Chapter 25



Service Details

Tom Hamilton completed two tours of Korea, the first in HMAS WARRAMUNGA1952, and the second in HMAS SYDNEY (1953-54). His long service in the Australian DefenceForce includes RAN February 1946 to October 1957. RAN Fleet Reserve November 1959 toOctober 1964. CMF service October 1963 to March 1966. ARA service March 1966 to March 1972and again CMF service from March 1972 to October 1987. He also had service as WarrantOfficer Discipline (W.O.D.) with the RAAF Air Training Corps, and as an Officer of Cadetswith Army Cadets. His Service Medals include the NGSM (Mine-sweeping), British Korea, UNKorea, RAFR Long Service and Good Conduct, National Medal.


In 1952, HMAS "WARRAMUNGA" soon found out that her mainoperational area was to be the Songin-Chongin area of North Korea, with the task ofblockade and bombardment of the coast and also targets of opportunity. Chongin harbour ishorse shoe shaped, with a light house on the northern end which was used as an observationpost by the North Korean forces. As a result we had little hope of sneaking in for a bitof a "shoot-up" and sneaking out again. The Commo (Chinese forces) guns wereplaced on railway trolleys and backed into the tunnels dug into the hillside. This meantthat we had to wait until they came out and had a shot at us before we could shoot back.So began our "Coaxing Runs". This meant that as we passed the light house wewould fire a few shots at it then reduce speed to just enough to keep way on. This wassupposed to present a very tempting target to the gunners. All hands keeping a very sharplookout for the blink of light on the shore that meant they had fired and a shell was onits way to you, and then we could pinpoint the gun and shoot back. On our slow cruisearound the harbour we would fire at known enemy gun positions in the hope they would stayinside.

On Monday 19th May 1952 HMAS WARRAMUNGA, in company with USS (UnitedStates Ship) DOYLE escorted Minesweepers into Chongin. The sweepers were working veryclose inshore for several hours and the temptation was too much for one Red Gunner and hehad a shot at them. As soon as one gun fired the rest joined in, this meant that shellswere coming from all sides. "DOYLE" was closer inshore than us and started tolay down a massive barrage from every gun she had. "WARRAMUNGA" headed in toplace herself between the sweepers (mine sweepers) and the main guns. The weepers laiddown a smoke screen and started heading out. Once they had passed WARRAMUNGA, our Skipperput us at full speed astern, this stopped us from making a much larger target than if wehad turned broadside to the guns. DOYLE was still firing from her stern guns and she wasfast becoming a hazard to us and the sweepers, so our Skipper asked them to cease firing.After what seemed to be forever to me, and being straddled time and again, we broke clearof the harbour and headed for YANGDO Island where we spent our nights between the Islandand the mainland to prevent the many angry men ashore from attacking the weather stationon the Island. After clearing and cleaning our guns we realised that the youngest lad onour gun crew had been hit in the leg by a bit of shrapnel. This started an immediatesearch for piece of iron for a souvenir. One lad picked up a chipping hammer and gave oneof our life rafts a whack and yelled out that he had found a large piece of metal. At thistime one of our young officers borrowed a seaman's knife and began cutting his way intothe raft for his bit of iron. He was not amused when he finally got the message, he wasbeing had.

Commander J M Ramsay, Commanding Officer of HMAS WARRAMUNGA was awardedthe Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and the America Legion of Merit. We were also toldthat as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet we had been awarded the South Korean Presidential UnitCitation but due to rules and regulations we were not permitted to accept and wear it.Still it was nice to know we had been appreciated.

A Day on Duty in Sasebo - Tuesday 5th June 1952

Young "Tom's" duty began at 1130 hours (11.30 am) when theSkipper cleared lower deck and told the crew that the Peace Treaty had been ratified withJapan and that if anyone got into trouble ashore, they would be handled by the JapanesePolice and not the Naval Shore Patrol. He added "If you want to thump someone, comeback on board and thump the duty Quarter Master". As young Tom knew he would be onthe Gangway between 2000 hours (8 PM) and 2359 hours he would be the one to be thumped, sohe thanked the Skipper very much. All went well until 2130 hours when one of the Americanships thought they had seen an Aircraft that should not have been there, so they soundedthe "Air raid" alarm. This caused all other ships to sound sirens, hooters, bangsymbols and make many other noises. The hardest part of young Tom's job was to convincethe Officer of the Day and the few crew still on board that he had not sneaked ashore fora gutful of Kirin Beer. Feeling very heroic he dashed up to his "action station"and discovered that one sailor could not man two 40mm Bofors, One 4 inch gun and one eightbarrelled pom pom, so he was very happy when the all clear was sounded. At the gangway,the Duty Officer is usually close at hand but out of sight, just in case one of the crewwas to do what the Skipper had suggested and throw a punch. To hit an Officer is worththree years in the cast iron cottage, but to hit a Quartermaster is only worth extraduties, at sea usually, as we spent most of our time there. As was expected the pass wordof the returning liberty men was "the Skipper said I could thump theQuartermaster". Fortunately most of the them were either too full or only kidding soyoung Tom did not have too many bad moments. Once the last liberty man was safely tuckedin hammock the Officer of the Watch came out and said "Well done young Tom", andhe too headed for his hammock after another duty day.

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