|IROQUOIS had a rough beginning as a shortage of labour and material delayed her completion. She was the first of the Tribals to commission and was assigned to the 3rd Flotilla, Home Fleet. Off the Orkneys, in late 1942, her workups revealed weaknesses in the hull plating. Additional strengthening would be required. IROQUOIS returned from her first patrol off the Faroes with broken plating, twisted frames and a bent keel. The ship was dispatched to her builder Vickers-Armstrong, in order to have this damage repaired and by 30th January 1943, she was considered to be operational. Immediately IROQUOIS sailed to Canada. In the Halifax Shipyards, she was thoroughly examined to see what could be done to improve the construction of the Tribals that were being built in Canada.|
After workups were completed at Norfolk Virginia, IROQUOIS returned to Halifax for a pre-Korea refit on 15th March 1952. When storing and ammunitioning was completed, IROQUOIS left Halifax on 21st April and arrived in Sasebo Japan (via the Panama Canal) on 12th June that year. This was the first of two tours of duty for the ship. While in Korea, her main duties were to provide screening for aircraft carriers, attacking coastal defence batteries and destroying trains. IROQUOIS was the only Canadian destroyer to sustain casualties in Korea. During an exchange of fire with a shore-based North Korean artillery battery near Songjin, she sustained damage to the 'B' mounting on 2nd October 1952. The resultant explosion killed three of her crew, severely injured two and left eight others lightly wounded from splinters. In total, eight Canadian destroyers took part in the Korean theatre.
By 26th November 1952, her tour of duty was completed and she arrived back in Halifax on 8th January 1953. In June of that year, IROQUOIS returned to Sasebo together with HURON. This time the primary mission was coastal patrol on Korea's west coast. When the Korean war ended on 27th July 1953, IROQUOIS stayed behind to assist with evacuations. On New Year's Day 1954, she began her homeward voyage via the Mediterranean and arrived in Halifax on 10th February after having circumnavigated the globe. It was around this time period when IROQUOIS became the first ship in the RCN to host and amateur radio station under the call sign VE0NA.(For more information on this topic see the Related Sites section). After a short refit and a visit to Newfoundland, IROQUOIS was dispatched to Korea again on July 1st for patrol duties and returned home together with Huron on 19th March 1955.
The ships crest, depicted above was provided courtesy of John Clark, Point Claire Quebec. It's a reproduction of the one designed by the crew in 1943. The first attempt at putting the artwork on felt produced a painted effort on thin felt which was not too attractive. John gave a copy to the IROQUOIS Association and it should be in their official scapbook in Halifax. A second attempt resulted in an attractive crest in felt layers. There are a number still in existence and both John Clark and Tom Ingham have one in their possession. The only changes are to the head of the Indian, the details of which were lost in copying it from the original artwork to the felt painting. The colours are now closer to the original crest which faded considerably in the last 50 years. John figured it was time to refurbish and maybe preserve a little of our history. Tom Ingham is the only crew member who has seen this revived crest, so it will be interesting to note any remarks from other shipmates of G89. The word ONGWANONSIONNI on the crest means "we of the long house" in reference to a type of Indian shelter made from a frame of lashed branches and covered with bark.
The Iroquois Indians, for which the ship is named, were not a single tribe of Indians but consisted of a union of Iroquoian-speaking North American Indian peoples, originally composed of the SENECA, CAYUGA, ONONDAGA, ONEIDA, and MOHAWK Indians. Collectively, they were called the Iroquois League. The TUSCARORA became the sixth member of the league in the early 18th century. These tribes occupied a territory comprising what is now New York's Mohawk Valley and Finger Lakes region, bordered on the north by Lake Ontario and the Adirondacks and on the south by the Catskills and what today approximates the New York-Pennsylvania state line.
HMCS IROQUOIS now has a dedicated web page. Please select this
link for further information.