On 30 July, 1950, the three Canadian destroyers Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux arrived at Sasebo, Japan, under orders to join the United Nations forces fighting in Korea. Under the conditions that existed in the Korean theatre during almost the entire period of active hostilities, it would often have been most inconvenient to maintain the three Canadian destroyers as a single operational formation, and hence it came about that seldom did HMC ships there operate as a division under their own divisional commander.
Necessary as this arrangement may have been, it makes things rather awkward for the historian. When writing of the role of the Royal Canadian Navy in the Korean operations, instead of dealing with the activities of a single force, he must perforce, if he aspires to completeness, tell the stories of all the individual ships. Such a history would be very long and often, it must be admitted, exceedingly tedious, since much of the destroyers’ time was taken up in entirely uneventful escort duties, carrier screening and inshore patrol missions. One way of solving the problem would be to make the history episodic in nature, consisting of a series of descriptions of the more noteworthy episodes in which our ships were involved. But interesting as some of the episodes might be, even a very large number of anecdotes strung together would not constitute a history of the Royal Canadian Navy’s destroyers in Korea.
The logical solution of the difficulty, and the one that has been adopted, is to compromise. In the following pages an attempt will be made to provide, within the framework of a general account of the main conflict, both an episodic account of the activities of the individual destroyers, including a proportion of the routine operations, and a general outline of the history of the Destroyer Division itself.
This history of the Canadian destroyers in Korea is primarily an operational history, but of course it has been necessary to mention on occasion such aspects as administration and logistics. These features have however been kept as much as possible in the background, and this in spite of the fact that a small naval force operating at a great distance from its home bases is inevitably faced with many problems which would not be encountered, at least in so acute a form, under ordinary conditions of service.
But one very important feature of RCN activities in Korean waters cannot be entirely neglected, and that is the problem of supply. The difficulties caused by a shortage of certain radar or sonar parts or the lack of a particular nut or bolt usually loomed much larger than such administrative problems as pay, discipline and drafting. A short chapter on Canadian naval logistics in the Far East has therefore been written and is included as an appendix.
The completed manuscript was read by a large number of persons, most of them naval officers who served in the Korean theatre, and to these we owe a large debt. Their constructive criticisms have appreciably decreased the number of errors both of fact and interpretation in the book. Those errors that remain are of course the sole responsibility of the authors.
Because the officers to whom we are indebted are so very many, it is impracticable to list them all. But the fact that we do not thank them by name does not mean that our gratitude to them is the less.
We thank also our colleagues and the clerical staff in the Naval Historical Section for the help they have given.
THOR THORGRIMSSON, Naval Historical Officer.
E. C. RUSSELL, The Naval Historian.
Naval Historical Section,
Discussions related to the conflict between North Korea and South Korea that took place from 1950 to 1953.
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The history of the Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters, 1950-1955 can be downloaded from http://www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca/dhh-dhp ... orea_e.pdf as a PDF.