Carl D. Beach: A wartime memory of a queen’s coronation
WILLIAMSBURG — I’ve enjoyed reading the articles and seeing the pictures of Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrating the 60th anniversary of her coronation. I remember that time well and her memories are probably a lot happier than mine.
On June 2, 1953, I was a rifle platoon leader in Company C, 15th Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. We were part of the main line of resistance and located in the Chorwan Valley of central Korea. This area was referred to as “The Iron Triangle” since it was on the main invasion route from the north to the South Korean capital of Seoul, which was just about five miles south of us. My platoon’s position was at the far western end of our company’s area of responsibility and was tied in with a South Korean division at an old wrecked country railroad station. At the other end of the South Korean positions a battalion of the British Army’s Royal Worcestershire Regiment was located.
Although our defensive positions were fairly static, we often had some pretty violent contact with the Chinese army facing us when they probed our lines and many times our ambush and reconnaissance patrols met stiff opposition.
But at the beginning of June things had quieted down to a certain extent and we had time to clean equipment and make our bunkers more secure and livable. We were seldom able to sleep at night since that was always the busiest time. On the night of June 2, at about 11 p.m., all of a sudden about a half mile down the western line a terrific artillery barrage opened up with rockets, mortars and machine gun tracers firing from our side toward the enemy.
We usually had warnings about any major action planned but this came out of the blue and I couldn’t imagine what was going on.
I ran down to the telephone and rang up the command bunker about 300 yards behind us and asked what was going on. My company commander said to take it easy and enjoy the show. It’s only the Brits celebrating the crowning of their new queen.
Carl D. Beach lives in Williamsburg.