poster caught his eye. It read: “Your Country Needs You.”
Jardine, 15 at the time, enlisted, writing in his age as 18.
He was posted to the 3rd Battalion-The Royal Canadian Regiment for summer training in Camp Wainwright, Alta. His home base camp was at Petawawa, Ont.
During his training, Jardine boasted the highest rifle range score in the company. He attributed this skill due to the fact that he had to hunt rabbits and squirrels for skins when he was younger to supplement his family’s income.
From Ontario, Jardine and his battalion took a train to Seattle, where they boarded a ship for Japan along with American draftees.
They then traveled by train to the Korean war zone, where their battalion replaced the Company of Van Doos on Hill 187 in South Korea.
Jardine was assigned to the 7th Platoon of Charlie Company, whose 29 men were positioned closest to enemy lines. He was assigned three Koreans as bunk-mates and taught them English and provided them with training.
He described the bunkers as little more than holes in the ground with a few sandbag layers for a roof.
Jardine’s platoon fought in one of the last battles of the Korean War before the 1953 armistice.
On May 2 of that year, the regiment came under enemy shellfire.
Jardine described the attack by the Chinese as coming in waves, “swarming like ants.”
The battalion was overrun by Chinese forces and suffered the heaviest casualties during the two-day siege, more than any in one battle during the war, according to the Wartime Heritage Association.
Jardine said the battalion suffered 95 casualties, including South Koreans.
“In Canadian history, it may have been a minor incident. But to the young men in Charlie Company, it was a defining moment,” wrote Jardine in his memoir.
“They sacrificed their lives and should never be forgotten.”
After the battle, Jardine took a radio operator’s course and manned the Charlie Company’s telephone and radio until the July 27 cease-fire.
Jardine then took a mortar course and joined the 1st Battalion Airborne Unit in Manitoba and was promoted to corporal.
In 1957, he met his wife Lorna and left the army. They adopted two children and Jardine got a job with Canada Post and delivered mail in Maple Ridge for the next 25 years.
Jardine wrote Memories of a Reluctant Soldier over the course of a couple of years after becoming obsessed with trying to remember his past.
“Very little writing exists on the Canadian individual units that went to Korea. It is often called “The Forgotten War,” so we are very lucky to have his book,” said his daughter Elisa, who is planning to print more copies of her father’s memoir.