Four Maryang-san Photos

MK note: Ron Cashman (#44) gracefully accepted an emergency draft to do the commentary re the four photos (out of the Chinese Photo Album he honestly acquired) on this page. So, all of the comments below (only slightly edited) are by him (except for some notes and "add-ons" inserted by me) as collected by me from various emails he was kind enough to send.

If your audio player handles what is designated as AU music on the site where I "pinched" it, and if you just read on for a while as the photos download, you will hear Meihua Jinxingqu (Plum Blossom March) sung in Chinese by a Chinese chorus. The plum blossom is (or at least was) the national flower of China. MK.

             Charlie Chinaman's Gunpowder Plot
According to the Chinese notes, this photo was taken while the Chinese brass was running a counter-attack on 317; and, I have no doubt that it was taken wherever their regimental HQ or their divisional HQ was located at the time.

That being the case, it must have been taken, not when the 3RAR held 317, but later and during an attack against a unit of the KOSB, known to some as the "Ladies from Hell" and to us as brothers-in-arms of the RAR.

My reasoning for that conclusion is simple - now for the facts on which my reasoning is based.

The Chinese lost a complete regiment when 3 RAR fell on them in the battle for 355 during which we helped the Kosbies capture it; and then, after our capture of 317 and surrounds, the Chinese were severely mauled again, especially during their efforts to remove B Co from "The Hinge" on the night of the 7 Oct 1951. After all that, was no way any Chinese General Staff were sitting around in any HQs. They had just lost their Regiment 571 and Regiment 573 of their Division 191 - and also any of their command bunkers in the area to boot.

Actually, for some mysterious reason, B Co advanced a further 2000 yards forward of The Hinge (on about the 11th) and stuck out like a shag on a rock - in Charlie's back yard, no less. Luckily, our divisional commander (bless him) overruled this rush of blood to some officer's head and withdrew us the next day - to the delight of all the diggers.

So, the RAR had control of 317, The Hinge, and the surrounding areas. We remained in this area for a few weeks and then were replaced by the KOSB battalion. We were moved out to an allegedly "quieter area" for a supposed "rest". The "quiet" area was nearby to the east and in a bend in the Imjin River and included the hill that our 3rd Infantry Division mates came to know (at about the same time) as Outpost Nori. Of course, the Chinese were not told it had to be a quiet area though.

Not long after we were replaced by the KOSB battalion, on a date I can't recall but which will be well remembered by any KOSB mate in our IBB, the Chinese launched a tremendous artillery and rocket barrage and a massive and savage attack on 317. I watched from our new positions as the rockets flew over our heads and landed on our Jock mates. I think the attack took them by surprise. Our mates were overwhelmed and lost possession of the hill and surrounds.

So, I would think that this photo must have been taken during that battle. These officers don't have the appearance of those who have just had their division splattered over the Korean landscape.

There was talk of the 3RAR going back to retake the bloody place, seeing as we knew it so well I expect! Rumor has it our CO gave a resounding "Bullshit" to that proposal.

Even though we had to hang on to 355 as the lynch pin to the region, our lot saw the stupidity of trying to recapture 317. So, Charlie held Hill 317 from then until the shooting stopped in 1953 and it remains in North Korea even until this day (18 Aug 2001).

                      Captured Kosbies
The caption for this photo merely stated "prisoners following 317" or some such thing. Going by the cap badge being worn by the unhappy lad in front, these lads are Kosbies. My guess (and it could be corrected by a KOSB veteran of the time) is that these lads were probably part of the forward platoon which was rolled up by Charlie in a devil of a hurry.

We heard via the toilet rumors that, after the barrage, Charlie was all over these blokes like a heat rash and they stood no chance. You can see they are quite clean and their clothing is in good nick, so one has to assume the shit hit the fan before they had a chance.

These were no shrinking violets, our Kosbie mates, as we well knew from their having fought with us through Operation Commando not long before hand. Lord help the misguided fool who thinks the Jocks aren't fighters. My suggestion is don't try them out. So, unless it is proved otherwise, I believe this group never had the time to defend themselves properly and fell into a two year " holiday " up north.

{MK note: It is fortunate that "... a KOSB veteran of the time ... " is in our Bunker right now. He is Bill Ballinger (#38). He has told a tale (you may click on and read) about the loss of Hill 317 as a result of what the Kosbies referred to as "Charlie Chinaman's Gunpowder Plot"carried out on the night of 4/5 Nov 1951, the anniversary of the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot against the British Parliament. Bill has sent me some photos and newspaper clippings; so, I expect you'll be hearing more about the events that took place that night on Hill 317. John Doherty, the son of Robert Doherty (#35), has told us that his father also mentioned Charlie Chinaman's Gunpowder Plot. MK.}

{MK late late late note (8 Nov 2001): J. C. M. ("Johnny") Johnston (#43) arrived at the Hq of the 1st Bn of the KOSB on 4 Nov 1951 - and only about two hours before the Chinese attack on Hill 317 began. Early in the morning of 6 Nov 1951 he took command of the remnants of the 11 Platoon of Company D. So, he knows whereof he speaks about the results of Charlie Chinaman's Gunpowder Plot. MK.}

{Email add-on by "Johnny" Johnston (#43) -
(8 Nov 2001):
Merv, your site is excellent - I log on virtually every day and learn something more of the reality of that time as opposed to what one reads in the "Official" books.

Re the photo: The 4th Platoon was overrun in the first 30 minutes of the battle and practically none of them got out. There are 11 in the photo and we are publishing it in our Regimental Magazine in Jan 02 and asking for identifications, date/time photo was taken, etc. Personally, I think the photo to be genuine, but propaganda. I say this because the lads are all clean and "scrubbed up". It is possible that the photo was taken the day after the battle - note NONE of them are looking AT the camera. I will give you the result of our enquiries as and when.

On a different tack, thanks for wishing me a better Guy Fawkes Day this year. I had a very good Guy Fawkes!! Johnny.}

                          A Tank for the Memory
A funny photo this one - to me it's of a "phantom" tank destroyer because the Chinese notes allege that the photo is of Tank Number 402 which was operated at Maryang-san and destroyed six tanks.

Quite plainly, the tank is hull down and well camouflaged, and the terrain looks right for that area in those times.

My main problem with this photo is that I don't recall us losing any tanks at all in the battle for Maryang-san, let alone six of the beasts.

The Irish Hussars were our stalwart tank friends there, pounding the hell out of Charlie from inside their Centurions and they would have been very browned off at losing one, let alone six. Actually, in 1952 on The Bowling Alley, one of the brutes was hull down on our hill. Charlie got cheesed off for some reason and hammered it all day. The tank registered 17 hits for that day, a fact spoken of by American tankers to this present time. Total damage was a tool box blown off, a lot of burnt paint, the crew with blinding headaches and, worst of all, a platoon of the RAR totally and utterly pissed off about it being in their spot. Thus I find it hard to swallow the six tanks yarn.

{MK note: I envision this tank as being located on the northeast (reverse) slope of 317 and aimed over the crest of 317 towards Little Gibraltar. Maybe that the hill in the right background is Cavite and/or the hill from whence the Hill 317 Counterattack was launched. Later on, we may learn the meaning of the 402 designation. MK.}

{E-mail add-ons by Owen "Reg" Kitchener (#41) -
(24 Aug 2001):
With reference to Ron's report that the Chinese claimed that Tank 402 destroyed six Centurion tanks. The 8th Hussars did lose six tanks, but not during the time frame or in the manner claimed. The six tanks were destroyed by a called in air strike during the Battle of the Imjin River (Apr 1951). The air strike was called for when the tanks could not be recovered because of the withdrawal of the 29th Bde after its break out from a Chinese encirclement.  (26 Aug 2001): Merv, I have been talking to a Tank Gunner of the 8th Hussars tonight to verify the loss of the six Centurion Tanks during the Imjin Battle of April 1951. His name is John Lovatt, and he told me that all six tanks were commanded by sergeants and gave me their names. Because of a lack of maintenance during the battle, four tanks shed their tracks, one tipped over a bank nose first into a deep trench and got stuck, and the sixth one had its gears stuck in reverse. Now we know why they could not be recovered. John says their loss had nothing to do with the air strike except that the US Air Force thought the Chinese had captured the tanks and attacked them with napalm and rockets. I hope this clears up the Chinese claim that they knocked them out. Reg.}

   Self Propelled (SP) and Special Problems (SP)
I don't know anything about this particular pair of self propelled guns (SP guns). They came in a range of sizes and this duo is  formidable enough for me, thank you.

We found that SP guns had the annoying habit of 'living' in a cave, popping out long enough to give us a serve, then darting back out of sight.

Any who have read "Ham Sandwich" will know of their telling effect on the battered warriors of 3ID near our hideaway on the Imjin - a nasty piece of work to come up against, but so is a bullet in the wrong place.

{MK note: Could this shot also have been at the base of 317 and at a spot on the more easterly side of 317? That could be Cavite in the background again. That would make the far SP to be pointed in the general direction of Kelly, Nori, and the 1/15/3 MLR across the Imjin. Here is another link to the "Ham Sandwich" tale of which Ron speaks. MK.}

{E-mail add-on by Owen "Reg" Kitchener (#41) -
23 Aug 2001: Merv, here's an amazement for you: Guess what? My unit may have come across an SP that is in this photo. Just before Operation Commando, we went on a deep penetration patrol with the 3 RAR as back up for withdrawal - you can see a photo of that patrol on my home page. I looked through my bino's and spotted this big SP coming at us from approximately 1000 yards. It stopped and fired at us but was way out. With our mortars in line to him and sights set at 1000 yards, we let rip with about five bombs from each mortar. When that shit dropped around him, he took off, and we did likewise by taking off to a nearby re-entrant to hide. I tell you this because it may very well be that the particular SP that put the fear of God into us IS one of the two in this photo. The Chinese did not have many SPs as big as these. Reg}

{MK note (24 Aug 2001): Some in the Bunker and Bart Soto, a friend of the IBB, have suggested that these two SPs may be captured US vehicles. The operatives are working and, if that suggestion can be checked out, you will be told about it below. MK.}

{E-mail add-on by Owen "Reg" Kitchener (#41) -
27 Aug 2001: Merv, thank's for you patience. Now. for what it is worth and you can quote me, being an ex-BQMS, Gunner,  and old Copper, each of those SPs was captured and has a 155mm howitzer mounted on a "Chaffee" Light Tank chassis. Now, Merv, for the end of your story.  Reg.}

{MK late notes -
27 Aug 2001: Taking into account the impeachable nature of Reg's sources, being the guys and mates who were there, I guess this IS the end of the SP mystery except to say that I also learned, from Reg and others: that both the 82nd Arty Bn of the 1st Cav Div and the 12th Arty Bn of the 2nd Inf Div had this type of 155mm Howitzer. The end of the story about these two SPs and how they affected the guys of the 15th Inf Rgt will have to be told on other pages of the IBB or elsewhere. Ron's "Ham Sandwich" tale tells part of that story. 28Aug 2001: Well, there is now an identity confirmation just below here. MK.}

{E-mail add-on by J. C. Poe (#2) in response to E-mail from Owen "Reg" Kitchener (#41) -
28 Aug 2001:
What interests me most is your mention of the the 82nd Arty Bn. On my 2nd tour of duty to Korea, I was in the HHB 82nd Arty as LN Sgt-Air Observer and FO instructor for new Recon Sgts and Fresh 2nd Lts fron Ft Sill. When I looked at the SP photo, I decided that the SP guns were definitely 155mm Howitzers. I don't know if I told anyone that (maybe Merv) - no problem with remembering things before 1970 but it gets fuzzy after that. On that 2nd tour by me, the 82nd Arty was sent to, of all places, an Imjin area which had Nori and the valley to its left as the impact area of our fire. Can you imagine what went through my mind as I gazed down (eleven years after the fact) on the home of Merv, me, and several others in the Bunker during the winter of 1951-1952? J.C.}

{MK late late note (1 Sep 2001): Well, as I might have guessed, the story about the identity of the two SPs didn't end there. There was much back and forth about the specifics of their identity and, then, Sherwin ("Arc") Arculis (#6), maybe the best mystery solver in the Bunker, got bugged by this particular mystery. So, Arc did these things: researched some web pages about military weapons; calculated that 8 inches equals 203mm and that 155mm equals only 6.10 inches; decided that each of the guns in this photo looked more like a 155mm gun but seemed big enough to be the 8" monster; made contact with his own sources for information, including an old buddy named Ron Cox; and, emailed me thusly: "Ron Cox, FYI, was one of the stellar Arty guys at Fort Sill while I was stationed there after the war. We were not only neighbors, but flew model planes together. He had one of the primary arty bns and was the test best for the 2nd generation computer controlled fire direction systems. " Then, Arc took what he learned from Ron Cox and, after doing yet more research and having much back and forth with both Ron Cox and Reg Kitchener (#41), came up with a solution to the puzzlement about the identity of the two SPs captured by the Chinese and pictured above - each is an M41 155mm SP Motor Gun Carrage. Click on thart link to see a spec page but, basically, the M41 is an M1 155mm howitzer mounted on an M24 "Chaffee" chassis (atta way to go Reg!!!). That spec page says, "The M41 saw extensive action in the Korean War, most notably with the 92nd Armored Field Artillery Bn (Red Devils). It was employed with devastating effects and remained in service until the mid 1950's, when it was finally retired from service." You may click on that 92nd home page link to see photos of the M41 in action. The 92nd saw a lot of action alongside of the 3rd Inf Div and you'll probably hear more about that in these pages. MK.

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