Hill 317 Counterattack

MK comments: Ron Cashman (#44) said: that this powerful photo was one of those given to him by Chinese officers he met during a visit to Beijing; that it is of a Chinese counterattack on Maryang-san (Hill 317) after it was wrested from the Chinese (in Oct 1951) largely due to the efforts of the Royal Australian Regiment; and, that the "blokes" in the photo were not welcome at the time.

I never saw Hill 317 from this looking south-southwest angle, at least not in the daytime; and, Hill 317 was back in Chinese hands by the first time I saw it, on 25 Dec 1951. I think, however, that I can identify some of the hills in the background of the photo. But, I'm too afraid of being embarrassed to do that until others have had their say in the matter. Opinions of others on the the subject are welcome and, if not too far astray from my own, will be added with mine below the photo.

I hope that all visitors to this page (even any Chinese visitor) appreciates the irony of the background music added only to honor the "mates" in the RAR who had to "entertain" the folks in the photo. I'm sure that neither side of the fracas wanted to waltz with the other. You can sing along to the Waltzing Matilda with a click on it.  MK.

MK later add-on (16 Aug 2001): I've mustered up the courage to take a stab at telling more about what I think is seen in this photo - subject of course to correction by anyone (whether of Chinese, GI, Commonwealth, or whatever extraction) who spent time on Hill 317.

The counterattack is from a direction roughly to the north-northwest of 317, the hill (in the right middle ground of the photo) which is the second tallest peak depicted. Behind and above 317 is the double-peaked (and, of course, taller) hill mass of the hill known as Kowang-san, Dagmar, Little Gibraltar, and/or Hill 355.

The photo is, I am sure, telescoped a bit. The Imjin River, which flows from left to right as seen here, is taking a very sharp turn to its port (to the south) as it disappears from view (downstream) in this photo. Therefore, and because of the telescoping effect, the Imjin passes on the other side of Hill 355 at a much greater distance from Hill 355, and there is a much greater distance between Hill 317 and Hill 355, than this photo would lead one to believe.

Just behind the chap on the left and to his left, you may make out what I believe to be Outpost Kelly and hand-high to his right is what I believe to be the smaller hill known to those in 1/15/3 as Breadloaf. The telescopic effect has shrunk the real distances of those hills a bit also.

Along the far bank of the Imjin and back upstream (to your left - easterly) from where the river disappears from view behind Hill 317, and on to a sharp northerly bend in the river just past Outpost Nori, is where the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) was located from late 1951 until, at least, most of 1952.

Yet a little farther across the Imjin, you may make out the height now known as Observation Post Typhoon, from whence the Outpost Kelly and Outpost Nori photos were taken.

J. C. Poe (#2) thinks that the counterattackers are standing or running on what we knew as Outpost Tessie. However, using Captain Pearson's Map, I think that their mistake is being made on another hill - in the area of what the Commonwealth troops knew as "The Hook". Hill 317 remained as a Chinese stronghold during my time along the Imjin. MK.

Ron Cashman (#44) email (14 Sep 2002): I recently learned that the Chinese notes for this photo say: "In the Maryang-san defensive action, soldiers of the 64th Corps of the Volunteers conducted a counterattack by backing up on the tunnel works."

Thus, that photo must have been taken at the time of their final counterattacks against 3RAR and before they gave a further attack away as a lost cause. This would have been their third or fourth go for that day and night, and it took place when we were almost out of ammunition. Had they only known! Ron.

MK even later add-on (15 Sep 2001): For personal reasons, I needed to have a confirmation that the hill appearing to be nearby and to the left of the Chinese soldier on the left was, just as I said above, Kelly, and that it was, in reality and just as I remembered, farther from the peak of Hill 317 than it appears to be in the photo. That confirmation would mean that my identification of Breadloaf was likewise correct. Also, I had wondered what (where) the Commonwealth guys were talking about when they mentioned hills 127, 199, 217, or 238. My needed confirmation and the answer to my puzzlement came from Ron Cashman (#44) and, primarily, from Owen "Reg" Kitchener (#41), who, in 1951, was on most and near all of those hills. Please read Reg's add-on just below. MK.

Owen "Reg" Kitchener (#41) add-on (15 Sep 2001): Yes, Mervin, Ron Cashman and I have studied and discussed this (telescoped) photo. I have put myself in the boots of the Chinese as they reach the top of Hill 317 and begin to look to the south. On their left front, they can now see Hill 199 about 500 yards away and a little to the right of the Imjin where it begins (hidden behind Hill 317 in the photo) another bend, this one to its left. Almost due south of Hill 317, at approximately 2000 yards, they would see Hill 238. Looking slightly to their right front they would see Hill 127 and, over its brow at a distance of maybe a little more than 2,000 yards, Hill 355. Looking a little more to their right front, they would see Hill 217 about 500 yards away. Reg.

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