Veteran Stories:
Roy Hall

Navy

  • Certificate of the service of Robert Roy Hall in the Royal Canadian Navy.

    Roy Hall
  • Roy Hall in Brampton, Ontario. March 2012.

    Historica Canada
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"We used to go up the rivers, and in a destroyer, at night, running in the dark, and drop guerillas off, and that was behind the lines, behind the 38th [Parallel]. We had to get out of there before daylight so… it was a little tricky. "

Transcript

They just sent the destroyers over, the Tribal class destroyers, which was our heaviest destroyer during that time. It was only a matter of time, that we would be called over there. From the time I was drafted to the [HMCS] Iroquois, I knew I was going over because I was drafted to a ship that was scheduled to go over, and there’s a lot of maintenance that had to be done, they had to change the guns, change the ammunition lockers, and there was a lot of work to do, plus training.

What we were going over for… There was different things that we were assigned to do, when we went over there. One was, taking a position off either coast, east to west coast, and knocking the trains off. Other part of our duties was, when they, the Americans were flying off aircraft carriers, they all have to have a guard on their quarter[deck], so that was part of our job. I don’t know how many times we did that.

And going round to the west coast of Korea, we used to go up the rivers, and in a destroyer, at night, running in the dark, and drop guerillas off, and that was behind the lines, behind the 38th [Parallel]. We had to get out of there before daylight so… it was a little tricky. Then we had to come back and pick them up.

We left to go into silent running, which they call, and that’s very slow, because there's artillery on both sides, so you didn’t want to wake them up. We had to put socks over our shoes, so we didn’t make noise on the metal deck.  So, everything is quiet and dark. Lights are… no lights on, and you can’t even have your running lights on because they’d see you. The waters weren’t charted. We had no charts, to tell us if there’s a sandbar there, or… so we had to go very, very slowly, very quietly, and hope.

In October [1952] we got struck with a mortar and we lost a circle of people.* We usually stayed about 5,000 yards out – that was the extent of their mortars. But, the Chinese got involved, or the North Koreans got involved, and they developed stronger mortars, unbeknown to us. So, when we went into our 5,000-yard range, we were sitting ducks. And the mortar that actually struck us, hit an ammunition locker, and did a fair amount of damage, enough that we had to go back to Sasebo [Japan] and get repairs.

What you do is try to blast the tunnels that the trains have to go through. But from time to time, there’d be people working on the tunnels. So, we knew that it was the South Korean prisoners, that was doing the work. So, it was pretty tricky to, you know, to blow them up and not injure anybody that’s working there because we knew they’re there. And, we had three or four South Koreans on our ship, interpreters and everything, because any communication ashore would be with the Koreans. We had a little trick; the guys would go in the tunnel, we’d watch them, because we’re 5,000 yards out, eh? They would know that we was going to start bombarding. But in many cases, instead of sending a live shell, we would flash the signal then, and they would figure it was a shell, so they’d go into the [tunnel]. You can only do that so often. But, yeah that was a job, though, we had to do.

We would be out at 5,000 yards and the Americans would have cruisers at 10,000, and they would be firing over top of us, just like a freight train going over, over your head.

We used to go up and down the coast, looking for… what the Koreans did, they had fishing boats, and they put steel necks on them, and put mortars on the fishing – so, we’d be looking for them. If you knew – if you knew that, it was just an ordinary fisher - fishing boat, when you sail up to them and point the gun down to them, you know whether they’re fishermen or they’re the enemy.

*2 October 1952 - seven crew members were wounded, three others died

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