I first met Joe Dooley at Tidworth, in August 1950 when, as Reservists, we were recalled for service in the Korean War, and posted to the 8th Hussars.

He came from Liverpool and shared that city’s wry sense of humour. He was a small man but never concerned by his lack of inches. He gleefully recounted how, on being posted to the Middle East, his khaki shorts (Bombay Bloomers) were so long he had to have turn-ups. But, as he put it, ‘When they put me on a horse I was big, and good, as any of ’em’. And the same applied when they put him in a tank.

We were both in Cromwell tanks, part of Cooper-Force, when a Chinese division overwhelmed us in ‘Happy Valley’, north of Seoul, in the early days of January 1951.

We were to spend 32 months in captivity, and I got to know Joe very well. His humour and optimism were rare and precious characteristics of the man in those awful early months in Camp 5 on the Yalu River.

People like Dooley were worth their weight in gold in those He had one special friend, a young (19) Regular Hussar, Arthur Calverley-a fellow Liverpudlian – who became desperately ill. Joe nursed him and cared for him with real devotion until the day Calverley was released with the sick and wounded in the Spring of 1953.

I have seen Joe only infrequently in recent years, but we met at our biennial ex-Camp 5 reunions, and we would have met again this summer, in London. As it is, we will include him in our toast to ‘absent friends two.”

Related topics

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