The Sharp End
Now this had to be the very worst of regular positions, on a scale to 10
it would rate minus 3. This delightful little setting was overrun a number
of times, but happily not while in our care. We weren't the prettiest unit
around, but tended not to lose or misplace hills. This was a lower finger
of 355 and poked straight into the guts of Charlie's territory, it was
directly below 227 which was one of his strong points. They took great
delight in sniping us from there, they in well concealed bunkers whilst we
flittered up and down our very sad trench system.
As can be plainly noted from this photo, the area was constantly under
barrages of incoming mail. The very depressed looking trees bear witness
to that fact. Actually the whole of 355 was once a thriving greenery, and
it is again now in the year 2000.
During the night we would dig out the collapsed trenches and fighting
pits. Quite often Charlie would have them blown back in the very next day
which pleased us no end. Outposts here were 'hairy' jobs, Charlie often
sneaked up to try and snatch a prisoner. Not many of the lads dozed off as
you could guess.
The row of sandbags could well have been the roof of platoon HQ bunker,
placed on the blind side of the position. All of the bunkers in this
sector had very thick roofs from sheer necessity, they were hit so often
by Charlie's very accurate fire.
Every man who served here from November 51 until July 53 fully earnt his
pay. Their nerves were as tight as piano wires, the merest sound would
send them diving to the ground poste haste. For the uninitiated, a shell
or mortar screaming around isn't going to hit you. The one that is about
to land in your lap gives but a fraction of a 'swish' as it arrives. The
soldier with lightning reflexes can hit the deck at the same time and thus
survive. The fellow who was too slow usually became a mess, this was the
fate of the 'new chums' most often.
To travel up and down the messy trenches meant a low crouch, and very
quick paces. By about mid 52 the Chinese had become so accurate with their
mortars and mountain guns, they could literally land a projectile into a
fighting pit. This caused the men here to shift observation posts
frequently, if Charlie saw the glint of the binoculars in the sun then he
reacted quickly and efficiently.
The Australian platoon on this feature had to provide a 'flying patrol'
each night. They stood to fully armed and ready to go in the event one of
the patrols in disputed territory clashed with Charlie. That happened
often enough, but it was the price paid to keep them from our doorstep and