January: As the senior GS officer I was very busy at the time of Japanese surrender (Aug. 15) and thereafter in connection with the disarming and control of the surrendered Japs. In fact the period August- December was one of the busiest periods I had during the whole war. During the period in the course of my duties I visited all parts of Borneo occupied by our troops, Java, Borneo, Celebes, Ambon.
February: Returned to Australia via Darwin. After leave posted as DDMO AHQ Melbourne. My main duties in this job are in connection with planning for the Post War Army. We were fortunate in obtaining a flat at 29 Queens Road, Melbourne, formerly occupied by the Berrymans.
(As DMO & P I was not only concerned with OIS and plans for the Army but also the Army member of the Joint Planning Committee. other members were from Navy, Air Force and civilians from Defence and Foreign Affairs Departments.)
January 10th. Second son, Robert Noel, born at Bethesda Hospital.
March: Appointed Director of Operations and Plans AHQ - (DMO & P). I have been acting in the job for five months. Spent two weeks leave in house, lent by Gen. Sturdee, at Ranlagh near Frankston.
(February 1977: N.B. Found this diary when having a clear out of old papers. Any further entries must be based mainly on my memory. The past 30 years is rather a formidable gap to cover!)
DIRECTOR OF MILITARY OPERATIONS AND PLANS
1947 - 1951
The Queens Road flat rapidly became too small for our growing family (two sons and a daughter). So we bought land in the suburb of Heidelberg and had a new house built there for us. After many trials and tribulations with the builder, the house was completed and we moved there in 1949. During these years, life on the domestic front was happy, busy and eventful. This was also a particularly interesting period in Defence (and other National matters). Holding a key staff appointment during this period was no sinecure. Demobilisation was in progress, post war Defence Policy was being evolved and plans for development of the Post War Defence Forces had to be prepared for approval by the government and finally put into execution. Everything was in a state of flux. Towards the end of this two other factors increased the complexity and difficulties of the military planners -- the decision by the new (Liberal) government to introduce National Service (N.S.) and the Korean War.
During this period I was for the first time at the "interface" between the political, economic and military aspects of National Defence policy and strategy. It was an illuminating and instructive period from which I learnt a great deal and which was invaluable to me in later years.
IMPERIAL DEFENCE COLLEGE, LONDON
Towards the end of 1951 I was selected to attend the Imperial Defence College (I.D.C.) in London. It has since been renamed the Royal College of Defence Studies.
Having decided to take my whole family with me, I decided to sell the Heidelberg house and we went to England by sea in a P & O ship. Because my posting to I.D.C. was for one year only I had to pay for the passages for my family to and from England out of my own pocket. In those days the Treasury rule was that postings had to be a minimum of two years for families to be moved with you at government expense.
Despite our financial problems we had a very pleasant voyage.
On the ship was Chester Wilmot and his family. I had previously met him and during the voyage got to know him and his family quite well. During the voyage Chester lent me his proof copy of his book "The Struggle for Europe" which was published in London shortly after our arrival there. This book was deservedly very successful and very timely.
During our year in England we lived in an apartment in a converted country mansion near Ascot. It was an ideal location for family living, secluded ample grounds but within five minutes walk of the railway station from which I commuted daily to London to attend I.D.C. The course was a very broadening experience and it brought together civilians and service officers from all over the Commonwealth (and U.S.A.) and we studied international affairs and the inter-relationship of foreign policy, economics and defence. During the course we made brief visits to various industries to see for ourselves what went on there -- we went down coal mines, saw steel being manufactured, looked at the chemical and aircraft industries etc. Visiting lecturers from universities, all shades of political leaders, industrial managers and trade union leaders, specialists from foreign countries etc. all of these gave us some expert and enlightening views.
During the summer break we were divided into several groups and each group visited a different geographical area of special interest for 3 weeks -- N.W. Europe, North America, Africa, the Middle East. I chose to visit N.W. Europe and we visited France, Belgium, W. Germany, Austria and Northern Italy, including Trieste. It was good value.
By the end of the year all students and staff knew each other fairly well and these relationships, and what we had learnt on the course, were to prove invaluable in later years, particularly to those of us who were fortunate enough to rise to top positions - civil or military - in our various countries.
On the family affairs side, John and Robert went to schools nearby Ascot. (Virginia was too young). During the summer Helen and I had a very pleasant motor tour through England to the Scots Highlands.
On the eve of my departure from England in December 1952 I received a message from Australia that my next appointment would be to Command the Commonwealth Brigade in Korea.
On arrival back in Australia we decided that Helen and family would live in Sydney during the year or so I would be in Korea. (Helen had her problems but that is a story for her to tell.) Before departing for Korea I spent a few weeks being briefed and returning my mind to cope with tactics and the problems of command in the field as opposed to politics -- military matters, and strategy, which I had been studying and thinking about for the past year.
I arrived in Japan in March 1953 en route to Korea. The British logistic base for support of operations in Korea was located at KURE in South Japan. After a few days briefing at KURE by Brig. Pollard (later Lieut. General Sir Reginald Pollard who was my immediate predecessor as Chief of General Staff), Commander of the Australian Base there, I flew to SEOUL in S. Korea in a RAAF Dakota (DC3) transport aircraft. A very cold uncomfortable trip! (Seoul at that time was a devastated city having been captured and occupied by the N. Korean forces and then recaptured by the UN Forces. I have not visited S. Korea since 1953 but understand it has now been rebuilt into a fine modern city.)
COMMANDER 28 COMMONWEALTH BRIGADE, KOREA
From Seoul I flew to the 28 Commonwealth Brigade sector in a Cessna light aircraft. On arrival I found that my new command had been placed in reserve for a short period of rest from front line activity. By this date (April 1953) the mobile phase of the war virtually over and the opposing forces were each developing strong defensive positions right across the waist of the Korean peninsula generally along the 49th parallel in rugged mountain terrain. During the next six months, until a truce was signed at Panmunjon, there were a number of ma3'or battles to gain or regain better tactical positions but neither side had the intention or resources for a decisive victory.
In April the weather is still extremely cold in S. Korea. My first few nights there were miserable cold ones for me and I was very glad when my predecessor as Bde Comd (Brig Daly, later Lt Gen Sir Thomas Daly who later followed me as Chief of the General Staff) departed and I could then move into the comparative warmth of his Command caravan. The two weeks which my brigade then spent in reserve gave me an excellent opportunity to meet the officers and units of my new command and also those of the other brigades in the Commonwealth Division. This division was responsible for a key area covering the main approaches to Seoul from the north. The division had three brigades -- the 28 Commonwealth Brigade consisting of two Australian battalions and one British battalion, supported by a N.Z. Fd Artillery Regiment and an Indian Field Ambulance, the 29 British Brigade and the Canadian Brigade.
Commander of 29 British Brigade was Brig. J.A. Kendrew whom I got to know well. He was later appointed Governor of Western Australia (Maj. Gen. Sir Joseph Kendrew). Commander of Canadian Brigade was Brig. J.V. Allard, a colourful figure who later became Canadian CGS and CDS.
Altogether a very interesting division and without doubt the best division in Korea. (Successive U.S. commanders of the UN Force told me personally that this was their assessment. The reasons for this I will write elsewhere.)
During the period of semi-static warfare in 1953 the development and improvement of positions continued. These consisted of a series of deep bunkers with overhead cover with firing apertures in all four sides. The bunkers were connected with each other by deep trenches which in some cases also had overhead cover. Most defensive positions were sited on the sides of hills and mountains, of tactical importance. The valleys between the positions were blocked by minefields which could be covered by fire from the high ground. Both sides patrolled extensively at night in "No man's" land. During the weeks immediately prior to the "cease fire", the enemy mounted a number of major offensives at various selected places right across the UN front. I believe these had both a political and military purpose and to strengthen their bargaining position at the truce table. These attacks would show the world, and particularly Asia, that they had not been defeated! A description of one of the attacks on my brigade position will give a typical example of what occurred. The Chinese had very little artillery (their knowledge of how to use artillery effectively was very limited) but plenty of mortars, so their attacks were not preceded by the artillery barrages used by the UN forces.
On this occasion, which is typical, the Chinese attempted to mount a surprise attack by night on one of my battalions (800) which was occupying a key tactical area. Our patrols detected and reported the unusual activity and were ordered to withdraw to our defences. Our artillery then illuminated the area with star shells. When the main attacking force of the enemy had reached prearranged (by us) target areas adjacent to our positions, our artillery was ordered to fire the defensive barrages. On this occasion we were able to bring the fire of about 100 guns (105 mm) into play. Despite their terrible losses, the Chinese "human wave" continued to press home their attack and attempt to overrun our positions. Those who survived the artillery barrages were mown down by machine gun and rifle fire from our bunkers. Not one enemy penetrated our position. After dawn next day we saw that the approaches to our battalion's position and the valley below (no man's land) were literally carpeted with dead bodies. They were lying almost three deep in the area about 30 metres in front of our bunkers. It was a terrible and gruesome sight. We estimated that the Chinese lost about 2000 men killed in that useless unnecessary attack in which a whole Chinese Regiment (about 4000 men) had been employed. As the wounded are usually more numerous than those killed on these occasions, the Chinese sacrificed a whole regiment that night because the cease fire came into effect a few days later.
After the truce and cease-fire both sides were agreed to withdraw a specified distance from the positions held at the time of the cease-fire. A demilitarised zone was thus established right across Korea. Each side then established and developed new defensive positions. In the case of my brigade the forward edge of my sector fronted on the River Imjin in the vicinity of the 39th parallel.
In the months which followed the cease-fire, until I returned to Australia in 1954, we had to keep constantly alert and prepared for a surprise attack in the event that negotiations at Panmunjon should break down and the cease-fire become ineffective. During this period we paid great attention to maintaining the morale and health of our troops. We worked them hard and kept them busy and provided as much leave and entertainment as was practicable in the circumstances. Without the stimulus of danger which is always present during active warfare, the problem of maintaining morale has to be as well handled as ensuring they are not exposed to undue risk during operations. During my 14 day leave period I went back to Japan - rested for a few days at Mia Jima. Then some sight-seeing on the mainland islands.
(N.B. I will write elsewhere some views about the strategy, tactics, military capabilities etc. relating to the Korean War)
The above brief account of my year in Korea would not be complete without a reference to the climate -- a mild, beautiful Spring, intensely hot and humid in Summer, pleasant Autumn and bitterly cold in Winter. Also, I met many U.S. senior commanders whom I was again to see on a number of subsequent occasions in S.E. Asia, Vietnam and U.S.A. General Maxwell Taylor was one of these. He later became Chief of Staff U.S. Army, then Chairman U.S. Joint Chief of Staff, then special adviser to President Kennedy and later U.S. Ambassador in Vietnam.
BRIGADIER i/c ADMINISTRATION E. COMMAND
On return to Australia from Korea in March 1954 I was appointed Brigadier i/c Administration at HQ Eastern Command, Victoria Barracks, Sydney. In this appointment I was entitled to a married quarter within the Barracks area and thus ended the housing problems which Helen had endured while I was in Korea. John D. and Robert continued to attend Cranbrook School and Virginia went to St Marks preschool at Darling Point. From the family viewpoint, the 18 months or so I spent as Brigadier i/c Admin. was pleasant and happy. We were well housed and had many friends and relatives within easy reach.
The General Officer Commanding (G.O.C.) E. Command at that time was Lt. Gen. Eric Woodward who subsequently became Governor of New South Wales. In my job I had to deal on behalf of the G.O.C. with all aspects of personnel administration and logistics. It also involved a great deal of routine paper work and long hours at my desk. I learnt a great deal about peacetime administration (as opposed to administration in the field) and rapidly formed the opinion that many of the procedures were unnecessarily involved and cumbersome and needed streamlining. Also authority -- especially financial authority -- was not delegated to the lowest level at which it could be responsibly and effectively exercised. Too many routine papers had to be personally signed by myself, or even the G.O.C., instead of delegating the authority to the responsible officer in charge of the branch or section of the HQ staff concerned. Whilst at E. Command I was able to effect some marginal improvements, but the basic changes required needed policy changes in Canberra. I kept this in mind when I later became Chief of the General Staff.
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