ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on January 28th, 2013 at 3:09 am

Canadians and Hockey During the Korean War

» by in: Korean War

It would have been a startling sight for enemy soldiers from the hills above the Imjin River in the winters of 1952 and 1953 — Canadians fighting for the puck on shimmering ice between deadly battles for precious terrain on the Korean Peninsula at the height of the Cold War conflict.

Busan Haps has an interesting post about Canadians playing hockey on the Imjim River during the Korean War.  The post is based on this article in the National Post which has a number of historic photographs from the war of Canadians playing hockey:

“It was quite cold in the wintertime. We didn’t have much snow but we did have snow. And certainly the river in the shallow parts froze up,” said Goodman. “I can remember one game — and I think I have a picture of it — with me trying to dodge a wet spot on the ice, or it might have even been a hole, as I was going after the puck.”

Goodman, who also fought in the Second World War and retired from the military with the rank of major in 1975, said strapping on skates and chasing a puck over the frozen Imjin was just what he and his comrades needed to lift their spirits during those winters of war in the Far East.

“I couldn’t have thought of any better recreation — well, maybe one better recreation,” he said with a chuckle.

The Imjin River flows south from its source in North Korea across today’s demilitarized zone and into South Korea, eventually passing near Seoul, the capital.

Goodman remembers that the same bend of the Imjin that became Canadians’ makeshift hockey rink during winters was also a favourite swimming spot in the summer.

“They called it ‘Bare Ass Beach,’” he said, “because nobody took a bathing suit with them to war.”

Nobody took skates with them either, said Goodman, who believes a supply of hockey gear must have been shipped overseas to equip the soldiers for those games in 1952 and 1953.  [National Post]

You can see more historic photographs at the link.  You can also read more about Canadians and hockey during the Korean War at the previously mentioned Busan Haps link.

What this story reminded me of though is how the Canadians in Afghanistan constructed their own floor hockey rink at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan:

The Canadians and other teams formed from the NATO and ISAF personnel would play floor hockey in the evenings.  I didn’t really pay much attention to it, but it seemed like the Canadians always won.  It was probably that way during the Korean War as well.

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