Philip G. Bissell (Navy) of Rossland, BC served as Gunnery Officer aboard the HMCS Sioux on one of its tours of duty in Korean waters. Bissell ordered the successful shelling of an enemy train assembly point at in the well-known assault at Wonsan in 1951, during which he used an aircraft spotter for the first time to locate the target. He also discusses the damage that Typhoon Ruth caused to both the Sioux and the Australian aircraft carrier, HMAS Sydney III, when the ships ventured out of Sasebo, Japan in fall 1951. Bissell had a long career in the Royal Canadian Navy.[audio https://www.macleans.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Bissell_Philip_SOK-EDIT.mp3]
One of the things was to—to make the Chinese and the North Koreans tired. We knew where they were, roughly, and just banging away at guns, at specific distances, caused them not to sleep. And that made a difference. Sometimes we were the mother ship for small units, small boats. They would come and join us and then we would guide them out in the dark. And then when they got near where we wanted them, we would tell them to standby and we would light up the sky with star shell [type of flare to provide night-time illumination] and they were right very close to the Chinese trying to wade across from island to island when the tide was out. So they had a 40-millimetre gun and as soon as our star shell set off, they could see them, so they would shoot them up. That happened about four times and we always put an officer onboard that had radio contact in English.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.