Veterans' Stories

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The Moving Bush

by Ramon J. Mason 24592 3RAR & 1RAR

Monday 5 November 1951, B Coy 3 Bn. RAR was dug in on the eastern ridgeline of Hill 317 (Maryang San). The main tall part of hill 317 was held by the KOSB (King's Own Scottish Borderers) until Sunday 4 November 1951, when the Chinese drove them off it.

It was a fine, warm and sunny morning, when Privates Bob Van Der Loop, Ray Low and myself, proceeded down the southern slope to relieve the in post members situated in a fighting pit about 30 feet (9 metres) above the road (2 wheel ruts).

We'd been there about an hour, when I noticed on my right flank a very bushy bush moving down the middle of the road. I alerted my comrades to this phenomenon. Bob, being not only the senior soldier, but the most experienced of us, told me to move about 20 feet (6 metres) to the right and Ray to do the same to the left and to follow his example. As I moved to the right, I cocked my Owen gun, then stood pointing it at the bush as it moved towards us. As it passed, I could see the Chinese soldier carrying it.

When he got level with Bob, Bob whistled, the soldier stopped and looked at Bob. Then I whistled, so he looked at me. When Ray whistled, the soldier dropped his bush, then bent down and placed something on the ground. He then stood up facing Bob with his hands held high.

I walked down and frisked him, then I picked up the stick grenade he'd laid on the ground. I motioned towards Bob with my Owen and we climbed up to the fight pit. Meanwhile Bob rang Coy HQ and told them what was occurring. A few minutes later, two of our men came down and collected our prisoner and took him up the hill. I assume that the soldier had got separated from his comrades during the previous night's battle, and not knowing whether they'd taken the hill, was making his way past us to the Samichon Valley about a ¼ of a mile to the east. There he would have turned left up the valley to his own lines. His mistake was in trying to do so in daylight

First Published in The Voice, February 2014