young Australians played in it. To read it is to feel proud. The author has assembled the citations of the twelve Battle Honours from the thousands of encounters from the Yalu to Pusan and back, Kapyong, Kowang San, Maryang San and The Samichon as well as those of the ninety-nine soldiers who received imperial and American awards for bravery; he has also included the list of the ninety-seven others who were mentioned in dispatches. It has been a painstaking process, an obvious labour of love, and there is about the citations themselves a remarkable freshness, a battlefield authenticity.
Obviously, this is a book about heroism, and some of the acts of heroism chronicled here are truly awesome. By their nature they belie comparative assessments; all of the Battle Honours encapsulate the courage, determination and mateship of the Regiment in battle, but some of the decorations possess a singularity that separates them from others. Captain Henry Nicholls, a company commander, became the only officer in the regiment to win a second Military Cross; Sergeant William Rowlinson, in charge of a platoon, received the Regiment's only bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal; and Private Albert White, a Bren gunner, was the only soldier to win a second Military Medal. Private Horace Madden was awarded a posthumous George Cross, the only one given to the Regiment, for his selflessness and consistent bravery as a prisoner of the Chinese. Sergeant Tom Murray, a drum major when he wasn't in battle, received a George Medal-again the only one issued to the regiment-after he dived into icy cold, deep water from the Broken Bridge at Pakchon to rescue a wounded stretcher patient.
It sounds so simple, that last sentence. But it really doesn't do Murray's behaviour justice. I was privileged to serve with 3 RAR as a war correspondent during the punishing winter of 1950-51, and happened to be in the vicinity that night. Murray had first demonstrated great courage during the battle that took place across the river, tending wounded under fire; then later he supervised the evacuation of wounded across the bridge, which had a collapsed span. Unable to take his stretcher cases up the makeshift ladder that troops had scaled on the way across, he rigged up a pulley system that enabled his team to tow relays of casualties in a small boat across the water, which was flowing swiftly, rising fast and quite freezing. As he did so he was exposed again to sniper fire. Later, when the boat grazed a pylon and sank, tipping out a serious stretcher case, he plunged into the river and hauled the wounded man around fifteen metres to safety. Neither man could have lasted much longer in that water. After treatment for exposure, Murray returned to duty.
So many examples of bravery recorded in the book were of such a nature. They were performed in a context of almost instinctive behaviour that the principals thought was normal-nothing more than they were expected to do-but which was, in fact, truly inspirational.
The author and editors are to be commended on their compilation of this volume. It is a significant contribution to the records of Australians at war, and particularly to the proud history of the Royal Australian Regiment. It also serves another fine purpose: it shines a small torch in a dark corner and, in doing so, hopefully makes the Korean War just a little less forgotten.
Harry Gordon, CMG, AM
1 June 2006