George Bullock, Digger, K Force, KIA

by Olwyn Green

George Bullock's Story -

     Rupert George Bullock (George) Bullock, b 24/7/1927, Murwillumbah NSW;
     Service in 3 RAR 12/10/51-25/1/52 killed in action 25/1/1952

George Bullock of 3 RAR died on 25th January, 1952. He was member of 12 Platoon D Co 3 RAR which made an assault on the "pinnacle" of Hill 227 on 25-26 January 1952.

George on leave before Korea
George on leave in Murwillumbah, before Korea

Recently, 56 years after George Bullock's death, his family in Central Queensland, through the internet, were able to seek information explaining the death of George so long ago. They emailed Alexander Bates, the Pres. of 3 RAR Corp asking for comrades of George's to come forward with information and photos of him. They wanted to resolve years of uncertainty and ease some of the pain caused by never learning what had happened to the son, the brother. The family say the only information they received was a telephone call asking for someone to go to Post Office to pick up the telegram - the announcement of his death.

From the official history this information was found:
After Operation Commando, 3 RAR moved on 9/1/1952 to the eastern section of the Division line in the area of the hills 159, 210 and the Hill 227 "John" (lost to the Chinese on 20/11/1951) which is 1.5 kilometres west of Hill 355.

This phase of the war is generally called the Static Phase; In most histories it dates from July 1951 when the Armistice Negotiations began. In this phase, when President Truman had decided the Korean War would be a limited war, the UN Force strategy was to be a "goad" keeping pressure on the Chinese and North Koreans to induce compromise at the Armistice negotiations. In effect it was a phase of attrition and in many ways resembled the nature of fighting in the trenches of WWI.

The objective of the assault on 227 in which George Bullock and 6 others died, was to regain Hill 227 from the Chinese. It is to be remembered that in October, 1951 in Operation Commando, 3 RAR had fought hard and brilliantly to take 317, Maryang San, at a cost of 20 killed and 89 wounded. (AWM) In November 1951 the Chinese launched a massive attack and retook Hill 317 (Maryang San) which was then occupied by another battalion of the Commonwealth Brigade, Kings Own Scottish Borderers. At the same time, the Chinese seized and held Hill 227. The strength of the Chinese counter offensive in November 51 suggests that Hill 227 in January 52 would have been strongly defended. The 7 deaths on 25/1/1952 confirms this.

Before presenting the war diary account of the patrol, it is be noted that on that bitterly cold, winter night, a search light bathed Hill 227 in a "ghostly light." (see Pear's report) The war diary's very brief report that follows contains map references. (AWM85 Australian Army unit Diaries, Korea Item No. 4/37 , 3 Bn RAR , January 1952) :-

" Place Pu-Dong area 1162168

One platoon commanded by Lt. R. Hone from D Co under command C Co moved through feature at 161191 and attacked pt 227. Feature captured against light resistance and platoon moved forward and occupied ground at 157190. Heavy artillery and mortar fire was being received by C Co HQ. One platoon moved to feature 161191

Enemy engaged area of pt 227 with LMGs, MMGs, Mortars and Artillery and at 0055 hrs 26th January counter attacked.

Platoons occupying pt 227 and 161191 received very heavy mortaring and shelling were counter attacked by 2 enemy companies supported by large numbers of automatic weapons. Attack was directed from N, W, and SW.

Platoon began withdrawing at 0100 hrs. The situation quietened until 0412 when a patrol from C Co departed to recover bodies were met by LMG fire from 161191 and MG fire from Pt 227. One member of patrol was killed.

Platoons occupying 227 and 1161191 were heavily mortared and shelled and counter attacked by 2 enemy companies supported by large number of automatic weapons. Attack came from north. Platoon begins to withdraw.

O412 hrs a patrol from C Co depart to recover bodies fired on from 161191 and point 227. One member of patrol killed in action

0300 hrs The situation returned to normal and the following casualty report was submitted:

Enemy - 7 killed
Own - 7 killed; 9 wounded (4 of whom remained on duty)

The analysis of KIA follows, provided by George Lang1.
The Australian Army Killed in Action in Different Phases of the Korean War
September 50 - March 51 64
Battle Kayong 32 + 1 in June 33
Armistice Negotiations began July 51
August and September 51 9
Battle Maryang San 21
November 51 - July 53 164
1George points out that accuracy of statistics depends on sources

This action in which George Bullock lost his life is typical of the constant patrolling that tested soldiers' morale. Despite the futility of what they were doing; e.g. seeking a prisoner (for intelligence purposes) and apparently never catching one, they bravely went out into the night to face all sorts of extremes: weather, land mines, difficult terrain; enemy lurking in no man's land. Despite the unrewarding nature of patrolling , the bunker life, and the shelling, soldiers' morale remained high. It is recorded that "by June, 1952 Communist guns were hurling over 6,800 shells a day at UN positions." This statistic provides only a general picture of the extent of shelling in this phase of the war and it indicates another Chinese strategy of trying to demoralize the UN troops across the front. Soldiers' experience and forbearance in this gruelling phase of the Korean War did not capture headlines. If men had fought at battles like Kapyong or Maryang San their story would be known and most likely their names would have been recorded. The Korean experience echoes that of the futile fighting of the Western Front, when men's lives were lost in numbers disproportionate to any possible achievement.

George Bullock died, and also 6 other un-named diggers, that night deep in the hills of Korea. There have been many who died similar deaths in that bloody war; and there are many who too glibly describe that war as "the forgotten war," as though nothing of consequence had happened to the world or to those who died and to those who mourned.

Those killed on 25-26/1/1952 supplied by editor (see note below)
1/1900 Pte R G Bullock
3/2638 Cpl C Clark
2/4863 Pte H C Deacon
2/4669 Cpl B A Harkness
1/1857 L/Cpl C B Henschell
1/1642 L/Cpl D Munro
3/2926 Pte J Neal

This list was put together a few years ago by Mick Servos and Chalky White following their research to find all the names of the Regiments' casualties for the tree planting at the National Memorial Walk, Enoggera, Queensland.

Note: A detailed account of the patrol of 25-26 January by Lt. Col Maurie Pears entitled "Korean Operations 3 RAR, Raid on John 227 - 25 January 1952" is published in "Australian Defence Force Journal No 157 - November/December 2002.
In this is given Sgt John Bennett's account of the patrol and the death of George Bullock.
This can be accessed on the internet by using the title of the article as search words.

     Olwyn Green May, 2008

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