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Raymond Oliver MM

Raymond Oliver MM

Private, Australian Army



Private Raymond Ivan Oliver served on garrison duty with 1RAR from December 1955 to March 1956 following the Armistice. He continued his service in the Army for the next 33 years, serving in the Malaya Emergency and two tours in Vietnam with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) where he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. As a huge fan of Korean food, he often visits Korean Barbeque restaurants.


Click on images to enlarge.

Photography by Tae Yun. Courtesy of the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Sydney.

Raymond (Ray) Oliver participated in cadets at school in Western Australia, and enlisted for the Army when he was 18 years old. After working in a series of “normal” jobs, he decided to enlist while on holiday in Rushcutters Bay.

“I always had an interest in the Army, so I thought I’d enlist.”

In early 1955, he completed his basic training in Kapooka. He then went to Ingleburn for a further three months training with 4 Battalion. After completing his training, he spent three months with 3 Battalion before being posted to 1 Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) in Korea.

“We were all volunteers, so we felt quite thrilled to go to Korea.”

Ray flew straight to Japan where he was equipped with winter gear and spent about 3-4 weeks becoming acclimatised. He then went to Korea.

As a Western Australian native, Ray was thrown into his first winter in Korea. The winters are known to be below freezing with winds coming from Siberia.

“It got down to minus 27 degrees. It was one of the worst winters they had. We were fitted with special winter gear. It was very heavy, American gear but it was very good.”

1RAR was with the peacekeeping forces that remained in South Korea after the Armistice was signed. They served as part of the 27 British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade which comprised of a number of forces. 

“There was quite good camaraderie in the forces. We had New Zealanders, Canadians and on our left flank, the Americans.”

When Ray first arrived, he was a rifleman in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border of North Korea and South Korea.

“Our job was to patrol the southern part of the DMZ, just keeping the border safe and making sure there was no infiltration.”

A month after he arrived, he took over the role of Bren Gunner when the one they had was medically evacuated.

“I carried the bren gun, but I never ever fired it.”

Ray recalls only having one contact with North Korean forces during his border patrols.

“It was our patrol on one side and theirs on the other side. We just kept an eye on each other and kept walking.”

After spending around 3-4 weeks as a Bren Gunner, Ray was transferred to be the Adjutant’s driver. Part of the job was to assist in medical evacuations (medevacs) if needed.

“If we were ever attacked, we were trained in medevacs in American Jeeps and to assist the medics to get the wounded out. The Jeep was fitted to be used if necessary. We didn’t have to use it, thank god.”

Ray’s deployment finished in March 1956 and he returned to Australia on the troopship SS New Australia

“I was a little bit sad about coming home. The ship was quite crowded but it was alright. We didn’t do much, just relaxing and getting our gear in order.”

On return, he was transferred to 3 Battalion at Holsworthy in Sydney’s south-west and in 1959 he went with his battalion to serve in the Malayan Emergency. After serving in Malaya, he transferred to the Royal Australian Army Service Corps and did two tours with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) where he earned the Military Medal.

In 1977, he retired from the Royal Australian Corps of Transport as a Regimental Sergeant Major and 11 years later he retired from the Army Reserves. After his service, he worked in the NSW Government as a driver for the Premier’s department.

“I enjoyed the whole lot of it. I’ve got no complaints.”

Discover more stories of Korean War veterans at the Armistice in Korea: 1953-2023 photography exhibition open at the Anzac Memorial until 7 August