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Tents in Korea


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New Zealand battery position during the Korean winter, 1952-1953 (click on thumbnail to see enlarged view).

Commentary about this image by Bob Jagger

Tents in Korea

The first winter, from December 1951 to February 1952, was extremely cold for the Originals (the first draft) as they did not have the correct gear. The first winter for us, the Replacement Draft, was from December 1952 to February 1953. Our second winter was from December 1953 to February 1954.

Every night during the winter months, we experienced freezing conditions – often 26ﹾ below Fahrenheit (−3.3 Celsius) and it got even worse than that. During our time there, the ground was often frozen to four feet (1.2 metres) down.

Most often, we made our homes in hutchies (dug-outs). However, if it was wet and muddy we had no hope of creating them and we’d use tents. During winter, when the ground was frozen, we couldn’t dig in either. We also pitched tents when we were moving on frequently and there was no time to dig out hutchies, which were actually warmer.

Here we’ve found a spot for ourselves in amongst the trees. There weren’t too many trees to be found in the Korean terrain but this was one chance we had to camouflage ourselves. It was quite common to have this much snow during winter.

I wouldn’t have much idea where we were exactly as while we sometimes stayed in one position for a while, we were usually on the move. This is likely to be during the early stages of our time in Korea − the winter of 1952-53.

This particular tent was an officer’s, Battery Captain Mackleveigh I think. Ours was nearby – I shared it with Ned Williams, a Māori chap from Paeroa.

The tent was ordinary army issue, made of heavy canvas  with a fly over it.

I’d be pretty sure that the drum in the foreground was a latrine.

You can see the twenty-five pounder gun further afield below the hill, to the right.

There were pros and cons to living in tents. We quickly became used to the rigmarole of putting them up. The cold was a dry sort, which was bad enough but we didn’t have the wet to contend with. While the tents didn’t blow down, leak or flood in those conditions, there were a few issues with fires because of our heating and cooking arrangements.

The post sticking out of tent is a chimney for the heater and cooking arrangement. This one is unusual because we usually included a fireproofing preventer, an exhaust outside. While for safety reasons the fireplace should have been at the back, it was often in the entrance – to get air. We lost a tent to fire once − when I was sharing with Ned Williams (they called him Nehu). He was the neatest guy – a lovely chap. We both survived.


Image: Bob Jagger collection, not to be reused without permission

Text: Bob Jagger interview by Sue Corkill, Fern Publishing

How to cite this page

Tents in Korea, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated