"Ted" Bosworth, "Jack" Park, and "Curly" Lamb
EF Bosworth MM served as a member of the 2nd/1st Infantry Battalion 1943-45 in New Guinea and other Island campaigns where he rose to the rank of Sergeant. He joined K Force in August 1950 to serve in Korea. He was awarded the Military Medal for heroism in the Hinge Battle 7 October. He was discharged as a result of his wounds in that battle. He later joined the 51st Battalion, Citizen Military Forces in 1960 and served for 13 years. He is now a TPI veteran in Innisfail Queensland.
J Park MM served with the 2nd/15th Infantry Battalion in the Africa, New Guinea and Borneo campaigns. He held the rank of Sergeant. He joined K Force and was posted to 5 Platoon, B Company 3 RAR in March 1951 as a Sergeant. He was awarded the Military Medal for his courage in the Commando Operation. On his return to Australia he joined the 51st Infantry Battalion for 18 months before discharge. He now lives in Whitfield Far North Queensland.
CH Lamb joined the Army in 1946 at the age of 18 years and was posted to BCOF Japan to the 66th Infantry Battalion. He re-enlisted in K Force at the out-break of the Korean War. During Commando he was promoted to Corporal and later Sergeant commanding 5 Platoon. He returned to Australia in May 1952 for enlistment in the ARA. He served until 1973 in RTB, SAS and the Commandos retiring as Warrant Officer. He accepted a position as School Sergeant of The Southport School until 1989 when he retired on the Gold Coast Queensland.
Editors note: These comments are made jointly from three "mates" who fought and lived together during a desperate battle and still retain this "mateship" to this day.
Events on Maryang San 7 October 1951 are a little hazy after all these years. Even at the time there was a lot of confusion in the haze of battle during the advance to contact and the main enemy assault on 4 and 6 platoons forward of us.. I was severely wounded soon after the Chinese attacked our approach forward number of things are vividly retained.
The evening of the 6th was reasonably quiet. We were cold, uncomfortable and nervous, anticipating the planned attack of the next day. On the morning of the 7th we took platoon orders at 0800hrs ready for the attack at 0900hrs. I was acting Platoon Sergeant with Sergeant Ray Parry the 5 Platoon Commander.
I told the section commanders this would be no "junket". I had a gut feeling that all was not right and that we would walk into a big stoush. The Chinese were up to something. I spoke to Jack Park, who had taken over 5 Section, and said; "be careful mate and keep your eye on me." Jack, being an old soldier, knew what I meant. The other two section leaders were "Wally" Brown and "Ken" Ward.
Soon after we crossed the Start Line, (4 and 6 Platoon shared the lead and were well forward of us. Company Headquarters were with 5 Platoon in the rear). After climbing for some time we had lost contact with the forward platoons and heard noises of enemy movement down both sides of the ridge we were moving along. Before we could react, all Hell broke loose. We were in an ambush. The Chinese had let the forward Platoons pass through and were attacking from the rear.
Editors note: Simultaneous with this ambush, 4 and 6 platoons were under heavy attack forward and out of contact with Company headquarters and 5 Platoon.
I opened up with my Bren and called for an attack in extended line against the main threat. I realized, in the confusion, the best chance to survive was to attack. I was immediately hit in the neck and put down amidst a frenzy of activity. Private Bellamy and medic Tommy Tunstal put a dressing on my neck just as the second wave came in. I heard Jack Park sing out, "don't go on till we get there," but, I didn't have much choice as the enemy were all over us. I fired off a few bursts from the Bren and then felt another thud in the chest followed by a thump in my armpit. That's the last full recollection I had until about 7 days later in MASH where I was told I had been. I faintly remember being loaded into a chopper with Darcy Eccles, the CSM, who died before reaching hospital. I was later flown to Japan and spent a few weeks in Kure before flying home to Concord.
On the night of 6/7 October I can't remember much about the position except that it was cold, wet and miserable, We had been on the move for 48 hours in no man's land and were never too sure as to our exact location. It was not a good defensive position but the ground did fall away on both sides, which, helped.
On the morning of the 7th we set out early and as we reached the knoll in front of us we saw the platoons in front of us had spread out a little but they were restricted by the ridgeline. We soon lost them as they moved forward. We maintained some visual contact with our own men by keeping the air panel on the haversack of the last man a distance of 50 paces or less depending on the ground. There was a lot of low cover around, which, apparently, was sufficient for the Chinese to creep into for an ambush. There was some delay at this stage whilst company HQ caught up with us.. We could have passed through and been cut off except for a diligent section commander searching down the ridge and noticing an arm with a grenade attached, appear over the top of a bush. It was thrown at me but missed. I informed the OC, "Wings" Nichols that the enemy was between the forward platoons and us. His orders were to spread out and attack. That's when things started to happen. There seemed to be enemy everywhere.
Almost straight away, Gene Tunney and Les Bennett were wounded, then, Sailor Martin. By now we had fought our way forward where we were looking into a re-entrant, with a ridge running away from us to the right front, from which the enemy were attacking. There was a lot of noise in the bush in the re-entrant. Pat McCarthy came up on my right and was killed. I saw Ted Bosworth further over and called out to him, "don't go any further till I get to you". The he disappeared, knocked over and badly wounded. I had my hands full fighting off an attack. Curly Lamb and Bluey McGrath came to my assistance. I told Bluey to gather all the grenades he could and throw them into the scrub down the slope. From the yells and cries we heard this was effective. I moved further down the hill and got involved in the hand to hand fighting with good results. This seemed to break up the enemy attack. Fortunately there was a well-dug enemy slit trench near us and I told Bluey and Curly to get in as we were not going anywhere. Only for the deadly effect of Curley's Bren fire (down on one knee and hosing the enemy) and Bluey's grenades it would have been a different story.
After a while the enemy activity quieted down and contact was made again with 6 and 4 Platoons who had born the brunt of fighting forward. We were able to prepare a defensive position which stood us in good stead for the rest of the day and night. Our best windfall was the roll of sig. wire we had found which we stretched out to make an effective trip wire. This thwarted several attacks. We certainly had a real pounding from the artillery and mortars. It was some of the worst I had ever been in, in any war, including the Middle East.
The Platoon was fortunate to have limited casualties. If I remember correctly The Company came out with a strength of 49. 5 Platoon came out with 11 men. 4 and 6 platoons suffered similar casualties.
6 October. Jack Park led us. We climbed the forward slope of 317 on 6 October and went into a rocky feature forward of ": Sierra", where we were joined by Company Headquarters and the rest of the platoon. We thought we were now the forward platoon in the Division but no one was too sure where we were or where the other platoons were. We were unable to dig shelters but prepared rock "sangars" instead. The ground to our front fell away and was heavily timbered. Our platoon strength was down to 20 from 25 with one killed ("Korea" Anderson) and 4 wounded previously on our advance to contact. We had reached this position shortly before last light. The Chinese could be heard moving about to our flank. They would blow whistles on occasions. We spent a cold, foggy, wet and nervous night, but the Chinese left us alone.
At first light 7th October, Park was called to an "O" Group. On his return he told us that the feature 217 was to be attacked by 4 and 6 Platoons. We would be the reserve with company headquarters. There was a well-worn track along the ridge of 317 towards 217. We didn't get far along the ridge to confirm it. Bosworth had earlier extended our front to clear some scrub which set off the Chinese ambush. They had apparently let the forward platoons through and were waiting for us to pass when they were discovered. They were hidden in the undergrowth in groups of 4/6. On our approach they stood up and fired into us from very close range. This resulted in breaking up our formation to hand to hand fighting. As we fought off the attacks, Bosworth and Platoon Headquarters were to my right. Gene Tunney and Les Bennett of 5 Section separated us. They were both wounded by mortar fire. Bosworth was fighting off two groups with a Bren Gun that he had picked up from a wounded gunner. His action drove one group of three across my front and I dealt with them.
The remnants of the platoon were now scattered into groups of two or three. At this stage I was on my own, separated from Park and my Gun 2 i/c Bluey McGrath. Above all the noise I could hear Park calling for me to join him. He was fighting off a group on his own with fire from the Bren and hand grenades. The group was attacking up the side of the re-entrant running between 217 and the Hinge. We were able to break off this attack. Bosworth had been seriously wounded and shot through the chest. The whole hinge feature was now a battlefield, with firefights breaking out all over the feature as 4 and 6 Platoons fought their way back to us. After some time, perhaps an hour, all the firing started to die down. Park, McGrath and myself were still holding ground on the western approaches. One more attack on us may have caused us to pull back as we had no grenades left, Parks' Owen was inoperative and I had only one full magazine left
We now returned to CHQ and joined up with the remainder of 5 Platoon, which totaled only 11. The smell of cordite, smoke, torn up earth and timber and the look on a dead comrade's face is one, which I have never forgotten.
The actions of B Company over the next 24 hours or so were intense, exposed to constant enemy threat. During a short lull we had found a roll of sig. cable discarded in the battle. We put it to good use firming a perimeter with it that disrupted many enemy moves. We ran it at ankle height amongst the trees about 20 yards in front of our pits where it could be covered by Bren fire. When the attacks came in you could hear the Chinese stumble and fall.
The morale in the platoon was good. We had taken on the enemy and given him a bloody nose. 4 and 6 platoons were apparently holding off the enemy forward on the hinge.
We had made a very tight perimeter, dug in and prepared for the attacks. Lieutenant "Rusty" McWilliam and his platoon from C Company had reinforced us. We had also received re-supply thanks to our 2 i/c Captain Doddrell.
About mid afternoon rumours started to fly that we would withdraw and surrender the hard fought ground. They proved baseless. Although we were well aware of what could happen next morning we were happy to hang on.
I remember kneeling down in our pit with Jack and Blue during the heavy shelling prior to the first major counter attack. It was a Sunday night. My parents were strict churchgoers and I knew at that time they would be in church. I said to myself, "I hope they say a prayer for their son tonight."
Much has been said of the three major Chinese thrusts that night. My personal recollection is that I never believed at any time that we would lose. By first light it was all over and we had beaten him again. It was a great feeling.
In 1952, shortly after my return to Australia I heard the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Hassett being interviewed on radio. He said; "I am very proud that I had the privilege to command the 3RAR Operation Commando. The sheer courage of the soldiers who fought the battle was beyond belief."
I am still proud, after all these years, to have been one of them.
Editors' note: A full account of the Battle for the Hinge is contained in Bob Breen's "Battle of Maryang San" Chapter 6. The amazing exploits of the platoons, Brian Falvey, Jimmy Hughes, Bushy Pembroke, Rusty McWilliam and the supporting platoons Arthur Rolfe and Jock McCormack
Without detracting in any way from the magnificent leadership, support and military skill at Battalion and Company level, the Battle of the Hinge was won by the individual platoons and sections who determined by fire and movement and individual courage and initiative the course of the battle. Later after withdrawal from 317 many platoons were dispatched to isolated outposts to cover large areas. Their responsibilities were great. Many Junior leaders grew up in the heat of the past and subsequent battles.
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