Signaler McFadzean was awarded a Mention in Dispatches in Korea. His courage under fire in support of his company commander was legendary. After completing his military service in various Australian and overseas appointments he retired to the Lismore area where he remains active in veteran affairs.
Memories of events and incidents tend to lose focus and impact with the passing of time, but my recollections of Korea in 1951-52 do not fall into that category. During that time I served with some of the finest men I have known and the experience shaped my attitude to my own Army career.
During the lead-up period to Commando, C Company welded itself into a tightly knit group - morale was high and an air of confidence prevailed, both in our own ability and in our leadership. This feeling existed throughout the Battalion.
The morning of 2 October opened as a mist shrouded entree to what was to be six days of savage encounter. During that space of my life I was to witness unsurpassed leadership, ability, mateship and sheer raw guts. To be there may have been stupid, to have missed it would have been a tragedy.
The story of C Company has been well told elsewhere. My recollections of our first attack on 355 were three hours of frenetic activity, preceded by checking my gear for the 20th time (including a 36 pound radio), some forgotten, inconsequential remarks to those nearby, knots in the stomach and adrenaline pumping. It's time to go and everything is normal again. We attack the eastern face of the objective - the steepest slope. 7 Platoon is
Point Platoon. The terrain is extremely rocky and covered in typical Korean stunted trees. The enemy reacts violently with mortar fire.... 7Platoon's reserve section is hit badly. I pass Alby Hart, 7's Platoon Sergeant, wounded and holding on to a tree for support. The CSM, Arthur Stanley, steady, urging us on... where's the Major? Must keep up with him, he's like a bloody mountain goat ....the mortar and small arms fire increases ..the ridge line at last ..the Major wants two of my grenades..he gets them, and races over to a rocky outcrop and flushes out three or four enemy, then is back and wants more grenades, give him one, does he think I am a bloody mobile AP (ammunition point)? . A mortar sits me on my backside. I check the radio, it has a hole or two but still works ..the enemy cracks,..he's had more than enough, those that can, retreat rapidly ..there are several blood trails and by the amount some won't get very far. 7 Platoon exploits and clears the ridge line. By midday 355 is clear. The KOSB can now occupy their objective unmolested, by courtesy of C Company 3 RAR.
The recollections that stand out so clearly after so many years were the examples set by the Company Commander, the leadership shown by Lieutenant Maurie Pears and his section commanders with the assault platoon, the courage and ability of the Bren gunner, Jimmy Burnett, the steadiness and drive of CSM Arthur Stanley and the diggers, with their determination to overcome a numerically superior enemy. There were no passengers in C Company on that day. On 5 October D Company made a magnificent contribution, literally tearing the heart out of the Chinese defences on the lower features leading to 317. The CO ordered C Company to move through D Company and take the feature. We passed through D Company's position. which resembled something from Dante's Inferno, the residue of violent action. The pungent smell of high explosives, dead Chinese, our wounded being moved to the rear, Chinese prisoners, shattered trees. My first good view of 317 was very daunting. We took it and held it, in the manner described elsewhere. The Chinese were comprehensively beaten. In all that heavy fighting the troops remained steady and aggressive. In isolated cases where individuals felt they could not sustain the effort any longer, the courage and determination of their mates strengthened them. The wounded were an inspiration to us all. There was some great work done on 317, including the Korean porters, who carried up re-supply and took wounded out, through the shelling.
On the morning of the 8th we were relieved by the KOSB. As we descended from the summit I took time to look at those who were left in the Company. They were filthy and exhausted but, by God, they looked magnificent.
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