Anthology Compiled By Maurie Pears and Fred Kirkland


This collection is published as a limited edition to honour those who served and who are remembered at the dedication of The Australian Memorial to The Korean War, Canberra, 2000


Frederick Kirkland OAM was born Sydney in 1928 and spent his formative years in the farming community of Brushgrove on the far north coast of New South Wales. He was educated at South Arm Public School, Tempe High School and Camden Grammar School. He served as an infantryman with the 1st and 2nd Battalions Royal Australian Regiment during the Korean War. He is active in many veteran and community projects and is currently a councilor in the Australian Veterans and Defence Services Council (AVADS) and a delegate to the World Veterans Federation. He was admitted to the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1983 for services to the community and veterans.

His publications include "Sometimes Forgotten", "Operation Damask" and the "Order of Australia 1975-1995". He now lives in suburban Sydney.

Maurie Pears

Maurice B Pears graduated from the Royal Military College (RMC) Duntroon in 1950. He then served with 1 and 3 RAR in Korea and Japan. He was a former Commanding Officer of the Corps of Staff Cadets RMC and of the Pacific Islands Regiment until 1970 when he resigned to assume an appointment with Con Zinc Rio Tinto Australia on Bougainville Papua New Guinea. On return to Australia in 1980 he has been active in PNG and overseas as a businessman and consultant on PNG affairs in which he still retains an interest. He has compiled and edited the two volumes of the History of the Pacific Islands Regiment and other minor publications. He now resides on the Gold Coast Queensland Australia.


It is now forty-six years (1950-1996) since the Korean War started. Having attended many reunions and functions in the intervening years, we listened to the stories by veterans who served there and realized that, if they were not recorded now by the actual participants, in a short period of time they would be lost for ever. With our colleagues we set about collecting and collating those experiences. It started with a series of Leadership lectures to the Cadets of the Royal Military College and ended after many Anzac days with this anthology.

We are indebted to all the contributors who made it possible; Navy, Army, Airforce, POW and Nursing. All served with the Australian Forces during the Korean War of 1950-1953. We thank them most sincerely for the time and effort they have put into preparing their own individual stories.

We record our gratitude also to all those who assisted in many ways in the production of this anthology. They are too numerous to mention here.

"Korea Remembered" attempts to record some of the personal recollections of those who served in Korea as they saw their battles and experiences. Whilst sometimes studded with historical inaccuracy this insight often means more than the recorded history. We hope that we have captured some of this before the opportunity passes forever. Some of the contributions have been seen before and we apologize for this, but we hope that the consolidation in one book will help us to remember our gallant veterans in this important year of our own Australian Korean Memorial in Canberra, to be completed in the year 2000.

We commemorate many Army battles and operations in Korea. The Navy, RAAF and Nurses the same. It is wrong to highlight any single one. For the Army, the approach to the Yalu and back to Kapyong were epic battles of advance and withdrawal, under-manned, under-equipped and yet models of courage and infantry tactics. Operation Commando (Maryang San) was a bold and brilliantly executed battalion attack against a vastly superior enemy. The Jamestown line (The Hook) a text book example of defense and aggressive patrolling. All three phases were successful because of the dogged determination of the Australian "Digger". Further examples of "Mateship" and "Leadership" in the best Australian tradition.

Korea was the last time that Australian Battalions have fought a conventional set piece war to include Advance to contact, withdrawal, attack, defense and counter attack. As such it takes a unique place in our Military History. The Navy and RAAF in their own way also pioneered new techniques to support such conventional land operations.

This anthology is dedicated to those who failed to return.



On June 25, 1950, without warning or declaration of war, masses of North Korean troops swept across the 38th Parallel and within three days had captured the capital of South Korea (Republic of Korea), Seoul.

At that time very few Australians knew much about Korea or its history.

The Korean people, and previous dynasties have a recorded history stretching back over five thousand years. The study of such can be a lifetime occupation.

According to archaeological and linguistic studies, tribes inhabiting the Altaic Mountains thousands of years ago started migrating eastward to Manchuria and Siberia. Some of them, believed to be Tungusic in origin, came as far east as the coasts of the Korean peninsula. They liked what they saw and settled there, to become a homogeneous race sharing distinct physical characteristics, one language and one culture. They are now known as the Korean people. Ethnologically, they are members of the Altaic family of races, which includes the Turkish, Mongolian and Tungusic people.

In the latter half of the seventh century the Koreans were placed, for the first time in their long history, under one rule, that of Unified Shilla. This political unity was to consolidate the homogeneity of the Koreans, unifying them with one language and culture. Strong racial consciousness and sense of unity have thus become an inalienable Korean quality, which no amount of invasion and repression - from the Mongol hordes to the Japanese colonialists - could erase.

Japan had invaded Korea in the late 1500's but their territorial ambitions were thwarted and they were thrown out.

By the mid 1850's, heavy pressure was being placed on Korea by Japan, the USA and European countries to open up its borders to trade and commerce. The Koreans resisted. By a variety of means and military threats, the Japanese officially annexed Korea on 22 August 1910 by way of the Korea - Japan Annexation Draft that was signed by a powerless Korean government.

To all intents and purposes Korea became part of the Imperial Japanese Empire and much effort was made attempting to strip Korea and the Korean people of their culture. From the attitudes and policies pursued by the Japanese invaders, there sprung a strong underground independence movement, which grew in intensity and in numbers up to the end of WW2.

At the closing stages of World War 2, the United States of Socialist Russia entered the Pacific War and moved its troops south, down the Korean peninsula. The United States of America, wary of these moves, landed some of its troops onto Korean soil and moved northwards. The Russians and the Americans agreed to stop at the 38th Parallel. The Korean peninsula was, subsequently, effectively divided into the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North and the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South.

This remained in place until the DPRK invaded the ROK on 25 June 1950.

The ROK appealed to the United Nations Security Council for assistance on 26 June 1950. A Council Resolution called "for the immediate end of hostilities, the withdrawal of North Korean communists to the 38th Parallel and for assistance from all members of the United Nations in restoring peace ".

In the interim, the United States' President (Harry S.Truman) ordered the US Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to repel any invasion attempt by communist forces from the Chinese mainland. He further instructed the US Supreme Commander in Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, to use air and naval forces to support the Republic of Korea..

United States citizens and other foreign nationals resident in the Republic of Korea were being evacuated, hurriedly, to Japan.

On the afternoon of 27 June, 1950 (New York time) the United Nations Security Council met again and resolved that "the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore peace and security to the region".

Progressively, combat forces were committed to the conflict by sixteen countries. They were the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg (the smallest combat unit), France, Greece, Turkey, Ethiopia, Thailand, South Africa, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Colombia, and the United States of America. There were of course the armed forces of the Republic Of Korea, South Korea. Another five countries sent medical units including hospital ships, field ambulances, mobile army surgical hospitals (MASH) and surgical teams. They were from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, India and Italy.

For a nation with a relatively small population, Australia's commitment was meaningful and significant.

Throughout the three year war, combat service was undertaken by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army by way of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The first Australian participation in the Korean War was by the RAAF, operations commencing 2 July, 1950, with a flight of four Mustangs intended to escort American C 47s bringing back wounded from Korea.

HMAS Shoalhaven made a three day patrol commencing 7 July, 1950, to assist in the blockading of the west coast of Korea.

The Australian Army participation in the Korean War commenced 27 September, 1950, when 3 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) embarked on the Aiken Victory for the southern Korean port of Pusan. The battalion had been preceded by an advance party.

Throughout the three year war, the three branches of the then Australian Defence Force (ADF) committed to combat, were supported and supplied by a variety of units based in Japan.

For most who served in the Korean War the memories remain vivid. All were affected by their experiences which in turn influenced their lives in varying ways.

The climate of Korea records the extremes. From bitterly cold winters to hot humid summers, the terrain was harsh and unforgiving, especially for infantry personnel. Destruction by the communist invaders were common place. Scenes of utter devastation of cities, provincial towns and villages were the norm. Death and carnage pervaded the whole country.

The total casualties have never been accurately determined. Sources in South Korea estimate them conservatively, to be between two and a half and three million dead. This includes all Korean civilians, Chinese and North Korean military, South Korean military and United Nations Forces.

Australian casualties were 339 killed in action or died of wounds. 1216 wounded and 29 prisoners of war. Thousands more were injured or became ill from a variety of circumstances.

Some Australians who served with these forces in Korea have recorded their experiences herein. It is their recollections of those experiences and in some cases the affect it had on their later lives. Some have recorded their motivation for volunteering for combat service in Korea.

It is not intended that the stories be regarded as an official interpretation of battles or events (although in some cases they may be more accurate) but rather recollections by those who were "there".

Combat operations ceased on 27 July 1953 when an Armed Truce Agreement was signed at Panmanjon. Three years and one month after the tragic war started, a demilitarized zone (DMZ) was established in the almost identical position where the war started on the 38th parallel.


Click here for Annotated Index

First published. 1996 By Wancliff Pty Ltd


This book is copyrighted by the publishers.

Apart from fair dealing for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission.

The publishers gratefully acknowledge the use of extracts and maps from various publications including "Australia in the Korean War" (Commonwealth of Australia) by Robert O'Neill, "The Battle of Kapyong" and the "Battle of Maryang San" (Headquarters Training Command) by Bob Breen and some publications of the United Service Institute and "Duty First"

All inquiries should be directed to the Publisher: Wancliff Pty Ltd, PO Box 1, ISLE OF CAPRI, Q4217

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in publication data

Compiled and edited by Pears Maurice B. and Kirkland Frederick

ISBN 0 9586589 1 9.

  1. Korean War, 1950-1953 - Personal Narratives, Australian
  2. Korean War, 1950-1953 - Participation, Australian.
  1. Pears, M.B. (Maurice Bertram) II. Kirkland, Frederick

Printed in Australia


FAX 61 (0)7 55 921143.

July 1996

Click here for Annotated Index

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