Kevin Joseph RISELEY was interviewed by Margaret Dawson for the Busselton Oral History Group (Inc) on the 26th February, 2014. It is one of a series of recorded interviews with ex-service personnel funded by Lotterywest to celebrate the Anzac Centenary.
Kevin was born in Maylands, Western Australia, in 1933. He was the eldest of five children. Kevin’s father worked for the West Australian Government Railways. They lived in Kalgoorlie, Northam and East Perth.
Kevin attended local catholic schools including Christian Brothers College in Highgate. He left school at the age of 12 to support his mother and younger brothers and sisters when his father deserted the family.
At 18 years, Kevin enlisted in the army and his ‘rookie training’ was at the old Remount Depot at Guilford. The Korean War started in 1950 and Kevin wanted to serve but was too young.
Kevin was sent to the First Field Artillery Regiment at Georges Heights at Mosman in Sydney.
He was sent to reinforce a battalion already in Japan in 1953. The Korean War had ended but he joined the United Nations Peace Keeping Force working on the 38th Parallel known as the Kansas line. Kevin’s battalion was part of the 28th Brigade which was under the control of the British Army approximately two miles from the North Korean posts with a ‘no man’s land’ between. Members of the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) were assigned to Kevin’s battalion to be trained in the use of mortars and machine guns.
Kevin talks about why the Korean War was known as the ‘Forgotten War’.
He returned to Australia on the ship HMAS Westralia.
Whilst on leave he met his future wife Valerie Dobson. They married in 1955 and had four children.
On discharge from the army in 1957, Kevin found it difficult to get a job. He worked in a scrap metal yard then for Westralian Newspapers until his retirement at 60.
Kevin’s initial requests to join the RSL were refused because time in Korea wasn’t recognised as active service.
Kevin marched in Anzac Day parades until 2011 and now is driven.
He is a passionate advocate for educating people on the Korean War and the Peace Keepers’ role. He visited schools to inform the students about this conflict.
Kevin is a Life Member of the Korean Veterans’ Association.