Chapter 37


Compiled by "MAURIE" PEARS

The extracts below have been taken from various publications, to highlight the extraordinary fighting skill and courage of the Australian soldiers in Korea, principal of which are Bob O'Neill's Official History "Australia in the Korean War", David Horner's "Duty First", Bob Breen's "Kapyong" and "Battle of Maryang San" and the Journals of the Royal United Service Institution of New South Wales all of which are all gratefully acknowledged. >


(The following extracts taken from "KAPYONG" by "Bob Breen" and published by Headquarters Training Command are gratefully acknowledged.)

John Grey

The Australian Army's participation in the Korean War included several quite exceptional unit actions. In 1950-51, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), maintained the excellent reputation of the Australian profession of arms by fighting well during both offensive and defensive operations. This tradition was continued by the other battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment after they were deployed to Korea in 1952. Of all the military feats of the battalions of the RAR in Korea, only the Battle of Kapyong was recognised formally with the award of a US Presidential Unit Citation. The citation was shared with a Canadian infantry battalion and a US tank company. It elevated a hard-fought rearguard action to the most commemorated Australian battalion action of the Korean War. The Battle of Kapyong was a rearguard defensive action followed by a fighting withdrawal.

Kapyong was not a big battle but it was an important one. Timing was the key to its importance and subsequent recognition. By nightfall on 23 April 1951, an entire Republic of Korea infantry division had been forced into chaotic retreat by attacking Chinese formations. Thousands of South Korean soldiers and panic-stricken civilians streamed past the hastily prepared blocking positions of 3 RAR, as well as 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and A Company, US 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion. These units were ordered to deny advancing Chinese formations a route down the Kapyong Valley into the South Korean Capital of Seoul for as long as possible.

Under the cover of darkness scores of Chinese soldiers, hidden among the felling South Koreans, infiltrated past the Australian positions. Following Chinese units repeatedly attacked the Australians straight off their line of march. Despite being outflanked, and initially without adequate artillery and mortar support, the Australians held for 24 hours before withdrawing intact. Then the Canadians held for a further 24 hours and did the same. The 48 hours respite enabled United Nations formations further south to regroup and establish a defensive line which subsequently stopped the Chinese offensive.

This high level of morale can only be maintained in defence and during a fighting withdrawal when commanders remain steady under sustained pressure. Soldiers must trust and have confidence in their commanders, in themselves and in each other. The commanders of 3 RAR and their men displayed these attributes during the Battle of Kapyong. Their recollections contained in this monograph testify to their fighting spirit, their self confidence and their commitment to each other.

Robert O'Neill, the Official War Historian

If any factor stands out in 3 RAR's conduct at Kapyong it is the unfailingly high morale which its members showed throughout the battle. It was difficult enough to fight off waves of attacks at night. It was yet more demanding to endure the following day in a relatively open position, exposed to the enemy on all sides, cut off from other battalions by several kilometres and under constant fire. The greatest test of morale was the final withdrawal, which was carried out by exhausted men in considerable danger without giving in to depression, fear or panic of any kind.

"Don" Beard

...a group of young officers from the Engineers, Infantry and Medical Corps, together with some sisters from the BCOF hospital and some American Red Cross girls were about to set off in a hired Japanese steam launch. There were great plans for a weekend of sailing on the Inland Sea with the Saturday night on an island where a dinner had been arranged. None of this was to happen. Inevitably the announcement came that all United Nations personnel were to report back to their base units. We were not happy about going. We scarcely knew where Korea was nor whether or not we were involved in the United Nations. But return we did.

The units formed for service in Korea were a mixture of Regular Army career soldiers and short term temporary enlistments. These included young men like myself who felt they should give some contribution to the Army because of their inability to serve during World War II. There were many others who had joined the Army to escape from something in Australia. 'Something' may have been a woman, creditors, or the law. A motley crew was gathered.

'Ben' O'Dowd

When the Korean War broke out 3 RAR was in the process of packing up to return to the mainland. The unit had been reduced to just three very under strength rifle companies. The Korean War began within five years of World War II so that, back in Australia, there existed a reservoir of adventurous, trained and blooded ex-AIF men keen to get into another scrap. These fellows provided badly needed skills and experience. My company at Kapyong [A Company] was 87% ex-AIF K Force.

Editors' Note

For the Australians, the coming of the Chinese offensive coincided with the death of their new CO. On 30 October a stray Chinese shell cleared the crest of a hill and exploded near where Charlie Green was sleeping. A piece of shrapnel sliced into his stomach and two days later he died from complications resulting from this wound: no one else in the area was hit by fragments from the shell that killed him.

Bruce Ferguson

It is one thing to take over a command in peacetime and enjoy the luxury of a new appointment but quite another to assume command of a unit in combat. That day left me with agonizing doubts as to my ability. It was clear to me that the Battalion had not recovered from their recent setback, and I was still under assessment by every digger. That night I got to thinking how Charlie Green would have tackled the problem and it was then that I realized he had left behind a legacy I should try to carry on. It was not long before it became apparent to me that I had inherited the loneliest command any man could have. Being the senior Australian, I was solely responsible for anything that might befall the Australian battalion in Korea ... With no one to turn to for advice in whatever situation I might find myself, it was, as I have said, the loneliest command ever allotted to an Australian battalion commander on foreign soil.

"Don" Beard

The winter months taught me about the multitude of problems with which I would have to deal. Most medical problems were caused by the effects of the dreadful climate. There were occasional encounters with the enemy and I would be called upon to treat gunshot wounds. There were also psychological problems within a group of men who felt that they had been forgotten by Australia. The diggers wondered why they were there and how long it would be before the War would end. They wondered how long it would be before they might be replaced by the dwindling number of replacements. I rapidly found that my role as the RMO was more important as a counselor than as a dresser of wounds. Operations during the Korean winter required tremendous physical and mental fitness which tested many of the members to the limit ... It was a series of forced marches, brief battles, consolidation and then further advances. We lived in shallow defensive trenches which were rapidly dug in the snow as protection against the enemy and the elements. We went on day after day without relief. I very quickly became proud to be an Australian because of their efforts.

George Coad

The soldiers when they saw a pile of straw kicked it and out would bolt a North Korean. Up with a rifle, down with a North Korean and the Australians thoroughly enjoyed it.

"Ben" O'Dowd

A Company was already standing by behind the Middlesex so it was obvious we would get the task. Ferg's briefing gave me great encouragement to succeed. He said, 'The Brits have been unsuccessful twice and now all eyes are on the Australians. Don't you come back without it.' I knew he was not kidding! 'Sardine' was on a ridge-line running parallel to the one from which we were observing the efforts of the Middlesex. A deep, well-timbered gully lay between. A frontal attack would involve my men descending into this gully before rushing up a steep slope onto the enemy positions. This was what the Middlesex had done, twice. This was a tactic profoundly disliked by the Diggers who described it disparagingly as 'going straight up the guts.'

"Lou" Brumfield

I rejoined the Battalion two days before the Battle of Kapyong ... ANZAC Day was coming up. We had a big thing going with the Turks. We had even sent a recce [reconnaissance] party over to have a look. The beer ration had been increased.

Bruce Ferguson

As to my situation [on the morning of 23 April 1951], I am reminded of a conversation I overheard between two Pitcairn Islanders of our company in the Owen Stanley Ranges of New Guinea [during the South West Pacific Campaign in 1943]. One was a Private and the other a Lance Corporal who were arguing between them about the lack of information [getting through about the tactical situation]. The Lance Corporal summed up his feelings [to the Private who wanted more information] 'The trouble with you is that you think I know f__k nothing, in fact, I know f__k all. That summed up my position.

I finally received orders from the Brigade Commander [Burke] to occupy a blocking position north of Kapyong. With no opportunity for personal reconnaissance, my orders were that the Battalion was to occupy a blocking position so as to prevent any Chinese advance upon the capital.

'Alf' Argent

I still recall the morning the CO (Ferguson) and I recced [conducted a reconnaissance of] the area [near Chuktun-ni] and later held the O Group. It was a beautiful, warm day with clear, blue skies. War seemed a long way off.

"Reg" Saunders

I respected "Fergie" [Ferguson]. He was a very brave man - even if I thought he was an exhibitionist because he never carried a weapon and strolled around all the time with a bloody walking stick. He was a brave infantryman but I was critical of his positioning of the Battalion on the ground at Kapyong. He always positioned his Battalion Headquarters in isolation from the companies and did this again at Kapyong. He liked a neatly sign posted and well-laid out BHQ ... There was no Tactical or Battle Headquarters inside the main Battalion defensive position up with the forward companies. His first mistake was to locate B Company in an isolated forward position. It was obvious that when the enemy came they would attack right where B Company was located - B Company were going to cop the lot ... I do not think it was a good position at all. I think he put B Company there because he underestimated the Chinese reaction. As an infantry commander I would have put B Company back in reserve behind A and D Companies. Then we would have had a tight battalion perimeter with lots of depth, mutual support and a safe route [along the high ridge line running south from Hill 504] for re-supply and withdrawal.

Jack Gallaway

It ( the PIAT - projector infantry anti-tank) could only be fired successfully by A Grade Front Row Forwards [a position for a big man in Rugby Union football] in robust health with nerves of steel. Best effective range? Approximately ten feet.

'Doc' Tampling

The bullets ripped through the RAP (Regimental Aid Post) tent - halfway up the tent. I told the doctor he had better keep his head down. He wanted to know what the hell what was going on. Dr Don Beard was 6 foot 6 inches tall and stood a pretty good chance of getting his head blown off. I told him again to keep his head down as more bullets cracked through the canvas. We definitely knew that it was on in our area.

Author "Bob" Breen

The sounds of the tanks withdrawing prompted Lieutenant Jim Young, the acting 2IC B Company, to run out to try to persuade them to stay and support the company. He responded so urgently that he ran down the side of the hill and onto the valley floor without a weapon. One of the tank crew told Young that he was moving to the rear to get medical attention for wounded crew members and to obtain a re-supply of ammunition. Young persuaded him to stay and support B Company for a while longer, on condition that his wounded crew members were evacuated to the rear in B Company jeeps. Young also promised that these vehicles would obtain ammunition from A Echelon and bring it forward to him

"Jim" Young

As I lay in the ditch, the Chinese Communist Force literally ran over me after the tank down the road. They flung a few grenades in my direction but did no harm beyond singeing my moustache and hair. I lay quiet for sometime, while the noise of the pursuit faded south then I cautiously made my way back to B Company lines.

Wilfred Millar, a young West Point graduate

I stopped a platoon of our tanks that were coming back. It was at this point that I learned that they had dead and wounded among them. I saw the body of Lt Di Martino, the Platoon Leader, who had been shot between the eyes. I had never expected to see such a sight and I will never forget it. ... I decided to walk forward and find out what was going on. I was alone, walked some distance, realized there were soldiers on my left, right and front in crouched positions but stretched out in long files from front to rear - not more than three yards from me.

George Harris

The Chinese kept coming up on 1 Platoon and 1 Platoon kept knocking them back. Each time they knocked them back, the Chinese just disappeared for a while. The bugles would start again and 1 Platoon would cop it again. In between assaults the wounded and dead were brought back and fit men were repositioned by section commanders into forward positions. Groups of Chinese also began to attack CHQ and 3 Platoon. With these fellas prowling around, the whole position was in danger of being overrun.

"Phil" Bennett

An hour before first light, when the fighting in our area died down, I sent a ground party to link up with BHQ. That's when I found out that the Battalion Commander had moved part of his headquarters south earlier that night. I hadn't been aware of it at that stage. ... When there was more light I walked over and spoke to Len Eyles who told me that he was organizing the withdrawal of Battalion Headquarters from that area ... He told me that the [forward] companies were probably going to withdraw during the day ... No mention had been made of Antitank Platoon so I, and a couple of others, walked over to them and told them to pack up and get out. I saw the Platoon Sergeant [Milwood] who was very badly wounded in the stomach. He was still alive but very much on his last legs.

"Bob" Parker

... I was about to brake and do a slide down off the road to a hut when, amidst a lot of thumping and banging, the front wheel went from under the bike like a horse with a busted front leg. I had become fairly good at coming off bikes but something went wrong this time and I landed on the side of my head and right shoulder and then into the ditch beside the road. My Owen [Owen Machine Carbine] had been slung over my shoulder with bayonet attached. I think this is what upset my ejection routine. Anyhow the darn thing fired but didn't eject the shell. Lucky I did not blow my head off. The bike was roaring its head off above me on the road so I reckoned I'd better turn it off. I climbed up behind it and was reaching for the ignition switch when there was a thump and a great hole appeared in the seat next to my head. It was a .50 calibre machine gun on fixed lines having a go every time I moved. I slid back down and endeavoured to extract the empty shell from the gun with my bayonet. ... Then I found for some reason I could not move my leg. I thought, 'Hell I can't die here like this, got to do something'. I found I could move my leg now. I had been hit [in the hip] but did not know it.

... Suddenly a bugle sounded down the road I had been on and looking up, my hair stood on end as I saw about 30 Chinese [soldiers] racing in my direction approximately 100 yards [80 metres] from me. I felt horribly lonely and bloody scared. They came at me firing from the hip, led by a young squad leader ... I don't think there was a more frightened person in all the world. I said 'Arrr, shit!" and gave them a big grin and suddenly I was not frightened any more. Then you wouldn't want to know, up they came and patted me on the back and all crowded around me. All I could do was give a sickly grin.

The Chinese then took me up a mountain that overlooked the Battalion HQ area. I was handed over to some sort of officer and thought that I had landed in a queers' outfit. He took me by the hand and guided me in the dark around obstacles etc. Even though I felt crook and disgusted with myself for being caught, I had to laugh and hoped that none of my mates could be watching me being held by the hand by this 'poof'.

All around me were hundreds of Chinese with their own personal tree. When they moved it was like a whole forest moving. Not only that but they all seemed to possess a couple of weapons each [Note: possibly taken from dead comrades]. Down in the reverse slope were dozens of mules with mountain guns and ammo on board. Looking at this mob gave me uneasy feelings for the Battalion and not knowing how they had fared [during the period of my subsequent captivity] I made things worse.

Author "Bob" Breen

Another casualty of the withdrawal south of the remainder of BHQ was Private 'Slim' Madden, a signaler who was concussed by a Chinese mortar bomb explosion. In the dark and confusion of the preparations for withdrawal none of his comrades noticed that he was left behind. He was subsequently captured when the Chinese swept into the area after BHQ had moved out. Later in the day Parker and Madden were to meet and stay together as they were progressively evacuated north. Parker survived his captivity but Madden died six months later from malnutrition and ill-treatment. For his stoicism, resistance to any form of collaboration with the Chinese and the inspiration and help he gave to others, Private Madden was awarded a posthumous George Cross.

Early that same morning Jack Gerke noticed that the sounds of firing and activity had stopped around BHQ. His troops in Support Company had kept their heads down during the night and had remained undiscovered by the marauding Chinese. He heard, from a passing Mortar Platoon driver, that BHQ was withdrawing and that he should, 'Bug out! Battalion headquarters is back down the road. Watch out for "Gooks" on the road: they hold the high ground over there!' By military standards this was a quick but effective set of orders: Mission, Situation: Own Troops, Enemy!

Gerke wasted no time and sent his men and stores in vehicles down the road to run the gauntlet of rifle and machine gun fire without tank support. Fortunately, there were no casualties and plenty of vehicles for the task. Gerke commandeered several vehicles left by the US 4.2 inch Heavy Mortar Company and was able to take several Australians aboard who had become separated from their sub-units and were withdrawing on foot.

George Harris

Harold Mulry was calling out for troops to come with him to take all the ground back again. Myself and a few others around Company Headquarters jumped up with the 3 Platoon blokes and we charged down at the Chinese. The Chinese just all of a sudden turned and ran away. They didn't feel like fighting us anymore. We were getting them in the back as they were running away. They ran down the feature and tried to hide in thickets or any low ground they could find down towards the creek bed itself. The Chinese were very stupid to stay there. We could see them and we began having a real good time. We began to pick them off while they lay on the ground or when they broke cover like darting rabbits. We were enjoying ourselves until our dear old Major [O'Dowd] decided to stop us firing because ammunition was very scarce.

"Tassie" Long

I observed numerous groups of Chinese pulling back from A Company's position and others around the slopes leading up to A Company. I ordered my machine guns to fire on them. I began counting the number of Chinese who fell from this fire. I got up to a number of about 40 and stopped counting.

Darcy Laughlin

This attack on the company position was launched from the right flank [from east to west] and was aimed at splitting the company in two by cutting the centre of the position where CHQ was holding. The enemy attack numbered from fifty to seventy. Fire from tanks and small arms was directed against the assault which only succeeded in reaching the edge of our perimeter. By this time it was dawn and, in the growing light, the enemy could be clearly seen in the valley below B Company across to A and C Companies. His [the enemy's] position was quite open and the area between the companies was an excellent killing ground. This area was now subjected to intensive fire from tanks and all other available weapons. The enemy began to withdraw northward up the valley, being harassed all the way by MMG and artillery fire causing extensive casualties.

"Norm" Gravener

After several infiltrations had occurred during the night - forward and to the flank - I observed a reconnaissance party moving towards us, an long way forward of A Company, up a spur line leading to 12 Platoon's position. I was soon going to find out whether occupying the ground forward of the summit would pay off or not.

... We engaged this reconnaissance party. That was the prelude to the first of the attacks which occurred on our position against 12 Platoon at about 7 o'clock in the morning. 12 Platoon was hit hard and they had a few people wounded - about 7 to 8 casualties which was not too bad considering the strength of the attack.

Johnny Ward, the Platoon Commander, and his men were well outnumbered and had a difficult position to hold. However, the Chinese also had a hard time locating his position in the trees after they came over the edge of the feature. To get to Ward's perimeter, the Chinese had a long, hard climb followed by a 50 metre dash. I was also able to direct artillery fire onto them as they made their way up the ridges.

And that was the way it ran - pretty well all morning. The Chinese just kept attacking 12 Platoon and they kept knocking them back. Later, Johnny Ward, who was commanding very meritoriously I might add, phoned me - we still had a telephone link. He said, 'I think you should come down here, Boss. The bastards are all over the place. I think perhaps we should be moved.' I remember quite distinctly my reply: it was quite simple - I said, 'Johnny, all we have to do is sit tight and it will be all right'. Very simple language - implying all we had to do was hold position.

"Stan" Connelly

The order came out that we were to recover the ground that we had already vacated. We could see the Chinese occupying the ground as soon as we moved out. There was no exchange of shots. They knew we were moving and we knew they were occupying the positions we were vacating. There was a large slit trench near the road between us and the low hills we had occupied overnight. This trench had to be cleared before we could go back and occupy the positions we had left.

It was my privilege to be a member of 5 Section that was given the job of clearing that trench. We formed a line and the Platoon Commander, Lieutenant McGregor, and the Platoon Sergeant came along to our rear. We believed the trench was occupied by eight to 10 Chinese. When we got within 20 yards of it, it was occupied by a great deal more than 10. But it was too late to do anything else but go on with the job.

We were advancing at the run. All members of the section were firing at the trench and the Chinese were returning fire. I was wondering what was going to happen when we got to the trench because training never quite takes you to the point of leaping into trenches or coming to such close quarters ...

I remember my Number 2, Rod Grey, falling on my left and my good mate, 'Gene' Tunney, falling on my right. I could hear the bullets whistling past my ears and I thought, 'My turn is not far off'. Sure enough, I was knocked completely off my feet by a .30 calibre round that drilled a hole right through the front of my right thigh and came out the back taking off much of my buttock. Fortunately there was no bone damage. It was like being hit by a truck. I was completely stunned. I fell within 5 yards of the Chinese trench - head towards the trench, Bren gun on a sling over my neck and two fairly full basic pouches of Bren gun ammunition in magazines on my web belt - a total of about 50-60 pounds.

(recalling his feelings as he lay in front of the Chinese trenches):

I was thinking, 'How in the hell am I going to get out of this?' I could hear the Chinese talking to each other 6 to 8 feet away. Surely they could see me and decide just to pump a few more rounds into me to make sure I was dead. Words cannot describe the fear I felt. I took stock of my position and decided that if I could release my web belt and shuck my gear I could make a dash for a low mound about 20 yards to my rear. I did not know whether I could even stand up. I wasn't sure how much damage had been done. I did not want to wait to be shot. As fast as I could, I threw off my gear and jumped to my feet and hopped, limped, hobbled and staggered over the longest 20 yards I have ever traveled. I heard a few shots go over my shoulder but I made it safely.

Author "Bob" Breen

Meanwhile, Jack Gerke was involved in consolidating elements of F Echelon and BHQ back with the Middlesex. He had also been involved with organizing the movement of the vehicles of the US Mortar Company back to the same area. Eyles, Bennett and From appear to have put their men on the ground near the Middlesex position and were awaiting further direction. Many men felt that they were out of danger and were catching up on the sleep they had lost the night before.

D'Arcy Laughlin

... the platoon (Montgomerie's) moved into attack from the right flank. When approximately 25 yards from the enemy position, a bayonet charge was ordered and the leading section led by Corporal Davie took the first enemy-held trench at bayonet point. Lieutenant Montgomerie quickly reorganized his platoon and, in fierce hand-to-hand combat, gradually proceeded to clear to defensive position - trench by trench.

The enemy resisted strongly and fought fanatically to hold their position. Using grenades and machine carbines [Owen Machine Carbines] this platoon cleared their way through the enemy position. It now became evident that more enemy were entrenched on a knoll further on and were now firing on leading elements of 4 Platoon.

Leaving the rear sections to continue the cleaning up of the position, the platoon commander [Montgomerie] with the leading section now attacked the second position. The might and the aggressiveness of the attack upset the enemy and some openly fled: the majority remained and fought to the death.'

Author "Bob" Breen

Those who observed Montgomerie's attack described it as one of the finest and most aggressive actions they had seen at platoon level. The use of bayonets produced extra ferocity among the Australians and had the psychological effect of forcing many Chinese to flee in terror across the valley floor to run the gauntlet of small arms fire from those supporting the attack - the chance of a bullet better than the probability of a bayonet thrust.

Wilfred Millar (US tank commander)

I observed him (Ferguson) personally as we continued our forays into and out of the area of the encircled Australian soldiers, during which time Colonel Ferguson was calm, acted like he was in total command of the situation, and [showed by his demeanour that he believed] that his organization would triumph. He demonstrated great concern for his wounded and his encircled men and had no apparent regard for his own personal safety. He exposed himself to enemy fire by getting out of the tank, speaking to the wounded, and walking among his troops as if it was just a practice drill back in Australia.

"Norm" Gravener

The attacks on this position were always launched in depth on a narrow frontage of 4 to 5 men. Each assault was supported by a platoon-sized formation firing and throwing grenades and by preparatory mortar fire. 12 Platoon met these attacks with LMG, Small Arms (SA) fire and No 36 grenades in the final stages of the enemy assault. The enemy suffered heavy casualties in each of the six attacks launched [up until 1030 hrs] and an estimated enemy platoon was destroyed. Our casualties at this stage were very light.

"Ray" McKenzie

Early on the afternoon of the 24th, I was informed that I was required at company headquarters (CHQ) with my radio. On the way I had to cross a small saddle. As I entered the saddle I heard a machine gun fire and saw the fall of shot in front of me. I went to ground quickly on the reverse slope and continued onto CHQ. On arriving at CHQ I was informed that the Company radio battery was dead and, as I had no mortars to direct, could they get my battery. This was done.

When I arrived back at my old position, one of the diggers said, 'Gee, you were lucky when you were going to CHQ. That burst of machine gun fire nearly got you!' I said, 'Not lucky, he was firing high. I saw the fall of shot in front.' He said, 'It did not all fall in front. There was a lot falling behind you.' So it would appear that I had been caught in the centre of a machine gun burst and had not been touched. 24th April 1951 was not my day to die.

George Harris

We all knew quite well that they [the senior officers] had to do something with A Company. I though that one of the other companies would come up and relieve us - two companies would have been ideal. But with all our casualties and the way we were exposed on the ridge, we could not have held for another night. We had to leave our dead behind which was a bit painful. We lined them all up; we could not carry them. We even had to destroy some of our own weapons because we did not have sufficient men to carry them all.

(The circumstances of Ingram's death were recalled by Harris later).

After one of the attacks early on 24 April, Roy called out to me that a group of Chinese were creeping around to the rear of CHQ. He called out this warning and also stated that he was bringing in a badly wounded man. I called back and told him to bring the wounded man around a small spur to our position and to keep quiet or he would get himself shot. The battle restarted and I did not see him again until we drove the Chinese out of 1 Platoon's position after dawn. Both of them were dead. Roy Ingram had his arm around his friend where he was half carrying him. Most of Roy's hand was blown off and he had his handkerchief wrapped around it.

He had not told me that he also was wounded when he was helping his digger mate. I wished he had because I would have got to him and helped. He may have died through loss of blood or was hit again bringing his friend out. He did not think of himself. He warned us that the Chinese had got around to our rear so we could engage them. He died helping a mate and warning his friends.

"Ray" McKenzie

As I was leaving to return to my original position near the MMGs, I saw a US Marine Corsair line up and start a run in on our position. I was angry about this because our marker panels were clearly visible. I saw the big silver bomb [NAPALM] leave the plane and watched it fall in the D Company area, on 10 Platoon, where I had been two minutes before. The napalm exploded and took all the oxygen out of the air. I felt like I was just breathing heat.

'Nugget' Dunque

Napalm is a pretty ferocious sort of weapon. Fortunately the bomb itself missed the main D Company position and landed on the perimeter near 10 and 11 Platoon. This set off a good deal of the ammunition stored there and caused some problems for the lads. After the napalm hit I began to go around in my capacity as the medical orderly and pull people out and tend to their injuries. I was reaching into a trench to grab a chap who had all his grenades lined up on the edge which was customary at the time. The grenades went off and blew me a considerable distance down the hill. Luck being what it is, I got very few injuries out of it - just a few shrapnel wounds to the leg.

... Earlier in the morning I had been wounded in the fore part of my head. I must have looked a sight. I was sitting there, stunned and no doubt feeling a bit sick and sorry for myself.

I then saw the most appalling apparition. A man with no flesh - his hands were dripping flesh - completely naked. As he walked, I saw these huge bloated feet. The sticks and the stones came up through his feet. He sat down next to me. I didn't know who he was. He looked at me and said, 'Jesus, Nugget, you're having a bad day'.

George Harris

Some of those burnt by the napalm were like roasted meat. Their faces and hands had been barbecued. Giddens was particularly bad. His hands had been reduced to stumps and he had some shocking facial scars.

David Mannett

I think the most courageous act I can recall was by one of the soldiers injured as a result of the napalm attack and how he handled his injuries during what was a long and arduous withdrawal. The soldier's name was Harold Giddens. He was very badly burned - 3rd degree burns over most of his arms, hands and face. Notwithstanding his injuries, he offered encouragement to others. He was able to say that the attention he needed should be no more than that needed by others. Through the handling of his own injuries he was an example to a great number of us who saw what he did.

Author "Bob" Breen

Neither Gravener or O'Dowd had requested air support that afternoon. The request would have had to have come from Ferguson or the Brigade staff. The dropping of napalm on D Company was caused by either poor instructions from whoever was coordinating air support at the Brigade headquarters or poor target identification by the spotter aircraft that fired the targeting rocket into D Company's position. The latter is more likely, despite the fact that D Company had their brightly coloured panels displayed warning aircraft that they were a UN unit. Fortunately, a second Corsair that was about to make its run to drop more napalm was warned off by frantic radio messages from Australian signalers and US tank commanders who viewed the accident from further down the valley.

(The following extracts from the NSW Branch Royal United Service Institute are gratefully acknowledged)

"Ben" O'Dowd"

While the O Group was still in progress a message came through for the defensive positions to be occupied. The Commanding Officer then returned to the Battalion to organise the forward movement of the rifle companies while we proceeded with our reconnaissance. A Company had been allocated all the ground between the road and the crest of Point 504. From my point of view it represented a classic case of 'occupy the lot and be weak everywhere or concentrate in strength at a vital point'. I decided to give away the higher (east) end and occupy only the lower end of the feature where we could support B Company in denying the enemy the use of the road. I sited Gardner's 1 Platoon nearest the road and Mulry's 3 Platoon alongside, where the ground began to rise sharply. Above him, on the crest overlooking 1 and 3 Platoons, Brumfield's 2 Platoon took up position. There was still a gap between Gardner and Mulry which was plugged by inserting Company Headquarters and Lennie Lenoy's Medium Machine Gun (MMG) Section - by no means text book stuff with everything in the shop window but, then, there was an awful lot of territory to cover. In any case the ridge was too narrow to permit a reserve, even if I had been able to create one.

As daylight began to fade a trickle of Republic of Korea (south) ROK soldiers appeared, heading south along the road. There was nothing disturbing about this at first but, as the mob thickened and speeding vehicles loaded with ROK soldiers began to scatter them, they developed into a disorganized, shouting mob of panic-ridden rabble. Then a flood of civilian refugees began to appear - mixed in with ROK soldiers, women, children and animals - all bunched together in a confusing noisy melee. Now we did have something to worry about. Our experience in Korea was that Chinese troops would mix with civilians, using their cover to infiltrate to our rear. At this time it would have been comforting to have had the capacity to call on defensive fire tasks to disrupt the Chinese in their assembly areas as they prepared to attack us. My New Zealand artillery officer advised me that they could not lay on any sort of support because the guns, having arrived after dark were not surveyed in. I had to believe him! Instead of directing fire for us he and his signaler were killed during the fighting. As well, the United Stated 4.2-inch Mortar Observation Post Officer could not fire for the simple reason that his gun crews had taken to the hills. My 3-inch Mortar Fire Controller had a legitimate excuse as his crews were actively involved with the enemy in our rear. Of course I had the Medium Machine Gun Section but in close quarters fighting at night the Vickers guns are of very limited value. We therefore had none of the usual deterrents to interpose between us and the attackers - no fire support, no anti-personnel mines nor barbed wire. The impending battle was to be a very personal affair - soldier against soldier in the dark.

In the moonlight our effective killing range was reduced to visibility distance, therefore, the attack had to be stopped in the time it took the enemy to run up-hill ten to fifteen yards. As soon as shape appeared out of the gloom our soldiers would produce as much rapid fire as each individual weapon allowed. As each attack was beaten back the Chinese remnants withdrew. Then there would be silence for a while which would be broken by the next outburst of whistles and bugles heralding another assault. When each attack subsided our section and platoon commanders cleared the dead and wounded to the reverse slopes where the Company RAAMC medic, Nobby Clark, and his stretcher bearers would do their best for the wounded. As far as possible the vacated weapon pits were then manned by fit men to await the next assault and, maybe, a fate similar to the previous occupants.

With daylight - and expanded field of fire - the nature of the battle changed. The Chinese, who had the initiative under the cover of darkness, were now caught in the open, holed-up in small hollows of ground or behind tufts of heather. This provided our men with a brief session of revenge as they cut down enemy scurrying from scanty cover in search of more suitable protection. I had to spoil this sport and call a cease-fire because we had already used a lot of ammunition, re-supply was by no means assured and development of the tactical situation from here left no room for optimism. From where we stood it was abundantly clear that once B Company vacated their knoll the Chinese would move in and look right down our exposed left flank.

I got hold of the Commanding Officer as soon as I could and made the point that B Company must go back. There was no immediate response to this request and, predictably, it was not long before we were treated to glimpses of the Chinese throwing up dirt as they consolidated their easy gain. In the process of withdrawing from their hill B Company managed to capture thirty-five to forty bewildered prisoners whom we could well have done without. B Company made two attempts to return to their overnight position but, by then, the Chinese had consolidated and nothing short of a major attack was going to dislodge them. There were sixteen tanks in the area and there was line communication to the artillery. If either, or both, had been used it may have made a difference. They came up the ridge running north from .504 to attack Johnny Ward's 12 Platoon at 0700 hours and were pushed off. Attacks were repeated every thirty minutes for the next three-and-a-half hours - then sporadically for the remainder of the day. Someone - certainly not Norm Gravener nor me - ordered a napalm strike to support D Company, without advising us. The CORSAIRS came in with the leading plane dropping its load on Company Headquarters and Dave Mannett's 10 Platoon, killing two, wounding others and starting shrub fires.

Sometime after midday the Commanding Officer came on the air to advise me that no relief would be coming our way and that I had approval to take a shot at getting the rifle companies out. The problem now was to decide how. To neutralise the enemy across the road I requested artillery to open up at 1600 hours with smoke to obscure enemy visibility - and high explosive, mixed in, to curb any tendency to inquisitiveness. To clear the withdrawal route I ordered B Company to push down to the escape route to the ford, closest to the Middlesex, and secure both sides. If they found any enemy astride the escape route they were to attack to drive them off. If they were unable to shift the enemy they were to keep him busy until I could get there with another company. In anticipation of certain follow-up by the enemy confronting D Company I decided to employ the standard leapfrog tactic: one company on the ground, one setting up the next fall-back position and one in movement. As predicted, the Chinese lost no time in pursuit once they found C Company gone, and came on until given a bloody nose by the company waiting for them. This leapfrog routine was followed all the way down the ridge but we were denied a clean break. That was bad news. The good news came, however, when Darcy Laughlin reported that B Company had reached the ford without sighting the enemy. To me this was incredible! On reaching the ford I found Lieutenant Jim Young had been posted to see the companies across. B, C and D Companies were already over, leaving A Company still at the last delaying position on the ridge. I called up Bob Murdoch and was informed that the enemy were still pressing him. I told him to break contact and shake them off if possible. It would be very messy indeed if we were being shot at whilst crossing the ford. The stream was a wide expanse of shallow water at this point and, by now, brightly moonlit. Jim and I waited in silence until Brumfield's 2 Platoon arrived from the expected direction, the tail-enders assuring us that the remainder of the company was following - but they were not! With the last of the rifle companies in Sergeant Harris was sent to stand down the tanks covering the road above the ford and I reported to the Commanding Officer at the checkpoint, in the Middlesex area, that the withdrawal was complete.

The Kapyong battle was a demonstration that the Australian soldier in Korea had every right to the title of Digger, along with those who forged the reputation in two world wars. Officers study, train and plan but it is all a negative exercise unless they have soldiers with the courage and determination to give expression to such plans.

At Kapyong A Company fought off wave after wave of fanatical attacks all through one night. They fought from half-made weapon pits. They removed their dead and wounded, and occupied their weapon pits to await the next onslaught - with a good chance of a similar fate as the previous occupant - fully aware of the chance of survival if seriously wounded. They knew they were cut off with what looked a poor chance of escape. In these circumstances any panic or break in morale would have been disastrous. I don't believe that this possibility existed. They gave as good as they got, fought it out and won.

Withdrawals are always tough on morale and discipline. The urge to run, to put distance between oneself and danger is instinctive. Add to this the mental state of men who have been under severe stress for a prolonged period and you can begin to make excuses. At Kapyong no excuses were necessary.

The men took up fall-back positions quietly and efficiently, waiting there for the enemy to show himself. When ordered to move they did so with routine efficiency so that the operation worked smoothly, as in an exercise back in Australia.

The Diggers won he Battle of Kapyong!

"Frank" Hassett

What shines out like a beacon is the courage, skill and cool headedness of the officers and men in defeating the Chinese attacks and withdrawing in such good order.


(The following extracts from the journal of the Royal United Service Institute NSW are gratefully acknowledged)

Arthur Stanley

For the attack on the two .220 features leading up to 355, C Company moved out at first light after completing our preliminary checks on ammunition, radios, rations, etc. In the fog we moved quickly across the valley. 7 Platoon, under Lieutenant Pears, led the attack. The platoon suffered the first casualties and then Company Headquarters also had some men wounded. I supervised the work of the stretcher bearers in attending to the casualties and as we badly needed ammunition, entrenching tools, radio batteries and rations, these were removed from the wounded. Although we were short of water each of the wounded men was evacuated with two full water bottles. Both the wounded and the prisoners taken were sent back to Battalion Headquarters.

. "Frank" Hassett

B Company led off the attack to 317 (Maryang San) at 0500 hours, followed thirty minutes later by D Company, both to cross the valley, climb the ridge-line and turn west to attack towards .317, with B Company leading, backed up by D Company. It was a nightmarish situation:

  • Pitch dark at the beginning, blanketed by river fog from first light to about 1100 hours;
  • Broken, rough country - a maze of hills, ridges and re-entrants, thickly timbered and with heavy undergrowth.
  • The soldiers weighed down with equipment - unable to see any distance ahead, not knowing when they would hit the enemy and listening to the crash of shells and sounds of battle

It was a navigational nightmare but a tactical Godsend.

"Bas" Hardiman

D Company moved off 30 minutes after B Company passed through D Company. In heavy fog we moved north across the valley floor, climbed the ridge-line then moved west towards the objective. Young's platoon was leading and as it moved out of a gully the Chinese opened up at very short range, wounding the leading Bren gunner. We could not see the enemy owing to the fog but as the company closed-up I reorganized for the attack. Suddenly, as we moved in on the Chinese, the fog lifted and a Chinese medium machine gun fired three long bursts before it was silenced. Unfortunately, I was one of the first casualties and Jim Young then took command of the company. The operation continued successfully. D Company killed thirty Chinese and captured ten, but our losses were seven wounded.

"Frank" Hassett

I chose 0800 hours as H Hour as all questions of surprise had now gone and I wanted the fog to lift so that we could take full advantage of the heavy supporting fire available to us. In this supporting fire programme I had:

  • The 155s giving the objective a going over and then lifting to rear area targets;
  • The 105s taking on the objective with the tanks firing closer in, and firing solid shot towards the end;
  • Our MMGs traversing in front of B Company and the mortars hitting the rear slopes.

I thought that the objective would disintegrate from all this fire but the Chinese, sheltering on the reverse slopes, rose up and gave B Company a bad time. "Jim" Hughes was a platoon commander in that attack,

"Jim" Hughes

Suddenly rifle fire erupted behind the lead platoons. It appeared that the Chinese had withdrawn off the ridge, let the lead platoons pass and then attacked Company Headquarters and 5 Platoon. A series of fierce fire-fights broke out and the lead platoons fought back to assist Company Headquarters and 5 Platoon. Our section commanders displayed great initiative in attacking the various groups of Chinese who suddenly appeared. To fight the enemy we used small arms, grenades, rifle butts and even bare hands. In that fierce battle we lost five killed and 12 wounded, and we killed over 20 Chinese. One of our killed in action was the Company Sergeant Major. Without a word being said, our Mortar Fire Controller (Sergeant Strong) took upon himself the duties of CSM and MFC.

The shelling naturally forced us to use existing pits - while attempts were made to link our quite separate positions into one. Eventually, out of chaos came order! Chinese counter-attacks and further shelling during the day cost us another 7 casualties, so we were forced to tighten our company perimeter.

A shortage of ammunition prevailed - despite good fire control - and we were plagued with the problem of evacuating casualties. However, help was at hand. Our situation was well known at Battalion Headquarters who organised re-supply porters, casualty evacuation and reinforcements.

"Frank" Hassett

My military mind was telling me that a further attack by A Company, through B Company and down to .217, would be a good tactical move for the Brigade overall. But, when I asked the Brigadier what 1 RNF was doing and he said "skirmishing", my head said that we had done enough and that I had to look after the security of my own Battalion. I told the Brigadier that, if the RNF were only skirmishing, I would not attack further, beyond THE HINGE. I had forgotten about this incident until, many years later, Jim Shelton told me that his Company Signaler had heard the conversation and reported it to him.

"Jim" Hughes

After 45 minutes the barrage of fire ceased and the Chinese attacked. All round the Company - like a battle cry - leaders at all levels shouted out the old rifle range order: 'WATCH YOUR FRONT!"

We were shaken but we were ready for the enemy. During the night the Chinese attacked three times on our front and flanks. We were ably supported by our artillery, mortars and MMGs. Defensive fire tasks were frequently fired and walked in towards our perimeter.

The enemy was tenacious and crawled to within feet of our trenches to throw stick grenades - which were quickly thrown back. Grenades were the only answer to those who got so close, as they were able to get under the fire of our light machine guns, because of the lie of the land. That said, I am convinced that our LMGs saved us with their effective fire. Our LMG gunners learned to fire a burst and then duck for cover as the Chinese attempted to knock them out. Some penetration of our position did occur but those who got in were quickly killed.

Casualties were given first aid and were placed in some inner trenches for their safety. Our Company medic (Corporal Tommy Tunstall) regularly checked most of the casualties - and, luckily, did not become a casualty himself as he moved around.

Ammunition problems again beset the Company and, with great difficulty, the Assault Pioneer Platoon made a further delivery to us. Re-supply was a risky business in all that shelling and we were grateful to those who undertook the task. When we ran out of grenades my signaler remembered the bazooka bombs strapped to my pack. He threw the bombs for all he was worth at the Chinese and - by the cry of pain that resulted - he was successful!

In the early hours of 8 October ammunition was again a problem. All conventional .303 ammunition was passed to the LMGs and riflemen were issued with MK 8Z ammunition from a knocked out MMG. Initially, this ammunition worked OK but did make a mess of our rifles. In all, the Company went through four lines of ammunition on THE HINGE.

Just before first light the Chinese attacks ceased. During stand-to we listened to the activity around us as the Chinese cleared the battlefield. We were ordered to hold fire for three hours. Consequently, clearing patrols were not mounted in lieu, listening posts were established. With the coming of first light, Support Company again assisted us by evacuating our casualties. We were very glad to see them!

"Bushy" Pembroke

We headed off down the slope of .317 about 0700 hours. Corporal Danny Powell's section was in the lead. I sent him forward to reconnoitre the knoll - trusting in the luck of the Irish - while the remainder of us went to ground. After some time he reported back that there was a large number of enemy on the knoll, some cooking breakfast, apparently feeling safe because of the thick fog. We decided, under the circumstances, to have a go. In whispers we quickly decided a plan of attack, with one section left of the track and the other on the right. We decided on a grenade assault with Danny Powell, who knew the exact location, giving the signal for all to throw grenades. The result was devastating for the main part of the Chinese force huddled over their cooking fires. We then charged forward firing rifles and Owen guns.

I suggest that the Chinese made two mistakes. Remember, we (and they) had been fighting hard for some five days and the night before we had seized hill .317. They probably thought that we would be satisfied with that for a while and never dreamed that we would exploit forward so quickly. Secondly, they trusted in the fog to protect them, probably thinking that we would not move forward until the fog had lifted and we had a chance to carry out a visual reconnaissance.

"Frank" Hassett

I haven't mentioned the wonderful support which the Battalion had from the New Zealand Field Regiment, the 8th Irish Hussars, the Indian Field Ambulance, Brigade and Divisional units, the Korean porters and so on, but it was there - in full measure! It had been a hard six days but morale was high as the soldiers recognised that they had fought well. There was a wonderful feeling throughout the Battalion. There is no feeling like it - none at all. It made me think of Field Marshall Wavell's words: "It is a good thing war is so terrible or men would love it too much."

René Lemercier

Our tactical doctrine provides that we should always think two down and, especially as it has been said many times and in many ways that "after the first shot no plan is ever the same", it is essential that we must do more than lip service to train all commanders - be they section, platoon or company commanders - to experience operations two up. For any operation I also commend other virtues, of which an excess thereof cannot be a vice:

  • Physical fitness of both men and equipment is essential
  • Information. The more a soldier knows, the better his performance. Consequently there should be a rigorous procedure in attempting to gain or pass information. Curiosity is essential. Apathy is an enemy.
  • Anticipation and self help are important and the more we can understand of the commander's intention the better.
  • Communications are vital. Every effort and constant vigilance must be made to establish and maintain reliable and secure communications, including the examination of alternative methods.
  • Health. My recollection is that for six months from September 1951 to February 1952 - which included a few weeks in reserve - the battalion had over 1,300 sickness cases, of which nearly 200 required evacuation. By comparison, during this period, we had only 200 casualties.

"Tom" Daly

The men of 3 RAR fought in the battles of Kapyong and Maryang San. Their firsthand accounts of their experiences provide colour and put flesh on the dry bones of history.

Kapyong veterans tend to make light of the incredible difficulties experienced in its defence, of the dogged resistance displayed by the soldiers and the hardships endured, especially by the wounded, lying exposed to the bitter cold during their long wait for evacuation. The withdrawal was brilliantly executed; a withdrawal in face of the enemy - one of the most difficult operations of war.

Maryang San was a very different exercise. It was a carefully planned deliberate assault on a formidable and well defended objective, driven home with courage and determination. The main lessons which stand out from the operation are the importance of a simple flexible plan, clear and concise orders at all levels and good leadership. The importance of clear and definite orders is overwhelming since, once the attack is launched, the commander can exercise only limited control. Provided he has good communications he may influence the battle by his control of supporting fire and use of his reserves.

The Commanding Officer, Hassett, had his Tactical Headquarters well forward. This is important for, although a battalion commander will seldom see much of the action through fog and smoke, he gets the feel of the battle - something one has to experience to really understand. But, on the ground, the battle is fought out by platoons and sections: and it is on them that he is dependent for success. Every man should know his objective and know how it is to be attained, because leaders become casualties and anyone may be called on to assume command - be it a section, platoon or company - and to maintain the momentum of the attack. The battle is fought out on the ground by platoons and sections, and success will depend to a great extent upon the skill and initiative of the junior leader.

(The following extracts from the "Battle of Maryang San" by Bob Breen are gratefully acknowledged)

THE BATTLE OF MARYANG SAN - 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment Korea, 2 - 8 October 1951

John Coates

The Battle of Maryang San, fought by the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) - 'Old Faithful' - in Korea in October 1951 is a post-World War 11 Classic. Of that encounter, Robert O'Neill the Official War Historian wrote:

'In this action 3 RAR had won one of the most impressive victories achieved by any Australian battalion. In five days of heavy fighting 3 RAR dislodged a numerically superior enemy from a position of great strength ... [This was] probably the greatest single fat of the Australian Army during the Korean War.'

And, in 1952 Colonel Tom Daly the then Director of Infantry and a future Chief of the General Staff, added:

'3 RAR and it supporting arms is believed to have accounted for two enemy battalions. Its own casualties were 20 killed and 89 wounded, with 15 wounded remaining on duty.'

For its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hassett (now General Sir Francis Hassett, Rtd) his officers, NCOs and men it was a testing time.

The scale of manoeuvre of the rifle companies of 3 RAR during the action-packed five days of the Battle - by night, in fog, across rugged terrain and for much of the time under artillery and mortar fire - can only challenge contemporary Australian infantrymen to strive for similar levels of excellence. The display of endurance, courage and aggression during the Battle are timeless benchmarks for offensive operations. The quality of tactical decision-making by the Commanding Officer and his company and platoon commanders provides a rich source of analysis for all officers and NCOs in the 1990s and beyond.

Brigadier George Taylor

'The enemy was well entrenched with deep bomb and shell-proof dug-outs and, as we were to find out, a big increase in artillery power. The two Brigades of the Commonwealth Division were faced with the 191st Chinese Division, with the 192nd Division in close reserve. Thus the defenders had a clear majority in man power, but to offset this we had air superiority and more armour in the shape of the Centurion tanks of the 8th [The King's Own] Irish Hussars.'

The Australians were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hassett, a 33 year old Duntroon graduate with a distinguished world War 11 record in the Middle East and in the Pacific Campaign. He had taken over command from Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Ferguson in July 1951. Since then the battalion had been adjusting to working in a different brigade under a newly-appointed Brigade commander Brigadier George Taylor.

"Frank" Hassett

'I found the battalion in good heart, though some thought they were being forgotten by Australia. All looked fit, lean and confident, as they were entitled to do after performing so well in the first arduous winter campaign, culminating in their epic defence at Kapyong. There were more older soldiers in 3 RAR then than I was to see in later years in our regular battalions.

Many were K Force volunteers, patriotic and adventurous young men fired up by experiences and stories of the Second World War. The battalion reminded me very much of Second World War battalions after a hard campaign. These were warriors, in the sense that their job was to close with the enemy with butt and bayonet and they had done this well.'

"Jim" Hughes

'Company patrols to the west of the new divisional area assisted B company in absorbing reinforcements and developing teamwork. Being caught in the open by Chinese artillery helped to bring home the lesson that there were formations other than single file!'

"Jack" Gerke

'This training was vital, as he constant changeover of troops within the Battalion introduced many new reinforcements who had to be assimilated with the older members. The Company had a small number of NCOs and other ranks with some previous experience in action. I was the only officer with previous experience under fire, having served in an infantry battalion in WW2 [World War 11] and with the Battalion in earlier battles, including Kapyong. I made a special point of spreading the experienced men throughout the Company, to give the Company balance.'

"Basil"' Hardiman

'It seemed an almost impossible task. I must have gone pale and looked awful, bad enough for colonel Frank to say - "Are you all right, Bas?" I am positive that for a second my heart actually stopped - skipped a beat - it was as if I had just received a death sentence. However I hastily gulped down the rest of my beer, managed a smile and said I was fine.'

"Frank" Hassett

'Rifle companies were under strength, somewhere in the seventies. As Corporal Young, a Section Commander in C Company described it, "A normal section would have 10 men and a section leader. I went into Commando with 6 men. We had one Bren Gun. I carried an Owen gun and the remainder of the section had .303 rifles. Each man had two grenades and a bandoleer of 50 rounds." Once casualties began to hit, platoons dropped to as low as fifteen I number. Any infanteer knows this is a bad situation even with fresh men, let alone men weary after days of moving and fighting.

This is a good illustration of the isolation of command. The Brigadier had been told to take 355 [Little Gibraltar] and 317 [Maryang San]. He had given his plan. Nobody came up with anything different. he had two concerned Cos. The third, myself, was a 'new boy', still under scrutiny. In the event, the matter was sorted out with the British Cos. I was not involved.

The Battalion was given an enormous task - a long approach march with open flanks and an attack to a depth of over 3 000 metres against a well-equipped, well-sited enemy, determined to stay. Further, two [of my] companies had been designated as Brigade reserve [for Phase 1] and there was no telling what they would have to do in this role or what shape they would be in when they returned to the Battalion [for Phase 2].

I was also seeking the element of surprise, both in timing and direction of attack. Modern weaponry is so devastating that one must cut the exposure time of troops to the absolute minimum. I was prepared to accept the problems of control and loss of direction in order to achieve this. I deplored the frequent US practice of 'straight up the middle', usually in daylight.'

"Jim" Shelton

'Operation Commando! A strange name for this particular operation because the word 'Commando' suggests a quick hit-and-run raid. That was not the prospect at all. 3 RAR had patrolled north of the River Imjin long enough to know that an attack on Hill 355 [Little Gibraltar] and Hill 317 [Maryang San] would be a hard-slogging infantry battle. Hill 355 was a well known feature on the distant skyline. Hill 317 was much deeper into Chinese held territory and only the CO's Recce Party [small group of key offices who conduct battalion reconnaissance tasks] had seen it from afar. Both were formidable features and the Chinese were expected to fight very hard to hold them.'

"Bushy" Pembroke

'I arrived in Korea in July, 1951, having graduated from Duntroon in December 1950. I was in Korea, therefore, some 10 weeks before Operation Commando. As can be expected for a raw, young infantry graduate from Duntroon, these were weeks of conditions, surprises, boredom, fear, elation, activity and self-doubt. It [the situation] was artillery in font of the infantry lines; the nearest enemy miles away; hard physical work on defences; company cooks preparing hot meals; long range patrols into 'no man's land' with the knot in the stomach as one experienced the fist enemy shell and mortar bombs landing (remotely!) nearby; the first deaths - Assault Pioneers blown-up in our own lines (mines); trying to understand and communicate with one's NCO's, gnarled veterans of World War 11; coping with a fiery and overactive Company Commander; routine administration, a bottle of Asahi beer with one's batman in the twilight - who said, 'War was Hell?'

Somehow the briefing for Operation Commando seemed like just another long range patrol. I didn't feel that I was about to enter my first major battle. Lots of stuff about 1 Corps, Brigade objectives, enemy intentions etc. None of it seemed particularly immediate or relevant to [my] 9 Platoon. Just another long hot walk with nothing exciting likely to happen.'

"Jim" Hughes

'At the time we were using some fairly old Japanese maps that the US Army had reprinted. B Company platoon commanders also made a reconnaissance but, because of security, were unable to see anything of much value.'

Author "Bob" Breen

Hassett's battle plan included provisions for the use of air support and the firepower of other combat arms such as artillery and armour. He recalled the plans he made later,

'I asked the Brigade Commander to use our limited air [support] against enemy gun positions, which were beginning to give us a bad time and were so deeply dug in as to be almost immune to our shelling.

I became increasingly appreciative of the skill and initiative of our NZ [New Zealand] battery commander, Major Roxborough, who seemed to anticipate most of my requests and frequently improved on them. As a consequence our artillery plans were cut and dried in very little time. Despite the chaffing and good natured rivalry between the Australians and New Zealanders, when it came to serious fighting, the New Zealand artillery would work until they dropped in order to give the Battalion the very best support.

The 8th [The King's Royal] Irish Hussars with their tanks were very much the same. Major Butler, the squadron commander with me, kept working the Regiment's tanks into seemingly impossible positions, in order to bring maximum tank fire to bear on our objectives. My one regret in this area was that the terrain was simply too difficult for the tanks to move with the assaulting infantry.'

Arthur Rofe

'The Antitank Platoon was an essential part of the CO's plans, as a reserve and for flank protection. For [Operation] Commando, the Platoon was reorganized as an infantry platoon with a HQ of five and four sections each of a sergeant and 10 men. The rest of the Platoon remained with the guns and trucks at 'A' Echelon [near area administrative location]. Thus it was more than a rifle platoon but less than a company although towards the end of the battle when the companies had suffered casualties, its strength became of more importance.'

"Jock" McCormick

'The Assault Pioneers we riflemen with some additional engineering skills in the area of mines, booby traps, demolitions and defence works. Often regarded as slightly mad, they tended to encourage this myth among their peers. Tough, capable and confident, they were the finest platoon I ever served with in many years of soldiering.'

"Jack Gerke"

'The CO constantly moved amongst the men and kept us well informed. He was an inspiration to every man in the Battalion and gave us confidence. On the 1 Oct he held his O Group for the attack and, in turn, I issued my own orders for the move to the Assembly Area on the following day. I well remember the disappointed look on the faces of the men when I told them we were to be the reserve company and would remain at the Assembly Area, guarding the Battalion's rear, when the initial assault took place. Little did the C Company men realise the important part they were to play before the operation was over.'


"Jim" Shelton

'..... before dawn next morning A Company moved forward 30 minutes later than B Company towards Point 199. The going was rough and it was very dark. A Company lost touch with the attached MMG [Medium Machine Gun] section who were equipped with two superb point .303 Vickers machine guns. That sort of thing should not have happened but the major concern had been to avoid B Company in the dark. First light was not much help because there was a heavy mist. Before any unpleasant incident could occur the MMG Section was found heading steadily towards China.'

"Basil" Hardiman,

'The whole Brigade moved forward simultaneously whilst D Company formed a firm base on a feature called Missan Myan. It was a most eerie feeling - an entire division on the move and unbalanced save for one under-strength company - mine. It was also a spectacular sight, two thirds of the Divisional artillery deployed in the valley in front of me, all 48 guns firing furiously on a pitch-black night.'

"Wings" Nicholls'

'By now the mist had cleared and the views of Hill 355 [Little Gibraltar] and the south-eastern face of Hill 317 [Maryang San] were magnificent. A Company with B Company about 400 metres away to the right rear began digging in. The Chinese started shelling and mortaring and we had two casualties. According to the text book the Chinese should have counter-attacked but did not do so. Presumably Point 199 had just been a patrol outpost although there were a number of well sited weapon pits on the feature. Perhaps the Chinese thought the Australians would go away.'

"Jack" Gerke

'The attack by the KOSB [Borderers] on Pt 355 was making little progress because they were coming under fire from two 220 features on the northeast slopes of 355. The Brigade Commander ordered the CO [Hassett] to give what assistance he could to overcome the problem. At 1800 hr the CO ordered me to attack these two features at first light the following morning. Being well in the picture I understood quickly what was required and returned to the Company to give my orders. I ordered the Company to move at first light to a position overlooking a paddy field which had to be crossed prior to reaching a ridge line which led up to the two 220 features.'




"Jack" Gerke

'We moved off at 0500 hr and found the valley covered in fog and mist. I decided to cross at once under its protection from view. 7 Platoon ((Pears) was to move off with Company HQ following, followed in turn by 8 Platoon (McWilliam).

The move had been so quiet and so quick that the Chinese were taken by surprise. We caught them in their deep bunkers and trenches. Although there was much hand-to-hand fighting, the first 220 feature was soon in the forward platoon's hands. I could see Maurie Pears in the thick of the action and joined him, as it is useful to show a lead on these occasions. Much of our success was due to the Bren gunner, Private [Jimmy] Burnett, who killed a number of the enemy before they could bring accurate fire onto the attackers.

Grenades were used to make sure the bunkers were clear. Nineteen enemy were killed and three prisoners taken.

7 Platoon [Pears] met strong resistance but was too close to the second objective for supporting artillery fire [to be brought in]. I moved with this platoon which was flushed with success at having taken the first objective so quickly. Fire was brought down on any movement seen ahead. Once again Burnett set the example, moving forward from cover to cover, firing his Bren in bursts that kept the enemy occupied. By 1000 hr 7 Platoon was into the Chinese weapon pits and bunkers. Many enemy were killed and others fled, leaving large quantities of weapons, new winter clothing, ammunition and equipment behind them. I used tracer rounds to mark an area at the base of 355 to which they had withdrawn. The FOO [Artillery Forward Observation Officer] brought in heavy and accurate fire. Enemy were seen to run in all directions. In this action [the entire assault] we had ten men wounded, one of whom, regrettably, died later.

Pears regrouped his platoon on a prominence near the top of 355 and I joined him with the FOO and the Company signalers. We felt pretty good standing on the top of that great hill. I reckoned we had taken 355 but I did not stress this with the CO when I spoke to him at 1600 hr. He, of course, was well aware of the fact.

"Maurie" Pears'

'7 Platoon led the advance to where we were to form up for the attack. It was a daunting experience under the circumstances. I was terrified of making a mistake and leading the Company into enemy lines. Somehow we got there. The platoon is a lonely place at such times - in the dark and fog.'

Arthur Stanley

'[We] were told to move out at first light to attack up the rear slopes of 355. All ammunition checks, rations, batteries for radios were completed. [As we moved out] entrenching tools (foolishly discarded) were picked up along the way and returned to their owners, much to their surprise.

Lady Luck was with us. We moved very fast through the fog and across the valley. My mind was checking over all the things I was responsible for, such as ammo, water and rations, as we had only first line [a standard battle load] with us. It was not long before the sound of rifle and mortar fire could be heard. 7 Platoon [Pears] was leading and as we struggled up the side of the mountain we came onto a group of 7 Platoon who had been wounded by mortar fire. The stretcher-bearers did what they could for them and I then put them into an area where they would have some cover from the incoming mortar fire. I continued on up and joined Coy [Company] HQ where things were happening fast and furious. There were some wounded. A call came through from 7 Platoon for their rocket launcher and ammo which were taken out to their position.

As soon as there was a lull in the fighting, the stretcher-bearers collected the wounded and moved them down with the others. Ammo, rations, water and entrenching tools were now a big problem as I could not see further supplies reaching us that night. We withdrew all ammo, rations and water from the wounded, with the exception of two water bottles, and that gave us enough to see us through the night. Radio batteries in particular were a problem, but between us all we were able to find enough to keep communications open for the remainder of the 355 operation. The wounded and prisoners were sent back to Battalion. Digging was hard because it was just solid rock wherever we went.'

"Jim" Mc Fadzean

'My recollections of our first attack on 355 were three hours of frenetic activity, preceded by checking my gear for the 20th time (including a 36 pound radio), some forgotten, inconsequential remarks to those nearby, knots in the stomach and adrenaline pumping. Then it's time to go and everything is normal again.

We attacked the eastern face of the objective - the steepest slope. 7 Platoon was point platoon. The terrain was extremely rocky and covered in typical Korean stunted trees. The enemy reacted violently with mortar fire .... 7 Platoon's reserve section was hit badly ... I passed Alby Hart, 7 Platoon's sergeant, wounded and holding on to a tree for support ... the CSM, Arthur Stanley, steady, urged us on .... where's the Major? must keep up with him, he's like a bloody mountain goat .... the mortar and small arms fire increased .... the ridge line at last .... the Major wanted two of my grenades - he got them , and [then he] raced over to a rocky outcrop and flushed out three or four enemy, then was back and wanted more grenades, gave him one, does he think I am a bloody mobile AP [Ammunition Point]? .... a mortar sat me on my backside ... I checked the radio, it had a hole or two but still worked .... the enemy cracked, he's had more than enough. Those that could, retreated rapidly .... There were several blood trails and by the amount some didn't get very far. 7 Platoon exploited and cleared the ridge line. By midday 355 was clear. The KOSB [the Borderers] were able to occupy their objective unmolested, by courtesy of C Company, 3 RAR.

The recollections that stand out so clearly after so many years were the example set by the Company Commander, the leadership shown by Lieutenant Maurie Pears and his section commanders with the assault platoon, the courage and ability of the Bren gunner, Jimmy Burnett, the steadiness and drive of CSM Arthur Stanley and the diggers, with their determination to overcome a numerically superior enemy. There were no passengers in C Company on that day.'

'Bushy' Pembroke

'Suddenly for the first time in [3] days Operation Commando becomes real [for me]. Bursts of small arms fire, the crump of mortar bombs, the explosion of grenades signified that 7 Platoon was heavily involved. A major memory is of the irrepressible Jack Morrison firing his machine guns at the Chinese running down the back of 355. He was so professional, so calm and actually enjoying himself. Then the first reports of casualties - Maurie Pears has lost a whole section! - [my] 9 Platoon to move forward immediately to the 220 feature. It must be 9 Platoon's turn - will I do as well as Maurie?'

"Jack" Morrison

'In the attack by C Company against 355, we were with the reserve platoon (Lieutenant Pembroke). Our role was to provide covering fire for the assault platoons, particularly if the mist should lift, and also to take on any targets on the back slopes of 355. We had some good shoots on the 355 positions for about an hour, and could see numerous Chinese falling as our bullets cut into them. We fired in opportunity bursts only, as targets appeared, as we only had 50 liners (a liner is a belt of 250 rounds) and needed to conserve ammunition for any close-support tasks. Our artillery shelling was also pretty good and we could see bodies thrown sky high.'

"Jim" Shelton

'The 4th October meant more digging and patrolling for A company. A troop of three Centurion tanks of the 8th Irish Hussars had managed to climb on to the lower slopes of Point 199, but the real action had swung over to Hill 355. C Company was fighting a magnificent battle in support of the KOSB [the Borderers] attack. A Company could see the enemy moving between Hill 355 and Hill 217 and the targets were engaged by the tanks and at the maximum range for the Vickers (over 2 500 yards). The fire must have been effective because the Chinese shelled A Company whenever the tanks or the Vickers opened up. Another four men were wounded.

There were some humorous incidents. The Company runner applied in writing for a transfer to a well-known CMF unit in Sydney! A Company had more than a generous share of amusing soldiers but many were quiet, poker-faced men. To an outsider they may have appeared taciturn but once they accepted a man it was a different story.'



"Basil" Hardiman

'After last minute orders and conferences [in the early afternoon of 4 October] we set off for our next objective, the ridge feature about one kilometre northeast of Point 199. We adopted a fairly conventional order of march for this advance - leading platoon Jim Young, then my HQ followed by Geoff Leary's platoon , then 'Algy' Clark and his warriors. We were in low scrub (up to 8 feet [2.5 metres]) and on the edge of a very deep descent into a valley. The valley was fairly clear and had been paddy field in happier times. We reached our position north-east of Point 199 fairly late in the afternoon.

'We were all awake at 0330 hr and it was my task to ensure that ammunition was checked and where appropriate bayonets fixed. This latter [activity] always caused scathing comment. The troops couldn't see why in this day and age we needed a bayonet. After all this I got the company formed up in correct order for the advance to assault. By now it was quite dark, the moon had set and the valley was enclosed in a very heavy fog. I mentally said "Thank God - you beauty!" - I was very concerned about crossing the valley. I knew that if we were caught in it we would suffer enormous casualties. The prospect of a battle in the valley really had me worried.

"Jim" Young

'Not very happily we set off, with a map in one hand, a compass in the other and trepidation over the rest of me. The fog was still dense and we proceeded slowly and not very happily, as map reading under those conditions wasn't as easy as following a city street guide on a sunny day.'

Arthur Rofe

'About an hour before first light we began fording the Imjin River with my men carried on the tanks. The crossing area was relatively shallow but too deep for infantry to wade. The fog was particularly dense near the river and after marrying-up was completed, we moved up towards Hill 120, the tanks following. The noise precluded any chance of surprise had there been any enemy on the hill. Luckily there were not and by about 0600 hr Hill 120 had been cleared and secured. Visibility was nil until about 0900 hr when the fog started to clear from the tops of the hills although very thick in the valleys below. This enabled us to ensure that we were indeed on Hill 120. Realising from the radio that B Company was having trouble with lack of visibility in the valley, I sent a small patrol to the west to contact them. There was some disagreement about relative map reading which may have contributed to B Company moving northwest rather than due west for their first objective.'

"Len" Opie

'We had an undisturbed night and all were awake at 0330 hr on the morning of the 5th. The CO and his party arrived and B Company moved through so that, by the time our Company HQ group (main) trailed off after the rest of the Company, it was 0715 hr and a dense fog had risen from the river. Movement was very slow and literally the fog of war had descended on us. We crossed the valley and then were supposed to follow B Company due west. But they took off to the north and Major Hardiman decided we would go our own way.'

"Basil" Hardiman

'Before I was evacuated I ordered a re-supply of ammunition, which was fortuitous in view of the subsequent heavy and sustained Chinese counter-attacks. I was to learn later that Geoff Leary was also wounded and that Jim Young had taken command. When the fog lifted the CO had given Jim the Company's location and, between them, things were sorted out and the attack continued on to the next group of features.

I thought it amusing that I had the pleasure of escorting the Chinese NCO operating the gun which got me (he was wounded and captured) back to the American MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] at Taegu. This took 24 hours and we became quite friendly, perhaps one of the few humanizing sides of war. I often wonder how he fared on repatriation back to the then savage regime in control of China.'

"Len" Opie

'First contact was at 0915 hr when 12 Platoon [Young] came under fire. We had one wounded ['Snowy' the Bren gunner] and I arranged for stretcher-bearers to carry him to the RAP [Regimental Aid Post sited at Battalion Headquarters on Hill 199] with instructions to the bearers that they were to return for further casualties. We did not see the stretchers or bearers for two days.

In the meantime, 10 Platoon [Leary] had attacked the first objective and there were more casualties, including Lieutenant Leary and Major Hardiman. Immediately the objective was secured, reorganisation against counter-attack was got under way. Grenades and ammunition were taken from the wounded and enemy weapons made inoperable by removing bolts and smashing butts. Casualties were collected and sent back, carried by 10 [Chinese] prisoners and escorted by the walking wounded.

Lieutenant Young took over as OC, Sgt. Bill Rowlinson took 12 Platoon [Young's] and Sgt. Vince Brown took over from Lieutenant Leary. Two men were sent off to contact B Company to our north and an air panel was displayed to enable the CO to give a correct map reference for us as, with the fog and general confusion, we did not know exactly where we were.'

"Frank" Hassett

'I then had the matter of the capture of the final objective, Pt317 [Maryang San], to consider. It was clear that this would be beyond the capacity of D Company, in fact D Company [Young] would be doing a great job if it succeeded in capturing its next objective.

The best placed company for the final task was B Company [Nicholls], though I liked its position where it was, protecting the open northern flank. It had done a good job in clearing the Feature 'Whiskey' from which the Chinese could bring flanking fire against all movement along the ridge-line leading to Point 317. I talked to B Company commander, Nicholls. I told him I wanted him to be prepared to move through D Company, when it had secured its next objective, and then take Point 317.

There was weary voice on the other set. Nicholls seemed unclear about the task, though to me it seemed straightforward enough. As we talked I began to appreciate fully that Nicholls and his Company had been on the go for some 60 hr, fighting and moving, for the most part in the van [the vanguard or forward troops of an advance], and had very little rest in the 48 hours preceding that. There was no question of Nicholl's keenness to fight, he already had one MC [Military Cross] from World War II and was to win another. I thought he was temporarily bushed. There is a limit to human endurance. The signs are there when good men begin to do the wrong thing or fail to react effectively.

I needed a robust leader for the next tough round. I had one beside me. I turned to Gerke and said words to the effect "Jack, get your Company over to that reverse slope behind Young, and when you see him getting his next objective, race your company through and over Pt317. Bounce him [the Chinese] off it." It was all perfectly clear to Gerke.'

"Len" Opie

'Lieutenant Young called for 20 minutes supporting fire prior to assaulting the next knoll and at 1400 hr the attack commenced. A section of MMGs came up to the first knoll to give support and tanks were firing from the vicinity of the CO's Tactical HQ about 500 metres south across the valley. Lieutenant Clark's 11 Platoon led the attack with 12 Platoon [Rowlinson] on the left flank. 11 Platoon lost its Platoon Sergeant, Reg Charlesworth, as well as Section Commanders Corporal Ken Black and Private Cliff Hoskins, all wounded, and was down to 17 men. But Lieutenant Clark led his platoon, together with 12 Platoon commanded by Bill Rowlinson (already wounded), against the third and fourth knolls.'

"Algy" Clark

'The preparatory bombardment [ordered by Hassett at Young's request] went as planned, but had little destructive effect on personnel - the Chinese were too well dug in, although they were stunned by it. They were far too slow to react. The shelling slowed them up. They had no wire, but had set out tree trunks and branches as an obstacle. The artillery destroyed these.

The enemy defences were sited facing to the south, with machine guns dug in with overhead cover, and with excellent fields of fire. A frontal attack would have been costly and difficult. The enemy seemed not to have considered our flanking attack likely.

[We advanced quickly after the artillery lifted]. The enemy small arms fire began at about 50 yards distance, indicating that we had achieved surprise. Once we got into the trenches the enemy had no answer, it being a one-on-one confrontation. They could not swing their machine guns around as we were coming at them from the side or rear. They soon succumbed, in retrospect, it seemed that the enemy was very conventional and had little initiative when attacked from an unexpected direction. An immediate counter-attack could well have been very effective, but they seemed not to have planned for such a contingency. The success of the attack was greatly helped by a grenade tossed by us into the enemy CP [Command Post] destroying it, and killing the five inside, one of whom was thought to be the OC. (The Chinese did not wear badges of rank).

"Jim" McFadzean

'On 5 October D Company made a magnificent contribution, literally tearing the heart out of the Chinese positions on the lower features leading to 317. In these actions D company killed 68 Chinese, wounded a large number and took 30 prisoners. Their cost was three killed and 14 wounded. Surprise, speed and aggression had won the day.'

"Len" Opie

'The fourth knoll [Feature 'Uniform'] was taken by 1600 hr, by which time the CO decided that the company had taken too many casualties (3 KIA [Killed in Action] and 14 WIA [Wounded in Action] to continue. We had covered a lot of difficult ground, under heavy load. Moving and fighting was strenuous work.

What had helped the assaulting platoons was the fact that the Chinese trench line had been dug eastwards along the ridge-line from 317, to cope with an attack from the south. As they tried to withdraw along the trench, they presented easy targets, particularly to the Bren gunners. This, combined with the speed of the assault and A Company's role in drawing off much of the pressure, helped C Company, which had been moved in behind us, to move through to attack Baldy and continued on to 317 [Maryang San].

6 Platoon [from B Company], under Lieutenant Falvey, joined us to assist with prisoners and casualties. There was some shelling and mortaring of our positions, but most of it was directed at 317, so that we were able to re-organise around the third and fourth knolls, using the Chinese trenches. It had been a long hard day for the platoons, Company strength was now less than 50. With some of the stretcher-bearers still absent ... there was no guarantee that we would be able to stay where we were. We settled down, hoping for the best.'

"Jim" Shelton

'It was 3 Platoon's [Moore] turn to take the next objective which was bounced almost as an extension of the 1 Platoon [Gardiner's] assault. The fire support for 1 Platoon had obviously confused and shaken the enemy and 3 Platoon quickly secured the position, killing three enemy. Sergeant Jim Eveleigh won his first Military Medal by pushing ahead of the left-hand section and dispersing the Chinese who had elected to stay and fight. Enemy mortaring and shelling continued.'

"Jim" Hughes

'At about 1120 hr the mist suddenly lifted and south of B Company on the lower slope we saw D Company attacking the Chinese on feature 'Victor' in a very bitter fight. B Company's LMG's were used to cut down enemy fleeing north-west from the D Company attack. From its position at Feature 'Whisky' B Company was able to observe enemy movement at the rear of their positions on the ridge-lines up to and including Hill 317. The FOO [Forward Observation Officer] and MFC [Mortar Fire Controller] with B company were both very busy throughout the afternoon of 5 October.'

'Bushy' Pembroke

'Suddenly Jack Gerke appeared full of urgency as usual. C Company was to move forward at last to pass through D Company and take 317. However, Baldy [Feature 'Tango'] had to be cleared first by 8 Platoon [McWilliam]. Waiting once again whilst Baldy was cleared, then late in the afternoon the order came to take 317. Despite being prepared, the reality of having to attack 317 at the end of a long day came as a shock. I remember being worried about my Platoon's packs, and how they would get forward to us that night. Jack Gerke soon set me straight. We were to get 317 as fast as possible and hold it at all costs - nothing else mattered.'

"Jack" Gerke

'I relayed these orders back to the CSM [Stanley] and told him to get the Company ready to move as soon as I returned. On rejoining the Company I gave my orders to the platoon commanders who were at Company HQ waiting for my arrival.

My plan was for Company HQ to lead the Company into the position behind D Company. 8 Platoon [McWillliam] was to move through the forward elements of D Company and, aided by its supporting fire, take the position Baldy [Feature 'Tango'] 500 metres east of 317.'

It [McWilliam] was to hold that position while the remainder of the Company, led by 7 Platoon [Pears] and followed by Company HQ and then 9 Platoon [Pembroke] would make the final assault on 317. It was clear to me that speed was vital. Once D Company had done its job I wanted to be through it and over 317 in the shortest possible time.

The attack on Baldy and later on 317 went off as plan, with D Company giving support a requested. Supporting [artillery, mortar, tank and machine gun] fire on Baldy [Feature 'Tango'], 317 and the approaches to 317 from the wet was very heavy and accurate. We cleared Baldy quickly, killing four enemy, and immediately pressed on to 317.

Point 317 is a steep sided feature that allows only a handful of men o move up it at one point, but the men of 7 Platoon [Pears] scrambled up the side and on to the top with very little opposition from the enemy. I have always thought that if a company of Australians had been holding the feature and had the supplies, it would have held the position indefinitely.

Once 7 Platoon [Pears] was on top of 317, Company Headquarters settled itself into a position where it could see the surrounding country below and to the north. A small prominent Feature 'Sierra' had to be held to counter any attack from that direction and I ordered 9 Platoon [Pembroke] to occupy it at first light the next day. This the Platoon did well, surprising the Chinese. Subjected to heavy fire and withstanding numerous counter-attacks the platoon, although down to 15 men, held the position throughout the [remainder of] day.

"Jock" McCormick

'We were ordered to assist C Company on the summit of 317 and that afternoon made our entry into the battle proper. Led by a guide, we moved out in single file along a south-eastern spur to the east side of 317. We scrambled up the sheer slope attended by lazy Chinese shelling whose scattered detonations kept us ducking even though we knew it was too late when we heard the shrapnel whizzing by. On arrival at the summit we were told to occupy some vacant pits covering an area from north to west.

We settled in, being sniped at by a light machine gun which shattered a tree stump just to my right. 'Killer' Kane suggested to me that I stand up and wave so that he could pinpoint the sniper's position when he fired. I declined. In the event a few rifle shots made this unnecessary.

"Jim" Shelton

'I was pleased with the Company's efforts. It had stood up to a lot of punishment without flinching, despite its twenty casualties, and it killed at least 25 Chinese and captured two. Although it perhaps had a less eye-catching role than the other companies it did its job well. It had distracted the enemy, drawn a lot of their fire and tied down an enemy company that otherwise could have been used against the Battalion's main thrust. The CO made it clear that he shared my opinion of the Company's performance.


6 - 8 October

"Jock" McCormick

'The remainder of the night [5/6 October] was relatively quiet. We provided an escort for the signal officer as he fixed breaks in the lines. There was someone or something scrabbling beneath us on the western slope. Two grenades were thrown and the scrabbling ceased. We could hear the jangle and squeak of caterpillar tracks somewhere to the North - there had been reports of Chinese SP [Self Propelled] guns. Then it was dawn and a new day in our land above the clouds, the valleys being filled with fog and mist. A tot of rum appeared, unexpected and undiluted. It took our breath away as it burned all the way down.

'Jock' McCormick recalls the work of the Signals Officer, Captain Claude Smeale,

'That night the Signals Officer came up in dark by himself to mend breaks in the line. He asked for an escort and disappeared into the night with Corporal 'Jock' Chalmers, an ex-Argyll [British Infantry regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders']. We could trace their progress from the booming of Pronto's [nickname for Signals personnel] voice. Then suddenly there was silence. I was beginning to get a bit worried by the time they re-entered the platoon position. When Jock had moved back to his section, Pronto looked at me and said, "Funny fellow that Corporal of yours." I grunted and he went on, "I was talking to him out there, just trying to be friendly, you understand, when he turned to me and said 'Shush'! I said, Don't 'Shush me, Corporal. He said there were Chinamen all around us. I told him I did not give a stuff for the Chinamen and he replied, 'Well I do and if you do not shut up I'll drop you, sir'." Hiding a knowing smile I asked Pronto, "What happened then? He said, "I shut up of course. Funny fellow that."'

"Bushy" Pembroke

'Almost immediately a Chinese sentry emerged from thick scrub right beside Platoon Headquarters, firing a machine gun from the hip. Poor Lance Corporal Yeo fell dead, shot through the head. Further machine gun fire came from another position up the knoll towards The Hinge. I sent a section forward, and after a brief fire fight the enemy was eliminated.'

"Bill" Keys

'At first light Lieutenant Colonel Hassett moved his Tac HQ to 317 and from there conducted the battle through the day of the 7th - a day that would be remembered by those who experienced it as one of the hardest the Battalion had to encounter.'

"Jim" Hughes

'At 0800 hr B Company crossed the start line. Visibility was good, we had first rate fire support from artillery, mortars, tanks and MMGs - no unusual problems were anticipated. The order to march was as expected - 4 Platoon [Hughes] left, 6 Platoon [Falvey] right and then Company HQ and 5 Platoon [Sergeant Ray Parry]. The lead platoons moved down the spine of the ridge which initially had good tree cover and then gave way to long grass and less trees.

Suddenly rifle fire erupted behind the lead platoons. It seemed that the Chinese had withdrawn off the ridge, let the lead platoons pass and then attacked Coy HQ and 5 Platoon. A series of fierce fights broke out and the lead platoons fought back to assist Company HQ and 5 Platoon [Parry].

In that furious battle we lost two killed and twelve wounded and killed over twenty Chinese. By about 0920 hr B Company was in control of The Hinge, the Chinese having been driven off. Even before contact was broken the Chinese began to shell the area and this shelling continued on and off throughout the day.'

The Official History chronicled these incidents on the "Hinge"

'In the fire fight during the attack Sergeant P.J. O'Connell, of 4 Platoon [Hughes], saw one of his men fall, badly wounded, in open ground. In full view of the Chinese, O'Connell left the protection of a pit and ran 20 metres through a hail of machine gun and rifle fire to bring the wounded man back under cover.

During the attack the Company Sergeant Major was mortally wounded. Sergeant R.W. Strong, an attached Mortar Fire Controller, took over his duties without waiting for instructions. Strong immediately began to organise the evacuation of casualties and re-supply of ammunition, moving about in the open despite heavy enemy fire. When Captain Nicholls was forward with his platoon commanders, Strong maintained communications with Hassett, passing calm, accurate reports which helped the latter to direct support more effectively. [Note: This action by Strong enabled Hassett to make decisions about fire support, re-supply, casualty evacuation, reinforcement and consequent adjustments to the Battalion's dispositions.]

Lance Corporal J. Park, commander of 4 section, 5 Platoon, saw half his section mown down by machine gun fire as they charged into the attack. He dashed ahead, firing coolly and accurately with his Owen gun, killing seven Chinese and forcing others in front of his section to withdraw.

They [the Chinese] counter-attacked the remnants of Park's section but were repulsed. Park's Owen gun jammed just as the Chinese were coming at his group. He dodged to avoid a grenade hurled at him by a Chinese soldier, closed with the attacker and killed him with his bare hands. Park was awarded the Military Medal for his boldness.

Corporal E.F. Bosworth, another 5 Platoon section commander, charged eight enemy who were concealed in long grass and behind some trees. He killed five and wounded the others who fled. A further group of Chinese counter-attacked and Bosworth charged into them, undeterred by their grenades and small arms fire. He fell, seriously wounded, just as the counter-attack was breaking up. The Chinese dispersed and his section consolidated their hold on the position. Bosworth also was awarded the Military Medal.

Lieutenant J.C. Hughes, the commander of 4 Platoon, personally led his men in a grenade fight at a threatened part of the company perimeter, driving the Chinese back with heavy casualties. Once his men reached their objective he held them firm in the face of heavy enemy artillery and mortar bombardment and several counter-attacks which followed next night. Hughes was awarded the Military Cross for fearless conduct throughout the most crucial phase of the operation.

Corporal T.G. Tunstall, the B Company medical orderly, also showed great bravery in continually evacuating and treating the wounded while under enemy fire. He worked hard taking risks throughout the day and the night of 7 - 8 October, and was awarded the Military Medal. The accompanying medium machine-gun section commander, Sergeant E.J. Morrison, was mentioned in dispatches, for bravery in repeatedly exposing himself to danger while directing his section's fire and evacuating wounded.

"Jim" Hughes

'During the afternoon 4 Platoon, as an example, dug and occupied some 8 to 10 two-man trenches but some only had one occupant. With night approaching the one man positions were abandoned and fields of fire and mutual support were revamped. Similar action occurred throughout the Company and drills were planned to evict the enemy if they penetrated our position.

"Bushy" Pembroke

'At first light B Company moved through in preparation for its attack on

The Hinge. The successful but costly attack by B Company took the pressure off 9 [my] Platoon but the enemy quickly realized that the way to defeat B Company was to interdict [cut] the route from 317 through 9 [my] Platoon's knoll to The Hinge. All day he kept up a barrage of shells and mortar bombs on his lifeline. 9 Platoon no longer felt isolated but felt it was playing a key part in the final battle of [Operation] Commando.'

'Jock' McCormick

'Later there was the crump of explosions and rattle of small arms fire as B Company attacked The Hinge. The sections carried ammunition through the shelling. I recall at last light, one party returning from B Company, struggling with a CASEVAC stretcher and silhouetted on a rise against the bursts of artillery fire.'

"Frank" Hassett

'We were now in a critical situation. We had been moving and fighting, almost without cessation, for six days. We had lost over a hundred men and looked like losing a lot more. Platoons were now 15 to 20 strong, too low for orthodox tactical use. It was not just the casualties. Most were physically exhausted. Lack of sleep and battle stress apart, just moving under heavy load, let alone fighting, in that hilly, difficult terrain was most demanding.'

"Bushy" Pembroke

'Towards afternoon [of 7 October] the battle faded away. It seemed the worst was over and all I'm sure were congratulating themselves on having survived. Then came the moment of [Operation] Commando which is sharpest in my memory. I was in my weapon pit hoping for a quiet night. I glanced at my watch. It was exactly 2000 hr. Suddenly in a great arc to the front the sky lit up with an incredible series of flashes. Some thirty seconds later the area from 317 to The Hinge received an immense concentration of shells and mortar bombs which lasted for what seemed like eternity.

Movement was impossible and for the first time I understood what artillery neutralization of an area really meant. The main Chinese regimental counter-attack struck B Company but [my] 9 Platoon also received its share of attention. It was dark and the knoll was heavily wooded with the sections relatively dispersed; control was therefore difficult, particularly with shells and mortar bombs constantly bursting amongst the trees. The situation brought home to me the difficulty under such conditions of actually 'seeing' the enemy. There is movement in that re-entrant but exactly where and how many? Opportunities to get a group of enemy clearly in one's sights and fire effectively are few and far between. This emphasizes the importance of clearly appreciating the lines of approach and sticking to the pre-determined fire plan.

"Jim" Hughes

'At Stand To and during the early part of the night it was quiet, almost too quiet - an ominous quiet. At 2000 hr the Chinese artillery and mortars opened up and continued for some 45 minutes. Suddenly the barrage of fire ceased and the Chinese attacked. All around the Company - like a battle cry - leaders at all levels were shouting, "Watch your front". We might have been shaken but we were very ready or the enemy.

During the night the Chinese attacked three times on our front and both flanks. We were very ably supported by our artillery, mortars and MMGs. Defensive fire tasks were frequently fired and walked in towards our perimeter.

The enemy was tenacious and crawled within feet of our trenches to throw stick grenades which were very quickly thrown back. Grenades were the only answer to those who got so close as they were able to get under the fire of our LMGs [Light Machine Guns] because of the lie of the land. That said, I am convinced that our LMGs saved us with their effective fire. Our LMG gunners learnt to fire a burst and then duck for cover as the Chinese attempted to knock them out. Some penetration of our position did occur but those who got in were quickly evicted.'

"Frank" Hassett

'The night 7/8 October was a bad one. By late evening B Company had taken a lacing and there was more to come. It was to withstand three further major attacks. There was a desperate shortage of ammunition, some very gallant work being done in getting re-supply to the Company.

The courage shown in this regard by rear echelon personnel was similar to the rifle companies. The re-supply and CASEVAC route - through D Company, over 317, and through 'Sierra' to The Hinge - was well known to the Chinese and they gave it much attention.

My own personal problem, after six hectic days and nights, was to keep awake. Unless I was actively involved in some matter or other, I would fall asleep. Bill Keys [the Adjutant] was a tower of strength that night, in particular.'

"Bill" Keys,

'From 1930 hr till 2000 hr an ominous silence pervaded the battle field, and at 2000 hr it came - the heaviest and most concentrated shelling, chiefly on the forward positions, that the Chinese had yet produced. For 45 minutes it continued, the nerve-racking thunder of exploding shells. The phone cable was blasted in the first volley; hundreds of rounds fell in the biggest Chinese artillery effort so far encountered.

At 2045 hr the shelling eased and lifted, and the Chinese attacked. They attacked on three sides expecting a dazed and battered enemy. Instead they found an enemy resolute and confident; they attacked not against disorganized defences, but against a blazing perimeter of Australian rifles and machine guns. Again and again they attacked, but in vain. Our own artillery was now in full swing and the enemy was sent reeling back - his hopes of speedy victory completely destroyed.

Three times that night he attacked with blind courage, but could not hope to succeed. Later, it was estimated that the greater part of two battalions were used in this attack, and he lost a very large part of this force in his futile efforts to regain his lost position [The Hinge].'

"Frank" Hassett

'I thought it interesting that, throughout that long night, the word withdrawal was never mentioned, even by the hard-pressed B Company. We had seen, and were to see again, troops driven off features. This was not the thinking of 3 RAR. I was mindful of George Vasey's order on Crete - "Here we bloody well are, and here we bloody well stay."

By the afternoon of the 7th, the sixth day of battle, I was in a real dilemma as to whether to offer to continue the attack through B Company with A Company or whether we had done enough and I should look to the security of the Battalion as a whole. I decided on the latter, as otherwise I would have had an exhausted battalion, dangerously strung out. I thought also that the enemy, once we took The Hinge, would give up the ridge line to its South [Hill 217] which, in fact, he did.

Given all the circumstances, only a truly remarkable battalion could have succeeded in this task. I would be doing the Battalion a disservice if I did not say without reservation that it performed brilliantly.

Although the nature of this account has led me to placing emphasis on the rifle companies, the whole Battalion - the Headquarters, signals, mortars, MMGs, A/Tk [Anti-Tank], pioneers and administrative personnel - all performed at a high standard.

I am told that the New Zealand Regiment fired 50 000 rounds in our support during Commando. I believe it, and the soldiers of 3 RAR will always be grateful for that magnificent effort, as they are to the other supporting arms. There was also solid administrative back-up by Brigade, particularly in re-supply and CASEVAC.'

"Jock" McCormick

'Looking back, two things stick in my mind; the high degree of protection provided by a simple slit trench and the courage and mutual support of the soldiers themselves. Jocks, Geordies, assorted Poms and born Australians, Occupation Force, K Force [volunteers] and Regular Army, they were all Diggers in the best tradition of ANZAC. It was an honour to serve with them, the bravest of the brave in the finest battalion of the Korean War.'

"Jim" Hughes

''Leaving The Hinge was an obvious relief. We had survived and believed we had given our best. We were tired but very proud to be Australians, members of 3 RAR [in general] and B Company in particular. The soldiers of B Company were tenacious, they showed great initiative and courage and individuals acted spontaneously for the common good whenever a problem arose. For many of us who were young at the time, we date our maturity from the Battle of Maryang San.'

"Jack" Gerke

'I had been wounded on the 7th but stayed with the Company until the morning of the 8th when captain [Lee] Greville assumed command (and we were relieved by the KOSB.) From my point of view, the operation was a complete success due to the planning and preparation of the Battalion by the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Frank Hassett, and the example that he set both prior to the operation and throughout [its conduct].

Most of all I remember the quality of the soldiers. Never once did they alter or query any orders or instructions given them. They had faith in their leaders, their mates and in themselves. They were fit and were given all the available information about our own plans and about the enemy. The soldier who knows exactly what is happening and why is the soldier who gets things done. We were part of a Battalion which fought as a team and was a credit to Australia. The many who were new troops when the battle began were old hands at its finish.'

Brigadier Taylor wrote later about his feelings for the Australians in general and Hassett in particular,

'I had the greatest possible admiration for the Battalion's valour and skill in those October days of 1951. Its outstanding commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hassett, showed very great tactical skill in keeping up the momentum of the attack on 317 and expertly fitting in the supporting fire of the artillery and tanks. I doubt if there is in recent times a Commanding Officer who deserves better the DSO [Distinguished Service Order].

All ranks of the Battalion backed him up wholeheartedly. You could not have found better company commanders in the Commonwealth than Gerke, Hardiman, Nicholls and Shelton. The bravery and skill of the junior leaders was remarkably backed up by the men in the platoons and sections. It was a very emotional moment for me when I went to see the Battalion just after they occupied their new positions, to thank all ranks from the bottom of my heart for the great part they had played in ensuring victory in a very tough battle.'


General O'Daniel described the Commonwealth Division's actions as,

'.... masterful manoeuvre, skillfully combining aggressiveness and complete detailed planning, resulting in the taking of key terrain features with a minimum cost in manpower and with the exploitation of firepower.'

On 9 October Taylor issued a letter to all ranks of the Brigade,

'I wish to congratulate all ranks on their splendid achievement in the battle of Kowang - Maryang San. You have badly mauled the 191st CCF [Chinese Communist Forces] Division [this division was withdrawn from the line] and stormed and taken defensive positions of very great natural and artificial strength and beaten off counter-attacks with great resolution.'

At first light on 5 November the sight of the Chinese on Maryang San was, as Robert O'Neill said in the Official History of Australia's participation in the Korean War,

'a galling experience for the Australians who had fought so hard to gain it four weeks previously.'

Their only solace was found in watching the Chinese who had taken Maryang San being subjected to a torrent of napalm, bombs and machine gun fire from the air as well as heavy concentrations of artillery and mortar fire.


Colonel Tom Daly, Director of Infantry, 1952.

It is difficult to be specific about the Battalion's outstanding success but certain aspects stand out clearly:

  • The principle of surprise was exploited to the full.
  • The principle of security was constantly observed.
  • Before the operation began, a thorough reconnaissance was carried out by subordinates and the plan explained to them on the ground.
  • The CO, accompanied by his commanders of supporting arms, was constantly forward.
  • The cooperation of all arms was splendid.
  • Viewing the operation as a whole, it is immediately apparent that the overall tactics employed by 28 Inf Bde were based on the classic concept of pinning an enemy frontally while falling on his flank; tactics which were old in the days of Genghis Khan, but which are always new when used in conjunction with surprise and other well-tried principles of war.

Arthur 'Bushy' Pembroke

'Above all, a frightening but most humbling experience. I shall never forget what the NCOs and men of 9 Platoon taught me about soldiering and the essential human values of living and dying.

"Len" Opie

'My time with the Battalion completed, I left for Japan on 16th October [1951]. At Kure I visited Major Hardiman, Captain Maloney and Lieutenant Leary, all from D Company, all wounded and all in the same hospital ward.'

"Maurie" Pears

'But the deep and enduring memories are those of the men who saved my life and shaped my future. I am in their debt. I have seen little of them since that time and wonder how those men who deserved so much have fared. I fear they are yesterday's heroes left with yesterday's promises.'

Arthur Stanley

'I have the same high regard for our small group of specialists at Company HQ - our sigs, runners and stretcher-bearers. There are many in C Company who owe their lives to Massey and Harkness, our stretcher-bearers. Harkness later died in my arms as we came down from 227 after a night raid. I felt that C Company had won its place in the Battalion History as being a well-trained, well-led hard-hitting fighting machine capable of holding its position against all odds.

If I were asked a direct question about Commando I would certainly reply; "One of the best planned operations, commanded by experts, fought with outstanding bravery by all who took part, in some of the worst country in the world, with victory at the end."

"Jim" Shelton

'There is a postscript to the A Company story. Before Operation Commando there was a feeling amongst some soldiers that A company was unlucky. There had been eight company commanders in as many months of fighting and platoon commanders had been frequently changed as well. The changes were due to unavoidable factors such as relief and casualties but it was the soldiers who had to cope with the consequences. Sergeant Svenson, the CSM, and his fellow NCOs had taken the situation in their stride and the fighting effectiveness of the company was maintained. Operation Commando was the turning point in A Company's luck. The command appointments were stabilised and the 'A Company Sunday' became past history.

Edward 'Jack' Morrison,

'Taking the Commando battle as a whole, we [my Machine Gun section] had a useful job in just about every phase - C Company's attack on 355, then targets on its rear slopes, support for D Company's assault on the knolls forward of 317, C Company's attack and consolidation on 317, Pembroke's attack on feature 'Sierra', and then the B Company attack and Chinese counter-attack. We were shelled from start to finish and often our gun positions were above ground with no cover. I believe the CO told Reg Saunders [Platoon Commander, Machine Gun Platoon] that we had done a good job.

I have never been in a better planned and executed operation than Commando, either before or since. It was faultless. Although many brave men died or were wounded in those six days, it was a great success by a mighty Battalion of officers. NCOs and men. I was proud to be one of them.

"Frank" Hassett

'There are plenty of brave soldiers the world over, and some of them are very skilful also. But it is the added qualities of commonsense, initiative, and concern for his fellows, so amply demonstrated by 3 RAR at Maryang San, that put the Australian soldier in a class apart. Unquestionably, the soldiers won the Maryang San battle, not just because they were brave, but because they were smart also. They recognised that, if we were to get 317 [Maryang San] at all, let alone without massive casualties, then they would have to move quickly. This they did.

There was no heroes' welcome home for these warriors. They left from Australia [in 1950 and 1951] as individuals or in small groups and returned the same way, unheralded and unsung. Somehow, it did not seem to matter. There was much quiet satisfaction just in knowing one had fought at Maryang San.'


Frank Hassett"

The battalion (3 RAR January 1952), later joined by 1 RAR and 2 RAR, then entered the early stages of the "static" war, which lasted for some two years. This was a hard monotonous period of trench warfare of a first World War nature. It was a life of patrolling and raids, wiring, mining, of being constantly shelled and mortared and fighting off local enemy attacks which persisted until the very end of hostilities in July 1953. There was a steady build up of casualties. It was dangerous, onerous and lacked the excitement of significant achievement. I thought this a more exacting period, particularly for junior leaders, than the more mobile phase of the first year of the war.

A static war suited the Chinese. They had fortitude and they dug deep and well. I was not alone in being somewhat restless about the static war. We were fighting the sort of war that suited our enemy.

"Maurie" Pears

The period leading to the declaration of the truce in 1952 and 1953, was a trying one for Australian soldiers who, whilst anxious to do their duty, (which has already been amply demonstrated) were also concerned about coming home in one piece. It became obvious to the men in the line that the Chinese were prepared to sit tight on their defences and wait for a declaration of peace provided we left them alone. The advantages of aggressive patrolling to protect the defensive position are well known to commanders however, the digger could see little point, at his level, of continuously "stirring the possum" with raids and dangerous patrols, which if unsuccessful resulted in many casualties and which if successful, resulted in heavy reaction and further casualties. It is a tribute to their spirit and their strength of leadership that they continued to perform so well, with the tasks allotted to them, right up to the cessation of hostilities.

(The following extracts are taken from "Australia in the Korean War 1950-53 by Robert O"Neill published by the Australian War Memorial" and are gratefully acknowledged)

Author "Bob" O'Neill

After achieving a stronger defensive line in late 1951, the United Nations Command forces sought no further significant advances during the remainder of the war. The Chinese and North Koreans used the respite between 27 November and 27 December 1951 effectively, improving their defences so that an allied offensive would have been extremely costly. General Ridgway did not believe that these defences were insuperable

During the bloody but unspectacular nineteen months of the static war, the Commonwealth Division was in the line for all but two months - February and March 1953.

As part of the 28th Brigade, 3 RAR was deployed on the eastern sector of the divisional line from 19 January to 18 April 1952, in the area of Hills 159, 210 and 227, 1½ kilometres southwest of Hill 355. This period was relatively quiet, although on the night of 26-27 January, the Australians attempted to recapture Hill 227, which had been taken by the Chinese in their November counter-offensive. The Australians were driven off by superior Chinese forces, losing seven killed and nine wounded. The forward battalions devoted their efforts to strengthening the defences and patrolling no man's land.

The Chinese soldiers were brave fighters and competent but inflexible tacticians. They were not extensively equipped with radio and telephone communications and frequently were unable to summon rapid fire support when in ambushes and attacks. The Chinese employed these tactics frequently and with effect. In some attacks they concentrated forces within 20 or 30 metres of the barbed-wire defences and then stormed through into the forward trenches and bunkers. The 28th Brigade defeated this method, first by aggressive patrolling to deny the enemy an easy approach to the defences, and second by stationing small standing patrols or listening posts well forward to give warning of any unusual assembly of enemy.

Daly implemented a firm and vigorous patrol policy. He had learned this style of warfare from Lieutenant General Morshead while a brigade major in the siege of Tobruk

This policy inevitably resulted in casualties and was questioned by Army Headquarters in Australia. Daly responded by pointing out that far heavier casualties could have been suffered had the Chinese been allowed to get close enough to the 28th Brigade positions to mount a major attack. The US regiment which relieved the brigade on Hill 355 at the end of January 1953 did not patrol and within a few days a complete company was overrun by a Chinese surprise attack. The Americans suffered some 200 casualties.

The rigours of the climate continued to test the fitness of the men on the battle-line, on both sides. As the lines became more developed, with overhead cover, bunkers and heating stoves, so there was more opportunity for protection from the winter temperatures, except when manning a weapon on watch or on observation post duty, by day or night, or when on patrol. Great care had to be taken when on patrol that men did not become frost-bitten, particularly when wounding required lying concealed and without movement. Standing patrols and listening posts had to be relieved frequently, sometimes hourly. During early spring, trenches would suddenly collapse as the ground thawed. A deep trench could suddenly become a wide and shallow ditch, burying the occupant. The Australian diggers of the 1950s suddenly realized what the old diggers of 1914-18 had had to contend with.

Two Australian engineers with the 28th Brigade, Captain J.M. Hutcheson and Captain I.G.C. Gilmore, performed outstandingly in attempting to keep the minefields fenced and ensuring that the locations of the miners were adequately recorded and known by the forward troops.

When Australian troops first occupied a new position in the line, they undertook a series of familiarization patrols, so that they came to know the terrain, the barbed-wire obstacles and the minefields in front of their defences intimately. They then fought for domination of the approaches to their positions before attempting to force the enemy's patrols back into their own defences, thereby giving the Australians dominance over no man's land.

Casualty evacuation was a constant anxiety when on patrol. It was easy to lose a wounded man in the hectic activity of a fight at night; it was difficult for a small patrol to carry one or two stretcher cases and protect itself if followed up by the enemy. Sometimes it took sixteen men to haul a stretcher up Hill 355. Many heroic deeds were performed by individual patrol members in bringing their wounded back to safety. They were not always successful and some wounded Commonwealth soldiers were captured by the Chinese. Several of these men later returned from captivity, but some did not survive because of the rudimentary medical support available to the Chinese, both for their own and for enemy casualties.

Usually the Chinese artillery concentrated on the forward positions, but occasionally it struck targets 3-4 kilometres behind the line. In the last two years of the war, over 260 000 enemy rounds fell in the divisional area, but the division fired over 2 000 000 rounds back at the enemy.

The British and Canadian Governments also approved, and the program, known as the KATCOM (Korean Augmentation Troops, Commonwealth) scheme, soon went into effect. Each Commonwealth infantry section of seven to ten soldiers received two or three Koreans. The latter wore the uniforms of the unit to which they were attached, at the same food, lived under the same conditions and took part in the same patrols, armed with Commonwealth weapons, but were paid by the Government of the Republic of Korea. Despite the inevitable problems when two men per section had not been trained in the same way as the Australians, and spoke little if any English, the whole arrangement began well and proved successful in the next few months. Without the KATCOMs every Australian section would have been two or three men under-strength, because of absences due to sickness or leave.



The first major Australian operation on the Jamestown Line in 1952 was a daylight raid made by 1 RAR on the Chinese forward positions on Hill 227.

In early July it was 1 RAR's turn to attempt to capture a prisoner. Hutchison (CO 1RAR) ordered Major D.S. Thomson, Officer Commanding A Company, to raid the Chinese positions on Hill 227 on 2 July 1952, capture a prisoner and destroy the garrison. This raid was unusual in that it was made in broad daylight.

The Chinese inside the bunkers threw grenades and fired at the Australians with rifles and machine-guns. Lieutenant G.J. Lucas, the platoon commander, ordered his men to silence the defenders with percussion, phosphorus and high-explosive grenades and flame throwers. It was difficult to direct the flame into the bunkers because of their skillful construction, and Lucas attempted to dig through the roof of C Bunker, in full view of other enemy positions a few hundred metres away. They opened fire but failed to hit him, so he kept digging. Corporal H.E. Patch and another member of his section jumped into the trench leading to the bunker's entrance and tried to force their way in, but both were wounded by a burst of machine-gun fire from inside. Patch pulled his companion from the entrance and fired in at the enemy, receiving a second wound when the Chinese returned the fire. Several other members of the platoon were wounded by mortar fire when they went to Patch's assistance. Soon afterwards a loud explosion within the bunker was heard, the entrance tunnel collapsed and carried Lieutenant Lucas in with the debris. He struggled free and the enemy inside the bunker ceased to offer resistance. The bunker was now aflame and sealed off externally, but still the Australians had not taken a prisoner.

Thomson and his headquarters group gained the summit a few minutes after the forward platoons. He directed operations from a Chinese trench near the top of the hill, without any regard for his own safety, amidst a heavy, accurate Chinese mortar and artillery bombardment and a steady hail of small arms fire.

After A Company had been on the hill for nearly one and a half hours, Hutchison ordered Thomson to withdraw. The company was running out of ammunition and had lost one man killed and over twenty wounded. Although the Australians had no hope of capturing a prisoner, they had substantially destroyed the Chinese defences on the hilltop.

During Operation Blaze three members of 1 RAR were killed and thirty-four were wounded. It was a heavy price to pay for occupation of the enemy position for an hour and a half, particularly when no prisoners were taken and few confirmed casualties were inflicted on the enemy.


In late June 1952, 3 RAR returned to the Jamestown Line with the 28th Brigade, relieving the 25th Brigade in the south-western sector of the divisional front. Brigadier Daly deployed 3 RAR on the central sector of the brigade front, in the second battalion area to the east of the Samichon River. During July the battalion settled into the new position under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.L. Hughes, who relieved Hassett on 2 July, and began an intensive program of patrolling forward into no man's land. On the night of 12 July, Hughes sent out a fighting patrol of twenty-five men, led by Lieutenant L.B Ryan of A Company, in an attempt to capture a prisoner from an enemy post on Hill 115, 1 kilometre north-west of the forward defences.

The patrol was unfortunate enough to have been assigned to a much better defended Chinese position than had been originally believed. After fighting their way right up to enemy trenches, the Australians were repelled with heavy losses. Ryan was killed; another two men, Privates W.T.H. Lord and T.G. Wallace, were both wounded and believed captured; and ten of those who returned were wounded. A search patrol sent out later that night found no trace of Ryan, Lord and Wallace. Two members of the fighting patrol, Private T.J. Jubb, a stretcher bearer, and Private A. White, Ryan's signaler, were awarded the Military Medal for great bravery in reorganizing the patrol and evacuating the wounded while under heavy enemy fire. White took command after Ryan had been badly wounded and returned three times to within 5 metres of the enemy to remove casualties.

In mid-August 3 RAR was ordered to make another attempt to capture a prisoner. On this occasion Hughes planned to use a stronger force employing the whole of B Company. The raid, Operation Buffalo, was directed at Hill 75, 1200 metres to the west of the battalion's forward defences.

The Chinese position on Hill 75 was an outpost on the southern tip of a ridge which projected southwards from their main defensive line. The position was 600 metres east of the Samichon, and could be attacked from three sides. It was held by a platoon supported by two machine-guns.

More casualties were suffered from mortar fire as 6 Platoon, followed by 4 Platoon and Company Headquarters, moved back through the firm base held by 5 Platoon. The raid had cost B Company one killed, twenty-four wounded and two missing. At least twelve Chinese had been killed. Richardson was awarded the Military Cross, and Wilson, the Military Medal. Zwolanski was awarded the United States Bronze Star for his leadership and bravery in the face of the heavy Chinese mortar fire. Corporal B. Saville and Private L.C. Holden were both awarded the Military Medal, partly for this action and partly for their role in a patrol clash in which they participated on 28 and 29 September.


During August and September 1952 both 1 RAR and 3 RAR were engaged in several fierce patrol actions while holding the sector to the east of the Samichon River, generally known as the Songgok area. The two Australian battalions were holding adjacent positions, with 1 RAR to the north-east and 3 RAR. On the night of 22-23 August, 1 RAR sent out a working party commanded by Captain P.J. Greville, the Assault Pioneer Platoon Commander, to repair a minefield fence. Greville's group of nine men was ambushed by twenty Chinese when returning to the forward defences at 2.30 a.m., despite the provision of two protective patrols. Greville was captured, the only senior Australian to be taken during the war, together with Private DD Condon. One member of Greville's group was killed, and three others, together with three men from D Company who were fired on when bringing in the first casualties from the ambush, were wounded.

Four nights later Lieutenant J.H. Skipper led a fighting patrol forward of 1 RAR's position. As the Australians approached the creek which ran between their defences and those of the Chinese, they detected an enemy patrol moving forward. Skipper withdrew his forward scouts and laid an ambush at the most frequently used crossing point on the creek. The Chinese walked into the ambush and five were killed. The Chinese patrol commander quickly directed mortar fire onto the ambush area and Skipper reorganized his men and withdrew, suffering no casualties in the engagement.

A ten-man patrol from 3 RAR was attacked by some twenty Chinese in front of the battalion's defences on the night of 2-3 September. The patrol commander was wounded and the second-in-command killed. Private H.G. White took command and reorganized the patrol to resist a further enemy attack. Despite suffering one further casualty, White's group killed six Chinese and captured one wounded prisoner. White called for stretcher bearers and remained in charge until all the wounded had been evacuated and he was ordered to withdraw, at dawn. He was mentioned in dispatches for his leadership.

On the night of 4-5 September, Lieutenant W. Patrick took a sixteen-member patrol forward of 3 RAR's position and ambushed some forty Chinese at 9 PM. The enemy fired two green flares and directed supporting machine-gun fire onto both the Australians and themselves. Despite several casualties, they attacked Patrick's patrol, blowing bugles and whistles, firing sub-machine-guns and hurling grenades. Patrick was wounded in the throat, leg and chest. Lance Corporal P.A. Thompson, commander of the nearest section of the patrol, ordered a withdrawal just before being struck by a grenade, which blew his foot off. Corporal K.C. Thomas, the second-in-command of the patrol, killed three approaching Chinese and gave Thompson assistance. Thomas's men killed a further nine enemy. He then organised a withdrawal, remaining behind with a small group to protect the movement of casualties. Thompson died and Thomas concealed his body in some bushes. Thomas's group was attacked by some twenty Chinese, who were repelled with heavy losses. Thomas then withdrew his group, carrying one of his men who had been severely wounded. After returning to the battalion position he volunteered to guide another patrol out to the area of the clash and subsequently recovered Thompson's body, which had been left by the Chinese, who had already dragged away their own dead and wounded. Thomas was awarded the Military Medal.

A fighting patrol from 1 RAR, commanded by Lieutenant P.H. Cliff, encountered twenty Chinese on the night of 13-14 September, near the bank of a creek. The Australians charged, and one section, led by Lance Corporal D. McCarthy, put the enemy to flight, leaving behind two dead and two badly wounded. McCarthy pursued the Chinese towards their own lines, hurling grenades and firing his Owen gun at them. On his way back to join his men McCarthy came face to face with an armed Chinese soldier, seized him by the throat, disarmed him of a rifle and three grenades and rejoined the patrol with his valuable prisoner, the first to be taken by 1 RAR. McCarthy was awarded a Military Medal. Cliff was killed while leading another patrol on the night of 21-22 September. He had called down artillery fire on a suspected enemy position nearby, but the shells fell on his own location. Subsequent investigation revealed that Cliff had not known his own position accurately and that the guns had fired precisely on the area given by him. He was particularly unlucky in that he was hit in the throat by a large shell fragment which had traveled an exceptional distance from the point of burst. The episode caused some hard feelings between 1 RAR and the 16th Field Regiment.

Captain J.T. Waterton, Second-in-Command of B Company, 3 RAR, led a fighting patrol of seventeen men on the night of 28-29 September and ambushed some fifty Chinese at very close range. After opening fire and killing several of the enemy, Waterton withdrew his patrol 30 metres while the Chinese attacked the Australians' former position. Waterton's men fired back at the Chinese and inflicted heavy casualties once again. The Chinese withdrew to their main defences.

Lance Corporal L.C. Holden, Waterton's second-in-command, was wounded in both legs but continued to control his section's part of the fighting. He refused to be evacuated in a protected party with three other wounded, although he could only crawl. Waterton ordered him to be assisted out once the patrol's final withdrawal began. Waterton was awarded the Military Cross and Holden the Military Medal. Holden had also performed outstandingly in the raid on Hill 75 on 13 August. Part of the success of Waterton's patrol was due to a small decoy group led by Lance Corporal B. Saville, who initially contacted the Chinese and lured them into the ambush. Saville placed himself in great danger on several occasions to ensure that the Chinese came right into the ambush area. He, also, was awarded the Military Medal.


During the period early November 1952-late January 1953 the 28th Brigade held the easternmost sector of the divisional line. For the first month this sector stretched for 6 kilometres, from between the two hills 187 - including the ridge connecting Hills 159 and 210, and Hill 355 itself - to a creek on the north-eastern flank of Hill 355. On 25 October, 3 RAR was detached to the 29th Brigade on the western sector and was stationed behind the line at Yongdong on the Samichon River for three weeks to relive the 1st Battalion.

Austin (Commanding Officer) found a difficult situation on Hill 355. On 23 and 24 October the Chinese had mounted a heavy attack on the hill, which was then held by the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, causing severe damage to the defences. The Canadians had not dominated no man's land by patrolling and the Chinese had relatively easy access from hides which they had dug close to the wire. Austin had to reconstruct the damaged trenches and bunkers, some of which had collapsed completely, and then re-establish control over no man's 'and. Daly ordered a heavy patrol program and hard fighting was necessary until the Chinese were forced to relinquish their grip. The task of 1 RAR was complicated by the steep slopes of Hill 355, the presence of some badly maintained minefields which were a constant danger to Australian patrols, and the closeness of the Chinese forward positions on Hill 227, only 200 metres from the western Australian outposts. The Canadians had not maintained concealment of their defences and advertised their presence by throwing empty food cans around their pits. The cans reflected the rays of the sun and enabled the Chinese to pin-point the locations of individual defences by day. The sides of pits and trenches had not been maintained, so that they gaped widely, acting as funnels for incoming shells and mortar bombs. To the north of Hill 355, no man's land was between 1 and 2 kilometres wide, stretching across a valley to a low (some 130 metres) ridge.

On each of the first few nights of 1 RAR's occupation of Hill 355, Chinese patrols were pressing on the outer wire defences at last light.

It took some ten days of aggressive Australian patrolling to regain control of the approaches, during which nearly fifty Australian casualties were suffered. One of the early 1 RAR patrols, led by Lieutenant W.B. James on the night of 7-8 November, was badly blown up when it unwittingly entered an unmarked and unrecorded minefield which the Canadians had laid around an outpost position. A group of enemy was heard moving nearby as James's patrol approached the outpost. When he deployed his men to ambush the Chinese, they entered the minefield. One man detonated a mine and was killed. Four others, including James, were wounded. The force of the blast took off James's left foot and badly broke his right leg. He remained conscious and in command of the patrol, although in great pain. He organised the evacuation of casualties, insisting that he should be the last to be moved, even though it was over three hours until he was back in the battalion position. He was awarded the Military Cross.

Three nights later another patrol, led by Lieutenant C.N. Khan, encountered an enemy group on the western slopes of Hill 355. Khan was badly wounded in the chest and arms by a burst of Chinese light machine-gun fire and grenades. His life was saved by the first type of armoured vest used by US troops in Korea. Three bullets entered his chest through the unprotected zip-fastener, while the others were deflected by metal patches under Khan's armpits. On learning of this episode the US Army modified the design of the vest to protect the fastener area. Two other members of the patrol were also wounded. Khan, like James, insisted that the others should be evacuated first. He was mentioned in dispatches both for this action and for leadership when his platoon position had been heavily bombarded by mortar and artillery fire in the preceding week.

On the night of 11-12 November, Lieutenant J.L. Seaton took another patrol to the area where Khan had been wounded, to protect a demolition party. After the charges had been fired, Seaton laid an ambush for any Chinese coming to investigate. Ten enemy soldiers soon approached and Seaton allowed them to close to 5 metres before opening fire. The Chinese responded vigorously with grenades and sub-machine-gun fire. Seaton ordered his group to withdraw while he attempted to draw the enemy off by moving out to the flank. Unfortunately he succeeded all too well and a Chinese soldier hit and killed him with a grenade. He was posthumously mentioned in dispatches. Another patrol, led by Lance Corporal N.J. Beresi, went to look for Seaton, not knowing that he was dead. Despite the close proximity of more Chinese, they succeeded in locating and recovering Seaton's body. Beresi also was mentioned in dispatches.

Lieutenant Skipper took a patrol out on the night of 15-16 November to the area in which James had been blown up, to recover the body of a Chinese who had been killed in a nearby minefield. Knowing that the body was urgently required so that intelligence personnel could identify the formation from which the Chinese had come, Skipper took great pains to carry out his task. The minefield was extremely dangerous because nothing was known about it apart from the information which James had provided. The only way by which Skipper could reach the body safely was to probe for mines under the ground and delicately remove those he encountered. After two hours' work in pitch darkness and in temperatures below freezing point he reached the body and dragged it out. Next night he returned to this area, leading a patrol to ambush a larger group of Chinese that had forced back one of the Australian standing patrols earlier that night. He reconnoitered the position and then moved his patrol forward. The Chinese detected the movement and attacked, wounding Skipper, but the Australians countered strongly and Skipper then withdrew skillfully. For these actions and one other on 27 August, Skipper was awarded the Military Cross.

The commander of the standing patrol, Corporal W. Crotty, was mentioned in dispatches both for boldly countering the initial Chinese attack and for his actions during a raid on 11 December. Altogether the two Australian patrols lost three killed, four wounded and one missing (who had been wounded and captured), and killed at least five Chinese.

The Australian part in the action, Operation Beatup, was performed by 10 Platoon (Lieutenant E. Boyd), supported by 12 Platoon (Lieutenant J. Sullivan, later Federal Member of Parliament for Riverina). They gained their objective on Hill 227, following the steps of A Company in Operation Blaze nearly five months previously. Only light opposition was encountered and four Australians were wounded.

Sergeant J.D. Corcoran of 10 Platoon (later Premier of South Australia) distinguished himself in evacuating casualties under mortar fire. Evidently the Fusiliers had drawn the enemy's attention away from the Australian line of attack. After occupying the objective, Boyd withdrew his force to the battalion's forward defences.

On the night of 12-13 December another Australian patrol was blown up in a minefield near where James's patrol had encountered disaster. The patrol, consisting of Corporal L.A. Carter and Private K.B. Withers, of D Company, had been sent out on reconnaissance. At about 10 p.m. Carter and Withers detected enemy movement to their flank. Diverging to investigate, they entered an unfenced minefield. Carter detonated one of the mines and was killed. Withers, although badly wounded in the leg, contacted his company by radio and directed a rescue patrol, led by Sergeant R.D. Ruttley, to his vicinity. Withers had not told his rescuers that he was badly wounded and halted them by radio when he heard more enemy movement nearby. When he was satisfied that the enemy group had withdrawn, he allowed the rescue patrol to reach him, whereupon they realized that, all the time that he had been calmly guiding them, he had been suffering from serious wounding. Ruttley saw that Withers was some 20 metres inside the minefield and, alone, he set about clearing a path to the wounded man. Despite the dangers of the mines and sounds of enemy movement not far away, he succeeded in slowing probing a safe path to Withers. With the assistance of a second member of the patrol, Ruttley brought out Withers, as well as the body of Carter, and they were safely evacuated to the battalion position. Ruttley was awarded the Military Medal. Withers was mentioned in dispatches.

Mines caused further trouble for 1 RAR in the early hours of 19 December, when a minefield reconnaissance patrol commanded by Lieutenant Boyd accidentally entered a minefield at the foot of Hill 227, at a point where the fence had been blown down. The forward scout, Lance Corporal W.J. Ellis, was killed; Boyd and Private E.J. Cupitt were wounded. Sergeant Corcoran led a rescue party to Boyd's position, carefully searched the area for trip wires and then brought the casualties out safely. Corcoran was mentioned in dispatches both for this action and for his bravery in Operation Beatup on 25 November. Next night one Australian was killed and six were wounded when a bag containing twelve M-36 grenades blew up accidentally at an outpost.

On 28 December 1952, 3 RAR relieved 1 RAR and shared their experiences of patrol clashes and minefield accidents. Lieutenant R.D.F. Lloyd led a fighting patrol out to set an ambush on the night of 6-7 January 1953, in an area in which considerable enemy movement had been detected earlier by 1 RAR. The ambush site had been recommended by Lloyd, as a result of a reconnaissance patrol he had led into the same area several days before. The patrol's task was complicated by recent heavy snowfalls which made the going difficult and by a full moon which gave too much light for the Australians' comfort. After arriving at the chosen site, reconnaissance parties were sent to check the two areas of higher ground from which Lloyd planned to spring the ambush. He had decided to divide the patrol into two groups for maximum effect. The killing ground was to be a small saddle between the two positions. Radios were carried for inter-communication.

Hardly had the two groups settled into their fire positions on the high ground, expecting a long cold wait for a possible enemy patrol, when the second group was attacked from the rear at close range by a large number of Chinese using automatic weapons and grenades.

Still without radio contact with the second group, and unable, because of heavy firing, to assess accurately its situation, Lloyd concluded that it was under such pressure that it could not disengage. He then moved his men down into the saddle which was to have been the killing ground and led them in extended line up the snow-covered slope towards the second group, to assault the enemy position. The Chinese poured automatic fire and concussion grenades down on Lloyd and his men, who had great difficulty in returning accurate fire or using grenades because of trees and the danger of hitting their other group. Lloyd therefore ordered the assaulting troops to fire high as he led them, slipping and scrambling, up the slope. As they approached the enemy, Lloyd was hit by shrapnel from a grenade, and his men were forced to take cover on the ground. The enemy fire and grenading then became so heavy that the group was unable to hold its position and Lloyd ordered it to withdraw.

Lloyd's group, exhausted and suffering several injuries from their two assaults, then reorganized and formed a firm base close by. Lloyd's suspicions were soon confirmed when the second group joined his own, having successfully disengaged from the enemy and withdrawn by a circuitous route. Lloyd contemplated a further attack on the enemy's position, but in view of the condition of the wounded, including himself, decided against it. Knowing that all his men were now safely off the enemy position, he directed artillery fire onto it and remained nearby to ensure that the fire was effective.

The patrol's movement back to the battalion's forward defences was slow and for the wounded it was particularly difficult. When the patrol approached the battalion position, Lloyd, still exercising command despite his wounds, requested that a stretcher party from one of the forward companies be sent out to assist. Although this request was approved, the stretcher party failed to appear. The patrol limped on, only to be subjected to heavy enemy mortar fire as it came closer to the gap through the minefield, which it had to use. It was not difficult under such circumstances, even at night, for the Chinese to assess through which gaps patrols were likely to return and normally they mortared one or more with great accuracy after a patrol contact. In this instance they chose the correct gap and pinned Lloyd's patrol down for almost another hour before it could reach the safety of the battalion's lines. Although this ambush was unsuccessful, and the number of casualties inflicted on the enemy unknown, the patrol returned intact, despite heavy fighting in which it had seemed for some time that half had been overrun by a much larger enemy force. Lloyd was awarded the Military Cross for courage, leadership and initiative in this action.

Another fighting patrol, led by Lieutenant B.N. Bousfield, set out to capture a prisoner from the Chinese lines on the night of 13-14 January 1953. The enemy were well prepared, however, and when Bousfield's patrol unexpectedly encountered a newly constructed trench system, the Chinese opened fire with mortars and machine-guns and then launched a counter-attack. The Australians beat this attack off and a small group entered the trenches in search of a prisoner. Although they wounded a few Chinese, they were unable to capture any, and had to withdraw. The Chinese had correctly estimated Bousfield's withdrawal route and set an ambush across it with thirty men, twice the number of the Australian patrol. Bousfield's men fought their way through, under his firm direction, inflicting several casualties on the enemy. Bousfield and a few others protected the next phase of th withdrawal by remaining at the rear of the patrol. The Chinese followed up and attacked the rearguard, wounding Bousefield severely in the leg. He continued to command the patrol and successfully reached the battalion defences. He was awarded the Military Cross. Four of his men were wounded and three were missing - Privates E. Donnelly, R.W. Shennon and P. White. A stretcher party moving to the patrol's assistance was mortared. Private H.T. Watmore died of wounds received in the bombardment. Privates E.J. Chapman-Stone and M.C. Gathercole were also wounded. A four-man patrol went out to search for the three missing men at 10 am next day, but were fired on from Dog Outpost on Hill 227 while they were 300 metres to the north-east. They displayed a stretcher to the Chinese to indicate that they were looking for wounded, but on this occasion the enemy chose to grant no quarter and the Australians were fired on again and then heavily mortared when they returned through the minefield gap. Corporal G. Dawson, Lance Corporal R.J. Tippet and Private G. Smith were wounded. The Chinese followed the patrol and captured Smith. Tippet became separated from the others, but avoided capture. He was rescued by another stretcher party at 3 pm. During the action the Chinese bombarded B Company of 3 RAR with 500 mortar bombs.

Another minefield accident occurred at 6.16 am on 23 January, when a returning D Company ambush patrol set off an explosion on the edge of a minefield some 400 metres forward of the main defences. Private J.W. Page was killed and Private G.W. Ford was wounded. Sergeant C.E. Davies, who knew the location of the boundary of the minefield, went to their assistance. He found that the ground was so frozen that he could not penetrate it with his bayonet to discover whether there were mines in his path. With utter disregard for his own safety he proceeded to clear a path by stamping with his feet, presumably in the hope that if he was blown up, others would at least have better knowledge of where the mines were located. Time pressed acutely because dawn was breaking and the position was open to enemy fire. Davies's luck held and he stamped a path 30 metres in length to reach Ford safely.

He hoisted Ford onto his back and crawled back along the path he had cleared, using his own body as a shield for Ford in the event of another explosion. Davies was awarded the Military Medal for his outstanding bravery.

Another final major Australian patrol action of the winter period took place on the night of 24-25 January, when Lieutenant F.C. Smith of A Company, 3 RAR, led another attempt to capture a Chinese prisoner. Lieutenant Colonel Hughes had ordered Major J.W. Norrie, Officer Commanding A Company, to send a strong fighting patrol. Norrie had selected Smith to lead the patrol deep into enemy territory to raid a Chinese standing patrol, and they had planned the operation together during 23 January. They decided that the snatch party should be small in order to have any chance of success. A veteran of many patrols, Sergeant E.J. Morrison, and four others were selected to enter the Chinese trenches, protected by two groups of thirteen men. The target area was situated nearly 2 kilometres to the north-west of 3 RAR's westernmost defences on Hill 355. A line of trenches ran southwards from the main Chinese line, 2 kilometres north of Hill 355, to link up with the Chinese defences on Hill 227. It was decided, on the basis of intelligence and previous patrol reports, to make the raid at a point where these trenches descended a spur on the north side of the valley between the main Chinese line and Hill 227.

In the meantime, Smith's group was being overwhelmed and he ordered his men to withdraw. Only a few men moved. Smith was hit by a concussion grenade and never seen again. Three of his men, Privates C. Gale, D.M. Murray and T.J. Whiting, escaped from the Chinese by rolling downhill out of the battle. All night they lay deep in enemy territory, waiting for enough light for them to see their way back to the battalion's position. They returned at 1.30 pm. Murray and Whiting had been wounded.

After Smith's group had been overrun, the Chinese turned their attention to Morrison's party. When he saw large numbers of enemy approaching, he withdrew his group eastwards onto the ridge which they had crossed during the second stage of their outwards journey. He encountered six Chinese who were occupying the crest, and realising that unless he could dislodge them his withdrawal route was cut, he and Mackay hurled themselves forward, killing all six in hand-to-hand fighting. Morrison reorganized the group and they continued to the east, pursued by increasing numbers of Chinese. Two platoon-sized groups separately attacked the Australians' flank from the south and a third attacked the rear of the patrol. Each of these attacks was beaten off, with heavy loss to the enemy. Morrison led two charges against the flank attacks and Private L.J. Terry, who had been wounded earlier in the night, led another against the attack from the rear. Terry charged into a group of twenty Chinese, hurling grenades and firing his Owen gun. The Chinese stopped short and dispersed, but Terry was not seen again.

The Chinese then ceased their attacks and withdrew, leaving the Australians to make their way back to the battalion, defences, 800 metres to the south, unmolested. They returned at 1.15 am. Of the eighteen men in Morrison's party, three were missing, three were being carried on stretchers and five were walking-wounded. Ten of Smith's group were missing. With thirteen missing and ten wounded as total casualties for the operation, it had been an expensive and vain attempt to take a prisoner. However, Morrison estimated that the patrol killed at least eighty Chinese, apart from those struck by the artillery and mortar fire he directed against the engagement. This fire had played a vital role in covering the Australians' withdrawal. Morrison was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal; Mackay, a Military Medal; and Smith and Terry were posthumously mentioned in dispatches. Consideration was given by Brigadier Daly and Lieutenant Colonel Hughes to recommending Terry for the Victoria Cross, but there were not sufficient witnesses to meet the requirements for this high award. Private C.Y. Hales, a member of Mackay's group, also was mentioned in dispatches for playing a leading part in beating off the Chinese flank attacks during the withdrawal. Heavy Chinese artillery and mortar fire were brought down on the battalion's position and its standing patrols during the action, killing Private W.E. Waters and wounding Corporal G.T. Hilton and Private D.J. Joseph.

This bold action was a bloody, fitting finale to a bitter winter of continual contest between small groups of determined men for control of no man's land. Five days later the Commonwealth Division, less some of its artillery units, withdrew into reserve for a well-earned respite of over two months.


Finally, in early December, Brigadier Daly ordered Lieutenant Colonel Austin, Commanding Officer of 1 RAR, to raid an enemy position and take a prisoner.

The enemy position was garrisoned by some fifteen men and occasionally two heavy mortar crews. For the raid to have any chance of success, Austin reasoned, surprise was essential. A frontal approach could not hope to go undetected for long and it was decided to attack from the rear by climbing the objective spur, code-named Flora, some 400 metres to the north of the enemy position. This approach required deep and careful penetration of enemy-dominated territory. If the raiding party went astray, it was in danger of being overwhelmed.

The company swept through the Chinese position, killing all enemy encountered. A machine-gun fired on the Australians from within the main objective; but it was soon dealt with by Sergeant E.J. McNulty, commanding the reserve section and assault pioneers group. One of McNulty's men was wounded by the machine-gun as his force searched for and destroyed enemy bunkers and shelters; another round struck McNulty, but was deflected by his armoured jacket; McNulty immediately turned and charged at the machine-gun, without regard for danger, hurling grenades at the crew and killing them.

Australian casualties soon mounted to a serious level, as a result of increasing enemy mortar and artillery fire. McNulty paid it no heed and moved about the position collecting wounded men. Mann's headquarters group was struck by heavy small arms fire and a shower of grenades soon after it arrived on the objective. Mann was flown off his feet twice, and Salmon, two radio operators and Mann's batman were wounded. Salmon was later discovered to have been hit by twenty-two fragments. Although badly shaken, Mann rallied his men and they pressed on through the enemy position to reorganize before commencing their withdrawal. Nearly one-third of the force had become casualties.

Unfortunately, in the heat of the attack, none of the specially detailed snatch parties captured a prisoner. The 1 RAR report on the operation commented:

In the confusion and excitement it is felt that the snatch parties forgot their main task and it is therefore suggested that on raids of this nature an additional section be provided with the sole task of capturing a prisoner.


More important still, the raid had as its main aim the capture of prisoners. From this point of view the raid was a total failure.

Mann gave the order to withdraw as heavy enemy defensive fire rained down. McNulty checked all of his men through and waited until the last had cleared the position before withdrawing.

The flank protection patrols, which had endured a long ordeal, lying still for over four hours in the freezing night, were shelled and mortared as they approached the minefield gaps on their return journey. The Chinese had correctly predicted the withdrawal routes and they wounded one member of the right flanking patrols near the Halifax outpost and two members of the left flanking patrols near the Winnipeg outpost, 800 metres to the west. A stretcher party providing assistance to the latter group was also mortared, suffering several casualties and considerable delay. The whole group was caught in the open at daylight and did not reach the forward defences until 7.45am. The Chinese stopped firing when they say a large stretcher party, almost the whole of C Company from the summit of Hill 355, toiling straight up the forward slope. As soon as the stretcher bearers had reached the forward trenches, and the wounded were safe under cover, the Chinese opened fire with every weapon they had.

Operation Fauna had cost 1 RAR twenty-two wounded and three missing. One of the three missing men, Private W.J. Young, had been wounded, and during the rapid withdrawal, he lost contact with the company. He hid during the day on the spur east of Flora and had some narrow escapes from discovery and capture. Next night a D Company patrol, sent out to search the area for the missing men, found him as he was attempting to return to the battalion's defences.

Operation Fauna was the last major operation of 1 RAR before the battalion returned to Australia in March 1953. Austin was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for the outstanding way in which he had taken charge of an unfavourable situation on Hill 355 in November 1952, restored the position's battered defences and established domination over the approaches to it by aggressive patrolling. Daly reported that after three weeks on Hill 355, 1 RAR had effectively driven the Chinese from no man's land. Although they continued to make occasional forays into this area, the Chinese made no serious attack on Hill 355 during its tenure by either 1 RAR or 3 RAR. The former battalion also did much to rehabilitate the fences of the ever-dangerous minefields around the position. All these tasks were carried out in extreme cold - nightly minimum temperatures were around -16° and daily maximum temperatures were often below 0°C - and under irregular but often persistent artillery and mortar bombardments which endangered the lives of everyone in the forward section. One Chinese 76 millimetre gun sniped at an obvious artillery observation post on Hill 355 for over two days in an attempt to destroy it. Those days stand out strongly in the memory of the forward observation officer who was inside the post.


During May both Australian battalions established an aggressive patrolling program. The Americans, who had held the sector during the absence of the Commonwealth Division, had held the sector during the absence of the Commonwealth Division, had not maintained dominance of no man's land at night and when the Australians returned they found the Chinese 'leaning on our wire'. In this situation it was easy for the Chinese to make raids and more serious attacks on the Jamestown Line and the two battalion commanders, Larkin and MacDonald, set about restoring the situation. It was not long until the first major actions occurred. On 13 May, at 8 PM, a 3 RAR patrol, led by Lieutenant J. Duff, clashed with a group of forty Chinese, killing twelve and wounding eight for the loss of one killed (Private Kim Hong Dae, an attached South Korean), three missing in action (Private T.R. Foot, J.L. McKandry and J.W. Nicholson) and six wounded (Lieutenant Duff, Corporal R.K. Cashman, Lance Corporal F Roberts and Privates J.J. Kennedy, L.B. Murdock and F.M. Prior). A search patrol sent out next night found no trace of the missing men.

Heavy Chinese mortar bombardments of a 3 RAR observation post on 16 and 17 May wounded six men. Sergeant K.B. Cocks, who was wounded by the bombardment on 16 May, was killed next day while attempting to rescue from exposed areas some of those wounded in the second bombardment. Cocks was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery. Lieutenant R.L. Burnard was wounded early that morning while checking a minefield fence, when he was fired upon mistakenly by an Australian Bren gunner. The single round fired by the Bren gunner went through Burnard's chest and he was lucky to survive. MacDonald had to send out a large stretcher party to carry Burnard back up the steep slope. The Chinese on Hill 227, a few hundred metres away, could have imperiled this rescue operation but they held their fire until Burnard had been brought back into the battalion defences. They then opened up on the Australian position with intense mortar fire. Two members of B Company, 3 RAR, were killed and five were wounded by mortar bombardments during the day on 19 May. Those killed were Privates R.D. Hosking and T.W. Wright. Wounded were Warrant Officer II E.P. Williams, Corporal W.P. Power, Lance Corporal R. Daniels and Privates W.E. Evans and B.K. Peters.

A 2 RAR patrol was blown up in a Commonwealth Division minefield on the night of 20-21 May. The patrol had been moving up a gully, towards a minefield fence, but the tension in the fence wire had torn out the picket which fastened it to the ground at the bottom of the gully; the wire was therefore some 3 metres above the ground at that point. After withdrawing in the darkness from a clash with a group of Chinese, the patrol had walked under the wire and straight onto the mines, killing the patrol commander, Sergeant K. Foran, and Private R.C. Rackley and wounding a third member, Private L.T.A. Jones. A fourth member, Private B.F. Haworth, who had been injured in the head by a Chinese grenade in the initial action, died of wounds on 24 May.

A 2 RAR ambush patrol encountered twenty Chinese on the night of 23-24 May, killing six and wounding at least four in a fierce close quarter fight. Private C.B. Sheah was killed; Sergeant K.J. Hamilton, the patrol commander, and Private F.M. McCaffery were wounded. Private R. Richardson immediately took command and withdrew his men, taking their wounded with them. The Chinese followed them closely but Richardson and others kept the enemy at bay by accurate fire from delaying positions as they withdrew. Richardson was awarded a Military Medal for his initiative and bravery. Another member of the patrol, Private Youn Ok Dong, an attached South Korean, was captured. Next night his voice was heard on one of the battalion's radio nets, broadcasting an appeal for help, stating that the Chinese were threatening to kill him. Almost certainly this appeal was made on a Chinese transmitter at Youn's captor's behest. No response was made to what was probably an attempt to lure an Australian patrol into an ambush.

At 10.10 PM on 25 May a 3 RAR patrol, led by Lieutenant C.P. Yacopetti, ambushed forty Chinese on a ridge nearly 1 kilometre north of the battalion's forward defences. After inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese, Yacopetti, who had been wounded, gave the order with withdraw. The Australians moved as quickly as they could, carrying with them several other members of their patrol who had been hit, and pursued by another group of Chinese. The enemy gained on the struggling Australians and attacked fiercely. Yacopetti was hit in the legs by a burst from a Chinese light machine-gun and could move no further. He continued to control the patrol's fire and the enemy were forced to disperse and retire a short distance. Lieutenant A.C. Weaver, who had accompanied Yacopetti on the patrol, attempted to carry him to safety, but Yacopetti insisted that the other wounded should be evacuated first. It required all of those who had not been wounded to move the other casualties, and as they withdrew, they saw Yacopetti sitting upright in a small hole, with a loaded Owen gun and bayonet fixed, ready to fight it out with the remaining Chinese, some of whom were only 30 metres away. The Chinese did not kill Yacopetti in the frontal charge, but approaching cautiously from the cover of a nearby paddy bund, they jumped down on him and took him prisoner. Yacopetti was awarded the Military Cross for the patrol action and was also mentioned in dispatches, for outstanding bravery as a prisoner until he was repatriated on 25 August 1953.

The Chinese made an attack on C Company, the forward company of 2 RAR on Hill 159, during the night of 27-28 May. After careful preparation on preceding nights, including digging weapon pits in the paddy fields northwest of Hill 159 and bringing self-propelled guns forward, the Chinese began the attack with a one-hour bombardment, during which over 600 rounds fell on 2 RAR. Forward standing patrols had already detected some Chinese movement in the valley and alerted the battalion. After some probing, the Chinese withdrew. The main damage they caused was to wound all three members of a forward patrol which had the misfortune to be attacked by some sixty Chinese.

A 2 RAR fighting patrol, accompanied by a small reconnaissance patrol commanded by Sergeant W.J.J. Bruce, was ambushed at 10.30 PM on 6 June. The fighting patrol commander was stunned by a percussion grenade and Bruce took charge, extricating his men - several of whom had been wounded - from the ambush. He organised the group into a tight defensive perimeter some 50 metres away from the ambush and they repelled a strong Chinese attack, killing at least six and wounding two. The enemy drew back but continued to fire on the Australians.

On 16 June, 3 RAR relieved 2 RAR and for the next three weeks the former's patrols shared the latter's experience of the past few weeks, losing eleven men killed, one captured and thirty-one wounded. Both members of a patrol sent out at night to lay up and observe the Chinese during daylight were killed by mortar fire on 21 June. Next night two 3 RAR ambush patrols collided when one of them strayed 600 metres off course. In the twenty second of the fire-fight which ensued, three men were killed and five were wounded. One of these later died of his wounds.

On 24 June another ambush patrol suffered six wounded, including the commander, Lieutenant A.W. Gargate, when it was ambushed by thirty Chinese at 10.00 PM on a ridge north of Hill 159, known as the Mound. Corporal R.K. Cashman took over and counter-attacked. After re-establishing control of the situation, he ordered his men to withdraw, evacuating those wounded who could be found.

One man, Private E.R. Ballard, was missing and Cashman accompanied by Private D. Harris, remained within 30 metres of the enemy, searching for him. Eventually they found Ballard, badly wounded in the legs, in a paddy field to the north of the hill on which the clash had occurred. Harris returned to collect a stretcher. Cashman and Harris then carried Ballard back to the battalion position, narrowly avoiding encounters with two groups of enemy on the way. The hill which lay between them and the Australian forward defences was too steep to climb with their burden, so they detoured to the rear of the Chinese ambush position, reaching the battalion lines at 3.30 am. Cashman was awarded the Military Medal. A stretcher party assisting with the other wounded was struck by mortar fire and suffered one killed and one wounded.

A 3 RAR standing patrol of four men was overrun by twenty Chinese at 3.10 am on 25 June. Two Australians were killed - Corporal J. Ghee and Private H. McCann. The Chinese captured Privates C.M. Tesch and A.M. McInnis. After carrying McInnis with them for some distance, the Chinese decided to abandon him. They placed him on the ground and fired a full magazine of sub-machine-gun bullets at him. This cold-blooded, ruthless action was one of the very few incidents in Australian experience in which Chinese soldiers did not obey the laws of war. McInnis miraculously survived the attempt to kill him, and although very badly wounded, crawled back to the standing patrol's original position. He was found by a stretcher party and brought back to the battalion lines.


When the 28th Brigade took over the defences on the Hook on 9 and 10 July 1953, Brigadier Wilton placed both Australian battalions in the two forward positions, with 2 RAR on the left and 3 RAR on the right, immediately to the west of the Samichon River. This position was the most threatened area on the Commonwealth Division's front in the last three months of the war.

The defences of the whole Hook area had been badly battered by the Chinese during May and June. A major Chinese attack on the 29th Brigade on the night of 28-29 May cost the 1st Battalion, The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, 126 casualties.

Australian patrols went out into the narrow confines of no man's land in this sector, to keep the Chinese from harassing the forward defences. Small clashes occurred on the 2 RAR front on the nights of 15-16, 21-22, 22-23 and 23-24 July, suggesting that the Chinese were probing the defences and gathering information in preparation for a major attack.

That night 3 Company sent out a four-man reconnaissance patrol to Green Finger Ridge, immediately to the north. The Chinese ambushed the patrol, killing Private F.C. McDonnell. Next night another D Company patrol was ambushed in the same area. The patrol commander, Corporal T.W. Maguire was seriously wounded, but his Bren gunner, Private G.E. Kent, counter-attacked. Kent charged into the Chinese, and although they responded with grenades and small arms fire, he put them to rout. He killed two and wounded another two, firing until his ammunition ran out. While Kent was reloading, the Chinese fired back, hitting him in several places. The Chinese, however, had already decided to withdraw and did not attempt to press home any attack. Maguire directed artillery fire onto the Chinese withdrawal route and then organised the evacuation of his group. Both Maguire and Kent, who had also been together in the patrol clash of the previous night, were awarded the Military Medal for their bravery.

The Chinese had no such thought for the lives of their men and made strong attacks on both the Marines and 2 RAR on the night of 24-25 July.

Private J.M. McAuliffe, who had been a member of a D Company forward patrol that night, was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in taking command - while the patrol commander, Lance Corporal L. Hayden, organised the evacuation of five men wounded by a Chinese patrol - of a patrol under enemy attack. Hayden covered their movement by running forward, firing on the Chinese with his Owen gun. When they were out of immediate danger, he ran, under fire and exposed to the full view of the enemy by the light of many flares, to a nearby knoll and shouted back to his company for stretcher bearers to take the wounded further back. Once they had been evacuated, Hayden and three others held their forward position for another seven hours, despite continuous mortar and artillery fire. Hayden was mentioned in dispatches for leadership, determination and utter disregard for his own safety.

McAuliffe was seriously wounded later that night but throughout the action played a major part in holding off the Chinese and distracting their attention from Hayden.

During the Chinese bombardment of C Company, Corporal J.B. Slater, the company signals NCO, worked continuously in the open, at great risk, to restore broken telephone lines, enabling vital communications to be maintained between command posts and forward observation posts. He was mentioned in dispatches, together with a cook, Corporal D.A.W. Youngman, who kept his kitchen in operation all night, maintaining a supply of sustenance to the defenders, despite damage from intense shelling. Youngman slept for only four hours in forty-eight during this phase of the battle.

Throughout the night Cooper's section fought off repeated attempts to overrun their position. On several occasions, on his own initiative, Cooper called down Commonwealth Division artillery fire around his own and the nearby Marines' position to assist in breaking up attacking waves of enemy. Throughout the action Cooper passed back to 2 RAR valuable information about the activities of the enemy in this most crucial sector.

The Contact Bunker, between the Marines on Hill 111 and C Company, was the scene of heavy fighting on the night of 25-26 July. It was manned by six Australians under the command of Lance Corporal K.H. Crockford. When the Chinese attacked Hill 111 they also penetrated the undefended space between it and the Contact Bunker and attacked Crockford's group from several sides at once. Bitter hand-to-hand fighting followed in the trenches around the bunker and the Australians threw the Chinese out of the position, preventing them from penetrating any substantial distance between Hills 111 and 121.

The Chinese fired some 4200 mortar and artillery rounds onto the 2 RAR position that night, 25-26 July, killing three Australians and wounding nine. In the two nights of fighting, the artillery supporting 2 RAR and 3 RAR fired 23,000 rounds against the Chinese. As on the previous night, 3 RAR was not attacked.

Throughout the period in which the Australians were on the Hook, the condition of the defences had been a constant problem, particularly for 2 RAR, in the more exposed position. Great service was rendered by Lieutenant P.O.G. Forbes, the 2 RAR Assault Pioneer Platoon Commander, who supervised the construction of new defences and improvement of the old. He spent much of his time working in exposed positions on the Hook itself and every night he checked the fences of the minefields in front of the forward trenches. He was frequently under fire and deserved much credit for the high state of preparedness achieved before the attack on 24 July. On two occasions he rescued Australians who had become casualties inside minefields. He was awarded the Military Cross for his service on the Hook. The battalion signalers and stretcher bearers also won high praise for their efforts during bombardments. While most other members of the two battalions were able to shelter from the incoming shells and mortar bombs, the signalers had to go out in the thick of the fire to repair broken telephone lines and the stretcher bearers had to carry serious casualties to the aid posts quickly.

For the Australian Army, another major war was over. While on the Hook 2 RAR had lost seventeen killed and thirty-one wounded. It had been a hard-fought struggle to the end.

At dawn on 28 July, Wilton visited the forward area and joined the men of 2 RAR when they climbed cautiously out of their defences, unsure of the respect which the Chinese would accord the armistice, and stood on top of their bunkers. At last they had a clear view over the approaches to their position. As Wilton has written:

The floor of the valley between the Hook and the Chinese position was almost covered with dead Chinese who had been caught by our deadly defensive-fire artillery concentrations. On the immediate approaches to 2 RAR the bodies literally carpeted the ground sometimes two deep. These were obviously caused by mortar fire and machine-guns of 2 RAR in addition to the artillery concentrations. Most of the bodies had been there fore two or three days and in the hot, humid weather had commenced to putrefy and there was a strong nauseous stench of death. It was a terrible sight which I will never forget.*

* Letter, General Sir John Wilton to Robert O'Neill, 14 September 1980.


The Korean war was overwhelmingly a land war, in terms of numbers of participants, casualties and material costs. It was fought across rugged terrain through which ran only rough, narrow roads and tracks. Operations were further complicated by extreme conditions of heat and cold, and rain and snow for long periods. The war was an exacting test of fitness of both men and equipment.

Finally, the Korean war showed that the Australian soldier had lost none of the versatility, toughness and initiative which were the hallmarks of his predecessors in the First AIF and the Second AIF. The Australian Army contingent in Korea was an all-volunteer force. When special enlistments were called for, men with combat experience in the 1939-45 War ensured no shortage of applicants. They were motivated by a variety of factors: the challenge of combat; boredom or frustration with civilian life in Australia after demobilization; and a wider feeling of concern that the North Korean invasion, if it was not rebuffed, might be a harbinger of a direct threat to Australia's security. They fought hard, in appalling climatic conditions, against a determined enemy who showed that he could sometimes get the upper hand. Yet the Australians proved that man for man and unit for unit they could acquit themselves on the battlefield better than most and they earned unstinted praise from their allies. Their record of bravery, of consideration for their wounded mates when in danger, of dash in the offensive and dogged persistence in defence - such as that displayed at Kapyong, on Maryang San and in countless patrol actions on the Jamestown Line (The Static War) - and their quick-witted, aggressive and subtle tactics set the new, post-1939-45 War Army off to an excellent start. They enhanced Australia's reputation as an ally and helped to make the Commonwealth Division one of the most highly regarded formations of the English Army. But perhaps their greatest achievement was to develop the skill of patrolling to a fine art of which they were undisputed masters.


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