Korean War Battlefield Report

Korean War Battlefield Report

A September 14, 1950, a live report from the battlefield by combat correspondent Ens. Marines landing at Wolmi Do Island in Ichon Harbor, Korea.

About Duquesne University

Duquesne University, with its long tradition of academic excellence and community service, is a widely recognized pioneer in online graduate nursing education. Our students and faculty are passionate about advancing the practice of nursing and serious about making a difference in the world. And now you can join them.

Earning your nursing degree online with Duquesne means that you’ll benefit from individual attention and unmatched support. Once you’re accepted into one of our online nursing programs, you’ll be assigned a faculty mentor who will assist you in the completion of a program plan. Learn more about the online nursing programs offered by Duquesne University.


The soldiers were typically high school students. In its narrowest sense, it often refers only to students who were forced to join them during the Japanese occupation period and Korean War. Generally, students who were studying found themselves exempted from the draft but in emergency situations, students were drafted into the army and engaged in the battle. [2]

The organization of 'The army of Student Soldiers for emergencies(비상학도대)' by 200 student officers of the "Association of the students who protect the country(학도호국단)" from all around seoul who gathered in Suwon was the first time student soldiers were conscripted . [3] Some of them were wearing rifles and ammunition with their uniforms as they were, and they entered the South Korean army unit, which was guarding the Han river from June 29, 1950, to participate in the battle. [4] However, the Ministry of National Defense has made most of the student soldiers responsible for the rear-end missions, including refugee relief, bulletin reports and street propaganda. [5] Many students were not satisfied with their mission in the rear, but they supported individual enlistment, and the rest asked students to authorize the Ministry of National Defense to form a battle unit with the school only. However, the Ministry of National Defense's high - ranking officials insisted on pursuing the guidance of the Ministry of Defense while retaining the participation of the academics who will bear the future of the nation. The evacuation academics who came to Daejeon on July 14 and the local academics organized themselves again. [6]

The students individually supported the local enlistment and served as soldiers of the Armed Forces. A number of female students were also appointed as nurses. [7] The student soldiers went down to Daegu and were once again organized into 10 divisions of the armed forces and their subordinate units. [8] The student soldiers made great achievements in the Nakdong River Defense Line, which was considered as the last fortress. [9] About 700 of them were transferred to UN troops in Busan in mid-July. After graduating, they went to Japan and went on a regular operation in Incheon Landing Operation on September 15. [10] In addition, the 22nd and 26th Regions of the Third Division of the Korea Army, and the 15th Regiment of the First Division of the Korea army filled the majority of the recruits with the student soldier from the middle of July. [11] At the beginning of August, the 25th generation newly formed army in Daegu also filled most of the troops with student soldier.

In early August, about 1,500 students from the army headquarters of the Army headquarters in Daegu soon joined the Korean Armed Forces in Milyang. [12] They penetrated the enemy's rear area and deployed guerrilla warfare. Among them, the 1st Battalion was put into landing operation in Yeongdeok District, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and 100 victims were killed. [13] The 2nd, 3rd and 5th battalions were put into Taebaek mountain range from early October and cleared the enemy who flew away. [14] After that, it was put into Honam district again from December, and the residue was swept away. [15] The school graduates also accomplished a great deal by carrying out pre-emptive activities for the residents in the vulnerable area south of the 38th and 38th in the restoration area, where frequent visits to spies were frequent.

As the army crossed the 38th parallel, the academics of the restoration area also supported the operation of the armed forces through various organizations themselves. They were grouped together with a 1.4 retreat and continued in the name of the school militia, and many of them enlisted as regular army troops, numbering about 4,000. [16] On the other hand, approximately 700 Korean-Japanese students from Japan were also raised to rescue their homeland. They joined the United Nations forces and participated in the battle, with 59 killed and 95 missing

In March 1951, when the ROK forces and UN troops restrained the tactics of the Chinese army and restored the balance and stability of the front lines, the people who came down to find refugees also began to return to their hometowns to regain their jobs. President Lee Seung-man announced that the young students who will bear the future of the nation should return to the academy urgently to continue their studies. The Ministry of Education issued the following instructions to the students scattered across the country. [17]

Blessing instruction Edit

Students received good luck blessings: [18]

① All student soldiers will return to their original school.

② School authorities will accept unconditional restitution if the military service of the school is cancelled due to military service

③ The military and other schools will be returning from military service

④ The students who missed the grade promotion of military uniforms will accept grade promotion according to their wishes.

Student Soldier Korean War monument Edit

There is a monument in front of Pohang Girls' High School in Haksan-dong, Buk-gu, Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do [19] where 71 students were ambushed wearing their uniforms at 4 am on 11 August 1950. They fought for an extended period of time with the North Korean Army, backed up by five armoured vehicles. In all 58 died. In order to honour their noble sacrifice, Pohang City built the memorial in 1977 and held a memorial service.

Student Soldier Memorial Hall Edit

On 16, September 16, 2002, a hall was opened in Yongheung Park, No. 103, Yongheung, Buk-gu, Pohang, GyeongSangBuk-do, in honour of the students who participated in the battle of Pohang District in GyeongsangBuk-do Province during the Korean War. [20] In the exhibition room, there are about 200 artifacts such as diaries, photographs, and weapons used by the municipal police officers at the time, worn clothes. In addition, war-related documentaries are shown in the audiovisual room.

Unknown Student Soldier Tower Edit

This tower is located at Seoul National Cemetery. In this tower, the remains of 48 unknown soldiers, who were killed in Pohang district during the Korean War were buried in a hemispherical grave. [21] As the war broke out in the wake of the Korean War, the country's fate was at risk, and about 50,000 students were dressed in school uniforms and volunteered to fight in the battlefields. In many cases, the bodies of those who were killed could not be found.

The 48 people here were those who were killed during the battle of Pohang against the North Korean army. At the time, these people were buried near Pohang Girls' High School. Later, the Cabinet decided to put them in the army cemetery. The Korea Student Soldier Fellowship moved them to the 5th Cemetery of the Korea Army Cemetery and then in April 1968 April, to the School Academic Unknown Soldier tower. [22]

The tower was erected on October 30, 1954 as the "Unknown Soldier", but was renamed as "Nameless Tower" by laying down a representative unnamed warrior on January 16, 1956. In April 1968, the body of a representative unnamed warrior was converted into a crypt and the tower was relocated to its present location. Forty-eight unnamed volunteers were stationed at the back of the tower, and the altar was moved to this place, marked as the "Grave of the Student Soldier." The name of the tower was also changed to "Unknown Student Soldier Tower". [23]

The tower is made up of three arched doors. There is an Unknown Student Soldier tower in the middle of a large door. In the center of the back of the tower is the hemispherical grave made of square granite stone. The stone of this tower is pentagonal, its surface is of sulfur grade, and the arch itself of granite. The height of the tower is 3.6m, the width is 8m, the height of the central gate is 5.5m, the height of the left and right door is 3 m, and the floor area of granite is 165㎡. [24]

Since 1968, the Government of South Korea has awarded the students national merits. [25] In January 1967, 317 people who could prove they met the criteria were handed the award. In 1997, the government handed it out to a further 45 people who had failed to receive it before.

On June 16, 2010, the movie 71: Into the Fire was released, which depicted the defense of P'ohang girls' middle school by 71 student soldiers during the Korean War, mainly in August 1950. [26]

Nightmare at the Chosin Reservoir

In late November 1950, a conclusion to the Korean War appeared to be close at hand. U.S., Republic of Korea (ROK), and various U.N. units had advanced deep into North Korea in an attempt to destroy any remaining North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) units and reunite Korea under one government. Some units had even reached the Yalu River, which separated Korea from Communist China.

But just as U.N. forces launched what was hoped to be the final offensive, hundreds of thousands of Communist Chinese soldiers poured into Korea, overwhelming the U.N. troops and completely changing the nature of the war. Fighting in extreme cold and over rugged terrain, the Americans and their allies were forced to retreat south down the Korean peninsula, suffering heavy casualties along the way.

(U.S. Army Center of Military History)

For one U.S. Army unit, the intervention of Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) resulted in absolute disaster. The 31st Regimental Combat Team, better known as Task Force MacLean (later known as Task Force Faith), comprised of elements of the 7th Infantry Division, was virtually annihilated east of the Chosin Reservoir. The experiences of the American soldiers who fought and died in the frigid cold of the Chosin area proved to be some of the most harrowing and tragic in the history of the U.S. Army.

In late November 1950, Task Force MacLean and the rest of the 7th Infantry Division were part of the U.S. Army’s X Corps, under the command of MG Edward M. Almond. X Corps had been steadily advancing up the eastern side of the Korean peninsula and was pressing on towards the Yalu.

On 24 November, the Eighth Army, under the command of LTG Walton H. Walker, which had been advancing north along the western side of Korea, went on the offensive. GEN Douglas MacArthur, commander of all U.N. forces in Korea, hoped this offensive would finally end the war, hopefully by Christmas. Yet, MacArthur and many on his staff were soon to make one of the worst military intelligence blunders in U.S. Army history. Ignoring reports of contact with CCF troops, MacArthur ordered the Eighth Army and X Corps to push on to the Yalu.

On the night of 25 November, one day after Eighth Army began its offensive, the CCF struck Eighth Army with massive numbers of troops. Thousands of Chinese soldiers, armed with burp guns and grenades, with bugles blaring, swarmed the American positions. Several American units were overrun and destroyed. The CCF onslaught took MacArthur and the U.N. forces completely by surprise and almost instantly changed the tide of the war. Soon, Eighth Army was in full headlong retreat southward.

Despite the CCF attack, the X Corps offensive scheduled for 27 November proceeded according to plan. The offensive called for the corps to strike west towards Mupyong, northeast of Kunu in the CCF rear, cut the Chinese supply lines, and possibly envelop the CCF in front of Eighth Army. The attack would be spearheaded by the 1st Marine Division, under the command of MG O.P. Smith, which would advance up the west side of the Chosin Reservoir, with the 7th Infantry Division (led by Task Force MacLean) along the east side of Chosin and the 3rd Infantry Division guarding the Marines’ flanks.

Colonel Allan D. “Mac” MacLean and Lieutenant Colonel Don C. Faith of the 31st Regimental Combat Team “Task Force MacLean”

Task Force MacLean, under the command of COL Allan D. “Mac” MacLean, commander of the 31st Infantry Regiment, had been formed in mid-November to relieve elements of the 1st Marine Division east of the Chosin Reservoir. MacLean, a 1930 graduate of West Point, had served as a staff officer in the European Theater during World War II. After the war, he commanded the 32nd Infantry in Japan. Later assigned to Eighth Army’s G-3 section, MacLean served as Walker’s personal “eyes and ears” during the early days of the Korean War. In early November 1950, he eagerly accepted command of the 31st Infantry, a unit he had served with in the Philippines early in his career.

Task Force MacLean consisted of the following units: the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 31st Infantry (2/31 and 3/31) the 31st Tank Company the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry (1/32), under the command of LTC Don C. Faith the 57th Field Artillery Battalion, equipped with 105mm howitzers and a platoon of eight antiaircraft vehicles (M19s with dual 40mm cannon and M16 quad-.50 halftracks) from D Battery, 15th Antiaircraft Artillery (Automatic Weapons) Battalion. In all, Task Force MacLean numbered about 3,200 men, including 700 ROK soldiers.

On 25 and 26 November, the lead elements of Task Force MacLean, Faith’s 1/32 Infantry, relieved the 5th Marines, which redeployed to join the rest of the 1st Marine Division along the west side of Chosin. However, due to delays with the rest of the task force’s redeployment, the 1/32, which occupied the 5th Marines forwardmost positions, stood alone without artillery support for a full day.

Don Faith, commander of the 1/32 Infantry, was considered one of the most promising officers in the Army. The son of a retired brigadier general, he had been handpicked from the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning by then MG Matthew B. Ridgway to serve as his aide-de-camp. He served with Ridgway throughout Europe and jumped with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day. In battle, Faith was considered a virtual clone of Ridgway: intense, fearless, aggressive, and unforgiving of error or caution.

Most of the remaining units that comprised Task Force MacLean arrived on the east side of Chosin on 27 November. MacLean was among the first to arrive and immediately jeeped forward to confer with Faith. He confirmed with Faith that the task force would attack north the following day with whatever forces were on hand and that the 1/32 would spearhead the attack.

MacLean positioned forces north to south in their approximate order of arrival: 1/32 Infantry MacLean’s forward command post (CP) the 31st Heavy Mortar Company the 3/31 Infantry A and B Batteries of the 57th FAB the 57th FAB CP and the eight A/A vehicles and finally, the 31st Infantry’s headquarters, located in a schoolhouse in the village of Hudong, and the twenty-two tanks of the 31st Tank Company. C Battery, 57th FAB, and the 2/31 Infantry were lagging behind and had not yet left the Pungsan area.

Late in the day MacLean ordered the 31st’s Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon to scout enemy positions. The platoon was ambushed in the hills around Chosin by CCF troops and every soldier was either killed or captured.

That night, MacLean laid out his final plans for the next day’s attack with the 7th ID assistant division commander, BG Hank Hodes. He then went forward to finalize them with Faith.

While MacLean and Faith remained confident, Task Force MacLean already faced serious problems. In addition to the disappearance of the I&R Platoon, communications between the scattered units were poor at best. There was no time to lay landlines and radio communications were virtually nonexistent. Furthermore, the task force was not in radio contact with the 7th ID HQ at Pungsan or the Marines in Hagaru-ri. The scattered units of Task Force MacLean were dangerously isolated, not only from the rest of the 7th ID and the Marines, but also from each other.

Also, unbeknownst to the Marines and Task Force MacLean, massive numbers of CCF troops were preparing to attack the dispersed units of X Corps on the night of the 27th. Three CCF divisions (59th, 79th, and 89th) were to hit the Marines at Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri, along with the 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, and farther south. One division (80th) would attack Task Force MacLean.

On 27 November, the X Corps offensive began with the 5th and 7th Marines attacking from Yudam-ni along the west side of Chosin. In light of the rugged terrain, bitterly cold weather, logistical problems, and the situation facing Eighth Army, the X Corps offensive, in the words of one historian, “ranks as the most ill-advised and unfortunate operation of the Korean War.” The Marines, reluctant to carry out the attack in the first place, advanced only 1,500 yards before they met stiff CCF resistance and suffered heavy casualties.

Later after dark, in zero-degree weather, the CCF divisions struck. Two divisions hit the 5th and 7th Marines frontally while a third cut the road between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri. Elements of another division also struck the 7th Infantry. The situation quickly became desperate for the American forces around Chosin.

East of the Chosin Reservoir, the situation was just as chaotic. During the early evening hours, the CCF 80th Division encircled the unsuspecting units of Task Force MacLean. At about 2200, the division attacked out of the darkness, with CCF soldiers blowing bugles and screaming wildly. The isolated units, cut off from each other, fought for their lives.

Faith’s 1/32 Infantry was hit first along the north side of its perimeter. Marine CPT Edward P. Stamford, a forward air controller assigned to the task force, took command of A Company after its commander was killed and also called in Marine air strikes. While Marine aircraft and the troops of the 1/32 inflicted heavy casualties on the CCF troops, the battalion suffered over one hundred casualties.

Several miles south, the situation was similar. The CCF struck the 3/31 Infantry and two batteries of the 57th FAB, overrunning much of their perimeter. Most of the senior officers were killed or wounded. The battle raged on through the night, with the CCF finally withdrawing at dawn for fear of American air attacks. Like the 1/32, the 3/31 and 57th FAB suffered heavy casualties and one of the A/A vehicles was destroyed. Furthermore, the 31st’s medical company was wiped out. Back at the 31st’s rear CP in Hudong, BG Hodes heard heavy gunfire to the north and immediately ascertained something was wrong. He quickly ordered CPT Robert E. Drake to take two platoons of the 31st Tank Company forward to the 3/31 and 1/32 perimeters. Drake’s rescue column, however, soon ran into trouble. Some tanks skidded out of control on the icy road, while others became hopelessly stuck in mud. The column was then attacked by CCF troops with captured American bazookas. Two tanks were knocked out and a wild fight ensued as Chinese swarmed the tanks and attempted to open the hatches. Two more tanks become mired and had to be abandoned. Drake ordered his remaining twelve tanks back to Hudong. Once the tanks returned, Hodes quickly realized Task Force MacLean was in serious trouble. He borrowed one of the tanks and rode to Hagaru-ri to get help.

At about 1300 hours on 28 November, MG Almond flew into the 1/32 perimeter to confer with MacLean and Faith. Seemingly unaware of the crisis at hand, Almond announced that Task Force MacLean would press on with the attack, claiming that the Chinese facing them were nothing more than the remnants of retreating units. He then added, “We’re going all the way to the Yalu. Don’t let a bunch of Chinese laundrymen stop you.” MacLean made no objection to Almond’s order, despite the fact that the task force was in no position to attack. Both Almond and MacLean would later be criticized for their failure of command east of Chosin. Almond never fully appreciated the enemy’s strength, while MacLean failed to give Almond a clear picture of the situation facing his own task force.

At around midnight on 29 November, the CCF 80th Division attacked Task Force MacLean once again. The fighting was savage, often hand to hand. At around 0200, MacLean, still in the 1/32 perimeter, ordered the battalion to withdraw south in the darkness to the 3/31’s perimeter, taking all weapons and wounded with them. The move was to be a temporary one to consolidate forces before attacking, as ordered by Almond, the following day.

After disabling and abandoning several vehicles and loading the wounded into trucks, MacLean, Faith, and the 1/32 began moving south at 0500. Darkness and falling snow made the maneuver difficult, but fortunately, the CCF did not attack. Along the way, the task force gathered up the 31st Heavy Mortar Company, which was located halfway between the 1/32 and 3/31 and had supported the two battalions during the CCF attacks.

By dawn, the battalion reached the 3/31 perimeter, only to find it under heavy enemy attack. Without communications, attempting to enter the perimeter would be an extremely hazardous operation. Furthermore, the Chinese had created a roadblock at a bridge on the road leading into the perimeter. Faith led a party of men that successfully drove the CCF off the bridge and cleared the block. MacLean then came forward in his jeep. He spotted a column of troops whom he believed were his overdue 2/31. The troops within the 3/31 perimeter, however, began firing on the column, much to the dismay of MacLean. The troops were actually Chinese. MacLean, still believing they were American, ran towards them, shouting, “Those are my boys.” He dashed out onto the frozen reservoir towards the perimeter, attempting to stop what he believed was friendly fire. Suddenly, CCF troops concealed near the bridge fired on MacLean, hitting him several times. MacLean’s men watched in horror as an enemy soldier grabbed him and dragged him into the brush.

Unfortunately, there was no time to attempt a rescue of MacLean. Faith had to focus on getting his men into the 3/31 perimeter. With the men crossing the frozen stream on foot and the vehicles with the wounded dashing across the bridge, most of the column made it into the perimeter.

Once in, Faith surveyed the carnage. Hundreds of American and CCF dead littered the ground. The 3/31 had suffered over 300 casualties and its L company had ceased to exist. With MacLean gone, Faith assumed command and did his best to strengthen the perimeter. Marine air controller CPT Stamford also called in for Marine close air support and an airdrop for desperately needed supplies, especially 40mm and .50 caliber ammunition. Faith then sent out search parties to look for MacLean, with no luck. MacLean was declared missing, but later, an American POW stated that MacLean died of wounds on his fourth day of captivity and was buried by fellow POWs. He was the second and final American regimental commander to die in Korea.

On the morning of the 29th, Drake’s 31st Tank Company made another attempt to reach the 3/31 perimeter, only to be driven back to Hudong by CCF troops dug in on Hill 1221. For the remainder of the day the newly designated Task Force Faith remained in position. With nearly 500 wounded, the force was in no position to carry out the attack ordered by Almond. Yet, Faith had no authority to order a withdrawal. The situation was helped somewhat by Marine close air support and an airdrop of supplies, although the drop lacked 40mm and .50 caliber ammunition. A Marine helicopter also flew out some of the most serious wounded. Task Force Faith’s situation, however, remained desperate, particularly since it had still had not established communications with the Marines or the 7th ID HQ.

MG Dave Barr, commander of the 7th ID, flew in by helicopter to bring Faith more bad news. All the units of X Corps, including Task Force Faith, now under operational command of the Marines, were to withdraw. The Marines would provide Faith with air support, but other than that, the men would be on their own. To make matters worse, the task force was burdened with wounded, which would make their withdrawal even more difficult. Furthermore, the 31st’s CP, the 31st Tank Company, and the HQ Battery, 57th FAB, had evacuated Hudong for Hagaru-ri, further isolating Task Force Faith.

At about 2000, the CCF launched another attack. While killing large numbers of Chinese, Task Force Faith suffered another 100 casualties. Faith soon concluded his force could not survive another major attack. He summoned his remaining officers and told them to prepare to move out at 1200. The task force, after destroying its artillery, mortars and other equipment, began to move south, carrying 600 wounded in thirty trucks.

With a twin 40mm gun vehicle leading the way, the column began to move at around 1300 hours. It immediately came under fire. Stamford called in Marine air support, but the lead plane’s napalm canisters hit the front of the column, engulfing several soldiers and creating panic throughout the task force.

The situation quickly grew worse. Heavy fire from the flanks killed many of the wounded in the trucks. The fire grew more intense as the column reached Hill 1221, which dominated the surrounding area. At the north base of the hill, the CCF had blown a bridge, forcing a two-hour delay as the lead A/A vehicle had to winch the thirty trucks across a stream. A roadblock then held up the task force, while the CCF troops on the hill kept up their heavy fire. There was only one way to break through: take Hill 1221. Several hundred men charged up the hill, including many of the wounded, some of whom said they preferred to die on the attack than while waiting in the trucks. Despite heavy casualties, the men drove the CCF off most of the hill. Many, however, simply kept going over the hill and down the other side, venturing out onto the frozen reservoir and walking towards Hagaru-ri.

The task force then ran into another block at a hairpin turn. Faith led an assault that cleared the enemy from it. However, he was struck by enemy grenade fragments and mortally wounded. Once Faith was lost the command structure of Task Force Faith collapsed. As the 1/32’s S-1, Robert Jones, described it, “When Faith was hit, the task force ceased to exist.” Faith would later be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

While some such as Jones and Stamford tried to provide leadership, Task Force Faith quickly fell apart. Another roadblock, this one comprised of disabled tanks from the 31st Tank Company and other vehicles, furthered delayed the column. At Twiggae, the CCF had blown another bridge, forcing the column to attempt a risky crossing of a railroad trestle. All the while, the vehicles were under fire. Many men left the trucks to hide or tried to escape over the reservoir. Many died from wounds and exposure, or were captured.

Just north of Hudong, the task force ran into yet another roadblock. This spelled the end for Task Force Faith. The CCF brought heavy fire to bear on the column. CCF troops lobbed grenades and fired rifles into the trucks, killing masses of wounded. Those who could escape ventured out onto the reservoir and began the arduous march to the Marine lines at Hagaru-ri.

During the night of 1-2 December, survivors straggled into the Marine lines. Many came through a sector held by the Marine 1st Motor Transport Battalion. LTC Olin L. Beall, commander of the battalion, led a rescue mission across the ice by jeep, picking up over 300 survivors, many suffering from wounds, frostbite, and shock. In all just over 1,000 survivors reached the Marine lines, and of those, only 385 could be considered able-bodied. The survivors, along with other 7th ID soldiers, were organized into a provisional battalion and attached to the 7th Marines. Known as the 31/7, the battalion participated in the 1st Marine Division’s breakout from Hagaru-ri to the coast beginning on 6 December.

For years afterward, the saga of Task Force MacLean/Faith had been largely ignored. Many believed that the collapse and panic that engulfed the task force had brought great shame to the Army. Upon closer examination, the task force’s role in the Chosin battle proved to be much more noteworthy. Many historians now agree that Task Force MacLean blocked the Chinese drive along the eastern side of Chosin for five days and allowed the Marines along the west side to withdraw into Hagaru-ri. Furthermore, the task force destroyed the CCF 80th Division. In recognition of their bravery, Task Force MacLean/Faith was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation in September 1999.

For additional information on Task Force MacLean/Faith, please read: Roy E. Appelman, East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea Clay Blair, The Forgotten War: America in Korea, 1950-1953 and Anthony Garrett, “Task Force Faith at the Chosin Reservoir,” in Infantry, (September-December 1999).

Special Operations Outlook 2019 Digital Edition is here!

A wounded American is lifted onto a helicopter at the 21st Infantry Regiment collecting station at Painmal, Korea, one mile south of the 38th parallel, for evacuation to a base hospital, April 3, 1951. Medical advances and rapid evacuation by helicopter cut the fatality rate for wounded from World War II’s 4.5 percent to 2.5 percent. National Archives photo

Though the Korean War came to be regarded as a failure by many because of its unsettled conclusion, in one area it was an unreserved success: the care and treatment of wounded soldiers. In World War II, the fatality rate for seriously wounded soldiers was 4.5 percent. In the Korean War, that number was cut almost in half, to 2.5 percent. That success is attributed to the combination of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH unit, and the aeromedical evacuation system – the casualty evacuation (casevac) and medical evacuation (medevac) helicopter. Both had been developed and used to a limited extent prior to 1950, but it was in the Korean War that both – particularly the helicopter – came into their own, and as Army Maj. William G. Howard wrote, “fundamentally changed the Army’s medical-evacuation doctrine.” Helicopter medevacs transported more than 20,000 casualties during the war. One pilot, 1st Lt. Joseph L. Bowler, set a record of 824 medical evacuations over a 10-month period. Another example tellingly highlights the impact of the helicopter. The Eighth Army surgeon estimated that of the 750 critically wounded soldiers evacuated on Feb. 20, 1951, half would have died if only ground transportation had been used.

“The wounded soldiers in Korea had a better chance of recovery than the soldier of any previous war. This was not only by virtue of improved medical treatments available at all echelons, but also in large measure because of his ready accessibility to major medical installations. …”

– Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, Commanding General of the United Nations Forces in Korea

The Korean War also provided an opportunity to study and test new equipment and procedures, many of which would go on to become standards of care in both the military and civilian medical communities. These included vascular reconstruction, the use of artificial kidneys, development of lightweight body armor, and research on the effects of extreme cold on the body, which led to development of better cold weather clothing and improved cold weather medical advice and treatment. The newest antibiotics were used widely, and other drugs that advanced medical care included the anticoagulant heparin, the sedative Nembutal, and the use of serum albumin and whole blood to treat shock cases. In addition, computerized data collection (in the form of computer punch cards) of the type of battle and non-battle casualties was used for the first time. The extensive detail and accessibility of this data allowed for the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of military medical information yet.

Wounded American soldiers are given medical treatment at a first aid station, somewhere in Korea, July 25, 1950. National Archives photo

Like the other organizations within the military, when the war started in June 1950, the medical departments were short of everything. The most acute shortage was with doctors, particularly specialists. A doctor draft was instituted in August 1950, and the first medical draftees arrived in Korea in January 1951. By the following year, 90 percent of the doctors stationed in Korea were draftees. Combat medical care doctrine in Korea consisted of a relay system. The first line of care was organized around two groups: a battalion aid station and a separate forward collecting station. The latter contained eight men composed of a doctor, medics, and litter bearers. Wounded would be gathered at them and an initial diagnosis, triage, and tagging would be performed. Harold Selly was an Army medic, part of a forward collecting station team. “We were always in danger of being attacked by the enemy, overrun by the enemy, being shelled by artillery, shelled by mortar, and grenades thrown into the station,” he recalled.

“We were always in danger of being attacked by the enemy, overrun by the enemy, being shelled by artillery, shelled by mortar, and grenades thrown into the station.”

The wounded would then be transported to a larger collection station located behind the front line. Once the wounded had been stabilized, they would be transported to a MASH unit or a division clearing station, depending on the type of wounds. From there the wounded would be transported to an evacuation hospital. If the wounds were serious enough, the wounded would then be airlifted to a hospital in Japan.

Service members aid a wounded man of the 24th Infantry Regiment after a battle 10 miles south of Chorwon, Korea, April 22, 1951. National Archives photo

Prior to the war, leaders in all the branches believed that the best way to transport wounded was by ground-based vehicle or ship. Rotary-wing evacuation was considered a means of last resort. The primitive to nonexistent road network in Korea forced commanders on the peninsula to reassess that doctrine and seek a faster alternative solution.

Rotary-wing evacuation was considered a means of last resort. The primitive to nonexistent road network in Korea forced commanders on the peninsula to reassess that doctrine and seek a faster alternative solution.

In July 1950, the Air Force deployed the 3rd Air-Sea Rescue (ASR) Squadron under Capt. Oscar N. Tibbetts. It was a unit trained to rescue downed aircrews behind enemy lines or in the sea. In August 1950, however, 3rd ASR Squadron received an Army request that changed the role of the helicopter in Korea and marked the beginning of a doctrine change in casualty evacuation. A forward aid station located on the summit of a 3,000-foot mountain had a seriously wounded soldier, but couldn’t do a ground-based evacuation because the enemy had cut off its route to the rear. The request was to fly the wounded soldier out by helicopter. The mission was a success, and the soldier’s life was saved.

An Air Force Air Rescue Service crew treats a wounded U.N. soldier on one of an H-5G helicopter’s two outboard litters. Note the glass bottle of whole blood hanging in the door and the litter cover on the ground. U.S. Air Force photo

Capt. Leonard A. Crosby of the Army Medical Service Corps immediately recognized the helicopter’s potential impact. In order to expedite its implementation as an aerial ambulance, on Aug. 3, 1950, he arranged for a demonstration in the courtyard of Taegu Teacher’s College. The demonstration was so successful that one week later the commander of the Fifth Air Force authorized the use of its helicopters in frontline evacuation of Army wounded. U.S. Army Surgeon General Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Bliss heard of Crosby’s demonstration and, after a fact-finding tour of Korea and a meeting with theater commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur, returned to the Pentagon with MacArthur’s recommendation “that helicopters should be in the Tables of Organization and Equipment and should be part of medical equipment – just as an ambulance is.” By the end of October 1950, eight helicopters assigned to frontline evacuation of wounded were on their way to MacArthur’s Far East Command. In 1951, the Army and the Air Force agreed that Army helicopters would be responsible for frontline rotary-wing aeromedical evacuation, and the Air Force would provide fixed-wing aeromedical evacuation outside the combat zone.

In January 1951, four aeromedical evacuation helicopter detachments arrived in Korea. One unit, the 1st Helicopter Detachment, never became operational because its helicopters were all reassigned to other units. As none of the units had organic administrative and support units, the remaining three detachments were attached to MASH units that had all the necessary support elements.

As a result of the draft that alleviated the doctor shortage in the military, almost all the staff doctors in the MASH units were civilian draftees, and though they took their work seriously, they displayed a more relaxed attitude about Army rules, regulations, and discipline.

The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital evolved out of the Portable Army Surgical Hospital and the forward surgical teams of World War II. As its name suggests, it was a small, fully equipped and staffed hospital capable of following an army in its campaign. Originally conceived as 60-bed hospitals, as a result of the large numbers of wounded they received this soon expanded to 200 beds. As the war went on, orthopedic surgeons, surgical technicians and other enlisted, as well as more nurses were added to the personnel originally planned for the MASH. More vehicles and trailers were also added, as the fluid nature of the Korean conflict had meant the “mobile” in the MASH acronym was employed time and time again. As a result of the draft that alleviated the doctor shortage in the military, almost all the staff doctors in the MASH units were civilian draftees, and though they took their work seriously, they displayed a more relaxed attitude about Army rules, regulations, and discipline. Dr. H. Richard Hornberger was one such medical draftee, assigned to the 8055th MASH. His experience with the unit served as the basis for his 1968 bestselling book M*A*S*H, which later became an Academy Award-winning movie and a successful, long-running television series.

A wounded U.S. Marine awaits transportation back to a field hospital after receiving first aid in the battle zone. National Archives photo

The medevac helicopters used in the Korean War were the Sikorsky H-5, the Bell H-13, and the Hiller H-23. They were fragile, high-maintenance aircraft with limited range. The early models had no radio or instrument lights in their cockpits. They couldn’t operate in bad weather, were limited on where they could land, and were fatally vulnerable to enemy ground fire. Even though they were not supposed to fly medevac missions at night, in emergencies many pilots did, holding a flashlight between their knees in order to see their instruments.

Even though they were not supposed to fly medevac missions at night, in emergencies many pilots did, holding a flashlight between their knees in order to see their instruments.

Ironically, the lack of a radio in some of the helicopters proved a boon. This forced the implementation of a doctrine using colored smoke grenades, marker panels, and hand signals to identify locations and landing sites.

Personnel and equipment needed to save a man’s life assembled at headquarters of the 8225th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Korea, Oct. 14, 1951. National Archives photo

In addition to the direct lifesaving benefit of swift transport from the battlefield to the MASH unit, the use of helicopters had an ancillary benefit: It boosted morale. Troops on the front knew that should they get seriously wounded, even if their unit was cut off, they could still be evacuated. Also, once casualties were strapped into a litter pod they tended to develop a “the worst is over” feeling, which contributed to their recovery.

Troops on the front knew that should they get seriously wounded, even if their unit was cut off, they could still be evacuated. Also, once casualties were strapped into a litter pod they tended to develop a “the worst is over” feeling, which contributed to their recovery.

Though the primary focus by the military medical staffs was on the care of the uniformed personnel that composed the United Nations Command (UNC) they became involved in additional missions during the war. As a result of the 50-year Japanese occupation of the country that had killed, imprisoned, or exiled almost all the educated classes, there were almost no Korean doctors for the civilian population. UNC medical staff at all levels assisted in giving care to civilians throughout the war whenever duties permitted.

One of the first shipments of whole blood from American Red Cross blood centers in the United States to be stored in Yokohama, Japan depot for shipment to Korea as needed. National Archives photo

One of the most unusual, and certainly the most dangerous event involving military medical personnel, was a deep penetration special operations mission into North Korea involving the theater’s top military medical officer, Chief of the Public Health and Welfare Section of the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in East Asia Brig. Gen. Crawford F. Sams.

As United Nations (U.N.) troops crossed the 38th parallel and advanced north in the fall of 1950, they encountered a civilian population decimated by epidemics of typhus, smallpox, and typhoid. In addition, captured North Korean, and later Chinese, troops were ill with these and other contagious diseases.

As United Nations (U.N.) troops crossed the 38th parallel and advanced north in the fall of 1950, they encountered a civilian population decimated by epidemics of typhus, smallpox, and typhoid. In addition, captured North Korean, and later Chinese, troops were ill with these and other contagious diseases. All the U.N. personnel had been vaccinated for the variety of diseases they were expected to encounter. But what troubled Sams, who received POW debriefing transcripts, were mentions of men turning black as they died. This suggested to him that bubonic plague – the Black Death – was in Korea. Unlike other vaccines, the one for bubonic plague renders only a short-term immunity. Because the plague threatened both the U.N. troops and approximately 23 million civilians in South Korea and it would take time to produce sufficient vaccine to inoculate everyone, confirming the presence of bubonic plague became a top priority.

A wounded Marine is given a drink of water as he lies awaiting evacuation to a rear area aid station, November 1952. National Archives photo

By February 1951, word of disease epidemics in the Communist armies and civilian population were becoming generally known. The North Koreans and Chinese Communists launched a propaganda campaign accusing Eighth Army Commander Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway and supreme commander MacArthur of conducting biological warfare, and demanding they be tried for crimes against humanity. The charges were false. The truth was that North Korea’s rudimentary health care system had collapsed under the combined weight of tens of thousands of infected troops, a large displaced population, bad hygiene, and other problems. But to conclusively refute the accusation, MacArthur needed proof delivered by an authority on the disease. Since the communists refused to allow the independent International Red Cross access to the infected areas, MacArthur had to take matters into his own hands. That meant a special operations mission into one of the infected regions with an expert on the disease who would examine victims, take samples, and if possible, capture someone with the disease and return to Japan with him. The problem was, there was only one man in the theater who had hands-on experience dealing with the disease: Sams. If the theater’s top surgeon general, and a general officer, were killed or captured during the mission, the communists would achieve an immense propaganda coup. Nonetheless, MacArthur agreed. “Operation Sams,” as the mission came to be known, was on.

The problem was, there was only one man in the theater who had hands-on experience dealing with the disease: Sams. If the theater’s top surgeon general, and a general officer, were killed or captured during the mission, the communists would achieve an immense propaganda coup.

Operation Sams was led by Navy Lt. Eugene F. Clark, who earlier had conducted a harrowing reconnaissance mission of Inchon for the amphibious assault of the harbor. Despite the mission being compromised, in the middle of March 1951 Clark’s team, including Sams, was able to covertly land near the North Korean port of Wonsan, an area where bubonic plague had been reported. They found a makeshift hospital. Though he confirmed other diseases, Sams determined there was no evidence of bubonic plague. As it turned out, the “Black Death” plague was actually a virulent form of smallpox known as hemorrhagic smallpox, which also causes the body to turn black as the victim nears death. The team was able to safely return to Japan, where Sams made his findings public, effectively destroying the credibility of the accusations.

An operation performed on a wounded soldier at the 8209th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, 20 miles from the front lines, Aug. 4, 1952. National Archives photo

The successes of the MASH and aeromedical evacuation system in Korea were a watershed for military medical care, and the lessons learned, later applied and refined during the Vietnam War, have proved just as applicable today as they were in the 1950s.

This article was first published in The Forgotten War: 60th Anniversary of the Korean War and appears in the Veterans Affairs & Military Medicine Spring Edition 2021.


By mid-October 1950, after the successful landing at Inchon by the US X Corps, the Eighth Army breakout from the Pusan Perimeter and the subsequent pursuit and destruction of the Korean People's Army (KPA), the Korean War appeared to be all but over. [11] United Nations (UN) forces advanced rapidly into North Korea with the intention of reuniting North and South Korea before the end of 1950. [12] North Korea is divided through the center by the impassable Taebaek Mountains, which separated the UN forces into two groups. [13] The US Eighth Army advanced north through the western coast of the Korean Peninsula, while the Republic of Korea (ROK) I Corps and the US X Corps advanced north on the eastern coast. [13]

Faced with the sudden attacks by Chinese forces in the Eighth Army sector, General Douglas MacArthur ordered the Eighth Army to launch the Home-by-Christmas Offensive. [21] To support the offensive, MacArthur ordered the X Corps to attack west from the Chosin Reservoir and to cut the vital Manpojin—Kanggye—Huichon supply line. [22] [23] As a response, Major General Edward M. Almond, commander of the US X Corps, formulated a plan on 21 November. It called for the US 1st Marine Division to advance west through Yudami-ni, while the US 7th Infantry Division would provide a regimental combat team to protect the right flank at Sinhung-ni. The US 3rd Infantry Division would also protect the left flank while providing security in the rear area. [24] By then the X Corps was stretched thin along a 400-mile front. [20]

Surprised by the Marine landing at Wonsan, [25] Chinese Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong called for the immediate destruction of the ROK Capital Division, ROK 3rd Infantry Division, US 1st Marine Division, and US 7th Infantry Division in a telegraph to Commander [f] Song Shilun of the PVA 9th Army on 31 October. [26] Under Mao's urgent orders, the 9th Army was rushed into North Korea on 10 November. [27] Undetected by UN intelligence, [28] the 9th Army quietly entered the Chosin Reservoir area on 17 November, with the 20th Corps of the 9th Army relieving the 42nd Corps near Yudami-ni. [19]

Location, terrain and weather Edit

Forces and strategies Edit

Although the 1st Marine Division landed at Wonsan as part of Almond's US X Corps, Almond and Major General Oliver P. Smith of the 1st Marine Division shared a mutual loathing of each other that dated back to a meeting before the landing at Inchon, [38] when Almond had spoken of how easy amphibious landings are even though he had never been involved in one. [39] Smith believed there were large numbers of Chinese forces in North Korea despite the fact that higher headquarters in Tokyo said otherwise, [39] : 428 but Almond felt Smith was overly cautious. [39] : 434 The mutual distrust between the commanders caused Smith to slow the 1st Marine Division's advance towards the Chosin Reservoir in violation of Almond's instructions. [39] : 429 Smith established supply points and airfields along the way at Hagaru-ri and Koto-ri. [39] : 433–4

As the US X Corps was pushing towards the reservoir, the Chinese formulated their strategy, based on their experiences in the Chinese Civil War. [40] Working from the assumption that only a light UN presence would be at the reservoir, the Chinese 9th Army was first to destroy the UN garrisons at Yudami-ni and Sinhung-ni, then push towards Hagaru-ri. [40] Believing the bulk of the US X Corps would move to rescue the destroyed units, the 9th Army would then block and trap the main UN forces on the road between Hagaru-ri and Hungnam. [40] The 9th Army initially committed eight [41] divisions for the battle, [42] with most of the forces concentrated at Yudami-ni and Sinhung-ni. [40]

The flaw in the Chinese plan was a lack of accurate intelligence about the UN forces. [43] Even though the US X Corps was stretched thin over northeast Korea, the slow Marine advance allowed the bulk of the US 1st Marine Division, including the 5th, 7th and 11th Marines, to be concentrated at Yudami-ni. [39] : 435 [44] Furthermore, the strategically important Hagaru-ri, where a C-47-capable airfield was under construction and a supply dump, [45] was not a priority for the Chinese despite being lightly defended by the 1st and 7th Marines. [46] Only Regimental Combat Team 31 (RCT-31), an understrength and hastily formed regimental combat team of the US 7th Infantry Division, was thinly spread along the eastern bank of the reservoir. [47] Those units would later take the brunt of the Chinese assaults. As for the UN forces, the 1st Marine Division had an effective strength of 25,473 men at the start of the battle, [48] and it was further reinforced by the British Royal Marines unit 41 (Independent) Commando and the equivalent of two regiments from the 3rd and 7th Army Infantry Divisions. [2] The UN forces had a combined strength of about 30,000 men during the course of the battle. [2] The UN forces at Chosin were also supported by one of the greatest concentrations of air power during the Korean War, [49] since the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing stationed at Yonpo Airfield and five aircraft carriers from the US Navy's Task Force 77 were able to launch 230 sorties daily to provide close air support during the battle, [49] while the US Air Force Far East Combat Cargo Command in Japan reached the capacity of airdropping 250 tons of supplies per day to resupply the trapped UN forces. [50]

Although the 9th Army was one of China's elite formations, composed of veterans and former POWs from the Huaihai Campaign, [40] several deficiencies hampered its ability during the battle. Initially the 9th Army was intended to be outfitted in Manchuria during November, but Mao suddenly ordered it into Korea before that could happen. [51] As a result, the 9th Army had almost no winter clothing for the harsh Korean winter. [52] Similarly, poor logistics forced the 9th Army to abandon heavy artillery, [3] [53] while working with little food and ammunition. [52] The food shortage forced the 9th Army to initially station a third of its strength away from the Chosin Reservoir in reserve, [54] and starvation and exposure broke out among the Chinese units, since foraging was not an option in the sparsely populated area. [52] By the end of the battle, more Chinese troops had died from the cold than from combat and air raids. [55]

The Chinese strength is usually estimated at 120,000 [4] troops for the battle, [56] as the 9th Army was composed of 12 divisions with a strength of 10,000 men per division. [57] Before arriving in Korea, the 9th Army was also reinforced. Each of its three corps now had four divisions instead of the regular three. Infantry from two formerly liberated (surrendered) Nationalist divisions were absorbed [58] to bring each infantry company up to strength. Some companies had approximately 150 men, [59] but other companies were reinforced with more than 200 men. [60] However, attrition due to UN air raids, poor logistics and cold weather had also taken a toll on the 9th Army in its attempt to reach the battlefield. On the day 9th Army entered Korea, for example, frostbite immediately inflicted 700 casualties while most of its transport vehicles were destroyed by UN air raids. [3] Indeed, during the course of the battle, Chinese prisoners of war reported that most of the 9th Army's divisions had become under strength, numbering about 6,500 to 7,000 men per division. [61] These factors, plus uncertainties over Chinese order of battle in western sources, [g] had also led to some historians to revise the Chinese strength down to as low as 60,000 during the course of battle. [2]

Eventually, all 12 Chinese divisions of the 9th Army were deployed, although the 78th and the 88th Divisions of the PVA 26th Corps did not make contact with UN forces during the course of battle. [62] Eight divisions of the PVA 20th and 27th Corps served as the main attacking force. [41] Four divisions of the PVA 26th Corps initially were held back in reserve, and deployed after 20th and 27th Corps exhausted all their available strength. [63]

On the night of 27 November, the PVA 20th and 27th Corps of the 9th Army launched multiple attacks and ambushes along the road between the Chosin Reservoir and Kot'o-ri. At Yudam-ni, the 5th, 7th and 11th Marines were surrounded and attacked by the PVA 79th and 89th Divisions, with the 59th Division attacking the road between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri to cut off communication. Similarly, RCT-31 was isolated and ambushed at Sinhung-ni by the PVA 80th and 81st Divisions. At Hagaru-ri, the 1st Marine Division command headquarters was targeted by the PVA 58th Division. Finally, the PVA 60th Division surrounded elements of the 1st Marines at Kot'o-ri from the north. [40] Caught by complete surprise, the UN forces were cut off at Yudam-ni, Sinhung-ni, Hagaru-ri and Kot'o-ri by 28 November. [64]

Sunday Ship History: The Great Korean War Sea Battle - that never happened

25 June 1950- The army of North Korea rolls into South Korea and the Korean War is on. A little over a week later, the "Greatest Korean War Sea Battle" occurs. The North Koreans now have display in one of their museums commemorating their great victory:
Seven powerful torpedo boats of the DPRK Navy caught an American cruiser, USS Baltimore (CA-68) unaware and turning together toward the imperialist war machine, raced at high speed - loosing a spread of torpedoes that sank the mighty 17,000 ton cruiser, sending 1700 sailors to their deaths.

This glorious victory was one of several naval battles won by the Navy of the Democratic People's Republic. The actual lead torpedo boat that lead the attack is on display at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

Surely you studied this in American history courses about the Korean War?

Probably not. Like a lot of the myths created by the North Korean government, it never happened. As noted here:

A museum in Pyongyang, North Korea, preserved a propaganda poster claiming that the Baltimore was sunk by the Korean People's Navy on 2 July 1950. A torpedo boat which 'sank it' is also displayed there. In fact, the Baltimore was never deployed to the Korean War, nor did it see action again after World War II. The actual battle that occurred on 2 July involved the USS Juneau as well as HMS Black Swan and HMS Jamaica, who together destroyed several Korean torpedo boats escorting supply vessels without any significant return fire from the North Koreans.

As the 59th anniversary of this "Great Sea Battle" nears, it's worth a salute to the crews of the Juneau , Black Swan and Jamaica . And a small tip of the hat to the creative "spin artists" of the DPRK.

Wait a minute - what about USS Baltimore? Until 1955 she was never anywhere near Korea:

Korean War Battlefield Report - HISTORY

Sponsor this page for $100 per year. Your banner or text ad can fill the space above.
Click here to Sponsor the page and how to reserve your ad.

Korean War - Quick Battle Timeline 1951

Leading into 1951

The Third Battle for Seoul had begun on the final day of 1950, an attempt by China, new in the war as of fall 1950, to push past the 38th parallel after their successes in the First and Second Phase Campaigns that had pushed the South Korean and United Nations troops out of North Korea and back below it. China had rebuffed the United Nations attempt at a ceasefire in December and were now determined to take those gains and solidify them by capturing Seoul again.

December 31, 1950 - January 7, 1951 - Third Battle of Seoul
Troops: USA/UK/Canada 148,794 plus unknown number of South Korean troops North Korea/China 170,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 790 North Korea/China 8,500.
Chinese army attacks the 38th parallel, breaching United Nations troop positions, and causing them to evacuate. Chinese take control of Seoul, although their victory and decision mobilizes U.N. initiative and becomes strategic failure.

February 20 to March 6, 1951 - Operation Killer Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand NA China/North Korea NA. Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 980 China/North Korea 9,288 plus 208 captured. Operation south of the Arizona line, Yangpyoeng to Hoengsong, that followed Operation Roundup, the first counter offensive against the China and North Korean forces that had taken Seoul and stretched their logistics. United Nations victory that only partially achieved its objective of destroying the enemy below the line.

March 7 to April 4, 1951 - Fourth Battle of Seoul
Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand/Philippines NA China/North Korea NA.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 3,786 China/North Korea NA (thousands).
Known as Operation Ripper under the command of General Ridgway to remove Chinese and North Korean troops from Seoul, Chuncheon, and points south of the 38th parallel. Preceded by the largest bombardment of the Korean War, the campaign achieved its objective of removing enemy troops to the parallel and recapturing Seoul, but did not destroy Chinese forces and equipment. At this time, the population of Seoul was down to 200,000 from its pre-war total of 1,500,000.

April 22-25, 1951 - Battle of the Imjin River
Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand/Philippines/Belgium/Luxembourg 3,000 China 27,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 1,377 including captured China 10-15,000.
Chinese attempt, with superior forces, to break through the United Nations line at the Imjin River and recapture Seoul. Ferocious battle for three days that blunted, along with the Battle of Kapyong, the Chinese Spring offensive.

April 22-25, 1951 - Battle of Kapyong
Troops: USA/South Korea/UK/Australia/Canada/New Zealand 1 brigade China 1 division.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 146 China 1,000.
United Nations forces led by the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, and including the U.S. Fifth Cavalry, blocks the Chinese Spring Offensive from moving south. Considered the most famous action of Australian and Canadian troops in the war.

August 18 to September 5, 1951 - Battle of Bloody Ridge Troops: USA/South Korea/Philippines 1 division, 1 regiment China/North Korea 15,000. Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 2,700 China/North Korea 15,000, including 7,000 wounded. Considered the first battle of the stalemate after the Chinese Spring Offensive had been rebuffed and an armistance was being negotiated. Battle in the mountains north of the 38th parallel saw attacks and counterattacks by both sides until United Nation forces outflanked the North Korean soldiers, causing their retreat.

August 31 to September 21, 1951 - Battle of the Punchbowl
Troops: USA/South Korea 30,000 North Korea 40,000.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/South Korea 1,232 North Korea 7,081.
Short United Nations offensive after armistance talks broke down in August to gain better defensive lines near Haean. Tactical United Nations victory, although all hills desired to be captured were not achieved.

September 13 to October 15, 1951 - Battle of Heartbreak Ridge
Troops: USA/South Korea/France/Philippines/Netherlands NA North Korea/China NA.
Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA/Allies 3,700 China 25,000.
Battle for hills seven miles north of Bloody Ridge devolves into mistaken assault by United Nations troops up heavily fortified slopes. Month long attempt changes tactics to secure valleys around ridge and prevent reinforcements, leading to United Nations victory.

Full Text, Resolution 498 on 1 February, 1951, of the United Nations General Assembly, Intervention of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China in Korea

The General Assembly, Noting that the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, has failed to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in regard to Chinese Communist intervention in Korea.

Noting that the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China has not accepted United Nations proposals to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Korea with a view to peaceful settlement, and that its armed forces continue their invasion of Korea and their large-scale attacks upon United Nations forces there,

1. Finds that the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China, by giving direct aid and assistance to those who were already committing aggression in Korea and by engaging in hostilities against United Nations forces there, has itself engaged in aggression in Korea

2. Calls upon the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China to cause its forces and nationals in Korea to cease hostilities against the United Nations forces and to withdraw from Korea

3. Affirms the determination of the United Nations to continue its action in Korea to meet the aggression

4. Calls upon all States and authorities to continue to lend every assistance to the United Nations action in Korea

5. Calls upon all States and authorities to refrain from giving any assistance to the aggressors in Korea

6. Requests a Committee composed of the members of the Collective Measures Committee as a matter of urgency to consider additional measures to be employed to meet this aggression and to report thereon to the General Assembly,3 it being understood that the Committee is authorized to defer its report if the Good Offices Committee referred to in the following paragraph reports satisfactory progress in its efforts

7. Affirms that it continues to be the policy of the United Nations to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Korea and the achievement of United Nations objectives in Korea by peaceful means, and requests the President of the General Assembly to designate forthwith two persons who would meet with him at any suitable opportunity to use their good offices to this end.

This resolution was adopted at the 327th plenary meeting of the General Assembly by a vote of 44 in favor, to 7 opposed, with 9 abstentions. The countries opposing were the same as those who had opposed during the vote in the First Committee on January 30 those abstaining were also the same with the addition of Saudi Arabia, whose delegate entered for the record a statement that his abstention indicated non-participation in the voting. (U.N. document A/PV.327)

On the preceding day, the Security Council had unanimously adopted a resolution (S/1995) proposed by the British Delegate calling for removal from its agenda of the item "Complaint of aggression against the Republic of Korea". The Soviet Delegate voted in favor on the grounds that this item had originally been included on the agenda illegally during the absence of the Soviet and Chinese (Communist) Representatives. (U.N. document S/PV.531)

For documentation relating to the work and conclusions of the Additional Measures Committee, see pp. 1874 ff. On May 18, 1951, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 500 (V) calling for a strategic embargo against the two countries for text, see p. 1988.

Prior to the vote on the resolution as a whole, a separate vote was taken on this paragraph at the request of the Representative of Israel. The paragraph was approved by a vote of 43 to 7, with 8 abstentions. (A/PV.327)

Bloody Ridge: The Horrific Korean War Battle You Never Heard About

The Korean War had been raging for more than a year. The U.S. Forces had almost been routed off the peninsula at Pusan, driven the North Koreans to the brink of defeat, then been beaten back by a flood of Chinese “volunteers.” Seoul had suffered through five battles, changing hands four times. Both sides recognized the war could not be won on the battlefield and began seeking an armistice. The bloodiest of the fighting, however, was yet to come.

By the summer of 1951, it was becoming clear that the war was not going to be won by either side on the battlefield. North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and South Korean leader Syngman Rhee both wanted to outright defeat the other and unify the peninsula by force.

The United States, however, was not willing to support Rhee because they had concluded the cost to defeat North Korea was prohibitively expensive. Moscow and Beijing likewise told Kim they would not support a new, major offensive to win the war. Both sides then began discussing ways to end the war.

After the last Chinese attempt to retake Seoul in April 1951, the communist forces had been driven back about 35 miles to the north, and the battle lines between the two armies stretched across the peninsula, roughly along the 38 th parallel.

Both sides chose a similar strategy in trying to get the best terms possible during negotiations for the armistice: fight to possess the most defensible terrain along the 38 th parallel and put as much pressure on the other side so as to extract concessions at the negotiating table. A series of three hills between the two armies north of Seoul provided such commanding terrain.

And both sides were willing to pay a high price to win the hills.

The three adjacent hills were known merely by the elevation number printed on the military maps: hills 983, 940, and 773. The Chinese and North Korean communist forces had established strong defensive points along this ridgeline with a heavily fortified and reinforced system of tunnels and bunkers. To drive the enemy off the hills, the joint American-Republic of Korea force (U.S./ROK) planned to send ROK troops to take the hills and then bring additional reserves to hold it.

To prepare for the assault, the Allies conducted a days-long artillery attack in which they inflicted the enemy positions on the hills with such ferocious and intense bombardment that the lush foliage that had covered the hills was instead stripped, literally, bare. It looked like a moon-scape. Surely, many thought, no one could have lived through that many explosions, and the ROK troops would have little trouble taking the main objective, Hill 983.

On August 17, 1951, the Korean troops began their assault. The Chinese and North Koreans had constructed solid fortifications and despite the extraordinary amount of artillery fire they endured, they still fought tenaciously. After eight days of fierce fighting, ROK troops secured the hills—only to lose it the next day to a communist counterattack the Chinese leaders, especially, were not averse to friendly casualties and did not hesitate to send thousands of more men into the meat grinder.

Having been spent as a fighting force, the ROK troops were unable to mount a new attack to try again, so elements of the U.S. 9 th Infantry Division were called into action on August 27. The first attack failed to dislodge the enemy, and another battalion of American infantry launched a fresh assault on Hill 983 the next day. It, too, failed. On 30 August 9, infantry made another furious assault up the front of Hill 940, but withering fire from Chinese troops proved too much to overcome and this assault failed as well.

The overall field commander for the U.S./ROK force (X Corps), Maj. Gen. Clovis Byers, realized a direct frontal assault would not dislodge the enemy, so he ordered the 1 st Marine Division and ROK 5 th Division troops to capture an important area known as “the Punchbowl” in order to stretch the communist troops to defend a larger area than merely the hilltops.

On August 31, August Byers sent elements of the 23 rd , 38 th , and 9 th Infantry regiments to make a final push up the Bloody Ridge to destroy, capture, or drive off the enemy. The fighting was intense and conducted, in the main, either hand-to-hand or within grenade-range. The U.S. troops would dispatch flamethrower teams to try and destroy enemy machine gun teams in concrete bunkers.

One particular infantry company, Company C of the 9 th Infantry Regiment, had eighty-five men when their assault began on 3 September by the end of the day a mere 35 remained alive. By September the 5, Byers’ men pushed the last of the communists off the Bloody Ridge. There would be no counterattack this time, however, as the enemy commander had ordered his troops to move back 1,500 meters to reestablish a new line of defense against the American-led side. It would herald the next round of fighting in another fierce battle known as “Heartbreak Ridge.”

The Battle of Bloody Ridge had been a fierce, and inhumane struggle, in which even many of the survivors would suffer the psychological effects of the war for decades. The American and Korean side suffered almost 3,000 casualties. The North Korean and Chinese side, however, suffered a hardly-imaginable 15,000.

It was a horrible price to pay for a few hundred meters of terrain, especially when one considers the war had effectively already come to an end and the soldiers were killing and being killed as little more than a backdrop to the negotiations taking place at Kaesong.

Undertrained and underprepared

Things began to go wrong almost immediately for the American troops. Those who were rushed to the front line straight from occupation duty in Tokyo in July 1950 were undertrained and underprepared. They were also badly led and quickly defeated by superior North Korean forces. US commanders were outmanoeuvred by North Korean units using guerrilla methods to target US lines from the rear.

Detail from US military records © But there was another problem. The surprise attack from the North had generated a very real refugee crisis. Just weeks after the conflict had begun, up to two million refugees were streaming across the battlefield they clogged the roads and the UN lines.

Under pressure and fearing North Korean infiltration, the US leadership panicked. Soon command saw all civilians as the enemy regardless. On 26 July the US 8th Army, the highest level of command in Korea, issued orders to stop all Korean civilians. 'No, repeat, no refugees will be permitted to cross battle lines at any time. Movement of all Koreans in group will cease immediately.' On the very same day the first major disaster involving civilians struck.

. up to 400 South Korean civilians gathered by the bridge were killed by US forces from the 7th Cavalry Regiment.

The stone bridge near the village of No Gun Ri spans a small stream. It is similar to a great many others that cross the landscape of South Korea, except that the walls of this bridge were, until very recently, pockmarked by hundreds of bullet holes. On the very day that the US 8th Army delivered its stop refugee order in July 1950, up to 400 South Korean civilians gathered by the bridge were killed by US forces from the 7th Cavalry Regiment. Some were shot above the bridge, on the railroad tracks. Others were strafed by US planes. More were killed under the arches in an ordeal that local survivors say lasted for three days.

Watch the video: Korean War: Every Day 19501945-1953