Skirmish at Yeongdo Island

By Graeme Tricker, NZ13444, Steward, (4 inch gun supply).

Browsing the Communicators Association site I see that  LTCDR  Jeremy HALL
passed away recently.  I remember Lt, HALL well on Taupo.  In Korean waters, his
bunk was always covered with photos of enemy aircraft taken from every possible
angle so that he learnt to recognize them.  But I remember him most for his
experience while on loan for a week to a USA destroyer – it was a swap deal
between ships.

Down the East Coast of North Korea stood Yangdo Island on which the Yanks
maintained an observation station.  We had a memorable skirmish there when the
Communists tried to take back the island.  They didn’t win.  At one stage we
attempted to get between the island and the mainland.  Our 4inch gun was firing
horizontally at the invaders who were in small boats. The focastle was covered in
empty shell cases, but some were ejecting over the ship’s side. Our gunnery officer,
Lt. Saul shouted from the bridge, “Save the shell cases”. One of the men operating
the gun poked his head out from behind the cowling and shouted back, “If you want
to save the cases, come down here and catch them”

But, the bombardment got too hot.  I remember shells flying over the top of us.  One hit a US ship further out to sea, punching a hole in its side.  The enemy couldn’t quite get our range.  But when a shell hit the side of our ship below water level, LTCDR Craddock-Hartop, shouted over the intercom, “Let’s get the hell out of here”.

Eves dropping in the wardroom, on the evening that Jeremy Hall returned on board, I
listened to his story which went something like this “The Captain of the destroyer was a Texan.  He had once been a submarine skipper. He would come up to the bridge wearing a regular cowboy hat and smoking a cigar.  We were a bit further out from the coast from Taupo.  I was on the bridge and the shore guns had almost found our range.  One of the junior officers piped up with, “Gee Captain, those shells are getting really close” The Captain rolled his cigar back and forth from one side of his mouth to the other and merely grunted.  Then the junior piped up again, “Captain, it’s getting risky to stay here” The Captain replied, “What the goddammed hell do you think I should do – SUBMERGE”.

Apparently this destroyer Captain had a pow-wow with Craddock-Hartop.  The
destroyer wanted to go in between the island and the mainland.  “I had a new,
modern gun fitted on the focastle, and I want to try it out he announced” CH forbade
him to do it, but he had no official power to stop him.  The destroyer motors in there
at speed and comes out the other side minus the new gun.  It has been blown off the
ship completely.  Smart arse old salt.

 

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