Story behind the pic: “The Face of War”

Louis

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Korean war, june 1952: In the pic, Private Heath Matthews (aged 20) of ‘C’ Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, awaits medical aid after a night patrol near Hill 166.

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Heath Matthews enlisted in the Canadian Army Special Force for service in Korea shortly after the outbreak of war in 1950. He was 18 years old at the time. He served in Korea with Charles Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR) during 1952 – 1953.

On the night of 21-22 June 1952, while acting as a signaller, Matthews participated in a company-sized fighting patrol. The action was a raid against a chinese position near Hill 166, west of the Jamestown Line. As the objective was neared the patrol was caught in a devastating enemy mortar barrage. Two Canadians were killed and several wounded. Hit in the face by shrapnel, Private Matthews was one of the wounded.

On the morning of 22 June as a wounded members of the Charles Company patrol waited outside a front line bunker to receive medical treatment, Sergeant Paul E. Tomelin (1925-2016), an army photographer of the No. 25 Canadian Public Relations Unit, snapped a photo of this wounded soldier.

Tomelin’s photograph would become the iconic picture of the canadian involvement in the Korean War and would subsequently be dubbed as “The Face of War”.

Private Heath Matthews born at Alberton, Prince Edward Island on Aug 1932 and passed away on Dec. 2013 at Leawood, Kansas, USA. He was 81 years of age.