62nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMISTICE IN KOREA 27 JULY 1953 & ‘THE HOOK’ BATTLE 24-25 JULY 1953

Greetings to all our Korea veterans, and particularly our veterans of THE HOOK.

Today is the 62nd Anniversary of the commencement of the Armistice on the Korean peninsula on 27 July 1953 and the fourth and last battle of The Hook 24-25 July 1953.

korea-signing-1

Samichon Day and Korea Veterans’ Day Services will be held today, or have been held, in places around the nation including the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the Royal Australian Regiment Memorial, Regimental Square, Sydney, and at the Queensland Korean War Memorial, Broadbeach, Qld.

We wish each of you a special day of Remembrance of your Service and the Service and Sacrifice of your Mates, and remember – we will not forget you.

Leo Van De Kamp
President

THE KOREAN WAR Australia in the Giant’s Playground by Cameron Forbes, 2010

BRIGADIER JOHN WILTON, the Australian commander of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade, called his battalion commanders to an urgent conference at 6.15 the next evening, July 23: the signing of the armistice agreement was imminent; only patrols essential to the security of The Hook were to be sent out. The Australian official history records that Wilton told the commanders not to pass on this information to the men, but when several patrols were cancelled, speculation about the truce spread rapidly through the forward companies.

If the Chinese commanders were aware that the armistice was close, they remained aggressive even though any gains were likely to be insignificant, given that each side would have to withdraw two kilometres. On the night of July 25 they launched a furious attack on the American Marine positions. There was hand-to-hand fighting in some trenches and a storm of defensive small-arms and artillery fire from the Americans, the Australians and the New Zealanders onto the Chinese on the floor of the valley.

During the day the Australians had come under steady Chinese fire but at 11 pm the bombardment suddenly increased and for a time 30 shells a minute were exploding. At 3 am on July 26, the Chinese had exhausted themselves. The thunder stopped. In the early morning hours 20-year-old Kevin Cooper and 21-year-old Ron McCoy had died on The Hook.
At Green Finger outpost 19-year-old Leon Dawes was hit by a piece of shrapnel. It passed through his body. His only words were: ‘I’ve been hit in the back.’ Jimmy Petrie comforted him for the last three minutes of his short life.

In the morning, the Australians watched as Chinese stretcher-bearers, unmolested, searched for their living. Brigadier Wilton estimated there were 2000 to 3000 dead in front of The Hook and on the immediate approaches to 2 RAR’s position the carpet of bodies was sometimes two deep. 2 RAR had lost 17 on The Hook.

The armistice was signed. In some places the Chinese draped their front line with flags and festoons. They played propa¬¨ganda broadcasts mixed with music. They collected their dead and built funeral pyres. Some opposite The Hook signalled that they wanted to exchange gifts. Diggers walked into the valley of smoke, stench and burning bodies towards another of war’s strange meetings.

“Lest we forget”

“Second to None”

Gordon W. Hurford, AM
Secretary
2RAR Association, Inc
The National Association