Battle of Maehwa-San

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Battle of Maehwa-San
Part of the Korean War
Date 7–12 March 1951
Location Maehwasan, South Korea
Result United Nations victory
Belligerents
 United Nations  China
 North Korea
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Basil Aubrey Coad unknown

The Battle of Maehwa-San was a battle fought for control of the hills and area around Maehwasan mountain between the county of Hoengseong and the city of Wonju, between 7–12 March 1951, during the Korean War. The 27th British Commonwealth Brigade was tasked with eliminating the Chinese and North Korean forces occupying the area.

Prelude[edit]

The mountain was strategic for the continuing operations in the offensive known as Operation Ripper, and was 1,085 m (3,560 ft) in height.[1] The objective was known as "Operation Woodbine". The 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, led by Brigadier Basil Aubrey Coad, consisted of the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment, the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR).

Battle[edit]

Hill 410[edit]

The offensive began on 7 March with 3 RAR being tasked with capturing Hill 410.[2] "A" Company and "D" Company descended into the valley at 10:00 and crossed the open paddy fields under enemy fire across the Asi-Ri–Punsuwon Road and began to climb Hill 410. "A" Company climbed a third of the way up a spur before coming under heavy machine gun fire and light mortar fire and was pinned down. Calling for artillery and mortar support from 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery and the United States Army, "B" Company 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion, the fire support provided could not dislodge the entrenched machine gun and rifle pits.[3]

"D" Company which was climbing a spur parallel to the right of "A" Company and also found the going difficult.[2] At 15:00, D Company finally crossed the ridgeline.[3] Snowstorms began in the afternoon and hampered the evacuation of the wounded and "A" Company was able to advance. "B" Company then joined the two forward companies to consolidate the position. 3 RAR lost 12 killed and 24 wounded, while the 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion suffered two wounded. At 06:30 on 8 March, "B" Company secured the rest of Hill 410 without opposition after the enemy withdrew during the night.[3]

Hill 532[edit]

The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry secured Hill 532 and made contact with "B" Company, 3RAR on 8 March.[3]

Hill 390[edit]

The 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment and the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment began an advance on Hill 390 at 07:00 on 9 March and secured Hill 390 and other objectives without opposition.[3]

Hills 326 and 432[edit]

On 10 March, 3 RAR moved forward to capture Hill 326 and 432 overlooking the valley at the base of Maehwasan. The mountain consisted of a number of jagged ridges and its peak rose 1,500 ft (457 m) above the valley floor. The hills were occupied without opposition with the Chinese and North Korean forces withdrawing on 8 March to an area 5 kilometres to the north.[3]

Hills 703, 752 and 642[edit]

The 27th British Commonwealth Brigade launched a simultaneous attack against Hill 703, Hill 752 and Hill 642. The 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment was tasked with the capture of Hill 752, 3RAR Hill 703 and 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Hill 642.[3]

At 09:00, the 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment secured the foothills that dominated the immediate area of the valley and the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment captured Hill 353 without opposition. While forming up for the attack 3RAR's headquarters received light mortar fire from the right flank without suffering any casualties.[3] As "A" Company and "C" Company 3RAR moved towards Hill 435 across the valley floor, "A" Company came under heavy fire from the village of Chisan to the right.[2] The ROK 6th Division had failed to attack as ordered with the result that the right flank of the brigade was exposed. 2 Platoon from "A" Company assaulted the village of Chisan, killing 30 enemy soldiers, before heavy mortar and machine gun fire forced the platoon to withdraw. "A" Company suffered two killed and seven wounded.[3]

"C" Company 3RAR had continued towards its objectives, and by 15:00 was pinned down just below the ridgeline of Hill 703 and remained in the position throughout the night.[3] The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and 1st Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment were able to secure Hill 642 and Hill 752 without opposition. With the ROK 6th Division still not having moved forward, "C" Company 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment protected 3RAR's right flank.[3]

On 12 March, "C" Company had moved onto the crest and advanced to Hill 703 at 06:30. "B" Company and "D" Company 3RAR, moved up to consolidate the newly captured Hill 703, which had been abandoned hurriedly during the night.[2] The United States 7th Marine Regiment moved forward and secured the right flank of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

From 13 March, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade was relieved by the 5th Cavalry Regiment and moved to the reserve area at the harbour near Chipyong-ni.[3] The Australians had suffered 14 killed and 39 wounded.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ An 2003, p.203.
  2. ^ a b c d Odgers 2009, pp.62–63.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, War Diary – March 1951.

References[edit]

  • Odgers, George (2009). Remembering Korea: Australians in the War of 1950–53. Chatswood: New Holland Publishers (Australia). ISBN 978-1-74110-807-1.