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Army November 24, 2011
THE men of 3RAR along with their
British cousins from the King's
Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI)
and the King's Own Scottish
Borderers (KOSB) were ordered
to capture a line of hills on the
southern bank of the Imjin River
on October 3, 1951, as part of
the offensive known as Operation
On the scattered hills, compa-
ny and battalion-sized units from
the 19th Chinese Division awaited
Through the early morn-
ing mist 3RAR's B Coy moved
towards the first Chinese position
on Hill 119 in front of the mountain
known as Maryang San.
A few kilometres to the south,
the British regiments began their
attack on the hill Kowang San and
another unromantically dubbed
By mid-morning B Coy
had captured Hill 199 and
were relieved by A Coy before
Centurion tanks and machine-
guns came onto the hill to shoot
at Chinese across the valley on
The next morning the KSLI
had little trouble driving the
Chinese off Hill 227, while the
KOSB were having problems mov-
ing up Kowang San, so 3RAR's C
Coy was sent to assist.
C Coy attacked up a spur run-
ning east of Kowang San, drove
out the Chinese and made their
objective by 10am. They then
moved on and cleared the eastern
slopes despite having no orders
to do so.
Led by a bagpiper, the KOSB
simultaneously attacked up the
western side and the Chinese
abandoned Kowang San.
The Chinese had moved
extra troops onto the 200m-high
Maryang San by October 5 to try
and stop another hill being lost.
Earlier attempts by US forces
to capture Maryang San had
failed due to soldiers approaching
the steep eastern slopes across a
wide open valley raked by enfilade
fire.3RAR countered this with a
tactic called "running the ridges",
developed by soldiers fighting the
Japanese in New Guinea.
Due to previous attacks and
constant shelling, 3RAR was
down to just 320 men who faced
about 1200 Chinese defenders.
Through the morning mist, B
Coy swung around the right flank
and captured positions on the
lower slopes as D Coy came past
B and moved up the hill.
The mist suddenly lifted at
11.20am, leaving D Coy danger-
ously exposed half way to their
The approach surprised the
Chinese as D Coy closed to gre-
nade range and forced the enemy
out of several heavily entrenched
positions leading up the ridgeline.
A Coy made a diversionary
attack up Maryang San's south-
eastern spur that drew in Chinese
defenders who believed it was the
C Coy then moved around the
right flank, past B and D Coys and
closed in on the mountain peak.
The Chinese were well dug-in
but had no barbed wire to slow
down attackers and the undefend-
ed peak of Maryang San fell to D
Coy around 5pm.
On October 6, 3RAR came
together on top of Maryang San
and the Royal Northumberland
Fusiliers unsuccessfully attacked
one of the last Chinese positions
3RAR consolidated its position
by capturing the "Hinge" feature.
On the night of October 7 it was
subjected to waves of assaults as
the Chinese attacked in battalion
strength from the front and flanks.
The Australians fought back
with .303s, Bren guns and bayo-
nets until about 5am on October 8
when the Chinese finally gave up
As the sun rose over the bat-
tlefield, more than 120 Chinese
dead and wounded lay in front of
Chinese stretcher bearers
were later allowed to come and
collect their wounded.
During the battle, 20
Australians had been killed with
89 wounded in what was later
described as the "single greatest
feat of the Australian Army during
the Korean War".
Maryang San was later
recaptured by the Chinese after
Australian troops withdrew and
British troops took over.
THE BATTLE OF MARYANG SAN
On the ground: The catafalque party from Australia's Federation Guard
prepares to march off at the end of the 60th anniversary wreath-laying
ceremony in South Korea for the Battle of Kapyong.
Quiet time: Korean War veteran Kev Grayson walks around the United
Nations Memorial Cemetery in South Korea, visiting the graves of mates killed
during the war.
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