I first met Arthur Calveley at Tidworth, in August 1950. I had been recalled from the Reserve for the Korean War and posted to the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars. I was 30 and Arthur was just 19. He was a fall, slender Liverpudlian, loved being in the Army, and was excited at the prospect of active service in Korea. We were both in Recce Troop, on Cromwell tanks; Arthur’s driver was another Liverpudlian – ex “Skins” Reservist – Joe Dooley.

When Recce Troop. as part of “Cooper Force”, was overwhelmed by the Chinese Army at “Happy Valley” in January 1951, Arthur and I became prisoners of war, together with the remainder of our Troop who had not been killed.

Conditions in Camp 5, when we got there after a march of 400 miles in a Korean Winter – were bad. Sanitation was nonexistent, medical care rudimentary and the food mainly Sorghum. Most of the POWs were American, and some of them just could not eat the food and they died in large numbers, at one time as many as 15 a day.

Arthur began to look frail and vulnerable, and Joe Dooley helped him all he could, but after a few months Arthur was desperately ill and was taken to the “hospital”. Most people died in their huts or in the lines, but some were taken to the hospital where, in those early months, they died. We “wrote Arthur off” and never expected to see him again. But he confounded us; he came back and he walked back. His courage and determination brought him back to us.

Later that year things improved – better food, proper sanitation and medical care. People stopped dying.

But Arthur never got really well, and an anxious Joe Dooley fussed over him like a mother hen. They were inseparable, and the friendship endured until Arthur’s death. We all had a special affection for Arthur; he had shown a spirit and determination to get out of that place and back to his loved ones.

He was released with the sick and wounded a few months before the war ended in 1953, and was medically discharged in October of that year.

He married Joyce and they had two children, Gary and Denise, and four grandchildren. He worked in the Chemical Industry in Liverpool.

I never saw him again until August 1991, at a reunion of ex-Camp 5 POWs in London. He and Joyce came for the weekend, and the years rolled away. (Joe was there, of course). It was wonderful.

Unfortunately, he was too ill with cancer to attend our reunion in August 1993.

Arthur died in March, aged 62. He was a good, true Hussar.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Timeline: Korea 1950-51
  3. Article: The Korean War: The Slaughter at Happy Valley