Chapter 15


John Hutcheson

Service Details

Lieutenant Colonel John Malcolm Hutcheson, born 4 October 1927,Townsville, Queensland, joined the Regular Army from Duntroon Royal Military College,attended Sydney University 1949-52; served in Korea 1952-53, commando training UK 1955-56;Officer Commanding 2 Commando Company 1956-58; Staff College 1959-60; Jungle TrainingCentre 1960-61; Chief Instructor and Commanding Officer, School of Military Engineering1968-71; Vietnam (1971-72); Chief of Staff Headquarters Communications Zone1972-73; resigned 1973. awarded the Military Cross (MC) 1953.



In the absence of readily available reference material and shortage oftime, rightly or wrongly, I am writing this paper from memory. Therefore, after fortyyears of memory lapses I must apologize for errors of fact and names which I haveoverlooked.

The basic mining devices which I encountered in Korea were the UnitedStates of America "Jumping Jack" US (M2 A2) and the "Meat Tin" US M3,both of which were anti-personnel. The anti tank mines, which were limited to a Chinesewooden box mine and a United Kingdom "Cake Tin" and a US "flyingsaucer" shaped mine none of which I recall seeing laid in anger. Trip flares wereplentiful and in reserve positions "Kansas Line" I encountered hand grenades"mills" bombs in tin cans. Also in the paddy fields in front of the battalionpositions on the Kansas lines 50 litre drums of fuel were dug in and detonated via fuseand trip-wires (fugasse?).

The jumping jack anti-personnel mine (M2 A2) was activated by someunfortunate soldier stepping on a small cluster of three prongs which activated a chargeor by tripping a wire. As a consequence a 60mm mortar bomb less fins was thrown one to twoyards into the air. About half a dozen soldiers in patrol formation could expect to bekilled, wounded or nicked in such an explosion. Often an 'activator' who stood directly onthe three prongs was hit just below the small of his back and in my experience was alwayskilled. Indirectly, he may have shielded soldiers to his front. When jumping jacks werelaid in low lying ground such as paddy fields, flooding waters tended over time to makesome fuses soggy so that some mines became imperative (but not guaranteed).

The second anti-personnel mine was like a large meat loaf tin about18cm x 11cm wide x 9cm deep with a similar fuse to the jumping jack. The mine was oftenlaid, in hasty minefields, on top of the ground and trip wires spread appropriately onthree sides of the mine. Unfortunately, a strong bush or grass fire, from flares etc wascapable of causing this mine to explode, tearing open the tin.

My escapades as the assault pioneer officer of 3 RAR (15 August 1952 to27 February 1953) and the intelligence officer of the 28 Field Engineer Regiment RoyalEngineers (R.E.) (28 February 1953 to 5 October 1953) enabled me to traverse the maindivisional position and back to the reserve positions. The Main Position,"Jamieson" Line, stretched from Hill 355 on the east (right) to the Hook on thewest (left). The 1ROK (Republic of Korea) was on our right and the United States MarineDivisions and Turkish Brigade was on our left. "Kansas" Line which was on theforward slopes of a massive mountain Kamaksan (Hill 355 "Little Gibralter")andimmediately south of the Imjin River served as the a Divisional Reserve Position. On thewest of Kamaksan was the "Gloucester Valley" (site of the Gloucester Regimentstand) which is a long pass and was the historic invasion route to Seoul. On the east wasanother broader pass down which the MSR (main supply route) went to Seoul.

There was an intermediate position on low lying hills just to the northof the Imjin River which was called the "Wyoming Line". The main supply route(MSR) ran approximately south to north and crossed the Imjin near Divisional Headquartersat the high level steel "Pintail Bridge. The Glouster Valley road also ran aboutsouth to north and crossed the Imjin River at the "Teal" Bridge which wasconverted from an US floating bridge to a low level timber structure during 1952. A roadin front of Kamaksan but to the south of a long feature on the west called the Lozenge andCastle Hill on the east connected the two routes. Castle Hill has been used for centuriesto guard the ford at the Teal Bridge site and the entrance to Glouster Valley, which hasbeen an invasion route to Seoul.


I was posted to the British Commonwealth Forces in Korea (BCFK)Engineer Regiment in Kure (Japan) from the 1 Field Engineer Regiment Royal AustralianEngineers (RAE) in Australia in the first half of 1952 as a newly promoted captain (10December 1952) fresh from Sydney University to do Garrison Engineers duties. In about July1952 Captain "Roy" Pugh who was the assault pioneer officer of 3 RAR arrived inKure Hospital. My Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel P.P. Jackson told me to make readyto replace Roy. I went to Haramura where my eyes were opened by the unusual (cracking)style of the British Commandant, the (tough) French speaking Canadians (22 RCR), andBritish reinforcements. But, my best experiences were with Major 'Mac' Newton (laterOfficer Commanding Headquarters Company, 2nd in command and Acting CO 3 RAR, as we playedwith fuses and mines after tea in his tent.

I was booked to leave Iwakuni at 0900 hours (9 am) on or about 14thAugust 1952 but either the courier left early or the staff car from Kure was late. Anyway,the US Air Traffic Officer (ATO) quickly put me in amongst the mail bags on another cargoplane. I was to be met at Seoul Airport by Captain Owen Magee (Garrison Engineer Seoul).When I arrived, Owen was missing. I rang his office, he was most apologetic for mistakingthe courier as my means of transport. He apologized for the next 48 hours which I spentwith him. By train to Uijongbu and truck to 3 RAR via Battalion Headquarters to Major"Bill" Morrow's D Company where the pioneer platoon was located, on top of thecompany's vital ground. The platoon position consisted of a communication trench and aseries of two man bunkers on the muddy sliding reverse slope just above Captain"Paddy Malony's" Mortar Platoon. Each night we would endeavour to dig weaponpits on the forward slope. Each day either or both the rain and enemy shells would wash orblow the pits away.

Position 187

When I joined,3 RAR, 17 August 1952, it was located on the Hills 179and 187 almost opposite the enemy's three apostles (Mark, Luke and John features) andoverlooking the north east arm of the Samichon River. Bill Morrow's D Company was on Hill159 which was between 179 and 187 and despite the rain was moving forward of 159 to belevel with C Company (Ralph Sutton) so that two companies would be on the approaches tothe battalion's vital ground, viz. either or both 179 and 187 on which were located BCompany and A Company ("Nimblefoot" Norrie) respectively.

I spent some time getting to know minefields. There were a few recordsin the battalion but the red triangles told their tales. After about a month, the platoonwas relocated as part of the defensive position of BHQ. At the CO's direction via MajorHarry Hind (OC Support Company) we redug the platoon and an outpost position with deep,correct to rules bunkers viz. four foot of overhead cover which meant the holes had to bedug 13 feet. The platoon was now comfortable and we began to do some patrolling by nightand work on the Kansas Line by day (mostly on the Lozenge which was battalion's locationon that 'fall-back' line).

Major "Jimmy" Norrie sent me on one of my first missions downa short tunnel into an underground bunker which his 'diggers' had penetrated. This bunkercontained about four Chinese stick grenades, some detonators, and a wooden anti-tank mine.I took these devices down the back of the hill, took the TNT (Tri nitro toluene highexplosive)and primer out of the mine and blew up this explosive and the detonators andgrenades.

The empty box mine accompanied me to the School of Military Engineeringat the end of my tour of duty. The box anti-tank mine was about 30cm x 30cm x 15cm madefrom timber packing cases. Part of the top was hinged with metal pivots. A thin piece ofwood swung into position under the hinged lid. So that a vehicle or tank running acrossthe lid broke the thin piece of wood. The hinged lid struck the detonating device and viathe primer the TNT was exploded.

My next adventure was to take a section of pioneers down to a smalldeserted farming village/homestead and blow it up as the enemy was prone to hide in thevillage by night. The village was inside the 3 RAR boundary which we shared with 1 RARwhich was to our right (east). As the village was in dead ground to the enemy positions onthe hills opposite (the three apostles) our section was able to approach and work inpeace. Major Ralph Sutton's Charlie (C) Company gave us a firm base as they were the rightforward company through which we came and returned. The section souvenired coins, plates,pipes, trinkets etc as we placed white phosphorus grenades in the thatched roofs andlinked these grenades with fuse instantaneous. I told the section commander to retreat upthe hill to C Company. But no, industrial relations prevailed as the section insisted onseeing the big bang from their handiwork. I pushed the plunger of the exploder in true'Bridge on the River Kwai' style. Well, there sure was a big bang. The phosphorus smokebillowed like an atomic bomb and floated off towards C Company. The village burnt quicklyand reduced itself to black ashes. Now the fun began. The enemy shelled C Company like thewar was really on. A few shells dropped a bit short. Later that day the field batterycommander (Major "Alf" Watt), a wonderful fellow and Ralph Sutton claimed noneof the shells or mortars were directed at our pioneer section which was located outside aminefield gap in no man's land until the shelling stopped. We then went home, strung outalong a rising ridge from C Company to A Company, as an enemy 50 cal Machine Gun (MG)tended to make a nuisance of itself from the three apostles (feature 227 Mark, Luke andJohn, ). At a later date one of my pioneers sustained a hole in his upper left arm and amonth or so in hospital from the said 50 Cal.

The Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) told me that he had complained tothe Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Colonel R.L. "Ron" Hughes that thediggers (wounded or otherwise) were chastising him for being a base wallah. So the COorganised a nice quite night patrol with lots of soldiers under Captain John Waterton (exRoyal Marines) to do a sweep in front of Major "Bill" Morrow's D company. Well,RMO's, John Waterton's or beginner's luck, the patrol had a massive fire fight aboutfifteen minutes after the patrol passed through the gap in the wire in front of the DCompany positions. So I was told to dash down to D Company Headquarters and go out toguide the patrol, in particular the wounded through the minefield gap or get them oftrouble if the diggers wandered into the minefield. Fortunately, the pioneer platoon hadbuilt a screened road with corduroy over the swampy valley floor to a bridgehead near thenew D Company Headquarters. So, in the pioneer jeep, one of the few in the battalion, mydriver with a radio and myself without lights drove precariously to D Company. Bill Morrowdispatched me through his company position into and through the minefield gap. As Iarrived at the enemy end of the gap a towering figure approached, it was the"Doc" (RMO) followed by some wounded and others and, in the rear, John Watertonall of whom muttered conflicting war stories. After about an hour I withdrew and wenthome. I recall it was the first night of several nights when I heard the stretcher bearersin the ambulance jeeps singing as they slowly made their way to the Regimental Aid Post(RAP) (behind Battalion Headquarters (BHQ).

Well, as luck would have it, the Intelligence Officer (IO) CaptainBrian Poanga, a New Zealander on detachment to the Royal Australian Regiment, called meduring the next day to brief me on a patrol which I was to take out the next night to finda sniffer dog 'Kingsman' which had been with John Waterton, learning the ropes, before the1st Kings Battalion took over from our battalion. As an engineer/pioneer I was expected toknow all about dogs. Off we went, three men and a dog just after last light, through DCompany, down the minefield gap, turn right down the side of the hill and out through agap in the wire into No Man's Land calling words to the effect "Where are you,Kingsman?" as we swept left around the front of D Company. The patrol noticed thatthe grass was trampled very heavily. So did the dog. He chose to follow the tracks orswathes in the grass which apparently led to China with an excellent scent.

The dog was big and strong so it took me at least 60 yards before I wasable to realise that we were or could be going the wrong way. So I endeavoured to continuethe sweep around D Company left forward platoon, home to Bill Morrow with no news of theKingsman but lots about the battlefield. Later that night, another patrol led byLieutenant "John" Hooper found the body of our Kingsman.

By now I had struck up a relationship with the Royal Engineers atDivisional Headquarters so that I was able to get some original minefield maps and recordsin particular of our location. However, the best learning process was to walk theminefields in each battalion area and in particular after the battalion occupied a newposition. The Commander, Royal Engineers (CRE) Lieutenant Colonel Peter Moore DSO and bar,was prone to consider me one of his officers and consequently briefed me at times, inparticular, when he appeared out of the gloom on rainy nights. The Royal Engineer (RE)sappers said that he never slept!

The wiring in the 187 position was classical protective and defensivewire between platoons and companies. There were protective minefields in front of ACompany whose forward platoons looked straight into the valley and eyeball to eyeball withthe enemy on Mathew (the Western Apostle going east to Mark, Luke and John). D companyforward platoons were on high ground which tended to be back from the Valley. Hence theirprotective minefields were wrapped over rather than around the front of their ridge. Aboutsix months later when I was the Intelligence Officer of 28 Field Engineer Regiment RoyalEngineers (RE) a British battalion (1 Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (1 RNF) wasin the 187 position. Their right forward company was attacked with severe enemypenetration of platoon positions before being repulsed. I went into the company positionon the morning after the battle as it was suggested that the enemy had charged, frontallythrough the protective minefield. There were a few enemy dead from small arms and shrapnelor may be mines just inside the home wire of the minefield but they appeared to have beenblown there or tried to 'bug out' via the minefield. Being familiar with the area andtalking to the company commander there was a simple reason for the initial success of theChinese surprise attack. The enemy had crossed the valley close to or along theinter-battalion boundary between the Naechon and 187 positions, through 'my' burnt outvillage and through a gap in the inter-company/battalion wire and formed up on our side ofthe wire. There was probably a friendly standing patrol close to the company position butnot able to observe or apparently hear the enemy forming up. In hindsight one might saythe gap should have been closed when not in use or a standing patrol placed there beforelast light (the gap was defiladed from the enemy). Alternatively, the natural Forming UpPlace (FUP) should have been wired to preclude its use. We used the area itself and theanswer is not as easy as it seems. However, whatever the lessons, it is crystal clear thatthe enemy did not form up and attack through the minefield. On other occasions, inparticular on 355, I noted that the enemy seemed to be aware of our minefield gaps andused them to enter our friendly positions. The enemy could read the meaning of redtriangles and was keen to stay away from minefields.

The minefields in front of most positions were typical of the initialdefensive layout of the Jamestown Line, namely one mine per five yards of frontage. If thetrip wires were still intact throughout, then the effective density would have been muchhigher. However, two winters 1951/52 and 1952/53 reduced that effectiveness. Neverthelessthe enemy took few, if no risks, with our minefields.

During our period in the 187 position the Royal Engineers with theassistance of 'my' pioneer platoon laid about 200 yards of Commonwealth pattern minefieldsof 4 mines per yard of front on the east side of 187 to guard the approaches to the twotanks which were dug in, in "Elephant Houses" (large bunkers). Bruce Robertson'sAnti-Tank Platoon was nearby. The slope was strewn with loose rocks. One of the Britishcorporals with whom I had become very friendly was arming his section of the minefield andstepped on a mine which he had just armed. He died. Apparently, in the rocks he haddifficulty in finding the mines in the cluster. Hence, in his/the confusion he wasdisoriented. The impact on my assault pioneers was traumatic. These soldiers were keen toavoid future mining operations.

I first met Lieutenant "Joe" Quinlan when the CommandingOfficer sent myself and two of my pioneers on a standing patrol. This standing patrol (SP)was located well out in front of Joe's platoon which itself was the left forward platoonof Major Bill Morrow's left forward company and virtually an outpost, just to the south ofthe old village of Songgok. I collected a phone from Joe Quinlan and proceeded along thevalley to the south of Joe's ridge, " Bird Shit Valley". The SP consisted of ahole about 600cm deep and just big enough for the three of us to sit in, each beingresponsible for a 120 degree arc. The phone was connected back to Joe via an existingcable. About half way through the patrol the silhouette of an enemy patrol of about sevenmoved around our right front and disappeared. I unhooked the phone to stop it ringing andthen, when the coast was clear, I phoned Joe. The return route was along the top of theridge. There was a small ditch across the ridge at about one third of the way back. Mycompanions crossed the ditch while I waited on the enemy side. Suddenly, as I crossed theditch, to my right, there was a massive rustling of bushes. I opened fire, but absolutesilence in response. We anxiously waited for a reaction I met my buddies on the far sideand waited. I decided to consult with Joe. When we arrived at his front gate, Joe decidedthat I had fired on one or more deer?? Joe knew the area well. A few weeks before hisplatoon had reluctantly carried about six dead enemy (including an officer) from thevicinity of the SP up the steep 800 metre track to a jeep head. I understand that they hadbeen killed in an artillery barrage. Because pioneers are considered to be experts atdigging holes in hard and frozen ground I was given the task of burying the dead down bythe battalion shower point. Even with explosives the task was long and difficult.

Yong Dong

After three or four weeks in reserve in the Castle Hill area on theKansas Line, the battalion, retrained, experienced, rekitted in winter clothing andrefreshed, moved into the Yong Dong position. This was considered to be a relatively quietlocation. However, on one occasion the assault pioneers motor driven hot water system wasmistaken by the enemy as the exhaust from a tank. Consequently the area behind the platoonposition was shelled. On another occasion the platoon lookout called me to observe threetrucks coming down the Samichon Road and moving in behind the Three Apostles. 3 RAR wastemporarily in the 29 British Brigade. Hence, I contacted the Royal Artillery (RA)Observation Post Officer (OPO) who either did not believe me that this miracle hadhappened or he could not see the spectacle from his Observation Post (OP). The battalionofficers and non commissioned officers (NCOs) had been able to fire selected tasks withthe New Zealand gunners in 28 Brigade. Hence I was disappointed when I was not allowed to'fire' the guns.

When 3 Battalion RAR arrived in Yong Dong the assault pioneer platoonwas located in hoochies dug in on the enemy side of a deep re-entrant. This reserve roleenabled me to patrol the defences in particular the minefields and wire. Often, I was ableto patrol and explore by day as the enemy was several thousand metres away. The firstlesson I had driven home to me was "'watch your front". I was following theouter minefield wire along the Samichon just in front of the Jamestown Line when I saw themesmerizing three prongs of an M2A2 Anti Personnel (AP) mine. Apparently the fence hadnever included the mine within the boundaries of the minefield. I encountered thissituation on a number of occasions in the future. Whatever the cause one needed to bealert. A few months later a very capable Royal Engineer officer was killed when he stoodon a mine at or near the fence of a reserve minefield. It was a sad loss.

While the platoon was in this reserve position I sent one or twosections back to the RE Field Park Squadron to manufacture a stockpile of the timberframework for four man bunkers. We had used our stock up on the 187 position. The platoonwere a bit peeved when we had to hand over the stockpile to the 1st Battalion Black Watchinstead. Although they could hear the noise on the "Hook" position, little didthe platoon realise that the Black Watch was copping "the lot", nor that in1953, the battalion itself would be on the Hook so the bunker frames would serve us aswell.

After a few weeks, part of support company went forward into defensivepositions. The assault pioneer platoon was about centre front in the overall battalionlayout. Hence, the episodes with the "chuffa" hot water system (mistaken for atank) and the trucks moving behind the "Three Apostles". The platoon was sent ona number of fighting patrols. The best that I remember was when we were sent to examine anew anti-tank ditch which the enemy had dug opposite our battalion position and runningwest on his side of the Samichon into the enemy Forward Defensive Localities (FDLs) Thepatrol left our FDLs at last light with the customary "muck up" with the radiocommunications. They never seemed to work when needed. We leap-frogged from paddy bund topaddy bund with two leading scouts in front until the patrol reached a ford known to us,across the Samichon river. The main part of the patrol formed a firm base on the friendlyside of the Samichon. I took one scout and waded across the river. It was freezing cold,fast, chest deep and wide. When we reached the far bank we found that it was almostvertical and over six feet high. I had spent a lot of time studying the tank ditch throughbinoculars and estimated its locality by paces. I paced out the distance while my buddywatched our rear and sides. I expected to see the trench outline cutting through the bank.Nothing seen. So I struggled up the bank and there it was. The "'cunning"Chinamen had left about a metre from the end of the ditch to the Samichon, uncut. Inoticed the "pitter patter" of tiny feet on the uncut section of the well-wornpatrol path. My patrol buddy joined me and we proceeded to measure the dimensions of thetrench and cautiously walk up the trench towards the enemy FDLs. It was now bright andclear under a virtually full moon on a cloudless night. I saw the silhouette of a sentryand the outline of an untrussed bridge (width unknown). My first inclination was tocapture the sentry, which seemed to be the current catch-cry or alternately shoot him andretreat. Then the penny dropped. Our role was to report the details of the anti-tankditch. We had a few obstacles before we could return to the battalion position. Besidesthere would be a few problems in getting out of the ditch to grab the sentry, particularlyas he might not have been alone and a single shot usually brought maximum retaliation fromChinese troops. So with regret I turned for home. My loyal companion followed (we did notspeak through the whole patrol).

At the end of the trench, the "coast" was clear so we hauledourselves out and walked a few paces along the high bank until we saw an easy way down tothe river level. Always alert we waited, short of and observed the ford crossing. Thereturn journey seemed slower and colder. From the firm base we began our journeycautiously home. Before we reached our FDLs there was a heavy bombardment in the area ofthe ford. I learned later than Lieutenant George Zwolanski had taken a patrol to the fordand received the enemy fire, probably meant for our patrol. Later the Commanding Officerordered the platoon to erect a long double apron fence from the wire on the Yong Dongfeature to the west down to the Samichon. My senior corporal was given the task with hissection and a section of Korean labourers. After about a week I asked him why he was notfinished. He replied that the fence was longer than anticipated. It was then that Idiscovered that instead of constructing the obstacle on top of the ridge the section wasweaving the wire down the reverse slope over 'dongas' etc to avoid being seen by the enemyeven at 4000 metres in a 'quiet area'. Soldiers are not fools.


Hill 355 (Kamaksan) was shaped like Gibraltar. Hence, its nickname"Little Gibralter". 3 Battalion RAR moved from Yong Dong into Area 6 on theWyoming Line for about one month during December 1952 until early January 1953. After anumber of training exercises which included moving in vehicles by night to practicereinforcing battalions in the line, we were told that 3 RAR was to take over from 1 RAR onHill 355. As assault pioneer officer I went forward before Christmas to learn theminefield layout from "Gil" Lucas (1 RAR's Assault Pioneer Officer). Gil was anoutstanding worldwise teacher. He had been promoted from the ranks and knew how soldiersthought. On one reconnaisance patrol I picked up an Owen Gun from the enemy side of thewire on the western approach to the left forward company of 1RAR. The IntelligenceOfficer, Captain "Harry" Sayers had the audacity to demand that I hand over theweapon as it had (probably) belonged to Lieutenant "Digger" James who hadrecently been seriously wounded in that area. Sayers impressed me as battle wise.

I had lots of excitement and interest on 355. Almost every night orearly morning I was out on some escapade or simple minefield reconnaissance. With the helpof one pioneer signaler, I walked, checked and re-plotted the minefields which varied fromclose-in protective, defensive and tactical low density minefields to special tacticalhigh density Commonwealth pattern minefields. One of my early tasks was to find theminefields between Hill 355 and Hill 227 ("John"), partly because the enemy hadclobbered the Canadians in this area, who were on 355 prior to 1 RAR. At one stage theenemy had held a forward platoon position of the left forward company. The platoon areawas badly damaged by artillery bombardments. Hence its Australian name "SurreyHills" after a tenement area in Sydney. 3 RAR (and probably 1 RAR) left at least partof Surrey Hills to standing patrols and tightened up the perimeter as a consequence.

One of my early tasks was to find a Commonwealth pattern minefieldwhich had been laid by the Canadians in the most likely enemy Forming Up Place in front ofour positions. This minefield hindered all movement for both sides up the adjoiningridges. I had a copy of the minefield record. Hence, by day I was able to use binocularsto find some natural features shown on the record and to work out compass directions forthe approach and 'discovery' routes. The records showed that if I went to a very largerock I would be at the north east corner of the minefield wire. As I had seen a snippet ofthe wire at this rock with my binoculars it seemed to be a good start point. I startedout, with a signaler, via the Surrey Hills feature on a compass bearing late at night andfound the big rock. It was gigantic. So I climbed on top and looked down to find the wire.Nothing seen. What to do now ? Be a mountaineer and struggle down the dark side of therock on to the wire or a mine? Or is there a better idea? I climbed back off the rock tothe signaler who was patiently waiting and by compass bearing headed parallel to theminefield. I then left the signaler as a firm base and with a mine-prodder, worked slowlyforward towards the minefield. After about 40 minutes I saw a path and then a wire withtriangles which was parallel to the path. I plodded further until I found a mine andworked out the pattern, in particular, as I could see the paths made by the laying party.I sat and thought. I went back to the wire and the path and sat upon my haunches. I hadreasoned that the path had been made by several movements of the wiring and minefieldrecording party. Cautiously I went southwest until I saw a very definite track whichformed the datum line for the laying of the minefield. Then after exploration, the datumpoint, the enemy side wire, the mines etc were revealed. I was even able to go and checkthe existence of the corner of the wire under the big rock. The minefield had been laidaccurately and well recorded. I rejoined the signaler and was welcomed home by CaptainJohn Waterton, Officer Commanding B Company. The Commanding Officer seemed pleased andcommented that Brigade was also happy. Then he said something about "maybe you shouldtake the radio with you when you go into the minefield?". About 30 years later Ifound out what he meant. A warrant officer photographer said to me I have been waiting tosee you. I was your signaler one night on Hill 355. It transpired the young signaler hadbeen harangued for several hours by the "bosses" to give situation reports,("sitreps"} which he provided in the vaguest terms.

Another typical patrol was to find the minefield running approximatelynorth-south on the eastern side of 227. With one of my assault pioneers (also ex-RoyalMarines United Kingdom ) I set out after midnight from the northern end of Lieutenant"Jack" Kelly's Anti-Tank Platoon position through an abandoned outpost positionand in the moonlight found the minefield outer wire which was about six inches from theground and without triangles. This minefield had been laid when we held 227. Hence, thelow wire was the original enemy side of the minefield. It was low and without trianglesbecause that had been the practice. We followed the wire to the north and confirmed thatit was intact. We were probably seen by an enemy standing patrol at the top of there-entrant. On the return journey the enemy mortared the approach to the abandonedoutpost. My buddy managed to get his clothes entangled in the mass of barbed wires thathad been laid to close off the approach. After he untangled himself he went into one ofthe abandoned weapon pits while I made sure that the gap in the wire was closed off. Thearea must have seemed like daylight in the moon light because someone opened fire withsmall arms very close to me. Afterwards, John Waterton told me that the fire came from227.

Some time later, when Major "Jimmie" Norrie's A Companywas left forward company, a section of infantry waited at the top of the re-entrant under227 while I went via the Anti-Tank Platoon along the minefield wire with a small wiringparty. We erected a high wire with triangles above the low wire fence until I could seethe sentry at the top of the re-entrant. He must have been cold because he kept slappinghis sides with his hands. We turned east, past caves which the Chinese must have dug fortheir earlier attack on the Canadians. We met our protective patrol. I had found twoJapanese style bangalore torpedoes which I gave to the wiring party to carry. I led theway up the ridge towards the Surrey Hills position When we were about 20 yards from thestanding patrol one of the sentries (a reinforcement) opened fire. The shots went closebut over my head, probably because the soldier did not allow for the slope of the hill. Istopped and yelled at the sentry. I understand "Jimmie" Norrie did the same fromthe trenches behind the Start Point. The fire stopped. I turned to signal to my patrol.They were gone. I went back down the track, found the soldiers and went up the hill into ACompany. Much to my disappointment the soldiers did not regard the bangalores as importantand dropped them when the firing started. Later, I was told that the CO used the incidentto point out to the battalion that their marksmanship had to improve.

Possibly, the assault pioneers most exciting task was to go out to aline of weapon pits on a ridge about half way to the Chinese forward defensive positions.Apparently the enemy was able to get into these pits early in the evening and play havocwith our patrols. I understand, the Brigadier directed our CO to send myself and some ofmy platoon, protected by an infantry section, out to these weapon pits. We were to place aM2A2 anti personnel (AP) mine in each weapon pit and screen the pits with trip flares, sothat, when the enemy approached they would trip the flare, our artillery would fire and atsome stage the enemy would jump into the pits. I can recall Major "Bruce"Trenerry who had the centre forward D Company, saying on the radio "lay your eggs andcome home" as dawn was approaching. However, we had completed our task and returnedhome just as dawn was breaking. The ruse did work because the trips flared, the artilleryfired and when we went to recover the mines there was blood, splints and two torn tunicsat the site. Similar to the first patrol, I located the section of infantry at the foot ofthe ridge as a firm base. The radio team of two was just short of the ridge line andmyself and a few pioneers went forward. I was to disarm and recover half of the mines.Another pioneer corporal was to disarm and recover the other half. We had armed ourrespective mines on the first patrol. After I had completed my half I encountered thecorporal, who said that some of his pits were too deep for him to reach the mines. So Iasked him to sit on my legs and I disarmed and recovered the rest of the mines. Thecorporal was a very good soldier but he had witnessed the death of the Royal Engineercorporal who was arming mines in Position 187. As we approached home, the enemy began tomortar the abandoned weapon pits. I grabbed the radio handset and asked for "mortarson our position now". We were on the A Company radio net and Jim Norries' responsewas immediate because as we arrived at our firm base the artillery opened fire. It was along steep haul up the hill into A Company's position. The enemy persisted by mortaringand shelling the track but the bombs and shells were far enough away to be ineffective.

One of my favourite tasks was to check the wire of a minefield betweenour battalion and 1st Republic of Korea (ROK} Division. Sometimes I encountered a ROK(South Korea) patrol walking along a ridge near the end of the minefield. Theseinspections were during the day, particularly at first light, as the minefield was mostlyenfiladed from the enemy positions. My successor "Joe Quinlan" was not so lucky.He was killed by a bullet from an enemy patrol on a similar inspection.

I arrived at the battalion intelligence officer's (IOs) patrolbriefing, by chance, one morning. Lieutenant "John" Hooper was being briefed togo on patrol on to the northeast face of 227. I said that was not a wise move as therewere minefields across the proposed route of the patrol. But I was told that the dottedlines on the map indicated that the minefields were gone. Fortunately, I was able toconvince those present that the dotted lines meant that the minefield wire was only"probably" missing.

The patrol was called off. Unfortunately some Royal Engineer officersalso misunderstood this symbol a few months later and a British company group advanced tothe attack on to the northern side of the Hook. Several mines exploded and, by bad luck,there were more than the average number of casualties. Hence, the attack was aborted.

28 Field Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers

3 Battalion RAR moved from 355 to "Camp Casey", a Corpsreserve position to the south. We went on many battalion and even brigade exercises.During this period the Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant Colonel R.L. "Ron"Hughes, returned to Australia. Major "Mac" Newton was acting CO for a periodthen Major "Bill" Henderson took over. I was reposted to the 28 Fd EngineerRegiment Royal Engineers (RE), initially as a liaison officer (LO) but after about onemonth I was made the Intelligence Officer. On arrival at my new unit, the British CO sentme with a jeep and driver to draw a map of all the minefields on the Kansas Line. So forabout a month, with compass and tape, myself and my sapper/driver trekked the hills.

Under the directions of Major "Ted" Griff I had frequentlydrawn maps of the defensive position on the Lozenge (part of the Kansas line). There weremany red triangles on the northern slopes of the Lozenge as well as in the paddy fieldsbelow. However, many of the mine wired areas contained various booby traps, mainly"mills" bombs in tin cans with some wires intact. On the paddy fields were manyfuel drums to be detonated by trip wire and fuse (a type of "fugasse"}. Some ofthe devices would have been spoiled by water but others were still sound, two years afterthey had been laid. The wire on the Lozenge, some of which had been erected in early 1951and some by my own platoon during 1952/53, together with the red triangled areas, seemedformidable. I started from the western end of the Kansas Line. The country was reasonablyheavily wooded with spectacular views from the tops of the hills across the Imjin RiverValley. There were scenes of battles and fire fights with skeletons still in position. Oneinteresting scene was a Chinese mountain gun and crew which must have been shelled orperhaps hit by an airstrike. The gun was right up on the edge of a strategic minefield.The records in this area were very accurate and very clear. Most of these fields have beenlaid by 'miscellaneous' forces in this case the Belgian troops. As I moved further to theeast, the minefields were not as neat and the individual minefield records were hard tomatch with the ground. Datum points which referred to trees or big rocks were often achallenge. Which tree or which rock was the reference? However, we persisted andeventually the task was complete. With the help of the Royal Engineer RegimentHeadquarters draughtsman and a United States Army printing unit, at Army Headquarters, anoverprinted divisional minefield map was produced. This map covered all of the knownminefields, in particular those on the Jamestown and Kansas Lines.

During my period as Intelligence Officer Royal Engineers (IORE) I wasable to re-visit many of the forward Jamestown Line minefields to confirm details and tobrief others on various layouts. Periodically I received visitors from units, including aspecial United States research unit, the Engineer Technical Intelligence Team, (ETIT). Atypical request was to accompany a (mysterious) intelligence officer to a minefield on thewestern divisional boundary. I was shown a well worn path going north through theminefield. On the path, well into the minefield, lay a body in typical Korean wintercivilian clothing. I explored the area with a pair of binoculars. It was possible to workout the minefield pattern, in particular around the body (one mine per 5 yards plustrips). I prodded my way along the track both to the front and sides of the track until Ireached and checked the body. I checked for some distance around the body because the areawas littered with hundreds of photographic negatives (which apparently were the target thespoils). I beckoned to the intelligence officer who came and collected the negatives.Apparently, the North Korean/Chinese couriers had used this track for some time. The deadcourier was unlucky. He had, perhaps in the dark, stepped about 200 centimetres to thewest of the track and stood on the only mine which was near the track. Most of the tripwires were broken. The jumping jack hit the courier in the small of his back, just underhis pack. Hence, the scattering of the negatives.


The units who laid the minefields undoubtedly improved their owndefences, in particular where the fields were covered by small arms fire. The pattern withone mine per five yards of front relied on the trip wires to be effective. These fieldswere able to be laid quickly and served their initial purpose. Passing records betweenunits and handing over the minefields by walking every fence was essential. Regularchecking of the fences and the fields was critical. Minefields are weapons and usedcorrectly serve a useful purpose. There could have been more Commonwealth patternminefields laid along most likely enemy approaches to reinforce the one mine per 5 yards.The enemy actions were constrained by our minefields. Problems with the minefields stemmedfrom ignorance and a fear born from ignorance and past experiences. Old minefields werestill lethal and needed to have their fences maintained. Soldiers who fluked a tripthrough a minefield were almost invariably killed on their second trip. The original lowwire fences needed to be heightened because our own troops sometimes lost their way andblundered into our own minefields. Sometimes, patrols who were disoriented would endeavourto try to find the outer minefield wire. Hence, the need for high fences with plenty ofbig red triangles. 3 Battalion RAR was reinforced by individual soldiers. Hence, there wasa real danger that information would not be passed uniformly throughout the battalion.

I enjoyed my valuable military experiences in Korea. I was able tomaster the techniques of mine warfare. In addition, my various postings showed me theoperations of the whole division. In particular defence, patrolling and comradeship. TheKansas Line minefields laid in 1951/52 were similar to those on the Jameson Line whichwere laid later in 1952/53. However, the Commonwealth pattern minefields were much moreprolific on the Jameson Line. The lessons from Korea are important to remember. Theeffectiveness of various minefield densities, the avoidance of multiple trip wires and thenecessity to cover the minefield with small arms fire must not be forgotten.


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