Jack Skipper was accepted to enter the Royal Military College, Duntroon in early 1948. He had finished his schooling in 1947 in Perth where he was active in cadets and rowing.
He passed the four-year course at Duntroon and graduated as an Infantry Lieutenant in December 1951.
Following his graduation, he was posted with 1 Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) at Puckapunyal in Victoria where training was underway for their movement to Korea.
Jack was posted to take a reinforcement draft by sea to Korea via Kure, Japan.
On arrival in Kure, Jack and the other reinforcements were sent to Haramura Battle School for training by the Australian Instructional Team. Following completion of the battle school course, Jack and the other reinforcements were flown to Korea by the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) transport.
Jack was posted to 1RAR as a replacement Platoon Commander for B Company which had lost two Platoon Commanders in action.
At this stage of the war, Jack’s platoon operations were fighting and ambush patrols during the night, as well as constant improvement of the defensive positions which had been subjected to very heavy fighting and regular enemy artillery and mortar fire.
“Before patrolling it was normal to assemble the chosen team behind the defensive position for a briefing. We would create a rough sand model of the patrol route for that night and discuss our mission and movements.
On one occasion, having completed the briefing, we moved to the rear of our defensive position and completed test firing our weapons. We had a New Zealand artillery unit behind us, and they were firing heavy motors on the enemy positions.
We returned to our briefing position to discover a ‘drop short’ bomb had landed exactly on our sand model that we had gathered around earlier. We were very lucky. The Kiwis were very upset and apologised. However, we realised it was an acceptable and normal accident.”
1RAR maintained a policy of “aggressive patrolling and in-depth protection with main forward listening posts and close liaison with the battalion’s supporting artillery and attached centurion tanks”.
“The aggressive patrolling, the forward listening posts and supporting arms did ensure, to a large degree, that our defensive positions could not easily be subjected to a surprise enemy attack without timely warning.
However, it did place a heavy load on the standards and skills of my NCOs [Non-Commissioned Officers] and troops which was very high, and they supported me consistently and bravely at a very high level.”
Jack had some keen observations of his time in Korea, including the smells he encountered.
“The Chinese rations included large portions of dried fish and we believed we could smell the enemy before we saw them or became close. Then again, the enemy could probably smell us with our heavy use of cigarettes, as supplied in our ration packs.”
Jack left the platoon due to a wounding, and following his recovery, was posted as a Liaison Officer at the 28 British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Headquarters.
“I treasured my time with the very capable diggers of B Company 6 Platoon. I enjoyed my liaison duty with vehicle and radio operation at the Republic of Korea unit alongside Hill 355.”
Following Jack’s 12-month posting to Korea for the war, he was subsequently posted back to the Haramura battle training school in Kure, Japan.
Discover more stories of Korean War veterans at the Armistice in Korea: 1953-2023 photography exhibition open at the Anzac Memorial until 7 August