Battle of Maryang San

On 3-8 October, 1951 the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, took part in the Battle of Maryang-San, Korea.

The operation began on 3 October with a British assault on one of the other dominant features, Hill 355 (known as Kowang San or “Little Gibraltar”). On the morning of the 5 October, 3RAR attacked Hill 317 (Maryang San). The Australian force approached Hill 317 through rugged countryside at 4.00 am, under a heavy cloak of mist. At 10.00 am the mist began to lift, exposing the Australian advance.  However, the Chinese briefly hesitated before firing allowing 3RAR to capture the first line of defences.  The following morning 3RAR drove the Chinese from their position atop the hill, but had to resist enemy counter-attack.  The objective was secured on 6 October, after which the Australians assisted the British to take a lesser feature, Hill 217.  This was achieved on the morning of 8 October.  Australian casualties were 20 killed and 104 wounded.  More than 340 Chinese were killed or wounded.

The official historian for the Korean War, Robert O’Neill, wrote of this battle:

In this action 3RAR had won one of the most impressive victories achieved by any Australian battalion.  In five days of heavy fighting 3RAR dislodged a numerically superior enemy from a position of great strength. The Australians were successful in achieving surprise on 3 and 5 October, the company and platoon showed high courage, tenacity and morale despite some very difficult situations, such as that of D company when the mist rose on 5 October and those of B and C Companies when the weight of enemy fire threatened their isolation of Hill 317 on 7 October … The victory of Maryang San is probably the greatest single feat of the Australian Army during the Korean War.

By 5 November, after the Australians were withdrawn to recuperate, Maryang San had been recaptured by the Chinese and remained in the hands of Chinese forces for the rest of the war.