Cpl Ronald Crawford was born in Lambeth, London on 17 June 1931 and was employed as a bargeman prior to his military service which began when he enlisted in the Royal Armoured Corps on 17 March 1949.

He was posted to the 8th Royal Tank Regiment at Catterick for training as a Driver/AFV.

On completion, he joined ‘B’ Squadron of the 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars, the RAC demonstration Squadron at the School of Infantry, Warminster where he was employed as a driver on Comet 1 AFVs. ‘B’ Squadron was actively carrying out firepower demonstrations and taking part in tactical exercises for the students.

Ronald sailed with the 8th Hussars for Korea on HMT Empire Fowey arriving at Pusan on 14 November 1950. Ronald was a member of SHQ Troop of ‘B’ Squadron and took part in the initial move to North Korea and the subsequent withdrawal south when the Chinese Army entered the war in overwhelming numbers.

After the appalling arctic winter weather, in the spring of 1951 ‘B’ Squadron was located south of the River Imjin in an area called Mistletoe Orchard. By now Maj WGO Butler had taken over command of ‘B’ Squadron from Maj W Nelson on his appointment as 2IC of the Regiment. Maj Butler’s Centurion driver was Ronald Crawford who was a cheerful character and had a very responsible job driving the Squadron Leader who was invariably found where the fighting was intense resulting in the award of the Distinguished Service Order.

Driving a Centurion was a difficult task as due to the makeup of the Korean soil/paddy fields there was a constant risk of throwing a track and disabling the tank which had not occurred during the operation of the Centurion in Europe and the Middle East. This required a high standard of driving.

Ronald drove Maj Butler on the various patrols across the River Imjin culminating in the ‘Lowther Force’ operation where the Centurions and infantry made a major incursion into Chinese territory. ‘B’ Squadron then moved south which was immediately followed by the major Chinese offensive of the Battle of the Imjin which involved ‘C’ Squadron in a major operation and they were responsible for covering the withdrawal of the 29 Brigade Infantry.

The 8th Hussars left Korea for the UK in December 1951 and after disembarkation leave moved to Luneburg in Germany in March 1952 and joined the 7th Armoured Division.

Following serving in ‘B’ Squadron, Ronald became a member of the Regimental Police and was demobilised in March 1954.

Ronald’s main civilian occupation was as a petrol tanker driver and sadly he died on 13 October 2006. He was very proud of his service in the 8th Hussars.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Korea 1950-51