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There was a sudden and fundamental restructuring among the 3 RAR command personnel at this point in the battle. At dawn of 24 April, the PVA intensified their attack on the headquarters' perimeter, killing and wounding the bulk of the Medium Machine Gun section and the Assault Pioneer Platoon and driving them off the higher ground they had been occupying, although A Company remained in full command of the hill.[66] By 05:00, Ferguson was concerned that the PVA from the direction of the hill could eventually develop the potential to fire towards battalion headquarters. Ferguson made the decision to withdraw 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) away from the battlefield to a new position to the rear, inside the Middlesex perimeter. However, Ferguson did not communicate with his company commanders regarding his decision to relocate, and O'Dowd and other officers were surprised in the morning to find that Ferguson had apparently disappeared. With Ferguson's departure from his field HQ, O'Dowd, as the senior company commander, assumed field command of 3 RAR, which Ferguson confirmed to O'Dowd by radio communication.[67] Ferguson's absence from the battlefield and the intermittent nature of communications with his field officers made it increasingly difficult for him to communicate, monitor, and control his units on the battlefield.




Among Us - V3.rar



Stone would later complain of the sudden disappearance of the U.S. artillery support, "when the battle got hot on the Australian front, the Forward Observation Officer for the US mortars on my front walked out and never a pop did we get from his company."[112] The two U.S. artillery companies had fled on foot, leaving their mortars, guns, supplies, and 50 loaded trucks plus other vehicles behind on the battlefield. The two U.S. mortar companies then hiked and traversed 10 miles (16 km) to the east before resting, apparently convinced that a major PVA breakthrough was imminent at Kapyong.[113] Stone later bitterly observed that among some of the UN forces, "bug-outs were the accepted manner of withdrawing."[114] With the departure of the U.S. tanks and artillery support, and the forced retreat of the 3 RAR battalion, Stone's command was now surrounded and cut off from their possible supply routes and would be reliant upon existing supplies and ammunition. Each of the four 2 PPCLI companies was allocated two Vickers medium machine guns, as well as three 60-millimetre (2.4 in) mortars. Defensive fire tasks were registered, while additional ammunition was pushed out to the forward companies in the afternoon.[91]


As darkness descended on 24 April, Burke, commanding officer of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade, decided not to utilize radio contacts with 2 PPCLI headquarters on the summit of Hill 677. Burke ordered a Douglas Dakota aircraft equipped with loudspeakers and personally flew over the 2 PPCLI positions on Hill 677.[115] He announced to the soldiers below that they were now on their own, cut off from any support and would have to fight the coming battle alone. He wished them good luck and encouraged them to fight bravely. He then flew back to Brigade HQ, amidst derisive response from the unsettled soldiers. Burke's brief appearance over the battlefield served to cause further apprehension among the 2 PPCLI.[116] Many of the less experienced 2 PPCLI soldiers voiced a desire to run and abandon the position. Veteran war hero Tommy Prince played a central role in steadying and motivating the frightened men.[117] Stone and 2 PPCLI could no longer expect that 27th Brigade HQ forces would continue to engage the enemy or would assemble a relief column to break through the PVA stranglehold on the supply road at Tungmudae. Stone was never in any doubt as to the essential strategic significance of Hill 677 for the UN forces and he issued a straightforward order to his battalion, "No retreat, no surrender."[118][119]


Unable to move north, the KPA attempted to escape across the open rice fields to the west, through the gap between the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade and 3/187 ABN.[36] The KPA again suffered heavy casualties, with many cut down by tank and rifle fire from C Company, 3 RAR.[25] Some of the survivors took refuge among a number of haystacks and rice stooks in front of 9 Platoon, from where they engaged the Australians with sniper fire. Others fled east, escaping to the higher ground where they dispersed.[37] D Company, 3 RAR, was ordered to clear pockets of resistance remaining within the battalion position.[36] Meanwhile, 1 MR passed through the Australians and with the tanks linked up with 3/187 ABN at 11:00.[26] Following three hours of fighting the battle was largely over by midday; however, many of the KPA that had been unable to escape continued to refuse to surrender, hiding or feigning death until individually flushed out.[36] After clearing their objectives 7 and 8 Platoon had moved forward towards 9 Platoon, which then clashed with a number of KPA stragglers in the paddy fields.[37] C Company, 3 RAR, deployed in an extended line and a substantial action soon developed. In a scene Coad later likened to driving snipe, the Australians proceeded to sweep the area, kicking over stacks of straw and shooting the KPA soldiers they found hiding in them as they attempted to flee.[36][43] For his leadership, Lieutenant Butler was awarded the US Silver Star, while Private John Cousins received the US Bronze Star for his role in the action.[44][45]


It was a shambles. Rifles and equipment lay scattered everywhere, among burnt-out carriers and smouldering trucks. Dead Englishmen lolled behind shattered steering wheels, and rows of holes in the vehicles showed the line of enemy machine-gun fire. Short Chinese cartridge-cases littered the area. Dead men lay in profusion, sightless eyes staring up to the sky. It was definitely depressing. The thought occurred-`That dead man, but for the grace of God, is me'. There was not a single enemy body. It is nerve racking to see only your own dead, for it gives the impression of disastrous defeat. Of course, the Reds had removed their own dead, as they always did. (7)


Second, Private H. W. Madden, a signaller attached to the battalion headquarters, suffered concussion at the time of the withdrawal. In the darkness and confusion he was left behind and was soon captured. He resisted Chinese and North Korean attempts to make him collaborate and earned a wide reputation amongst other Commonwealth and allied prisoners for his refusal to bend his spirit in any way. Testimonials provided by many of his fellow prisoners indicate that he displayed outstanding courage during his captivity. Brutal punishments, including repeated savage beatings, were inflicted on him because of his defiance, but Madden remained cheerful and optimistic. Although deprived of food because of his conduct, he shared his meagre supplies with other prisoners who were sick. It must have been clear to Madden that this course would eventually result in his death through malnutrition. He was undeterred and for over six months, although growing steadily weaker, he remained undaunted in his resistance. He died of malnutrition on 6 November 1951 and was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his exemplary conduct. (17)


At 7. 15 a.m. Laughlin was ordered to move between C and D Companies to form a complete battalion perimeter on the high ground of Hill 504. Before departing, B Company men counted 173 Chinese dead on their perimeter and in the valley. A clearing patrol which Laughlin had sent out at 6 a.m. under Warrant Officer II Eric Bradley, the Company Sergeant Major, had captured thirty-nine prisoners and they had to be taken to the new position also. During preparations for the withdrawal, which included the laying of a smokescreen by the New Zealanders, enemy pressure increased on the western flank and B Company suffered its first casualty of the battle when one man was wounded in the arm. Laughlin ordered 6 Platoon to move first, followed by 4 Platoon, the machine-gun section and company headquarters. No. 5 Platoon was to hold the hill until the other two platoons had reached C Company and then cross the open valley. The whole withdrawal was covered by the platoon of American tanks which was still with the company. The company vehicles, onto which eight seriously wounded Chinese had been loaded, were escorted back to the Middlesex position by the tanks, which then occupied the ground immediately below C Company. Throughout the withdrawal B Company exchanged shots with Chinese who were hiding in broken ground, on small rises around Muktun-ni and in the river-bed. The prisoners were divided into groups and dispersed amongst the rifle sections for easier control. The company passed some horrifying sights as it crossed the bodystrewn valley. The prisoners repeatedly pointed at the bodies of their comrades who had been blown to pieces.


His unit must have been a reflection of him, his officers and non-commissioned officers. I observed him personally on our forays into and out of the area of the encircled Australian soldiers, during which time Colonel Ferguson was calm, acted like he was in total command of the situation, and that his organisation would triumph. He demonstrated great concern for his wounded and his encircled men and had no apparent regard for his personal safety. He exposed himself to enemy fire by getting out of the tank, speaking to the wounded, and walking among his troops as if it was just a practice drill back in Australia. (25)


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On 16 April, 1 ATF was advised of a change to operational priorities, with top priority given to eradicating the VC presence and influence among the civilian populations, followed by the upskilling of the South Vietnamese military forces. These programs were known as Pacification and Vietnamization respectively as part of the Winning Hearts And Minds strategy being undertaken by the Americans. 1 ATF would be increasingly called upon to provide support to a number of civil community reconstruction projects and assist in the training of South Vietnamese forces. 041b061a72


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