THE BATTLE OF THE OUTPOSTS

 
Where American blood ran just as red as the blood of those who were wounded & killed in Korea during 1950 and 1951.

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Commemorative Posters

Our friend Curley Knepp, who lives in Korea and works as an accountant at Osan Air Base, attended a 50th Anniversary Commemoration ceremony at Camp Casey in September of 2001. Camp Casey is the home of the 2nd Infantry Division. The ceremony was sponsored by the United States Forces Korea 50th Anniversary Commemoration Committee in conjunction with the ROK 50th Anniversary Commemoration Committee. During the ceremony, the anniversary committee distributed flyers which had excellent graphics of the nations and the units/divisions who participated in the outpost wars in Korea during 1952/53. Below are two of the flyer graphics. To view a sharper, larger image of either of them, just place your cursor on the image and click. Likewise, most photographs on this and other pages of The Korean War Educator can be viewed as larger images by clicking on them. The introductory remarks which appear below these posters are entirely the work of the commemoration committee, not the text editors of this website.


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The term "Battles of the Outposts" encompasses the fighting that took place in the final two years of the Korean War. In the first year of the war sweeping movement up and down the peninsula characterized the fighting. Combat raged from the 38th Parallel south to the Pusan Perimeter then, with the landing at Inchon and the Perimeter breakout, up to the Yalu, and finally a retreat south again in the face of the massive Chinese intervention.

After the United Nations resumed the offensive in January 1951 and stopped the subsequent Communist counter-attacks cold, the front stabilized north of Seoul. With the start of armistice negotiations in July 1951, the ground war settled into a static phase with action characterized by limited regimental or battalion attacks to seize or recover key tactical terrain, aggressive patrolling, and increasingly heavy artillery barrages by both sides. With the exception of the flare-up in the fall of 1951 during a hiatus in truce negotiations, this characterized the war until the signing of the armistice on 27 July 1953.

If the grand maneuvers ceased, the fighting did not. In fact, nearly half of the war's 140,000 United States military casualties occurred during the "static" phase. Early in the truce negotiations both sides agreed that combat would continue until they concluded the final agreement. The armistice line would be the line of contact at the time the truce became effective.

Since both sides intended to create a demilitarized zone by pulling the opposing forces back two kilometers from the line of contact, their respective strategies focused on the seizure and maintenance of a fine of strong outposts to ensure that friendly forces held defensible terrain when the armistice came into effect.
From the standpoint of the men engaged, the relatively small scale battles that engulfed these outposts as the opposing forces engaged in bloody struggles to hold or retake the hills that dominated the main line of resistance were every bit as intense and demanding as any in history. This phase of the war became the small unit commander's fight.

Most actions took place at battalion, company, and platoon level, but the intensity and duration of the artillery and mortar barrages from both sides eclipsed those of the trench warfare of World War I.

In the bitter combat in and around the Punchbowl, Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak Ridge, the Nevada Cities complex, Hill 717, the Hook, and others in a long, long list, America had asked its young men to endure some of the fiercest combat in its history. The awareness of the continuing truce talks at Panmunjom made it even more difficult for the soldier to deal with the unremitting danger and hardships.

At this time, every soldier knew that they fought over tiny pieces of nearly vertical real estate while an armistice could be signed at any time. No one wanted to make the list as the last casualty of the war.

This presented an obvious challenge to leadership at every level as they sought to minimize casualties while accomplishing the mission. The endurance of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines of the United Nations forces who saw it through day after day of mortal combat against an implacable foe, when international politics denied them a traditional battlefield victory, testified to their valor and fidelity.

Americans have appropriately called the Korean War "The Forgotten War." The "static" phase has been the forgotten part of the forgotten war. It is fitting that we take this opportunity to commemorate the heroism and sacrifice of the "Battles of the Outposts."


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Grid Coordinates of
 Familiar Outposts in Korea

Map coordinates supplied to the Third Infantry Division Society by Martin Markley of California resulted in the longitude and latitude identification of hills in Korea. These hills were the sites of some of the Korean War's fiercest battles to take and/or hold ground. On them, thousands of Americans, as well as veterans of other allied nations, were mortally or seriously wounded. We are grateful to Martin for sharing his research results on this page of the Korean War Educator website.

Geodetic References
for the Hills on Which
the Outpost Battles Raged
 

Place Name MGRS Geodetic Reference
ANCHOR HILL DT 414742 N38 37’5.63" E128 19’36.43"
ARROWHEAD CT 351386 N38 17’2.92" E127 6’51.72"
BAK CT 214260 N38 10’4.88" E126 57’39.48"
BERLIN CT 003081 N38 0’8.56" E126 43’30.87"
BERLIN (EAST) CT 088082 N38 0’18.40" E126 49’19.10"
BETTY CT 210223 N38 8’4.61" E126 57’26.40"
BOOMERANG CT 613424 N38 19’22.13" E127 24’47.16"
BUNKER HILL CT 015042 N37 58’3.05" E126 44’23.93"
CAMP CASEY CS 322983 N37 55’14" E127 5’26.51"
CAPITOL HILL CT 905493 N38 23"20.53" E127 44’45.07"
CARSON CT 064075 N37 59’53’87" E126 47’41.43"
CHRISTMAS HILL DT 055428 N38 19’55.81" E127 55’7.13"
DICK CT 491440 N38 20’6.93" E127 16’23.64"
ELKO CT 067075 N37 59’54.10" E126 47’53.72"
FINGER RIDGE CT 878498 N38 23’35.54" E127 42’54.13"
HANNAH CT 211267 N38 10’27.37" E126 57’26.52"
HARRY (528) CT 508421 N38 19’6.33" E127 17’35.08"
HEARTBREAK RIDGE DT 142403 N38 18’37.86" E128 1’6.56"
HEDY CT 014036 N37 57’43.52" E126 44’20.43"
HOOK CT 103104 N38 1’30.87" E126 50’18.48"
HORSESHOE CT 937476 N38 22’26.77" E127 46’58.53"
JACKSON HEIGHTS CT 476435 N38 19’49.79" E127 15’22.26"
JANE RUSSELL CT 664424 N38 19’24.92" E127 28’17.15"
KELLY CT 197223 N38 8’3.68" E126 56’33.02"
NORI (BIG) CT 215235 N38 8’43.88" E126 57’45.84"
NORI (LITTLE) CT 216235 N38 8’43.96" E126 57’49.95"
OLD BALDY CT 255321 N38 13’25.59" E127 0’22.50"
PAPA-SAN CT 643458 N38 21’14.07" E127 26’48.33"
PIKES PEAK (454) CT 644428 N38 19’36.81" E127 26’54.53"
PORK CHOP CT 261353 N38 15’9.79" E127 0’44.34"
PUNCHBOWL DT 240370 N38 16’53.97" E128 7’51.38"
QUEEN CT 216274 N38 10’50.43" E126 57’46.43"
RENO CT 068079 N38 0’7.14" E126 47’57.43"
RONSON CT 100103 N38 1’27.40" E126 50’6.28"
SANDY RIDGE CT 668413 N38 18’49.45" E127 28’34.37"
SNIPERS RIDGE CT 677426 N38 19’32’10" E127 29’10.55"
STAR HILL CT 583348 N38 15’13.93" E127 22’49.13"
T-BONE HILL CT 285376 N38 16’26.03" E127 2’21.04"
TESSIE CT 203226 N38 8’13.84" E126 56’57.39"
TOM(270) CT 472426 N38 19’20.36" E127 15’6.49"
TRIANGLE HILL CT 659419 N38 19’8.43" E127 27’56.91"
WHITEHORSE CT 381399 N38 17’47.04" E127 8’54.08"
WIRE RIDGE CT 970461 N38 21’39.50" E127 49’15.31"

 


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Battles Remembered

Korea - June 10 - June 18, 1953
 Outpost Harry*

*15th Infantry Regiment Command Report, July 12, 1953. Submitted to the Korean War Educator by Martin Markley of California.


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"During the period 16 May to 5 June , the 15th Infantry had been relieved of its responsibility for the Outpost HARRY sector. When reports from various higher staff sections had been correlated and evaluated, and the higher commanders were assured beyond any reasonable doubt that Outpost HARRY was to be attacked by numerically superior Chinese force, it was ordered that the 15th Infantry Regiment, a more experienced and battle tried unit, be made responsible for the Outpost HARRY sector no later than the 6th of June. This was accomplished by relieving the 2nd Battalion 65th Infantry, with the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry. The regiment prepared to meet the onslaught of the Chinese.

Following is a physical description of Outpost HARRY, for most of the action from 10-18 June centered around this hill. Outpost HARRY is situated some 425 yards northeast of the friendly MLR which is on a general southeast-northwest line from the CHORWON VALLEY to the KUMWHA VALLEY. The hill is approximately 1280 feet high and is locate about 320 yards south, and part of a larger hill mass occupied by the enemy, refered to as STAR HILL. The outpost commands a good view of the enemy terrain and his avenues of approach to the MLR position. Since the elevation of the outpost is greater than that of any friendly -held terrain within an area of a mile, the position affords early warning of enemy approach to the main battle line.

The road approach to the outpost from the MLR runs north along an intermittent stream to the rear of the outpost, where the supply point is located. From here, movements to the position must be accomplished dismounted.

The position itself contains a communications trench which runs from the supply point forward some 315 yards to the forward observer bunker on the northernmost slope. Here the trench joins another trench which makes a complete circle around the forward position of the outpost; this position of the outpost is refered to as The Loop. Approximately 80 yards to the rear of The Loop, along a finger of the ridge running to the right side of the outpost, an additional trench extends approximately 110 yards. This finger is mutually supporting with The Loop position and helps protect the probable avenues of approach into position. The left side of the outpost is steep enough to afford a natural barrier to the attacking enemy force.

Aerial reconnaissance from 1 June to 8 June showed much increased enemy activity. This activity included construction of new ant-aircraft artillery positions, self-propelled gun revetments. artillery positions, supply bunkers, personnel bunkers, a new bridge and road improvements along the enemy main supply routes. An enemy offensive was obvious.

During the same period prior to the attack of 10 June, increased personnel sightings were reported during daylight hours. During the period of darkness, an increasing number of vehicle lights were reported, generally in the rear areas moving south and southwest toward the enemy's main battle positions. Prior to the attack CCF artillery battalions positioned to fire into the 3rd Infantry sector disclosed the enemy to be employing 102mm rocket for the first time in this area.

Also evident during this period was increased enemy counter battery fire on friendly artillery positions. Incoming artillery and mortar rounds reported in the regimental sector increased from an average of 275 per day to 670 per day, during the 4 to 5 days prior to the initial attack on the outpost. During the attacks on HARRY , a tremendous volume of rounds fell in all of the regimental sector, including service units and regimental headquarters.

The enemy disposition at this time were not pinpointed; however ; it was well known that there were in contact two unidentified battalions of The 22nd Regiment, 74th Division, in the left sector and two unidentified battalions of the 221st Regiment, 74th Division, in the right portion of the 15th regimental sector. The 221st Regiment, 74th Division was located in the sector immediately opposite outpost HARRY. Reserves capable of intervention in the outpost HARRY action were the two reserve battalions of regiments in contact with the 15th Infantry in the left sector, as well as three battalions of the 220th Regiment, unlocated which were in the 74th Division reserve.

Then began the concentrated enemy drive which was to last for a week and was to cost the Chinese dearly for every engaged minute. At 1950 hours on the night of 10 June the first CCF sightings were reported, and each sighting was engaged by mortar and artillery fire. At 2130 hours an ambush patrol west of OP DICK in the sector of the Greek Battalion reported Chinese numbering approximately 250 coming of JACKSON HEIGHTS (in front of OP TOM). Mortar and artillery began falling on the 15th MLR as well as outposts DICK and HARRY. After a short but intense fire fight in the vicinity of Outpost DICK, including 2000 rounds of enemy artillery and mortar fire, the enemy withdrew. This was recognized as a possible enemy feint, and all units were alerted. At 2245, while attention was still focused on Outpost DICK, word came that the CCF were in the trenches on Outpost HARRY, Bitter hand to hand combat was engaged in by members of Company "K", 15th Infantry and the Chinese were killed or driven from the trenches. The Chinese reinforced their attack four more times during the early morning hours, and as late as 0430 hours 11 June , were in the trench on the northern side of the outpost. In addition to a composite reserve local reserve committed by the 3rd battalion commander, Companies "E" and "C" 15th Infantry were committed to reinforce. One platoon of tanks from Heavy Tank Company, 15th Infantry, and one platoon of infantry were committed to the valley east of Outpost HARRY. as a diversionary force. This tank-infantry team proved to be of great value in channelizing the enemy attack.

About 0530 the morning of the 11th, a daylight CCF attack in battalion strength was repulsed by elements of The outpost. An hour later, evacuation of dead and wounded began. This continued through the daylight hours. Colonel Russell F. Akers Jr., Regimental commander, reorganized placing Company "B", 15th Infantry, on the outpost, and placing responsibility for defense of this section on the 1st Battalion. The day continued with intermittent shelling of the outpost.

On 12 June at 0005 hours the Chinese moving through their own and friendly artillery gained the trenches in the rear of the outpost: hand to hand fighting followed. At 0032 hours the CCF gained the trench on the northern slope of The outpost while friendly forces held the southern trench. Bitter fighting ensued and the CCF made numerous attempts to reinforce through the protective artillery ring. Company "B", 5th Regimental Combat Team, was used to reinforce. One platoon of tanks from Heavy Tank Company, 15th Infantry, and one platoon of infantry were committed to the valley east of Outpost HARRY. as a diversionary force and again this force was highly successful in channelizing the enemy attack

At daybreak, about 0545 hours, the enemy withdrew and all action ceased. Evacuation of the wounded and dead was begun and Colonel Akers took immediate steps to reorganize for renewed attacks, placing Company "A" 5th Regimental Combat Team on the outpost.


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On the night of 12 June at 2200 hours, enemy artillery and mortar fire preceded a CCF attack on the outpost which was broken up by friendly defensive fires. CCF were in the trench for a short time but were forced to withdraw. Fighting ceased at 2247. However at 0208 the CCF attacked from the north, northeast, and northwest of the outpost. Bitter hand to hand fighting ensued as the enemy gained the trench on the northern slope of the outpost. Company "L", 15th infantry, reinforced and by 0450 hours the enemy was driven from the trenches and forced to withdraw. A platoon of tanks from the 64th Tank Battalion plus one platoon of infantry were dispatched to the valley east of outpost HARRY and operated successfully as a diversionary force. All action ceased with the exception of friendly counter battery and counter mortar fire. Evacuation pf wounded and dead was begun, and the regimental commander took immediate steps to reorganize for renewed attacks, placing Company "C", 15th Infantry, on the outpost.

Daylight hours were utilized to clean the trenches and refurbish weapons' positions in anticipation of another attack during the hours of darkness. On the night of 13-14 June, ant approximately 0255, enemy artillery and mortar fire preceded a CCF screening action against he outpost from the east and west for the purpose of protecting recovery of their dead. This screening force was broken up by friendly defensive fires. Action became sporadic, with light enemy artillery and mortar fire falling on the outpost and MLR. By 0440 the enemy withdrew and all action ceased. The regimental commander took immediate steps to reorganize for renewed attacks, placing Company "G", 15th infantry on the outpost.

During the night of 14-15 June, at about 0125 the Chinese moving through friendly artillery and defensive fires, gained the trenches on the rear of the outpost, and intense hand to hand fighting followed. At 0222 hours, friendly forces held the outpost with the enemy reinforcing in the bitter hand to hand action. Company "E", 15th Infantry was committed to reinforce. One platoon from Heavy Tank Company and one platoon of infantry were again dispatched as diversionary force. At 0345 the enemy withdrew and action ceased; the regimental commander again reorganizing for new attacks, placed Company "A", 15th Infantry on the outpost.

The night of 15-16 June was a quiet night on the outpost, and the following morning the regimental commander placed the GEF Battalion in the area of the outpost HARRY sector in order that his US battalions, all of which had suffered heavy causalities, could refit and reorganize. During the night of 16-17 June there was no significant action, permitting much needed engineer work on the outpost to be accomplished by Company "P", GEF Battalion and elements of Company "B", 10th Engineer (C) Battalion.

On the night of 17-18 June, the Chinese returned at about 0052 hours, moving through their own and friendly artillery and mortar fire to attack Outpost HARRY from the northeast and northwest. The enemy was repelled and forced to withdraw, but stayed in the area. At 0240 the enemy attacked from the north under intense artillery and mortar fire. The CCF gained the trenches of the outpost on the northern slope at 0313. Bitter hand to hand fighting ensued with the enemy making numerous attempts to reinforce through the protective artillery ring. Company "N", GEF Battalion was committed to reinforce. One platoon of tanks from Heavy Tank Company, 15th Infantry Regiment, and one platoon of Greek Infantry were dispatched to the valley east of Outpost HARRY as a diversionary force. By 0402 hours the enemy was forced out of the trenches on the outpost, and all action ceased with the enemy withdrawing, having fired 22,000 rounds in support of this attack.


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The enemy forces employed against Outpost HARRY during the period 10-18 June were tabulated by Intelligence Sections to be substantially as shown in the following table:

 10-11 June A reinforced CCF regiment (Approx. 3,600 CCF)

11-12 June A CCF regiment (approx. 2,850 CCF)
12-13 June A reinforced CCF regiment
13-14 June An estimated 100 CCF
14-15 June An estimated 120 CCF
15-16 June Negative
16-17 June Negative
17-18 June A CCF regiment.

During this period the entire 74th CCF Division was utilized against this position and at the end of the engagement was considered combat ineffective. Enemy rounds fired in support of their attack during the period 10-18 June amounted to 88,810 rounds over 81 mm size: friendly mortar and artillery units in conjunction with friendly tank fires were 368185 rounds over 81mm size."


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65th Infantry Regiment - 3RD Infantry Division
3rd Division Command Report for May 1953 for 65th Infantry Regiment.

On May 12th training was suspended and the Regiment alerted for movement to an assigned sector of Line MISSOURI.

The heavy mortar company relieved and assumed sectors on Line MISSOURI from missions of heavy mortar companies of the 5th Regimental Combat Team and the 15th Infantry Regiment in Vicinity of CT 513378 on the night of 13-14 May. One platoon of heavy mortar company, 65th Infantry came under operational control of the 7th Infantry Regiment.

On the night of May 14th, elements of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions moved into assembly areas in rear of Line MISSOURI. Assembly areas were in the sectors soon to be occupied by these units in a relief of the 2nd Battalion of the 15th Infantry Regiment and the 1st Battalion 5th Regimental Combat Team.

Company "G" of the 2nd Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment relieved elements of the 2nd Battalion 15th Infantry Regiment on OUTPOST HARRY during daylight hours May 15th.

On the night of May 15-16 Company "G" attached to the 2nd Battalion 15th Infantry Regiment, and occupying OUTPOST HARRY, defended the outpost and defeated an intended three (3) pronged attack by an estimated battalion size enemy force.

Fourteen (14) Bronze Stars were awarded to four (4) officers and ten (10) enlisted men of Company "G" as a result of their outstanding performance in the action.

On the night of May 29-30 Company "C" conduced a raid ("OPERATION SURPRISE") against the enemy with the objective being "Monks Hood", CT 526424. Its mission was to close with the enemy to destroy, kill, or capture, enemy personnel located on the objective. The operation was not successful.

From May 15th through May 31st this unit had thirty-eight (38) ambush patrols, one raid, and four (4) miscellaneous combat patrols. Seventeen (17) members of the Regiment were KIA.

3rd Division Command Report for 65th Infantry Regiment June 1953:

On June 1st 1953 the 65th Infantry Regiment occupied the sector of Line Missouri from CT498421 to CT 543415 with the 2nd Battalion on the left and the 3rd Battalion on the right. The 1st Battalion was located at CT 536395 as a regimental reserve and in addition was charged with the reconstruction of Line Wyoming from CT 539377 to CT 558384.

During the period 1-30 June constant and vigorous command action was taken at all levels to insure continued improvement of defensive works in the assigned sector of Line Missouri. This work was personally supervised by commanders at all echelons. At the end of the period noticeable improvement was made in the deepening of trench works and installation of machine gun and rifle bunkers.

At 050800 June 1953 the relief of the 2nd Battalion was begun by the 3rd battalion of the 15th Infantry Regiment. Relief proceeded without incident until 060140 at which time responsibility for the sector passed to the control of the CO, 3rd Battalion 15th Infantry Regiment. The transfer of responsibility of this sector CT 498421 to CT 516408 from the CO, 65th Infantry Regiment to CO, 15th Infantry Regiment was made at that time.

Concurrently at 052045 June the 1st Battalion began effecting relief of the left company sector of the 1st Battalion 7th Infantry Regiment. This relief was completed at 060025, with the Commanding Officer 65th Infantry Regiment assuming responsibility for the new sector at this time. At the same time, the Commanding Officer 1st Battalion assumed responsibility for the right Company Sector of the 3rd Battalion. As of 06 June 1953 the Regiment was deployed on Line MISSOURI from CT 516408 to CT 551420 with the 3rd Battalion on the left and the 1st on the right.

On 10 June 1953 Company "F" supported by a section of tanks, conducted a raid on Hill 412 (CT 518420). The tanks moved to a position in the valley west of Hill 412 from which to support the attack of Company "F" by fire. Company "F" crossed the LD at 1200 and by 1315 was engaging an unknown number of enemy in a small arms and hand grenade firelight. At 1457 the Objective was secured, and the company was engaged in searching the area. At 1505 an estimated fifty (50) enemy countered-attacked. This counter-attack was repelled with small arms and artillery. Company "F" withdrew on order to the MLR at 1535 after completion of its mission. Friendly casualties were: Three (3) KIA and thirty-three (33) WIA. Enemy causalities were: fifty-three (53) counted KIA: Twenty-five (25) estimated KIA, and twenty-five (25) estimated WIA. The raid was very successful. (This was the raid that Company "F" received the Presidential Unit Citation for. SeeCitation below)

On 10 June 1953 at about 0300 hours Company "B" of the 1st Battalion was attacked by an estimated enemy company, preceded by a barrage of approximately five hundred fifty (550) rounds ao mixed artillery and mortar fire. Shortly thereafter the enemy engaged the center platoon of Company "B" in a small arms and hand grenade firefight and succeeded in entering the trenches. Hand to hand combat continued for forty-five (45) minutes when the friendly forces counter-attacked and ejected the enemy. Action continued sporadically until 0430 at which time the enemy withdrew.

At 0530 search patrols were sent out from Company "B" which recovered pile caps, and machine gun magazines, propaganda leaflets and traces of where dead or wounded had been removed. Friendly casualties were: One (1) KIA and Fourteen (14) WIA. Enemy casualties were: Thirty (30) KIA

On the night of 13-14 June 1953 Company "G" conducted a raid on Hill 412. Leaving the MLR at about 2215 hours the lead elements had reached the assault position by 0015 hours. For close support and diversion of enemy fires one (1) platoon of tanks were attached, one of which mounted a search light. The search light tank was stationed so as to light the valley to the east of the Objective.

The first assault was launched at 0039 hours and was repelled by enemy hand grenades and mortar fire, just short of the reverse slope of the trench line. At this time the tanks began receiving 82mm mortar fire and at 0104 hours the remainder of Company "G" reported receiving mixed mortar and small arms fire.

At 0245 the assault continued, but this attack was also driven back by heavy artillery fire. A withdrawal then took place in order to regroup. It is evident that the enemy was stronger than had been anticipated in both the center and right portion of the Objective.

The third assault started at 0358 hours and swept around the left flank of the high point of Hill 412. The assaulting unit cleared the top and pressed the attack along the reverse slope for seventy-five (75) yards before being stopped by overwhelming enemy fire.

At 0419 hours on order of the Regimental Commander, Company "G" returned to the MLR. During the return, the enemy continued to deliver a heavy volume of mortar fire on the safe lane used at the beginning of the raid. Because of this another safe lane was found and Company "G" closed the MLR at 0515 hours. Friendly casualties were: One (1) KIA and Thirty-three (33) WIA. Enemy casualties were: Ten (10) counted KIA, fifteen (15) estimated KIA and fifteen (15) WIA.

Company "E" also raided Hill 412 on 14 June 1953. The Company moved into an assembly area south of Company "I" at 1800. At this time the assembly area and the MLR positions of Company "I" were subjected to heavy shelling. Regardless Company "E" crossed the LD at 1900 and at 1950 commenced the assault. A platoon of tanks moved into the valley and supported the assault.

Throughout the period the enemy had delivered heavy artillery and mortar fire on the approaches to Hill 412 and Hill 412 itself. The assault was initially was successful and at 2025 the Company was engaged in mopping up the first enemy positions. At this time the enemy placed an unprecedented barrage of mortar, artillery, and rockets on the Objective and the approaches to the Objective. Due to this heavy fire the order was given to withdraw and the Company closed the MLR at 2315. During this action an estimated 10,000 rounds of hostile artillery, mortar and 132mm rockets were received. Friendly casualties for this action were: Nine (9) KIA and fifty-seven (57) WIA and four (4) MIA. Enemy casualties were: thirty (30) counted KIA, ten (10) estimated KIA, and ten (10) estimated WIA.

During the period 10through 15 June 1953 Outpost Harry, held by elements of the 15th Infantry Regiment, was attacked by large enemy forces. Throughout this period elements of the 3 Battalion 65th Infantry Regiment and its attachments rendered all available fire support to the beleaguered Outpost. This support was considered instrumental in the successful defense of the position.

The following awards were made:

  • Silver Star Metal - 10 Officers and 4 enlisted men.
  • Bronze Star Metal with "V" Device - 3 Officers and 20 enlisted men.
  • Bronze Star Metal - 12 Officers and 10 enlisted men.
  • Purple Heart Metal - 8 Officers and 59 enlisted men.

3rd Division Command Report for 65th Infantry Regiment July 1953:

On July 1953 the 65th Infantry Regiment occupied a sector of Line Missouri from CT516408 to CT594429. The 1st Battalion was on the left extending from CT 516408 to CT 5514220; the 2nd Battalion in the center from CT 551420 to CT573416 and the 3rd Battalion (3rd Recon Company attached) on the right from CT 537416 to CT 537416 to CT 594429. The mission of all battalions was to defend and improve the MLR positions and extensively patrol within their assigned sectors of responsibility.

During the period of July 1-31, constant command action was taken at all levels to insure continued improvement of defensive positions in assigned sector. At the end of this period, noticeable improvement had been made on trench work and automatic weapons positions within the sectors of responsibility.

On the 6th of July 1953, Company "K" conducted a raid on enemy held Hill 250, CT592446. At 0020 hours the support platoon departed the MLR, followed 15 minutes later by the assault platoon. After passing through the support position the assault element reached the attack position at 0222 hours and was ordered to move out. With 2 squads abreast, the assault element moved over the first objective at 0233 hours and along the northern ridge without incident. Upon approaching the second objective at 0237 hours, they were met by fire from an unknown number of enemy. At this time the assault element began receiving artillery, mortar, small arms, and automatic weapons fire from the high ground, known as "Green Knob", to the northeast of Hill 250. When this firefight intensified at 0251 hours, the support element was committed.

The support platoon approached the objective and swept the southwest ridge. At 0302 hours, as they became heavily engaged, the alert platoon was also committed, having already moved to the old support platoon position. They swept the objective at 0320 hours for all remaining friendly and enemy causalities and at 0335 hours all elements began a withdrawal to the MLB over the prearranged return route. The enemy continued to blanket the objective with fire and, as the friendly elements withdrew, continued to roll this fire after them. Upon reaching the MLR with this fire, the enemy continued to fire on the MLR positions for some time.

The first elements of the raiding party reached the MLR at 0434 hours, the friendly casualty report being, 3 KIA 10 MIA and 20 WIA.

At 10:55 hours a Searching patrol was dispatched to the area of contact to try to locate missing persons. They could observe two (2) bodies but could not make any positive identification.

The final report on casualties was as follows: Friendly: 3 KIA, 10 MIA and 20 WIA. Enemy: 8 counted KIA 20 estimated KIA and 20 estimated WIA.

The raid was considered extremely well executed and successful.

On the night of July 13-14, 1953 the 65th Infantry Regiment was relieved by elements of the 38th Infantry Regiment. At 1200 hours on the 13th, the 3rd Battalion was placed under the operational control of the 7th Infantry Regiment. At 2400 hours the 1st Battalion reported that their relief by elements of the 38th Infantry Regiment had begun and by 0500 hours on the following morning, both the 1st and 2nd Battalions had been relieved and were on their way to the new Regimental reserve area at Chipori. The Regimental Command Post left its location at CT 527384 and opened a new location at CT 477118.

At 0700 July 14th the Regiment was placed on alert status and the Regimental Commanding Officer made a recon of the area behind the penetration by CCF forces, of the Capitol ROK Division sector. At 1200 hours the order was given, by the Regimental CO, to move from assembly areas near Chipori and occupy battle positions on Line WYOMING from CT 701383 to CT 734400, thus blocking any further advance by enemy forces in the CAP ROK sector.

The 1st and 2nd Battalions cleared their assembly areas at 1545 hours, reaching their new positions by 1800 hours. At the same time the Regimental Advanced Command Post opened in the vicinity of CT725377. By 2040 hours the 2nd Battalion had occupied positions on the forward slopes of the ridgeline and the 1st Battalion was in position to block any break through, behind the foreword elements. The 3rd Battalion (3rd Recon Company attached) was released from the 7th Infantry Regiment on 0400 hours the following morning and, with Regimental Tank Company closed their new assembly areas at 1005 hours. The 3rd Battalion, at this time, was under Division control as a reserve Battalion. By 1200 hours, liaison had been established with both the 29th ROK Regiment on the left and the 15th US Infantry Regiment on the right flank. Heavy Mortar Company was located at CT669383 in general support of the 9th ROK Division. The situation was considered secure at the time.

On July 17th, 1953, elements of the Regimental Tank Company moved in front of the MLR to the vicinity of CT 712404 to support, by fire, a patrol from Company "C", establishing an outpost on Hill 326. One tank received minor damage and friendly casualties were: 2 KIA and 8 WIA. The outpost was established to be manned during the hours of darkness.

On July 24th, the 3rd Battalion relieved the 2nd Battalion on the MLR. The relief began at 1600 hours and was completed at 2120 hours when the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion assumed responsibility for the sector from CT 709396 to CT 729408. The 2nd Battalion took up the roll as Division Reserve Battalion in the vicinity of CT 718360. The relief was conducted with a minimum amount of confusion and no unusual incidents were reported.

Upon receiving word, the 26th July, that the truce agreement would be signed on the following day, plans were made within the regiment for the forthcoming relief and withdrawal from the proposed demilitarized zone.

The last aggressive tactical operation carried out by the 65th Infantry Regiment during the hostilities was a recon petrol of eighteen (18) men, led by 2nd Lt George W. Baird, of Company "B" commanded by 1st Lt Raymond W. Johnson, on the night of July 26th, 1953. The petrol left the MLR at 2050 hours, reaching the furthest point, CT 719414, by 0030 hours. At 0042 hours, they observed 15 CCF at CT 721413 and notified artillery. Fire was directed on the enemy and they were effectively disbursed. The patrol returned to the MLR at 0340 having made no contact.

On July 27, 1953, the 65 Infantry Regiment was officially notified that the truce had been signed at 1000 hours, and that the cease fire would go into effect at 2200 hours on July 27.
During the period from 1500 hours to 2145 hours on this day, the enemy continued to shell the entire regimental sector, including the Regimental Command Post area. Numerous casualties were inflicted by the artillery shelling on this last day of hostilities. At 2145 hours all firing ceased within the regimental sector and the 2nd Battalion proceeded to relieve elements of the 26th ROK Regiment. This relief was completed at 0130 hours on the 28th and at 0500 hours, elements of the 1st Battalion proceeded to relieve elements of the 29th ROK Regiment on the left flank. This relief was completed at 10000 hours, thus enlarging the regimental sector to include the area from CT 688384 to CT 740415.

During the period from July 28 1200 hours to July 30th 0001 hours emphasis was placed on policing the assigned sectors and moving all ammunition and equipment south of the demilitarized zone line. During July 30th, the regiment moved back to positions behind the demilitarized zone line and began their survey of defensive positions to be manned and improved. By July 31, 1800 hours all personnel of the 65th Infantry Regiment were south of the demilitarized zone, and a certificate had been sent to Division, so stating.

Friendly casualties were: six (6) KIA, twenty-seven (27) WIA and six (6) MIA.

Enemy casualties were nine (9) counted KIA, one (1) WIA. Five (5) prisoner of war were taken.

Morale continued to be excellent, no personnel took R&R to Japan, and showers were readily available to all personnel.

Presidential Unit Citation for Action on June 10th reads as follows:

Company F, 65th Infantry Regiment, 3d Division, is cited for outstanding performances of duty and extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Kumwha, Korea (hill 412 across from Outpost Harry), on 10 June 1953. This unit, a member of a combined attacking team, was assigned the mission of assaulting a heavily fortified enemy hill for the purpose of diverting the concentration of communist strength at a nearby strategic point. As the company moved into a forward position it encountered heavy enemy fire from the crest of the hill. While two friendly tanks departed for a point to the left of the objective, a 10-man assault team approached the crest under the support of tank, artillery, and small arms fire. The assault platoon twice placed machine guns on the eastern slope of the hill to cover the advance but these were quickly destroyed by enemy fire. As the assault group engaged the hostile defenders in close combat, the platoon leader was wounded. His men moved back 10 yards, regrouped, and again charged the cave position, killing and critically wounding its occupants with hand grenades. As the assault platoon moved along the southern slope of the ridge in an effort to pinpoint the enemy fire, they were met by intense resistance from a well-entrenched enemy on the reverse slope. Sending word for two support squads to move up, the Company Commander led his unit in a repeated attempt to rush the crest of the hill. Again encountering concentrated enemy fire, the group managed to deploy to the right and left of the eastern end of the ridge to prevent an enemy envelopment. While the platoon made ready a further attempt to capture the reverse slope position, strengthened by the support squads, a squad-leader of the first platoon moved to the forward side of the hill and discovered the location of the enemy emplacements. With this information, the assault elements again moved forward, crossed the ridge, and routed the enemy with hand grenades and small arms fire. The hard-fought positions immediately were occupied and reorganized in time to stem enemy efforts to regain them. The heroism and courage exhibited by members of this unit reflect great credit on themselves, their organization, and the military service of the United States. (General Orders 620, Headquarters Eighth United States Army, 16 September 1954.)


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Korea - July 24-July 27, 1953
 The Hook*

*Text submitted by Charles H. Owens, M/Sgt. USMC Ret. with permission from Bob Downey.

THE HOOK
By Major General D M Butler AO, DSO (Retd)

When Peter Cook first asked me to write something on Bob Downey's article I was already conscious of what a great service Bob had done by putting the story of 2RAR on the Hook into context. Somehow the battle has never been talked about much, probably because it culminated in the Truce and was overtaken by that remarkable event. Nonetheless it was a tremendous battle and we have to wonder why it has taken so long for the story to be told.

Many who really know 2RAR would not be surprised. 2RAR from its inception has always been a quiet, professional, and no fuss battalion. Formed from the units of the Ninth Division, it would be easy to assume it would always carry the glamour, which that division seemed to attract. But the leaders within the unit at foundation were of the tough, dedicated Arch Denness, Ron Garland style who made sure the job came first and were never side tracked by the illusion of easy reputation. That character persisted within the unit and carried it through those awful years which were endured in Puckapunyal on return from BCOF in 1948.

Bob Downey correctly identifies that period in his article as a story to be told and properly alludes to the resultant difficulties which the unit had to fix as it came to readiness for service in Korea. Sensibly he did not dwell on the government and bureaucratic incompetence and neglect which placed the battalion in such an appalling situation for so long. Even allowance for the vast backlog of work, which had to be undertaken in the nation in those post war years, does not excuse the lack of energy and imagination at most levels. Some would say the war had exhausted the country; certainly there was little vitality in many of the levels of leadership. It was as if people were content to concentrate on rebuilding their own lives and families after the years of absence on war service.

Long after that time, I served with one of the players of those years who told me of an incredible experience he endured in the transition of the battalion from BCOF to Puckapunyal. The outline of his story may help to explain the state of things at that time. Paddy Brennan, that most marvellous of soldiers, was a young sergeant who had either enlisted in the Australian Army in UK, or from a British unit in Japan, I can't remember which. I believe he had gone direct from the British Army to 2RAR, or 66 Aust Inf Bn as it then was, without going to Australia. When the ship carrying the unit home from Japan docked in Australia the bulk of those returning marched straight out from the dock to discharge or leave. Paddy was in charge of the small party, not entitled to leave, who were to move direct to Puckapunyal as the advance party. Every one waved goodbye and the young sergeant made his way to the RTO, only to discover that nobody knew anything about his party. They had no money and not even an authority to get from the docks to the railway station. It was hardly a pleasant introduction to Australia for that young sergeant. You would have to say it is hard to imagine such muck up when measured against the standards of today. Small comfort for the young man, totally new to Australia, absolutely on his own and very aware of his responsibility for the men. Somehow Paddy got to the station and managed to convince the authorities to move his team to Victoria. They arrived unannounced at Seymour in a weekend, scrounged transport to Pucka, only to be left to their own devices in empty and unprepared lines. Evidently there was no one in authority to be found. With no money, no rations and no equipment they were stranded, at least until the following Monday. To say the least, the party was absolutely frustrated and very hungry. All they could find was an axe in an adjoining woodheap with which they killed a sheep, butchered and barbecued it. Could you imagine skinning a sheep with a blunt axe?

Obviously things had to get better, but it was not the time to be in a regular infantry battalion in Australia. The unit became pretty much a depot battalion once the Korean War started, with a constant turnover of people. All the while the battalion endured barracks which should have been condemned years before. Just across the road the National Service battalions enjoyed high standard accommodation in barracks specially refurbished for them. Political correctness is not a modern day phenomenon; it was blatant in 1952. 2RAR faced experiences which would have challenged any organisation to its very foundation. A handful of devoted senior officers and NCO's struggled to maintain stability and identity and deserve enormous credit. For example, Bob describes how the RSM, Lionel McCombe, during some of the worst time, persevered with training his personally selected cadre of young NCO's. Every morning, without fail, they would do an hour on the square before morning parade. At other times he would take them for weapon training for which he was famed. Incidentally he was the photographic model used in a rewrite of the Owen Gun pamphlet just after the war. Largely through his determination, example and encouragement the battalion developed a complement of outstanding junior leaders, ideally suited for the savage patrolling war they would eventually encounter in Korea. Furthermore, he set standards of the management of soldiers for those young men, which enabled them to absorb, without fuss, the large number of men the battalion took over from 1RAR in Korea. Lionel McCombe was a soldier.

Bob has told the story of the Hook well. From his description the reader can form a good gauge of the enormity of the battle. Even so it must be very hard to grasp the horror which was there for all to see when the war suddenly stopped as the Truce came into effect. There were over 3000 Chinese dead lying in front of the battalion. Many of the dead were laying two or three deep in rows, the whole scene was so utterly tragic. While the unit watched, it took the Chinese stretcher parties five days to take the bodies away. The scene so overwhelmed belief as to leave one to wonder what was going on in the Chinese lines. With so many fatal casualties there must have been at least 10000 wounded men. Our brigade commander, Brigadier John Wilton, echoed everyone's sentiment when he is quoted in the Official History as saying, " it was a horrible sight, which I will never forget".

In the face of events like these one has to ponder why that last Hook battle has never attracted the prominence of the early Korean battles, Kapyong and Maryang San. In terms of the numbers of troops engaged, ammunition expended and the challenge faced, the scale of the battle was enormous. For a considerable period of the battle there were at least nine Chinese battalions operating on 2RAR's front. There is no doubt had the enemy achieved his intention along the axis of Pt 121 he would have turned the line and visited a severe defeat on the UN forces. Because of its location near a bend on the Samichon River the Hook sector was always a hot spot. There were two particularly furious battles, which come to mind one against the Black Watch in 1952 and the other against the Duke of Wellington's Regiment in 1953. On both occasions the position was just held in the most desperate of circumstances. Each time the Chinese, with over whelming force and very heavy artillery support, penetrated the Hook company itself but could not hold under the weight and accuracy of the artillery storm the Commonwealth Divisional artillery developed against them. In July 1953, 2RAR, newly arrived on the position, had only just gained ascendancy in the patrol battle and wrested a precarious control of its front, so gaining observation of the approaches to it before the Chinese attacked. This initiative enabled the artillery to do its work well forward of the position with control and accuracy. Furthermore, in that short period after taking over the position before the Chinese attacked again, the battalion had not spared itself and worked without respite, night and day, to reestablish the defensive position. Fortunately all the effort paid off. The work was completed and it was a fully prepared and quietly determined battalion, which stood to and faced the commencement of the Chinese onslaught. At no time thereafter was the enemy able to effectively penetrate the battalion area. It was a classic defensive battle.

2RAR took over the Hook from the Kings Regiment, who had replaced the Duke of Wellington's after their gallant defence against the odds. The Kings were only there for a week, so a lot remained for 2RAR to complete. For starters the Chinese were on the wire. Quite literally they were camped there. Shortly after the hour appointed for the Truce a reinforced Chinese platoon suddenly appeared. They were dug in on the northern (reverse) slope of the Green Finger, 30 to 40 yards from the forward pits of the Hook Company. Their orders had been to fight to the last man. It was no wonder the patrol battle for 2RAR had been so fierce. Every night for ten days or so there had been intense, savage patrol battles to force the Chinese off the wire. At those close ranges it was difficult to even get out of the trench without contest with the enemy. It was a deadly race at dusk every day for those brave men. The cost had been heavy, but the battalion endured and was successful. The Chinese were slowly forced back. That Chinese platoon on first contact with our soldiers after the Truce, before the hierarchy arrived, made it quite clear they had not expected to withstand the aggressive Australian patrols for much longer. They were at the end of their tether. How vital it proved, when the main battle commenced, that 2RAR standing patrols were forward of the main line of trenches and able to direct heavy fire on to the first sign of enemy approach.

What is not generally appreciated from the accounts of the battle is that that standing patrol on the Green Finger was manned and remained in position throughout each night of the battle despite the presence of enemy in overwhelming strength. Furthermore, a Vickers machine gun section, located with the US Marine right forward company, about 500 yards west of the 2RAR position, sited so as to fire in enfilade across the battalion front, held its position when the US company was over run and continued to support the battalion. The section commander took as many men as could be spared from the guns and formed a defensive position, which gallantly and effectively halted successive Chinese attacks. Immediately east of those intrepid machine gunners was the Contact Bunker. It was so named because it was the link on the divisional boundary, sitting to cover the reentrant leading up to the 121 feature. The position, manned by a rifle section, was right on the axis of the Chinese thrust. Not only did they endure the maelstrom of artillery fire the enemy directed against their area but also continued to call for the devastating friendly fire, at times onto their own position, which so grievously thwarted the Chinese thrust. It is not enough to talk generally about the patrol battle. People must be aware of the absolute necessity of capitalizing on the advantages so hard won in that patrol battle. Those two cool young corporals at the Green Finger standing patrol and the Contact Bunker, together with the machine gun sergeant, each with their gallant sections, played such an important part in the successful defense and the final victory and provide a classic example of what should be done. Incidentally, the three gallant NCO's were each awarded the Military Medal for their outstanding feats of arms. I have often wondered whether, at other times, in other units, in other armies, or, in other wars, they may have been differently rewarded.

As already explained, on this occasion the Chinese had moved the main axis of their attack further west against the high ground represented by the 121 feature rather than at the Hook company itself, where they had paid so dearly in the past. Had they succeeded, because of the nature of the ground, they would have been much harder to shift and would have, no doubt, rendered the battalion position untenable. Their major thrust was against the right forward battalion of the US Marine Division on the left of the Commonwealth Division. Here they did over run the right forward company and were threatening more. Since they had been unable to penetrate anywhere along the 2RAR line there was a base for the Commonwealth Division to stabilize and contain the Chinese penetration along the left divisional boundary. As if aware of this, the ferocity with which the Chinese attacked was awesome. They subjected 2RAR to an absolute artillery firestorm in an attempt to neutralize them. The weight of fire directed against the rifle companies, particularly those on 121 and the Hook, was sustained and incredibly heavy. I have seen in other publications the rate likened to that endured at Pozieres, which has always been regarded as the heaviest shellfire to which Australian divisions were subjected in World War 1. The stoicism and bravery with which the men in the companies endured that most severe and prolonged of trials was inspirational and deserving of the highest praise.

In reply to this onslaught, the fire support the Commonwealth Division developed along the 2RAR front to engage the enemy movement was absolutely overwhelming. In addition to the planned artillery concentrations and the harassing and interdiction tasks of any battle, the divisional artillery fired in excess of 20 divisional targets at the maximum rate using Variable Time fuses against the massive Chinese concentrations as they approached dangerously close to the 2RAR positions. This meant 80 field guns were engaged. (At the time a US battery was available to allow the regiments to rest a battery at a time, as long as the resting battery remained with its guns in range for any emergency. The artillery otherwise got little respite during the long periods the division spent in the line.) The maximum rate was, as best I can recall, was 5 rounds per gun per minute. The VT fuses burst at a predetermined height above the ground and inflicted great damage to troops in the open. The effect of 400 of these special shells falling every minute in a confined area against closely massed troops is just too terrible to contemplate. Medium and heavy artillery units, mortars, tanks, and medium machine guns supplemented the field artillery. The direction and coordination of fire, through the Commander Royal Artillery and the artillery staffs, was well practiced and absolutely superb. It was an outstanding defensive battle and the defensive fire produced the devastating results already mentioned. This artillery battle was so much different to the solitary struggles without much support earlier in the war and at Kapyong. The brilliant attack at Maryang San showed the success, which could be gained using all arms when complete army formations are employed. The Hook in July 1953 represented the absolute culmination of those experiences.

While it is easy to see the Hook battle of July 1953 as a great artillery victory, built on the impregnable defence of 2RAR; old soldiers will know it does not tell the whole story. 2RAR was a good patrolling battalion; we are already aware of the quality of the junior leadership and of some of the reasons why there were such fine young men able to move so positively on the battlefield. The battalion's first tour in the line on the 159 feature in May/June 1953 was a tough introduction. The patrolling contests, particularly around the Mound, were testing for all ranks. Importantly, the battalion settled down and became very professional in the planning and conduct of its patrolling programs. Leaders at every level became familiar and were practiced with the precision and immediacy of the methods of employing and controlling fire then in use within the Commonwealth Division. Detailed target information and pre-registration of every feature on the battlefield, together with excellent and reliable communications, gave every patrol commander the ability to call for the divisional artillery if required, and, for that matter, every other weapon within range. That is to say the tank, machine gun and mortar targets were as carefully registered as the artillery and the whole was coordinated. Furthermore, the patrol commander would expect an immediate response. Remember too, by the time the battalion took over the Hook, most of the young platoon commanders and sergeants had completed 20 or 30 patrols, were competent and did not frighten easily. So it was; all of those difficult years, the handicaps of poor equipment and little training and a myriad of other things were redeemed on the battlefield. The soldiers rose to the occasion and made everyone look good. We all know that is what usually happens; we all hope battalions will be given a much more even opportunity if ever they have to go to war again.

Having said all that, it is only right to say that under George Larkin 2RAR was a very happy battalion. He was a nice man who genuinely cared for his soldiers. Without pretence in his associations, his easy way with them appealed, they liked him. No matter how hard things had been for him in the Command Post the night before; first light would find him out and around the companies in the trenches. All this was backed by considerable experience of war, a good tactical sense and unflappability, which was contagious. The team around him was an experienced one so the battalion was well led and administered; it was accustomed for all the things around it to be well done. Nor did the battalion suffer the discontinuity and erosion of individual relief. In short the battalion was tidy, lived well and had plenty of spirit.

As has already been mentioned, the battalion also knew how to work hard. The amount of the work to be done will not be clear to every reader .The state of the Hook defenses when the battalion took over could not have been worse. The Chinese artillery during the Duke of Wellington's battle had almost totally destroyed the defensive positions. In some places communication trenches, which had been 8 to 10 feet deep, were now ankle deep. Many of the fighting bunkers no longer served their purpose. The whole of the elaborate fixed line communication system had been destroyed and the position was functioning on a most fragile arrangement using assault cable. The defensive wire had alarming gaps and had to be replaced. The whole scene was desolate, boggy and smelly; everything was grey and covered with dust, just like those awful photographs of France 1914/18. The Kings, in the short time they were there, could do little more than reestablish the defensive perimeter. 2RAR virtually had to start again while under the threat of the ominous presence of the Chinese and at the height of the intensely humid Korean summer. Nothing could be left to chance. Even the defensive fire tasks were found to have lapsed into inaccuracy over the years, every task had to be re-registered. In two weeks of nonstop effort, day and night, virtually the whole defended position was rebuilt; trenches, bunkers, minefields and communications, everything. As one example, over 200 miles of signal cable were laid by hand. All the while the patrol battle raged and the shelling was a daily feature of life. It was truly a Herculean effort, completed just before the Chinese attacked again. The fact is that the fierce, sustained Chinese shelling flattened everything again on the first night of the battle, leaving the battalion to scramble through the next day to meet a repeat Chinese performance on night 2. Somehow the battalion rose to the challenge again, although it was a very tired battalion, which welcomed the Truce. It is hard to escape the conclusion that had the Chinese been able to follow their attack on the Duke's just a little quicker the result may have been different.

While talking about the spirit of the battalion I would be remiss if I did not make mention of the great delight everyone in 2RAR got from the band. No doubt many readers will find it at least passing strange for such a comment to appear in an article about a battalion which had been engaged in an obviously Homeric struggle. I know bands were taken away from battalions over 30 years ago as an essential economy, which the bureaucrats were able to impose with such delight and at no cost to themselves. All I can say is that the 2RAR band, under the energetic Bandmaster Fletcher, brought great joy and delight to all ranks in times of severe trial. A rendition of the favorite "Oopsie Do" was sufficient to have everyone smiling. Some things you just cannot measure or cost. 2RAR was a better battalion because of the band. It was a positively uplifting presence around the battalion.

We owe Bob Downey a debt of gratitude for reminding us of one of the Regiment's great battles. For once the outcome did not depend almost solely on the bravery and tenacity of a handful of ragged riflemen. This time the full armoury of a powerful and accomplished formation was deployed. On the tenacious defense of 2RAR the total power of the division was employed against an exposed, massed enemy. The combined power and precision of the divisional artillery absolutely and completely destroyed the enemy. Despite the enormity and horror of the enemy dead left on the field, we cannot claim it as a total victory because the Truce dramatically stopped everything in mid battle. It is hard to imagine what the Chinese would have done next. They would not have been able to go forward without adding to the slaughter; however, could they have just left the bodies there without attracting the opprobrium of the world? In any case they must have been totally exhausted. We will never know how they would have reacted. We still don't even know what they had hoped to achieve in their flurry on the eve of the Truce.

I share Bob's concern there is no specific regimental battle honor for the Hook; currently the generic, The Samichon, is judged to cover the battle. The battle in which 2RAR played such a significant part produced the only clear-cut victory achieved by either side in any of those torrid Hook battles. Since the two British regiments engaged in the earlier battles, The Black Watch and The Duke of Wellington's Regiment, each were awarded the singular battle honor, The Hook, it seems only proper The Royal Australian Regiment should be also rewarded for 2RAR's battle. Ironically the Samichon is not even emblazoned on the Regimental Color.

 

 

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