Australia’s Unfaltering Commitment During the Korean War


The Korean War is just one of the few hostilities that Australian forces were engaged in throughout its history. After the UN failed to convince North Korea to cease its invasion of South Korea in late 1950s, the US acted by sending air and sea support to the beleaguered nation. The UN also asked the Security Council to assist South Korea. Twenty-one countries responded by providing ships, aircraft, medical teams, and troops. Australia contributed immediately by sending its force from Japan doing occupational duty under the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. These forces were the 77th Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force and the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.

Under the direct command of the World War II fame General Douglas MacArthur, the Australian forces helped in routing the North Korean Forces in Pusan up to the Yalu River that bordered between North Korea and Manchuria. The 3 RAR fought its first major engagement near the North Korean capital, 링크 Pyongyang. However, unknown to the UN forces, the Chinese communists secretly moved into position near them, then started their attack. The sheer number of Chinese soldiers swarmed over the numerically inferior UN forces, routing them back to the South.

Eventually, the South Korean capital fell once again to the invading Chinese forces. Fortunately, the long supply lines that needed to be maintained by the Chinese forces were kept under constant attack by UN air forces which helped in the collapse of the Chinese forces. Seoul was once again occupied by UN forces in mid-March of 1951. a month later, MacArthur was relieved of command but Australian commitment was unfaltering.

The 3 RAR was awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation after halting the attack of Chinese forces in Kapyong Valley in the night of 22 April 1951. Although their lines were overrun, the Australians held their positions and eventually regained their lost lines.

Another remarkable battle that involved Australian troops was Operation Commando. This operation was meant to capture a communist-held salient of the Imjin just north of Seoul. The main objectives of the Commonwealth Division which included the Australians were to capture Hills 355 and 317. The battle lasted for 5 days costing the Australians 25 dead and 89 wounded.

During the next 2 years, contributions of other countries were becoming limited except the Australians. Instead, Australia even increased its commitment by sending additional troops in the country. This was characteristic of Australians when called upon to help in stopping the spread of communism in Asia. The same commitment was shown during the Vietnam War about 10 years later.


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