The Battle of Maryang San

The Battle of Maryang San was fought on 3-8 October 1951. It is described in the official history as the greatest single feat of the Australian Army during the Korean War.

31 January 2020

On 3 October 1951 the 28th Commonwealth Brigade, including 3 RAR, took part in a general advance called Operation Commando.

On 5 October, while British regiments attacked further west, 3 RAR fought through difficult terrain under a heavy mist in a successful attempt to draw the Chinese away from the main ridgeline.

In a series of fights, 3 RAR managed to occupy the summit. On 7 October they had captured ‘The Hinge’ where Chinese forces were located. Once the Hinge was captured, the Australians were subjected to a heavy bombardment from Chinese artillery, the worst Australians had experienced in the war so far. This made the evacuation of casualties and the resupply of ammunition difficult.

The Chinese were unsuccessful in their counter-attacks, conceding defeat on the morning of 8 October 1951 and withdrew to a position in the next line of hills, securing the Australians’ hold on Maryang San.

Following the Battle

The conflict had now taken on a largely defensive character and both sides now found themselves engaged in a war of attrition, where men lived and fought under conditions reminiscent of those on the Western Front during the First World War.

Men lived in tunnels, dugouts and sandbagged forts behind barbed wire fences for the remaining two years until the signing of an armistice in 1953.

Of the Australians who served in the Battle of Maryang San, 20 died, and 104 were wounded.

The Korean War

The Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when communist North Korea launched an invasion of South Korea.

The Australian Government quickly became involved in the war, committing personnel from the Navy, Army and Air Force to fight as part of a United Nations force.

Fighting in the Korean War ended with the signing of an armistice on 27 July 1953. Post-armistice, Australian forces remained in Korea in a peace-keeping role until 1957.

More than 18,000 Australians sailors, soldiers and airmen served during the Korean War, including some 50 nurses. Of those more than 1500 were injured, 340 killed, 30 taken prisoner and 43 who are still listed as missing in action.

The USA lost more than 36,000 people. Millions of Korean and Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed.

North and South Korea still remain in a state of conflict today.

Fast facts

Battle of Maryang San

  • 3-8 October 1951

Major units

  • 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR)

Casualties

  • 20 Australians died
  • 104  Australians were wounded

Specific medals

  • The Korea Medal
  • The United Nations Service Medal (Korea)
  • The Australian Active Service medal 1945-75 clasp Korea
  • The Australian General Service Medal Korea

Commemorations – Korean War dead

  • United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Busan, Korea – 281 Australians are buried there.  43 Commemorated at the Memorial to the Missing
  • 10 Australian war dead from Korea are buried at the Yokohama War Cemetery in Japan, in the Post-War Plot 
  • 11 Commemorated in Australia

More information

https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/