Remembering Korea: Roy Jardine

The infantrymen describes the front lines in 1952


HOMETOWN: Oliver, B.C.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice on July 27, Maclean’s teams up with the Historica-Dominion Institute to tell the tales of seven veterans of that brutal war.

Jardine describes the firepower used to fight Chinese soldiers:

Hill 159, where Jardine fought on the front lines

 I barely got to sleep and the guy from the turret, which—one of the drivers, I don’t know, or gunner or radio guy—came running in down the hill and into the bunker and got me up, he said, “The Chinese are attacking.” He didn’t know much about it but he knew they were attacking, so I beetled my backside up, got my boots on and rushed up the hill. It wasn’t very much of a hill, only a few feet, about 30, 40 feet, and into the tank, got the gunner in there, got him organized and he, the infantry was on the 300 set [SCR300 backpacked radio]. We had numbered targets out in front, we called them DFs, Defensive Fire targets.

Infantry was saying that, they said, “They’re all over the place.” I said, “Well, fire on all the DFs, put three rounds gunfire on everyone.” So we did that and sat there and pounded away with the old 76 [76mm main gun on M4A3E8 Sherman tank]. And then the next thing I know, there’s a little infantry officer alongside the turret, God knows how he got there, I don’t know, it was not that easy to do in the dark. He said, “The Chinese are coming up that little draw in front of your tank,” he said, “you’d better put some fire down there right in front of your tank,” he said, “they could be on top of you.” So I got busy, got up on the 50 cal, I couldn’t get the big 76 millimetre, I couldn’t make it depress far enough. We could depress it but not far enough to ensure that we could use it if they got really close. So we thought we’d better, I thought I’d better get the gunner to pepper it with the 30 cal [.30-calibre machine gun]. He could use the traverse for that. And I would take the 50 cal and see if I could see anything out there in the dark. We had artificial moonlight on the clouds, the Americans had these great anti-aircraft searchlights shining on the clouds above us and it made it like daylight almost down below. Like moonlight, anyway. So I got busy and burned out both my barrels by the time I finished. We had lots of 50 cal ammunition, the Americans had left a big bunch of it in a bunker beside us there. And we were using that by the time we finished. And both barrels on my 50 cal were gone, couldn’t use it anymore, and that was the end of the battle, by then, anyways. I was kind of glad they were gone because I didn’t have to fire it. It’s a terrible thing to have to stand up and fire when everybody can see you.

The FOO [Forward Observation Officer] had called in corps artillery. I have no idea how many guns that is. That’s three or four regiments of artillery firing. On a company position, one grid square would do it, you know, 1,000-metres squared. But they fired and I’ll tell you, there was a lot of rounds going over our head. We had them pre-igniting over our head, some of those contact, proximity fuses they were using, World War II types that been invented. And they were exploding overhead, the odd one. And you’d get some of the shrapnel down around you, it didn’t matter where you were, they just spread it out, you know, because there’s nothing there to stop it from going. And we had that bizarre thing there, the Chinese did fire at us with small arms but I guess they were afraid to come up too close to that tank of mine. Because we had the 76 and we had the 30 cal and we had the 50 cal. I mean, that’s pretty heavy duty for infantry to come against with nothing but two-inch mortars. That’s all they had.

The full version of this post first appeared as part of the Historica-Dominion Institute’s Memory Project.

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