The whole art of war consists in getting at what is on the other side of
the hill. |
DUKE OF WELLINGTON
Action North of the River
Monday, 2 November, was a day of hectic activity and some confusion in the
command posts of Eighth Army and its subordinate organizations. Orders and
changes to orders came in an almost endless stream as steps were taken to
withdraw U.S. I Corps below the Ch'ongch'on River. In the final instructions the
27th British Commonwealth Brigade and the 18th Infantry Regiment of the 24th
Division were to remain north of the river in a bridgehead that encompassed and
protected the bridges and tank fords over the Ch'ongch'on and Taeryong Rivers in
the Anju-Pakch'on areas. General Walker wished to hold these river crossing
sites for the purpose of resuming the offensive. 
By evening of 3 November the 27th Brigade had moved from Taech'on into its
assigned defensive positions around Pakch'on at the northwest corner of the
bridgehead. (Map 24) The fine fur boots on the feet of some of the
enemy dead at Taech'on, and three Chinese deserters who entered their lines
there, revealed to the British that they already had had minor brushes with the
Chinese. Following close behind the departing British, Chinese forces entered
Taech'on less than an hour after the British rear guard had left it. 
The other part of the bridgehead force, the 18th Infantry Regiment, also
moved during 3 November to its defensive positions just north of the Ch'ongch'on
and northeast of Anju. Once the 18th Infantry was in its defensive positions,
the ROK 1st Division, still in contact with the enemy, withdrew through it to
the south side of the Ch'ongch'on, completing its crossing before noon of 4
The boundary between the ROK Army and the U.S. I Corps crossed the
Ch'ongch'on on a north-south line at Kunu-ri. Already the Chinese had crowded
the ROK II Corps into a restricted defensive area near Won-ni about four miles
northeast of Kunu-ri. On 3 November the 5th Regimental Combat Team of the 24th
Division took a position at Kunu-ri behind the ROK II Corps. The 9th Regiment of
the U.S. 2d Infantry Division was in position south of Kunu-ri protecting the
road to Sunch'on. Enemy forces during the day advanced within two and a half
miles of Kunu-ri. 
The next day, 4 November, enemy forces drove hard for Kunu-ri. Hill 622, a
large mountain cresting three miles northeast of Kunu-ri, dominated the town,
the valley of the Ch'ongch'on, and the rail and highway communication lines
passing along it. The 3d and 5th Regiments of the ROK 7th Division held this key terrain feature, with the 5th
RCT, 24th Division, in blocking position just behind them. The ROK 8th Regiment
was in reserve along the road east of Kunu-ri. That morning a strong CCF attack
broke the ROK 3d Regiment position on the mountain and the South Koreans began
streaming back through the 5th RCT. Capt. Hubert H. Ellis, commanding officer of
C Company, stopped and reorganized these ROK troops and sent them back to retake
the hill. The ROK 8th Regiment was now also committed to the battle. The hill
changed hands several times throughout the day, but at dark ROK troops held its
vital northwest ridge.
The 5th RCT itself had heavy fighting in this battle to hold Kunu-ri, and was
forced to withdraw about 1,000 yards. Part of the fighting was at close
quarters. Some men, like 1st Lt. Morgan B. Hansel of C Company who gave his life
to prevent the disintegration of a platoon, charged Chinese machine gun
emplacements alone. By evening the enemy attack in estimated division strength
(elements of the CCF 38th Army) had been repulsed. The ROK 7th Division and Col.
"Rocky John" Throckmorton's 5th Regimental Combat Team had saved Kunu-ri and
successfully protected the right flank of Eighth Army. 
Simultaneously with this attack south of the Ch'ongch'on against Kunu-ri, the
enemy struck the bridgehead force north of the river. On 4 November both ground
and aerial observers reported approximately 1,000 enemy soldiers crossing the
Kuryong River two miles northwest of the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, and
moving south through wooded terrain, evidently intent on getting into the rear
of the battalion. The enemy maneuver succeeded. Chinese troops captured the
battalion's radio while the operator was using it to report the situation to the
regimental headquarters. The battalion did not make much of a fight, and, after
destroying and abandoning its heavy equipment and vehicles, it withdrew eastward
and infiltrated across the Kuryong and Ch'ongch'on Rivers to friendly positions.
Nearly all the men escaped.
Meanwhile, a task force of the 3d Battalion, 19th Infantry, subsequently
reinforced by the entire battalion, tried to drive through to the 1st
Battalion's position, but strong enemy forces on the road repelled it. With
these difficulties developing in the bridgehead area, General Church ordered
Brig. Gen. Garrison H. Davidson, the assistant division commander of the 24th
Division, to assume command of all 24th Division troops north of the Ch'ongch'on
and to co-ordinate the actions of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade and the
division troops. Davidson arrived at the 19th Infantry command post shortly
after noon of the 4th to assume command of Task Force Davidson. The worsening
situation caused General Church at 1630 also to order the 21st Infantry Regiment
to cross to the north side of the Ch'ongch'on River during the night and attack
the next day, to clear the enemy from the 19th Infantry area and restore the
bridgehead line. 
An enemy force made a further penetration in the 19th Infantry zone during
the night, but the next morning, 5 November, the 2d and 3d Battalions, 21st
Infantry, attacked and restored the position. Once again, as in the days on the
Naktong, the 3d Engineer Combat Battalion assumed an infantry role in taking
positions to protect the Anju bridges over the Ch'ongch'on. Fleeing the battle
area, hordes of refugees crossed the Ch'ongch'on; 20,000 of them passed through
the checking points on the south side of the river on 4-5 November. 
On the west, there was a 5-mile gap between the left flank of the 19th
Infantry bridgehead position and the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade position.
A large mountain mass lay in this no man's land, and over and through it enemy
forces could move at will to the flank and rear of either the 27th Brigade or
the 19th Infantry. On the 19th Infantry's extreme left flank at the edge of this
gap the 2d Battalion held Hill 123 which overlooked a valley near the little
village of Ch'onghyon, four miles above the Ch'ongch'on.
On the night of 5-6 November the enemy made a co-ordinated attack all along
the bridgehead line. At Hill 123 the attack achieved surprise against E and G
Companies, 19th Infantry. At least part of the enemy assault force came up to E
Company's position from the rear, apparently following field telephone wire. The
Chinese caught many men asleep in their sleeping bags and killed them where they
lay. Others were shot in the back of the head. The Chinese virtually overran the
battalion positions on Hill 123.
Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud, an Indian from Wisconsin, gave the first alarm to E
Company from his position on the point of the ridge where a trail climbed to the
company command post. A group of Chinese suddenly charged him from a
brush-covered area 100 feet away. Corporal Red Cloud sprang to his feet and
fired his BAR into them. Enemy fire wounded and felled him, but he pulled
himself to his feet, wrapped one arm around a small tree, and again delivered
point-blank BAR fire until Chinese bullets cut him down. Later, American
officers found a string of Chinese dead in front of his body. 
Another BAR man in E Company, Pfc. Joseph W. Balboni, was equally heroic.
Chinese soldiers approached unnoticed within seventy-five feet of him. From this
short distance they charged forward. Balboni met them with bursts from his BAR
and stood in his tracks until killed. Two days later when a friendly patrol
visited the spot seventeen enemy dead were found in front of Balboni's body.
By 0300 the battalion had withdrawn 1,000 yards. There it was only barely
able to hold its new position. After daylight the enemy withdrew from contact
with the 2d Battalion. Elsewhere the other battalions on the 18th Infantry front
repulsed the attacks on them after hard fighting. Artillery firing from the
south side of the Ch'ongch'on supported the 19th Infantry during the bridgehead
After daylight the re-equipped 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, which had
recrossed to the north side of the Ch'ongch'on during the night, counterattacked
and closed the gap between the 2d Battalion and the rest of the regiment on its
right. The 19th Regiment then began restoring its original bridgehead line.
In these night battles of predawn 6 November the enemy had lost heavily. Two
days later, the 2d Battalion alone counted 474 enemy dead in the vicinity of
Hill 123, and it found evidence that many more dead had been buried. The 3d
Battalion, 19th Infantry, counted more than 100 enemy dead. Interrogation of
prisoners disclosed that the 355th Regiment, CCF 119th
Division; the 358th Regiment, CCF 120th
Division; and a North Korean regiment had attacked the 19th Infantry on
the east side of the bridgehead. 
Simultaneously with its attacks against the Eighth Army right flank at
Kunu-ri and the eastern side of the Ch'ongch'on bridgehead, the enemy struck
with equal force against the western side of the bridgehead at Pakch'on on the
Taeryong River. The Australian 3d and Argyll 1st Battalions were in defensive
positions on the west side of the Taeryong River opposite Pakch'on, except A
Company of the Argylls which was on the east side of the river south of
Pakch'on. The Middlesex 1st Battalion was also on the east side in and around
Pakch'on. Two and a half miles south of Pakch'on the 61st Field Artillery
Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division had emplaced to support the British.
During the night of 4-5 November an enemy force moved east around Pakch'on
toward the support artillery where it could cut the road behind the brigade. By
daylight these enemy troops were in position to launch their attack.
An estimated battalion of Chinese opened fire from the east with mortars and
small arms on the 61st Field Artillery Battalion. Immediately, each battery
commander placed all his men, except the gun crews who remained with their
weapons, in a tight perimeter around the battery positions, manning every
automatic weapon. Word of the attack reached the British, and A Company of the
Argylls started south at once to the aid of the artillerymen. The brigade
commander then ordered the remainder of the Argyll 1st Battalion to cross to the
east side of the river.
The most severe attack fell on C Battery. Capt. Howard M. Moore, commanding
officer of the battery, wheeled one 105-mm. howitzer around and fired
point-blank into enemy troops in the rice paddies to the east. Forty-five
minutes later he got a second howitzer turned around. The battery fired 1,400
rounds, some at a range of 50 yards, although the average range was about 300
yards. An aerial observer directed the fire of another battery in support of C
Battery. Part of the enemy plan was to blow a critical bridge at the artillery position. If this had succeeded it is
unlikely that the brigade would have saved a single tank or vehicle. The
artillerymen killed one member of a demolition squad within twenty yards of the
At 0900 two tanks arrived at the C Battery perimeter. Before the Argylls
arrived with more armored support, C Battery had lost 2 men killed and 18
wounded. The rest of the artillery battalion had 17 men wounded. Enemy action
had destroyed 1 howitzer, 6 vehicles, 1 radio, and some other miscellaneous
equipment. There were about 70 enemy dead in the vicinity of the gun positions.
Speaking later before an English audience, Brigadier Coad said of C Battery,
61st Field Artillery Battalion, "I would like to say how magnificently these
American gunners fought. Dead Chinese were lying thirty yards from the gun
shields.... It was up to the very highest traditions of any artillery regiment."
Upon arriving at the artillery position, A Company of the Argylls attacked a
nearby hill, first winning, then losing it. Air reports now indicated that
approximately one Chinese division had passed east around and below Pakch'on,
virtually surrounding the brigade. While heavy air strikes went in to impede and
disrupt the Chinese maneuver and attack, Brigadier Coad ordered the Australian
3d Battalion, still on the west side of the Taeryong, to withdraw to the east
Once on the east side, the Australians passed through the Argylls and in the
early afternoon attacked north toward Pakch'on. In a bayonet charge they
regained high ground the Argylls had lost two miles below the town. In this
desperate battle the Australians lost twelve killed and sixty-four wounded. It
now became apparent that the brigade could not hold the Pakch'on bridgehead.
Under cover of the Australian attack, and a simultaneous one by the Middlesex
1st Battalion which cleared the road southward, the rest of the brigade and the
artillery withdrew under fire toward the Ch'ongch'on River.
That evening the Australians joined the rest of the brigade in a defense
perimeter astride the Pakch'on road on the first line of hills, 4,000 to 6,000
yards north of the Ch'ongch'on River. The Australians occupied the most advanced
and exposed position. Soon after dark the Chinese struck them in an attack which
continued unabated for four hours, forcing two companies to withdraw. By dawn of
6 November, however, the Chinese themselves had withdrawn from contact. The
British estimated the Chinese lost 300 men to ground action and 600 to 1,000 to
air action during the day and that night.
After daylight on Monday, 6 November, Australians in their positions could
see enemy forces withdrawing northward up a valley. The predawn attacks of 6
November against the bridgehead area and Kunu-ri proved to be the last heavy
engagements of the Chinese in their First Phase Offensive. During the day they
withdrew generally out of contact. Aerial observers reported many sightings of large enemy forces moving northward.
Limited objective attacks by the 24th Division on 7 November all reached their
goals against light opposition, and seemed to indicate that the violent enemy
attacks of the past twelve days had ended for the present. 
MiG's and Jets Over the Yalu
Coinciding with the appearance of the Chinese in the Korean War came a new
turn in air action over Korean territory. Except for its opening weeks, the
Korean War had been characterized by the U.S. Fifth Air Force's complete
dominance of the skies. Now, suddenly, Russian-built MIG's began crossing over
into North Korea from Manchurian bases and challenging the Fifth Air Force when
its planes approached the Yalu border. In the closing days of October, American
planes had for the first time been allowed to approach the border.
At the beginning of the month, Fifth Air Force planes were prohibited from
flying within fifty miles of the border. On 17 October this restriction was
eased, and finally on 25 October it was lifted to allow close support missions,
under control of a tactical air control party or a Mosquito observer, as near
the border as necessary. Pilots of these missions were carefully selected and
flew under experienced leaders, for there was to be no bombing within five miles
of the border. 
On 31 October the famous Russian-built MIG-15 jet first entered combat over
Korean territory when a number of them attacked American propeller-driven
aircraft in the Sinuiju area. The Fifth Air Force reportedly destroyed several
MIG's at this time. It was not known then whether the enemy plane build-up was
North Korean or some "volunteer" air force. 
On 5 November General MacArthur gave a new turn to the course of the war by
ordering aerial bombing to destroy the Yalu River bridges from the Korean side
halfway into the stream. He felt this action necessary to stop or greatly reduce
the flow of Chinese troops and equipment into Korea. The order came at the time
the CCF attack threatened to overrun Eighth Army's Ch'ongch'on River bridgehead
and to capture Kunu-ri on the south side. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in
Washington received from MacArthur a radio report of the order. They immediately
countermanded it, repeating their directive not to bomb targets within five
miles of the border. 
General MacArthur replied at once to the JCS message in one of the strongest
protests he ever dispatched to Washington. He said the only way to halt the
reinforcement of the enemy was to destroy the bridges. Paraphrased, his message
continued, "Under the gravest protest that I can make I am carrying out your instructions and suspending this strike." He argued that what he
proposed to do was within the rules of war and the resolutions and directions he
had received, and that it constituted no act of belligerency against Chinese
territory. He asked that the matter be brought immediately to the attention of
the President, "as I believe your instructions may result in a calamity of major
proportions for which, without his personal and direct understanding of the
situation, I cannot accept responsibility." 
This message produced the result MacArthur desired. The Joint Chiefs of Staff
on 6 November authorized MacArthur to proceed with the planned bombing of the
Korean end of the Yalu bridges, provided that he still considered such action
essential to the safety of his forces. MacArthur was expressly forbidden,
however, to bomb any dams or power plants on the Yalu River or to violate
Manchurian property and airspace. 
Along the Manchurian border there were known to be at least seven major
bridges across the Yalu River and three across the Tumen River. The most
important Yalu structures were the 3,000-foot-long rail and highway bridges
connecting Sinuiju and An-tung, the 2,000-foot-long rail and highway bridges
thirty-five air miles northeast of Sinuiju near Sakchu, and the 1,500-foot-long
rail bridge at Manp'ojin.
The first bomber strike against the Yalu River bridges at Sinuiju went in on
8 November, seventy-nine B-29's under fighter escort executing the mission. The
date is memorable also for the first battle between jet planes in aerial
warfare. Lt. Russell Brown, pilot of an F-80 in the fighter escort, shot a
MIG-15 down in flames.
Thereafter, land-based and carrier-based planes attacked the Yalu bridges
almost daily during the rest of the month and the doctrine of "hot pursuit" into
the enemy's Manchurian sanctuary soon became a burning issue, not only in the
battle zone but in the diplomatic capitals of the world.
 24th Div WD, 2 Nov 50; 27th British Commonwealth Brig Sitrep, 1-4
Nov 50; EUSAK POR 340, 2 Nov 50; I Corps WD, 1-2 Nov 50.
 24th Div WD, G-2 Jnl, 4 Nov so, Rpt from Home Guards of Taech'on;
27th British Commonwealth Brig Sitrep, 1-4 Nov 50; Coad, "The Land
Campaign in Korea," op. cit., p. 7; Linklater, Our Men in Korea, pp.
26-27; Bartlett, With the Australians in Korea, p. 39.
 19th Inf Unit Rpt 114, 2-3, Nov 50; 24th Div WD, Nov 50 Summ; I
Corps WD, 3 Nov 50.
 5th RCT WD, 3 Nov 50; 24th Div WD, 3 Nov 50; I Corps WD, 3 Nov 50;
EUSAK WD, 3 Nov 50.
 I Corps WD, 4 Nov 50; 5th RCT WD, 4 Nov 50; Interv, author with Maj
Grady R. Hamilton (S-3 5th RCT Aug 51), 10 Aug 51; ATIS Interrog Rpts
(Enemy Forces), Issue 24, Interrog 2811, p. 29, Sgt Chon Song Hyon.
Eighth Army General Order 397, 4 June 1951, awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross posthumously to Lieutenant Hansel.
 19th Inf Unit Rpt 115, 4-5 Nov 50; 19th Inf WD, Opn Summ, Nov 50;
24th Div WD, 4-5 Nov 50; 24th Div PIR 115, 3-4 Nov 50; Interv, Maj Gen
Garrison H. Davidson (Asst Div Comdr 24th Div Nov 50), 28 Jan 54.
 19th Inf WD, 4 Nov 50; 24th Div WD, 4 Nov 50; Interv, author with
Davidson, 28 Jan 54.
 19th Inf WD, 5 Nov 50; 19th Inf Unit Rpt 116, 4-5 Nov 50; 24th Div
WD, 5 Nov 50; I Corps WD, 4-5 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 5 Nov 50;
EUSAK PIR 116, 5 Nov 50.
 Department of the Army General Order 26, 25 April 1951, awarded the
Medal of Honor posthumously to Red Cloud. Interv, author with Davidson,
28 Jan 54; 19th Inf Unit Rpt 117, 5-6 Nov, and Rpt 119, 7-8 Nov 50; 24th
Div WD, 6 Nov 50; 19th Inf Opn Summ, Nov 50.
 Eighth Army General Order 63, 10 February 1951, awarded the
Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Private Balboni.
 19th Inf Unit Rpts 117, 118, 119, 5-8 Nov 50; Interv, author with
Davidson, 28 Jan 54.
 Department of the Army General Order 33, 31 March 1952, awarded the
Distinguished Unit Citation to the 61st Field Artillery Battalion, 1st
Cavalry Division. 61st FA Bn WD, 5 Nov 50; 1st Lt Hal W. Chaney (C Btry,
61st FA Bn), Debriefing Rpt 64, Arty School, Ft. Sill, Okla., 22 Jan 52;
27th British Commonwealth Brig Sitrep 4-Nov 5o; Coad, "The Land Campaign
in Korea," op. cit.; Linklater, Our Men in Korea, pp. 26-27; Bartlett,
With the Australians in Korea, pp. 39-40.
 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 6 Nov 50; I Corps WD, 6 Nov 50; 24th Div WD, 6
Nov 50; 5th Cav WD, Narr Rpt, Nov 50; Ltr, Gay to author, 19 Feb 54.
Task Force Allen was dissolved at 1700, 6 November.
 USAF Hist Study 71, p. 80.
 FEAF Opn Hist, II, 19; Dept of State Pub 4051, United Nations
Command Ninth Report to the Security Council, United Nations, 1-15
November 1950, pp. 11-12; EUSAK WD, 4 Nov so, EUSAK Daily News Bul, UP
dispatch, 1 November, quoting General Partridge.
 Msg, JCS 95878, JCS Personal for MacArthur, 5 Nov 50, quoted in
Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the Korean War, ch. VII,
pp. 16-17; Senate MacArthur Hearings, pt. I, p. 20, testimony of
MacArthur, 3 May 51.
 Msg C68396, CINCFE to DA, 6 Nov 50.
 Msg, JCS 95949, JCS to CINCFE, 6 Nov 50.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation