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The Memory Project: Don Jatiouk

Don Jatiouk (Navy) of Alliston, ON served onboard HMCS Nootka, which was a Canadian naval vessel that patrolled the Korean coast during the war, conducting barrages on the Korean coast to halt supplies as well as protection and surveillance duties.


 

Don Jatiouk (Navy) of Alliston, ON served onboard HMCS Nootka, which was a Canadian naval vessel that patrolled the Korean coast during the war, conducting barrages on the Korean coast to halt supplies as well as protection and surveillance duties. He was a radar operator and was the individual who spotted a North Korean minelayer vessel and warned the captain before the ship struck one of the mines. The incident was unique in Korean War history because the Nootka engaged the minesweeper and captured the ship and crew save for the captain who was shot and killed. This marked the only confirmed North Korean vessel to be captured by UN forces during the Korean War. He also recounts the Nootka being attacked by Chinese shore batteries, saving stricken vessels and using deck guns to repel what was likely an attempted Chinese invasion of an island.

[audio http://www.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Jatiouk_Don-EDIT.mp3]

EXCERPT:

It was early morning, oh, it was probably around mid-July 1952 and we got an urgent message from our South Korean patrol craft, that she had ran aground on rocks off of they called a Haejuman, sort of a gulf heading up into the Korean peninsula. And she was sinking. We were on patrol at the time in that particular area and of course, we went to her rescue. Now, the operation required that we save the ship from sinking and also we were well within range of any shore batteries [shore based guns which targeted naval vessels] that were in the area. And taking into consideration that we would be a standing target for a number of hours, it was necessary that we bring in backup. There was a British cruiser in the same patrol area called HMS Belfast, she was a big cruiser, a heavy cruiser with eight inch guns and I think she had eight inch.

Anyways, with her onsite within a mile of the operation, we were able to send our damage control party onboard this South Korean patrol craft and it was really funny to watch them throwing everything overboard, ammunition, all food supplies of all sorts all went into the water to lighten it as much as possible, even removed one of the guns and threw it overboard. And they were able to patch up the hole in the ship enough so it would stay afloat.


 
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