It was 1952 when conscription was the lot of all 18 old boys, and Allan Stuttard was eager to leave his Hebden Bridge factory work and see something of the world.
Allan kept Hebden Bridge Local History Society entertained about his 18 month stint as a private in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. And did he see the world? Not straight away. He spent the first 10 weeks square bashing and learning to be a number rather than a name in the barracks in Halifax, just 8 miles from home.
It was hard work, but safe. That feeling didn’t last long. The young soldiers were shipped out to Korea where the American and British armies were greatly outnumbered by local forces. The Korean War is often known as the Forgotten War and suffered many casualties. After an interim time guarding borders in Hong Kong, Korea was his ultimate destination. Luckily for Allan, because he was under 19, he was kept away from the front line – but life was still tough and dangerous.
He told us that he made three big mistakes. The first was to volunteer… he hoped to be trained to manage stores but ended up on the bomb and mine demolition team. The second was offering to stay behind to rebuild the camp; it so happened to be winter and winters in Korea are exceptionally cold. The third was not to stand in the back row when no volunteers are forthcoming – as those at the back are chosen for the tasks in hand!
So did he see Marilyn? Yes he did. He eventually managed to procure his preferred job in stores which made a bargain possible with some members of the American forces, who in return smuggled a group of them into the back of a concert troupe event. Bob Hope – and as he later discovered, a very glamorous Marilyn Monroe – were performing. But from where he was in the audience of thousands, he could hardly distinguish who was on stage, or hear what was going on!
The next Hebden Bridge Local History Society meeting is on Wednesday 25th January when Rodney Collinge will talk about Mytholmroyd, the Development of a Pennine Village.
The group runs a popular programme of workshops and drop-in sessions at the Birchcliffe Centre
Upper Calderdale's suitability for the preservation of local cultural tradition is nowhere shown as strongly as in its wealth of folk tales about places, many of which are still being passed on by word of mouth.
For some years now a small group of friends has been exploring the evidence for prehistoric activity in the South Pennines.