The battle of Maryang San, fought in the first week of October 1951, was part of a much larger UN Command advance called Operation Commando. British and Australian troops were given the task of capturing two lines of hills running down to the Imjin River. The first was dominated by Kowang San (Hill 355), the second by Maryang San (Hill 317).

The British failed to take Kowang San by frontal assault so Lieutenant Colonel Frank Hassett led 3RAR in an attack on both features. In a daring advance through the fog Captain Jack Gerke’s C Company took Hill 355 from the rear, then rejoined the battalion for the capture of Maryang San. After days of close-quarters fighting the Chinese were driven off. They responded with massive counter-attacks. But 3RAR held the line. After a week the exhausted battalion was replaced by the British. In early November a renewed Chinese offensive retook Maryang San. However, British and Australian infantry, with New Zealand artillery in support, held on to Kowang San. The Commonwealth Division gave Hill 355 the nickname “Little Gibraltar.

The United State provided most of the uniforms, equipment and weapons carried by foreign contingents under UN Command. However, whenever possible British and Australian troops insisted on using their own weapons and equipment.

A 3RAR Vickers machine-gun in action, Korea, c. October 1951. The machine guns at Maryang San were commanded by Captain Reg Saunders, the first Aboriginal serviceman to command a company. AWM HOBJ2432