Posted by: Bob Ringma | June 16, 2011

No Man’s Land

 

When the brigade was advancing or attacking, reconnaissance (recce) was almost a daily activity.  One day, during particularly fluid operations, I said to my batman,  “Get some C rations and a bren gun, Bill, we’re going on a recce.”  (The bren is a light machine gun used by Commonwealth forces in WWII and later operations.)  I didn’t have any maps, but I knew north from south and thought I knew the axis of the brigade’s advance north of the Han River.  As we drove along, I should have realized that there was something wrong, because there was no other traffic, coming or going, along the road I had chosen.

 

Finally an American soldier appeared out of hiding near the side of the road and stopped us.  He was a picket for his unit, which was well hidden since he was the only person we saw.  We asked him what was up ahead and he replied, “North Koreans and Chinks.”

“How far?”

“Dunno.”

Since we were looking for water but hadn’t found any yet, we decided to continue, only with a little more caution.  A couple of miles further on, we stopped and looked around; there was still nothing.  At that point, we took the bren gun out of its case and loaded it with a magazine.  Then we moved on.  Once again, we stopped and looked nervously around.  We were on an open stretch of land with no trees or other cover, so it was unlikely that there was any enemy in the area.  But there was no water either.  In the distance we could see hills and figured that that was where the enemy was.

 

We were obviously in the middle of a large stretch of no mans’ land.  Until that moment, my notion of the space between the enemy and our own troops was a World War I scenario of several hundred yards.  It was probable that there were streams in the hills ahead, but I wasn’t going to find out at this time.  I’d wait till our infantry had occupied the area.  When I suggested to Bill that it was time for us to head back the way we came, he quickly agreed.  I later found out that we had been in some other formation’s territory.  Our own brigade was farther west. So much for my skill at dead reckoning.  I would have to do a new recce the next day.

 

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