A tired group of lads !

Operation Buffalo

 Your Flak Jacket - Glass against iron
Robert O'Neil

In late June 1952, 28 Bde relieved 25 Bde on the Jamestown Line, in an area NE of the Samichon River. From the central sector, 3 RAR, flanked by 1 KSLI to the left and 1RAR to the right, was to embark on two raids to capture a prisoner. This is the second raid.

In mid-August, 3 RAR was ordered to make another attempt to capture a prisoner. This time, L/Col Hughes planned to use a stronger force, employing the whole of B Coy. The raid, Operation Buffalo, was directed at Hill 75, 1200 meters to the west of the battalion defences. This Chinese outpost was on the southern tip of a ridge which projected southwards from their main defensive line. It was 600 meters east of the Samichon, and could be attacked from three sides. It was held by a platoon supported by two machine-guns.

B Coy, commanded by Capt R P Richardson, moved out of its defences at 9 pm on 13 August to lie up in front of the enemy position before attacking at 11:45 pm. Richardson ordered 6 Pl (Lt L B Zwolanski) to make the initial assault, covered by 4 Pl (Lt J H Humphrey), which was to follow up on the right flank, while 5 Pl formed a reserve and held a firm base position. At 11:45 pm supporting tanks, artillery, mortars, and machine-guns opened fire on Hill 75 and the men of 6 Pl crept forward to within a safe distance, ready to assault as soon as the fire lifted. They encountered an enemy submachine-gunner in a crawl trench halfway up the hill and killed him as he tried to escape.

At 11:55 pm the fire lifted and 6 Pl assaulted, capturing the southern part of the enemy's defences without much opposition. Richardson moved his HQ group and 4 Pl up behind 6 Pl, which continued to assault the central and northern areas of the position. Humphrey sent one of his sections to the left flank of 6 Pl, and another to the right, to offer better protection to the assaulting troops.

hurled grenades

Zwolanski (known as Lieutenant George by the Diggers of 6 Pl) attacked the central area of the hilltop with two sections in extended line followed by platoon headquarters and his third section. The front line of attackers sprayed the first enemy trenches they crossed with machine-gun fire and hurled grenades into them. Once past this line of trenches the leading sections were fired upon from the rear by the enemy, who had re-emerged from their protective cover. The third section attacked savagely with Owen guns and phosphorous grenades, killing six Chinese. The section took up fire positions over the trench-line and continued to grenade the enemy fortifications and some tunnel entrances which were visible. The left forward section, led by Cpl M W Wilson, was fired on at ten meter range by a medium machine-gun, and several Chinese threw a shower of grenades into the attacking Australians, wounding many of them. Wilson attacked the machine-gun single handed, running ahead and hurling phosphorous grenades at the crew. He killed the gunner, but it was not until after Wilson's section had been sprayed with sub-machinegun fire that another Australian (Pte R K Cashman) killed the gunner's companion with an Owen gun, so preventing many casualties. The left section of 4 Pl, moving up on the right flank behind 6 Pl, sealed off an enemy escape tunnel, killing one man as he tried to leave.


The Chinese withdrew into deep tunnels and brought down heavy 81 mm mortar fire onto their defences. By 12:20 am the Company's losses had become serious and a withdrawal was ordered.

More casualties were suffered from mortar fire as 6 Pl, followed by 4 Pl and Company HQ, moved back through the firm base held by 5 Pl. The raid had cost B Coy one killed, 24 wounded, and 2 missing. At least 12 Chinese had been killed. Richardson was awarded the MC, and Wilson the MM. Zwolanski was awarded the US Bronze Star for his leadership and bravery in the face of the heavy Chinese mortar fire. Cpl B Saville and Pte L C Holden were both awarded the MM, partly for this action and partly for their role in a later patrol clash in which they participated on 28/29 Sept.

Footnote: Lieut George Zwolanski was a former WWII Polish Army officer, and the holder of the Polish equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Postscript: (by Ron Cashman)
Our task was to capture prisoners. 6 Pl performed the actual raid and ran into much stronger defenses than expected. Chinese encountered on the way up the hill fought it out and were killed. Others appeared from under-ground as our people went past and caused some casualties. By the time those of us who remained reached the main defense trenches at the top of 75 we were sadly depleted and 'Prisoners' was the last thought in anyone's mind.

L/Cpl Max Wilson, despite having been decked by a burst from a burp gun, his flak jacket saving his life, got to his feet and wiped out a machine gun post which was creating havoc. Soon after, a grenade put him out of action. The platn. was ordered to withdraw and, with the aid of 4 pltn. who had joined the fray, they did.

6 was virtually finished as a unit, having paid the price with 3 dead, 1 WIA and captured, plus a further 22 WIA. No true figure can be put on Chinese casualties, but they were quite considerable. As it was, no one hung around to count the bodies.

Postscript: (by Jack Blankley a Sig in Company HQ)
........"the crackle of automatic fire can be heard faintly when there is a pause in the artillery, and shells bursting near the CP bring fine trickles of dust from the sand-bagged roof onto the heads of the listening officers in BHQ ......
.....when the last soldier is back within our lines, and not before, the men in the CP can relax while waiting for fuller reports to be delivered. When the last messages have been phoned through to Brigade, and the weary men move off to their bunkers for a well-earned sleep, an orange hue in the East portends the arrival of another day ....."

Casualties during the operation:
  • Killed: D. Whitehouse - no known grave.
  • Died of Wounds: T. Dick, R. Hill
  • Wounded: 22
  • P. O. W.: A. Jacobs
  • Chinese dead: At least 12, no one stayed around to count them

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