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by Lt. Eric Bauld, 2RCR & 1RCR
The time was January 1952, the place Korea, the location HQ 25 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group. Attached to this HQ was Lieut. E. G. Bauld, reinforcement officer to 2 Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.
My mission was to set up two ice rinks in a back-water area of the Imjin River. The aim of the project was to build a venue to run the 25 CIBG ice hockey league! War is hell isn't it?
The League schedule ended around February with 2PPCLI champions. Off they went to Japan to play some exhibition games only to be trounced by the Japs.
Chatting with Brigadier Rockingham, I said that we still had about two weeks of ice time left. He being a sporting type phoned the Aussies telling them that the Kiwis had challenged them to a hockey game! 25 CIBG would provide the venue, gear, the food, Canadian beer and instruction (another job for me!). He then called the Kiwis with the deal. You can well imagine the tea pots and beer glasses a jangling.
The Aussies did come down to Imjin Gardens and were kitted out in the hockey gear. I'm all set to start the instruction. They "undressed" and went home! The Kiwis never did show for kitting, etc.
The great day arrived. The venue was in order. The hamburgers all set to cook. 25 CIBG had just about emptied the front line of troops to make up the audience. The game officials were ready (no pun intended). The weather perfect for that time of year. All was in readiness.
My rink rats helped the Aussies to get to their positions on the rink. The Kiwis did a Haka to get to their positions. The whistle blew - and it was on. Just what was on we Canadians never fathomed, we were in hysterics. The Keystone Cops' farces had nothing on this so-called hockey game. The puck travelled (trundled?) all over the ice with gloves, sticks and bodies making futile attempts to grab(!) or stop that puck. The game went its full 60 minutes (three twenty minute periods) but the winner - I still don't know if any side did win - we couldn't stop laughing.
After the game finished, the food and beer were consumed and the 25 CIBG troops returned to the line in high spirits. The Aussies and Kiwis went home in shock wondering just what Armageddon they'd experienced. 'Twas an air of awesome mystery indeed.
First Published in The Voice, April 2006