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The Korea Medal Korea VCs & GCs

Units Served

The Korean War Victoria Cross and George Cross Citations.

THE VICTORIA CROSS

Major Kenneth Muir  The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) (Posthumous).

   On 23rd September, 1950, "B" and "C" Companies of the 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attacked an enemy-held feature, Hill 282, and by 0800 hrs. had consolidated upon it.
   Some difficulty was experienced in evacuating the wounded from the position and demands were made for stretcher-bearing parties to be sent forward by the Battalion. At this juncture the position came under mortar and shell fire.
    At approximately 0900 hrs. a stretcher-bearing party arrived and with it came the Battalion Second-in-Command, Major K. Muir. He proceeded to organize the evacuation of the casualties.
    At approximately 0930 hrs. small parties of the enemy started to infiltrate on the left flank, necessitating the reinforcing of the forward platoon. For the next hour this infiltration increased, as did the shelling and mortaring, causing further casualties within the two companies.
    By 1100 hrs. casualties were moderately severe and some difficulty was being experienced in holding the enemy. In addition, due to reinforcing the left flank and to providing personnel to assist with the wounded, both companies were so inextricably mixed that it was obvious that they must come under a unified command. Major Muir, although only visiting the position, automatically took over command and with complete disregard for his own personal safety started to move around the forward elements, cheering on and encouraging the men to greater efforts despite the fact that ammunition was running low. He was continually under enemy fire, and, despite entreaties from officers and men alike, refused to take cover.
    An air-strike against the enemy was arranged and air recognition panels were put out on the ground. At approximately 1215 hrs. the air-strike came in, but unfortunately the aircraft hit the companies' position instead of that of the enemy. The main defensive position was hit with fire bombs and machine-gun fire, causing more casualties and necessitating the withdrawal of the remaining troops to a position some fifty feet below the crest. There is no doubt that a complete retreat from the hill would have been fully justified at this time. Only some thirty fighting men remained and ammunition was extremely low. Major Muir, however, realized that the enemy had not taken immediate advantage of the unfortunate incident and that the crest was still unoccupied although under fire.
    With the assistance of the three remaining officers, he immediately formed a small force of some thirty all ranks and personally led a counter-attack on the crest. To appreciate fully the implication of this, it is necessary to realize how demoralizing the effect of the air-strike had been and it was entirely due to the courage, determination and splendid example of this officer that such a counter-attack was possible. All ranks responded magnificently and the crest was retaken.
    From this moment on, Major Muir's actions were beyond all possible praise. He was determined that the wounded would have adequate time to be taken out and he was just as determined that the enemy would not take the crest. Grossly outnumbered and under heavy automatic fire, Major Muir moved about his small force, redistributing fast diminishing ammunition, and when the ammunition for his own weapon was spent he took over a 2-inch mortar, winch he used with very great effect against the enemy. While fixing the mortar he was still shouting encouragements and advice to his men, and for a further five minutes the enemy were held. Finally, Major Muir was hit with two bursts of automatic fire which mortally wounded him, but even then he retained consciousness and was still as determined to fight on. His last words were: "The Gooks will never drive the Argylls off this hill."
   The effect of his splendid leadership on the men was nothing short of amazing and it was entirely due to his magnificent courage and example and the spirit which he imbued in those about him that all wounded were evacuated from the hill, and, as was subsequently discovered, very heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy in the defence of the crest.—London Gazette, 5th January, 1951.

 

THE VICTORIA CROSS

Lieutenant-Colonel James Power Carne, D.S.O.  The Gloucestershire Regiment.

    On the night 22nd/23rd April, 1951, Lieutenant-Colonel Carne's battalion, 1 Glosters, was heavily attacked and the enemy on the Imjin River were repulsed, having suffered heavy casualties. On 23rd, 24th and 25th April, 1951, the Battalion was heavily and incessantly engaged by vastly superior numbers of enemy, who repeatedly launched mass attacks, but were stopped at close quarters.
    During the 24th and 25th April, 1951, the Battalion was completely cut off from the rest of the Brigade, but remained a fighting entity, in face of almost continual onslaughts from an enemy who were determined, at all costs and regardless of casualties, to over-run it. Throughout, Lieutenant-Colonel Carne's manner remained coolness itself, and on the wireless, the only communication he still had with Brigade, he repeatedly assured the Brigade Commander that all was well with his Battalion, that they could hold on and that everyone was in good heart.
    Throughout the entire engagement, Lieutenant-Colonel Came, showing a complete disregard for his own safety, moved among the whole Battalion under very heavy mortar and machine-gun fire, inspiring the utmost confidence and the will to resist, amongst his troops.
    On two separate occasions, armed with a rifle and grenades, he personally led assault parties which drove back the enemy and saved important situations.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Carne's example of courage, coolness and leadership was felt not only in his own Battalion, but throughout the whole Brigade.
    He fully realized that his flanks had been turned, but he also knew that the abandonment of his position would clear the way for the enemy to make a major break-through and this would have endangered the Corps.
    When at last it was apparent that his Battalion would not be relieved and on orders from higher authority, he organized his Battalion into small, officer-led parties, who then broke out, whilst he himself in charge of a small party fought his way out, but was captured within 24 hours.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Carne showed powers of leadership which can seldom have been surpassed in the history of our Army.
    He inspired his officers and men to fight beyond the normal limits of human endurance, in spite of overwhelming odds and ever-increasing casualties, shortage of ammunition and of water.—London Gazette, 27th October, 1953.

 

THE VICTORIA CROSS

Lieutenant Philip Kenneth Edward Curtis The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, attached The Gloucestershire Regiment (Posthumous)

    During the first phase of the Battle of the Imjin River on the night of 22nd/23rd April, 1951, "A" Company, 1 Glosters, was heavily attacked by a large enemy force. By dawn on 23rd April, the enemy had secured a footing on the "Castle Hill" site in very close proximity to No. 2 Platoon's position. The Company Commander ordered No.1 Platoon, under the command of Lieutenant Curtis, to carry out a counter-attack with a view to dislodging the enemy from the position. Under the covering fire of medium machine guns, the counter-attack, gallantly led by Lieutenant Curtis, gained initial success, but was eventually held up by heavy fire and grenades. Enemy from just below the crest of the hill were rushed to reinforce the position and a fierce fire-fight developed, grenades also being freely used by both sides in this close-quarter engagement. Lieutenant Curtis ordered some of his men to give him covering fire while he himself rushed the main position of resistance; in this charge Lieutenant Curtis was severely wounded by a grenade. Several of his men crawled out and pulled him back under cover, but, recovering himself, Lieutenant Curtis insisted on making a second attempt. Breaking free from the men who wished to restrain him, he made another desperate charge, hurling grenades as he went, but was killed by a burst of fire when within a few yards of his objective.
    Although the immediate objective of this counter-attack was not achieved, it had yet a great effect on the subsequent course of the battle; for although the enemy had gained a footing on a position vital to the defence of the whole company area, this success had resulted in such furious reaction that they made no further effort to exploit their success in this immediate area; had they done so, the eventual withdrawal of the company might well have proved impossible.
   Lieutenant Curtis's conduct was magnificent throughout this bitter battle.—London Gazette, 1st December, 1953.

 

THE VICTORIA CROSS

14471590 Private William Speakman Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), attached to the 1st Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers

    From 0400 hrs., 4th November, 1951, the defensive positions held by 1st Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers were continuously subjected to heavy and accurate enemy shell and mortar fire. At 1545 hrs., this fire became intense and continued thus for the next two hours, considerably damaging the defences and wounding a number of men.
    At 1645 hrs. the enemy in their hundreds advanced in wave upon wave against the King's Own Scottish Borderers' positions, and by 1745 hrs. fierce hand-to-hand fighting was taking place on every position.
    Private Speakman, a member of "B" Company, Headquarters, learning that the section holding the left shoulder of the company's position had been seriously depleted by casualties, had had its N.C.Os. wounded and was being over-run, decided on his own initiative to drive the enemy off the position and keep them off it. To effect this he collected quickly a large pile of grenades and a party of six men. Then, displaying complete disregard for his own personal safety, he led his party in a series of grenade charges against the enemy; and continued doing so as each successive wave of enemy reached the crest of the hill. The force and determination of his charges broke up each successive enemy onslaught and resulted in an ever-mounting pile of enemy dead.
    Having led some ten charges, through withering enemy machine-gun and mortar fire, Private Speakman was eventually severely wounded in the leg. Undaunted by his wounds, he continued to lead charge after charge against the enemy, and it was only after a direct order from his superior officer that he agreed to pause for a first field dressing to be applied to his wounds. Having had his wounds bandaged, Private Speakman immediately rejoined his comrades and led them again and again forward in a series of grenade charges, up to the time of the withdrawal of his company at 2100 hrs.
    At the critical moment of the withdrawal, amidst an inferno of enemy machine-gun and mortar fire, as well as grenades, Private Speakman led a final charge to clear the crest of the hill and hold it, whilst the remainder of his company withdrew. Encouraging his gallant but by now sadly depleted party, he assailed the enemy with showers of grenades and kept them at bay sufficiently long for his company to effect its withdrawal.
    Under the stress and strain of this battle, Private Speakman's outstanding powers of leadership were revealed, and he so dominated the situation that he inspired his comrades to stand firm and fight the enemy to a standstill.
    His great gallantry and utter contempt for his own personal safety were an inspiration to all his comrades. He was, by his heroic actions, personally responsible for causing enormous losses to the enemy, assisting his company to maintain their position for some four hours and saving the lives of many of his comrades when they were forced to withdraw from their position.
    Private Speakman's heroism under intense fire throughout the operation and when painfully wounded was beyond praise and is deserving of supreme recognition.—London Gazette, 28th December, 1951.

 

GEORGE CROSS

22105517 Fusilier Derek Godfrey Kinne The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

    In August, 1950, Fusilier Kinne volunteered for service in Korea. He joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, and was captured by Chinese Communist forces on 25th April, 1951, the last day of the Imjin River battle. From then on he had only two objects in mind: firstly to escape, and secondly by his contempt for his captors and their behaviour, and his utter disregard for the treatment meted out to him, to raise the morale of his fellow-prisoners. The treatment which he received during his period of captivity is summarized in the succeeding paragraphs.
    Fusilier Kinne escaped for the first time within 24 hours of capture, but was retaken a few days later while attempting to regain our own lines. Eventually he rejoined a large group of prisoners being marched north to prison camps, and despite the hardships of this march, which lasted a month, rapidly emerged as a man of outstanding leadership and very high morale. His conduct was a fine example to all his fellow-prisoners.
   In July, 1952, Fusilier Kinne, who was by now well known to his captors, was accused by them of being non-co-operative and was brutally interrogated about the other P.W. who had uncooperative views. As a result of his refusal to inform on his comrades, and for striking back at a Chinese officer who assaulted him, he was twice severely beaten up and tied up for periods of 12 and 24 hours, being made to stand on tip-toe with a running noose round his neck which would throttle him if he attempted to relax in any way.
    He escaped on 27th July, but was recaptured two days later. He was again beaten up very severely, and placed in handcuffs (which could be and frequently were tightened so as to restrict circulation), from which he was not released until 16th October, 1952, a period of 81 days.
    He was accused of insincerity, a hostile attitude towards the Chinese, "sabotage" of compulsory political study, escape, and of being reactionary. From 15th to 20th August he was confined in a very small box cell, where he was made to sit to attention all day, being periodically beaten, prodded with bayonets, kicked and spat upon by the guards, and denied any washing facilities.
   On 2oth August, 1952, he was made to stand to attention for seven hours and when he complained was beaten by the Chinese guard commander with the butt of a submachine gun, which eventually went off and killed the guard commander. For this Fusilier Kinne was beaten senseless with belts and bayonets, stripped of his clothes, and thrown into a dank rat-infested hole until 19th September. He was frequently taken out and beaten, including once (on 16th September) with pieces of planking until he was unconscious.
   On 16th October Fusilier Kinne was tried by a Chinese military court for escape and for being a reactionary and hostile to the Chinese, and was sentenced to twelve months' solitary confinement. This was increased to eighteen months when he complained at his trial of denial of medical attention, including that for a severe double hernia which he had sustained in June, 1952, while training to escape.
    On 5th December, 1952, he was transferred to a special penal company. His last award of solitary confinement was on 2nd June, 1953, when he was sentenced for defying Chinese orders and wearing a rosette in celebration of Coronation Day.
    He was eventually exchanged at Panmunjom on 10th August, 1953. As late as 8th and 9th August he was threatened with non-repatriation for demanding an interview with the International Red Cross Representatives who were visiting prisoner-of-war camps.
    Fusilier Kinne was during the course of his periods of solitary confinement kept in no less than seven different places of imprisonment, including a security police gaol, under conditions of the most extreme degradation and increasing brutality. Every possible method both physical and mental was employed by his captors to break his spirit, a task which proved utterly beyond their powers. Latterly he must have been fully aware that every time he flaunted his captors and showed openly his detestation of themselves and their methods he was risking his life. He was in fact several times threatened with death or non-repatriation. Nevertheless he was always determined to show that he was prepared neither to be intimidated nor cowed by brutal treatment at die hands of a barbarous enemy.
    His powers of resistance and his determination to oppose and fight the enemy to the maximum were beyond praise. His example was an inspiration to all ranks who came into contact with him.—London Gazette, 13th April, 1954.

 

GEORGE CROSS

Lieutenant Terrence Edward Waters  The West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's Own), attached The Gloucestershire Regiment (Posthumous)

    Lieutenant Waters was captured subsequent to the Battle of the Imjin River, 22nd-25th April, 1951. By this time he had sustained a serious wound in the top of the head and yet another most painful wound in the arm as a result of this action.
   On the journey to Pyongyang with other captives, he set a magnificent example of courage and fortitude in remaining with wounded other ranks on the march, whom he felt it his duty to care for to the best of his ability.
    Subsequently, after a journey of immense hardship and privation, the party arrived at an area west of Pyongyang adjacent to P.W. Camp 12 and known generally as "The Caves," in which they were held captive. They found themselves imprisoned in a tunnel driven into the side of a hill through which a stream of water flowed continuously, flooding a great deal of the floor in which were packed a great number of South Korean and European prisoners of war in rags, filthy, crawling with lice. In this cavern a number died daily from wounds, sickness, or merely malnutrition: they fed on two small meals of boiled maize daily. Of medical attention there was none.
    Lieutenant Waters appreciated that few, if any, of his numbers would survive these conditions, in view of their weakness and the absolute lack of attention for their wounds. Alter a visit from a North Korean Political Officer, who attempted to persuade them to volunteer to join a prisoner-of-war group known as "Peace Fighters" (that is, active participants in the propaganda movement against their own side) with a promise of better food, of medical treatment and other amenities as a reward for such activity—an offer that was refused unanimously—he decided to order his men to pretend to accede to the offer in an effort to save their lives. This he did, giving the necessary instructions to the senior other rank with the British party, Sergeant Hoper, that the men would go upon his order without fail.
    Whilst realizing that this act would save the lives of his party, he refused to go himself, aware that the task of maintaining British prestige was vested in him.
   Realizing that they had failed to subvert an officer with the British party, the North Koreans now made a series of concerted efforts to persuade Lieutenant Waters to save himself by joining the camp. This he steadfastly refused to do. He died a short time after.
    He was a young, inexperienced officer, comparatively recently commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, yet he set an example of the highest gallantry.— London Gazette, 13th April, 1954.
 

 
 

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