HMCS SIOUX set out on her last patrol in the Korean theater on January 21, 1952. The ship's company was understandably in high spirits on this occasion, it having been something to which they had been looking forward for ten long, tedious months. Our job this time was to be with the task unit operating close inshore on the west coast. The main object of' these patrols was the defense of islands which were north of the 38th parallel but in the hands of the United Nations.
The first day on patrol was taken up mainly with obtaining a turn-over from HMS CONSTANCE, whom we relieved, and the delivery of mail, passengers and ammunition to other ships in the area. To the USS PORTERFIELD (destroyer) we transferred a grand total of 46 bags of mail, four USN enlisted men, two Korean naval officers, one Chinese tailor and 100 rounds of five inch ammunition. All but the ammunition were transferred by motor cutter. With sea and swell running about four feet, a fine job of boat handling was exhibited by PO James D. Bell, Lashburn, Sask., and Victoria, and PO William D. Steele, Calgary and Victoria, the two coxswains, and their bowmen and working hands, ABs Lloyd Dixon, Arcola, Sask.; Douglas Peyton, North Battleford, Sask.; Victor Hughes, Rainy River, Ont.; Ken McCormick, O'Leary Station, P.E.I.; and George Cardon, Bashaw, Alta.
In temperatures well below freezing, these men at the end of each trip had almost as much ice on themselves as there was on the boat. A great deal of credit for the efficient operation of the motor cutter is due to the farsightedness and ingenuity of Lt.(E) William Attwell, of Victoria, and his staff. They designed and fitted a device which supplied steam heat to the engine at all times when at the davit head (plus, after one sad experience, the re-routing of exhaust gases to prevent the cooling water intakes from freezing). The SIOUX's motor cutter, often to our discomfort, was the only boat constantly in running condition throughout the worst of the cold weather.
The monotonous routine of interdictory fire and illumination started the night we arrived. A ROK (Republic of Korea) patrol craft was put under our orders and in her we placed an officer and an armed backing-up party. It was their job to work close inshore, with the SIOUX standing about a mile-and-a-half off and providing illumination and harassing fire. This was almost a nightly task and resulted in the ship's company acquiring a completely blasé attitude toward gunfire. It was a common sight to see the hands sleeping peacefully in the foreupper with 'A" gun firing, or oblivious to the noise of 'B" gun when watching a movie in the wardroom or chief and petty officers' cafeteria.
As a result of steady, but not necessarily intensive gunfire, the interior of the ship forward once again became somewhat of a shambles. Messdeeks, cafeterias, wardroom and the captain's cabin all suffered from gunblast, with the first two taking the brunt of it. Light bulbs were going off like firecrackers. The second day was uneventful until about 1730. At that hour, as the SIOUX was passing between the mainland and an island, shore batteries opened up from a range of about two-and-a-half miles. The ship was at action stations, so a reply was soon on its way. There could be little avoiding action in the narrow channel and the ship had to run the gauntlet for more than 20 minutes as three enemy batteries handed the target from one to another. The SIOUX was straddled five times, one round landing close astern in the wake. It was not known whether our return fire did any damage. Rough and cold weather was our lot for the first week. This accounted for a variety of difficult situations.
The use of boats was hazardous and later was complicated further by having to navigate through heavy pan ice. Pointing the ship against wind and tide, to bring the guns to bear, resulted in dragging the anchor, on one occasion a distance of eight cables in a matter of minutes. Bringing the low freeboard ROK Navy vessels alongside almost invariably produced damage to one or both ships. The entire set of guard rails and stanchions on a ROK ship's forecastle snapped off clean when that vessel came up under our propeller guards, the extreme cold making the stanchions break like matchsticks. Conning the Korean ships by radar and voice sometimes produced an interesting situation, as their compasses were far from reliable. (It is of interest to note that it was quite possible to direct one of these ships by this method, through shoal waters, to an anchorage in a sheltered bay, right up to and including the order "let go.")
Heavy ice coming down from the Chinnampo River was viewed with mixed feelings. While it made conditions difficult for enemy invasion movements, it also prevented proper patrols being carried out and at times forced ships to leave their watching stations. Frequent checks of ice conditions between the islands and the mainland had to be made. An ice check by HMS MOUNTS BAY on a 'quiet" Sunday afternoon provided an interesting change. She proceeded through a channel close by an island, to observe the ice. Close behind was HMCS SIOUX, playing rapid tattoos on gun positions with her 4.7s. That Sunday was somewhat typical of the busy time we had in the first week of our patrol. One hundred rounds of 4.7 were fired. Action stations was rung an untotalled number of times. On three occasions, we suppressed enemy batteries firing on a friendly island. We anchored five times and weighed four, and twice lowered and hoisted the motor cutter. The next day the SIOUX was fired upon again but, as the shells were at least 1,000 yards short, little attention was paid to them. One sailor was heard to remark, "Hey, there's another couple of ruddy bricks! What time does the canteen open?' The following day saw the same batteries again open up on the SIOUX. This time the ship was in a more favorable position, for them, but again it was "close, but no cigar."
By February 8th, it was decided that it would be an excellent plan to blow the tops off houses suspected to be providing shelter for the enemy guns' crews. Air spot was provided from USS BADOENG STRAIT and 25 rounds out of 30 landed in the village. A few wrecked buildings, a fire, and a report from the aircraft, "Excellent shooting!", were the results. That same afternoon, history was made in the RCN: Canada acquired her second aircraft carrier when HMCS SIOUX provided a landing platform for a helicopter. Lee conditions prevented the use of boats to evacuate a patient from an island so helicopters were employed. One helicopter made two successful practice landings on the SIOUX prior to a second one, with the patient, landing on. Following this evolution, we were told by the Task Unit Commander that although we may have made lead carrier, we were not to expect an escorting screen.
Mail was a blessing on this patrol, a total of three deliveries being made. Incidentally, the difficulties of the Fleet Mail Office, Esquimalt, are realized and appreciated. The fact that mail took an average of ten days from mailing to its receipt in the operational zone is indeed a credit to those concerned with the dispatch and handling of mail for the RCN ships in Korean waters. On Friday, 8 February, the SIOUX fired a 21 gun royal salute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, using live ammunition and with the guns trained on enemy troop concentrations. The SIOUX'S cable parties weren't busy throughout this patrol, the ship anchoring and weighing 41 times. There is little doubt that the cable will require a survey after the strain placed on it by pointing ship, by 4.5-knot tides and by extreme strain from ice floes.
Our final night on patrol was not a quiet one. Shore batteries opened up on the ROK patrol craft carrying our armed party. These were engaged by the SIOUX in short order. At 0600, as a final gesture on leaving patrol, our last gun fired in anger propelled shoreward a practice shell bearing, in English and Korean, the inscription:"COMPLIMENTS OF HMCS SIOUX - OUR 3,566th SHELL."Finally, a few interesting statistics concerning the patrol: Cable party called - 82 times; Anchored - 41 times; Action Stations - 13 times; Motor cutter used - 11 times; Complaints - Nil.
PART OF SIOUX'S RECORD IN STATISTICAL FORM
The following statistics give some indication of the activities of HMCS SIOUX during the period 5 July 1950, to 8 March 1952. In that time the ship spent two months in Esquimalt refitting, two months in Hong Kong having defects made good and three weeks repairing typhoon damage in Japan.
Effective number of days on Special Force duty: 476 days
Number of days at sea: 394 days (or 82.8 percent)
Miles steamed: 113,000 (5.23 times around world)
Average speed for 476 days: 9.9 knots
Number of 4.7-rounds fired: 3,814
Number of close range rounds fired: 16,476
Rockets fired: 60
Small arms: 13,838
Number of mines destroyed: 11
Number of enemy targets engaged: 108
Number of drogues/drones shot down: 11
Times ammunitioned ship: 23
ENGINE ROOM BRANCH
Total oil fuel used: 22,162.35 tons
Number of times oiled at sea under way: 45
Total oil fuel transferred when oiling under way: 8,596.75 tons
Number of messages (all types) handled: 40,771
(but not including vast numbers copied but not deciphered)
Sick Bay calls: 4,019
Wounded Koreans: 15
HMCS SIOUX holds the Commonwealth record for miles steamed in one month - 10,978 miles in September 1951.
PRAISE FOR SIOUX
Vice-Admiral C. Turner Joy, Commander Naval Forces Far East dispatched the following message to HMCS SIOUX when, with two tours of duty completed, she left his command in mid-February:
"The consistently excellent performance of the SIOUX during her service with the United Nations forces in Korean waters has been typical of the high standards maintained by ships of the Canadian Navy. The contribution of this fighting ship is greatly appreciated."
[This article was reprinted in Sea Classics Magazine, March 2000. Original source unknown.]