Memories of Kure 1951-51

by Fusilier Tom Walker

When I was drafted to Korea, seconded from Duke of Wellington Regiment to Royal Northumberland Fusiliers leaving Southampton on August 1st 1951 (Devonshire), the RNF’S were being shipped into Korea to relieve the Gloucester Regiment who were taking a hammering with lots of casualties inflicted by the North Koreans. It took 6 weeks sailing via Port Said, Aden, Singapore, Hong Kong, Pusan, Kure.


Many of the battalion disembarked in Pusan & dispatched directly to the battle area. The remainder went on to Kure & dispatched to JRBD (Japan Reinforcement Base. Depot). This base was in Hiro, about 6 miles from Kure. After being kitted out with the relevant clothing/equipment/ammunition/etc. we then decamped to Hara Mura, the battle training centre, where we spent two hectic/fearful/uncomfortable weeks.


On our return from Hara Mura to JRBD I was singled out by Sergeant Swindon who was my ex MT section sergeant in the UK. He wanted me on the MT section with him immediately. This was great for me: it meant I wouldn’t be drafted back to the front line in Korea, for a while anyway. However, sadly, Sgt Swindon was killed in battle several weeks later. I will never forget him as long as I live. RIP Sergeant.


There were several worrying occasions when my name was on the company notice board, to be drafted to the front line, but thankfully for me my MT Officer had my name taken off again being required to fulfil my duties as normal.


Shortly after joining the MT section & Sgt Swindon being drafted along with many able bodied military personnel, including some of us on the MT section, we needed to recruit civilian drivers to help out, 21 Japanese in total. This left us with 6 Military personnel, including the MT Officer in charge. It meant of course, we had to carry out extra duties. I had to take on board most of the Administration details, issue fuel record & make out 24 hour duty rotas’ and many other tasks as required.


There were only three of us who could share night duties, my two great pals: Jim Durrant (RNF) & Don Perrin (Gloucester’s). We shared many a night duty listening to numerous weird & wonderful tales from our civilian drivers who had served in the Japanese army during the Second World War.


The civilian drivers had been recruited locally, meaning they had very few direction problems. They all did a fantastic job, very few complaints. The only difficulty we had was trying to encourage them to build up speed using their gears, they were all anxious to get into top gear before they left the compound, resulting in lots of shuddering engine noise and cursing from us. The fleet consisted of TCV’s, T L’s, QL’s, I tonners, Half tracks, Jeeps, P Us, Scout cars etc. One of the duties of the night duty drivers was to transport civilian staff home after they finished work in the NAAFI – Kitchens – Bars at about 10.30-11.00pm. This was usually a bit scary, driving to their homes in pitch black, along dirt roads with paddy fields on either side, making 3 point turns into 7 or 8 if you were lucky. Not to mention the Monsoon ditches!


Another of our duties would be to take the Anglican Padre to Kure House each morning for his 6am radio religious programme alternate weeks, the Catholic Priest FR Ryan made his own way the opposite weeks using his own transport P U van. However we made the best of our free time (weekends if not on duty) in Hiro / Kure visiting the beaches, the shops, Kure House, ANZAC house. Kure was always very lively with lots of shops, Trams, Rickshaws, people milling around in or outside their shops selling their various products.

I remember buying seven beautiful Tea Sets to send home to my parents and members of my family. The shopkeeper packed them in separate wooden crates and sent them

direct to each address in the UK for me. They cost the equivalent of £7.00 each 1951. Some of us still have those tea sets to this day!


I have many mixed memories of my time in JRBD; Good, Bad, Worried and Anxious In the main we all had to make the best of it, we were there to do a job during the Korean War. The Japanese people were always helpful, courteous, respectful and willing to do whatever they could to make our time there as pleasant as possible.


JRBD – a transit camp approx 6 mile outside Kure – was surrounded by hills, paddy fields, monsoon ditches, and dusty roads. As MT drivers we travelled into Kure daily for one reason or another, either to pick up military personnel from the docks, transporting them

to barracks to await their shipment back home or the injured to hospital etc.


On one occasion, one of the personnel was a Scotsman (Bill Speakman) who was awarded the VC medal for his bravery in Korea. His actions have been well documented. However, on this occasion I collected him from Kure docks having been shipped from Korea on route home to the UK. It was the early hours of the morning and he was to embark on the Empire Fowey / Orwell can’t remember which now, later that day.


I returned home after 16 months, on the Empire Orwell October 1952. I was demobbed - November 1952 having completed 2 Years National Service.

                                                                            With his grandson Nicholas in 2009


#143 Parkway Vol.28 No.1 January - March 2013
















保有車両にはTCV's(不整地装甲車)、T L's(チューブレスタイヤ車)、QL's、一トン車、ハーフトラック、ジープ、ピックアップトラック、偵察用装甲車などがあります。夜勤運転手の任務の一つに、夜10.30-11.00ごろ、軍機関、 厨房、バーなどで仕事を終えた民間人を家に 送り届けるという仕事がありました。これはちょっと恐ろしいものでした。真っ暗な中、両側を水田や溝に挟まれた埃だらけの道を送り届けるのですから。








JRBDは、呉郊外の約10キロのところにある一時収容キャンプで、山、水田、水路、埃ぽい道路に囲まれていました。 MT運転手として、港で兵士を乗せ帰還船を待つための兵舎に連れて行ったり、負傷兵を病院に搬送したり、と、毎日、何らかの理由で呉に行っていました。