In late April 1951 3RAR was given the task of blocking the Chinese offensive advancing along the road to Seoul, north of the Kapyong River. The battalion deployed its companies on high ground overlooking the road. B Company held a ridge, known as “the Island” feature, that ran between the road and a tributary of the river. The other companies occupied the spurs and summit of Hill 504 on the other side of the road. Battalion headquarters was further south, closer to the town (now the city of Gapyeong). A few hundred Australians faced thousands of Chinese.

The battle broke overnight and raged through the darkness and into the dawn of 24 April. At the height of the fighting the battalion commander withdrew B Company from the Island.

The enemy immediately occupied this vital position. In an attempt to recover it, Lieutenant Len Montgomerie’s platoon was ordered to launch a bayonet attack. Despite impossible odds, his men fixed their long bayonets and charged.

In savage, often hand-to-hand, fighting they retook some of the weapon pits. Their courage dissuaded the Chinese from continuing their attack, which allowed 3RAR to withdraw in good order. The battalion’s courage helped blunt the Chinese offensive and prevented them recapturing Seoul. 

Lieutenant Leonard Montgomerie (centre, front row) with his men, shown resting after the battle of Kapyong, April 1951. AWM 147350