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February 10, 2018

Hockey And The Korean War

There is an absolutely fantastic hockey history article over at the Globe and Mail that I know I certainly have never heard of before, and likely you have not either.

It's about a Canadian military initiative to keep troops spirits up during the Korean War. Within ear shot of enemy forces, Canada set up a hockey rink on the Imjin River. It became the site of some heated hockey matches that brought joy and life to the armed forces stationed there.

Here's a taste of the article:
Canadian soldiers played hockey games in the winters of 1952 and 1953, although it's not clear exactly how many matches in total.

In early 1952, the Van Doos were on reserve, a pause to regroup from the front lines, when Claude Charland, then a lieutenant in command of an infantry platoon, was called to duty on the right wing. For a moment, he said, the war disappeared.

"It was like the players forgot about everything else," he said. There was no room to think about "attacks here and there, or bombs here and there. When the game was finished, we all hoped there would be a next one."

Afterward, spectators dissected the games with the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for playoff hockey "It was a tremendous morale booster," said Mr. Charland, 88.

And the best line in the article:
"I'm asked an awful lot, weren't you ever scared? And what I always say is, 'well, who would ever think of attacking 30 Canadian soldiers with hockey sticks in their hands?' " said Mr. Moore.
Read the full article here.

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