Chapter 9



Service Details

Dennis Robinson first experienced military service as a Rifleman with 6 Battalion Cameronians of the 52nd Lowland Division and was a combatant from July 1944 till the end of World War 2 and then served with the British Army of Occupation, Rhine (BAOR) until 1948. He joined the Australian Army (3/10114) in London, England in October 1950 and was posted to 2 Battalion RAR at Puckapunyal. From there he was sent to Japan and posted to B Company 3 Battalion RAR (Korea) as a reinforcement. He was wounded in action on 7 October 1951 at the Battle of Maryang San. He returned to Australia in June 1952 and was posted to the School of Tactics, Seymour, Victoria. Discharged in August 1955 at his own request with the rank of Corporal, Dennis now lives in Melton, Victoria.

Dennis Robinson

In the annals of World Military History, the Battle of Maryang San code named 'Operation Commando', would probably only warrant a brief mention, just another "straightening of the line" skirmish to ensure the United Nations (UN) command held favourable positions now that the Korean War had, after highly mobile initial stages, developed into static trench warfare. But, to me, it was a big "deal". Active service was not a new experience for me as I had served with the British Army in Europe and in the occupation of Gernany after the end of World War II.

Dennis Robinson

It was heavy going but the 3rd Battalion RAR was making steady progress against stiff opposition from elements of the Chinese Army. This was no surprise as their commanders could also read maps and were fully aware of the strategic importance of Maryang San. The terrain was very rough, a dreary landscape of barren hills and precipitous ridges, shrouded by the early morning mists that heralded the advent of winter. Supplies had to be brought up by Korean porters, ammunition (ammo), food, etc. but this cannot be maintained all the time. The heat of battle, terrain and weather determines re-supply, and today was one of those days. For some reason or other supplies were a bit late coming up to B Company and the Chinese had been probing all night with patrols and dummy attacks. You could feel in the air something was going to happen. My mate and I managed to "brew up" and get a bite to eat at first light, and that was the last of our tucker until supplies came up. I think we had a pack of cigarettes between us and were just about to light up when we heard the bugles.

Some explanation is required here. The Chinese always attack to the sound of bugles, whether they were a form of signal, or a rallying call, or perhaps to demoralize the enemy is not known. Whatever the reason, the first of the Chinese assault troops soon appeared in the valley. Their artillery then laid down a barrage on our positions and the enemy soldiers started to come up the very steep slope towards us on our hilltop position. On checking our ammo we found that we only had 9 rounds between us, I had 5 and my mate had 4 in the magazine of his .303 Lee Enfield rifle. By this time the enemy were getting very much closer and I was starting to wonder why I had joined the Australian Army leaving the green fields of England to face a situation like this. There was, however, no time for recriminations. The first of the Chinese were getting pretty close, and as we were a good way ahead of the rest of the Section we had to size up the situation, if there was time for quick thinking, it was now. It was no use trying to bug out so I said to my mate, "There are about 500 of those Bastards out there but I have a plan that might stop them." My mate replied, "with only 9 rounds between us it better be good." "If you take a good look" I said, "you will see that there are two officers leading them up the hill, you get the one on the left and I will get the one on the right, and don't miss or we have had it." By this time the Chinese were about 25 yards away and when I said "NOW!", we fired together, and did not miss. On being hit the 2 Officers fell backwards onto the men behind them, and with the steep slope you can imagine all those Chinese falling back onto one another. It was a very good picture of a set of dominoes falling. Whilst this was all happening my mate and I were able to get out and back to the rest of the Company, under the Command then of Major 'Wings' Nicholls, and withdraw to better defensive positions.

It was about this time that the world blew up in my face. I can recall the flash of the explosion and something with the force of an express train hitting me. I woke up in Mobile Surgical Hospital (Mash) in Seoul. Maryang San was taken by the 3 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment and Operation Commando was a success. To the men of B Company I say well done. To those men of the Chinese Army, I say, "Never come up a steep slope in front of the Australians or we will knock you all down with just 2 shots." As a matter of interest, I never regretted joining the Australian Army and I am proud to have served with 3 Battalion. I recovered from my wounds, served out my Tour of Duty in Korea and my term of enlistment and remained in Australia. I am now no longer referred to, nor do I consider myself as, "A Pommy Bastard".

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