|Lieutenant George, Sixa Platoon|
I have only met one George, that was probably enough; but I wouldn't have missed the experience for quids. He came to six platoon early 1952, K Force volunteer and an ex member of the Free Polish Airborne, who fought at Arnheim during the troubles there. Won himself the highest ‘gong' his military awarded for bravery, during that dispute with the German forces. Earnt it on his own to, no group of men doing the job for him. That was George.
His Polish name sounded like some terrible disease to we Diggers, none could get their tongue around it; in frustration he shouted one day. "Just call me George". And so we did from then on.
Soon after he arrived in our shell shocked midst, we learnt that here was no shrinking violet; no man to lead from the rear. Instead we had a platoon commander that was tougher than most of us, more uncouth in speech, and always spoiling for some action. He was a revelation was our George.
Many the patrol our fearless leader took out, none of this leaving it to the Plt. Sgt. caper, as was sometimes the case. Many the nightmares he caused us cautious Digs during these romps in the paddy fields, probably gave the Chinese a pain in the backside as well!
Many the tale I could tell of George during our twelve months together, I shall let others perhaps do him more justice than can I. This tale I must pass on though, it still makes me laugh and wonder after all these years past.
'Twas in the Samichon Valley around perhaps September, that matters little, the date could have been yesterday for all I care. Alas the enemy had decided to launch an attack this night, one of the patrols from 3RAR had the dire misfortune to be in their way; and though they caused the attack to be aborted; they paid a terrible price for their stubborn defense.
The decision was taken by some higher authority on our team, that another patrol should be placed on exactly the same tiny knoll, where our mates had strove so valiantly the night before. I cannot swear to this, but we always thought George might have kindly offered the services of sixa platoon. What army has a sixa platoon in its ranks you may ask? Well B Company 3RAR did, that was the closest George could get to saying six. Thus to the battalion we became just that, SIXA platoon.
Just on last light we ventured forth, perhaps sixteen strong as I recall, usual size for a ‘Fighter Patrol'. As well, a number of three man reccy patrols scattered about the valley, theirs not to fight and die, look, listen, and report was their onerous task. It can be a lonely and worrying job, ask those who performed them how it felt.
Thus we arrive at our designated point in the valley, and set up position on this pimple of a hill, I think the termites in Northern Australia create bigger mounds! The company Sgt.. Major had somehow inveigled his way onto our strength; he was of Chinese ancestry I must add. Just what would have happened to him if captured, doesn't bare thinking about. He was a gutsy Digger.
We did not have to wait long for a report of approximately two hundred Chinese chaps, coming in our general direction. One of the recce teams had performed a VERY quick count, before discreetly bolting. I can't speak for the others, but I was wishing some higher authority would order us away, they didn't alas. The other recce lads were by this time shadowing the Chinese, and reporting the bad news, which was that they were almost upon us.
One can only assume that our recce people were too close to the opposition, to risk calling the big guns down upon them! Thus we sat and sweated; it wasn't a hot night either. Then there they were, at the bottom of our pimple and looking as though they were aware of our presence; they began to fan out for a rush I guess!
Suddenly up stood George, and at the top of his voice shouted."Come up and fight you bastards, I have ze sixateen men here, ze three Bren guns and thirteen Owens; come up and fight". Hard to say who was the most shocked, Charlie or we, but the whole place stopped still. Then the CSM leapt to his feet and tried to pull George to the ground and shut him up, he was shaken off with ease; and the bull like challenge roared out again.
For some reason I had taken a combat shovel with me that night, the only time ever on a patrol. Let me assure you it began to get some serious use, here I am franticly digging a hole and watching Charlie at the same time, the other Diggers around were looking at me with envy I think!
For Lord knows how long, the fellows down below us seemed fixed in a state of shock, much like we were. Then instead of overwhelming our tiny group, they dispersed into the night and headed back home. None on our side could ever know for certain, but it was commonly thought that perhaps their commander believed it was a trap of some type. Whatever the case, George on his own caused about two hundred Chinese troops to break off their planned attack, without firing one bullet.
I honestly believe that given his way, George would have pursued them, but he would have done so alone. When the HQ. people were convinced Charlie had dispersed and left the area, we sad and nerve wracked lot were called in. I was never privy to the de-briefing, but it must have been interesting, we had what could best be described as an unusual patrol.
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