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Korea - 1951-53


Following the Battles of Imjin River and Kapyong, the front line stablised north of Soeul and, on 10 July 1951, peace negotions began. The war became trench warfare with patrols and skirmishes in no-mans-land and occassional large offensives.

In early October 1951, the UN forces launched an operation aimed at driving the Chinese back 10 kilometres from the 38th parallel. As part of this operation Australians fought the Batle of Maryang San.

The Battle of Maryang San

Autralian machine gunners
Autralian machine gunners

Maryang San was a steep hill from which Chinese forces controlled a valley below.

In heavy mist on 5 October, after a series of bitter fights, D Company 3RAR captured four knolls along the ridgeline. C Company then captured the summit which the Australians held throughout the next day despite heavy fire and repeated attackes by the Chinese.

Early on 7 October, after more fierce fighting, B Company captured the final objective, a high point on the ridge west of the summit

All next day and night, the Chinese bombarded the Australian positions, making resupplies of ammunition and the evacuation of casualties difficult. The Chinese finally withdrew on 8 October.

20 Australians had been killed and 89 wounded. It was estimated that the Australians had destroyed at least 2 Chinese batallions.

The Australians were relieved by British troops but the Chinese retook Maryang San a month later.

In October 1951, the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney arrived in Korean waters.

On 1 December 1951, 12 Gloster Meteor jets of the RAAF's No. 77 Squadron were attacked by 40 to 50 Chinese MiG-15s. The Australians claimed at least 10 MiGs were shot down for the loss of 3 Australian aircraft.

In April 1952, the 1st Batallion RAR joined 3RAR. 1RAR was replaced by 2RAR in April 1953.

On 24 July 1953, hoping to gain advantage as peace talks were nearing their conclusion, the Chinese launched a large-scale attack against the US 1st Marine Division. During the action, the Chinese tried to break through the boundary between the US Marines and the Commonwealth Division.

The Battle of the Samichon River

New Zeaaland artillery in action
New Zeaaland artillery

On the night of 24 July, waves of about 4,000 Chinese attacked C Company 2RAR which was nearest the US Marines' position. The attacks were repelled mainly by heavy, well-coordinated artillery fire from the 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery and British Centurion tanks.

On the following night, the Australian positions were heavily shelled but not directly attacked. A bunker on the Australian flank and a machine gun platoon located with the US Marines were engaged in heavy fighting during Chinese attacks on the Marines.

In the battle, between 2,000 and 3,000 Chinese were killed; 17 Australians were killed and 31 wounded; 43 Americans were killed and 316 wounded.

The next day, the Armistice was signed with both sides withdrawing 2 kilometres.

A cease-fire was established on 27 July 1953, by which time the front line was back to the proximity of the 38th parallel. A demilitarised zone (DMZ) was established around it.

Troop levels:  
North Korean and Chinese 1,200,000
South Korean and UN 1,100,000