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China's View Of Their Korean War Participation

Extracted in part from China's Korean War FAQ.
Except for re-ordering and some deletions I have eliminated only the most blatant propaganda.

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Phases of CCF Korean War Campaign

Entry into Korea: October 16, 1950

The Polibureau decided on October 8 to send CCF to Korea but debated 10 days on whether to act without Soviet support. On the night of Oct. 16 1950, a unit of 42d army of the 13th Army Group crossed Yalu. On Oct. 18, Chairman Mao issued the final order for four CCF armies and 3 artillery divisions to enter Korea on Oct. 19.

First Phase Campaign: Oct. 28 - Nov. 5, 1950.

The first campaign began on the morning of Oct. 25, when the 118th Division of 40th Army wiped out an infantry battalion of ROK 6th division.

The main CCF action was done by the 39th army on the western front, which captured Unsan on Nov.2. In the process, it destroyed most of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, part of 5th Calvary and 2 ROK regiments, driving the UN forces back to the Chongchon river.

In the east, the 124th and 126th Divisions of the 42d army engaged the 7th Marines and ROK I Corps.

While gaining experience of the fighting capabilities of UN forces, the CCF concealed their strength since only about 30,000 CCF infantry actually engaged Eighth Army, achieving success through experience and tactics, rather than firepower. In consequence, the US estimate of total CCF strength was only 40,000, whereas it was actually nearly 150,000.

Second Phase Campaign: Nov. 25 - Dec. 24 1950.

After the first campaign, CCF broke off contact with the UN forces to assess the information gathered and await the response. They decided the UN forces were highly vulnerable, and when MacArthur sent them across the Chongchon in a "home by Christmas" drive, the CCF was ready.

At dusk of Nov. 25 1950, CCF forces attacked in force on US 25th and 2d divsions and ROK 7th and 8th divisions. 38th army and 42d army shattered the ROK 7th Division and ROK 8th Division, causing both divisions to collapse and thus expose the right flank of the Eighth Army. On Nov. 26, facing encirclement by CCF armies, the Eighth Army north of Chongchon river started to withdraw. On Nov. 27, main forces of the 38th army pressed towards 2d Division, after smashing the Turk brigade guarding the flank on Nov. 28, while its 113th Division penetrated deep into UN line, marching 45 miles in 14 hours cutting off the withdrawal route of the UN forces south to Sunchon.

To escape the closing encirclement north of Chongchon, the whole Eighth Army started to retreat on Nov. 29. Blocked by CCF 113th Division, US 2d Division fought fiercely to escape south to Sunchon, in the meantime, US 1st Calvary Division and British 29th Brigade attacked north trying to open the blocks by the CCF 113th Division. On Dec.1, UN forces were ordered to retreat to south of 38th parallel. Since mechanized UN forces retreated very fast, the main CCF forces stopped pursuit, only a small CCF force followed the fleeing UN troops, recovering the North Korea capital Pyongyang.

On the eastern front, 9th Army Group attacked X Corps on Nov.27. The 9th Army entered Korea in such haste that most of its soldiers had no winter clothing, and suffered severe casualties due to frostbite. Despite these difficulties, its 20th army successfully divided and encircled large groups of UN forces near the Changjin (Chosin) reservoir, including two Marine regiments. Although the UN forces broke out the encirclement, 9th Army Group inflicted heavy casualties on the 1st Marine Division and 7th Infantry division, in particular, virtually annihilating Task Force MacLean/Faith. The X Corps retreated to the port of Hungnam, where 105,000 fighting men and 90,000 civilians were evacuated by sea.

Third Phase Campaign: Dec.31, 1950 - Jan. 8, 1951

CCF and NKPA forces of 300,000 men attacked along a 200km front. In a week, UN forces retreated to the 37th parallel. Concerned about a possible UN amphibious assault from rear and CCF logistic difficulties, Peng Dehuai halted pursuit.

Fourth Phase Campaign: Jan. 25 - April 21, 1951.

On Jan 25, 1951, UN forces counter-attacked using 16 divisions, plus 3 brigades and 1 airborne regiment, a total of 230,000 men. The CCF fought a delaying retreat in the west and east, looking for opportunity to attack in the center.

In the west, US 25th Division, 3d Division, 1st calvary Division, 24th Division, British 27th Brigade, 29th Brigade, Turkish Brigade, ROK 1st Division, ROK 8th Division attacked the CCF and NKPA positions. After fierce fighting, the second line of defense of the CCF 50th army and NKPA 1st division was broken, main forces of these two forces retreated back across the Han river.

In the east, US 2d Division, 7th Division, 187th Airborne RCT and 5 ROK divisions pushed north against the CCF 125th Division and NKPA 5th Divisions. On Feb. 11, 124th Division of 42d army counter attacked, 117th Division of 39th army cutting off the ROK forces. On Feb.12, CCF destroyed 3 regiments of ROK 8th Division, destroyed part of US 2d Division and part of ROK 3d and 5th Division, plus 4 artillery battalions. Due to the severe losses of X Corps, Ridgway ordered an investigation of General Almond.

The CCF again began withdrawing in the west on Feb. 17. On February 9, US 1st calvary, 1st Marine Division and two other divisions renewed its attack on CCF center section, and on March 15, UN forces re-captured Seoul. On March 31, CCF and NKPA forces withdrew back to 38th parallel and the fighting continued to April 21. by this time, CCF 3d, 19th and 9th Army Groups reached north of the 38 parallel, these fresh troops consisted of 10 armies, about 240,000 men. At the time, UN had about 231,000 non-ROK and 120,000 ROK force at the front line, facing about 240,000 CCF, but halted their attacks. UN forces advanced 100 km (60 miles) in this campaign.

Fifth Phase Campaign: April 22 - June 10, 1951

On April 11, 1951, General MacArthur was relieved. April 22, 3 CCF army groups attacked along the UN line in the west. The left group broke the UN defenses immediately and progressed very smoothly. The 3d battalion of 354 regiment of 118th division penetrated 30km into UN line and fought UN force one to many, repelled the attacks of 1st Cavalry, British 28th Brigade and Canadian 25th Brigade, held its advanced postition until joined with its main forces. The center group smashed the Turkish brigade and forced UN to retreat. The right group smashed the British 29th Brigade and destroyed part of ROK 1st division. On April 29, CCF closed in on Seoul, however, UN forces fought and retreated in an orderly fashion, CCF was unable to encircle major UN forces, the whole attack became a "frontal push" and Peng halted the attack.

On May 16th the CCF shifted its attack to the east, 60th Division of 20th army penetrated 25 km deep into UN line, cutoff the withdraw route of ROK 3d and 9th Division. 81st Division and 60th Division together smashed ROK 5th and 6th Division. On May 18, ROK 3d and 9th Division tried to break out, and was largely destroyed by CCF 20th army. On May 19th, CCF engaged in heavy fighting with the US 2d division and one French battallion. Peng Dehuai ordered to halt the attacks along all fronts and withdraw north. However, in the withdraw process, some CCF armies (which entered Korea recently) underestimated the UN's capability to counter attack, they did not devise careful withdraw CCF ns and their rear guard force was insufficient, these errors resulted in many gaps in the withdraw line, many units lost contact with the main forces and were encircled by UN forces. Most of the CCF units successfully broke out and returned back. However, one CCF division, the 180th Division suffered a total loss, which was the only divisional level loss for CCF in the Korean war.

On June 10, both sides stopped near the 38 parallel and took defensive positions.

Stalemate: June 10, 1951 - July 27, 1953

The truce talks began in July 1951, concluding in July 1953. The fighting continued during these truce talks while fighting continued. However, both sides had taken defensive positions and the battle line more or less stablized with some hills and wastelands exchanging hands over and over. At the beginning, the UN was more aggressive and fought hard to take a few hills with heavy casualties, after that, the fighting was more or less used to show strength and to help the negotiations.

Although there would be no more big maneuvers committing many Armies (except one battle right before the end of war), the total casualty for each side resulting from these static wars was even greater than the previous campaigns.

CCF Unit Hierarchy

An army in the CCF was like a Corps in American infantry, consisting of 3 divisions of about 10,000 men each, however actual division strength was usually 7000-8500.

A CCF division has three 3000-men regiments. A normal US division consisted of three regiments of infantry, three battalions of 105mm artillery, 1 battalion of 155mm artillery, an anti-aircraft battalion, a tank battalion and other supporting units, totalling 20,000 men.

A CCF army group consisted of several CCF armies, and compares with a US Army (such as the Eighth Army). For example, the 13th Army Group consisted of 38th, 39th, 40th, 42d armies.

Notice that a CCF division is less than half the authorized strength of a US Army division. A CCF division has three 3000-men regiments. A US Army division consisted of three regiments of infantry, three battalions of 105mm artillery, 1 battalion of 155mm artillery, an anti-aircraft battalion, a tank battalion and other supporting units, totalling 20,000 men.

CCF Equipment

The CCF was basically a rifle infantry with almost no heavy weapons beyond mortars. Their rifles were mostly captured from Japanese and KMT armies in the anti-Japanese war and the civil war, and they lacked ammunition. When the Korean war started, PRC was less than one year old, and it was focusing on reconstruction of a nation which suffered 8 years of Japanese aggression and plundering. China's steel production was a meager 0.6 million tons (in comparison, US figure was 87 million tons). China had almost no industry, it could not make weapons in large quantity, especially heavy weapons and their ammunitions. A CCF army then had less than 10% of the fire power of a US Corps, it had only 36 artillery pieces of 76mm or larger, while a US Corps had over 300 guns of 105mm or larger. The CCF army had no tanks. The CCF also lacked transport; a CCF division had only scores of

After CCF 's first successful campaigns in Korea, China bought Soviet weapons enough to equip 20 divisions, thus improving its fire power. At the final stage of the war, the CCF was able to mass enough heavy artillery to break an ROK/US defense line by brute force.

CCF Tactics and Strategy

PVA's tactics were designed to negate the UN advantage of air power and artillery.

The CCF used night fighting tactics. It would start an attack when night fell, withdraw and go to cover at dawn, so US airplanes could not harass them. It also used close combat, threw its units into enemy line, so the enemy artillery could not operate. Another CCF tactic was to infiltrate deep into enemy positions, attack their command posts and artillery positions directly from inside.

During the truce talks, the CCF went to bunker war. They dug very long and deep bunkers in the hills and stocked supplies there. When the enemy shelled the hills, they would withdraw into the bunkers, when the shelling stopped, they came out to fire on the attackers. If the surface positions were taken by enemy, the CCF would withdraw back into the bunkers, then CCF artillery would shell the enemy on the surface and the CCF infantry would then come back out the bunkers again to assist the retaking of the positions.

The CCF main strategy at the beginning was the so-called "movement war", the main objective being to divide the enemy into isolated pieces and then use superior strength of force to annihilate the encircled enemy piecemeal before enemy reinforcement could be brought in. To do this, the CCF used frontal attacks and simultaneous penetrations to cut directly into enemy rear, cuting off his MSR (main supply route) and withdrawal routes, thus trapping them when they tried to redeploy.

To better understand CCF strategies, one must study the grand campaigns in which the CCF wiped out 8 million KMT troops in 2 years, with few casualties of its own.

Comparative strength of the CCF and UN

At the start of the Second Phase Campaign the CCF had 13th Army Group and 9th Army Group, a total of 30 divisions. In the west, the 13th Army Group had about 150,000 men and in the east the 9th had about 120,000 men. The UN combat forces consisted of Eighth Army, numbering 118,000 men, and X Corps, numbering about 120,000 men. Thus the opposing forces were about equal in manpower.

In the west, Walker's Eighth Army combat forces were: I Corps consisting of the 24th division, ROK 1st division and the Commonwealth Brigade(about 5000 men); IX Corps consisting of 25th Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 2d Division and Turkish brigade (about 5000); ROK II Corps consisting of ROK 7th Division, ROK 8th Division and the battered ROK 6th Division.

In the east, Almond's X Corps had about 240,000 men, consisting of O.P. Smith's 1st Marine Division, 7th Infantry Division, 3d Infantry Division and ROK I Corps.

Based on Chinese sources, from end of Oct. 1950 to June 1951, the CCF participated in 5 major campaigns, inflicted 230,000 UN casualties, taking 36835 prisoners. The CCF also captured a lot of equipment, including 187 tanks, 4954 trucks, 5 amored vehicles, 10 aircraft, 3133 artillery pieces, 45,000 rifles and machine guns.

At maximum, total CCF and NKPA strength reached 1.2 million.

In June 1951, right after the 5th campaign, UN total strength was 695,110, with 520,850 ground force (US 253100, ROK 229600, other 38150), 80340 navy (US 66700, ROK 6000, other 7640) and 94520 air force (US 90000, ROK 4000, other 520). At the same time, CCF strength was about 240,000, much lower than total UN strength.

At the end of war, from CCF statistics, UN total strength was 1,111,340 (1.11134 million), ground force 904,550 (US 373,500, ROK 491,000, other 40050), navy 101,180 (US 73000, ROK 20000, other 8180), air force 105,610 (US 95000, ROK 10000, other 610). From western source (Korean Almanac), UN ground forces strength was slightly higher with a total of 932,539 (US 302483, ROK 590911, other 39145). CCF counted 70000 more US troops, this was probably because many ROKs (KATUSAs) were serving in US forces and counted as US strength by PVA.

In the war, the CCF rotated about 2 million troops. The US used 86% of its infantry and 14% of its Marine Corps, rotating over 1.319 million troops.

The CCF 180th Division

In the 5th campaign, CCF had its biggest embarrassment ever: the 180th Division of the 60th army was totally lost. Except for the 3,000 men who withdrew earlier, the majority of the division were captured by UN forces. The division commander and other high ranking officers escaped, but they were investigated and demoted back home. In the eyes of many Chinese, this was a shame in CCF history.

During the withdraw phase of the 5th campaign, the main force of 180th Division was encircled by UN forces, after 6 days of hard fighting, most of its men were either wounded or sick, the division commanders panicked, and ordered the troops to disperse and escape by disguising as Koreans. Consequently, most of the soldiers (about 5000) were captured. Many of the wounded were killed immediately by UN troops, those who were sent to the POW camps suffered torture and even death during the POW repatriation.

Other units of CCF encountered similar situations but most of them successfully returned. For example, the 194th Division was encircled, but the commanders stayed cool and brought the men out through a gap in the encirclement . The 27th army was also cutoff, but it retreated successfully with all the wounded ones. Till today, many are still debating on the reason of the collapse of the 180th Division. There are books published researching on this question. There were many misjudgments/misunderstanding and incorrect orders (in hindsight) issued by the 3rd Army Group and 60th Army. A series of delays and misunderstandings resulted the 180th being trapped by enemy forces 5 times their own strength, and the division commander did not improvise and carry out a working break-out CCF n. 180th division fought heroically, faithfully carried out its orders. Its division commander Zheng Qigui failed to act differently based on the situation, in author's opinion, the defeat was not his fault, but more of the 60th Army commander, who misunderstand an order from the 3rd Amry Group and ordered 180th Division go back and forth alone to move wounded soldiers of the Army Group, when all other units had withdrawn.

BTW, the US did not know that CCF lost a full division (less the 3000) in the Korean war until the 1980s, when US military officials visited China.

"Human Wave" Tactics

During battles, western forces were usually incapable of correctly estimating the strength of CCF forces. Often they greatly exaggerated the number of attacking CCF, such as taking a CCF regiment as a CCF division. The CCF mostly attacked at night, blowing bugles and wistles, shouting thrills, even playing "sweet music" to cause psychological stress. these CCF tactics made western forces feel that the enemy was everywhere coming from every direction. Moreover, PVAs were masters of infiltration, they often sneaked in and attacked directly on command posts, generating shock and chaos.

Western combat history often referred to CCF attacks as "swarms of Chinese", "human waves", "Chinese hordes", as if the CCF simply threw its men into the fire and let itself be slaughtered. Such a description indicated a great misunderstanding of the CCF tactics. As some military analysts pointed out, the CCF rarely used dense formations in their attacks, it sought to inflict maximum damage with mnimum casualties. During the Korean war, CCF never had a commanding numerical superioty against UN forces, in fact, during the 4th campaign, it was greatly outnumbered by UN (it was always outgunned), yet it could still outmaneuver UN forces and even managed to counter attack at X Corps. CCF could achieve all these with inferior firepower because it had smarter tactics and strategy.

CCF Casualties

Western sources gave assertions such as "it seems reasonable to assume that China cannot have lost less than half a million men" , "China suffered at least 900,000 casualties", etc. However, such numbers were based on arbitrary estimates which were greatly inflated.

From official Chinese sources, CCF casualties during the Korean war were 390,000. It breaks down as follows:

KIA: 110,400




WOUNDED: 260,000

From reports published by CCF on August 15 1953, the UN suffered total casualties of 1,093,839, in which 397,543 were Americans, 667293 were ROKs, and 29,003 were others.

From western sources, UN combat casualties totalled 1 million. It breaks as follows: US 144,173, ROK 844,000 (415,000 killed, 429,000 wounded), Commonwealth 6000, others 8,800 (Hastings). The US suffered another 20,000 or so fatality. From military history authored by ROK Defense Department, ROK total casualty was actually 984,400.

Detailed US casualties were: KIA 33,629, accidental death 20,600 wounded 103,248, captured and repatriated 3,746, MIA 8,142.

The total count from both sources matched very well, some historians acknowledged that CCF was very honest in their statistics. However, CCF counted 220,000 more US casualties, and about 200,000 less ROK. This discrepancy was partly due to the fact that many ROKs were serving as attachments to US armies and they were counted as US force by PVA.

Why did ROK suffer such greater casualties? One of the reasons was that they were placed on the first line of defense in a lot of the cases, and they suffered the initial blows by PVA. Moreover, the ROK had different fighting style: from CCF battle accounts, Americans usually withdraw all the way down to the foot of the hills after suffering a failed attack, but the ROK only retreated out of range to regroup and attack again immediately, which caused great difficulty for PVA, and of course greater ROK casualties. However, western historians seldom mention the ROK's positive contribution to the UN side.

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