The military history of Australia during the Korean War was very eventful. Japan's defeat in World War II heralded the end to 35 years of Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula. The surrender of Japan to the Allied forces on 2 September 1945 led to the peninsula being subsequently divided into North and South Koreas, with the North being occupied by troops from the Soviet Union, and the South, below the 38th Parallel, being occupied by troops from the United States.
The Soviet forces entered the Korean peninsula on 10 August 1945, followed a few weeks later by the American forces who entered through Incheon. US Army Lieutenant General John R. Hodge formally accepted the surrender of Japanese forces south of the 38th Parallel on 9 September 1945 at the Japanese General Government Building in Seoul.
Although both rival factions tried initially to diplomatically reunite the divided nation, it was the Northern faction that eventually decided to try and do so with military force. Troops from the Soviet backed Korean People's Army (KPA) crossed the 38th Parallel on 25 June 1950 beginning a civil war.
The invasion of South Korea came as a surprise to the United Nations. The same day the war had officially begun (25 June), the United Nations Security Council immediately drafted UNSC Resolution 82, which called for:
The Liberal government of Australia, led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies, immediately responded to the UN resolution by offering military assistance. 17,000 Australians served in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, and they suffered 339 dead, and 1200 wounded.
With the commitment of Australian forces to the Korean War, the Australian government called for 1000 men who had prior military experience in World War II to enlist in the army for three years, with one year of overseas service in Korea. They were called Korean Force or K-Force. A portion of the force were recruited in Great Britain. At the end of their enlistment, personnel recruited from the United Kingdom could elect to be discharged in Australia, or returned to the UK. Their previous military experience would facilitate rapid deployment to Korea.
KPA forces continued south toward the port of Pusan, a strategic goal. In two days, the United States offered assistance and the UN Security Council asked its members to help repel the attack under the auspices of the United Nations Command headed by the US. Australia promptly contributed No. 77 Squadron RAAF and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), both of which were stationed in Japan under the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF).
No. 77 Squadron converted to P-51D Mustang fighters before arriving in Japan in February 1946 to participate in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Occupation duties proved uneventful, and No. 77 Squadron was preparing to leave Japan for Australia when the Korean War broke out. 77 Sqn was quickly dispatched to Korea, where they became the first UN air unit to enter the war, primarily in ground support, combat air patrol and escort missions.
3 RAR was rapidly committed as Australia's main land force contribution to the UN forces. After a period of intensive training and reinforcement in Japan, the battalion arrived in South Korea in late September 1950. The battalion formed part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade and took part in the UN offensive into North Korea and the subsequent UN retreat from North Korea following the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA) offensive in the winter of 1950–51. It was one of three units to receive the Presidential Unit Citation (US) after the Battle of Kapyong.
In addition to combat personnel, the Australian military provided the majority of supply and support personnel to BCOF, which was superseded in 1952 by British Commonwealth Forces Korea (BCFK). Australian, British, Canadian, Indian and New Zealand units were part of BCFK.
By the time 3 RAR arrived in Pusan on 28 September, the KPA was in retreat. Under UN Supreme Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, UN forces conducting a successful amphibious assault at Inchon and breakout from the Pusan Perimeter on the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. A steady advance began, driving the North Koreans northwards towards the 38th Parallel. In October the UN forces began their advance into North Korea and 3 RAR was involved in its first major action near Pyongyang.
By 21 October, the US 24th Infantry Division, with the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade leading, crossed the Taedong River at Pyongyang and headed north. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were in the van, and by nightfall the Brigade halted on the outskirts of Yongyu, 21 miles (34 km) north of Pyongyang. A patrol from the Argylls entered the town and made contact with elements of the US 3rd Battalion, 187th Regimental Combat Team. The KPA attack on Yongyu came from the general direction of the road running southwest of the town. The Argylls met the fringe of the attack and beat it off. The attack on 3/187 RCT was stronger, and the KPA succeeded in entering the town before breaking off and moving away at 03:00. Next day the Australians of 3 RAR were to take the lead in the advance, and C Company was to be the leading company. The orders given in the early evening stressed the urgency to link up with the US Airborne. The company was not to be distracted at Yongyu, they were to press as quickly as possible as the Argylls continued to clear the town. The noises of the Airborne battles to the north were very close and could be heard clearly throughout the night.
C Company 3RAR was the only company to remain largely intact as the battalion hastily absorbed reinforcements from the rest of the regiment and K Force and came to strength. This, the newest 3 RAR company had been formed in late 1949 and early 1950 from the young men who joined the Regular Army after World War II. By the standards of the other companies C Company was very young and untested. Much of the banter within the battalion was directed at them. Good humoured as it was, when it continued once the battalion commenced operations the young regulars became all the more determined to show their mettle. C Company was a well trained sub unit and, unlike the other sub units still shaking down, was a cohesive team. The Non-Commissioned Officers and senior soldiers were experienced, competent leaders who had raised and trained the Company. As an unexpected luxury, a handful of K Force reinforcements joined the C Company during the advance and took it over strength; a state never to be attained again by any unit in the campaign. The platoon commanders were young and inexperienced, all from the 1948 graduating class from Royal Military College, Duntroon, the Company Commander, who arrived only weeks before the battalion sailed, was an experienced battle leader.
At 07:00 on 22 October 1950, C Company 3RAR advanced with 7 Platoon leading mounted on tanks of D Company, US 89th Tank Battalion followed by the rest of the company in US troop carrying vehicles. At 09:00 and 1 mile (1.6 km)north of Yongyu, C Company came under fire from the apple orchard on the slopes of Hill 163 in YD 2354 (map grid location). It became apparent that C Company had driven into the KPA who were in the process of forming up to attack the Americans. At 09:30, 7 and 8 Platoons attacked the high ground east of the road, with 9 Platoon in reserve holding the road and northern flank.
The attacking platoons went in hard, uphill through the apple trees. Although outnumbered, the Australians pressed their attack fiercely. The platoons pushed on and in a stride were through to the vital ground. Even a bunker which threatened 8 Platoon provided only a momentary delay as the young men grenaded it and pressed forward. C Company's sudden arrival, even though it must have been expected to some extent, and the speed with which the KPA outposts were brushed aside, had completely surprised the enemy. They were caught with all their attention directed north to a final frenzied effort to break out past the American forces. Thereafter the KPA were incapable of presenting organised resistance to the vigorous thrust from the south.
The Australians reported approximately 150 KPA had been killed, 239 wounded and 200 captured as a result of its action at a cost of seven wounded. The operations in Sunchon had achieved much more. The American 187 RCT claimed, 3818 KPA prisoners, 805 KPA killed and 681 wounded for the loss of 46 jump casualties and 65 battle casualties. Despite heavy casualties several hundred KPA remained in and around the battlefield. However, with the link up complete, re-deployment for the continuation of the advance commenced. Within the British Commonwealth Brigade, 1st Battalion of the British Middlesex Regiment passed through and assumed the lead in the drive towards the Yalu River. The Americans reassembled and drove north to rejoin their regiment which returned to Pyongyang by the other route.
The UN offensive greatly concerned the Chinese, who worried that the UN forces would not stop at the Yalu River, the border between North Korea and China, and extend their rollback policy into China. Many in the West, including General MacArthur, thought that spreading the war to China would be necessary and that since KPA troops were being supplied by bases in China, those supply depots should be bombed. However, Truman and the other leaders disagreed, and MacArthur was ordered to be very cautious when approaching the Chinese border. Except on some rare occasions, UN bombers remained out of Manchuria during the war.
China warned American leaders through neutral diplomats that it would intervene to protect its national security, however the American hierarchy felt these to be empty threats.
Despite this, on 8 October 1950, the day after American troops crossed the 38th Parallel, Chairman Mao Zedong ordered the People's Liberation Army's North East Frontier Force to be reorganised into the Chinese People's Volunteer Army. Mao ordered the army to move to the Yalu River, ready to cross. Mao sought Soviet aid and saw intervention as essentially defensive: "If we allow the U.S. to occupy all of Korea... we must be prepared for the U.S. to declare... war with China," he told Joseph Stalin. Premier Zhou Enlai was sent to Moscow to add force to Mao's cabled arguments. Mao delayed while waiting for substantial Soviet help, postponing the planned attack from 13 to 19 October. However, Soviet assistance was limited to providing air support no nearer than 60 miles (97 km) from the battlefront. The Chinese were angered by the Soviets not offering more support, but Soviet MiG-15s provided many problems for UN forces. The Soviet role was known to the US, but it was kept quiet so as to avoid the possibility of escalating the conflict into nuclear war.
The PVA first engaged UN troops on 25 October 1950, with 270,000 PVA troops under the command of General Peng Dehuai, in the Battles of Onjong, Unsan and Pakchon much to the surprise of the UN, which had disregarded evidence of such a massive force. Following their initial intervention the PVA withdrew. UN confidence returned and the offensive was renewed on 24 November in what was called the Home-by-Christmas Offensive. This triggered PVA Second Phase Offensive which pushed the UN forces back in the west while in the east the UN forces were defeated at Chosin Reservoir. The UN forces began a retreat from North Korea and by Christmas held a line north of Seoul. On the east coast UN forces were evacuated by sea from Hungnam. The PVA launched their third Offensive on 31 December, pushing back the UN forces and recapturing Seoul on 4 January. The UN began a series of counteroffensives beginning with Operation Thunderbolt on 25 January, recaptured Seoul on 16 March in Operation Ripper and advancing the UN lines north of the 38th Parallel in Operation Rugged and Operation Dauntless.
The PVA began a new Spring Offensive in April 1951 as the weather improved, also referred to as the Fifth Phase Offensive, with the intention of recapturing Seoul. The PVA launched a major assault between 22 and 25 April that resulted in a victory in the Battle of the Imjin River. At the same time, the UN repelled PVA forces at Kapyong.
PVA forces of the 118th Division attacked the Kapyong Valley in force, and pushed ROK and New Zealand troops into retreat. Under heavy pressure, the ROK 6th Division broke, and the line collapsed. ROK soldiers poured through a gap under protective covering fire from Australians who were holding their section of the line despite heavy pressure.
Australian troops from 3 RAR, and Canadian troops from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry were ordered to halt this PVA advance. The mission of the men of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade was to block the two approaches to Kapyong. In only a few hours, they managed to prepare defensive positions.
The PVA 118th Division engaged their two forward battalions on 23 April. In the early part of the battle the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and the 16th Field Regiment of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were all but cut off. The resistance of forward positions, held by the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI), and 3 RAR, permitted the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment to withdraw. It moved into place to provide a reserve.
The initial PVA attack at Kapyong engaged 3 RAR on Hill 504. The PVA then struck at the Canadian front. Wave after wave of massed PVA troops kept up the attack throughout the night of 23 April. After a night of fierce fighting Major Bernard O'Dowd, Officer Commanding, A Company, 3 RAR, managed to get through on a radio phone to a general of the 1st Marine Division. The general was incredulous, thinking it was an enemy agent speaking. He told O'Dowd that the unit no longer existed, that it had been wiped out the night before. The PVA had managed to infiltrate the brigade position by the morning of 23 April. The Australians and Canadians were facing the whole of the PVA 118th Division. Throughout 24 April the battle was unrelenting. It devolved, on both fronts, into hand-to-hand combat with bayonet charges. The Australians, facing encirclement, were ordered to make an orderly fall back to new defensive positions late in the day of 24 April.
2 PPCLI was completely surrounded. Captain Mills, in command of D Company, 2 PPCLI, was forced to call down artillery fire on his own positions on Hill 677 several times during the early morning hours of 25 April to avoid being overrun. It had to be resupplied by air drops during this desperate time. By dawn the PVA attack on the Canadian position had abated, and in the afternoon of 25 April the road through to the Canadians had been cleared of PVA, at which time the 2nd Battalion was relieved. The 16th Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery, also managed to withdraw and link up with the US Army's 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion. These units provided close heavy gun support.
During the withdrawal of the Australians, 4 men from B Company, 3RAR, formed a rearguard to hold off any flanking attacks. The four Australians held off three waves of PVA soldiers, killing at least 25 and wounding many more. After two days and two nights of fighting, the Australians had recaptured their positions, at the cost of 32 men killed and 53 wounded. For this contribution of stalling the PVA advance, 3 RAR received a United States Distinguished Unit Citation.
Despite their enormous advantage in numbers the PVA troops had been badly outgunned. Their courage and tenacity could not overcome the well-trained, well-disciplined and well-armed Australians and Canadians. The battlefield was littered with the corpses of PVA soldiers, a testament to the discipline and firepower of the defenders.
For their conduct of this engagement, Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Ferguson of Australia, and Lieutenant-Colonel James R. Stone of Canada were each awarded the Distinguished Service Order. For Stone, it was the second bar to the DSO he had first won during Operation Olive in Italy in 1944.
The second major battle the Australians fought in 1951 was Operation Commando. Operation Commando was the last major UN offensive thrust of the Korean War. It was an attack on a PVA salient in a bend of the Imjin River, designed to prevent the PVA/KPA from interdicting the UN supply lines near Seoul.
By July 1951, 3 RAR had come under the control of the 1st Commonwealth Division. Objectives of the 1st Commonwealth Division during Operation Commando, including the Australians, were Hill 355 and Hill 317.
The attack began on 3 October 1951 with the US I Corps (including four US Divisions, the 1st Commonwealth Division and the ROK 1st Division) seizing the Jamestown Line destroying elements of the PVA 42nd Army, 47th Army, 64th Army and 65th Army, and after five days of intense combat, eventually forcing the PVA into retreat. The operation was a success, and ended on 15 October, with a few hills south of the line still in PVA/KPA hands, requiring a follow-up operation (Operation Polecharge).
The official historian for the Korean War, Robert O'Neill, wrote of this battle: "In this action 3RAR had won one of the most impressive victories achieved by any Australian battalion. In five days of heavy fighting 3RAR dislodged a numerically superior enemy from a position of great strength. The Australians were successful in achieving surprise on 3 and 5 October, the company and platoon showed high courage, tenacity and morale despite some very difficult situations, such as that of D company when the mist rose on 5 October and those of B and C Companies when the weight of enemy fire threatened their isolation of Hill 317 on 7 October ... The victory of Maryang San is probably the greatest single feat of the Australian Army during the Korean War".
Australian casualties during Operation Commando were 20 dead and 89 wounded.
After 1951, both sides were in a type of combat comparable to the Western Front in World War I in which men lived in tunnels, redoubts, and sandbagged forts behind barbed wire defences. From 1951 to the end of the war, 3 RAR held trenches on the eastern side of the Commonwealth Division's positions in the hills northeast of the Imjin River. Across from them were heavily fortified PVA positions.
As the war continued, several other nations grew less willing to contribute more ground troops. Australia, however, increased its troop strength in Korea, by sending 1 RAR. This battalion arrived in Korea on 6 April 1952 and experienced its first major combat during Operation Blaze on 2 July. In March 1953, they were replaced by 2 RAR.
Royal Australian Navy vessels had been stationed in Japan following the Japanese surrender ending World War II. Following North Korea's invasion of the South, RAN vessels stationed in Japan were put on immediate alert.
On 29 June Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that the frigate HMAS Shoalhaven, stationed in Japan, and the destroyer HMAS Bataan, in Hong Kong would be placed under UN command in Korea. On 1 July, one day after President Truman committed American ground forces to Korea, the first Australian operation in Korea took place; HMAS Shoalhaven moved from Japan to Pusan escorting an American ammunition ship. On 27 July 1950, the destroyer HMAS Warramunga was also deployed.
During the landing at Wonsan on 26 October 1950, HMAS Warramunga provided gunfire support during the landing of US X Corps, however the landing was unopposed as ROK forces had already capture the area on 11 October. During the mass evacuation of troops and refugees in the city of Hungnam in December 1950, HMA Ships Bataan and Warramunga assisted in the evacuation. In October 1951, HMAS Sydney arrived in Korean waters to replace HMS Glory for a three-month tour. Sydney carried two squadrons of Sea Furies – 805 Squadron RAN and 808 Squadron RAN, and 817 Squadron RAN equipped with Fireflies. Sydney returned to Japan having lost only 9 aircraft, with 3 pilots killed, and having launched over 2,700 missions from her flight deck. Later in the war, 9 ships of the RAN participated in the naval blockade of North Korea.
The Royal Australian Air Force was heavily involved in the Pacific War during World War II. Following the Japanese surrender, No. 77 Squadron was selected as part of Australia's contribution to the British Commonwealth Occupation Force and, after converting to P-51D Mustang fighters, arrived in Japan in February 1946. Occupation duties proved uneventful, and No. 77 Squadron was preparing to leave Japan for Australia when the Korean War broke out in June 1950.
No. 77 Squadron was committed to action over Korea as part of the UN forces, and flew its first ground attack sorties on 2 July 1950, making it the first UN unit to see action.
No. 30 Communications Flight, No. 491 (Maintenance) Squadron, and No. 391 (Base) Squadron were attached to the UN Command in Korea and grouped into No. 91 (Composite) Wing in October 1950. No. 91 Wing was based in Iwakuni, Japan.
No. 77 Squadron fully deployed to Korea in October to support the UN advance into North Korea but was withdrawn to Pusan in November in response to the PVA counter-attack.
The Squadron was withdrawn to Japan in April 1951 to re-equip with Gloster Meteor jet fighters and returned to action with these new aircraft in July, where they met with greater success against the Soviet MiG-15 pilots. However, the MiGs were still far superior to the Meteor.
Following heavy losses from MiG-15 fighters, No. 77 Squadron operated in the ground attack role from December 1951 until the end of the war; it remained in South Korea on garrison duties until returning to Australia in November 1954.
The Battle of Sunchon was an air battle fought near the city of Sunchon on 1 December 1951, 12 Gloster Meteor jets of the RAAF's No. 77 Squadron were attacked by 40–50 Chinese MiG-15s. Despite their Meteors having inferior manoeuvrability to the Soviet-built MiGs, the Australian pilots managed to score their first victories of the Korean War, for the loss of three aircraft. Accounts vary, with the Australians claiming at least 10 MiGs shot down, but Chinese and North Korean sources stated it was only one.
On 29 November 1952, US President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower fulfilled a campaign promise by going to Korea to find out what could be done to end the conflict. The Korean Armistice Agreement is signed on 27 July 1953, by the UN, North Korea and China, President of South Korea Syngman Rhee refused to sign the agreement. When the Armistivce Agreement was signed and the ceasefire came into effect he front line was back around the proximity of the 38th Parallel. Under the terms of the armistice a demilitarised zone (DMZ) was established along the front line, presently defended by North Korean troops on one side and by South Korean, American and UN troops on the other. The DMZ runs north of the parallel towards the east, and to the south as it travels west.
After the war ended, Australians remained in Korea for four years as military observers. Australia gained political and security benefits, the most important being the signing of the ANZUS Treaty with the United States and New Zealand.
Out of 17,000 Australians who served in Korea, casualties numbered more than 1,500, of whom 339 were killed.
1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) is a regular motorised infantry battalion of the Australian Army. 1 RAR was first formed as the 65th Australian Infantry Battalion in 1945 and since then has been deployed on active service during the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War and more recently in Somalia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, the battalion has deployed on peacekeeping operations to a number of countries including Japan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands. In 2006, 1 RAR was one of the Australian Army's most heavily deployed units sending detachments to Iraq as part of SECDET, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. The battalion is currently based at Townsville, Queensland, where it forms part of the 3rd Brigade.1st Commonwealth Division
The 1st Commonwealth Division was the name given, after July 1951, to Commonwealth land forces in the Korean War. The division was a multinational unit that was part of British Commonwealth Forces Korea, and whilst British and Canadian Army units formed the bulk of the division, Australian infantry, New Zealand artillery and an Indian medical unit were also a part of the division. As with the US "KATUSA" programme, numerous South Korean troops were seconded to the Commonwealth division to make up numbers under a programme known as "KATCOM".
The unit was preceded by the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, which was the initial parent formation of Commonwealth army units in Korea, and which arrived in Korea in August 1950. Its two British Infantry battalions were joined by the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) in September, and by the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), in February 1951. The brigade was subsequently re-constituted as 28th Commonwealth Brigade in April 1951. In November 1950 the brigade was joined by 29th Independent Infantry Brigade, and in May 1951 by 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade. In July 1951 these units were combined to form 1st Commonwealth Division. The Division was made up of 58% British forces, 22% Canadian forces, 14% Australian forces, 5% New Zealander forces, and 1% Indian forces.The 1st Commonwealth Division was part of the US I Corps, which also included the US 1st Cavalry Division, the US 3rd and 25th Infantry Divisions, and the ROK 1st Division. The division occupied the strategically important sector of front on the Jamestown Line, stretching from the Kimpo peninsula on the Yellow Sea coast to a point east of Kumhwa about 6.3 miles (10.1 km), and just 30 miles (48 km) from the South Korean capital, Seoul.It was deactivated in 1954 as part of the demobilisation of forces in Korea in the aftermath of the war, being reduced to a Commonwealth Brigade Group, and from May 1956 until its final withdrawal in August 1957 to a Commonwealth Contingent of battalion strength.2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
The 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) is an amphibious light infantry battalion of the Australian Army part of the 1st Division Amphibious Task Group based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville.
2 RAR was first formed as the Australian 66th Battalion in 1945 and since then it has seen active service during the Korean War, Malayan Emergency and Vietnam War. In addition, the battalion has participated in peacekeeping operations in Japan, Rwanda, East Timor and the Solomon Islands and has contributed rifle companies to the security force protecting the Australian embassy in Baghdad following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In May 2006, 2 RAR's headquarters, support company and a rifle company deployed to Iraq as part of the third rotation of the Al Muthanna Task Group. In June 2011, the battalion deployed to Urozgan Province, Afghanistan as Mentoring Task Force Three (MTF3). In 2011, 2 RAR was selected to be the Army's Amphibious Ready Element Landing Force embarked on the Navy's new Canberra-class amphibious assault ships. The conversion process was completed in October 2017.3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
The 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) is a mechanised infantry battalion of the Australian Army, based in Townsville as part of the 3rd Brigade. 3 RAR was initially formed in 1945 as the 67th Battalion and has seen active service in Japan, Korea, Malaya, South Vietnam, East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq.805 Squadron RAN
805 Squadron was a Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron, which previously operated as 805 Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. First formed in 1940 and operating for the duration of World War II in both the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres, 805 Squadron was recreated as a unit of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1948, and operated from Australian aircraft carriers until 1982, having the distinction of being the last fast jet squadron in the RAN. 805 Squadron was re-established in 2001 to operate the Kaman Super Seasprite as a replacement for helicopters currently in service, but problems with the helicopters saw the project cancelled and the squadron disbanded in 2008.808 Naval Air Squadron
808 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm carrier based squadron formed in July 1940. It served on a number of the Navy's aircraft carriers during the Second World War, serving in most of the theatres of the war, before decommissioning at the end of the war. It was re-formed in 1950 as 808 Squadron RAN, a carrier-based attack squadron of the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Air Arm, and saw action during the Korean War before disbanding again in 1958.817 Squadron RAN
817 Squadron was a Royal Australian Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron. It was originally formed as part of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm for service during World War II and took part in combat operations in Norway, North Africa, Sicily and off the coast of France. Following the conclusion of hostilities, the squadron was disbanded in 1945. In 1950, it was re-raised as part of the Royal Australian Navy and subsequently took part in the Korean War. Recent deployments have included Operation Falconer, Operation Slipper and Operation Sumatra Assist. In December 2011, the squadron was disbanded.Alan Charlesworth
Air Vice Marshal Alan Moorehouse Charlesworth, CBE, AFC (17 September 1903 – 21 September 1978) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Born in Tasmania, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and served with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment in Queensland before transferring to the Air Force in 1925. Most of his pre-war flying career was spent with No. 1 Squadron at RAAF Station Laverton, Victoria. In 1932 he undertook a series of survey flights around Australia, earning the Air Force Cross. Charlesworth's early wartime commands included No. 2 Squadron at Laverton, and RAAF Station Pearce in Western Australia. Appointed Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Eastern Area in December 1943, he was promoted temporary air commodore the following year and took over as AOC North-Western Area in Darwin, Northern Territory.
Charlesworth's control of air operations during the North-Western Area Campaign led to his appointment as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire following the end of World War II. Retaining his wartime rank, he took charge of the newly formed School of Land/Air Warfare from 1947 until 1949, when he assumed command of RAAF Station Williamtown, New South Wales. He was posted to Japan later that year as Chief of Staff, British Commonwealth Occupation Force, and organised support for RAAF units involved in the Korean War. Returning to Australia in 1951, he was raised to acting air vice marshal and became AOC Southern Area. Charlesworth's final appointment before retiring from the Air Force was commanding RAAF Overseas Headquarters, London, in 1954–55. After leaving the military he served as Director of Recruiting in the late 1950s, and later as a judge's associate at the Supreme Court of Victoria. He died at his home in Glen Iris, Victoria, in 1978.Australia in the Korean War 1950–53
Australia in the Korean War 1950–53 is the official history of Australia's involvement in the Korean War. The series consists of two volumes covering Australia's strategy and diplomacy in the war and the Australian military's combat operations respectively. Both volumes were written by Robert O'Neill, and they were published in 1981 and 1985.Lou Spence
Louis Thomas Spence, DFC & Bar (4 April 1917 – 9 September 1950) was a fighter pilot and squadron commander in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). During World War II he flew with No. 3 Squadron, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), and commanded No. 452 Squadron, receiving a Mention in Despatches. He led No. 77 Squadron in the opening months of the Korean War, and was awarded a bar to his DFC, as well as the US Legion of Merit and the US Air Medal, for his leadership.
Born in Bundaberg, Queensland, Spence worked in a bank before joining the RAAF in March 1940. In August the following year he was posted to North Africa with No. 3 Squadron, which operated P-40 Tomahawks and Kittyhawks against German and Italian forces; he was credited with shooting down two German aircraft. Spence commanded No. 452 Squadron in 1944, flying Supermarine Spitfires in defence of Australia's North-Western Area against the Japanese. After a brief return to civilian life following World War II, he rejoined the RAAF in October 1946. He took command of No. 77 Squadron, operating P-51 Mustangs as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, in February 1950. The squadron went into action within a week of the outbreak of the Korean War in June. Spence was killed during a low-level mission over South Korea in September 1950.No. 30 Transport Unit RAAF
No. 30 Transport Unit was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) unit that operated during the Korean War. It was formed in November 1950 as No. 30 Communications Unit and based at Iwakuni, Japan, as part of No. 91 (Composite) Wing. The unit was initially equipped with four Douglas C–47 Dakotas and two Austers, one of the Dakotas being the personal transport of Lieutenant General Sir Horace Robertson, commander of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). Another four Dakotas were sent to Japan due to operational demands. The unit's role in Korea was to support No. 77 (Fighter) Squadron by transporting supplies and equipment. It also delivered materials and stores to Australian and Commonwealth ground forces, and transported VIPs of the United Nations Command. Return journeys to Japan were often used to evacuate wounded personnel from the theatre. No. 30 Communications Unit was redesignated No. 30 Transport Unit in November 1951, and re-formed as No. 36 (Transport) Squadron in March 1953. The squadron remained in Korea following the armistice, and returned to Australia in June 1955.No. 36 Squadron RAAF
No. 36 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) strategic transport squadron. It operates Boeing C-17 Globemaster III heavy airlifters from RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. The squadron has seen active service flying transport aircraft during World War II, the Korean War, the Indonesia–Malaysia Konfrontasi, the Vietnam War, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has also supported Australian humanitarian and peacekeeping operations around the world, including Somalia, Cambodia, East Timor and Indonesia.
The squadron was formed at RAAF Station Laverton, Victoria, in March 1942, and equipped with Douglas DC-2s, among other aircraft. Later in the war it began operating Douglas C-47 Dakotas. From 1946 to 1953 it was controlled by No. 86 (Transport) Wing, which was based in New South Wales at RAAF Station Schofields and, later, RAAF Station Richmond. In 1953 it was re-formed at Iwakuni, Japan, as part of No. 91 (Composite) Wing. It returned to Australia and the aegis of No. 86 Wing in 1955. The squadron began re-equipping with Lockheed C-130 Hercules at Richmond in 1958, becoming the first non-US operator of the type. Over the next half-century it flew two models of Hercules, the C-130A and C-130H. The squadron transferred to Amberley in 2006, when it took delivery of its first Globemaster.No. 391 Squadron RAAF
No. 391 (Base) Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron that operated during the Korean War and its immediate aftermath. It was established in October 1950 as part of No. 91 (Composite) Wing, which administered RAAF units deployed in the conflict. Apart from No. 391 Squadron, these included No. 77 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 30 Communications Unit (redesignated No. 30 Transport Unit in 1951 and No. 36 (Transport) Squadron in 1953), and No. 491 (Maintenance) Squadron. No. 391 Squadron was headquartered at Iwakuni, Japan, as were No. 91 Wing's other components with the exception of No. 77 Squadron, which was located on the Korean peninsula. The base squadron was responsible for administrative, logistical, medical, communications and security functions at Iwakuni, and also maintained detachments in South Korea. It included a marine section for harbour patrols and search-and-rescue in the waters off southern Japan. No. 391 Squadron was disbanded at the same time as No. 91 Wing headquarters, in April 1955.No. 491 Squadron RAAF
No. 491 (Maintenance) Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron that operated during the Korean War and its immediate aftermath. It was unusual in that it was never based in Australia, being formed and dissolved in Japan. The squadron was established in October 1950 as part of No. 91 (Composite) Wing, which administered all RAAF units deployed as part of Australia's involvement in the Korean War. Apart from No. 491 Squadron, these included No. 77 (Fighter) Squadron, No. 30 Communications Unit (redesignated No. 30 Transport Unit in 1951 and No. 36 (Transport) Squadron in 1953), and No. 391 (Base) Squadron. No. 77 Squadron was based on the Korean peninsula, while No. 491 Squadron and No. 91 Wing's other components were headquartered at Iwakuni, Japan. The maintenance squadron was responsible for the upkeep of all No. 91 Wing aircraft at Iwakuni, and a section was attached to No. 77 Squadron in South Korea to assist with day-to-day servicing. No. 491 Squadron was disbanded in December 1954.No. 77 Squadron RAAF
No. 77 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron headquartered at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales. It is controlled by No. 81 Wing, and equipped with McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters. The squadron was formed at RAAF Station Pearce, Western Australia, in March 1942 and saw action in the South West Pacific theatre of World War II, operating Curtis P-40 Kittyhawks. After the war, it re-equipped with North American P-51 Mustangs and deployed to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. The squadron was about to return to Australia when the Korean War broke out in June 1950, after which it joined United Nations forces supporting South Korea. It converted from Mustangs to Gloster Meteor jets between April and July 1951 and remained in Korea until October 1954, claiming five MiG-15s and over five thousand buildings and vehicles destroyed during the war for the loss of almost sixty aircraft, mainly to ground fire.
The squadron re-equipped with CAC Sabres at Williamtown in November 1956. Two years later it transferred to RAAF Butterworth in Malaya to join the air campaign against communist guerrillas in the last stages of the Emergency. The squadron remained at Butterworth during the 1960s, providing regional air defence during the Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia. It returned to Williamtown in early 1969 to re-equip with Dassault Mirage III supersonic jet fighters. No. 77 Squadron began converting to Hornets in June 1987. It supplied a detachment of four aircraft to the American base on Diego Garcia in 2001–02, supporting the war in Afghanistan, and deployed to the Middle East as part of the military intervention against ISIL in 2015–16. Along with its Hornets, the squadron briefly operated Pilatus PC-9s in the forward air control role in the early 2000s. The RAAF plans to replace its Hornets with Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighters commencing in 2018, and No. 77 Squadron is scheduled to convert to the new type in 2021.No. 91 Wing RAAF
No. 91 (Composite) Wing was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) wing that operated during the Korean War and its immediate aftermath. It was established in October 1950 to administer RAAF units deployed in the conflict: No. 77 (Fighter) Squadron, flying North American P-51 Mustangs; No. 30 Communications Flight, flying Austers and Douglas C-47 Dakotas; No. 391 (Base) Squadron; and No. 491 (Maintenance) Squadron. The wing was headquartered at Iwakuni, Japan, as were its subordinate units with the exception of No. 77 Squadron, which was based in Korea and came under the operational control of the United States Fifth Air Force.
No. 30 Communications Flight was re-designated No. 30 Communications Unit in November 1950, and No. 30 Transport Unit a year later, before re-forming as No. 36 (Transport) Squadron in March 1953. It undertook medical evacuation, cargo and troop transport, and courier flights. No. 77 Squadron converted to Gloster Meteor jets between April and July 1951, and operated primarily in the ground attack role from December that year. It remained in Korea on garrison duty following the July 1953 armistice, and returned to Australia in November 1954; No. 491 Squadron disbanded the same month. No. 36 Squadron returned to Australia in March 1955, leaving four aircraft to equip the newly formed RAAF Transport Flight (Japan), which briefly came under No. 91 Wing's control. The following month, No. 391 Squadron and No. 91 Wing headquarters were disbanded.Order of battle of Australian forces during the Korean War
The order of battle of Australian forces during the Korean War consisted of one, and later two infantry battalions, naval forces of one aircraft carrier, two destroyers, and one frigate, as well as air forces consisting of one fighter squadron and one transport squadron. The first forces were committed in July 1950 from units based in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, with Australia being the first UN member nation after the United States to commit elements from all three services. A total of 17,808 Australians served during the Korean War, including 1,193 members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), 5,771 from the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and 10,844 from the Australian Army, with casualties including 341 killed and 1,216 wounded. Australian forces remained following the end of hostilities, with the last units finally departing in 1956.RAAF Transport Flight (Japan)
Transport Flight (Japan) was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) transport unit that operated in the aftermath of the Korean War. It was formed in March 1955 at Iwakuni, Japan, and equipped with three Douglas C-47 Dakotas and a CAC Wirraway. The flight's main duty was flying a regular courier service between Japan and South Korea in support of Commonwealth military units based on the peninsula. Transport Flight (Japan) ceased operations in June 1956 and disbanded in September that year.Robert J. O'Neill
Robert John O'Neill, (born 5 November 1936) is an Australian historian and academic. He is chair of the International Academic Advisory Committee at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, was director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London, from 1982 to 1987, and Chichele Professor of the History of War at the University of Oxford from 1987 to 2000.
Australia in the Korean War
|Australian units and formations|
|Battles involving Australian units|
|Order of battle|