KOREAN WAR DIARY
2/400383 Pt. P. J. Knowles, "A" Coy 3Bn RAR
Trials and Tribulations
On being selected to join the draft to Korea from R.H.U. at Hiro, I thought I had won the lottery, little did I know what we had to go through just to reach 3rd Battalion.
The date was the 10/2/51. We were issued with cold weather gear that was too small, (the smart ass stooge behind the counter wouldn't open another crate), tin hat, bandoleer of ammo and a tin of Bully Beef. The tin hat and the bully being promptly thrown into the creek by most of the draft, except the author who promptly shoved the bully into his overcoat pocket.
The draft then proceeded to Iwokuni and then by air to Korea. In flight the plane was diverted via Nagasaki, so we had a bird's eye view of what was left of that city. Then on to Taegu, or all that was left of the airfield. As we circled the airfield we witnessed what was once the South Korean Air Force, Mustangs were splattered all around the mountains.
The next things that caught our eyes were the 20 inch ruts in the runways. I thought to myself, "There is no way we are going to land there today." Wrong! Down we came with a heart wrenching thud that promptly reminded me as to why the DC3's were called the work horses of the armed forces. I should point out that these 20 inch ruts were snap frozen by the minus 27 degree temperature.
After about an hour's wait in the 12ft x 12ft wooden waiting room/control tower, the draft was collected by three Canadian trucks and we headed north towards Seoul. By dusk that day we had reached the 3rd Battalion "F" Echelon, where the C.S.M. greeted us with the news that there were no rations for us. He also wanted a 50/50 guard all night as things were dicey in the area. A Middle East veteran and a DCM winner in our draft took him aside. He explained the facts of life and the guard was down graded to one man per truck. I then proceeded to eat my tin of bully beef all by myself despite the looks from the bright sparks who had thrown theirs away.
I should point out that the snow in this area was from one to eight feet deep. The "F" Echelon personnel slept in the three Korean houses and did not provide one guard, while we had to remain in the trucks. At about 2000 hours the truck I was in started rolling down the hill gathering speed quite quickly. Most of us bailed out but one brave soul hopped into the cabin of the truck and stopped it. The original driver had left the truck out of gear, the cold weather had shrunk the brake drums and away it went. The other trucks then towed it up to the top of the hill where we spent the night trying to sleep on its steel floor.
Next day we proceeded north again. The landscape was white, white and white! After about six hours we discovered we were lost, but after a while came across a 29th Bde Echelon.
Here we dismounted from the trucks and the Canadian drivers asked the Poms if we could have a feed. "No way," came the reply. "You are not on ration strength." The drivers then explained that our draft had not eaten for two days and we were bloody cold. "No", came the answer again. "You are not on ration strength." Six of us then proceeded to cock our weapons and place them on the counter. The cooks then agreed to provide a meal, but after about half an hour we became suspicious that no meal had been prepared. We then ventured into the mess hall to find a large dixie sitting on the counter. On looking into it we saw half an inch of FAT and, underneath, what in better days had been corn beef and collies. GREAT ALLIES!
We then continued north and finally reached the battalion at dusk. Next day we moved up to 614.
Hills 614 to 410, March 1951
We were in support of B&D Company's efforts to take objective 614.
The forward, or northern, face of our position was covered with at least 18" of ice and about 4" of snow. Living conditions were similar to living in a deep freeze.
Machine guns had to be fired every hour to avoid freezing. After eight days of this we were issued with overboots. On the ninth day we moved off along this mountain in a westerly direction. We had moved about three hundred yards when we came to a valley on our right, it was a most beautiful sight, completely covered with snow and a sprinkle of pine trees. Being a small valley it had a back drop of mist at the end. It looked like a stage setting. I said to one of the boys "Fancy coming to a dump like this to see a scene like this."
We made our way further a few hundred yards to find out the reason for the overboots, we walked into snow up to our knees. After six paces everyone threw the overboots away. Trying to extract your feet from the snow was exhausting work, we thin walked/marched for quite some hours knee deep in snow.
By this time our minds became blank to time.
The night before the attack, 1 and 3 platoons assembled at the top of a mountain about 2000 yards opposite the objective we were to take. We arrived at about 2300 hrs. While waiting to move off, we were informed that a reconnaissance party from Bn H.Q. had looked at the slope we were to descend and believed it was ok to scale down.
It turned out that the face of the mountain was sheer ice.
At 2400 hrs we were directed to move off. The first two soldiers to step on the slope promptly fell on their backsides and slid down the mountain and quickly vanished from view.
Major O'Dowd said "Well, we have to follow", or words to this effect. We then proceeded to sit down on the edge and push ourselves off. We slid down at a terrific speed. Within seconds you were looking for something to grab to break up your speed, in most cases it was a sapling where you paused for a few seconds. You would then be hit in the back by another soldier unable to stop himself, so this went on till we reached the bottom of the hill which as stated was about 410 meters or 1300 feet. The two mountains appeared to be the same height.
On reaching the assembly point, we were advised we might lay down and have a sleep (and pigs might fly, the snow in that position was about 6' deep. The ice underneath?)
At day break which was about 0600 hrs we got ourselves organised ready for the attack. It quickly became broad daylight and we thought we would be moving any minute. Finally at 0700 we were directed to "Move off". Then a strange incident occurred. Not a soul moved. After about a minute I noticed most of the men took their private out and had a widdle. I said to one old hand "What's going on?" He replied "That's what you call a nervous piss."
We then moved across the valley floor and ascended 410. About halfway up we walked into a deadly machine gun crossfire which cut the leading group of 1 ptn down like nine pins. We then fell flat onto the ground where the Chinese poured machine gun fire at us for about 15 mins with what seemed unlimited ammunition. There we sustained further casualties, mainly head and shoulders. All that saved the rest of us was a slight rise in the ground in front of us. The next fifteen minutes the Chinese gunner gave us a good spray every 5 mins. Needless to say, all we could do for the rest of the day was to lay where we were.
About 1000 hrs a soldier next to me said "Have a go at what is behind us." On looking around there was a column of soldiers heading west. At first we thought they were Chinese, but they turned out to be South Koreans who were supposed to carry out the "Out Flanking" movement and were going in the wrong direction.
The Company Commander then called for mortar support from the American 4.2" The Sighter round came pretty close to target, so the Americans then sent in 2-4 round round brackets of H.E. The first bracket fell right amongst 1 ptn. "Bennie" called for a "Cease Fire" but too late. The second bracket was on its way. They also fell amongst us, fortunately only 1 wounded.
We were then informed that it was difficult to bed the mortars down in the snow.
Later we were told that "D" Coy would carry out the "Out Flanking movement" as the South Koreans who were to do it had got lost.
And so we lay on that frozen ground till 1600 hrs, by that time "D" Coy had achieved its objective. We then dug in for the night and were directed to go back a section at a time to our assembly point and retrieve our packs that we were ordered to leave behind. Only to find they had been ratted by the South Koreans.
The Taking of the Village of Chisan - 3RAR - 11.3.'51
Chisan was one of those actions that seemed to go unnoticed, yet it was a day of surprises and lessons.
This small village was nestled at the bottom of a mountain in a very mountainous area. The day began for us in "A" Coy placed on a ridge about 50ft high 675 yards from the target. 2 Vickers were placed on the left flank, 6 Brens were spread over the rest of the ridge. At 0900 hours all machine gunners were directed to fire as many rounds as possible into the village. This went on for 15 minutes. Within 2 minutes the Chinese replied with 60mm mortar fire. Their method was interesting, the mortar man would place one round 15ft in front of a machine gunner, the second round 15ft behind the same weapon and the third round on target or very close, knocking out some of the M/G's. The last machine gunner had a close shave, the mortarman dropped one in front and one to the back and never fired again. Probably out of ammunition.
Whilst the M/G fire was proceeding, a platoon of "A" Coy made its way down the ridge towards the village. When the machine gun fire ceased, a bayonet charge on the village commenced but they were soon stopped in their tracks by the Chinese M/G crossfire. The troops held their ground whilst "C" Coy carried out an out flanking movement. It appears the 6th ROK Division had failed to play its part once more. The Chinese decamped, leaving behind 30 dead.
On completion of this operation, we were directed to assemble on the road and await transport to the next position. We had no sooner reached the road when a "Daily Telegraph" reporter came up to us and said, "Say, that was a neat action, how about a story?" General reply, "Get nicked". He said, "Come on guys, I've been here two weeks this time, and if I don't file a story soon, I'll get the bullet. How about making out a two-up game is in progress and I'll have to settle for a photo."
So one of the boys said "Well, if I'm going to toss one we may as well make it worth while." So next thing you know we have a full blown to-up game on the road. Fifteen minutes pass and a column of 20 American tanks appear down the valley heading for us. Another 10 minutes and the tanks are upon us. Much blowing of horn and verbal abuse distracts our attention from the game to witness an American Major half out of the tank turret, losing his cool and waving his .45.
Having got out attention, he yells out "Say, if you guys don't move I'll shoot", whereupon one of our Bren gunners cocks his weapon and points it at the Major and says, "You pull that trigger and it will be the last thing you'll ever do, mate." The Major holsters the .45 and dismounts the tank and says, "What a way to run a war, where's your headquarters?" One of the boys replied "Up there somewhere." Five minutes later, he t=returns with one of our Captains who said, "Would you men mind moving to the side of the road?" We did.
A Rest Area In Korea
After 4 weeks in the mountains in Korea, Feb-March'51, which included 3 actions 614 - 410 - Chisan, the 3rd Battalion was pulled out of the line. We were taken to a rest area called Chipyong-Ni. The usual routine bath, feed, card games, movie. After 3 days of intensive relaxation, the Powers That Be decided we needed some more training.
We were sent on a forced Route March. In the process, we passed through a farm that contained a cow and calf, they didn't appear to have an owner. That night, two jeep loads of the boys went back to the farm and borrowed the cow and calf, as it so happened we had 5 tradesmen butchers in our company. They quickly cut the animals up into steaks and left them hanging in the trees to bleed.
Next morning, two truck loads of South Korean Provosts arrived, for some reason they stopped in "A" Coy area. There were 30 Lieutenants and one Captain. The 2ic of the Battalion came up and said "the Koreans had the right to search the area."
The Captain blew his whistle for assembly. As they fell back to the road one Lieutenant had a grin from ear to ear. The Captain formed his platoon up on the road and asked them if anyone had found any evidence of the stolen cattle. As he asked the question, 5 of "A" Coy bods who happened to be sitting on the embankment on the side of the road happened to place their weapons on their laps. It was pathetic to see that grin disappear off the Provo's face.
And so they departed. Empty handed.
The Quarrie, early April, '51
January 1951 the Chinese and North Korean forces were forced to make their way back to North Korea by way of mountain tracks.
UN Command ordered 3 RAR to follow them along these same tracks along the centre of the Korean Peninsula where we spent 25 days in the mountains and 5 days rest on the flat. This story is about one part of our 25 day trek.
One morning at 0530hrs, from the top of a small mountain about 400 meters high, we made our way across a broad valley stopping only once for 15 minutes for a meat break at 1200 hrs. We marched 9 hours until we reached the base of our objective, which was about 600 metres high.
There were bets on how long it would take to climb it, the average was 2.5 hours. By calculation it was about 600 minutes. We started to climb the moment we arrived. By 2000 hrs everything came to a dead stop. It had rained early that morning, the spur we were attempting to climb was grassy and wet with no usual path to follow, result we could get no footing at all. The Company Commander urged us to keep going. We did, one pace forward and two paces backward. We made it to the top at 0230 hrs next day.
We were allocated fighting positions, mine was a scrape in the ground 12 inches deep and 5 foot 6 inches long and full of water. I laid down in it and went to sleep. The next morning at 0500hrs we were ordered to go to the crest of the mountain to give the Americans support as they were going to attack a position about 60 metres below us and about 600 metres north. At 0530hrs we saw a company (100) of Americans make their way up the west slope. About 12 metres from the crest 3 Chinese in a fighting pit opened up with a machine gun and proceeded to spray the Americans who dropped their weapons and took off, leaving their dead and wounded behind.
Our Company Commander contacted the general of the American Division, who asked that we retrieve their wounded and dead.
A section of 1 platoon proceeded to the battle site, captured the three Chinese, and brought back 2 American stretcher cases.
On section, 1 platoon was ordered to take the Americans down the east side of the mountain. We picked up the stretchers, I took one look down, it was so steep I thought I was going to fall over it. We soon realized that we would have to pay attention to the stretcher and ignore the scenery. We reached the bottom after about 2 1/2 hours. The mountain was so steep that 2 men had to hold the stretcher over their heads and the other two at their feet. The soldier we were carrying had been shot thru the chest, but the bullet had not exited his back. He moaned all the way down.
On reaching the bottom, we were in a sandstone quarry, sandstone blocks were stacked to one side. Looking back up the mountain, I estimate the angle of descent to be 89 degrees. We turned the American around on the stretcher and I said "See that mountain we just carried you down? It's the biggest god damned mountain I've seen in Korea." It did look impressive.
Having loaded the stretchers on the ambulance jeep, we were ordered to get back to our company in a hurry. Assuming they were expecting an attack, we made our way back as quick as possible. On arriving back we were ordered to saddle up. As we were moving out, where did we go? Straight down the track we had just ascended, where we were told that our rations and water would be late, as the ration train could not keep up with us.
Trucks then arrived and took us to another position, arriving at 1700hrs. We were told to make ourselves scarce, make no noise, no fires as we were going to attack this mountain at midnight. Thank Christ no one was there, as we were so tired the Chinese could have blown us over with their bad breath.
At 0130hrs our ration train arrived, one corporal and six Korean porters. The Company Commander ordered the boxes open and declared that the food was cold and not fit for his men and told them to take it back.
We were so hungry we would have eaten cold dog food.
A Rough Road to Panmunjom
In 1991 whilst on a revisit to Korea, we were taken to see 3 RAR's old positions on the Imjin River. From there, we returned to Seoul via the city of Uijongbu. One of the boys remarked that a road to the east at a particular intersection lead to Kapyong.
This reminded me of a three day Sojourn we were once involved in.
The Battalion had been in operations in the Kapyong Valley area in late March, early April 1951 on this occasion. We embussed on to trucks early one morning and were told we were going to the west coast to take the city of Kaesong, as the Americans couldn't take it !! We were driven quite some miles south till we reached the Pukhan River, then it all happened. The thaw had set in, the road following the river had completely broken up and the trucks were up to their axles in mud. Maximum speed was about 2mph. The trucks lurched, groaned and bumped unmercifully for about 9 hours straight, no toilet or meal break.
The only distractions in the first 9 hours was cheering on a Don R who was battling to drive his motor cycle to the front of the convoy. He kept losing the bike about every 100 yards or so. We would advise him to dump the bike and get on one of the trucks, but he wouldn't give up so we would cheer him on. When he finally got to the head of the convoy he was blown up by a land mine.
The other diversion was when we were passing some houses. Two children about 4 and 5 years of age came out stark naked, begging for food. I don't think they scored any food from us as we were flat getting enough food ourselves. We had been on American C Rations for about 3 weeks straight and they must have been the world's most successful weight loss program.
We finally turned west off this road. The new road was just as bad as the one we left, but it gradually improved as we approached Uijongbu. After 9 hours of that relentless mud, anything had to be an improvement. About a mile from Uijongbu the Bn HQ Guide on our truck started pounding on the cabin of the truck and yelled out "STOP STOP STOP." The driver quite dismayed stopped the vehicle and asked what was wrong. The guide replied "We will only be a minute." With that, he called out to us to get off the truck and collect some rice clots (the base of the rice had been left in the ground after harvesting). We gather 3 or 4 each and returned to our transport. In a short time we reached the intersection. Lo and behold there was the answer to our mystery. There were two Australian Provosts, the first we had seen in Korea, resplendent in their clean uniforms and white webbing.
The guide sang out "don't throw till I tell you." The first truck went past the provosts, then he sang out "let em go." With that we all let fly with our missiles. The provost smartly took off, much to our amusement and cheers.
The convoy then proceeded to Panmunjom, a very small village at that time. We arrived at 2400 hours. We then had a tin of baked beans each and settled down for the night. Or so we thought. We had no sooner got to sleep when we were blasted out of our sleep. It appears that just down the valley a few hundred yards was an American Battery of 105s carrying out DF fire: not much sleep that night.
Next morning we were informed that the enemy had vanished from Kaesong, therefore we were not going to attack that city. So a day's rest and back to where we had come from.
On approaching Uijongbu we stocked up on missiles. On turning east at the intersection we looked for the provosts but for a moment they were not to be seen. Then one of the boys called out "They are on top of the hill", pointing north. We looked up to the top of this small hill about 200 yards away and there they were standing outside their tent looking down on us. They had learnt their first lesson in Korea.
The convoy proceeded east for some miles and swung north taking a much better road back to the valley and back to the mountains.
A Rifleman's View of the "Battle of Kapyong"
I was in 1 Section 1 Platoon "A" Coy., 3 Bn. R.A.R.
On the 23rd of April, 1951, we were camped in an area referred to as the "Sherwood Forest." A rest area for us at the time, about seven miles south of the valley of Kapyong.
Rumours had been sweeping through camp all morning that things were going bad at the front. These rumours were backed by civilians hurrying past the camp headed south. At about 1500 hrs. we were given 2 hours warning that we were going to move. At 1700 hrs. the trucks arrived and we proceeded to head north to a place referred to as "The Kapyong Valley." At 1730 hrs. we dismounted from our trucks about 200 yards from what was to become our fighting positions. We had no sooner arrived there when Staff Sergeant McMann arrived with a hot meal and mail. At 1830 hrs. we were called to an "O" Group. We were informed that "according to G@ (Intelligence) there was not a chinaman within 10 miles of our position and we probably would not see one till the next afternoon at the earliest."
From there we were allocated our positions for the night. Pt. Tim Coffee and myself were allocated the "Listening Post" which was on the point of "A" Coy's hill about 25 yards from 1 ptn's position. There we dug a scrape and settled in for the night. About 2030 hrs. we heard a collection of voices below our positions. This I promptly reported to 1 ptn. headquarters and returned to the "Listening Post." At 2100 hrs. the voices started up again accompanied by the cocking of weapons. This I promptly reported to 1 ptn. Headquarters. I then made sure everyone in 1 ptn. was aware what was going on, then returned to my post. At 2130 hrs. a company runner Pt. Roy Holloway came down to our position and said to me, "Pat, I have a message for you from O'Dowd. Now there is nothng personal in this - it is as O'Dowd gave it to me." I said, "OK, let's have it" - to which Roy replied, "Shut up and stop panicking, there is no one down there."
At about 2300 hrs. the Chinese launched their first attack on 1 Ptn's position, quickly followed by other attacks. During the lull between the first and second attack, I said to my mate Tim Coffey, "We had better get back to the platoon and give them a hand," but as we tried to get out of the pit some one fired at us from 1 Ptn's position. 5 times we tried to get out of the pit and 5 times we were shot at by a Bren or similar weapon, so we decided we had better stay put.
When the Chinese fell back to regroup after a couple of attacks, we heard Lt. Gardner tell the men of 1 ptn. that he was going up to see Major O'Dowd. Some minutes later I heard I heard Lt. Gardner tell the men of 1 ptn. that he was going up to see Major O'Dowd - "My men, they have all gone - what will I do?," to which O'Dowd replied, "Bring what bods you have left up here" - i.e. Company Headquarters.
We heard 1 Ptn. move out and up the hill. About 15 minutes later we heard Pt. Roy Holloway asking if anyone had seen Pat Knowles. No one had, so he approached Major O'Dowd and asked if he could sing out to me to come to the top of the hill. Major O'Dowd replied, "You can give it a try, he may be alive." Roy then proceeded to sing out "Pat Knowles, come to the top of the hill." Four times he sang out, but being in the position we were I could not answer. Tim Coffey and myself then decided it was time to make our way up to the new positions. Having been shot at 5 times so far, we gingerly poked our heads from the scrape, but this time we were not shot at.
On making our way up to the hill we decided to skirt around the side of the hill and there we could see our mates silhouetted against the sky. As we drew close to them one bod said "Here comes two more of the Chinese bastards" to which I sang out, "Don't panic, it is only us." As we drew near the pit that the voice came from, he cocked his Bren Gun, by this time the muzzle was about 20" from my head. He then said, "Who are you?" I replied "Pat Knowles - from 1 platoon." The voice then said, "You cannot come up here then," to which I replied, "Go and get F....." and walked past him. We then walked into what was 3 Ptn's area, where we were allocated four to a pit. We had not sooner hopped into the pit, when a company runner came over and said "I need 2 volunteers for another position." Nobody replied so I said - "You've got one." From there I was taken to a position at the rear of 3 Ptn's position and in front of 2 Ptn's position. There was a Kiwi and two Australians already in position, in what was to be our last move for the night. We had no sooner settled down when the Chinese launched their attack on the American Company A, 72d Heavy Tank Battalion, which was camped on the valley floor. After a wild burst of machine gun fire and hand grenades, the Americans promptly decamped. "Those Americans were amazing. Three hours to move in, 25 minutes to move out!"
The Chinese then turned their attention to our Battalion area again. About 5 metres in front of where the four of us were laying, 3 Chinese attempted to set up a Bren type machine gun. The Kiwi was the only one who could see them, so he shot each one as they tried to take up the firing position behind the gun. A little later a stray Chinese crept around the mountain towards the machine gun position so the Kiwi dropped him too.
About 0230 hrs. on the 24th a Chinese started blowing his whistle, giving 3 bursts each time. He was obviously calling for reinforcements. After about half an hour of this Major O'Dowd sang out, "For Christ's sake, get that bastard!" Well, we couldn't see a bloody thing. We couldn't hear a movement and the tension was getting a bit ripe. We could hear the moaning from the wounded and were expecting another attack at any moment.
So remembering what I had been taught in my previous Army Service as an Armourer, i.e. the average person fires high at night, I took aim at the sound, dropped my front sight about one inch and fired. No more whistle blasts for the rest of the night. The next few hours we spent listening to the wounded moaning and various gun fights around the battalion area. At about 0630 hrs. a machine gun opened up on us and gave us hell for about 20 minutes. He obviously had a good idea where we were but probably could not see us, but he raked our little area with all the spite he could muster. Just inches about us, he managed to shoot the Kiwi in the foot. After this twenty minutes we agreed we were going to get nowhere lying where we sere, so I agreed to go back to Company Headquarters for instructions. I waited till "Charlie" changed magazines and took off. I went down the hill about 100 yards and there was Lt. Gardner and a group of digs standing looking up the hill wondering what was going on. I explained what was happening. Lt. Gardner then directed us to pull back Co. 3 Ptn's position. I then made my way back to my old position, waited for "Charlie" to change magazines, and dived back to rejoin my 3 companions. I gave them the instructions, we waited for "Charlie" to change magazines, and dived back down the hill again.
2 Pt. then sent a patrol down the hill to flush out the machine gunner, who was pretty well concealed in a hole in a gully. I looked up my mate Tim Coffey to find he had been badly wounded and not expected to live.
One of my companions returned to our position of the night before, found the chinaman I had shot, he was up a small tree, shot through the chest with a bugle and whistle around his neck. For the next few hours we heard various gun battles going on, mainly from "B" and "Don" Company areas. After break there were no more attempts by the Chinese on our "A" Company area. About 0900 hrs. on the 24th we heard heavy machine gun fire coming from the road below us and we looked down to see about 25 Chinese running north for the nick of their lives. O'Dowd ordered the machine gunners to stop to save ammo. He then directed the riflemen to have a shot and we picked off the lot at 985 yards.
At about 1000 hrs. the Kiwis started to give us D.F. fire in the form of air bursts, the Chinese joined in by mortaring us with 4.5's. By this time the wounded had been taken care of as good as could be expected. Lt. Gardner directed me to go around the dead and wounded and strip them of their ammo, one job I did not relish. As I did the rounds of the hill I was amazed at the drag marks, blood, cotton wool and bandages where the Chinese had dragged their dead and wounded away during the night. After collecting the ammo and distributing same, we ended up with 15 rounds each. Lt. Gardner then did a body count to find there 9 of us left from 1 Ptn., previous night's strength probably 32, some were on leave.
During the previous night all our radios had been damaged, but after a few hours frantic work they managed to get one going.
Major O'Dowd then directed the radio operator to contact anyone. The American 1st Marine Division answered but their operator refused to believe who our operator was speaking for. Major O'Dowd took the phone and demanded to speak to the Commanding Officer. The General in charge of the Division came on the phone and told O'Dowd we did not exist as we had been wiped out the night before. Major O'Dowd said, "I've got news for you, we are still here and we are staying here!" O'Dowd then asked for assistance. The General replied that he could not help, as his Division was about to do a Strategic withdrawal. O'Dowd blew his cool and said if they withdrew we could be outflanked. The General then agreed to keep his Division in position as long as we stayed.
Major O'Dowd put down the phone, turned to the Company and said in a loud voice, "Cop on to this, the Mighty 1st American Marine Division has agreed to stay as long as we do!"
Just after that call Battalion Headquarters managed to get through to us by radio. Major O'Dowd, after some discussion, called out to everyone in "A" Coy to come to Company Headquarters pronto. On assembling around O'Dowd, he said "Men, I have a message fromBattalionn Headquarters which effects us all." The message reads: "The 3rd Battalion RAR is surrounded by Chinese, we are unable to reinforce, resupply or relieve. Battalion HQ therefore directs an immediate fighting withdrawal leaving behind dead and wounded."
A few glances were exchanged and without asinglee word of command every man sat down. Major O'Dowd looked at us and said: "I've got the message, I'll see what H.Q. has to say." Later a message came through to withdraw at dusk.
About 1100 hrs. on the 24th, an American tank drew up just below "A" Coy. position with Lt. Col Furgerson in the turret of same. The Americans unloaded food and ammo on to the roadway. The tank then drove off. Another bod and myself were directed to go and fetch the supplies. We made our way down the hill but as we reached the flat ground a machine gunner opened up on us. We tried again to reach the ammo but as we drew closer to it the machine gun fire drew closer to us. We got the message and returned to our company position. We reported to Company Headquarters and gave them the bad news. Sgt. Harris of 2 Ptn. promptly said, "My men will bring the ammo up." His men then proceeded down the hill to receive the same treatment and same result. No ammo, no food, no water.
The rest of the day was spent digging scrapes being shelled by Charlie, putting out scrub fires that were started by the shelling. We destroyed all surplus weapons. The Americans did an air drop of supplies but they went straight into Charlie's lines.
At dusk we were directed to "move out." We then proceeded to the top of the mountain, taking our wounded and prisoners with us. We made our way south along the ridge with about 20 unarmed Chinamen following at a respectable distance. About 1800 hrs. 4 American Corsairs came into sight. They promptly wheeled into "Don" Company with napalm and machine guns. They then turned their attention to A" Coy. We were making our way up a slope at the time. I looked around and saw this American Pilot glaring at us. I knew it was no good trying to duck for cover, so I waved to him. Fortunately he did not fire on us. Later I learnt that Sig. "Sandy" Winson had got through to the Americans to cease fire. We then continued along the ridge line without incident. We finally made our way down the mountain and crossed the river at about 0030 hrs. on 25th April 1951. We then made our way along the road south, accompanied by American tanks.
After about a half of an hour we passed an Australian Officer and two English Army privates. The officers was doing a head count. At 0200 hrs. we reached the entrance to the valley where we were directed to dig in for the night, a 50-50 stand to, and warned that any one going to sleep on stand to would be court martialled. Just as we settled in an almighty blast of machine gun fire came from the valley. I assume the Chinese were having a go at the Canadians. The rest of the night was uneventful for us.
Next morning we were given food, water, ammo and a bottle of beer. We then knew it was all over.
This is a story about a mountain that has influenced Korean history for many centuries. It stands 2170 feet in height.
Webmaster Note: I stopped transcribing and recording Mr. Knowles' tales at this point. The gentleman was probably a brave soldier but, as an American, I sense a bias and animosity towards the United States that would be better developed in a less objective format than this site is intended to present.
A Defensive Position in Korea
Occupying the VAN DOO's position
On the spur running off 355, mid December, 1951
2/400383 Pt. P. J. Knowles
"A" Coy 3Bn RAR
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