Dick Garrett after later Hill 75 attack
Stretcher Bearer Party
Dick Garrett
A tired group of lads !
Korea Dec-Jan '52/3

3/400543 Richard (Dick) Garrett, a "K Force" 2 year enlistment. In July 1952 I was posted to 6 Platoon, B Company, 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3rd Bn RAR), which was a unit of 28th Brigade, 1st British Commonwealth Division in Korea, where I served until August 1953.

Winter had already set in, in earnest, by December 1952 and we were just rear of the Wyoming Line in reserve for our sister battalion the 1st Bn RAR who were occupying Hill 355 "Little Gibraltar" on the Jamestown Line. They had taken over the position after a Canadian unit had one of its forward elements overrun one evening in mid November, but were able to regain the location after a stiff battle. Being in reserve meant that those members who were due for R&R were able to take leave in Tokyo and the remainder most of the time were put to improving the defenses on the Kansas Line which ran just south of the Imjin River in our divisional area, should they ever be needed.

At this time I was the 9 section 2ic, and a week before Christmas Day was informed that we were to relieve 1RAR after Christmas, but I was to go as a member of the advance party to the forward company position on 355, which was overlooked by the Chinese on Hill 277, to familiarize myself with the position we were to occupy, outposts, mine fields and the way through minefield gaps for patrolling the area between us and the enemy. One of the tasks at first light was to patrol the wire around the mine fields on our immediate front to check for any breaks which may have been caused by incoming shell fire. On the morning of Christmas Day it was discovered that the Chinese had paid a visit during the night and left gifts of cards, cigarettes and sweets under the wire.

The Battalion moved up the day after Christmas along with a brand new lieutenant, Lt. John Duff, as the Platoon Commander of 6 Pl., who was fresh out of his training as an officer. I was to take over command of 9 Section. Our section was allocated an area which had one bunker, a hole in the wall of the trench which led to an area where six men were able to lay on the earth floor with their equipment. Two I put in the ammunition bay, which had overhead cover. That left my 2ic and myself to camp in our open weapon pit, until such time as the framework for overhead cover was erected by the engineers sometime later.

The daily routine for us was by day to have a section picket in a weapon pit at all times and to occupy the forward outpost which was under "Charlie's" view. By night pickets in the platoon area and the outposts which were relieved every four hours as well as going on fighting or ambush patrols, to put our claim on a good part of the area between us and the enemy and away from "our front door", so most members were never able to obtain sleep during those long winter nights. This was only obtained after the morning routine of "stand to", clearing the trenches of snow and dirt that was knocked in by shellfire, to shave and wash, a breakfast was carried up by the old men of the Korean Service Corps on A frames from a field kitchen dug in behind a ridge at the bottom of 355, which incidentally was cold by the time it reached us. It was time for shut eye for those who were not required immediately.

Section Commanders were briefed after breakfast of any patrol clashes, of any movement and events that may have happened across the Battalion's front as well as the units on either side of us during the night. It was at one of these briefings we were informed that one of the Companies had a man missing off a patrol.

Later our outpost reported hearing an Owen sub machine carbine being fired in the valley between them and the Chinese lines. I suggested to Lt. Duff that I would take an unarmed stretcher party out to the area of the reported firing in an attempt to locate the missing man. I made up a stretcher party of those who were up and headed off. (Prior to this, several nights before I had charge of the forward outpost, when out of the gloom two engineer officers arrived from our Company stating that I was to take their wireless set and go with them to map out a minefield where most of the fences were missing. We went to an area where I was told to wait while they went about their task locating the boundaries of the uncharted minefield. four hours later they completed the task and showed me where there was a gap in the field).

The stretcher party went out to the knoll in front of the outpost and then through the minefield gap in the direction of the reported firing which was an area of stunted oak scrub and trees which had been knocked around by shellfire and an area of many previous patrol clashes. We spread out for our search, then when we had cleared that area we were out in open ground and heading further into no-man's land, then we were suddenly surrounded by smoke canisters bouncing and busting around us, which someone up the chain of command decided would be of assistance to us by fire smoke to give us cover.

That was all very well and good - BUT - it also informed "Charlie" something was afoot. When we left the area of the smoke we were highlighted. We had moved about 100 yards forward when the snow started to spray up at our feet. Then we heard their machine gun fire. We stopped and displayed the stretcher. Nothing further happened, so we went further along the valley and were fired at again in front of our feet. We got the message "Don't go further in" so we turned and headed toward a creek line with the intention of searching an area back towards our lines.

Looking up towards the enemy trenches on Hill 227, we could see about 100 to 120 of their troops massing out of the trenches about 300 yards away. I told the men that we would head back, searching the area towards where I was shown the minefield gap several nights before instead of having to head back up over the knoll, as I felt that we weren't welcome in what they may have considered as their front yard. Unknown to me, two of the party had decided that they would head back the way we went out. On arriving back at the outpost, I learnt I was two men short, and at the same time the enemy appeared on the knoll to our front. After opening fire on them they backed off, but then they decided to pound our platoon position by shellfire, which went on until early in the afternoon making one hell of a mess along with two being sent out wounded.

An hour or so later the outpost reported to me that one of the men I took out was laying on top of the knoll. I grabbed two men and the stretcher to pick up the wounded man. The two with the stretcher took off. When they got to the bottom of the dip between the outpost and the knoll they were welcomed by several mortar bombs. The dropped the stretcher, one went forward the other raced back to the outpost. Lovely, It was now up to me to take the stretcher up to the wounded man who had been shot through the chest. I gave him a morphine injection from a 'one-shot' capsule I carried if ever needed. As we would be in full view heading back through the outpost we headed down to another track that involved a steep climb back to our position but out of sight of the Chinese who were intent on giving us a hard time from our left flank. It proved not the easiest of ways back u that icy track, but we were making some headway when Lt. McKenzie, a Platoon Commander, spotted us struggling with the stretcher from his position which overlooked our platoon area and the track through our wire. He arrived with a couple of his men to assist, making the task a lot easier.

WHAT A DAY! Three out wounded. One missing. Later called back to Battalion HQ to be debriefed on the event and what I had observed and the location of the machine gun post that told us that is as far as you can go! We were informed later that the missing man was taken POW.

It may have been possible that the Chinese may have picked up the Owen machine carbine and decided to try it out. Each of our weapons when fired had a very distinctive sound compared to those in use by the US and the enemy forces, with one exception, the Bren light machine gun, for the Chinese were using similar style and copy to it which sounded very much the same.

Thinking back, we must have been NUTS!

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