Mr. Eldon Willard Rogers, November 2012.The Memory Project
" He said, “I put you on draft for Korea. What do you think of it?” "
So they posted me up to Camp Borden [Ontario] and while I was there every week they took so many technicians up north to what they called the “Meefer Grange.” That’s where they fired the tanks and one thing another up there where they could do some heavy shooting. And first a tank has to have all its electronic gear working or it sits there. So I went up there and about halfway through the week a paymaster came in from Borden and he said the RSM [Regimental Sergeant Major] wanted to see me right away. Well, I got no way to get back to Borden today. And he said, “Well, I’m going back in the morning. You can come back with me.” So I went back with him the next day.
Went to the RSM’s office and I said, “Signalman Rogers here and you wanted to see me?” and he said yes. He said, “I put you on draft for Korea. What do you think of it?” And this I tell everybody – I told him what I thought of it but I went anyway. So went through leave and one thing another and got all my needles and one thing another, troop train from there out to Vancouver and we sailed from Seattle over.
And it was fairly good trip over. We landed in Sasebo, Japan. Stayed there for a few days. They had some work to do on the ship. Was a Marine Serpent, USNS [United States Naval Ship] Marine Serpent that we went over on, it was, I forget now how many people were on board but it was not a very big ship. Wasn’t too bad. I found out as long as could keep eating I didn’t get seasick.
But, anyway, then from Sasebo, was where we landed in Japan. And from there we went up to Inchon [Republic of Korea] and then on into the Canadian headquarters there. And I was stationed right at the headquarters most of the time and up just north of the Imjin River. And, then, later on I went out to the Black Watch battalion [2nd Battalion]. Spent two or three months there and then a couple of months with The Canadian Guards [4th Battalion] and back to headquarters and home.
We were on the USNS General John Pope, it was large ship. I would say the bow of that ship would be about 75 feet off the water and she was going over one wave and under the next one. They wouldn’t let us out on deck for three days. And twin screws further on the back of it, they’d come out of the water and come up and you’d hear the engines all picking up speed and then as it started to settle back down they were catching the water, tail end would – just shake.
And one night about midnight there was a large bang that just went through the whole ship. And then after that things changed. We didn’t know for a couple of days afterwards that, actually we were right up off the Aleutian Islands. And we turned south and headed for Hawaii to get out of the storm.
I found out that the, to digress for a second, as I said before, if I could eat, I didn’t get seasick, so when they’d call for volunteers to bring rations up from the holds up to the kitchens, I volunteered for it because you could always grab something along the way. And, the last night out, the seaman that was with us said “Here’s one hold we haven’t been in yet.” And he unlocked the door, opened it, turned all the lights on, we walked in and sat down – so packed right up with food. And he said, “Look up.” And across the – going crossways across the ship there’d be big I-beams, steel I-beams about that high. One of them was broken and parted about that much and that was the bang that happened. Twisted it and there was a whole brigade of Canadians plus I would say close to 2,000 Americans onboard. There was a lot of men onboard that thing.
Anyway, we turned south from the Aleutians and ended up off of Hawaii. We were 29 days without the sight of land coming home.