BATTYE, Alan (Army 41020)

BATTYE, Alan (army 41020) - portrait informal
The photograph of Pte Alan Leslie BATTYE is from the collection of his sister, Mrs Anne BOULTER (nee BATTYE) of Victor Harbor. It was taken by Anne at the family home in Encounter Bay whilst Alan was on leave.

41020 Private Alan Leslie BATTYE

Alan was born at Victor Harbor on 16 April 1929, the second of three children of George William BATTYE and Edith Florence BATTYE (nee LEE). Alan was educated at the Victor Harbor Primary and High Schools. In 1951 he enlisted in the Australian Regular Army, age 22. After his recruit and basic training, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR). The Regiment embarked aboard the British troopship Devonshire on 3 March 1952 from Circular Quay, Sydney and sailed for Japan, docking at Kure on 18 March. The Battalion disembarked and travelled to Kaitaichi to rekit for operations in Korea.

From the website: https://www.1rar.org.au/korea-1952-1953/

On 2 April 1952, the main body of 1RAR led by Major SP WEIR MC, embarked on Empire Longford and departed Kure, Japan at 0800 hrs. The next morning at 0830 hours the ship berthed in Pusan Harbour, South Korea where 1 RAR disembarked at 1100 hours and proceeded by rail to the bivouac area at NAM-MYON south of Line KANSAS.

On the 5th April 1952 the Battalion moved into the line and began familiarization and tactical training.

Op “Blaze” on the 2nd July 1952 was a company attack by A Coy on Hill 227 to capture prisoners and keep the enemy off balance, led by Major D S Thomson and commenced at 0900hrs. Pte “Jock” Burgess who had previously served in Scottish regiments piped the company into and through the attack. Flame-throwers and grenades were used to good effect destroying bunkers but the company withdrew without prisoners.

The Battalion was later ordered to mount another raid to try to capture an enemy prisoner and destroy their defences. A Coy with elements of Support Coy was ordered to do the raid on 2nd July 1952.

Within about 30 minutes the forward troops had reached the top of Hill 227, unseen by the enemy. There was no enemy reaction to the assault until we reached the summit when we came under quite heavy 60mm mortar and small arms fire.

I Platoon – I Sec took up a fire position and engaged the enemy.

2 Sec took up a position in front of A, B, and C Bunkers and engaged them.

3 Sec was detailed for bunker destruction.

1Platoon suffered 5 casualties and claimed one enemy WIA. There were certainly enemy casualties in both B and C Bunkers – numbers unknown, and probably in A Bunker.

2 Platoon with 8 Sec of 3 Platoon – On reaching the top, 8 Section of 3 PI went forward to the unoccupied Dog Outpost on a spur to the right front without opposition, with the aim of preventing any enemy forward movement. There were 5 unoccupied bunkers at Dog Outpost, some badly damaged. The section gave good fire support with LMG and 2 inch mortar fire, silencing some enemy on Plug and on the reverse slopes of Harry. They suffered casualties and were short of ammunition, but stayed until ordered to withdraw.

4 Sec moved under mortar fire to Bath, which was unoccupied but a large active bunker was about 80 metres NW of Bath, which they engaged. The section also engaged enemy on the Plug feature, and other enemy active with LMGs on Harry. The section suffered 4 casualties but did well in engaging the enemy.

5 Sec moved to Woody Spur and the bunker area was swept by flame. E Bunker was completely destroyed and D Bunker was dealt with by flame (thrower), and percussion grenades. The section knocked out one enemy LMG on Harry and silenced another. They suffered 3 casualties. The section commander was wounded by a shell on return to our lines.

6 Section moved with Platoon HQ to a defiladed position between Woody spur and Dog Outpost. The Platoon sergeant moved with the reserve section LMG and assisted in neutralizing fire from Harry and Plug. 6 Sec was then moved to a position between Hill 227 and Bath where it gave covering fire until the Company withdrew. One man was killed by mortar fire. The Platoon sergeant Alee Smith received fatal wounds when he went to the assistance of 1 Platoon at B Bunker.
The Platoon casualties were one KIA, one Died of Wounds, seven WIA.

Known casualties inflicted on the enemy by the Platoon totaled 2 KIA and 3 WIA. Other casualties were probably inflicted in Bunkers E and D, and by the high volume of fire maintained on Plug and Harry. Two-inch mortar fire on the reverse slopes may have accounted for further enemy.

3 Platoon Less One Sec. They were sited in reserve on the forward slopes of Hill 227. The Platoon assisted with the evacuation of casualties from Hill 227. Additional riflemen from B Coy were allotted to act as stretcher-bearers. The evacuation of casualties was a major and important task. The men were under constant mortar fire throughout the operation and sustained five casualties.

The Battalion continued to aggressively patrol by night and day and maintain their dominance of no man’s land. They were subject to heavy shelling and mortar attack but continued to control their immediate area. This incurred a cost of 11 KIA, 32 WIA and 1 MIA in the first month.

The climate was also the enemy, as the temperature would fall to minus 16 degrees Celsius with the howling north wind bringing an even lower reading. The ground was frozen which made patrolling up steep hills very dangerous and the digging of pits impossible.

Alan returned to Australia on 17 November 1952. The Battalion departed from Korea on 24 March 1953, and arrived in Sydney on 9 April. Alan remained in the army until 1954. Alan died in 1976 in Edwood, Western Australia. His son, Robert lives in Adelaide.

References:

Website of the 1 RAR Association – https://1rar.org.au

Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research team, November 2017.