Home' Navy News : December 6th 2012 Contents 18
December 6, 2012
ENGAGING in duels with tanks
and infantry isn't the normal
role of a Navy warship, but
it is one in which HMAS
Murchison made a name for herself
Murchison, in company with a
number of other Commonwealth war-
ships, made several incursions up the
Han River between North Korea and
China during the Korean War.
Former ordinary seaman Steve
Joyce, now 79, was the number one
loader on 'A' mount's left gun and
said the estuary needed to be chart-
ed because there were no bridges left
intact over the river.
"General Macarthur had the idea
of an amphibious invasion up the Han
River to cut off retreating Chinese and
North Korean armies," he said.
Murchison had only been in Korean
waters for two months when she made
her first foray up the river.
Mr Joyce said they saw two T-34
tanks, an ammo truck and about 20
enemy infantry soldiers.
"But a T-34 spotted us first and
fired on us so 'A' gun put two armour-
piercing rounds into the tank at a range
of a mile and the other T-34 took off,"
"We fired another 10 rounds and
got the truck and all the infantry."
On September 28, RADM George
Dyer, USN, boarded Murchison to see
how she operated in a shore bombard-
Mr Joyce said they were only
1800m off the north bank when they
were hit by small-arms and three-inch
"A three-inch mortar round hit the
port side hull and that was our first
hole in the ship," he said.
"We had no room to turn so we
dropped anchor and used the starboard
screw to turn us as the tide came in.
"Then both four-inch mounts and
all the Bofors guns fired on North
Korean infantry positions and wiped
them all out on our way back."
Two days later Murchison went
back for more. Mr Joyce said it was
quiet where they'd been fired on previ-
ously, but as they dropped anchor and
turned, someone noticed a haystack
that wasn't there before.
"Inside it was a T-34 tank so we hit
it with two rounds of armour-piercing,
then four rounds of star shells to set
the haystack alight," he said.
"As the crew climbed out the
Bofors opened up on them.
The Battle of the Han
"Then they hit us with five-inch
artillery, four-inch tank rounds, three-
inch mortars and heavy machine guns.
"We were holed six times above the
waterline, one by one the Bofors guns
shut down as the hydraulic lines were
cut by small-arms fire, and the motor
cutter and whaler were riddled."
Murchison's four-inch guns were
firing at a rate of 21 rounds a minute,
a rate of fire only surpassed by HMS
Amethyst, of Yangtze River fame, which
had managed 22 rounds a minute.
CO Murchison LCDR Allan
Dollard decided the ship couldn't wait
to lift anchor, so he ordered the cable
cut and the anchor left behind.
This incident became known as the
Battle of the Han.
Mr Joyce said Murchison rescued
a downed US airman from a minefield
on October 22, 1951.
"We later had a long boat come
alongside with a cylinder of ice cream
for the ship," he said.
"On another occasion we captured
a Chinese soldier, our only POW. "The
motor cutter was fired on by some
enemy soldiers, so the Bofors on the
ship replied and this bloke surrendered
to the boat crew."
After Murchison's last patrol before
returning to Australia in January 1952,
she received a signal from a British
admiral in the cruiser HMS Belfast.
The message read: "I dislike the
thought of continuing the war with-
out Murchison but I will now have to
accept it as fact."
During the Korean War, HMAS Murchison saw
action few Navy warships experience, SGT
Dave Morley reports.
FEARLESS: HMAS Murchison made a name for herself during the Korean War in a unique role.
Photo: Seapower Centre
Links Archive November 22nd 2012 January 31st 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page