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W J Rowlinson, DCM and bar

the most highly decorated Australian soldier of the Korean War. 

Canberra, ACT. 1982-04-30. Studio portrait of Captain William Josiah Rowlinson DCM and Bar, the most highly decorated soldier of the Korean War. Captain Rowlinson (then Corporal) received his Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallant actions at Kapyong, Korea, on 23 to 25 April 1951. As a Sergeant, Rowlinson was awarded a Bar to his DCM for actions involving an attack on Hill 317 during Operation Commando on 10 October 1951.  AWM photos and text.

William J Rowlinson, DCM and bar was born at Balgowlah, NSW, in 1919. After pre-war cadet service with 17 Battalion, he joined the AIF in June 1941, serving as NX37487 with 2/7 Armoured Regiment, a unit which did not see service outside Australia. In November 1944, seeking a combatant role, he transferred to 1 Australian Parachute Battalion, reverting to private from the rank of sergeant, but the war ended before this unit saw action. 

After a period with 113 Australian General Hospital as a volunteer in tropical disease research, Rowlinson was awarded the Commander-in-Chief's Commendation Card, but took his discharge from the Army in 1946. In 1950, he re-enlisted for service in Korea, becoming number 2/400239 with 3 RAR. Twice wounded in Korea during 1951, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Bar for his gallant conduct in the battles of Kapyong and Maryang-San, becoming the most highly decorated Australian soldier of the Korean War. 

In early 1952 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the regular army, but later in the year, while giving instruction in the use of explosives at Ingleburn, he was seriously injured in a Gelignite explosion, his right hand and forearm being amputated as a result. He recovered from his injuries, remaining in the army until 1957, and reaching the rank of Captain. Bill Rowlinson died in the late 1990s.


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces