The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

'Sans Peur'       Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders red and white dicing       'Ne Obliviscaris'


MUIR, Kenneth (1912 1950)

1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Victoria Cross (posthumous) awarded 23rd September 1950

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross
'for valour'
Name (50980) MUIR, Kenneth
Rank Major
Service Army, The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Theatre where VC was won Hill 282, Songju, Korea
Recorded in London Gazzette 5 January 1951
Place & Date of Birth Chester, Cheshire, 6 March 1912. Kenneth Muir came from an army family. His father was appointed commanding officer of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in 1923. He was commissioned as an officer in 1932. He saw active service on the north-west frontier of India from 1935 to 1938. During World War 2 he was promoted to acting lieutenant-colonel and saw active service in Sudan, North Africa, Italy, France, and Germany. By the end of the war he had earned eight campaign medals and a mention in dispatches.
Place & Date of Death Korea (killed in action), 23 September 1950
Burial Ground UN Memorial Cemetery, Pusan, Korea
Current Location of VC Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Museum, Stirling Castle

Scene of Action

Songju, South Korea - 'B' and 'C' Companies of the 1st Battalion were given the task of taking and holding Hill 282, which was dominated by another higher feature, Hill 388, about 1500 metres to the west. The battalion took Hill 282, but were heavily counter-attacked by vastly superior numbers of North Korean forces from Hill 388. The position came under heavy mortar and artillery fire. Under cover of this fire, the enemy were able to penetrate the Argylls left flank.

Continued enemy mortar and shell attacks caused both Argyll Companies to sustain more casualties and to experience disruption to their chains of command and communication. Stretcher bearers were called for, to evacuate the wounded.

Major Kenneth Muir, who was only visiting the Companies' position at that time, took command of what was a worsening situation. He directed the evacuation of the wounded and continuously encouraged the men to make determined efforts to hold the position, even though ammunition was running short and he was at great personal risk from enemy fire.

A call for American air support was made. Coloured recognition panels were placed on the Argylls' position on Hill 282, but the US air strike hit the Argylls' position by mistake. A hail of napalm, rockets, and cannon fire from the air strike caused even more casualties to the Argylls and they had to withdraw from their hard-won position to a level fifty feet below the Hill 282 crest.

Only thirty fighting fit men remained, but the enemy were unaware of this and did not press their advantage by seizing Hill top 282. Major Muir rallied the remaining three officers and men and personally led a counter-attack on the Hill top.

Despite the demoralising effect of the strike by 'friendly fire', the scale of the casualties and the continued enemy bombardment, the troops responded to Major Muir's courageous and determined leadership, regained the Hill top 282 initiative and consolidated their position.

All this time Major Muir continued to move among the troops, sharing out the diminishing ammunition resources and continually giving them words of encouragement. Eventually his own weapon ran out of ammunition, so he grabbed a 2 inch mortar and continued to bombard the enemy with shells.

It was at this point that he was hit by two bursts of enemy machine-gun fire, from which he fell, mortally wounded. With his last conscious breath he defiantly uttered these words, "Neither the Gooks nor the US Air Force will drive the Argylls off this hill ! "

As a result of his courageous and determined actions, all of the wounded were successfully evacuated, the Hill top 282 position was held and very heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy.

For valour in the face of the enemy, Major Kenneth Muir was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, which his parents received from King George VI on 14 February 1951. The Americans also honoured him with the posthumous award of their Distinguished Service Cross.

Major Muir was buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Pusan, Korea. map of Korea


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