Chapter 18



Service Details

Ron Walker enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in July 1951 atPerth, WA at the age of 17 years and four months. One of his brothers had served with 3Battalion RAR at the Battle of Kapyong and another was serving with 1 RAR then currentlyin Korea. He undertook Recruit Training at Guildford, WA., and then advanced infantrytraining at Puckapunyal, Victoria. On completion, he was posted to the MMG Platoon,Support Company of 2 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and sailed with the battalion toKorea and served there from March 1953 until April 1954. On his return to Australia heserved with 2 RAR at Enoggera and Canungra, Queensland, and then with the 17th NationalTraining Battalion at Wacol, Queensland from October 1955 till December 1956. From January1957 until June 1957 he was with the Bomb Search & Disposal Squad, Brisbane. He wasdischarged on 1 July 1957 with the rank of Corporal. Ron is married to Joy (nee Wheeler)and they have five children and eight grandchildren. He now lives in Kelmscott, WesternAustralia., and is in active retirement which includes gem fossicking, camping. He alsodabbles in photography and oil painting.


I have some vivid memories of songs of the times, which were:"Jumbalaya, Teresa Brewer, "Moving On"', Hank Snow, "Vaia ConDios", Doris Day, "Too Young", Nat King Cole, "Seven LonelyDays", Teresa Brewer and Nagaski Butterfly.....? Our embarkation began when weboarded a train at Dysart siding, near Seymour, Victoria on 4 March 1953 bound for Sydney.It was just one month after my 19th birthday and I was a Corporal No.1 gunner on a Vickersmedium machine gun. We traveled to Korea on the migrant liner "New Australia" torelieve 1 RAR which had by then spent a full year in Korea. Reinforcements of that unityet to complete their time, were taken on strength with 2 RAR. I recall the ship dockingat Pusan with an American band playing "Waltzing Matilda". A certain sergeant(Brian Cooper) was taken with the sight of a very large American Negro sergeant smoking anequally large cigar. It prompted him to shout, "say boy .... which is theseegar?"

After disembarking, we were taken to a British transit camp where wewere kitted out with winter clothing and marveled at the quality of it all. Such things aszips on the trouser fly, which caught pubic hair in the zip after urinating. Also longunderpants with a overlapping fly in the front and the back. This was to allow bowelmovements in the cold wintry conditions, without exposing bare skin to the elements.Another novel item was a string vest, much like a shopping bag, to be worn under a woolenshirt to trap warm air next to the skin. Seams of clothing had to be treated with antimite liquid to prevent getting Haemorrhagic fever. For the feet, boots cold wet weather,worn a size larger to take heavy socks and an insole of layered nylon mesh much like flywire. We were allowed to blacken anklets and web belts, thus doing away with"Blanko" forever. The food was obviously tinned rations of British origin,dehydrated vegetables and a heavy Christmas like "Pusan Pudding".

We left Pusan by train headed for the Commonwealth Division which wasnow in reserve at Camp Casey having a brief respite from operations. I recall the hundredsof Korean Kids, many badly scarred or with limbs missing, clothed in rags and all begging.Some trying to sell watches or other items; some trying to steal the watches off of ourarms. On the way north that night, we passed a train going south with 1 RAR heading home.My brother, Jack Walker, was on board that train. At Camp Casey we had a chance to makecontact with other units of the Commonwealth Division; the Durham Light Infantry, KingsOwn Regiment, Royal Fusiliers, Canadian and French Canadian battalions. Whilst at CampCasey some mates and I went absent without leave one night to "Little Chicago"in the local town of Ichon nearby. It was all beer halls, brothels and black market stalls(I didn't do anything, just looked). Whilst there American Military Police raided theplace and began shooting the place up. We took off for Camp Casey along the railway lineand soon we ran into a South Korean guard post. We managed to convince them we were notbeing apprehended by pommy redcaps (MP's), but, spun them a yarn about being out on nightmap reading exercises. After giving them false names and units, we headed off to CampCasey again. Life was getting serious. Closer to the front line, we took over a camp sitefrom French Canadians and spent many hours cleaning up and burying human excrement theyhad left where they had dropped it. Dirty bastards.

Our first active tour of duty was at Hill 159 where we took over fromthe Royal Fusiliers. We had to access our position via a camouflaged road which was underconstant observation by the enemy and frequently shelled. Whilst carrying out a daylightinspection of the position on arrival, with a rifle company non commissioned officer(NCO), there was a loud "whack" of a sniper bullet striking a sandbag nearby. Onanother day we watched as the Assault Pioneer commander, Lieutenant P.O.G. Forbes MCcasually mooched along the front of the wire emplacement inspecting its condition. Yetanother occasion, a rifleman spotted movement over near the enemy lines and asked if wecould send over a few bursts. I asked the Section Sergeant for the okay to do so and hereferred the request to the Company Commander. Two hours later I got the okay to fire asingle burst (25 rounds) I couldn't see any movement any more, but I fired the burstanyway.

A personality clash with the Section Sergeant saw me put on a"Fizzer" (charge sheet) and reprimanded. I seriously considered transfer to arifle Platoon but in the end I was seconded by Sergeant Cooper to his section at"Vickers Village", a platoon position of four guns. There I was a gun numberone, Corporal, with a crew of three men one of whom was a driver. Kevin Power fromQueensland was the other number one in the section. Whilst there, my number two, DanMudford, accidentally shot himself between the toes one wet night. There was a big fussabout this because it was something done on occasions by people who wanted to get awayfrom the front line. What actually happened, Dan was guilty of leaving the safety slide onhis Owen gun disengaged. He slipped in the mud whilst descending into his sleeping bunker,fell against the wall causing the weapon to chamber and fire a round between his toes. Onanother day I was test firing Owen Guns into a pit and accidentally blasted the heel offmy left boot. I didn't report it. "Vickers Village", as we called ourselves, hadfour guns firing down a valley known as the "Bowling Alley" because of the echoof the big guns at our rear (US 240mm guns). At night we could hear the "Lily of theValley" on the enemy power amplified (PA) system sending out her propaganda messages.We had a grandstand of air strikes carried out by Sea Fury, carrier borne aircraftdropping deep penetration bombs and napalm. We also had a good view of Hill 355,"Little Gibraltar". Our bunkers were set up beside the gun and at intermittenttimes during the night we'd sit up and fire bursts of harassing fire at given targets. Onenight we had to give covering fire to our anti tank platoon, who were acting as a rifleplatoon and had struck trouble whilst on patrol. I worried about my mate"Laurie" Tilbrook, who later said that our rounds were like bees buzzing aroundthem.

There was a general election in Australia whilst we were at 159 and wewere allowed to vote. Similarly, the coronation of the Queen took place with red, whiteand blue smoke rounds plastered all over "Charlie's" lines. Six weeks later wewere relieved and went into rest before going into the line at Hill 111, next to thenotorious HOOK, to be defended by the rest of 2 RAR. It was about the same time PresidentSyngman Rhee of Korea was releasing North Koreans POW's. Lingering memories of my timethere include the United States (US) Marines, combat ice cream delivered by chopper, LuckyStrike and Camel cigarettes, 'C' (Combat) rations. Lots of dead bodies, laid out waitingto be picked by half track or trucks. Having to walk through these on our way to the fieldkitchen for meals.

One our blokes, Cranston, would keep seeing trees and other objectsmoving out to the front and would wake the rest of us up to "stand to". One dayI went up to the Yank (United States of America) lines and had a fire of the quadruplemounted .50 cal machine guns. It was great stuff. In return, I let a couple of Yanks firethe Vickers gun. One guy said, in real southern drawl, "dear mon, I fired the Vickersgun". We lived it up on combat rations, which the Yanks rejected. They believed wehad it made with our field kitchen, frozen beef, dehydrated spuds and eggs, tinned baconand 'Pusan Pud'. The RSL gift packs were terrific. They contained a bottle of beer,writing materials and Wrigley's PK chewing gum. The issue tin of 50 Playerscigarettes we gave to the KATCOMS (Korean troops). Platoon Sergeant, "Doug"Jordan used to deliver these items. On the night of 24/25 July when we came under strongattack and bombardment, I was blown out of my bunk by a shell burst. Later investigationshowed that all the soil on top of the bunker had blown away, exposing the supportinglogs.

Everyone was "standing to" (in positions of battle readiness)and under constant and intense barrage. The U.S. marine positions to our left were beingheavily attacked and survivors were moving about. We called for flares and didn't get themso we had to make do with our 2 inch mortar fired from the bottom of the trench. At onestage, a U.S. medical attendant came and asked for cover and assistance, so two of us wentwith him into the marine positions to check for and recover and wounded. I entered thefirst bunker. It was pitch black inside. I cautiously called out and felt around. Icontacted a dead body, cold and covered in blood. Further along the trench we met a groupof marines moving out and they informed us that the 'Gooks' ( North Korean or Chineseenemy forces) had taken over. We decided that we shouldn't be there and returned to ourown position.

Alan Casey, a platoon signaler, went out to try and restore thetelephone lines. He didn't have a 'flak jacket' (light body armour) so I gave him mine.There wasn't enough for everyone to have one. As fast as Casey could repair the lines inone place, a shell burst would break it in another. A marine sergeant came down thecommunication trench and informed us that he was the last one out and to shoot anythingthat moved from then on. He had a silver .45 pistol and stood on top of the trench lineblasting away with it. I thought to myself, "Mister, if you get bumped off, that gunis mine". He didn't and it wasn't. Some activity was seen on the skyline near themarine bunkers and we fired at these with our Owen guns. Noises were heard near the wireto our front and although it was too dark to see anyone, we engaged the area withgrenades. We barricaded the trench line and set up firing positions facing outwards.During the brief lull, which was a rarity, I went to Corporal Power's gun position to seehow he was holding out. I found a couple of blokes intent on taking cover in a 'hoochi'(defensive bunker) so I rooted them out and put them in a firing position between KevinPower's gun and the Command Post (CP) bunker. I went up to the U,S. tank position andborrowed their .30 cal machine gun. After setting that up the blokes reckoned they didn'tknow how to operate it; so I showed them how to load and fire it and instructed them touse grenades if need be. You don't give away your position when throwing grenades.

Back at my own gun position, we started receiving incoming bombardmentagain and copped a direct hit on the "ammo" (ammunition) bay. I was blown axleover apex and winded. "Dan" Mudford was staggering around and was wounded. Hewas bleeding from the ears and his face was sand blasted. I sent him to the CP. All theammo reserve was gone but a fair bit was at the guns. A little later, Corporal"Kipper" Franklyn, who was there as advance NCO of the reserve section due torelieve us, received a shrapnel wound to his left arm which severed an artery. Blood wassquirting 18 inches high. I sent him to the CP as well. I was still requestingillumination (flares) when Sergeant "Coop" Cooper warns that he has called ourown artillery directly onto us. SHIT! I could see the 'daisy cutters' bursting above theground everywhere. Casey was back from his useless mission by this time and that left himand the KATCOM to fire the Vickers at any movement near the American bunkers. The Owenswere okay up close, but not much good over 100 yards. An y more and they would bounce offthe enemy winter jackets. We also kept up a steady stream of grenades thrown to our front.I covered an extra field of fire that now took in a 180 degree arc across the gun bunker,the CP, then to the rear skyline and across the former ammo bay.

The KATCOM, Soo Kyo Soong, was in the bunker manning the Vickers Gunand I made sure he knew how to disable it if we had to pull out in a hurry. Casey and Idiscussed the possibility of a 'bug out' and I asked him to cover me while I ducked intothe remains of my 'hoochi' to get the photo of my Fiancee (now wife), Joy, which I stillhave. Near first light, things started to quieten down. At daylight, the marines came backon a 'turkey shoot' to recover their lost positions, a task that took them all day, Theyused flame throwers and 3.5 rocket launcher (bazooka) to root out the Chinese and reoccupy their trenches, such as they were. I remember sitting in the doorway of the CPfeeling very numb, bloody tired and having a feeling of detachment, watching the stream ofstretcher borne bodies (U.S. Marines) going past, some still smouldering from the effectsof the flame throwers. Others with limbs and bits missing and all of them so very dead.And Casey still had my bloody flak jacket. I realised that, during the night, I'd taken upsmoking.

Post Scripts: Feelings and Emotions

A couple of years ago, I was on a prospecting trip in the goldfieldsnear Sandstone in Western Australia (WA), accompanied by my eldest son John. Around thecamp fire one clear, starry night, imbibing with a drop of port to combat the bitter cold,I happened to comment on the similarity on the night to some of those I had experiencedwhilst in Korea. Eventually John asked; "What does it feel like when you are underfire?" I tried to tell him then how I actually felt on that night (24/25 July 1953)on Hill 111, but I felt that my words were inadequate and that I really failed to conveythe true emotion of being in battle. Since that time, I have often pondered about thosefeelings and how I might record them. I take the time now to put them down on paper in thehope that an astute writer of military history might express them more fully for thosepoor souls who are yet to experience their brush with hell. The feelings I express allrelate to the events that took place during the Chinese attack on Hill 111, 24/25th ofJuly, Korea, 1953.

First was the initial shock of being on the receiving end of an intenseartillery barrage. All I could do was to crouch in a trench trying to bury myself in thedirt wall and cope with the inner tension building up within my body. The scream and thudof incoming artillery and mortar fire was constant, the only difference being thecloseness of the burst. Whilst being showered with lumps of dirt and debris I waited forthe one burst that might be destined to silence me forever. My thoughts drifted to whatour grandfathers might have experienced in France during World War 1 and our fathers laterat places like Tobruk during World War 2. (2 RAR intelligence reports gave a count of 4500hostile rounds falling on Hill 111 during the night).

Then there was the feelings of despair and hopelessness when, duringshort lulls in the fall of shot, I peered over the parapet and could see the verticalsearchlight beam over Panmunjon where the Generals were "TALKING PEACE".

There was also the feeling of being 'let down' when I saw what was leftof the US Marines filing past and what might be, pulling out. (Land of the brave, TheHalls of Montezuma etc., etc). All the awe built up over the years by the movies andcharacters like John Wayne vanished in a matter of moments; now they were pulling out.Then there was the realization that when they were gone, there was just us!

As I watched the Marine Sergeant standing above the trench line firinghis pistol at the enemy, I had the dreadful feeling of vulnerability in our defensiveposition if we had to expose ourselves as he had to get at the enemy.

After the ammo bay was destroyed, the feelings of fear and panic at theapparent hopelessness of our position and the desire to take flight from this wholenightmare. Reality returned when I looked up and saw a mate staggering out of the dust andsmoke, both hands clasped to his head; trying to comfort him in his moment of need andhelping him to the relative safety of the CP until he could be evacuated.

After checking the rest of the crew and myself, I recall taking acouple of deep breaths, standing up a bit straighter and having a new feeling within ofbeing more positive, adapting to the circumstances, feeling different about the self andthe job in hand; a strange sensation of being more mature, older maybe. Being prepared tomake the rudest of gestures at the devil in defiance of his efforts to kill us.

Finding Chinese 'potato masher' grenades that had failed to explode,just feet from our position, brought home the realization of how close the enemy andpossibly death had been.

In the aftermath, the totally detached and emotionally numbingexperience observing the carnage of the night before with bodies of friend and foelittering the Hill and its slopes. The feeling of looking down upon the whole scene fromafar; being totally numbed by the brutality of it all. Perhaps in a state of shock?

Then when the relief section came, the wanting to get the hell out ofthere even though the whole evacuation had to be done constantly under fire. Yet there wasa certain reluctance to leave; as if a certain something had been left behind and moretime should be spent looking for it.

These feelings have never left me completely and are as vivid now asthey were then.

Poems and Anecdotes- "Getting Your Own Back"

When vacating a bivouac area it was common practice to clean up with an'Emu Bob', (manual pick up of waste) and to burn the toilet pit before backfilling it.This way the area was left clean and sanitary for users who might follow. On one suchoccasion we were mounted in vehicles ready to depart and watched the lone soldier whoseduty it was to administer last rites to the pit. He had applied fuel to the hole (petrol)and was attempting to ignite it with matches. His ranging shots began from a distance ofabout six feet (2 metres), but the match extinguished before reaching the petrol vapour.He advanced to three feet (1 metre) and tried again with similar results. Finally, he tookup position at the edge of the pit, struck a match and dropped it in the hole. There was amuffled 'thump' accompanied by a bright flash and a very thick cloud of mud like substancehurtled skywards. My last recollections are of this soldier as a solitary figure, standingerect, eyes as wide as saucers, mouth tightly closed and covered in a dripping brown/blacksubstance. He was to remain alone for some time to come.

A Yarn Often Spun

"There we were; three against a thousand. We fought them for sevendays and nights as the battle waxed and waned; neither side yielding. We exhausted ourammunition and were too far out to get support, so we fixed bayonets and charged. Thefighting that ensued was fierce hand to hand combat and finally we overwhelmed them. Theywould have to be the toughest three we ever fought."

Spit It Out for Safety Sake!

After the cease fire our major task was to re-construct a solid line ofdefences called the 'Kansas Line'. This involved building heavily reinforced gun pits andbunkers with communication trenches linking them The digging was never easy, but oursproved to be located over a very rocky area and explosives were constantly needed topenetrate a few inches at a time. We were assigned an assault pioneer to do the blasting.A peculiar characteristic of his was to stutter when he got excited.

Our erstwhile "powder monkey" would, after igniting a fuse,scramble toward a safe position all the while shouting "Fer - Fer - Fer fireone". More often than not, those working in adjacent sites had little time to takecover themselves and more than once were caught in exposed ground.

Making An Opening

The interested, but ill informed visitor to our machine gun positionwould ask all sorts of questions about the effectiveness of our Vickers Gun against enemytargets. A legitimate question, but asked often enough was prone to get a response likethe one that follows:

"To get "Charlie" (Chinese) to expose himself from hishighly concealed and heavily covered position, the machine gunners had devised a trick.The first three rounds in the ammunition belt were specially made with wooden bullets, butthe remaining were ball ammunition. The trick was to fire the first three rounds, pause,then follow with a 25 round burst.

At the target end, "Charlie" would hear a "knock, knock,knock," on his door and on opening it to see who was calling. He would be greetedwith 25 rounds of .303 bullets. Truly!

A Korean Hillside

There is blood on the hills of Korea
'tis the blood of the brave and the true.
Where the nations they battle together
beneath the banners of red white and blue.
As we marched o'er the hills of Korea
to the hills where the enemy lay.

We remember our general's orders
those hills must be taken today.
So forward we went into battle
our faces unsmiling and stern,
for we know as we charge that hillside
there are many who shall not return.

Some thought of their wives and sweethearts,
some thought of their mothers so fair.
Yet others who plodded and stumbled
were softly saying a prayer.

There is blood on the hills of Korea
'tis the cost of the freedom we love.
May their names live in glory forever,
while their souls rest in heaven above.

Dear Mum

Dear Mum it seems like ages since I came over here, to battle for gloryin this land they call Korea. I've had the time to settle in and time to look around, I'vehad my chance to make my mark upon this battle ground.

But Mum; it's hard to battle on, it's hard to make a show, when you'refrozen to the marrow and sleeping in the snow. Then cobbers all round you are dropping offlike flies, and blindness comes to get you from snow glare in your eyes.

When water in your bottle is a frozen lump of ice and your tuckersalways frozen and your head full of lice. When you grab your gun to fire at some advancing'chink' and the heel leaves a blister, well, it kinda makes you think.

Of summers heat in Aussie where there's heat enough to spare and thelively dancin heat waves cut a caper in the air. When the sound of trickling water in aquiet forest dell, takes the place of screaming 'Banzai' well, that knocks your nerves tohell.

When a man can live in plenty and find a helping hand, yes, I'd give alot to be there in my blessed native land. But, first there's a war to win to keep oldAussie free, to make the world around us like one big family.

So I'll spit on my bayonet and prime a new grenade, I'll never letthose bastards know I ever was afraid. One day it'll all be over; one day we'll all befree, from the threat of Communism and that's the day for me.

I hope that I'll be good enough to see the job well done. I'm sendingyou this letter, Mum, from your ever-loving Son.

Korean Lament

Just over the Manchurian border, Korea is the spot.
We are doomed to our lifetime, in this land that God forgot.

Down with the snakes and lizards, down where the men are few.
Right in the middle of nowhere and a helluva way from home too.

We swear, we sweat, we grumble; it's more than we can stand.
We're not a bunch of convicts, but defenders of our land.

We are soldiers of an active force drawing our monthly pay,
defending our people and country for thirty three bob a day.

Living on our memories or our waiting gals,
hoping that while we're away they haven't married pals.

The time we spent in the Army, the good times that we missed,
Boys, we hope the draft don't get you, for God's sake don't enlist.

Now when we get to heaven, St. Peter will surely yell:
they'reREOS from Korea Lord and they've seen enough of hell.

Anzac Capers

Picture the scene if you will. A busy Korean road with military trafficof all kinds busily dodging pot holes and each other, going where ever they are headed.Suddenly, without signal, two such vehicles, traveling in opposite directions stop side byside. A cascade of water engulfs both vehicles as their occupants trade contents ofvarious water containers. Other road users can't believe their eyes at what they haveseen! Shortly the vehicles continue their various journeys with much gesticulating andexchange of friendly taunts by their respective occupants. Fear not. The enemy has notinvaded; just another friendly meeting between Aussies and Kiwis.

Nobody seemed to know how or when this challenge originated; or evencare for that matter. But the sport of water fighting (substituting snow in winter) becameso prevalent that whenever a vehicle had to make a journey on open roads, it becamenecessary to load up with any suitable containers available with water. Technology wasenlisted eventually when drivers emptied their vehicle hand pump type fire extinguishers,filling them with water because they made an excellent water pistol. The game must havecaused a stir amongst allied forces resulting in an order coming down from BrigadeHeadquarters ordering the practice to cease.

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