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Laurie Valentine describes the battle of Kapyong

Audio file

Interview between Pip Desmond and Laurence (Laurie) Valentine, Gunner, Easy Troop, 163 Battery. Here Laurie describes the Battle of Kapyong during the Korean War.


It was just pandemonium. Immediately prior to that we had been told we were going to reserve, and because we were going into reserve they turned up with a Q Truck which is from Supplies, and … I think I actually got an overcoat. I didn’t have an overcoat anyway through the winter because I couldn’t get one to fit me. I got an overcoat. We got a tent, a proper tent. We got a hotdog stove thing, all sorts of things. We got I don’t know how many injections that day … A medical truck turned up, we walked up the steps. As you walk up the steps somebody grabs you on each arm, joom joom, then down again, you’ve had two injections [laughter]. Anyway, we got all the stuff piled onto us and they said ‘OK, you can stand down, we’re going out of action.’ So we actually stripped off undies, whatever, and into our sleeping bags that night but ‘Wow, this is great!’ And it was 1 o’clock or so in the morning, we woke up and there was all yelling and shouting going on and banging and carrying on. ‘What the devil’s that?’ We were only from here to the road away from the roadway, where our tent was and our gun. I got up and had a look.

The road was just packed solid with people. Not just packed solid with people, but there were people there shooting those people. What the heck’s happening and all the rest of it. It turned out the people running down the road were the troops that had replaced us in the front line. They were the capital division of the ROKS, the Republic of Korea, and here they were streaming down the road and the shooting was the officers trying to stop them. Shooting them point blank. So next thing on the tannoy, ‘Prepare to move. Move now’. What! All that extra gear. We hadn’t figured out how to pack it, what to do with it, you know, and all the rest of it. The first thing of course is just couple up the gun. Forget about everything else. Couple up the gun and then because of the congestion, we couldn’t move out, couldn’t drive out, so that gave us time to rush round, gather up all our stuff, pull the tent down, and we got pretty well all our stuff. [Describes meaning of ‘couple up the gun’.] Eventually they said, ‘Righto, move!’ and we moved. Pulled out onto the road that’s packed full of people. I couldn’t tell you how many we ran over but there was a lot of people and we just drove into them like a mob of sheep. And our gun sergeant sat on the front of the quad and he was pushing people right, left and centre trying to get them out of the way before we ran them over. What he didn’t get out of the way we bumped over and that was that. But it was absolute bedlam. This was in pitch dark when we’re trying to grope our way. Anyway, then we drove on. I don’t know what time we got in front of all these people and when we got in front of them, they said, ‘Righto, stop here’. We stopped there, set up our gun on the road and pointed it back towards these people. Our LMGs, our machine gunners out to the side, all the rest of it. We said, ‘They stop here’. So when they came around, there was all this looking at them, they just fizzled off to the side. Stopped. It stopped the exodus like that. Then they said, ‘Well, how many of those were Chinese, and how many were Koreans, and how many, because they were all mixed together. You don’t know who was who, you know. So, anyway, they said, Righto, we’ve got to establish who the enemy is, where they are and all the rest of it. So dump all your extra gear, our tents, everything else had to come off, we gave those to 162 Battery, and said ‘Look after those’. So we stripped off everything other than our working gear, ammunition and all the rest of it, and we had to go back into no man’s land and try and establish where the enemy were. Prior to us going in, they sent Middlesex Regiment in, they went in as infantry to try and find where the line was. Anyway, they disappeared up into the nevers like that. And then after a while we got fire orders called on us to support them.

 So we kept firing as long as we could.  

laurie Valentine

Laurie Valentine, 2011


Sound file: Interviewed by Pip Desmond, 1 March 2012. From the Korean War Oral History Project, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Original interview held in Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Not to be reproduced.

Images: Laurie Valentine Collection and Pip Desmond

How to cite this page

Laurie Valentine describes the battle of Kapyong, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated