A ‘Gloster’ war story

Ted Warwick of Grafton fought in an epic Korean War battle as a member of a famed British regiment

GRAFTON’S TED WARWICK held a photo from LIFE magazine of Glosters who survived the Korean War. (Lower photo) Former British soldier Ted Warwick shared his experience in the Korean War at the Rose-Harms American Legion in Grafton last week. In the background was a photo of Warnick in his Gloster uniform. Photos by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

Former British Army soldier Ted Warwick of Grafton has tried to put his experience in war out of his mind.

“I spent 75 years doing my best to forget all about Korea and I did a pretty good job of it,” the 92-year-old said. “I spent the last few weeks trying to put it back together.”

Warwick was a member of the Gloucestershire Regiment, soldiers who were proud to be known as Glosters.

Brigadier Gen. Martin Vine, who saw Warwick’s name on a Gloucestershire Regiment website, asked him to share his story of the Battle of the Imjin River, also called the Battle of Solma-Ri or Gloster Hill.

Vine told him to use the book by fellow Gloster Robert Holles, “Now Thrive the Armourers,” as a guide. It turns out Warwick and Holles have different memories of how they escaped the horrific battle.

The Imjn River was the first crossing from fairly flat land into a long winding canyon with high ground on both sides. Whoever controlled the high ground controlled the road, and the Glosters were tasked with holding that land—called Hill 235 or Gloster Hill—despite being severely outnumbered by the Chinese.

The British 29th Brigade, including the Glosters, lost about 1,100 of their 3,000 troops, while the Chinese lost about 10,000 of their 30,000, “so much so they had to withdraw,” Warwick said.

The British Army had a technical advantage.

“All machine guns and rifles in the British Army used the same ammunition. It was interchangeable, so that was good,” Warwick said.

“But then we ran out of ammunition, and that was bad. I don’t think they could have dislodged us from there” otherwise.

But they were ordered to stay, while they were shocked that an American supply line was ordered to hold back.

When it came time to evacuate, Warwick ditched his rifle and started stumbling down the ravine with 11 other soldiers. Halfway down, Chinese soldiers sprung up all around them. Two Glosters were shot, including a friend of Warwick’s, who was killed.

When everyone came to a stop, they realized, “We’re POWs now,” Warwick said. They put out open hands to Chinese soldiers. Some were friendly. One tapped Warwick on the shoulder and smiled.

The group marched single file, as the sounds of bombs and napalm being dropped farther up the valley were being heard, until they reached a wooded area.

“We looked around and the Chinese were gone,” Warwick said.

That is where Holles’ account differs.

“He said let’s make a break for it when the planes came over,” Warwick said, perplexed that two people in the same place can have such contrasting memories of what happened.

Regardless of how they escaped, the group eventually made it back to a battalion headquarters.

Warwick by then had a “raging sore throat and about the only thing I could do is drink whiskey,” he said. He sought medical attention, and the next thing he knew he woke up in a hospital in Japan. He has no recollection of leaving Korea.

Warwick had sepsis that infected his tonsils and other organs. The doctor told him, “We’re going to pump you full of penicillin and hope.”

Ten weeks later, Warwick was released from the hospital and returned to his new wife in England in 1952. The had been  married on the first day of the Korean War, June 24, 1950.

Decades later, Warwick met an American soldier who fought in Korea while having lunch in Belgium, Wis. The late James Horstman of Port Washington got up and shook Warwick’s hand.

“I never thought I would get to meet a guy and thank him for saving my ass,” Horstman told him.

Warwick later had nightmares and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. His late wife Joan could tell when he was breaking down and would change the subject or the TV channel, he said.

Going to Korea wasn’t Warwick’s plan. He chose to join the Gloucestershire Regiment over the Buckingham Palace regiment—they had soldiers besides the stoic guards they’re known for today— because he wanted excitement and heard the regiment was stationed in Jamaica. When he showed up to ship out, the Glosters had left the island and were heading to war.

While on a ship going through the Suez Canal, Warwick and his fellow soldiers were bored, so he suggested they play with the anti-tank guns on the fantail of the ship. Warwick was the only one who knew how to use the weapon.

Within minutes the officer of the ship and two ranking officers raced out screaming for them to get away from  the gun, cover it back up and head below deck.

The Egyptian government had contacted the British government saying the Brits were preparing to fire on Egypt. Armed ships needed special permission to pass through the canal.

“We were not well thought of. We started an international incident,” Warwick said with a laugh.

Warwick was no stranger to the effects of war. He grew up in Manchester during the Blitz in World War II. When he was 10, he was one of many children to be bussed out of the city to a foster family in the country where they would be less likely to be attacked. Warwick’s foster father wanted nothing to do with him, so Warwick was given a few cents on Saturdays to leave, maybe see a movie (tickets cost 2 cents) and sneak back upstairs after dark and eat a sandwich that was left for him. But Warwick missed his city life. He had been raised in a historic three-story Gothic Inn that had three bars on the first floor, one that allowed children but no smoking, one that allowed cigarettes but no kids and another that let people smoke cigars and pipes and had cribbage tables and darts  The second floor had a lunchroom and ballroom, and Warwick lived on the third.

One day, he snuck onto a train, returned home and walked in the front door surprising his family.

Warwick’s father got called to the military, but he had issues with his eyes. “He couldn’t see so they made him an ambulance driver,” Warwick said.

His mother ran a turret lathe in a munitions factory.

After the Korean War, Warwick and Joan wanted to leave England, and they ended up in Lubbock, Texas, with a 10-week old baby, their first of three children.

“I had $89. I got here on a Thursday, went to work on Monday and never stopped after 50-some years,” Warwick said.

Warwick worked in steel fabrication in the oil and irrigation industry and ran his own company before going broke. He was later employed by other companies that made heavy equipment. When one of the vendors he dealt with offered him a job in Milwaukee, he made the move that eventually led him to Grafton.

Warwick was a soccer enthusiast, and in his new home state helped write textbooks for coaching instructors, and was on Milwaukee Kickers board of directors when Uihlein Soccer Park was built.

Both Warwick and Joan were artists. He did portraits and she did landscapes. “I told her that hers is the easy job,” he said. “If there’s a tree in the way you can move it. With a nose you can’t.”

Warwick painted Native Americans. As a gift to his mother, he painted a portrait of Cynthia Parker, who was kidnapped by the Comanche tribe, and her son, Quanah, who became the tribe’s last chief. The painting hung in a library in England for 20 years after Warwick’s mother died. When Warwick asked for it back, they held a big ceremony for him.

Now, Warwick, who has four great-great grandchildren—“I have a grandaughter who’s a grandmother,” he said—lives in a house with his daughter and is trying his hand at landscapes. He said he is finding out they’re not so easy.


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