Sunday, 18 March 2007
John Parry, my uncle and Dave’s brother was only 19 years old when he was called up for National Service. Six weeks later he was in Korea, and shortly after that he’d stuck a bayonet in a Korean’s stomach and watched him die still attached to the end of his gun. The war changed him.
My uncle John as a boy was cheerful and sensitive. He came home from Korea subject to mood swings and sudden bursts of temper. As children we only saw his sunny side; the darker moments we heard about later from those who lived with him. What I do know however was that he made my first ‘go cart’ constructed from a plank of wood and pram wheels; when I was older he plied me and my brother with whisky whenever we visited - which was often! It was then, sometimes, that the stories came out and he’d re-live killing his first man.
That story, and the one my Granddad told of his horse, dying on top of him stick in the mind. John’s other stories were equally exciting to boys growing up, but in a strange way they’ve become subsumed by a hundred war films on Korea or Vietnam eg: how the North Koreans would position women in the paddy fields and then place mines around them. The British or American soldiers - convinced that the fields must be safe if women were working there - would walk across them and lose their legs or worse. John came home physically intact.