Reported in the News Letter on April 25, 1953: Belfast soldier was held captive in Korea for over two years

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A Belfast man was among four British soldiers, all from the Royal Ulster Rifles, who were freed from Communist captivity in Korea yesterday, according to reports from Panmunjom last night.

He was Rifleman William C Anderson, of Fane Street, Belfast, who told reporters that he was captured unwounded on January 3, 1951.

With a group of around 100 Britons and 20 Americans he was marched North to Pyoktong, near the Yalu River, doing about 25 miles a night. About halfway the column stopped for about 10 days.

“We started moving at nightfall and stopped about one or two am,” Rifleman Anderson said. Only one man had failed to keep up.

Anderson said that the Communists had made their prisoners write “self-criticism” letters if they committed minor offences, in which they were to admit their fault. The letters were handed to an instructor or a lecturer “who tried to teach us Communism”.

The men were given two or three weekly lectures and were shaken awake if they fell asleep during them.

“Conditions were pretty rough until the first Communist medical team arrived in July 1951,” Rifleman Anderson said.

He said that the Chinese gave the prisoners aspirins but no other drugs.

Other prisoners released yesterday included 25 South Koreans, 21 Americans, four Turks, one Canadian and one Dutchman.