Veteran Stories:
Sheldon Rowell


  • Michael Levett's photograph shows a Grumman Avenger teetering on the brink of the carrier. In Levett's words: "Attrition rate on landing [was] high."

    Michael Levett
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"During a night operation in heavy fog, we were patrolling just offshore in North Korea to prevent the laying of floating mines when we went aground."


We used the British technique with the FAIREY FIREFLY, which had its hook in the belly, in the center of the aircraft.  With the British technique we got in a landing attitude, which we carried down to the deck.  Once we got the cut from the LSO [Landing Signal Officer], we held our attitude and landed.  There weren’t as many occasions of hook bounce with that technique.  But with the USN [United States Navy] technique, which required a landing after the cut -- a flare -- the tendency for hook bounce was greater and this was a problem.  And it became a very big problem aboard the USS SAIPAN.  The trials quickly became unsuccessful.  I have a feeling that the Captain of the SAIPAN wasn’t too anxious to have us on board anyhow.  This qualification exercise was terminated by the USN and we returned to HMCS MAGNIFICENT after adopting a modified system of RN [Royal Navy] approach.  But finally with the demise of the FIREFLY and the introduction of the GRUMMAN AVENGER, we switched completely to the USN procedure.  It was actually, in retrospect, quite an interesting period.

I went and did the Junior Officer’s Technical and Leadership Course (JOLT) in HMCS Stadacona and then followed this with an appointment to HMCS SWANSEE as Assistant Navigation Officer.  Interestingly, on one of the trips across the Atlantic, we made a stop in Dieppe, which turned out to be excellent.  I was then sent to HURON -- HMCS HURON -- as the Operations Officer, which included a tour in Korea.  We had a number of interesting incidents with shooting at mines and shooting at trains and this sort of thing.  But one particular one, during a night operation in heavy fog, we were patrolling just offshore in North Korea to prevent the laying of floating mines when we went aground.  Anyways, a rather tense few hours before we re-floated the ship, but by that time we had the US 7th Fleet looking after our welfare and aircraft were overhead.  But we were very close to the Korean guns.  They didn’t fire at night, only in the daytime.


Interview with Sheldon Rowell - FCWM Oral History Project
Accession Number CWM 20020121-091
George Metcalf Archival Collection
© Canadian War Museum

Entrevue avec Sheldon Rowell - Projet d'histoire orale du AMCG
No d’accession MCG 20020121-091
Collection d’archives George Metcalf
© Musée canadien de la guerre




Follow us