Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green was the much-respected first commander of 3 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) in Korea...
Charles Hercules Green was born at Grafton NSW on 26 December 1919. He worked on his father's dairy farm and in 1936 he joined the 41st Militia Battalion, rising to Lieutenant by 1939. Green was posted to the 2/2nd Infantry Battalion at the outbreak of WWII. He served in the Middle East and first saw action at Pinios Gorge in Greece in April 1941. In the disastrous retreat from Greece, Green avoided capture, escaping by sea through the Aegean Islands and Türkiye to safety in Palestine.
Green returned to Australia in August 1942. Promoted to Major, he instructed at an army tactical school. He married Edna Warner on 30 January 1943. Green embarked for New Guinea as second in command of his old battalion in December 1944. In March 1945 he was given command of 2/11 Infantry Battalion, at 25 he was the youngest battalion commander in the AIF. From May to the end of the war he led the battalion in action and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
After the war, Green returned to civilian life and joined the permanent military forces. When the Korean War began he was selected to command the first Australian infantry battalion in the newly created Australian Regular Army to go to war. He arrived in Japan on 8 September 1950, and had just a few weeks to turn a battalion serving as occupation troops into a battalion capable of fighting a first-class enemy.
The baptism of fire of 3RAR was the battle of the apple orchard on 22 October 1950. Green led from the front and was awarded a US Silver Star. In the following week Green led the Battalion in two more successful battles at broken bridge and Chongju.
Another battalion took over the advance after Chongju while 3RAR rested. The day after the battle Green was asleep in his tent when one North Korean shell exploded nearby. Green was the only man hit. As he was taken away in an ambulance he was heard to ask if everyone else was all right. He died the following day.
Green was described by Lieutenant Alf Argent as:
a tall, dark, sinewy man with the bearing, and unhurried deliberateness one usually associates with men of the land. Pressure never seemed to bother him. He had a fine touch and the presence of a natural leader. His command in Korea was always firm and sure. He always gave good, clear and concise orders. He kept well forward, in fact immediately behind the leading company group. …After six weeks he had moulded the battalion into a fighting unit.