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B A T T L E F I E L D    K O R E A

MANNETT, David John, Lieutenant (3/35012),
3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, 1950

On 29 October 1950, 27 British Commonwealth Brigade was acting as advance guard to the 24 Division advance to the Yalu River. The 3rd Battalion, in conjunction with D Company, 89 Tank Battalion, was vanguard battalion. During the advance, the battalion was held up by a number of dug-in and camouflaged tanks supported by infantry on closely wooded high ground to the left of the road. The ground completely dominated the divisional axis of advance which, at this stage, was consigned to a mountain pass entering a small valley. At 1.30 p.m., after air strikes had accounted for five tanks, D Company, 3 RAR, was ordered to seize and hold the ground on which the enemy positions were located. The company plan was to send a platoon of tanks along the road to a point opposite the high ground. This was to be followed by a platoon of infantry commanded by Lieutenant Mannett mounted on a platoon of tanks with orders to turn off to the left of the road and secure the high feature near the road. D Company, less one platoon, was to move across the valley and secure the remainder of the high ground which consisted of two smaller features. The platoon of infantry under Lieutenant Mannett succeeded in securing the objective despite heavy opposition from enemy small arms and mortar fire. At this stage the remainder of the company was pinned down in a paddy field by small arms fire coming from its objectives. Lieutenant Mannett divided the fire of the platoon of tanks and his own platoon onto the other two platoons' objectives, thereby allowing the company to move. At this stage Lieutenant Mannett's platoon came under heavy mortar and small arms fire from a higher knoll to his right rear. Without tank support he swung his platoon onto this knoll, captured it and killed fifteen enemy infantrymen. At about 6.15 p.m. it was reported that the enemy was preparing to counter-attack Lieutenant Mannett's position and, at 7.00 p.m. the enemy launched its attack. The diggers sat fast in their fire trenches holding their fire until the enemy was extremely close. They then opened fire killing thirty-two enemy soldiers. At the time the counter-attack was launched about fifteen enemy attempted to infiltrate the position inside the platoon's perimeter. The remainder were destroyed outside. This action accounted for a total of forty-seven enemy soldiers killed and one wounded. It further secured the battalion area and the main axis of advance. The success of this platoon's operations that day was entirely due to the cool and efficient manner in which Lieutenant Mannett commanded his men. Had he not secured these positions, the brigade would not have been able to resume the advance the following day. The platoon's tactics provide an object lesson in platoon defence and effectively demonstrate how determined troops that are well dug-in can hold off a superior force by holding their fire till the last moment, despite simultaneous attacks from multiple directions.


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