John Murphy - Napalm victims from US bombing

Running time
2 min 36 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


One of the things that happened during the day, you know, in the morning, the Americans accidentally dropped napalm on some of our fellows. We had to tend to them and, you know, when the fighting withdrawal was on we had to carry them out and the Australians won't leave wounded, you know, they might leave their dead but they won't leave their wounded and we had to carry those guys, you want to see those guys, there was skin, the napalm, the face you could see the bone of the jaw sticking out, then elbows and arms, clothes burned off and just the bone and even that was burnt brown, you know, from the napalm. It was terrible.

We had to bring them out and we had taken forty Chinese prisoners, one of the other companies had taken those prisoners and we had to bring those prisoners out with them. We used some of those prisoners to carry some of the wounded and some of the weapons that the dead and wounded had so Ben O'Dowd was the A company captain and he was the main battle commander and he organised a retreat and it wasn't a rout it was just a retreat, a fighting withdrawal and we were hitting the Chinese as they were coming after us. We had the support from the New Zealand artillery and then a couple of American tanks helped also and stopped the Chinese and the Chinese went over and hit the Canadians so we were able to get away and that was it, two days, well one full day and a half a day, continuous fighting and I'm telling you we were pretty glad when we got out and got into what they call Brigade headquarters where the Middlesex battalion was and that was as far as I was there, that was it, that was Kapyong. I always say and I say it again it was the tenacity and the training and the Australian tradition, when they go into a spot they don't retreat.

You'll either knock us off or we'd stay there. The only reason that they withdrew there was because they ran out of ammunition and we had no way of treating the wounded. We had forty prisoners and we had some folks burning up with napalm. We had to get out to get them help and that was the reasons for the fighting withdrawal.

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