PAJU, South Korea Jan 19 (Reuters) – Canadian veteran Dennis Moore can hardly preserve himself from smiling as he recounts the day he was plucked from the entrance traces of the Korean Conflict to play ice hockey 66 years in the past.
Like fellow veteran Claude Charland sitting beside him, Moore carries deep scars and vivid recollections from the 1950-53 battle that noticed greater than 26,000 Canadian troops dispatched to combat beneath U.N. forces led by america.
Whereas the morale-boosting video games on the frozen waters of the Imjin River introduced solely non permanent respite from the preventing, for a number of hours a minimum of the troops had been in a position to block out the noise of the close by artillery and lose themselves of their nationwide sport.
WATCH: A newsreel produced by the Division of Nationwide Defence in 1952 explains the story behind the “Imjin Sport,” a hockey recreation between Canadian troops that was held on a frozen river that runs alongside the DMZ.
“It was arduous to understand after we had been first notified that we had been going to have this recreation of hockey,” Moore advised reporters in Paju, simply south of the closely fortified border with North Korea, on Friday.
It solely turned actual when his performing firm commander ordered him to return down from his place on the entrance and swap his rifle for an ice hockey stick.
“He drove the jeep to the rink and it solely took us about 5 minutes to get there,” the 87-year-old stated. “So what I’m saying is, we weren’t too far-off from the dangerous guys.
“We acquired wearing tents like we’ve got right here. And that introduced again good recollections once I walked into that dressing tent. I simply felt like I used to be strolling again into the tent in 1952.
“After which after we acquired dressed and went out onto the ice, I used to be overwhelmed with satisfaction.”
Invited to South Korea to participate in an occasion organised by the Canadian Embassy and town of Paju to commemorate the Imjin River video games, Moore stated: “In 1952, by no means in my wildest goals did I feel I’d be proper right here proper now.”
“This nice recreation”
Moore was chosen to play for the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Gentle Infantry regiment, whereas Charland performed for the Royal 22e Regiment, generally known as the Van Doos.
For Charland, the recollections of the video games won’t ever fade.
“Ever since that point it has been with us, and we’ve lived with this memento … all our lives as troopers, as retired troopers, and as veterans of the Korean Conflict,” he stated.
The 88-year-old, who carried the Olympic torch on Friday as a part of its path to February’s Winter Video games in Pyeongchang, added: “The massive lesson from that is that friendship via sport is a superb asset.”
But the video games may have grow to be a forgotten piece of Canada’s wartime historical past had it not been for an previous black and white of the Imjin River rink hanging on the wall of a bar in Seoul.
Mapping Canada’s war dead, house by house
Owned by a Canadian, the bar additionally sponsored an expats’ ice hockey staff referred to as the ‘Gecko’s Glaciers’.
After studying of the historical past behind the from a visiting Korean Conflict veteran, the Glaciers determined to determine a event in honour of the troops and the ‘Imjin River Memorial Cup’ was born.
For years the event was performed in rinks throughout Seoul earlier than information of it reached the ears of Canadian Senator Yonah Martin.
The primary Canadian of Korean descent to serve within the senate, Martin pushed for the same memorial recreation to be held in Ottawa and the inaugural “Imjin Basic” was performed open air on town’s Rideau Canal in 2013.
It has since grow to be an annual occasion, that includes members of the identical Canadian regiments that performed in opposition to one another through the conflict.
Whereas the 2 Koreas stay divided, each Moore and Charland stated they hoped to see the day when the nation is reunited.
“My solely want is that I’ll be on this aspect of the grass when it occurs,” stated Moore. “Or possibly I ought to say, this aspect of the snow.”
(Modifying by Toby Davis)