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Memories of Kapyong

To WW1

Maurice Gasson took long term leave from his teaching position at the Te Kuiti District High School in 1950, to join the newly formed 16th Field Regiment. He sailed with the main body on the S.S. Ormonde in December of that year, for Korea, where he served with 161 Bty until his return to New Zealand near the end of 1952.

Upon discharge Maurice returned to his teaching position, and remained teaching, through a number of North Island schools. He served his last 10 years of teaching as Principal of the Clevedon School, and retired in 1985. He now lives with his wife on a small holding, raising beef animals, travelling, and writing both poetry and prose. With seven children and sixteen grandchildren, (and currently 14 heifers) he is kept quite busy.

I am standing in my garden, in the early morning haze,
Looking up towards the hillside where the quiet cattle graze,
And the fog which night has gathered on the swamp which lies between,
Forms a blanket which enhances this, my early morning scene.

But now further up the valley, from the quarry neath the hills,
Comes the sound of early blasting which my peaceful scene dispels
For the sound I hear recalls to me the echo of a gun,
In a valley in Korea in the spring of fiftyone.

And the fog which shrouds the swamp land, now assumes a deeper hue
Like the gunsmoke on the paddi, in that valley that I knew,
I smell the cordite once again, and as the daylight comes,
I see spread across the valley floor, that regiment of guns.

The Middlesex ahead of us, Australians to the right,
And to the left Canadians have held on through the night.
With target after target from our O.P. on the crest,
The gunners feed the guns, their bodies crying out for rest.

For the guns, now like an orchestra, the targets they engage,
With a symphony of anger, a cacophony of rage.
And from the hill above me, just beyond the nearest crest,
Comes the stutter of the bren guns from the infantry hard pressed

From the road which lies behind us come the Army Service Corps,
Dump their load of ammunition and then speed back off for more.
I see walking wounded moving through our lines, while overhead,
Fly the choppers which are lifting out the dying and the dead.

And now at last, the foe repelled, the storm and fury done,
Each weary gunner lays him down and sleeps beside his gun.

Now I hear a pheasant calling, and a stirring in the trees,
And I feel the cool caresses of an early morning breeze
I feel a hand upon my arm, a voice beside me say,
"What are you thinking of my love? You seem so far away"

My aging eyes refocus on the farmlet that we share,
The orchard with the apple trees, the peach, the plum, the pear,
The sun is up, the mist is gone, the cattle on the hill,
Are back to grazing peacefully, and all is calm and still.

You sometimes smile and tell me of the things that I forget,
People's names and missed appointments, little things like that, and yet
Despite the years that lie between, my mind can still recall,
How we held the line that April, on the road that led to Seoul.

M. E Gasson, May 2003

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161 Bty    |    NZ artillery of the Korean War