Veteran Stories:
Jim Wilson

Navy

  • Mr. Jim Wilson. January 2012.

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"Well, our job at that time was to try and stop the trains and destroy them [...] Over the nine months or so that we were there, we managed to get three of the trains while they were speeding on a track trying to evade us [...]"

Transcript

[Patrolling the Korean waters.]

From there, we proceeded on our tours and we specifically went over to the west coast and up and down, sort of patrolling bits of South Korea, to make sure there was no interference from shipping or anything along that line. And up into North Korea, where we got involved in the areas where the supply trains were coming through. And that was our big thing in the Korean episode because what they had were huge big cliffs and in the cliffs, they had built tunnels for the trains but the trains had to come out every once in a while. And we found the open areas where it was just track on the face of the cliff and the trains would come along.

Well, our job at that time was to try and stop the trains and destroy them and so on. Over the nine months or so that we were there, we managed to get three of the trains while they were speeding on a track trying to evade us, if you get out of our way type of thing. And we managed to blow three of the trains up that actually got us in the train wreckers little group where some of the other destroyers that had been down there had managed to get three also. That didn’t sound like many but it was quite an achievement truthfully because the ship is going up and down, you’ve got to get your guns there where they’re going land, right exactly where the train is or just below a bit to destroy the track and knock it off anyway. And it became quite a feat.

One of the other things we used to do, even when the trains weren’t there, we would go and harass them by opening our guns up on the entrance and departure sort of great holes in the ship structure that was supporting the tunnel entrances and so on. So if we could get a little bit of that knocked away and then some of the track knocked up, it would delay things. The interesting thing was that we would find out that we wouldn’t delay things more than about a day, that they just had so many people in the tunnels, that they were just like ants where they came out and got rid of all the old rock and shipped and braced up and got new tracks in and we’re in business within a day after it being sort of really kind of demolished we thought.

During some of the gunnery practice, I personally, who was the assistant air defense officer, also with the gunnery officer, got my opportunity to take complete charge of the 4.5 mounts on the front of the ship, with A and B gun mount under a joystick control that I had. And that was my job and I managed to blow the track up and get the entrance back in about 40 feet. During the rest of the time, our other episodes gunnery were when we would go up the coast, we would have sites that were artillery sites that were used to sort of bombard any shipping going by and generally sort of also try and get shelling into South Korea.

We virtually would, just about every one of our trips out, our trips out were normally about a month at sea and we managed to really get involved with this just about every time we went to sea. The thing there was as soon as they started getting close to us and the shells were coming whistling over our ship, we could hear them and see them bounce behind us and blow and what have you. Once we hadn’t really shut them down completely, we’d call in a U.S. Air Force and they would come in and they’d napalm the site. It sounded like a very one-sided sort of situation in a way but at the same time, it was effective.

We did run across some of the small shipping that was guys who were going from port to port and I was the canteen manager at the time as a little part time sort of job and we’d bring them aboard and feed them, the South Korean guys and sell them some cigarettes from thee canteen and let them sort of charge up and just make things better in their life.

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