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British Commonwealth POWs at Maryang San

POWs fromBCD

POWs from British Commonwealth Division, November 1951
Captured during Hill 317 (Maryang San) action

Ron Cashman, 3RAR, gives a clearer explanation of this picture than the garbled Chinese annotation which was the basis for the above caption.

Bert, these fellows are from the King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBy) battalion, the KOSBy relieved 3 RAR from Maryang san (317) late October 51. They were overwhelmed by a massive Chinese bombardment including rockets on Guy Fawkes night, November 51. These prisoners are very likely from the forward platoon who were mostly killed or captured the night of 4th/5th November 51, the night Speakman won his VC. By the condition of their uniforms they hardly had time to offer much resistance I suspect. Being a top rate fighting unit, I tend to think the shock of what happened to them has not yet set in, only one man seems to realise the disaster that befell them. Ron

SPEAKMAN, William, VC Winner
The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
1st Bn., KOSB

On 4 November 1951 in Korea, when the section holding the left shoulder of the company's position had been seriously depleted by casualties and was being over-run by the enemy, Private Speakman, on his own initiative, collected six men and a pile of grenades and led a series of charges. He broke up several enemy attacks, causing heavy casualties and in spite of being wounded in the leg continued to lead charge after charge. He kept the enemy at bay long enough to enable his company to withdraw safely.

Pvt William Speakman, VC
William Speakman
Private, Later Sergeant
The King's Own Scottish Borderers

This map was kindly supplied by Frank Sachse, tour advisor for Korean Veterans, so it includes the DMZ which was not extant at the time of the above photo


British Commonwealth Forces in Korea Commonwealth troops serving in Korea included British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, and South African contingents.

The first British units to arrive at Pusan on 28 August 1950 were the 1st Battalion The Middlesex Regiment and 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders under the 27th British Infantry Brigade. They were soon joined by the 3d Battalion Royal Australian Regiment from Japan where it was conducting occupation duty. They initially served under the US 24th Infantry Division. It was redesignated the 27th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade in October when Australian and Canadian units were assigned, which served under the US 1st Cavalry Division and helped meet the initial onslaught when China entered the war in November.

The 29th British Infantry Brigade Group arrived in September 1950, followed by the 28th Commonwealth Brigade Group in April 1951, which replaced the 27th, and then the 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group. In July these units were organized into the 1st Commonwealth Division.

The Division, while under US/UN operational control, was administered by Commander-in-Chief, Commonwealth Forces headquartered in Japan. At the war*s end 14,200 Commonwealth troops were serving in Korea. A total of 26,791 Canadians and 17,164 Australian troops served in Korea. The last British troops departed Korea in July 1957.

27th British Infantry Brigade (Aug 50-Oct 50, redesignated below)
27th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade (Oct 50-Apr 51, HQ replaced by below)
28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade (Apr 51)
29th British Infantry Brigade Group (Sep 50)
1st Commonwealth Division (July 50)

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