Custom Sports Shirts – Assault Pioneers Platoon, Support Company, 3 RAR
Recently we produced sports shirts and hoodies for the Assault Pioneer Platoon from Support Company, 3 RAR who requested a number of customised features that Unit Shirts was more than happy to cater for. The team chose to stamp their platoon identity on the shirt with the unmistakable ‘Brotherhood of the Axe‘ on the back, whilst also maintaining their connection with their wider Unit identity with the age-old Battalion adage of ‘Old Faithful’.
It’s a proud, informal citation that has endured since the Korean War, where 3 RAR came to be known by this affectionate name among other units serving there. It was a reference largely founded upon the fact that the Battalion was the first Australian Army unit in action in Korea, and was still on the front line when the fighting ended.
With 3 RAR’s Korean War history in mind, it seems rather fitting also that we publish this post during the anniversary period of the Battle for Maryang San; a battle well known and revered by all those who pass through the ranks of the Battalion.
As part of Operation Commando, conducted during the period 2-8 October 1951, 3 RAR assisted the capture of Hill 355 (Kowang San) by a British unit and subsequently conducted a classic battalion assault to capture Hill 317, Maryang San. During the fierce battle, 3 RAR dislodged a numerically superior enemy from a position of significant tactical advantage, with the action becoming a textbook example of battlefield command and initiative at all levels. During this phase of operations, 3 RAR was responsible for at least 280 enemy KIA, whilst sustaining 20 KIA within its own ranks.
In later years, the Commanding Officer at the time of the battle, LTCOL Frank Hassett said of the action:
The fighting by the 3rd Battalion at Maryang San was a sequence of stories of ordinary soldiers rescuing their mates, plugging gaps, pushing on hard, ignoring wounds to stay in the fight… They were prepared to accept great risks, they knew what had to be done, and they were determined to do it.
There are plenty of brave soldiers the world over, and some of them are very skilful also. But it is the added qualities of commonsense, initiative, and concern for his fellows, so amply demonstrated by 3 RAR at Maryang San, that put the Australian soldier in a class apart. Unquestionably, the soldiers won the Maryang San battle, not just because they were brave, but because they were smart also.
There was no heroes’ welcome home for these warriors. They left Australia as individuals or in small groups and returned the same way, unheralded and unsung. Somehow, it did not seem to matter. There was much quiet satisfaction just in knowing one had fought at Maryang San.
Figure 1. Soldiers of 3 RAR – Maryang San
Next to the time spent in-country, ‘Old Faithful’ was born of the courage and exceptional soldiering qualities of the Unit’s forebears in actions like Maryang San. It’s a torch of tradition that the Battalion continues to carry and is a badge of honour that the soldiers of Assault Pioneer Platoon can wear with pride on their new sports shirts.
The battle of Maryang San : 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, Korea 2-8 October 1951 – Bob Breen
Australian War Memorial website: https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/korea/maryang_san