Demilitarized Zone

Demilitarized Zone, Korea, 1953
The Armistice is still in effect.

After the demilitarized zone separating the United Nations and those of the Chinese-Korean forces was established, both sides erected observation towers at strategically situated points.

By these means, it was possible to register all violations of the armistice agreement, details of which were noted, collated and finally presented to the appropriate representatives at Panmunjom.

Much to the bewilderment of my Commanding Officer, I was selected as the first officer of our brigade to command a small force to monitor a specific sector which, as a junior officer, was a great honour and immense responsibility.

Much later, I found out that I had been specifically selected for the task by the Divisional Commander, who happened to be aware of my linguistic abilities (although I had no knowledge of Chinese!)

My duties included the rostering of observers and the arrangement of reconnaissance patrols specifically formed for the purpose of surveillance of our designated DMZ sector.

I was required to keep meticulously prepared records and charts of every single detail observed including smoke traces , sounds and related phenomena.

My soldiers had to undergo somewhat of a metamorphosis by being meticulously dressed and turned out, in stark contrast with their more relaxed turn- out during the combat period.

This was a requirement because we were paid constant visits by senior officers familiarising themselves with the prevailing situation.

As a reward for my endeavours at the DMZ, I was given the most interesting and rewarding posting to Panmunjom to observe the exchange of prisoners of war.

The most exciting and happy experience of that task was my being the first Australian officer to see my mate, Lieutenant Charles Yacopetti, whom I last saw a few months earlier during a patrol action which I attended under his leadership, resulting in my being seriously wounded and his capture by the enemy.

The accompanying picture portrays my inspection of one of my DMZ patrols.

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