Korean War

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The Korean War is the most recent of the Regiment’s battle honours. The communist North Korea made a sudden, surprise attack against the democratic South Korea in 1950, determined to remove the pro-Western ‘puppet’ government. The first bloody introduction to the Korean War for the Hong Kong Garrison was on the 8th July 1950 when five soldiers, including two Non-Commissioned Officers from The Middlesex Regiment, were killed whilst aboard HMS Jamaica during bombardment by enemy shore batteries off the east coast of Korea just north of the 38th Parallel.

The 1st Battalion The Middlesex Regiment joined 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as the first British Infantry battalions to arrive in the theatre of operations in August 1950. They became part of the 27th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade and the United Nations forces pledged to defend South Korea. In September they took part in the dramatic breakout from the Pusan Perimeter into which the United Nations forces had been forced to retreat, and crossed the Naktong River in a major assault operation gaining their objective and an MC for gallantry for Second Lieutenant Lawrence in the process. There were forty enemy dead on the position, whilst the Battalion sustained fourteen casualties. The Middlesex were reinforced by a draft of one officer and 135 other ranks from The Queen’s Royal Regiment to form their ‘C’ Company.

On 14th/15th February 1951 whilst leading the 27th Brigade advance northwards, the Battalion, under the command of Major ‘Roly’ Gwyn, standing in for Lieutenant Colonel Man who was commanding the Brigade at the time, took part in the key battle for Hill 112 at Chaun-ni. The enemy were driven from the Hill as night fell and the Battalion awaited the inevitable Chinese counter attack. This came at dawn the following morning and after heavy fighting the enemy were ejected by bayonet charge. As a result of this action, Private L Cobby, a stretcher-bearer with ‘A’ Company was awarded the Military Medal.

The Battalion remained on operations in Korea until May 1951, during which time they had to carry out assault, withdrawal, and defensive operations, often during extremely harsh winter conditions. During this campaign the Battalion suffered 136 killed and wounded.

The Battalion’s seven awarded honours far exceeded those awarded to other British units in the campaign. They included the DSO, awarded to the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel A M Man, and an MC for Second Lieutenant Reed. A number of individuals from other forebear regiments served on attachment to different units in Korea. Major General M F Reynolds CB, a Queensman later to become the last Colonel of The Queen’s Regiment, served as a platoon commander with 1st Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment.