Mark served in the Australian Military Forces (AIF) from 1942-46 and served with 2/28th Battalion 9 Division Labuan towards the end of the war in the Pacific. He rejoined the Army in 1949 and was posted to 3RAR in Korea in June 1951 as an infantryman. He served throughout Commando and other operations with 7 Platoon C Company. In civilian life he has been active in the support of veterans and the Korean Veterans Association. He was instrumental in the preparation of the book "Maryang San". He is currently in retirement in Sydney where he serves on a number of veteran committees.
I was fortunate to be a Section Commander in Operation Commando and found myself to be an acting platoon sergeant at the end of the first day of operations, the platoon sergeant having been wounded and evacuated at the first encounter with the enemy on 355. We were much under strength at the beginning of the operation and by the time the operation was over we were about 50% down. Our company was made up mainly of young regular army soldiers, who were having their first experience in action under fire. They bore up extremely well and committed themselves to the task in a professional manner. This was the time when young men really showed their true colours. Everything about this operation was well planned and rehearsed, but the best made plans often fall apart. In the case of Commando when things fell apart something always took its place. Protection from enemy fire was our biggest problem In this regard it was often impossible to dig in for protection due to the granite like ground and the flimsy tool US.
From a section point of view we were under strength , six instead of ten at the start. On the first encounter the platoon lost its reserve section and we were down to twelve plus platoon HQ. Somehow we got over this and made some adjustments. We were lucky we didn't have to use a reserve! Korea was different to the AIF. There was a much closer bond of cooperation between the diggers and their officers. We seemed to talk things over more. It was a true team effort and we got good results. The operation went for five nights and later I was asked however we managed to sleep. I suppose we must have but I don't remember how. The nights were always filled with bombardment or enemy action.
I remember also the stretcher bearers who showed unbelievable courage in pulling out the wounded. If you've never been there you couldn't understand.
Commando has left a lasting impression on me. It was the first good thing I had done for a long time. It was great to know you were part of a team effort, especially a winning one. Friendships I made with my officers and men and our mutual respect, have lasted to this day. This teamwork, I think, was the real reason for the battalion success.
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