Chapter 5


"Algy Clark"

Service Details

Laurie Clark graduated from Royal Military College Duntroon in 1947 and served in Japan until mobilization in Korea 1950. He is a veteran of Operation Commando in the Korean War.. He served in various training and operations appointments including Canungra, Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, Canada and the United States, Special Air Services (SAS) and Commanding Officer SAS Regiment. He retired in 1980 and has retained an interest in military and community activities. His autobiography of life in the services was published in 1992.

Laurie Clark


Late in 1951, we observed a big build up for a major Chinese offensive.

During one day we pinpointed at least thirteen tanks moving into an assault position and called for fighter ground attack support. We got a squadron of USAF F80s (Shooting Stars) who, after flying around for a while and shooting off their rockets, duly reported that all tanks were destroyed. This sounded like success, except that after the planes left, all thirteen tanks opened up fire with their main guns - damage assessment on the ground seems not to have been much better in the Iraqi War of 1991. The tank assault, however, was only the beginning of a major attack. This started about eight o'clock that night.

We had access to direct support from a New Zealand Artillery Battery: when needed, all I had to do was to get on my radio and say: 'Hello, might 62, fire task Zebra, out' and within two minutes a battery of six guns should give twenty minutes fire, or as required. In the darkness we could hear the enemy infantry on our wire about a hundred yards forward of the position, and so I sent out a call for artillery fire. The fire did not arrive.

Two minutes went by, and we could hear the enemy getting further and further through the wire. Twenty minutes passed and I was a bit concerned. I called again on the radio to the New Zealand forward observer, noting a bit irately the time that had elapsed since my first fire support request. Actually I said, 'Hello 62, fire, f.... you, fire!' Then out of the darkness came a great barrage: the eight guns of the supporting New Zealand Field Battery fired; then the sixteen remaining guns of New Zealand Regiment, next the forty eight guns of both the Canadian Field Regiment and the British Field Regiment, then the thirty-six guns of the adjoining United States Second Infantry Division, and all guns of the flanking Republic of Korea Infantry Division, plus the Corps Artillery of medium and heavy guns. In all, two hundred and eight guns rained fire for twenty minutes. I realized I was not all alone, after all.

Despite the pounding given the enemy, we withdrew, as planned, some distance. The next morning we could observe no sign of activity around our previous position. I was ordered to send out a section patrol to reconnoitre our old area to see if in fact the enemy were there. This was convenient; liquor was excellent currency for trade with the Americans and I wanted to recoup my ration of spirits - two bottles of gin - which I had left behind in my bunker when we withdrew. So I outlined the requirements of the reconnaissance patrol before dobbing anyone in. I mentioned that whichever corporal led the patrol out, he could keep one of the bottles of gin for himself, but the other bottle had to be returned to me. The thought of a free bottle of gin was all the inspiration needed. Even though they were likely to get shot at, all three Corporals volunteered. Sure enough I got one of my bottles back - and traded it to the Americans for a heater for my Jeep. The patrol also found the enemy had indeed withdrawn, and we went back to our position.

The next day, the Chinese equivalent of a Brigade Major of their Artillery supporting this attack surrendered himself to us. He said he was disgusted at the way things had gone and told us that it had been a five thousand man Chinese brigade attack which had been crushed by our artillery bombardment, and that one thousand and forty-two men had been killed in this twenty minute period. Something for the Guinness Book of Records for a junior officer to call down such a volume of fire and to have had such a spectacular result!

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