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Korea: An Australian Hero a Prisoner of the Chinese.
Horace 'Slim' Madden. GC. (George Cross).
Horace Madden was born in 1924 and was brought up in Sydney Australia. In 1942 he was mobilised and at the age of 18 served with the 8th Field Ambulance in New Guinea, as well as the 5th Motor Ambulance Convoy on Bouganville. He also served in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation force. He received his discharge papers in June 1947, then worked as a nurse for three years. He became unsettled and decided upon a change.
In August of 1950 he joined the Australian Army and joined the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR). The Regiment was the first Australian force committed to the Korean War. They were part of the United Nation's defence of South Korea and were of course to fight the Chinese Communist backed North Korea. The Regiment arrived in Korea in 1950, having undergone a period of intensive training in Japan. Madden arrived in November and worked in the signals platoon as a linesman. On 22April 1951, RAR was part of a UN force holding positions at the northern end of the KapyongValley. The Australians, along with the Canadian 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, were holding forward positions on behalf of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade. They came under massive Chinese attack. The battle of Kapyong was fierce, the Australians were forced into a tactical withdrawal. Early on the morning of 23 April Private Madden was captured along with two other soldiers, Corporal Bob Parker and Private Keith Gwyther.
Prisoner of War Camp.
After the battle Madden, Parker and Gwyther spent several days recovering wounded Chinese soldiers from the front. That work completed, they were marched to a notorious prisoner of war camp known as 'Bean Camp'' Madden had always been an optimistic and cheerful person and he remained so. At the same time he was defiant in his demeanour to the Chinese Guards. He refused to co-operate and was repeatedly beaten. Food rations were poor to say the least and due to his behaviour, Madden was deprived of food. Obviously, his health declined but there was always someone weaker than he was. Although his health was failing and he was himself becoming weaker, he still gave small amounts of food to the other prisoners. He was clearly suffering from malnutrition by now. In October he was among the sick and wounded who were forcibly moved 140 miles to another Prisoner Of War camp at Pingchong-Ni. - Sometime in November / December 1951. Private Horace ' Slim ' Madden died from malnutrition having sacrificed his life for his comrades.
At The End Of Hostilities.
As soon as was possible after the conflict and to their credit, many men stepped forward. They told their personal stories, of how 'Slim' Madden's inspirational actions and words had helped them get through. Private Keith Gwyther with whom he was captured said. ''He became a legend, Slim was a real hero. He didn't try to be like that, nothing could make him co-operate with the enemy'' His name and reputation grew and in 1955 he was posthumously awarded the George Cross. The highest award given to any Australian soldier in the Korean war. - Such men are rare.
© 2012 Graham Lee