The war diary of 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), provides a crucial perspective on the battle of Maryang San; it is one of the few official documents held at the Australian War Memorial that relates to Australia’s involvement in this momentous Korean War battle. The war diary gives a detailed account, including a summary of the operation, daily unit locations, descriptions of climate and topographical conditions, casualties, statistics, and a summary of the lessons learned.
The battle of Maryang San was part of a United Nations Command offensive codenamed Operation Commando, which aimed to adjust the UN lines before the onset of winter by pushing back Chinese communist forces in rugged mountain country north of the 38th Parallel. The operation began on 3 October 1951 with a British assault on one of the two dominant features, Hill 355 (Kowang San).
At 4 am on the 5th, 3RAR attacked the other feature, Hill 317 (Maryang San). The Australian force approached Hill 317 through rugged countryside, under a heavy cloak of mist. At 10 am, the mist began to lift, exposing the Australian advance. However, the communists briefly hesitated before firing, which allowed 3RAR to capture the first line of defences in a fierce burst of fighting. The next morning 3RAR drove the communist forces from their position atop the hill, but they had to resist an enemy counter-attack, and it was 5 pm before the position was secured. This action was one of the Australian Army’s most outstanding feats since the end of the Second World War.
War diaries represent the largest series in the Research Centre’s Official Records collection. They record the daily activities of army headquarters, formations, and units while on active service. These unique records form the backbone of the Research Centre’s collections and provide invaluable primary source material for the study of Australian military history.