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Eighth Army and X Corps Enter North Korea

The Foundation of Freedom is the Courage of Ordinary People

History  Bert '53  On Line

Combat Photos

(Back to Appleman: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu)
Wherever the enemy goes let our troops go also.
ULYSSES damnyankee S. GRANT, dispatch to Halleck, 1 August 1864

Eighth Army Crosses the Parallel - The Kumchon Pocket

On 5 October Eighth Army issued its operations order for the movementacross the 38th Parallel, but withheld the date for the attack. Two dayslater General Allen telephoned General Hickey and told him that GeneralWalker wanted to know when A-day (date for crossing the Parallel) was tobe given. Hickey replied, "Your A-day will be at such time as yousee it ready." Allen replied, "That's fine, because we're onthe verge of it now." A message from Tokyo the same day confirmedthe call. Eighth Army at once implemented its order of the 5th by radiomessages to General Milburn at U.S. I Corps and to the Chief of Staff,ROK Army. The attack on P'yongyang was about to begin. [1]

Eighth Army expected strong enemy resistance at the 38th Parallel anda stubborn defense of P'yongyang. According to ROK Army combat intelligence,the North Koreans had three known lines of defense across the peninsula,each consisting of pillboxes, gun emplacements, trenches, and barbed wireentanglements. The first line was along the 38th Parallel and was about500 yards in depth; the second line was about three miles behind the first;the third lay farther back and was based on locally situated critical terrainfeatures. All three lines were oriented to defend against southern approaches.[2]

North of the Parallel the U.N. Command expected to meet newly activateddivisions that had been training in North Korea or elements of units thathad engaged in the fighting around Seoul. Some intelligence sources indicatedthere might be as many as six divisions totaling 60,000 men in North Koreantraining centers. Actually, only the N.K. 19th and 17th Divisions defended the Kumch'on-Namch'onjomarea north of Kaesong. Both had been brigades activated in the summer andexpanded in September to division status. They engaged in combat for thefirst time when U.N. forces crossed the Parallel. On the right (west) ofthese divisions, the 74th Regiment of the 43d Divisiondefended the Yesong River crossing site west of Kaesong. The 43dDivision, organized in mid-September, had the task of defendingthe coastal area beyond the Yesong River. Some elements of the N.K. 17thArmored Division engaged in action just north of the Parallelin the zone of the ROK 1st Division, east of the 1st Cavalry Division.[3]

Ready for the attack, the 1st Cavalry Division was deployed in threeregimental combat teams just below the Parallel in the vicinity of Kaesong.In the center, Colonel Palmer's 8th Cavalry Regiment was to attack frontallyalong the main highway axis from Kaesong to Kumch'on; on his right, ColonelCrombez' 5th Cavalry Regiment was to swing eastward, then west, in a circularflanking movement designed to envelope enemy forces south of Kumch'on,fifteen miles north of the Parallel. Meanwhile, on the division left, ColonelHarris' 7th Cavalry Regiment faced the task of crossing the Yesong Riverto get on the road running north from Paekch'on to the little town of Hanp'o-ri,six miles north of Kumch'on, where the main P'yongyang road crossed theYesong River. At Hanp'o-ri the 7th Cavalry was to establish a blockingposition to trap the large enemy forces that General Gay expected the 8thand 5th Cavalry Regiments to be driving northward. These were the maneuversinvolved in the action of the Kumch'on Pocket. Because the prospects offorcing a crossing of the Yesong River did not appear very promising withthe support available, General Gay and the division staff relied principallyon the 8th and 5th Cavalry Regiments for initial success in the attack.

The 1st Cavalry Division sent patrols across the Parallel late on theafternoon of the 7th, and others crossed Sunday night, 8 October. Thenon Monday, 9 October, at 0900 General Gay issued his orders, and the divisionmoved up to the Parallel and started fighting its way northward. (Map18)

In the division center along the main highway, the advance was veryslow. The highway was heavily mined and the armored spearhead repeatedlycame to a halt, waiting for Engineer troops to remove the mines. On 12October, halfway to Kumch'on, an enemy strongpoint defended with tanks,self-propelled guns, and antiaircraft weapons again stopped the regiment.An air strike by sixteen planes and a 155-mm. howitzer barrage failed todislodge the enemy. In this action, Lt. Col. Robert W. Kane, the 1st Battalioncommander, was severely wounded. [4]

Map 18

On the division right the 5th Cavalry Regiment also had difficulty.It reached the Parallel at 1930 9 October but did not cross until the nextmorning. In its initial attack it captured the hills flanking and dominatingthe road on both sides just above the Parallel. Fifteen miles northeastof Kaesong an enemy force held a long ridge with several knobs (Hills 179,175, 174) dominating a pass. There it stopped the 1st Battalion. The nextday, 12 October, the 2d Battalion joined in the battle. The 5th Cavalrydrove the North Koreans from the ridge during the afternoon. In the fightingat Hill 174, 1st Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, a platoon leader in C Company,went to the aid of a soldier who had entered an enemy emplacement mistakenlythinking it was empty. The soldier escaped with a wound, but Coursen waslater found dead there together with seven enemy soldiers whom he had killedin a desperate hand-to-hand struggle. Several of the North Koreans hadcrushed skulls from rifle butt blows. [5]

The day before, 11 October, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, withtanks of B Company, 6th Medium Tank Battalion, in support, had crossedthe Imjin River and followed the 5th Cavalry Regiment northeast out ofKaesong. General Gay's plan was for the brigade to move northwest throughthe mountains for a close-in envelopment of Kumch'on. His aerial observer,hitherto very reliable, wrongly reported that the roads were as shown onthe maps and that the plan was feasible. The road taken by the British,little more than a cart track, dead-ended in the mountains. The MiddlesexBattalion got lost on this trail, turned back, and tried another. Despitean arduous effort in the mountains, the British troops never got into thefight for Kumch'on. [6]

While the British were crossing the Imjin, the ROK 1st Division crossedit at Korangp'o-ri at dawn on the 11th, eastward of the 1st Cavalry Division,and attacked northwest on a road that converged with the one taken by the5th Cavalry Regiment. The 5th Cavalry in the late afternoon of 12 Octoberwas engaged in a fire fight with the enemy at the objective crossroadswhen advance elements of the ROK 1st Division arrived there from the southeast.In a conference on the spot Colonel Crombez and General Paik, the ROK divisioncommander, agreed that the 5th Cavalry would have precedence on the roaduntil Crombez' troops turned west, five miles northward on a lateral roadleading into Kumch'on. The ROK 1st Division, following behind the 5th Cavalry,would then continue its attack north to Sibyon-ni where it would veer northwesttoward P'yongyang. Tanks of C Company, 6th Medium Tank Battalion, supportedthe ROK 1st Division. [7]

Of the three regimental attack forces, the 7th Cavalry Regiment on thedivision left flank had the most difficult assignment, and in fact GeneralGay and his staff expected it to accomplish little. The regiment had tocross the wide Yesong River against defending enemy forces before it couldturn north as the left-hand column in the Kumch'on Pocket maneuver. Sinceall of I Corps' bridging troops and equipment were committed to establishingbridges across the Imjin River at Munsan-ni to support the main effortnorthward, river crossing support could not be supplied for the 7th CavalryRegiment at the Yesong River.

On 8 October the regiment received orders to move up to the Yesong River,search for crossing sites, and clear enemy troops from the area southwestof Kaesong. The I&R Platoon found that the high, 800-yard-long combinationhighway and rail bridge over the river on the Kaesong-Paekch'on route wasstanding, although damaged. It was so weakened, however, that it couldsupport only foot traffic. The I&R Platoon received small arms, automatic,and mortar fire from the enemy on the far side of the river. Colonel Clainos,commander of the 1st Battalion, also personally reconnoitered the areawith a platoon of A Company on the afternoon of the 8th and received firefrom the west bank of the stream. The I&R Platoon leader told him thatenemy forces held the west side of the river from the southern tip of thepeninsula to a point one-half mile northeast of the Yesong River bridge.Colonel Harris, the regimental commander, upon receiving the I&R Platoonreport that the bridge was usable for foot troops, ordered the platoonto prevent further destruction of the bridge. He then called upon the 1stBattalion to seize the bridge and crossing area. [8]

A full report of the situation was given to the 1st Cavalry Divisionwith the recommendation that the 7th Cavalry Regiment seize this unexpectedopportunity for a quick crossing of the river. General Gay feared thatthe North Koreans had set a trap in leaving the bridge usable for foottroops, and that enemy zeroed-in mortar and artillery fire and automaticweapons would decimate any troops caught on it. The division staff saidalso that a regimental attack west of the Yesong River northward couldnot be supported logistically. The untiring efforts of Colonel Harris andhis S-3, Captain Webel, however, succeeded in winning from General Gayauthority to attempt the crossing on the 9th.

On the afternoon of 9 October the 7th Cavalry Regiment delivered threehours of preparatory artillery fire against enemy positions on the westbank of the river. At 1500, Colonel Clainos ordered a platoon of C Companyto cross the bridge under cover of the barrage. In crossing the bridgeand seizing the immediate approaches on the far side, the platoon suffereda few casualties from small arms fire. Following this platoon, B Company,8th Engineer Combat Battalion, went on the bridge and spent all night underfire repairing holes in the roadway. After the first troops reached thefar side, Clainos sent the rest of C Company across and it occupied thehill on the right of the bridge. Next to cross was B Company, which seized the hill just southof the bridge. The artillery and mortar barrage had been unable to silenceenemy mortars, and these fired heavy concentrations on the bridge duringthe 1st Battalion crossing, which took several hours to complete. The overheadsteel girders of the bridge gave excellent protection from fire and preventedmany casualties. When the supporting artillery barrage had to be liftedfrom the immediate environs of the bridge, once the 1st Battalion troopscrossed to that side, casualties began to increase rapidly from enemy fire.In this crossing attack, the 1st Battalion had 78 casualties; C Companyalone had 7 killed and 36 wounded.

After dark the North Koreans launched a counterattack against the 1stBattalion, and Colonel Harris ordered Lt. Col. Gilmon A. Huff to hastenhis crossing with the 2d Battalion. Just before midnight Huff's battalionstarted infiltrating across the bridge which was still under some mortarand small arms fire. On the other side, Huff assembled his battalion onthe south flank of the 1st Battalion, approximately 100 yards west of thebridge. He then attacked west along the Paekch'on road in a column of companieswith G Company leading. This attack progressed only a short distance whena heavy enemy counterattack from the south struck the flank of G Company.The enemy counterattack threw the 2d Battalion into momentary confusion.In the beginning of the fight enemy small arms fire hit Huff in the shoulder,but he remained with his battalion throughout the night battle. The largestweapons the battalion had at hand were 57-mm. recoilless rifles and 60-mm.mortars. Huff showed superb leadership in this difficult night battle andeventually seized the high ground southeast of the bridge and the road.By dawn it was clear that the battle was all but over and that the 2d Battalionwould be able to move forward. Huff then turned over command of the battalionto the executive officer who led it in a continuation of the attack westward.The battalion seized Paekch'on and the high ground north of the town inthe afternoon. [9]

The next morning, 11 October, the 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, crossedthe Yesong River and headed north. Thus, by that morning all three regimentsof the 1st Cavalry Division had crossed the 38th Parallel and were drivinginto North Korea. The 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, on the morning of 12 October,seized its objective-the railroad and highway bridges at Hanp'o-ri northof Kumch'on, and the road juncture there. This closed the western escaperoute of an estimated 1,000 enemy troops in Kumch'on. Friendly fighter-bombersmistakenly strafed and rocketed the 3d Battalion at Hanp'o-ri, woundingseveral men. That evening the 2d Battalion joined the 3d Battalion at Hanp'o-ri.[10]

During the night at the 3d Battalion roadblock, the pressure from the8th and 5th Cavalry Regiments on the North Koreans was made evident. MSgt.John H. Smith and his platoon of L Company ambushed 11 enemy trucks runningwith their lights on. They destroyed 4 trucks loaded with ammunition, captured6 others, killed about 50 enemy soldiers, and captured an equal number.Among the latter was a mortally wounded regimental commander who had inhis possession a document indicating that two North Korean divisions, the17th and 19th, intended to break out of Kumch'on the nightof 14 October. Before he died the officer said part of the enemy forcehad been ordered to withdraw to Namch'onjom, a fortified area fifteen milesnorth of Kumch'on. [11]

The drive of the 7th Cavalry Regiment northward to Hanp'o-ri after crossingthe Yesong River could not have taken place without one of the most successfullogistical supply operations of the Korean War. In the discussions beforethe 7th Cavalry attack at the Yesong River bridge, the 1st Cavalry DivisionG-4 had told Colonel Harris and Maj. Lucian Croft, the regimental S-4,that he could not provide the gasoline, rations, and certain types of ammunitionfor the drive north from Paekch'on even if the river crossing attempt wassuccessful. Colonel Harris and Captain Webel decided to try to obtain theneeded logistical support from the 3d Logistical Command at Inch'on byamphibious transport through the Yellow Sea and up the Yesong River. Capt.Arthur Westburg, an assistant regimental S-3 officer, went to Inch'on andpresented the matter to Brig. Gen. George C. Stewart, the port commander.General Stewart and his staff loaded 500 tons of supplies on thirteen LCV's.They arrived at the 7th Cavalry crossing site at the Yesong River bridgelate in the afternoon of the 10th. Engineer troops from I Corps on the15th constructed a pontoon ferry at the bridge site and it transportedthe tanks of C Company, 70th Tank Battalion, across the river for supportof the regiment. [12]

The 13th of October promised to be a critical day in the efforts ofthe 1st Cavalry Division to close the Kumch'on Pocket. With the 7th Cavalryblocking the exit road from Kumch'on, the decisive action now rested withthe 8th and 5th Cavalry Regiments, which were trying to compress the pocketfrom the south and the east.

After it turned west from the Sibyon-ni road the 5th Cavalry encounteredan almost continuous mine field in its approach to Kumch'on, and it alsohad to fight and disperse an enemy force estimated to number 300 soldiers,eight miles from the town. Overcoming these difficulties, the regimentpressed ahead and by the evening of the 13th it was approaching Kumch'on.

Strong opposition confronted the 8th Cavalry Regiment on the main highwaywhere the enemy apparently had concentrated most of his available forcesand weapons. There, on the morning of the 13th, an artillery preparationemploying proximity fuze air bursts blanketed the North Korean positions.Because of the closeness of the American troops to the enemy, a planned B-26 bomber strike was canceled, buta new flight of fighter planes appeared over the enemy positions everythirty minutes. The North Koreans resisted stubbornly with tanks, artillery,mortars, small arms fire, and counterattacks. In one of the counterattacks,enemy tanks rumbled out of the early morning mist to strike an outpostof B Company, 70th Tank Battalion. Sgt. Marshall D. Drewery said his tankgunner first fired on the lead enemy tank at a range of fifty yards. Asecond round hit it at a range of twenty yards. Still the T34 came on andrammed into the American tank. Drewery's driver put his tank in reverse,jerked loose, and backed away. At a few yards' range the gunner fired athird round into the enemy tank which now had a split gun muzzle and wasburning. Amazingly, the tank rumbled forward and rammed Drewery's tanka second time. The fourth round finally knocked out this stubborn enemytank. In the day's series of attacks and counterattacks the 8th Cavalryand supporting arms destroyed eight enemy tanks; B Company, 70th Tank Battalion,accounted for seven of them without loss to itself. [13]

While the enemy force south of Kumch'on fought desperately and successfullyto prevent the 8th Cavalry from closing in on the town, a large enemy columnof trucks and carts with an estimated 1,000 soldiers moved northward outof it on the road toward Namch'onjom. At the Hanp'o-ri bridge it ran intothe 7th Cavalry roadblock. In the ensuing action, the 7th Cavalry, aidedby air strikes, killed an estimated 500 and captured 201 of this force.Many enemy troops, however, escaped into the hills northeast of the town.

At the same time, elements of the N.K. 43d Division cutoff below Paekch'on were moving around that town and fleeing north. Onesuch group in company strength occupied old North Korean defensive positionsjust north of the 38th Parallel the night of 12-13 October. The followingday it ambushed the tail end of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, columnmoving north from Paekch'on. Part of A Battery, 77th Field Artillery Battalion,and B Company, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, were in the ambushed column.A soldier who escaped raced back into Paekch'on to the 3d Battalion, 21stInfantry, command post. Colonel Stephens, the regimental commander, happenedto be there. Upon hearing what had happened, he directed Lt. Col. JohnA. McConnell, Commanding Officer, 3d Battalion, to send a company to thescene. Colonel McConnell thereupon directed I Company, 21st Infantry, whichwas on a blocking mission south of the ambush site, to go there. On arrivalit engaged and dispersed the enemy force with mortar and small arms fire,and captured 36 North Koreans. In this ambush the North Koreans killed29 American and 8 South Korean soldiers and wounded 30 Americans and 4South Koreans. They also destroyed 4 and damaged 14 vehicles. In this episode,as in so many others like it, those caught in the roadblock apparentlymade little effort to defend themselves. In another ambush on the roadthat night enemy troops captured the 2d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, supply officer and 11 men; subsequently, however, the officer and 5 men escaped.[14]

At midnight of the 13th, the 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, resumedits attack on Kumch'on from the east. After dispersing an enemy force nearthe town, the battalion then entered and seized the northern part of it.The 3d Battalion following behind seized the southern part. At 0830, 14October, Colonel Crombez and the regimental command group arrived in Kumch'on.Crombez ordered the 2d Battalion to turn north toward the 7th Cavalry atHanp'o-ri and the 3d Battalion to turn south to meet the 8th Cavalry onthe Kaesong road. The 1st Battalion remained behind to secure the town.

Advancing northwest, the 2d Battalion joined elements of the 7th Cavalryabove Hanp'o-ri at noon. An enemy force, estimated to number 2,400 men,which had been attacking the 7th Cavalry roadblock position at Hanp'o-ri,escaped into the hills when the 2d Battalion approached from the south.Meanwhile, attacking south from Kumch'on, the 3d Battalion neared a specialtask force of the 8th Cavalry Regiment which had attacked north duringthe morning and already had lost two tanks to enemy action. The two columns,the 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry, and the special 8th Cavalry task force metjust after noon about four miles south of Kumch'on. Even though the 1stCavalry Division envelopment and capture of Kumch'on had been carried outin five days, a large part of the enemy force in the Kumch'on Pocket escaped,mostly to the north and northwest. [15]

The day Kumch'on fell to the 1st Cavalry Division, 14 October, the NorthKorean Premier and Commander in Chief, Kim Il Sung, issued an order toall troops of the North Korea People's Army explaining the reasons forthe army's defeat and outlining harsh measures for future army discipline.Alluding to the recent reverses, Kim Il Sung said, "Some of our officershave been cast into utter confusion by the new situation and have thrownaway their weapons and left their positions without orders." He commanded;"Do not retreat one step farther. Now we have no space in which tofall back." He directed that agitators and deserters be executed onthe spot, irrespective of their positions in the Army. To carry out thisorder, he directed that division and unit commanders organize, by the followingday, a special group, which he termed the "Supervising Army,"its men to be recruited from those who had distinguished themselves inbattle. [16]

At the close of 14 October, with U.S. I Corps troops through the principalprepared enemy positions between the 38th Parallel and the North Koreancapital, enemy front lines as such had ceased to exist. The North Koreanforces were in a state of utter confusion.

Kumch'on, North Korea

In these auspicious circumstances President Truman on 15 October metGeneral MacArthur on Wake Island. A few days earlier, in announcinghis intention to make the trip, President Truman had said he would discusswith General MacArthur "the final phase of U.N. action in Korea."[17]

The X Corps Moves to Northeast Korea

While the I Corps of Eighth Army was driving into North Korea on theP'yongyang axis and the 1st Marine Division was loading at Inch'on, the7th Infantry Division was assembling at Pusan to outload there in the XCorps amphibious movement to northeast Korea. On 30 September the divisionhad been relieved of its responsibilities in the Seoul area and its unitsbegan to shift south and southeast to the Suwon and Ich'on areas preparatoryto the long overland move to Pusan. Ten LST's were reserved at Inch'onfor the division's tanks and heavy equipment.

On 4 October Eighth Army indicated the route it wanted the 7th Divisionto take through its zone, specifying the road through Ch'ungju, Hamch'ang,Kumch'on, Taegu, and Kyongju to Pusan, a road distance of 350 miles fromIch'on. At Taegu the troops were to load on trains for the final part ofthe journey, whereupon the trucks would return to Suwon and Ich'on forothers. [18]

The 3d Battalion, 31st Infantry, led the 7th Division movement, passingthe initial point at Ich'on at 0350 5 October, with the rest of the regimentfollowing. The command group of the 32d Infantry led the movement of thatregiment through Ich'on four hours later. The 17th Regiment remained atIch'on, holding its blocking position there until relieved on 8 October,and it then began the motor movement to Pusan. Both the 31st and 32d Regimentsclosed at Pusan on 7 October. On 8 October the 7th Division command postclosed at Anyang-ni and opened at Pusan, although most of the headquarterswas still on the road.

The movement to Pusan was not without incident. On two occasions enemyforces ambushed convoys in the mountains near Mun'gyong. The first ambushcaught the head of the 2d Battalion, 31st Infantry, at 0200, 6 October,and inflicted nine casualties; the second ambush at 0230, 9 October, caughtthe division headquarters convoy in the pass three miles northwest of Mun'gyong.Enemy machine gun fire killed six men and destroyed several vehicles. Elementsof the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, succeeded in clearing the pass areathat afternoon. This battalion thereafter patrolled the pass above Mun'gyonguntil it was relieved on 11 October by the 27th Infantry Regiment of the25th Division. [19]

The division artillery was the last major unit to leave Ich'on, clearingthere at 1700 on 10 October. It and the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry, arrivedat Pusan on 12 October to complete the division movement to the port. About450 division troops had been airlifted on 11 October from Kimpo Airfieldto Pusan. In addition to the 7th Division, the X Corps Medical, Engineer,Ordnance, Transportation, Quartermaster, Chemical, and Signal units movedoverland to Pusan for outloading. Altogether, in seven days, approximately1,460 tons of supplies and equipment and 13,422 troops had moved overlandin division vehicles and those of the 52d Truck Battalion. [20]

The loading of the 7th Division vehicles and equipment at Pusan beganon 14 October and that of the men two days later. The division was completelyloaded on 17 October, the deadline set by X Corps nine days earlier. Theloading of corps troops at Pusan began on 19 October.

In its order of 8 October, X Corps had required the 2d Logistical Commandto furnish 15 days' supply of all classes for the 25,000 troops outloadingat Pusan, 10 days of Class II and IV supplies for the troops outloadingat Inch'on, and, for the entire corps, 15 days' resupply to arrive in theWonsan area on D-day plus 8 (28 October). Except for Class I supply, the2d Logistical Command had no reliable information as to the requirementsof the various units. Providing the 15 days of supply depleted depot stocksin that area, particularly of winter clothing, operational rations, POL,and post exchange comfort items. This resulted in subsequent logisticaldifficulties for Eighth Army. Much of the 15 days' resupply for X Corpshad to be requisitioned on the Japan Logistical Command. [21]

The difficult logistical and outloading problem given the 2d LogisticalCommand on such short notice was worked out successfully only by the constantmutual effort and co-operation of the staffs of the logistical commandand of the 7th Infantry Division. The outloading was completed in time.It was an outstanding performance. On 16 October the 7th Division advancecommand post opened aboard the USS Eldorado. But because mine fieldsin Wonsan Harbor now delayed sailing of the convoys for nearly two weeks,the hectic work at the port to meet the loading deadline was largely invain.

Mines at Wonsan Harbor

After the Inch'on landing and Eighth Army's successful breakout fromthe Pusan Perimeter, evidence began to mount that the North Koreans weremining the coastal waters of North Korea. Three U.S. ships, the Brush,Mansfield, and Magpie, struck mines and suffered heavy damage.Although intelligence sources indicated enemy mines were being laid incoastal waters, little was known about the location and extent of thesemine fields. North Korean interests certainly dictated, however, that thesea approaches to Wonsan should be mined.

In a series of conferences from 2 to 4 October, Admiral Struble andhis staff decided to form the Advance Force JTF 7, which would proceedto the objective area and begin minesweeping at the earliest possible date.All minesweepers available were to be concentrated for the task. The groupcomprised 21 vessels, including 10 American and 8 Japanese minesweepers,and 1 South Korean vessel used as a minesweeper. Minesweeping operationsat Wonsan began on 10 October. A search by helicopter over the harbor channelshowed it to be heavily mined inside the 30-fathom curve. The plan to sweepthis channel was canceled and another substituted-to sweep from the 100-fathomcurve down the Russian Hydropac Channel passing between Yodo and Hwangt'o-doIslands. By 12 October this channel had been swept a distance of twenty-fourmiles from the 100-fathom curve. Ten miles remained to the inner harbor.[22]

At this point the novel idea was advanced of exploding mines along anarrow passageway by aerial bombing which would permit the lead sweepsto pass. On 12 October thirty-nine planes from the carriers PhilippineSea and Leyte flew down the Russian channel dropping 1,000-poundbombs.

Three minesweepers, the Pirate, Pledge, and Incredible,then entered the bombed channel to resume minesweeping. Northwest of Yo-doIsland the Pirate struck a mine at 1209; the Pledge hit onesix minutes later. Both vessels sank. As the Incredible, third inline, maneuvered into safe water, enemy shore batteries opened fire. Twelve men went down with the two sunken ships.One enlisted man died later from wounds. At least 33 others were woundedand injured in varying degrees; some sources place the number of woundedas high as 99. The Incredible itself rescued 27 survivors. [23]

The menace of shore batteries was removed on 17 October when groundforces of the ROK I Corps, which had already captured Wonsan, gained controlof the peninsulas and islands commanding the harbor approaches.

Casualties from mines continued. On 18 October two ROK Navy vesselsstruck mines in the Wonsan area; one was disabled at the entrance to theharbor, and the other, a minesweeper, was sunk. The next day a Japaneseminesweeper struck a mine and sank.

The risk of sending transports with troops to the beaches was stillgreat. The presence of ground mines in the shallow water made necessarya thorough magnetic sweep of the close-in approaches to the landing beaches.Because troops of the ROK I Corps were now well past Wonsan, the militarysituation did not warrant an unnecessary risk in unloading the Marine units.Admiral Struble, therefore, recommended that they not be unloaded on 20October as planned, but that D-day be deferred until the minesweeping couldbe completed. Admiral Joy and General MacArthur concurred.

A report from the minesweeper group on 23 October indicated that a channelfree of mines had been swept to Blue-Yellow Beach, but that sweeping ofthe beach area itself was being continued. At a conference on board theMissouri the next day, Admiral Struble decided that landings couldstart on the 25th; actually they did not begin until the morning of the26th. The conference on the 24th also decided that the minesweepers shouldclear the Wonsan inner harbor. Then they were to sweep the approaches toHungnam to clear that port. General Almond had urged this so that logisticalsupport could be centered there for the X Corps operations in northeastKorea. Not until 4 November did the minesweepers complete their work inthe Wonsan inner harbor. Ships of the task force then stood into the harborand pulled up alongside the dock.

Their dangerous work finished at Wonsan, the minesweepers still hadto continue it in the Hungnam area. There they swept a channel 32 mileslong and 1,600 yards wide, as well as an anchorage in the inner harbor.Actually, the minesweepers were busy as long as X Corps was in northeastKorea. Floating mines were common sights at this time off the east coastof Korea in the Wonsan-Hungnam area. One of the worst mine disasters occurredon 16 November, when an Army tug with a crane barge in tow struck a mineoff the entrance to Wonsan Harbor and sank, with approximately thirty menlost out of forty. [24]

While the minesweeping was progressing offshore, Lt. Col. William J. McCaffrey, Deputy Chief of Staff,X Corps, on 16 October brought the X Corps Advance Command Post to Wonsanby air, flying from Kimpo Airfield. He immediately established communicationswith the ROK I Corps and the commander of the minesweeping operations.McCaffrey's staff set to work at once with the ROK I Corps G-2 to learnwho had laid the mines in the harbor and to find the warehouses where theyhad been stored. This was done successfully by the ROK I Corps intelligencesection. The ROK's found a villager who had worked in the mine depot. Afterhis fears were quieted, he guided a party to a depot north of Wonsan wherethe mines had been stored and assembled. He also provided information enablingthe investigators to take into custody one of the sampan captains who hadhelped plant the mines. The information gained from these sources indicatedthat thirty Russians had been in Wonsan until 4 October assembling themines and supervising laying the mine fields. Working almost entirely atnight, from about thirty-two small boats, North Korean crews and theirsupervisors had laid approximately 3,000 mines. [25]

The North Koreans and their helpers had not confined laying mines atWonsan to the waters in the harbor. The beaches were also heavily plantedwith land mines. This had been expected, and as soon as the ROK I Corpshad secured Wonsan it cleared the beaches of mines.

An unusual incident growing out of this work occurred the night of 16October. At the north end of the Wonsan Harbor ROK troops had stacked about1,000 20-pound box mines they had just lifted from the beaches. A ROK lieutenantand five enlisted men decided to have a private celebration, and, movingoff about 200 yards, the lieutenant fired into the stacked mines. The minesexploded, shattering panes of glass in the provincial capital buildingtwo miles away. Unfortunately, they also killed the six ROK's.

The X Corps Ashore

The ships of Amphibious Group One and the LST's of the tractor groupsailed from Inch'on late in the afternoon of 16 October. At 0800 on the17th, the main body of the Attack Force with the 1st Marine Division aboarddeparted Inch'on, moved into the Yellow Sea, and headed south to roundthe tip of Korea. From Inch'on it was 830 miles to Wonsan by the shortestsea route. [26]

Landing Craft Approaching Beach

After arriving off the objective area, the flotilla carrying the 1stMarine Division steamed slowly back and forth from 19 to 25 October inthe Sea of Japan just outside the Wonsan channel. The restless marinescalled it "Operation Yo-yo." It was a great relief to everyoneafloat when twenty-one transports and fifteen LST's came into the harbor on 25 October and dropped anchoroff Blue and Yellow Beaches. The X Corps began a quiet, administrativelanding at 0730 on 26 October. At 1000 27 October the command post of the1st Marine Division closed aboard the USS Mt. McKinley andopened in Wonsan. By the close of 28 October all combat elements of thedivision were ashore.

Meanwhile, the 7th Division had remained idly afloat at Pusan for tendays. Finally, on October it received orders to proceed to Iwon, 150 milesabove Wonsan, and to unload there across the beaches.

Because the X Corps mission by now had been changed to advancing northwardinstead of westward from Wonsan, General Almond decided to land the 7thDivision as close as possible to its axis of advance inland toward NorthKorea's northern border. This was to be the Pukch'ong-P'ungsan-Hyesanjinroad to the Yalu. On receipt of the changed orders, the 17th RegimentalCombat Team, which was to be first ashore, had to unload its unit equipmentfrom its transports at Pusan and reload combat equipment on LST's, in orderto be prepared to land on a possibly hostile beach. This done, seven LST'swith the 17th Regimental Combat Team aboard left Pusan on 27 October andheaded up the coast for Iwon. The landing proved to be without danger for the minesweepersfound no mines there, and the ROK Capital Division had captured and passedthrough the town several days earlier. The 17th Infantry landed over thebeaches at Iwon unopposed on the morning of the 29th. Except for most ofits tanks, the 7th Division completed unloading there on 9 November. [27]


[1] Fonecon, Allen with Hickey, 1115 7 Oct 50, and Msg CX65711, CINCUNC to CG Eighth Army, 7 Oct 50, both quoted in Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the Korean War, ch. VI, pp. 24-25; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 7 Oct 50, Opn Ord 104, 5 Oct 50.

[2] EUSAK PIR's 82, 2 Oct, 89, 9 Oct, 90, 10 Oct, and 93, 13 Oct 50.

[3] EUSAK PIR 85, 5 Oct 50, and PIR 89, Incl No. 3, 9 Oct 50; FEC, Ord of Battle Info, N.K. Army, Chart 14 (N.K. 19th Div) and Chart 13 (N.K.17th Div); ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 14 (N.K. Forces), p. 138, and Issue 15, pp. 100, 149, 191, 192; ATIS Enemy Documents, Issue 16, p. 45, diary of Sr Col Chang Tong Mu; GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. Army, p. 27.

[4] 8th Cav Regt WD, S-3 Jnl, Msg 091226 Oct 50; Capt. Charles A. Rogers, History of the 16th Reconnaissance Company in Korea, 18 July 1950-April 1951, MS, May 1951, copy in OCMH; 1st Cav Div WD, 11-12 Oct 50.

[5] 5th Cav POR 23, 091800-101800 Oct 50; 5th Cav Regt WD, 9 Oct 50 and Oct Narr Summ: 1st Cav Div WD, 11-12 Oct 50. Department of the Army General Order 57, 2 August 1951, awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously to Lieutenant Coursen.

[6] Ltr, Gay to author, 23 Jan 54: Interv, author with Crombez, 12 Jan 56; 1st Cav Div WD, 12 Oct 50.

[7] Crombez, MS review comments, 12 Jan 56: 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 29 Sep-Oct 50 (with 24th Div records); EUSAK POR 272, 11 Oct 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 12-13 Oct 50.

[8] Ltr, Webel (7th Cav S-3 Oct 50) to author, 13 Apr 54; Ltr, Col Peter D. Clainos to author, 24 May 54; Ltrs, Gay to author, 23 Jan and 19 Apr 54; Ltr, Harris to author, 7 Apr 54.

[9] Ltr, Huff to author, 28 Apr 54; Ltr, Webel to author, 13 Apr 54; Fonecon, Webel with author, 20 May 54; Ltr, Clainos to author, 24 May 54; Ltr, Gay to author, 19 Apr 54; 2d Bn, 7th Cav Unit Jnl, 0355-0700 10 Oct 50: 7th Cav Regt WD, 9-10 Oct. 50.

[10] 7th Cav Regt WD, 12 Oct 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 11-12 Oct 50; Webel, MS review comments for author, 13 Apr 54.

[11] 17th Cav Regt WD, 12 Oct 50; 7th Cav Regt Opn Ord 28, 141015 Oct 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1100 13 Oct 50.

[12] Ltr, Webel to author, 13 Apr 54; Ltr, Harris to author, 7 Apr 54; 7th Cav Regt WD, 10-11 Oct 50; 3d Log Comd Hist Opn Rpt, G-4 Sec (HistMemo: Yesong River Supply and Ferry Mission), 10-12 Oct 50. During the 12th, the 1st Cavalry Division received reinforcements which were attached to it for the drive on P'yongyang. These were B Co, 6th Med Tk Bn; the 89th Tk Bn; the 13th FA Bn; and the 90th FA Bn.

[13] 1st Cav Div WD, 13-14 50; 8th Cav Regt WD, Jnl file 0643 to 0800 13Oct 50; New York Herald Tribune, October 14, 1950.

[14] 1st Cav Div WD, 13 Oct 50; 7th Cav Regt WD, 13 Oct 50; 24th Div WD, 14 Oct 50; Webel, MS review comments for author, 13 Apr 54; Stephens, MS review comments. Dec 57.

[15] 1st Cav Div WD, 13-14 Oct 50; 7th Cav Regt WD, 13 14 Oct 50; 8th Cav Regt Jnl, 141310-141315 Oct 50; Crombez, MS review comments, 12 Jan 56; Stephens MS review comments, Dec 57.

[16] ATIS Supp, Enemy Docs, Issue 19, pp. 1-4, order dated 14 Oct 50, issued to all NKPA personnel by Kim Il Sung and Pak Hon Yong, Chief of Supreme Political Bureau, NKPA.

[17] EUSAK WD, 21 Oct 50, has transcript of Truman's address at San Francisco, 17 Oct; New York Times, October 11, 1950.

[18] X Corps WD, CofS Notes, 2, 4 Oct 50; 7th Inf Div WD, G-3 Jnl, 2-4 Oct 50, and Msg 17, 5 Oct 50; X Corps WD, Opn Sec, pp. 16-18; Barr, Notes, 30 Sep-2 Oct 50.

[19] 7th Inf Div WD, 6-11 Oct 50; X Corps WD, 6-11 Oct 50; X Corps POR 19, 7 Oct 50; Barr Notes, 9 Oct 50; X Corps WD, G-3 Jnl, Msg 46, 2215 9 Oct 50.

[20] X Corps WD, Oct 50, Log Sec, p. 22.

[21] 7th Inf Div WD, 14 Oct 50: 2d Log Comd Monthly Act Rpt. G-4 Sec, Oct 50; Barr Notes, 14 Oct 50; Interv, author with Col A. C. Morgan, CofS 2d Log Comd, 21 Jul 51: Interv, author with Lt Col Robert J. Fuller, 2d Log Comd, G-4 Sec, 21 Jul 51.

[22] Act Rpt, JTF 7, Wonsan Opn, I-C-2 and 3, and VI-D-1

[23] Ibid., pts. V, IV, and I-D-1 to I-D-3; Karig, et al., Battle Report, The War in Korea, pp. 317-18; Lt. Comdr. R. N. Hartmann, USNR, "Minesweepers Go In First," Armed Forces Chemical Journal, vol. V, No. 2 (October, 1951), pp. 19, 46.

[24] Act Rpt, TF 90, Amphib Group I, Hungnam Redeployment, 9-25 Dec 50, Status of Sweep Operations, 7 Dec 50; 3d Inf Div Comd Rpt, CofS Jnl, entry at 1637 17 Nov 50.

[25] Act Rpt, JTF 7, I-D-1 to I-D-3; Karig, et al., Battle Report, The War in Korea, pp. 327-30; New York Times, October 21, 1950, dispatch from Hanson Baldwin on USS Missouri off Wonsan, 20 Oct 50; Ltr, Col William J. McCaffrey to Almond, 1 Dec 54, and forwarded by latter to author.

[26] X Corps WD, Diary of CG, 17 Oct 50; Ibid., Notes of CofS X Corps, 17-19 Oct 50; 1st Mar Div SAR, 8 Oct-13 Dec 50, vol. I, p. 20 and vol. II, an. C, p. 4; 2d Log Comd Rpt, Oct 50, G-4 Sec, pp. 3-6; 3d Log Comd Hist Rpt, Oct 50; Karig, et al., Battle Report, The War in Korea, pp. 801-05.

[27] 7th Div WD. 17, 29 Oct 50 and G-3 Jnl, 26-28 Oct; Ibid., POR, 9 Nov 50; X Corps WD, Summ, 29 Oct 50; Barr Notes, 26, 29 Oct and 9 Nov 50.

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