In the context of the Korean Conflict, the Australian Army was
confronted with considerable problems with the necessity of having
to train a viable Infantry force at extremely short notice. This
was further complicated by having to rely on a limited number of
Regulars and hurriedly recruited Volunteers.
The under-manned Third Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment
was still in Japan at that time of its imminent return to
Australia. Fortunately, in contrast with most other Combat units
serving as part of the Occupation of Japan, the battalion had
undergone constant field exercises with field firing and minor
So by the time Australian troops were introduced to the
battlefield in Korea, during Sept 50, they had a rather hotchpotch
team of Regulars (often without previous combat experience) as
well as Volunteers, who at that early stage, comprised in the main
experienced men from WWII.
By this it will be seen that, at that early stage no particular
training system had been instituted to meet the challenges
awaiting our troops in the Korean conflict. Nevertheless it was
good to know that the troops were all confident in using their
weapons with telling effect. They also quickly became united into
a coherent and highly motivated fighting machine.
The Diggers’ early exposure to combat, (to many
experiencing their baptism of hostile fire) gave them an excellent
‘on the job training’ opportunity!
The Call to Arms
It was gratifying to find that very soon a large rush to arms
was experienced with volunteers offering their services in droves
for various motives and from all walks of life.
Accordingly, urgent priority had to be given to effective
training of men still awaiting posting to Korea.
Prior to allowing the volunteers to proceed to Korea, they had to
undergo strictly concentrated training and administrative
The Training System
This called for normal training of all ranks in weapon
handling, field firing, minor tactics, as well as in the general
requirements such as First Aid, map reading swimming, rope work
etc over confidence courses under simulated fire, carrying of
wounded, physical fitness regimes, grenade throwing, field craft,
range work and associated activities.
After thorough individual training, the Diggers were exposed to
more advanced training as members of a Section comprising 10-12
men and as part of a three section platoon.
The overall preparation of each individual soldier for posting to
Korea, was structured in accordance with a ‘Draft
Priority’ (DP) system of four distinct stages.
These were organised as follows: -
DP 4 = Induction and Recruit Training.
DP 3 = Field training in sound and effective battle
drills, map reading and navigation exercises.
DP 2 = advanced training in the field under the strictest
and most realistic combat conditions, battle inoculation,
patrol work, and hardening for the rigours of battle with
particular emphasis on ‘mateship’ and all its
vital implications within the Australian ethos.
Because of the increased involvement of our troops
in patrol work (particularly by night) in Korea,
special emphasis was given to the soldiers’
preparation for the various tactics employed in such
DP 1 = finalisation of medical and dental fitness
checks, inoculations and preparation of wills.
Meticulously compiled records were kept for every soldier,
showing the successful completion of each DP stage, without which
they were not considered for posting to Korea.
As the war continued, it was possible to obtain the services of
men returning from the conflict in Korea as most effective
Soldiers whilst still in Japan awaiting posting to battalions
underwent yet more strenuous battle training, at the British
Commonwealth Battle School, prior to being sent to the ‘
Training of Junior Leaders
Much emphasis was given to the training of junior leaders who
would earn the honour and responsibility of leading the soldiers
on the battlefield.
Junior leaders are reminded of their need to lead by example, to
inspire confidence and to readily accept responsibility, to give
clear orders and to develop trust and confidence.
They are further reminded of the need to keep their soldiers
informed, to insist on sound battle procedure and never to show
fear or to panic.
Leaders are made aware that the soldiers under their leadership
are their judges and will invariably accept, tolerate or reject
Furthermore, they are left in no doubt that success in battle
will be influenced largely by the standards and conduct of the
The system thus adopted proved to be gratifyingly effective on
Our soldiers were adequately prepared for their tasks in all
respects, thus ensuring that minimum number of casualties would be
sustained and the tasks allotted to our Force were conducted with
Major Alec Weaver, Royal Australian Regiment (Ret)