Since there was virtually no enemy threat from the skies, anti-aircraft guns were used in a ground role. I was exposed to a potential hazard because of this. I had met a British artillery lieutenant who invited me to Sunday lunch at his mess. His unit was armed with 40 mm Bofors antiaircraft guns which were used in a ground role like ordinary field artillery. After lunch, I was given a tour and shown one of their guns. (I said to myself, “The Brits really do know how to conduct a gentlemanly war.”) They then briefed me on “engaging the enemy” and pointed out a Chinese position about 4,000 yards away across a valley. I was then asked if I would like to participate in a shoot, be a “guest gunner” as it were.
“Well, yes I would!”
“Good-oh; then you can climb up on the gun and be Number One.”
The gun had a platform over it and the position of number one was on top of that platform, out in the open. The rest of the crew was sheltered below. When someone yelled “Fire,” I was to stomp on the trigger. It really wasn’t very complicated and we fired the gun several times and watched the shells explode on the enemy position across the valley. It was good fun, especially to visualize the enemy scrambling across the way.
We were obviously out of small arms range, but I didn’t know if the Chinese had artillery available, nor did it occur to me to ask. If they had, I now realized that as Number One I was in the most exposed position. Fire was not returned, so I got away with it, and now had bragging rights of a sort. We returned to the officers’ mess tent and celebrated our small victory. And that was the end of my time as a gunner.