History On Line
After the bitter fighting of October and
early November 1952, the approach of another winter witnessed a rapid decline in
the scale of operations at the front. The enemy retired into his deep bunkers
and caves to hibernate, and action settled down to the old routine of raids,
patrols, and small unit skirmishes. Waiting patiently for a break in the
recessed armistice negotiations, both sides seemed content to watch each other
warily along the battle lines and to conserve their energy. The slackening of
operations permitted the enemy to replenish his supplies and to bring up
replacements, despite the efforts of the UNC air forces to destroy Communist
depots and communications lines. But the build-up appeared to be perfunctory and
not directed toward the resumption of largescale fighting. As the cold weather
set in, its influence dominated the front.
The Demise of Military Victory
Despite the stalemate, General Clark had
not given up all hope of mounting a large-scale operation against the enemy.
During the flare-up of activity in October, he had voiced his concern to the
Chief of Staff that the UNC failure to achieve an armistice stemmed from the
lack of sufficient military pressure upon the Communists. With the forces
presently at his disposal, Clark told Collins,
positive aggressive action was not feasible, but he had developed an outline
plan of action that would compel the enemy to seek or accept an armistice. If
the JCS would approve the outline plan, he went on, the FEC staff could draw up
In mid-October, a task force of three FEC
officers arrived in Washington to explain and defend Clark's proposal. Basically
it was a drive to the P'yongyang-Wonsan line in three phases, each lasting about
twenty days. It included enveloping drives by ground forces, a major amphibious
assault, airborne action as opportunities developed, and air and naval action
against targets in China. To expand the war would require an accompanying
augmentation of the FEC forces and the tally was impressive. Three U.S. or U.N.
divisions (1 infantry, 1 airborne, and 1 Marine), 2 ROK divisions, 2 Chinese
Nationalist divisions, 12 field artillery
battalions, and 20 antiaircraft artillery battalions would be required in addition to
those already in the U.N. Command to sustain the offensive
According to Clark's later account, every subordinate commander in the FEC
"heartily endorsed this course of action." With the possibility of a change in
the political administration in the United States and the elevation of a
military man to the leadership of the country's affairs, the prospects of an
additional effort to wind up the Korean War did not seem to be far-fetched. As
Clark remarked later on, "I knew we had to be ready with the plan if the turn of
events called for a more vigorous prosecution of the war.3
The military leaders of the FEC were doomed
to disappointment. Presidentelect Eisenhower arrived in Korea on 2 December with
a large and distinguished party, including the Secretary of Defense-designate,
Charles E. Wilson, General Bradley, and Admiral Radford. He toured the front and
visited President Rhee, talking with a great many people on the scene, but never
once did he bring up the matter of seeking a military victory in Korea. Speaking
to a press conference at Seoul on the last day of the visit- 5 December- the
Presidentelect admitted that he had "no panaceas, no tricks" for bringing the
war to a close. The most significant thing about Eisenhower's visit, in Clark's
opinion, was that he, Clark, was given no opportunity to set forth the detailed
estimate of forces required and the plans formulated to increase the military
pressure upon the enemy. The conversations with General Eisenhower clearly
demonstrated to Clark that the new President would follow the course set by Mr.
Truman and seek an honorable peace.4 Thus died the last hope for a
military settlement to be won by the force of UNC
arms; it was evident that the political leaders, whether they were Democratic or
Republican, intended to negotiate an end to the conflict.
As long as the desire to negotiate was not
matched by a willingness to concede, the future course of the war seemed likely
to be a repetition of what had gone before. The enemy had taken losses in
October that had cut its estimated strength from 1,008,900 to 972,000 at the end
of the month.5 But when the fighting tapered off in November, the enemy total
began to climb slowly once again.
Reports from the front indicated that the
Communists were digging in to stay. Although it took from three to five months
to excavate their large caves, they steadily hollowed out space for squads and
platoons in the bowels of strategic hills. Here, protected from UNC air and
artillery as well as cold weather, the enemy could comfortably sit out the
winter. Interrogation of prisoners revealed no knowledge of a general offensive,
and the disposition of enemy forces along the front gave no indication of other
than a usual defensive alignment. On the immediate front there were 7 Chinese
armies with 166,000 men and 2 North Korean corps of 49,800 soldiers on 1
November 1952; the latter anchored the extreme eastern end of the line.
(See Map V) Ten
Chinese armies containing over 350,000 troops and 4 North Korean corps with about
140,000 soldiers were in
reserve positions where they could either reinforce the front or defend against
possible amphibious landings by the UNC. Facing them were eighteen UNC divisions
and their supporting troops totaling about 350,000 men.6
As the ground operations fell off in
mid-November, Communist road traffic mounted as the enemy strove to rebuild his
stocks. More enemy aircraft began to appear over North Korea, but they
showed little sign of increasing aggressiveness. Of
the 1,227 planes sighted during the month, only 395 engaged UNC aircraft with
estimated enemy losses of 21 destroyed, 4
probably destroyed, and 19 damaged.7
The enemy made one major relief in
November, moving the CCF 47th Army
into the Imjin River sector and the 39th Army back into reserve. On
the UNC side, the U.S. 25th Division took over the positions of the U.S. 7th
Division on 12 November and the ROK 9th Division relieved the ROK 2d Division on
24 November; both of these
changes were routine as the U.S. IX Corps rotated its divisions on the line.
The IX Corps
The U.S. IX Corps had taken the brunt of
the Chinese attacks at White Horse, Triangle Hill, and Jackson Heights during
October, but the pressure along the corps front eased after midNovember. Only in
the Sniper Ridge sector north of Kumhwa did the Chinese continue to demonstrate
their sensitivity to ROK possession of outposts on the hill.
December an enemy platoon probed the ROK 9th Division
outposts on Sniper Ridge and a second platoon joined in the action. Intense fire
from artillery and mortars was exchanged for a time, and then the Chinese
advanced and took over the crest. But the UNC artillery concentrations soon made
enemy possession of the newly won positions too costly. As the enemy withdrew,
the ROK forces returned to the outposts. A brief respite followed, then a second
Chinese attack led to a hand grenade duel. Once again the ROK defenders fell
back. On the next day two ROK platoons carried on a seven-hour battle with the
enemy before regaining the crest. During the ensuing ten days, the Chinese
launched 40 probes against
Sniper Ridge without success. It is interesting to note that of the 114 probes reported along the corps
front during December, the Chinese directed 105 against the ROK 9th
The pattern held steadily through January
as the Chinese sent frequent probes of up to three platoons in strength against
the Sniper Ridge outposts with no success. Outside the ROK 9th Division area,
the Chinese were hard to find. The IX Corps divisions sent out 2,668 night
patrols during the month of January and reported only 64 engagements initiated
by these patrols.9
In February and March the corps dispatched
over 2,500 patrols to raid, ambush, or reconnoiter and fewer than a hundred made
any contact with the enemy. All of March witnessed the capture of only one prisoner
of war by a
patrol.10 Neither side showed any inclination to disturb the quiet
state of affairs on the central front and IX Corps was able to effect two
routine division reliefs-one at the end of December when the ROK 2d Division
moved into the U.S. 3d Division positions and the other a month later when the
U.S. 3d came back into the line and permitted the U.S. 25th Division to pull
back into corps reserve -without incident. (Map VI)
What was life like in the average infantry
company during the last winter? I Company, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th
Division, was a typical example.11 About six miles northeast of
Ch'orwon, the 3d Battalion of the regiment manned main line of resistance
positions, with B Company, 1st Battalion, attached, holding the left flank, I
Company the middle, and K Company the right flank of the battalion front. I
Company's positions extended 1,500 yards from the broad floor of a valley to the
crest of a northsouth ridge more than loo meters above the valley. Because of
the wide front, all three rifle platoons were stationed on the main line. This
meant that the company headquarters and mortar crews were the only force located
on the reverse slopes of the hilly portion of the front and had to assume the
counterattack role usually assigned to a support platoon.
Elements of the 130th Regiment, 44th
Division, CCF 15th Army, controlled the higher terrain to the north
of I Company and enjoyed excellent observation of all the company positions, especially those located on the valley
floor. In the hilly area on the eastern end of the company front, the Chinese
positions were only 500 yards distant. As usual, the enemy had constructed the
bulk of his bunkers and trenches on the reverse slopes and carefully camouflaged
the openings on the forward slopes whence he fired his weapons.
Since October 1952 1st Lt. Travis J. Duerr
had commanded the company and he was one of the few officers in the unit who had
some combat experience. Under him were 5 officers, 174 enlisted men, and 48
KATUSA's. One officer and 13 enlisted men were Negro, 10 were Puerto Ricans, one was a native
Irishman, and one a native Hawaiian.
Lieutenant Duerr distributed the KATUSA
personnel along the front line, assigning each Korean to an American "buddy."
The "buddy" system enabled the Americans to train and supervise the Koreans in
U.S. methods, care of weapons, and at the same time to teach his "buddy" some
words of English. For the most part, the language barrier prevented the two from
becoming close friends and, in I Company, many Americans adopted a paternalistic
or patronizing attitude toward their "buddies."
The company had 39 bunkers placed at
intervals across the front; 34 contained automatic weapons and 5 were used as
living quarters only. Many of the fighting bunkers were divided into fighting
and living quarters housing from two to seven men. Eighty percent of each bunker
was underground and could be entered from the trenches which linked the entire
front in this sector. Thick logs and sandbags covered by a burster layer of
loose sand, stones, and sticks protected the bunker roofs from artillery
and mortar hits. In some instances the bunkers had been originally located close
to the topographical crests of the hills rather than on the military crests and
had not been moved. In others the steep, uneven nature of the terrain permitted
the automatic weapons sited in these bunkers only limited fields of grazing
Since I Company defended an extended front,
it had additional automatic weapons on hand to cover the enemy approach routes.
One .5ocaliber, six .3o-caliber heavy, and twelve .30-caliber light machine guns
were backed by fifteen automatic rifles in the bunkers. Three 57mm. recoilless
rifles, three 3.5-inch rocket launchers, and two M2
flame throwers were located in open emplacements. The
.50-caliber machine gun, five of the heavy .30's, and six of the light .30's,
sited to provide interlocking bands of fire, were sector weapons and I Company
would leave them in place when it left the area. The added strength in automatic
weapons permitted Lieutenant Duerr to throw "a sheet of steel" at the enemy when
Three tanks from the regimental tank
company with firing positions on the ridge line and on the reverse slopes
provided antitank defense from approximately the center of the company front.
The tanks were M4's with 76-mm. rifles. Besides the 60-mm. company mortars,
the 60-mm. mortars of L Company, the 81-mm.
mortars of M Company, 4.2inch mortars of the 27th Infantry Regiment, and the
105-mm. howitzers of the 64th Artillery Battalion could be called upon for
From one to four double aprons of barbed
wire guarded the approaches to I Company's positions, and Duerr placed bands of
triple concertina wire in front of and behind the aprons for increased
protection. Four combat outposts lay athwart the Chinese approach trails along
the company front. Each consisted of four two-man foxholes arranged in a diamond
shape with the point toward the north. Concertina, double aprons of barbed wire,
mines, and trip flares surrounded the combat outposts, which were manned only at
night by 3 relief teams, of 1 noncommissioned officer, 2 riflemen, and 1
automatic rifle crew of 2 men in each outpost. The outposts stayed in place if
they were attacked and fought until ordered to pull back.
Because most of the riflemen in the company
were inexperienced, they carried M1 rifles rather than carbines. Lieutenant
Duerr felt that new men unaccustomed to fire fights often had "a tendency, often
a fatal tendency, to fire all their ammunition in the first two or three minutes
of a firefight." Since the M1 ammunition clips held fewer cartridges than the
carbine clips, they could not be expended so rapidly. Each platoon had two
snipers with rifles equipped with telescopic sights. All weapons were test fired
daily, and the riflemen stripped and cleaned their weapons every day to make
sure they would be ready to meet an enemy attack.
Next to his weapons, the most
important item to the infantry soldier was his
armored vest. In I Company, the majority preferred
the Marine-type vest, which fitted more comfortably and appeared to provide more
protection to the wearer. The Marine vest was sleeveless, had nylon padding
around the upper chest and shoulders, and had plates of Fiberglas bonded with
resin that covered the lower chest, back, and abdomen. The Army vest relied upon
layers of basket-weave nylon to take the impact of shell fragments. Neither vest
could stop a bullet at close range, but both could help decrease the number of
casualties caused by mortar and artillery fire and hand grenade fragments. There
was general agreement in I Company that the vests had saved the lives of the men
on the lines on many occasions.
The men of I Company also liked the
mountain sleeping bag and the insulated rubber combat boot called the "Mickey
Mouse." Both afforded excellent protection against the Korean winter weather.
Nightly, the three rifle companies of the
3d Battalion, 35th Infantry, sent out patrols. Col. Autrey J. Maroun, the
regimental commander, and his staff planned the patrols one day in advance. They
set up the sector, route, objective, mission, strength, time of departure, and
equipment to be carried if anything unusual were to be taken along on the
patrol. Lt. Col Victor G. Conley, the 3d Battalion commander, frequently briefed
the patrol leader, who had been selected by Lieutenant Duerr, on important
missions. One company of the battalion furnished the combat patrol on a
rotational basis and the other two provided screening patrols. In some cases,
the combat patrol probed 1,000 or more yards in front of the main line of
resistance while the screening patrols rarely
went more than 500 yards.
No soldier went on a patrol until he had
been on the line for at least ten days; then, under average conditions he could
expect patrol duty once every seven to ten days. The rest of the time he would
serve as a guard in the trenches, man a fighting bunker or combat outpost at
night, hack trenches in the frozen ground, or erect tactical wire along the
slopes. Since there was a 50-percent alert, two men shared one sleeping bag to
discourage any shirking of night chores. Eighty percent of the company's work
was accomplished at night.
Living conditions depended upon each man's
own ingenuity. Since few of the bunkers' living
quarters exceeded five feet by eight feet in size, double and triple bunks
constructed out of logs, steel pickets, and telephone wire were the norm.
Plastic bags used for packing batteries served as windows, straw matting covered
the floor, and candles shed their pale light in the bunkers at night. Oil stoves
provided heat in most cases, but charcoal and wood stoves sunk into the earth to
keep the ground warm were also used.
Breakfast and dinner were hot meals served
in the two mess areas, while the noon meal consisted of C-rations. The company
jeep carried the hot food in marmite cans from the kitchen to the mess area.
Since I Company had twenty Korean Service Corps personnel assigned to
it, the latter performed all kitchen police (KP) duties.
To insure cleanliness, each man had to
shower at least once every five days. By groups the soldiers rode to the
battalion shower point and got a complete change of clean clothes after the
shower. Every man was required to change his socks daily to guard against trench
foot; in addition, the company aidmen inspected the feet of all members of the
unit each day. The aidmen also sprayed the bunkers with disinfectant once a
month and spread rat poison to control the rodent problem.
Although the biggest morale booster among I
Company troops was the rotation system, there were several other programs to
provide the men with a change of pace at the local level. A warmup bunker behind
the lines served as a day room for reading, writing letters, washing clothes,
and getting a haircut. Normally a man could spend several hours in the warm-up
bunker every three or four days. Ten men per day left for the Regimental Service
Company area to the rear for a 24-hour rest period. During a tour of duty with I
Company, every man could generally count on one 5-day rest and recuperation (R
and R) leave in Japan being granted. These privileges helped to make the waiting
for rotation home a little easier.
When an I Company- soldier approached the
magical mark of thirty-six points which qualified him for rotation, he usually
stopped going on combat patrols. There were two reasons for this: first,
consideration for the soldier whose time was "getting
short"; and second, consideration for the other men in the patrol, since the
high-point man tended to become cautious and less
dependable in combat.
Considering that each company rotated its
platoons on the line, that each battalion rotated its companies, and so on right
up to the corps level, the chances for an individual to survive during the
period of comparative inaction on the battlefield were fairly good. This
prospect could not fail to have a favorable effect upon most of the combat
troops of the Eighth Army.
The limited nature of the war and the
static conditions at the front had an unfavorable side as well. The absence of
enemy air operations imparted a false sense of security that might well have
been disastrous had the Communists mounted a large-scale air sweep of the
battlefield and the supply lines and centers to the rear. Lulled by the lack of
enemy air activity over South Korea, the troops tended to become careless in
their use of camouflage and in their massing of supplies and equipment at the
major ports and depots. Fortunately, the Communists did not exploit this
weakness, but the possibility always existed of a swift and bitter lesson in the
advantages of dispersion and concealment.
Another mixed blessing was the presence of
the Korean Service Corps. In the process of relieving the combat troops of many
of the distasteful tasks of soldiering, the KSC had a spoiling and softening
effect upon the men in the same fashion that the provision of Italian and Polish
displaced persons and prisoners of war had had upon U.S. units in Europe during
World War II. At another time there might not be any servants available to
perform the unpleasant chores.
A third by-product of the stationary front was the quantity of possessions that
the average unit and individual began to collect after a period in the combat
zone. Extra equipment and clothing could easily be kept on hand even though they
went far beyond the amounts called for in the tables of organization and
equipment. As long as mobility was not essential, the surplus might not prove
detrimental. But the necessity to shift a unit quickly to meet an enemy threat
demonstrated the disadvantages of having too much. During the Triangle Hill
battle, one 7th Division artillery battalion took three days to move all its
unit and personal impedimenta from the Ch'orwon
sector to the Kumhwa area. The loss of mobility indicated that front-line
inspections and inventories of unit and individual equipment should have been
held frequently to restrain unwarranted accumulations.
X Corps, ROK I and II Corps
Only one important encounter with the enemy
in the U.S. X Corps sector had taken place during November. In the Heartbreak
Ridge area, on Hill 851, the 2d Battalion, 160th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 40th
Division, manned the Eighth
Army lines. The terrain north of the 2d Battalion's defensive positions was held
by the 14th Regiment, 1st Division, N.K. III Corps. In the opening
days of November the North Korean artillery and mortar units devoted increasing
attention to the Hill 851 area, and intelligence information gleaned from a
deserter and from papers taken from a dead North Korean indicated that the enemy
intended to attack the 2d Battalion's positions. (Map VII)
Lt. Col. Robert H. Pell was the commanding
officer of the battalion and had deployed his own E and F Companies and attached
C and A Companies from west to east along the battalion front. The 143d Field
Artillery Battalion, one platoon of 4.2-mm. mortars, H Company's 81-mm. mortars,
and one platoon from the 140th AAA Battalion provided direct fire support to the
2d Battalion. G Company and attached B Company, 1st Battalion, were in
reinforcing positions south of Hill 851.
On 3 November the enemy artillery and
mortar fire became intense. Approximately 4,500 rounds were hurled at the 2d
Battalion during the night. At 2030 hours a reinforced battalion from the N.K.
14th Regiment attacked from the north in a general assault along the 2d
Battalion front.12 Proceeding along the ridge which ran north and
south and up the draws that led to the 2d Battalion's positions, the North
Koreans closed and made slight penetrations in the E, F, and C Company sectors.
Based on later evidence from POW interrogations, the enemy apparently intended to
seize, hold, and reinforce Hill 851, then
strike south against Hill 930
The North Korean attack failed as the four
frontline companies threw back the enemy assault without calling for
reinforcements. Direct fire from the supporting units helped to disrupt and
decimate the North Korean ranks. When the enemy broke contact four hours later,
he had suffered 140 counted casualties and 7 prisoners of war had fallen into
the 2d Battalion's hands. The 160th Regiment had taken 73 casualties, including
19 dead, in the fight.
After a relatively quiet interval of
patrols during the rest of November and most of December, the Communists chose
Christmas Day to make their next serious attack. On Hill 812, five miles north
of the Punchbowl, K Company, 179th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 45th Division, manned
the outpost positions on the northern slopes of the hill. Early on Christmas
morning the North Korean guns and mortars opened up and sent about 250 rounds on
the K Company positions. During the bombardment, a reinforced company from the
N.K. 45th Division advanced from Luke the Gook's Castle, a rocky hill
nearby, and overran the forward positions defended by K Company. Capt. Andrew J.
Gatsis, the company commander, called for artillery and mortar defensive
from the 179th Tank Company joined with the artillery and mortar to halt the
Captain Gatsis then sent the second
platoon, under 2d Lt. Russell J. McCann, to counterattack. McCann's platoon
closed with the North Koreans and pushed them back. In the hand-to-hand fighting
in the trenches, Lieutenant McCann was killed. Col. Jefferson J. Irvin, the
regimental commander, approved the attachment of A Company to K Company, and L
Company was also on hand to reinforce K Company's positions, if necessary.
During the early morning hours, the North Koreans sent three platoon-sized
attacks and over 2,000 rounds of mixed mortar and artillery fire against the K
Company defenders, but failed to dislodge Captain Gatsis and his men. The
company suffered 25 casualties in the holiday fighting, including 5 dead, while
the enemy incurred an estimated 36 casualties.
On 27 December the newly organized ROK 12th
Division began to take over the 45th Division's sector and the relief was
completed on 30 December.14
The ROK 12th Division received its baptism
of fire some two weeks later when a North Korean battalion launched a surprise
attack against outpost positions on Hill 854, seven miles northeast of the
Punclibowl. Three enemy companies advanced against elements of the 51st Regiment
and made some progress on the left flank. Pushed back by a counterattack, the
North Koreans tried once more, then withdrew. Over 19,000 rounds of UNC
artillery, mortar, and tank fire were hurled into the enemy zone of attack and
the ROK units reported that over 200 casualties were suffered by the North
In early February the North Koreans
returned to Hill 812 again. On the night of 2 February, the 37th Regiment of the
ROK 12th Division reported enemy troops concentrating
for an attack. Intense artillery fire poured into the assembly area, but a North
Korean battalion pushed on toward the hill. Within fifty yards of the ROK
positions, a savage hand grenade battle broke out and lasted until a reinforcing
ROK company turned the tide. The North Koreans used close to 7,000 rounds of
mixed explosive ammunition in this heaviest action of the month and suffered
over a hundred estimated casualties. They received over twice as many rounds
from the UNC artillery.16
During the remainder of February and the
following month, operations in X Corps sector were more or less routine. Patrols
were sent out regularly, but contacts with the enemy were on a small scale and
no sizable attacks took place.17
The North Korean forces had meanwhile been
more active on the ROK I Corps front along the east coast of Korea. The ROK main
line of resistance positions rested on Anchor Hill (Hill 351) , less then four
miles south of Kosong. On 9 November, two North Korean battalions struck Anchor
Hill and pushed the ROK 5th Division defenders off the crest. It was only after
two counterattacks marked by hard close fighting and backed by intense artillery
and mortar support that the ROK troops were able to eject the enemy and restore
their positions. At the same time, further to the south, the North Koreans
dispatched platoon-sized groups to assault
Hills 268 and 345, less than two miles south of Anchor Hill. On the former they
won a brief foothold but were driven off on 10 November. Close defensive fires
dispersed the enemy attack force as it approached Hill 345. Nothing daunted, the
North Koreans hit both hills again on 11 November with a larger force and
engaged the ROK troops for an hour and a half before they
The failure of this effort marked the
beginning of a period of comparative calm on the ROK I Corps front. Active
patrolling and small skirmishes occurred frequently, but the over-all situation
was not affected. In early January patrols from the ROK 5th Division located a
tunnel entrance and ventilating shaft near Anchor Hill, where the enemy was
digging his way close to the ROK positions. After the enemy's work detail
entered the tunnel on 7 January, a ROK patrol blew up the entrance and sealed
the shaft with explosives. Within a few days the enemy had reopened the
entrance, so the South Koreans called for an air strike and closed it once
Little unusual activity marked the ROK I
Corps sector until the end of March. The ROK 15th Division completed its
organization and training period in late January and moved into the ROK 5th
Division's position on the northeastern tip of the battle line.
On 30 March the 13th Regiment of the ROK
11th Division carried out two raids on enemy hill positions just west of the Nam
River. The regiment took the crest of Hill 350, which was less than a mile south of Sindae-ri, with the aid of about 6,000
rounds of mortar fire, then withdrew to the main line of resistance at
The ROK II Corps had patrolled vigorously
during November and December, but operations had remained on a small scale. Its
greatest challenge arose in mid-January when an increase in enemy artillery and
mortar fire on a platoon outpost on Hill 394, three miles southeast of Kumsong,
alerted the ROK 6th Division to the possibility of imminent attack. The
commanding general of the division alerted his artillery units and had three
tanks move into supporting positions.
On the night of 17 January the enemy guns
hurled over 5,000 rounds of mixed artillery and mortar fire at the ROK positions
in the vicinity of Hill 394. Close on the heels of the barrage, four Chinese
platoons advanced to engage the ROK defenders. When the ROK artillery and tanks
opened up on the enemy and threatened to halt the attack, the Chinese sent in
two more reinforced platoons. So great was the volume and accuracy of ROK fire
that only seven Communist soldiers reached the ROK lines and they were killed or
captured in hand-to-hand combat. After regrouping, the enemy tried again with
like results. The ROK soldiers estimated that they had killed 1 25 Chinese in this fray as compared
to losses of 3 killed and 1 4 wounded for their own side.21 After this brief but
bitter action, activity on the corps front settled back into its familiar
routine and contacts occurred infrequently and involved very
small groups of men.
The U.S. I Corps
Over on the western flank the U.S. I Corps
had not encountered a great deal of opposition during the last two months of
1952. U.S. 2d Division outposts on Porkchop defended by the Thailand Battalion
were attacked twice in the first part of November, once by a Chinese company and
the second time by two companies. On 7 November a heavy artillery and mortar
concentration on Porkchop heralded the Chinese advance. After a 45-minute fire
fight the enemy broke off and regrouped, then stormed back again and was
repulsed. Four days later, the Chinese bombardment of Porkchop announced the
second assault. Approaching from the north, east, and southwest, two enemy
companies reached the Thailand trenches before they were thrown back. Later that
night the Chinese made two further attempts to penetrate the Porkchop positions
and then disengaged completely.22
The 1st British Commonwealth Division came
in for a bit of excitement on 18 November when a sudden increase in Chinese
artillery and mortar fire signaled forthcoming enemy action. After shelling the
positions of the 1st Battalion, King's Liverpool Regiment, as a diversion, the
Chinese quickly shifted their efforts to a hill known as the Hook. The Hook was
part of an east-west ridge four miles northwest of the confluence of the
Sami-ch'on and Imjin Rivers and was held by the 1st Battalion of the Black
Watch. Forty-five minutes of heavy firing followed;
then an enemy company sought to close with the Black Watch. But the Commonwealth
forces took cover in nearby tunnels and directed an artillery concentration on
the assault troops. As soon as the artillery ceased, the Black Watch seized the
initiative, and drove the Chinese off the Hook. While the Communists tried to
regroup on adjacent ridges, artillery and tank fire forced them to disperse.
On the following day the Chinese brought up
reinforcements and sent two companies against the Hook. Commonwealth tanks and
reinforcements moved up and after a hardfought exchange that witnessed
hand-to-hand combat, the British forces turned the Communists back. Again the
Chinese reorganized and dispatched a company to pierce the Black Watch line. The
third try effected a penetration of 100 yards before it was contained. Finally,
the 3d Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry mounted a
counterattack and in close combat ejected the enemy troops. There were loo
counted Chinese dead on the battlefield after the engagement and 85 Commonwealth
casualties.23 Evidently convinced that the British intended to hold
the Hook, the Chinese made no further serious attempts to seize the hill until
the following March, after the U.S. 2d Division had taken over the Commonwealth
The first ten days of December gave little
indication that the enemy intended to test the ROK 1st Division's defense in the
vicinity of the double horseshoe bend of the Imjin River. On the west bank
of the river, as it began its first horseshoe turn, lay a low hill complex known
as Nori; Big Nori formed the western half of the ridge and Little Nori the
eastern half. (Map 7) The ROK 15th Regiment maintained outposts on these
hills and also on Hill Betty, about three-quarters of a mile south of Little
Nori, and on Hill 105, approximately a mile southwest of Little Nori. The
Chinese controlled outposts on the terrain to the north and west of Nori, but
had remained fairly inactive in that sector in early December.
On the 11th, however, two battalions of the
420th Regiment, 140th Division, 47th Army, closely followed Boo rounds of
artillery and mortar fire in an attack upon the ROK
outposts on Little Nori, Betty, and Hill 105. The main weight fell on Little
Nori as two enemy companies sought to dislodge the men of the ROK 15th Infantry.
After a bitter 3-hour exchange at close range, the
ROK defenders were ordered to pull back to Hill 69, 300 yards to the east of
Little Nori. After regrouping, the ROK 15th launched two counterattacks, but the
two platoons committed failed to drive the enemy off the heights. The Chinese
waited until the attack forces neared their defensive positions, then hurled
hand grenades and loosed a withering artillery, mortar, and small arms fire.
Later in the morning, however, a small force from the ROK 11th Regiment, which
had relieved the 15th Regiment, reoccupied Little Nori without opposition.
In the meantime, the ROK units on Betty had
held, but those on Hill 105 had to fall back temporarily. Evidently the Chinese movement
against Hill 105 was only
a diversion, for the enemy left shortly thereafter and the ROK forces reoccupied
the positions without incident.
On the night of the 11th, the Chinese first
launched a two-company drive against Little Nori, then increased the
attacking force to a battalion, and the ROK's again
withdrew to Hill 69. Air support was called in and six B-26's dropped over one
hundred 26opound fragmentary bombs on the hill. Twelve battalions of artillery
poured a continuous hail of shells on the Chinese, but four counterattacks by
the ROK 11th Regiment on 12 December failed. Despite the punishment administered
by large and small arms and the mounting toll of losses, the Chinese refused to
The artillery concentrations went on during
the night of 12-13 December and when morning arrived, a battalion from the ROK
11th Regiment moved in with two companies in the attack. Fighting steadily
forward, they won their way back to Little Nori, but met with little success in
their efforts to clear Big Nori. On the evening of the 13th, the South Koreans
dug in and awaited the expected enemy counterattacks. Two Chinese companies
vainly attempted to penetrate the ROK positions during the night and as the
morning of 14 December dawned, the contest resolved itself into a
Although this encounter lasted but four
days, the statistics are quite significant. The entire action on Big and Little
Nori took place in an area 300 yards wide and 200
yards deep. During the engagement the UNC artillery
fired 120,000 rounds, and the mortar crews over 31,000 while tankmen added over
4,500 go-mm. shells to the deadly concentration. Supporting aircraft flew 39
missions of 177 sorties to bomb and strafe the enemy positions with napalm, high
explosives, and rockets. In return the ROK's received over 18,000 rounds of
mixed artillery and mortar fire from the Chinese guns. Not counting the aerial
contribution, the UNC forces took one round for every eight they hurled at the
Communists. It was an excellent example of air, artillery, and tank
co-ordination in support of the infantry. As for casualties, the ROK's suffered
about 750, including 237 dead, while the estimated total for the enemy ranged between 2,290 and 2,732. According to a
deserter from the Chinese 420th Regiment
in January, the regiment was removed from the
line because of the heavy casualties it took in the battle and placed in
Action in the Nori sector settled down to
patrols and raids during January. The enemy dispatched two platoon-sized probes
during the month and on 23 January the ROK 11th Regiment sent a three-platoon
raiding party against Big Nori. Air strikes, artillery, and mortar fire, and
fire from twelve supporting tanks enabled the raiders to gain the crest, destroy
enemy bunkers, and then withdraw safely.26
After a 6-week period of comparative quiet,
the Chinese chose Christmas Eve to launch an attack upon the outposts of the
U.S. 2d Division on T-Bone Hill. (See Map 4.)
The southern tip of T-Bone, which contained the
outposts of EERIE and
ARSENAL, lay approximately
two miles northeast of Porkchop Hill. On 23 December, two platoons from B
Company, 38th Infantry Regiment, manned ARSENAL,
located about 600 yards north of EERIE. On the terrain to the north two
battalions of the 338th Regiment, 113th Division,
CCF 38th Army,
held the enemy lines.
A message intercepted that morning
indicated that the Chinese might stage an attack either on the night of the 23d
or the morning of the 24th, so all battalions were alerted. Despite the warning,
the enemy achieved the element of surprise when the 7th, 8th, and 9th
Companies, 338th Regiment, opened
their attack about midnight. The Chinese departed from their customary tactic of
heavy preparatory artillery and mortar fire before the assault.27 Instead they
infiltrated the B Company outposts on ARSENAL, cutting through the barbed wire
and successfully bypassing the listening posts. Approaching from several
directions, the Chinese reached the communication trenches and closed in
hand-to-hand combat with the defenders of B Company. To prevent the 1st
Battalion, 38th Regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Roy I. Brooks, from reinforcing
ARSENAL, the enemy placed a blocking force between
EERIE and the main line of resistance and sent over 2,000 rounds of artillery
and mortar fire against nearby 38th Regiment outposts. Evidently the Chinese
hoped to isolate the ARSENAL-EERIE outposts until they could gain possession of
the hill complex.
In this they were disappointed, for Col.
Archibald W. Stuart, the commander of the 38th Regiment, quickly alerted Lt.
Col. George C. Fogle, his 3d Battalion commander, to move his four companies
forward to reinforce the 1st Battalion. Two squads from EERIE advanced to
reinforce ARSENAL, in the meantime, and a platoon from C Company reinforced
The battle in the ARSENAL trenches had also
turned against the Chinese attackers. B Company had requested close
defensive fires to deter the enemy from reinforcing the infiltrators and then
set about to wipe out the Chinese already in the outpost positions. How
successful the defensive fires and the stout defense mounted by B Company
proved to be was graphically illustrated by the following intercepts of enemy
messages during the early morning lours of 24 December.
0026 hours. Send reinforcements quick. There are around
30 enemy coming now-pause-lots of enemy coming now.
0040 hours. How soon will the reinforcements arrive?
Very soon. They are running over.
They got plenty of prisoners now, but they can't find a way to get back.
0050 hours. Our reinforcements haven't reached No. 25 yet. They won't be able to get
down themselves even without the prisoners.
0052 hours. Can you come down?
Try if situation allows. We don't have a chance without reinforcements.
0120 hours. Where are the reinforcements now? I am sure they will reach your
place pretty soon. Now there are too many enemy. We are all surrounded. I don't
think our reinforcements can break through and come up either. Our situation is
pretty dangerous, besides we have to watch the prisoners. In time of emergency
what shall we do with the prisoners?
0130 hours. If it's possible, your people had better just come down
yourselves, as to the PW's or wounded, just bring any number you can or leave
them there. This is an order. You must come down or we won't contact you
0132 hours. Send more reinforcements or we won't be able to come back with
0217 hours. Our 900 dollars [9th Company] probably has been annihilated. One
of the men in the 900 dollars escaped and reported this.
0435 hours. Check how many men we
have. I have already checked the 800 dollars
[7th Company] has 17 back. 800 dollars [8th Company] has 13 back. 900 dollars
Two hours later the enemy had gotten back
two more men from the 8th Company, but there
was no news from the 9th Company. The Chinese battalion had been heavily
hit with 11 counted killed in action and estimated casualties of 500 more. The
38th Regiment suffered 47 casualties, including 6 killed in action.
When Brig. Gen. James C. Fry, the 2d
Division commander, learned of the high ratio of enemy casualties to those of
the 38th Regiment, he commented: "Very nice piece of work." He enjoined his unit
commanders to "mention what happens when you stand in your trenches and
The men of B Company had fought bravely and
systematically cleaned out the enemy infiltrators. Yet without the superb
defensive fire that had been provided by the artillery, mortar, tank, and AAA
units in direct support of the 38th Regiment, the infantrymen might not have
fared so well. The enemy had wanted desperately to reinforce his attacking
forces on ARSENAL, but had been unable to get them through the curtain of fire
laid down by the direct support crews. The success could justly be shared by
infantrymen and gun-crew members alike.
On 29 December the U.S. 7th Division
completed the relief of the 2d Division in this sector and the Chinese evidently
decided to take advantage of the change-over. A reinforced enemy company that
night hit an outpost at Chongjamal, two miles southwest of Old Baldy, and forced
the defenders to pull back. Since the U.S. artillery units had the co-ordinates
of the outpost, they began to zero in on the Communists and the punishment
finally forced the Chinese to evacuate the position.29
The 7th Division took part in an experiment
in airtank-artillery-infantry co-ordination in late January that produced loud
repercussions in the United States. In mid-December a joint ArmyAir Force
conference at Seoul had discussed the carrying out of General Clark's direction
that a series of airground operations experiments be
mounted.30 Three experiments were planned: A. An air strike by 24
fighterbombers with briefing and observation of the target by air force
personnel before the operation; B. An air strike by 8 fighter-bombers, without
prebriefing, which would be controlled by the tactical air control party at the
divisional level; and C. An operation similar to B above, but with 4
When Eighth Army G-3 officers approached
General Smith of the 7th Division on the matter, he suggested using the air
effort in conjunction with a tankinfantry raid to capture prisoners. The task of
preparing the operations plan fell upon the 31st Infantry Regiment and the S-3,
Capt. Howard H. Cooksey, on 15 January drew up what was to be called Operation
The objective selected for the test was
called Spud Hill and was an enemy strongpoint on the
eastern side of the shank of T-Bone Hill, about 1,300
yards north of EERIE. After the Air Force had launched 125 fighter-bomber sorties and
8-12 radar-controlled light and medium bomber sorties on selected targets in the
T-Bone area, the artillery would carry on the bombardment. One field artillery
battalion and elements of 6 others with 78 light and 32 medium artillery pieces
would fire in direct and general support of the raiding party, from their
positions behind the main line of resistance. For the attack force I platoon from the 2d Battalion of the
31st Infantry Regiment and 3 platoons of medium tanks, mounting gomm. guns, were
designated. Two additional platoons of infantry, I
light tank company, and 6 platoons of medium tanks
would act in a supporting role.
During the period 12-20 January, the 57th
Field Artillery Battalion, alone in direct support of the 31st Regiment, poured
close to I 10,000 rounds
of 105mm. fire into the T-Bone complex, seeking to destroy enemy bunkers,
mortars, and automatic weapons in preparation for the attack. As D-day-25
Januaryapproached, Air Force officers visited the 7th Division command post and
received their briefing and reconnoitered the target area.
Since the experiment promised to be of
interest to both air and ground officers, General Barcus and members of his
Fifth Air Force staff arrived at the battle locale and were joined by General
Smith and Lt. Gen. Paul W. Kendall, the I Corps commander, along with some of
his staff. Also present were about a dozen members of the press. To help these
visitors understand the schedule and purpose of the exercises, the 7th Division
had prepared a combination itinerary, description of the experiment,
and a scenario outlining the main events. The cover for this six-page collection
of information was in three colors, showing a 7th Division black and red patch
superimposed on a map of Korea in blue.31
The choice of a tricolor cover and use of the word
"scenario" was unfortunate, as it turned out.
On 24 January the Air Force dropped 136,000
pounds of bombs and 14 napalm tanks on the target complex. The next morning, as
the infantry and tankers gathered in the assembly areas, the Air Force began the
first of eighteen strikes. Carrying two 1,000-pound bombs each, eight F84
Thunderjets swept over the cross of T-Bone and unloaded their cargo. By
midmorning, 24 more Thunderjets, in flights of eight, had bombed enemy positions
on T-Bone. Then came a mass strike by 24 Thunderjets, with 48,000 pounds of
bombs. This completed experiments A and B. Twenty additional Thunderjets in 2
flights hit the objective before the tanks and infantry began to move out.
Diversionary tank movements and fire to
confuse the enemy began as the assault troops made their final preparations.
Then the 1 5 supporting
tanks from the 73d Tank Battalion (M) crossed the line of departure. While the
tanks rumbled forward to their positions, Experiment C was attempted by two
flights of four F-84 Thunderjets each. The first flight missed Spud Hill with
its bombs and the second flight put on the target only one of the eight napalm
tanks that the planes carried. Shortly after the last strike by the Air Force,
eight F4U Marine Corsairs attempted to lay a smoke
screen in front of the tanks and infantry to conceal their approach, but some
released the bombs too soon and others failed to place them where they would
shield the attack force.
Once the air phase was completed, the
supporting artillery, mortars, AAA, and automatic weapons along the main line of
resistance opened fire. As the supporting tanks reached their firing positions
close to Spud Hill, they joined in the bombardment of the enemy strongpoints and
trenches. To co-ordinate the available firepower, a communications network had
been set up between all supporting units, fire direction centers, the 2d
Battalion command post, and the infantry Fire Support Co-ordination Center.
Major Phillips, the 2d Battalion commander, directed the operation from his
command post and had an artillery liaison officer at his side.
For the assault of the hill, Major Phillips
had ordered E Company to furnish the platoon and the company commander had
chosen his 2d Platoon, under 2d Lt. John R. Arbogast, Jr., for the task. The
platoon had rehearsed the operation nine times on similar terrain and knew what
it had to do. To increase the possibilities for success, two flamethrower teams
had been added to the platoon for the operation.
Since the infantry had to wait until the
air strikes were completed, the attack was not set up for a prescribed time, but
rather was to begin on Major Phillips' order. Unfortunately, a radio failure
caused a fifteen-minute delay in the receipt of the attack order and Arbogast
and his men were late in crossing the line of departure. As they moved forward
to the base of Spud Hill in personnel carriers, the supporting tanks and
artillery continued to pound the objective and enemy positions in the
Arbogast's platoon dismounted quickly when
it reached the foot of the hill and divided into two groups. Two squads began to
climb up the northern finger and the remaining two squads took the southern
finger of Spud Hill. During this ascent, the supporting weapons, with the
exception of the three tank platoons, shifted their fire to targets north of the
Desultory fire from small arms and
automatic weapons greeted the 2d Platoon as it headed for the crest. It was not
until the squads neared the point where the two fingers met, reuniting the
attacking troops, that the Chinese started to react strongly. Then, suddenly,
the machine gun fire became intense, driving the men of the 2d Platoon into a
defiladed hollow between the two fingers. The depression gave Arbogast's men
respite from the chattering machine guns, but exposed them to another danger.
Boxed in in a small area, they fell easy prey to the hand grenades that the
Chinese lobbed into the hollow from their trenches on the crest of the hill.
As grenade after grenade fell into the
midst of the hemmed-in platoon, the casualty list mounted. Lieutenant Arbogast
was hit in the arm, but refused to leave. With grenade fragments filling the
air, the litter bearers found it difficult to keep up with the growing number of
In an attempt to break up the grenade
attack, the two flame thrower teams were called forward. A rifle bullet
instantly killed one of the operators as he worked his way toward the crest. The
second operator managed to get off one short burst
before the machine malfunctioned. Flames engulfed the Chinese trenches for a few
seconds and halted the flow of grenades briefly. After the fire died out,
however, the Chinese sent increasing numbers of grenades into the hollow and the
list of wounded grew.
Seeing that the assault platoon was pinned
down, Major Phillips ordered the 1st Platoon to reinforce Arbogast's remaining
troops. The 1st Platoon followed the same route up the fingers and enemy machine
guns soon forced it to take cover. Efforts by the supporting tanks to silence
the enemy's automatic weapons met with little success since smoke and dust
obscured the tankers' view. Every half hour four Thunderjets dropped bombs on
the T-Bone complex, but they, too, had little influence upon the fight on Spud
Lieutenant Arbogast tried to get his men
moving out of the trap. But even as he sought to organize a charge, he was again
hit by grenade fragments, this time in the face and eye. Although he refused to
be evacuated at first, the seriousness of his injuries soon forced him to give
in. His platoon sergeant and several of the squad leaders had already been put
out of action.
With two platoons now pinned down short of
the objective, Major Phillips decided to commit the 3d Platoon to the attack,
but the end result proved to be the same. The stream of automatic weapons and
rifle fire coupled with the grenades from the enemy trenches halted the advance
of the 3d Platoon and inflicted numerous wounds on its members.
When Col. William B. Kern, the regimental
commander, learned of the fate of the 3d Platoon, he called off the attack
and ordered the men remaining on the approaches to Spud Hill to withdraw. By
this time all three platoon leaders had been wounded and the casualty total had
reached 77 men.
The expenditures in ammunition for
Operation SMACK had also
been rather costly. Besides the bombs and napalm dropped the day before the
attack, the Air Force had loosed 224,000 pounds of bombs and eight napalm tanks
on 25 January. The supporting artillery fired over 12,000 rounds of 105-mm. and 155-mm.
and nearly 100,000 rounds
of .50-caliber and 40-mm. ammunition. From the tanks came over 2,000 rounds of
go-mm. and over 75,000 rounds of lesser caliber. A heavy mortar company added
over 4,500 rounds of mortar fire to the attack and the infantry assault force
shot over 50,000 rounds of machine gun and small arms ammunition and threw over
650 hand grenades at the enemy. Even if the highest estimate of enemy casualties
was accepted, all of this potential death and destruction cost the Chinese fewer
than 65 men, while the enemy, using but a fraction of this amount of ordnance,
had inflicted greater losses upon the 7th Division force. To top it off, since
the infantry had not closed with the enemy, not a prisoner had been taken.
What went wrong? In review, one might say-
everything. The air bombardment evidently had little effect upon the enemy in
his deep, protected bunkers and caves and the strikes attempted to hit too many
targets peripheral to the infantry objective. Secondly, the infantry's late
start in setting out for the objective after the strikes allowed the enemy time
to prepare for the attack. By confining the assault to a narrow front, as was the case in the earlier Bloody Ridge-Heartbreak
Ridge operations, the enemy could concentrate on containing the small attack
force. The latter was fairly green and its leadership was impaired early in the
fight through the effective enemy use of hand grenades while the platoon was
pinned in. In addition the available flamethrowers which might have saved the
situation malfunctioned and some of the automatic weapons jammed. The assault
platoon had rehearsed the operation many times and felt overrehearsed, while the
two supporting platoons that had been thrown in late had not been adequately
rehearsed or briefed. All in all, Operation SMACK
was a fiasco.
Yet since the entire exercise was on a
small scale insofar as the number of infantrymen and tanks engaged was
concerned, it might well have been chalked up to experience and quietly passed
over, but for a zealous member of the press. Although the correspondent had but
recently arrived in Korea and had not been present at the scene of action, the
attendance of high-ranking officers of the Air Force and Army at the experiment
and the use of the three-color cover and the term "scenario" for the information
sheets assumed roles of importance in the story that he wrote. The implication
that a show involving needless loss of life had been put on for the visiting
brass created a furore in the United States and led to a brief Congressional
An official statement by Van Fleet's
headquarters and appearances by General Collins before Congressional armed
services committees served to put the SMACK
operation in proper perspective as a test of methods
of coordinating a combined attack on enemy outposts and not as a "gladitorial"
exhibition staged in the Hollywood style to entertain visitors.33
Congressional leaders accepted the Army's explanations and the ill-fated
SMACK incident was closed.
It was an expensive lesson that demonstrated again that firepower in itself,
whether dropped from above or hurled from the ground, was not enough to
neutralize an enemy well dug in and that the advantage in this limited war lay
on the defensive side.
Elsewhere on the U.S. I Corps front, the
action was confined chiefly to small raids during January. A platoon from the
Marine 7th Regiment on 8 January took Hill 67, which was a mile and a half east
of Panmunjom, with the aid of air, artillery, and seven flame-throwing tanks,
then withdrew. A week later three platoons from the same regiment hit this hill
and another close by for three hours before breaking off the fight. On 24
January two platoons of the Ethiopian Battalion attached to the U.S. 7th
Division seized a hill south of Old Baldy after a 45-minute battle and fought
off a counterattack. Both the enemy and the Ethiopians built up their forces the
following day, as two Chinese companies tried to win back the hill from four
platoons of Ethiopians. The latter made a good showing and did not break contact
and withdraw until they were ordered to.34
Toward the end of the month, General Clark
warned Van Fleet that there were indications the
enemy might try to take advantage of the period before the ground thawed to
launch an offensive toward Seoul. During the winter the Communists had built up
their forces in Korea to an estimated total of 1,071,080 by 1 February and had been stockpiling
ammunition and rations at the front. In January three Chinese armies and one
North Korean corps had been replaced on the line by fully equipped and
combat-trained units and the strength of the remainder of the divisions at the
front had been increased from reserve elements. It was, of course, quite
conceivable that the Communist preparations were only defensive in nature since
considerable publicity had been given to the possibility that the new Republican
administration in the United States might change the tenor of the Korean War and
go over to the offensive .35
Van Fleet was not worried. He was going
ahead with the divisional reliefs scheduled for the closing days of January and
told Clark that the Eighth Army was in better condition insofar as reserves were
concerned than ever before in the war. He was sure that Eighth Army could handle
anything that the enemy could throw at it.36 In his last days as
commander of the Eighth Army, Van
Fleet remained confident that the force he had helped build up into an efficient
and reliable army could meet the Communists head on at any time and emerge
victorious. Despite the frustrations of fighting a limited war, the energetic
and aggressive old warrior had lost none of his drive or desire to deal the
enemy a crippling military blow. . He had frequently shown his impatience at
being forced to play a waiting, defensive game, but had never wavered in his
efforts to maintain Eighth Army at peak efficiency in case either the United
States or the Communists decided to alter the complexion of the conflict. As he
left for retirement and home in February 1953, his contributions to the
maintenance of his command as one of the better armies fielded by the United
States were beyond question.
Notwithstanding Van Fleet's assurances,
Clark told General Weyland to have his air reconnaissance planes intensify their
observations of Communist ground forces, supplies, and equipment along the
PyongyangKaesong route. The Far East commander was concerned over the mounting
ability of the enemy to stage an air offensive and ordered his subordinates to
take all possible passive air defense measures to absorb hostile air attacks. If
trouble developed, Clark wished every precaution possible taken to lessen the
blow and he was ready to move the 1st Cavalry Division and 187th Airborne RCT
back to Korea in the event of an emergency.37 As Clark pointed out
to the JCS in early February, the Communists' recent
expansion in men and planes might well be only defensive, but the publicity
given UNC ammunition shortages, personnel deficiencies, weakness in reserve
divisions, and difficulties in building up NATO strength, coupled with
predictions of UNC augmentation and offensive action because of the change in
political administration, could influence the enemy to use his offensive
The growth of Communist air power featured
the addition of jet bombers and fighters which gave the enemy a broad air
capability. If the Chinese carried out a surprise low-level attack with the
MIG's escorting the jet bombers, Clark felt that they might knock out the UNC
interceptor bases and gain a respite during which they could repair the North
Korean airfields. This, in turn, could lead to a ground offensive, backed by
piston fighters, bombers, and ground attack planes. Under the circumstances,
Clark asked for permission to attack the Chinese air bases if the security of
the UNC forces seemed to be threatened.39
As in the past, the American leaders in
Washington were sympathetic but noncommittal. They recognized the potential
danger, but told Clark that they wished to be informed of the immediate
situation before they gave their authorization.40
Clark's air chief, General Weyland, shared
his commander's concern over the Communist air threat, but had no
doubt about the ability of the UNC forces to turn the enemy back. "I have no fears,"
he told Clark on 11 February, "that the enemy
could take the Seoul complex if faced with concerted
and aggressive counteroperations. In fact, I
believe that an attempted air and ground offensive by the Communists can be made
a most costly venture for him and would provide
opportunity for an outstanding UN
As February progressed and no larger enemy
attacks developed, Clark's anxiety diminished. On 11
February, Lt. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor took over
General Van Fleet's post as Eighth Army commander and began to make his own
impression upon his troops.42 He stressed the need for planning and
rehearsing patrols; for providing a complete eight-week training program for
reserve divisions before they re-entered the line; for moving artillery
battalions frequently to maintain their basic mobility; and for better
concealment measures for troops on skyline positions. He also decided to drop
the designation of "Korea" from the Eighth Army. In the future, the title would
simply be Eighth U.S. Army.43
Although the pattern of fighting underwent
little change during early February, the enemy reacted strongly to any
challenge. On 3 February a tank-infantry force from
the 5th Marine Regiment followed air strikes and artillery fire in a raid on
Hill 101 and Un'gok, ten miles north of Munsan-ni. The marines destroyed
installations and beat off several determined counterattacks until they were
ordered to withdraw. Estimate of enemy killed during the engagement ran to about
400 men while the marines
lost 15 killed and 55 wounded.44
On 20 February the Chinese sent two
companies along the shank of T-Bone Hill to attack Outpost EERIE and ran into a
7th Division ambush patrol. Reinforcements from the 17th Infantry Regiment were
rushed forward to bolster the patrol and finally a platoon of tanks moved
forward to screen the battlefield and help evacuate the wounded. Although all
the members of the patrol were either killed or wounded, they had evidently
staved off a battalion-sized assault on ARSENAL and EERIE.45
Across the valley at the lower Alligator's
jaw, which was located a mile and a half northeast of EERIE, another Chinese
company caught a 7th Division combat patrol and subjected it to heavy fire on
24 February. Before the
engagement finished, the entire 2o-man patrol became casualties. The day before,
on the 1st Marine Division front, a tankinfantry patrol was surrounded by the
enemy at Hill go, two miles east of Panmunjom, and a reinforcing platoon had to
be dispatched to help them break through the Chinese circle. Hand-tohand combat
ensiled as the marines battled their way back to the main line of
resistance. On 25 February a Marine patrol started out to capture prisoners of
war and destroy installations on Hill Detroit, a little over a mile southwest of
the Hook, and encountered a reinforced enemy company. The marines used flame
throwers in the caves and bunkers to root out the Chinese and a bitter 45-minute
fight took place before the raiders disengaged.46
The growing Chinese sensitivity to the I
Corps raids was the prelude to a shift in the enemy's tactics. As March began,
the Chinese went over to the offensive again-on a limited scale, to be sure.
Dropping the passive role of the early winter period, the enemy started to take
advantage of the prethaw season. As the Chinese sent out larger forces in an
effort to regain the initiative, pressure along the I Corps front mounted.
March, a Communist company struck at the positions of
the French Battalion after an intense artillery and mortar preparation. The
French were attached to the U.S. 2d Division, now manning the section of the
line formerly held by the 1st Commonwealth Division. They met the Chinese attack
and beat it off after a brief hand-to-hand encounter. Two days later, the
Chinese overran a 38th Regiment outpost on the Hook. On 6 March the scene moved
to the ROK 1st Division line where the Chinese launched two fruitless
companysized attacks on the outposts of the 11th
Regiment. That same evening, a combat patrol from the
31st Infantry Regiment of the U.S- 7th Division intercepted an estimated enemy battalion apparently on the way to
attack Porkchop Hill and the surprise contact disrupted the Chinese plans. The
Communists gunners dropped 8,000 rounds of artillery and mortar fire on Porkchop
during the night, but the enemy infantry made no serious attempt to push on
toward the 7th Division's outposts.47
There was brief lull along the front with
the advent of the late winter rains. Mud restricted the movements of vehicles
but did not deter the enemy from resuming the attack shortly after the middle of
March. Hill 355, located about three and a half miles southwest of the Nori Hill
complex, was also known as Little Gibraltar. Defended by elements of the U.S.
9th Infantry Regiment, 2d Division, Hill 355 received a battalion-sized attack
on 17 March. The enemy
breached the wire entanglements and pushed through the mine fields into the
trenches of the 9th Infantry Regiment. One platoon's position was overrun but
the remaining platoons held firm in their blocking positions until
reinforcements arrived. As the Chinese began to disengage, 2d Division artillery
fire interdicted their route of withdrawal. The action cost the 9th slightly
over 100 casualties, but enemy losses were estimated at over 400 men.48
The 2d Division came in for a bit more
action four days later when two enemy companies fell on a patrol near the Hook.
While the patrol tenaciously fought off the Chinese attackers, artillery and
mortar fire were called in and reinforcements rushed up. The Chinese pulled
back the next morning.49
March the 7th Division had indications that the
enemy contemplated an attack in the Old Baldy-Porkchop area. The increase in
artillery and mortar rounds on the division's positions on these long-contested
hills usually signified a Communist offensive move, and the capture of two
deserters in the sector strengthened the belief that action would soon be
The Old Baldy-Porkchop area was held by the
31st Infantry Regiment, commanded by Colonel Kern, and its attached Colombian
Battalion. Colonel Kern had deployed his 2d Battalion on the left, the Colombian
Battalion in the center, which included Old Baldy, and the 3d Battalion on the
right in the Porkchop Hill sector. One rifle company from the 1st Battalion
manned blocking positions behind each of the three frontline
Elements of two Chinese armies faced the
7th Division. The 141st Division, CCF 47th Army, manned the enemy positions opposite Old Baldy and to the west and
the 67th Divisions, CCF 23d Army, defended the terrain from the Porkchop Hill area to the east.
On the evening of 23 March the Chinese
staged a double-barreled attack on both Old Baldy and Porkchop. A mixed
battalion from the 423d
Regiment,. 141st Division, attacked Old Baldy and
caught the Colombian Battalion in the middle of relieving the company outpost on
the hill. The Chinese closely followed an intense artillery and mortar
concentration upon Lt. Col. Alberto Ruiz-Novoa's troops and fought their way
into the trenches. To reinforce the Colombians, Colonel Kern placed B Company,
31st Regiment, under Colonel Ruiz' operational control. 1st Lt. Jack M.
Patteson, B Company commander, led his men toward Old Baldy at 213o hours,
approaching from Westview, the next hill to the southeast. As B Company drew
near the outpost, the Chinese first called in intense artillery and mortar fire
along the approach routes and then took Patteson's men under fire with small
arms, automatic weapons, and hand grenades. B Company slowly made its way into
the first bunkers on Old Baldy at 0200 hours and began to clear them out one by
one. As the company came up against the main strength of the Chinese on Old
Baldy, however, progress lessened and then ground to a halt.
In the 3d Battalion sector on Porkchop
Hill, Lt. Col. John N. Davis' L Company had been attacked by two companies from
the 201st Regiment., 67th Division.
As in the Old Baldy assault, the Chinese had laid
down heavy mortar and artillery concentrations on the I. Company positions
before they advanced. 1st Lt. Forrest Crittenden, the company commander, and his
men fought until their ammunition began to run low, then had to pull back from
the crest of the hill and await resupply and reinforcement. Proximity fuze fire
was laid directly on Porkchop while ammunition was brought forward and A
Company, under 1st Lt. Gerald Morse, advanced
to the aid of L Company. Elements of I Company were ordered to secure Hill Zoo,
a mile southeast of Porkchop, which had also been reported as under attack.
Colonel Davis had to wait until the early
morning hours of 24 March before he could launch a counterattack against
Porkchop. Lieutenant Morse's company, en route to join L company, was pinned
down for two hours by proximity fuze fire. Attacking abreast with A Company on
the right, the two companies met only light resistance from the few Chinese left
on the crest. They reported that Porkchop was a shambles with many of the
bunkers aflame and many dead and wounded. Colonel Davis dispatched the
ammunition and pioneer platoon to repair the damage and sent aidmen and litter
bearers to clear the dead and wounded from the hill.
In the meantime, Maj. Gen. Arthur G.
Trudeau, who had just assumed command of the 7th Division, had arrived at the
31st Regiment's command post and had taken charge. He ordered the 1st Battalion,
32d Regiment, under Lt. Col. George Juskalian, to move forward and placed it
under the operational control of the 31st Regiment. The 1st Battalion with B
Company, 73d Tank Battalion, in support, would carry out a counterattack to
regain Old Baldy. The tanks would fire from positions in the valley to the
northeast of the hill.
B Company, 32d Regiment, under 1st Lt.
Willard E. Smith, led the 1st Battalion's attack from the southwest on the
morning of 24 March. Two platoons from the 73d Tank Battalion and one platoon of
the 31st Tank Company supported the assault. The Chinese met the assault with
artillery and mortar fire as B Company approached and
then opened up with small arms and automatic weapons, inflicting heavy
casualties on Lieutenant Smith's men. The 1st Battalion's assault stalled on the
southwest finger of Old Baldy.
Colonel Juskalian reorganized his forces
and sent B Company and A Company, under 1st Lt. Jack L. Conn, in a second attack
during the afternoon of the 24th. The two companies reached Lieutenant
Patteson's B Company, 31st Regiment, positions and passed through them. By
nightfall they had won back one quarter of Old Baldy, but were forced by enemy
resistance to dig in and hold. Lieutenant Patteson suffered a broken jaw during
the fighting and had to be evacuated.
At 0430 hours on 25 March, Colonel
Juskalian sent C Company, under 1st Lt. Robert C. Gutner, around the right flank
to attack up the northeast finger of Old Baldy. Again the Chinese used their
individual and crew-served weapons effectively and reinforced their units on Old
Baldy to halt the 1st Battalion attack. By 0930 Juskalian reported that B and A
Companies were one-third the way up the left finger, halted by small arms and
hand grenades. C Company was "pretty well shot up" and had to be withdrawn and
reorganized. Some members of the company were still pinned down on the right
flank of Baldy and could not get out. Colonel Juskalian called for tank support
to knock out the Chinese bunkers being used to pin down the 30 to 40 C Company
men left on the hill.
Despite the tank support, the 1st
Battalion's situation had not improved by 1315 hours. Colonel Juskalian's three
rifle companies were clinging to their
positions, but A Company had only 2 officers and 14 men; B Company and C Company had 2 officers and 40
men between them. The colonel asked for smoke and medical aid so that he could
evacuate his casualties.
With the 1st Battalion's effective strength
reduced to less than sixty men, Colonel Kern ordered Juskalian to withdraw his
men from Old Baldy during the night of 25-26 March. Air Force, Navy, and Marine
fighters and bombers mounted air strikes against nearby hills, strongpoints, and
supply routes during the night and then hit Old Baldy the next morning after the
1st Battalion had cleared the hill. From reports made later by Colombians who
had hidden in bunkers during the Chinese domination of the heights, it appeared
that the enemy troops left Old Baldy when the air strikes came, and this,
incidentally, had enabled the Colombians to make their way back to the UNC lines
on 16 March.
General Kendall, I Corps commander, ordered
another attack to regain Old Baldy to be scheduled for either 27 or 28 March
after rehearsals had been held. To carry out the assault, General Trudeau
selected the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment. The battalion held two
rehearsals on terrain similar to Old Baldy in the closing days of March and was
prepared to execute the attack. On 30 March, however, General Taylor, the Eighth
Army commander, arrived at General Trudeau's headquarters for a conference.
After considering the psychological, tactical, and doubtlessly the casualty
aspects of the planned operation, General Taylor decided that Old Baldy was not
essential to the defense of the sector and that
consequently no attack would be carried out.
The two days of fighting for Old Baldy and
Porkchop had been costly for the 7th Division. Casualties had run over 300 dead,
wounded, and missing in action. Although Chinese losses were estimated at
between Goo to Boo men, the enemy had committed his troops freely to maintain
possession of Old Baldy. The Chinese willingness to expend their manpower
resources offered a clear contrast to the UNC reluctance to risk lives for
tactical objectives of questionable value at this stage of the war.
On the 1st Marine Division front the
Chinese had also accelerated the tempo. An outpost of the Korean Marine regiment
was overrun by two enemy platoons on 18 March and the following day the Chinese
threw two company attacks against 5th Marine Regiment ouposts. The latter were
beaten off and the marines quickly mounted a counterblowa raid into the enemy's
positions. This, in turn, elicited retaliation from the Chinese. On the night of
22 March they sent two
companies supported by 1,800 rounds of artillery and mortar against the 1st
Marine Regiment's outposts and main line of resistance positions at Hill Hedy
and Bunker Hill, four miles east of Panmunjom. Hand-to-hand combat and a brisk
fire fight ensued before the Chinese began to disengage. During the encounter a
UNC flare plane and searchlights lit up the battlefield and enabled the marines
to spot the enemy's movement.52
After a series of diversionary squad
attacks on 1st Marine Regiment outposts, the 358th Regiment, 120th Division,
CCF 40th Army, launched an assault upon combat outposts of the 5th Marine
Regiment, 10 miles northeast of Panmunjom and between 2 to 3 miles southwest of the Hook.
Outpost VEGAS was on Hill 157; Outpost RENO was on
Hill 148, less than half a mile to the west; and Outpost CARSON was on an unnumbered hill
800 yards south of RENO. (Map 8)
Prisoners of war and other intelligence sources
later indicated that the mission of the 358th was to seize and hold the
three outposts before an expected UNC spring offensive could get under way. On
26 March, the Chinese overran VEGAS and RENO after heavy, close fighting.
The marines fell back and hastily
prepared blocking positions between the lost positions and the main line of
resistance. Despite the arrival of reinforcements during the night, efforts to
rewin VEGAS and RENO failed because of intense enemy artillery, mortar, and small
arms fire. A battalion from the 7th Marine
Regiment was placed under the operational control of the 5th Regiment on 27
March, but even with the additional troops, the counterattacks made little
progress. As the day wore on, 3 light battalions, 2 medium battalions, 2 8-inch
batteries, 1 4.5-inch rocket battery, 2 companies Of 4.2-inch mortars, and 1
battalion of 25-pounders pummeled the enemy positions, and close air support
sought to destroy Chinese strongpoints. Over 100,000 artillery rounds, 54,000
mortar shells, 7,000 rounds of go-mm. tank ammunition, and 426 tons of
explosives were directed at the Communists during the fight, while the Chinese
sent back about 45,000 at the marines. The decision was made not to recapture
RENO for the time being
and the Marine units, increasing the attacking force to the infantry strength of
two battalions, concentrated on VEGAS. Not until the afternoon of 28 March were the marines able to
battle their way back to the top, for the Chinese fire was heavy and deadly.
Enemy counterattacks followed each other
swiftly during the night of 28-29 March, but were broken up by defensive fires.
Despite the Chinese pressure, the Marine defenders worked hard to strengthen
their hold on VEGAS. When
the Communists moved forward to the assault, the marines called for boxing
fires, and flare planes exposed the enemy to Marine automatic weapon and small
arms fire. One Chinese concentration was neutralized by rocket fire before it
could organize its attack. Before the enemy broke off the fighting on 29 March,
the marines had repelled several battalion-sized attacks and inflicted over
1,300 estimated casualties upon the enemy. Marine
losses were 118 killed, 801 wounded, and 98 missing in action, figures which
testified to the bitterness of the battle.53
Air and Naval Operations
The uneven tenor of ground operations was
reflected in the type of activity that the air and naval forces carried out
during the winter of 1952-53. During the sporadic fighting of November 1952, the
Far East Air Forces devoted over 3,000 sorties to close combat support and a
lesser amount of its effort to interdictory missions. Bomber components of the
command continued to work over rail lines and bridges, storage facilities,
repair shops, supply centers, and troop concentrations in addition to their
strikes against strongpoints along the battle line.
According to the basic FEAF operations
policy that was in effect until the end of 1952, the air forces were trying: to
maintain pressure on the Communist military units; to influence the armistice
negotiations, so that UNC could obtain the most favorable terms; to retain the
capability for other operations, in the event of a general emergency; to prevent
or minimize enemy air attacks against the U.N. Command; to furnish air support
to the UNC, including close combat support; and to interdict the enemy's
logistical and communications system. First priority went to the task of
maintaining air superiority and second to the close support of ground
operations, whenever the tactical situation required it.54
The emphasis on close support and the successful suppression of antiaircraft
fire during the FEAF strikes by friendly artillery promoted better air-ground
relationships during the winter months.
Navy and Marine planes also contributed
greatly to the support of the ground forces during November. Task Force .77
devoted half of its combat effort to "Cherokee" strikes on behalf of the Eighth
Army. A Cherokee strike was a prebriefed operation against a specific target in
front of friendly ground positions and differed from regular close air support
in that it was not directed by spotters. Usually a control plane was assigned by
the Air Force, however, to assist in locating the target and for assessing the
damage caused by the strike.
In addition to the Cherokee operations,
Navy planes pounded industrial centers in northeastern Korea. On 1718 November,
they bombed Ch'ongjin, Kilchu, Kyongsong, and other coastal rail facilities,
factories, and mines. During these operations separate targets were assigned to
the air groups of each carrier to eliminate the impromptu exchanges between
group leaders who, when they were assigned to the same targets, normally did
their coordination in the air. The Ch'ongjin attack found five air strikes
co-ordinated with the concentrated firepower of the battleship Missouri
and the cruiser Helena. On the 18th, Task Force 77 sent 64 attack
planes, 16 pistontype fighters, and 24 jet fighters against Hoeryong on the Yalu
River. The synthetic oil plant, supply buildings, power plant, iron factory, and
other facilities in this border town were all bombed
by means of visual methods.55
On 9 December the carriers Oriskany, Bon
Homme Richard, and Essex sent 350 sorties to blast rail facilities at
Rashin, Musan, Hyesanjin, and Hunyung-the latter was the northernmost raid of
the Korean War. One week later, planes from the same carriers traveled to the
Manchurian border to reach hitherto undamaged rail targets at
Although intelligence reports pointed to a
steady increase of Communist air strength in Manchuria, enemy air activity
remained at a low ebb during the closing months of the year. In December
reconnaissance planes observed a growing number of Soviet-built Il-28,
twinengine jet bombers close to the border and the threat of a surprise attack
against UNC airfields ballooned. This, coupled with the statements of UNC pilots
that their MIG opponents seemed to be getting more competent in their attempts
to intercept the F-86 Sabrejets, aroused some concern. But the Communists, as
noted earlier, demonstrated no enthusiasm for aggressive operations either on
the ground or in the air. By the end of 1952, Air Force and Navy pilots were
once again devoting the bulk of their combat effort to the North Korean rail and
Typical of the air assaults of the period
was the bombardment of the Sinanju complex beginning on 9 January.
Seventeen B-29's launched the attack and
then, for the next six days, Fifth Air Force fighter-bombers raided the
important freight yards and bridge approaches daily. Flying 1,243 sorties in
support of the program to knock out Sinanju's transportation system, the
fighter-bombers managed to render all the bridges into the town unserviceable by
14 January. Rail traffic between Sinanju and P'yongyang was severed for about
eleven days and the Communists had to strain their truck transport system to
take up the slack.58
During the Sinanju raid period, the
Sabrejets ran into a number of MIG's and on 14 January the F86's claimed a
banner day. They reported that 8 enemy planes had been knocked down,
2 others probably
destroyed, and 8 had been damaged. But outside an exceptional occasion like the
foregoing, the Chinese air forces evidenced little change in their indisposition
toward combat in January.59
A month later, on 16 February, the Navy
celebrated the completion of the second year of the longest effective siege in
United States naval history. Almost daily since February 1951, Navy aircraft had
swarmed over the key port of Wonsan and surface guns had added to the
destruction. On 31 January and on 9-10 February, the carriers Kearsarge, Philippine Sea, and
large-scale air attacks on Wonsan, with the battleship Missouri and other surface
vessels also taking part in the January operation.60
When the concern voiced by General Clark
over the possibility of a Communist air attack coupled with an attempt to take
Seoul before the spring thaw proved groundless, the Air Force and Navy
commanders continued to press the campaign to make the continuance of
hostilities as expensive as possible to the Communists. On 18-19 February 511 Air Force and Marine
fighters and fighter-bombers raided the tank and infantry school near Pyongyang
with 541 tons of high explosives, and 24 fighter-bombers hit Suiho again in a
surprise low-level attack. Despite the intense antiaircraft concentrations
around Suiho, not a plane was lost or damaged.
Twenty-four Thunderjets from the Fifth Air
Force made an 800-mile round trip to Ch'ongjin, some sixty-three miles from the
Soviet border, to bomb the city's industrial facilities on 5 March. Only sixteen
days later, planes from three Navy carriers hit the same town again with 169
sorties, causing huge secondary explosions in the ammunition storage area. In
the meantime, the Fifth Air Force sent twenty-six B-29's to destroy a troop and
factory complex near Sinuiju on 17 March. The bombardiers claimed 147 buildings,
4 warehouses, and 1 manufacturing plant were wiped out in this raid.
Emphasis continued on air interdiction
during the December-March period, but it was not the same type that the air
forces had tried unsuccessfully in the STRANGLE
rail cutting program of the previous year. Rather the
air forces aimed at striking and destroying vulnerable enemy targets that would
not only impede the Communist supply effort but also apply pressure on them to
end the hostilities. By the destruction of
communications centers and supply facilities, such as factories, warehouses, and
depots, the task of supporting the enemy's troops at the front became a bit
more complicated every day. But the quietness along the
battle lines during most of the period did not require extraordinary
expenditures of materiel and ammunition and, despite the air forces' efforts,
the Communists were able to stockpile supplies to sustain themselves from thirty
to forty-five days in the forward areas.61
As the enemy increased his ground activity
during March, both the Air Force and Navy began to put more stress upon close
air support and Cherokee-type missions. The outbreak of fighting at Old Baldy
and VEGAS brought a spate
of calls for air operations against Chinese strongpoints, supply dumps, and
personnel concentrations close to the front. On Old Baldy, FEAF provided 483
fighterbomber, 87 lightbomber, and 11 medium bomber sorties during the last week
of March. The FEAF planes dropped about 400 tons of bombs on the enemy ground
positions, and Navy and Marine aircraft added 77 tons
of bombs and 66 tons of napalm to the assault.62
The advent of spring and the accelerated
tempo of enemy operations at the close of March seemed to presage a departure
from the somewhat uneventful pattern of the winter months. From time to time the
actions had grown warmer during the period, but the fighting had never decided
more than the temporary possession of another hill. Air and sea operations had
provided a measure of pressure upon the enemy as towns and installations were
destroyed or damaged, but the Communists' powers of recuperation had been
adequate to readjust to these losses and irritations. As April arrived, the
military situation remained essentially unchanged-neither side was vitally hurt
nor willing to risk a vital hurt. The sparring match continued as both opponents
awaited an opportune moment to end the contest on terms favorable to their own
cause. In view of this reluctance to seek a military decision, the truce tent
still appeared to offer the only arena in which a settlement would be effected.
1 Ltr, Clark to Collins,
9 Oct 52, no sub, in G-3
091 Korea, 8/56.
2 G-3 Staff Study, ca. 21 Jan 53, title: Capability of U.S. Army to
Implement CINCUNC Operations Plan 8-52, in G-3 381 Pacific, 4/4.
3 Clark, From
the Danube to the Yalu, p. 81.
4 Ibid., p. 233.
5 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Nov
52, sec. 1, Narrative, p.
5. CCF strength declined from 732,300 to 705,200 and the North Korean Army dipped from 266,000 to 257,000.
6 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt,
Nov 52, sec. I, Narrative,
7 Ibid., pp. 15-16
8 U.S. IX Corps, Comd Rpt, Dec
52, G-3 sec., pp. 13-14.
9 U.S. IX Corps, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, G-3 sec., pp.
11-12.It is quite
possible that neither the UNC nor the enemy patrols were searching too, intently
for the opposition during the cold winter nights.
10 U.S. IX Corps, Comd Rpt,
Feb and Mar 53, G-3, Sec. pp. 7-8 and p. 7,
11 The following account of I
Company is based upon the study by 2d Lt. Joseph J. Comps, Eighth Army
Historical Unit, A Rifle Company in Winter Defensive Positions. MS in OCMH
12 The account of the attack
upon the 2d Battalion is based on: 16oth Inf Regt, Comd Rpt and Bn Jnls, Nov
13 'The account of the Hill 812 action is based upon: (1)
179th Inf Regt, Comd Rpt and Jnls, Dec 52; (2) 45th Inf Div, Comd Rpt, Dec 52,
14 U.S. X Corps, Comd Rpt, Dec 52, p. 7.
15 U.S. X Corps, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, p. 6.
16 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt,
Feb 53, sec. 1, Narrative, p. 36.
17 There was one major relief
during the first three months of 1953. The U.S. 45th Division returned to the
line without incident and assumed responsibility for the positions occupied by
the U.S. 40th Division.
18 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt,
Nov 52, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 41-42.
19 Ibid., Jan 53, sec.
I, Narrative, pp. 39-40.
20 Ibid., Mar 53, sec. 1, Narrative, pp. 51-52.
21 (1) KMAG, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, ROKA Combat Units,-ROK II
Corps. (2) Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, sec. 1, Narrative, p. 16.
22 U.S. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Nov 52, pp. 20,
23 (1) Hq Eighth Army, Comd
Rpt, Nov 52, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 42-43. (2) U.S. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Nov 52,
24 The account of the Nori
battle is based upon: (1) Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Dec 52, sec. I, Narrative,
pp. 41-42; (2) U.S. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Dec 52, pp. 6-10; (3) KMAG, Comd Rpt, Dec
52, ROKA Combat Units, Jnl, 1st ROK Div.
25 U.S. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, p. 25.
26 (1) Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, sec. I,
Narrative, p. 33. (2) U.S. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, p. 7.
27 The account of the ARSENAL action is based upon the 38th Inf Regt, Comd
Rpt and Bn Staff Jnls, Dec 52.
28 Briefing Notes,
24 Dec 52, in 38th Inf Regt, Dec 52, Comd Rpt, Regtl Opnl Jnls.
29 US. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Dec 52, p. 12.
30 The following account, unless otherwise stated, is
based upon Hq Eighth Army, Mil Hist Detachment, Operation SMACK, by 2d Lt Samuel M. Kind. MS in
31 Msg, G 1733 KCG, Van Flcet
to Clark, 29 Jan 53, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, incls 1-67, incl
32 (1) Msg, DA 392127, CINFO to CINCFE, 28 Jan 53. (2)
Msg C 61077, CINCFE to DA, 30 Jan 53, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, incls 1-67,
incl 9. (3) Msg, DA 393167, CINFO to CINCFE, 31 Jan 53.
33 Msg, Z 35701, CINCFE to Hull, 30 Jan 53, in UNC/FEC,
Comd Rpt, Jan 53, incls 1-67, incl 10.
34 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 33-34.
35 (1) Msg, CX 61016, CINCFE
to CG AFFE et al., 24 Jan 53, in JSPOG Staff Study No. 495. (2) Hq Eighth Army,
Comd Rpt, Jan 53, sec. 1, Narrative, pp. 5-8, 21.
36 Msg, GX 1607 KCG, CG EUSAK to CG AFFE, 25 Jan 53, in Hq Eighth
Army, Gen Admin files, Jan-Jun 53. The four reliefs were: the U.S. 45th Division
for the U.S. 40th Division in the X Corps area; the U.S. 2d Division for the 1st
Commonwealth Division in the U.S. I Corps sector; the U.S. 3d Division for the
U.S. 25th Division in the IX Corps front; and the ROK 15th Division for the ROK
5th Division along the ROK I Corps battle line. These were all completed by 31
January without incident.
37 (1) Msg, CX 61087, CINCFE to CG FEAF,
31 Jail 53, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Jan 53, incls 1-67, incl 41. (2) Ltr, Clark to
CG AFFE et al., 4 Feb 53, sub: Communist Offensive . . . , in JSPOG Staff Study
38 Msg, CX 61157, CINCFE to JCS, 7 Feb 53, in JSPOG Staff
Study No. 495.
39 Msg CX 61172,
CINCFE to JCS, 9 Feb 53, in JSPOG Staff Study No. 495, in JSPOG files. The
estimate of Communist air strength in Manchuria was 830 jet fighters, 250 piston
fighters, 220 piston light bombers, and an estimated 100 jet bombers.
40 Msg, JCS 931 744, JCS to
CINCFE, 19 Feb 53.
41 Ltr, Weyland
to CINCFE, 11 Feb 53, sub:
Communist Offensive . . . , in JSPOG Staff Study No. 495.
42 General Taylor had commanded the foist
Airborne Division in World War II; had served as superintendent at West Point until 1949; was commander in Berlin from
1949-51; and lately had
been G-3, Department
of the Army, and Deputy
Chief of Staff for Operations and Administration.
43 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Feb
53, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 28, 29, 62.
44 (1) Ibid., p.
32, (2) U.S. I
Corps, Comd Rpt, Feb 53,
p. 11. (3) First Marine Div, Comd Diary, Feb
53, p. 4.
45 (1) Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Feb 53, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 32-33. (2) U.S. I
Corps, Comd Rpt, Feb 53,
46 (1) Hq Eighth Army, Comd
Rpt, Feb 53, sec. 1, Narrative, pp. 33-34. (2) U.S. I Corps, Comd Rpt, Feb 53,
p. 15. (3) First Marine Div, Comd Diary, Feb- 53, p. 10.
47 (1) Hq Eighth Army, Comd
Rpt, Mar 53, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 41-42. (2) U.S. 7th Inf Div, Comd Rpt, Mar
53, pp. 23-25.
48 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt,
Mar 53, sec. I, Narrative, p. 43.
49 Ibid., p. 46.
that the men would fight better if they knew what they were about to accomplish,
the Communists discussed the operation on the lower levels before an attack. The
knowledge that an attack was to be carried out often led some of the Communist
soldiers to desert.
51 The account of the Old Baldy-Porkchop Hill action is based upon:
(1) 31st Inf Regt, Comd
Rpt and Staff Jnls, Mar 53; (2) 32d Inf Regt, Comd Rpt and Staff Jnls, Mar 53; (3) 7th Inf Div,
Comd Rpt, Mar 53.
52 (1) First Marine Div, Comd Diary, Mar 53, p. 9.
(2) Hq Eighth Army, Comd
Rpt, Mar 53, sec. I, Narrative, pp. 44-45
53 (1) First Marine Div, Comd Diary, Mar 58, pp.
10-12. (2) U.S. I Corps,
Comd Rpt, Mar 53, pp. 28-87. (3) Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt, Mar 58, sec. I,
Narrative, p. 49.
54 FEAF Comd Rpt, NOV 52, Vol-
55 (1) COMNAVFE, Comd and Hist Rpt, Oct-Nov 52, sec. 1-1,
1-15. (2) Msg, CX 58908, CINCFE to DA, 17 NOV
52, in UNC/FEC, Comd Rpt, Nov 52, G-3 sec., pt. III,
56 COMNAVFE, Comd and Hist
Rpt, Dec 52, sec. 1-1, 1-2.
57 (1) FEAF Comd Rpt, Dec 52,
Vol. I, pp. 1, 2, 8; vol.
II. (2) COMNAVFE Comd and Hist Rpt, Dec 52, sec. 1-1, 1-6.
58 FEAF Comd Rpt, Jan
52, vol. I, pp.
11-12; vol II, Opns, tab 3.
59 Ibid., vol. I, p. 13.
60 COMNAVFE Comd and Hist Rpt, Jan-Feb 53, sec. 1-1, 1-12.
61 Hq Eighth Army, Comd Rpt,
Feb 53, sec. I, Narrative, p. 24.
62 FEAF Comd Rpts, Feb and Mar 53, vol. I, pp, 1-2 and 1-3, respectively.
Causes of the Korean Tragedy ... Failure of Leadership, Intelligence and Preparation