Veteran Stories:
Denis Crowe

Army

  • A photo of the hills surrounding Hill 355.

    Don Landry
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"I remember seeing one gun, about three kilometres away, shooting at the RCR and they were shooting through a hole in the hill, which was probably about a yard square."

Transcript

I was stationed in Shiloh [Manitoba]. I just returned from a course in England. I was a captain and I served, just went as reinforcement. In fact, in August of 1953 to Korea. We did a lot of observe fire on small groups of people, of suspected mortar positions, of suspected enemy locations and apart from that, I used to go out with the infantry to act as an observer on various patrols that they had. And I would take a couple of signalers with me and we’d go and play with the infantry and do whatever we had to do and then come back.

I was on a hill feature called 355 with the RCR [Royal Canadian Regiment]. And we had been very heavily bombarded by the enemy for about three days. And it culminated in what I took to be a regimental attack on a battalion frontage. The reason I say that was that the mortars, the delineating boundaries of the attack were created by white tracer machine gun bullets by the enemy and the centre line was two red machine gun tracer bullets indicating, and they were pointed right at me as far as I was concerned. I was looking down on them because we were on high ground.

I started firing at that stage and we fired all night. I had a lot of defensive fires going. I had one enemy gun shooting at me particularly because I had an OP [observation post] which was built in a bunker right on the skyline and I had a little slit through which I observed. And I’m sure the enemy was trying to knock me out through that little slit. But we sort of played almost from 3:00 in the afternoon until last light for observe firing. I remember seeing one gun, about three kilometres away, shooting at the RCR and they were shooting through a hole in the hill, which was probably about a yard square. And they were killing people, I found out later, there were about 30 killed.

And I took the regiment, 24 guns, concentrated them, shot five rounds per barrel at this suspected, at this gun. I was working on probability and missed it. I then took 72 guns with five rounds per barrel and concentrated the fire, again, I didn’t hit it, I came around it. And eventually I got all the guns that I could get to bear and they were roughly about 250 guns, all of corps guns and the next, the Marine Corps division of the Americans next door and the Koreans on the other side joined. We had a whole bunch of guns. We still couldn’t hit the son of a gun. So I took eventually a thing called an eight inch howitzer which was a, we termed it the persuader, great big round, and using a procedure called precision adjustment, I very accurately took that one gun and sort of walked it almost yard by yard until I hit the hole and closed it off. And then the rest of the night, we just played around with as many guns as we could. We had the Air Force in dropping flares from [C-47] Dakotas, almost all night long. The American Air Force did that. And then next morning, we just woke up and we were still where we should be on top of the hill. The enemy were not near us. We had lost, as I said, about 30 dead or 40 dead and about 30 prisoners were taken as well from the RCR. And that’s about the biggest thing I had.

The only other big target I think was when I was in another OP location supporting the Patricia’s [an abbreviation of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Regiment], that’s first battalion. And I observed through my binoculars at a distance of about 1,000 yards, a group of Chinese, probably about 30 or 40 marching on a road, with a guy in front with a big banner. And I presumed they were led by a dopey company commander because they were walking right into one of my defensive fire locations, so I waited and took the regiment, concentrated them, fired air bursts [shells that detonate above the ground instead of upon impacting the ground] at a given time and it was quite a satisfying target. And that’s about all I can say about shooting there.

Well, war is not a nice business. It’s one that I consider one has to take part in if one’s country gets into a position where it has to fight. You have to be part of that, you either have to put up or shut up and which I do but I won’t celebrate it. Except having a beer with my buddies.

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