John Brownbill - Near miss

Running time
2 min 5 sec

Department of Veterans' Affairs


I had a position on the foot of Ascension Valley where the guns were facing out. There was a mountain with a straight front on it like that, coming down and my tent was back there because the trajectories of any weapons was such that they had to go over and we dug down and pushed our guns out on the face this and we had to get all our equipment out in 24 hours, 1500 metres back and the North Koreans had to do the same the other way to make the demilitarized zone.

We knew the war would end at 10am and when it did we reckoned life was wonderful and crashed my tent and my platoon was sitting round with their feet standing in because when you build a tent like that you dig a hole that deep to give you more overhead and you can work around the edges of it if you make the hole a little bit less and the size of the tent. Am I making sense?

And we’re all sitting there cleaning weapons and chatting away and a fellow on the other side had got a 9mm pistol from the Canadians and he removed the magazine, pulled the working parts back a couple of times, pressed the trigger which is the way to do it and it’s inexplicable, it couldn’t have happened, but there happened to be a bullet in there.

It should have come out when he opened it and the bullet went into the ground two inches under where I was sitting. Oh dear. I’ll never forget that. That’s ten minutes after the war ended. Could have ended my life.

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