"I'll never forget because the aircraft just dove down over the village and up and the tanks dropped from them and then there was a big ball of fire."
I knew what was going on. Being in communications and reading—most of the, a lot of the messages we received were Secret. The equipment was Secret. We had one type that was Top Secret. Most of us operated that as well. But I think our clearance classification was only to Secret because we operated—most of our messages were Secret. And a lot of them were about the war, the progress of the war, how it was going.
It was addressed of course to the captain. He would have been in Information that would have been on the address. There would have been an originator and—what was in the other name. Anyway, it would go to a particular agency and then others would be For Information. Often we would be classed as For Information.
The operational duties on the west coast was basically to—well, that's where at night we would go in and try to stop the trains. We were stopping supplies, we were watching for junks [small coastal vessels] and other vessels carrying supplies because all our operations were north of the battle line, wherever it was at the time, north of the 38th [parallel]. When we left Sasebo or Kure [Japan] or wherever, our place of operation was off the North Korean coast, not off the South Korean coast. At no time did we operate off there. So we were always off the North Korean coast.
That's basically what we did on the west coast. We also operated with the Americans; it would have been the Seventh Fleet. So there were times when we operated as a plane guard. The plane guard then was operated with the aircraft carriers. On the east coast, we operated as a plane guard quite often, with HMS Glory. I think HMS Theseus was one of the others there. They're aircraft carriers on the east coast.
Also we often went to shell some of the islands offshore and sometimes the mainland. On both coasts we did that. I remember one in particular, one case that was on the—I saw very little of this as you know because I was always—at my action station was in a, I called it a square box about 8 by 8, and that's where my action station was. So I knew what was going on but I never saw it.
But at one time, for some reason I was on deck and it was on the east coast and we were a plane guard, we were guarding, we were watching for—a plane guard actually went along with the aircraft carrier in case the pilot had to ditch or something. Our job, we had the lifeboats ready to go and a crew ready to go in them, so our job would have been to rescue the pilot.
We were working with one of the British carriers and I'm not sure why I was out on deck, what I had to do that time, but anyway I was there, several of us, and we watched a village—actually it was destroyed with napalm. The aircraft dropped it. I don't know what was in the village of course, but it was a sight I'll never forget because the aircraft just dove down over the village and up and the tanks dropped from them and then there was a big ball of fire. So it was obviously a military installation. Can't think it was an innocent.
But when we shelled those villages or shelled the area, I know that we killed civilians. I know that we couldn't help it. That's the way it went. There were civilians, you know, as well as military, but the aim was military of course. But it didn't always work that way, I'm sure.