The Chinese Intervene

O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence hold the enemy's fate in our hands.

SUN TZU, The Art of War

The Far East Command near the end of October changed its policy with respect to Koreans attached to United States Army units, authorizing a strength of only twenty-five Koreans to an American infantry company or unit of similar size, instead of the 100 per company previously authorized. The resulting release of several thousand Korean soldiers who had been assigned to U.S. Army divisions since August made possible the activation of a new ROK division. On 25 October the ROK Army activated the 8th Division, composed of the 28th, 29th, and 30th Regiments, of two battalions each. On 30 October, three battalions of the 1st Anti-Guerrilla Group became the third battalion of each of these regiments. By 7 November, 8,272 Korean soldiers had been released and turned back to the ROK Army and several thousand more were on the point of being released. On that day the ROK Army reactivated in Seoul the 2d Infantry Division which had been shattered in the early days of the war. This division at first had only two regiments, the 17th and the 31st, but on 13 November the 2d Regiment was activated at Seoul as the division's third regiment. [1]

Other new military forces began making their appearance in Korea at this time, just when it began to look as if they would not be needed. The scheduled arrival of several United Nations troop organizations in Korea made necessary arrangements to equip and train them so that they could become effective parts of the Eighth Army command. In an attempt to accomplish this, General Walker on 8 October ordered the 2d Logistical Command to establish a United Nations Reception Center (UNRC) at Taegu University as soon as EUSAK moved from it. Its mission was "to clothe, equip, and provide familiarization training with U.S. Army weapons and equipment to U.N. troops as determined essential for operations in Korea by the Reception Center Commander." Not more than 6,200 troops were expected to be in training at the center at any one time. The first unit to


[1] EUSAK WD, G-1 Daily Hist Rpt, 26 Oct 50; Ibid., POR 389, 19 Nov 50; 

Ibid., Br. for CG, 9 Nov 50: GHQ UNC, G-3 Rpts, 27 and 30 Oct 50; 

25th Div WD, 30 Oct 50.


make use of it was the 1st Turkish Armed Forces Command which arrived there on 18 October. [2]

The first of the new forces to arrive in Korea was the Thailand Battalion whose advance party arrived at Pusan on 3 October; the main party arrived more than a month later on 7 November. Following closely after the Thailand advance party came the advance party of the Turkish Brigade which arrived at Pusan on 12 October. The main body of the brigade (5,190 troops) arrived at Pusan five days later and began unloading on the 18th. The Turkish troops were fully equipped except for certain weapons. On 24 October, the advance parties of the Netherlands Battalion and the British 28th Brigade arrived in Korea. In Canada a special force of 10,000 men had volunteered and trained for combat service in Korea, and on 7 November an advance party of 345 of them arrived at Pusan to prepare the way for the main body. But with the war seemingly near an end, only a battalion followed; the main body was held in Canada. [3]

It should be emphasized that at this time when Eighth Army was making ready to continue the pursuit north of the Ch'ongch'on River, its logistical situation was not good. The breakdown of rail transportation in October, coincident with Eighth Army's rapid advance northward, caused an extraordinarily heavy burden to fall on truck transport operating over bad roads with long hauls from ports and railheads. At the end of October the 24th Division railhead was still at Yongdungp'o on the south side of the Han River, while the division service elements were in the vicinity of Pakch'on, 205 miles farther north. The longer the trucks ran over the rough Korean roads, the greater grew the number that became inoperable. It was a type of logistical support that promised soon to wear itself to destruction since the spare parts needed for repairs were not available.

During September, October, and on into November, 76 percent of Eighth Army's trucks operated on a 24-hour basis. In order to supply I Corps north of the 38th Parallel, Eighth Army had to take away from the 2d and 25th Divisions large numbers of their trucks, thereby virtually immobilizing these divisions. The 2d Division at one time furnished 320 trucks that were organized into a Red Ball Express to supply I Corps from the Han River. The need for trucks was so critical, and normal methods of delivering them to the tactical units so uncertain, that divisions and corps sent men back to Pusan by air and rail to drive the trucks 400 miles north over atrocious roads to the fronts. [4]

As soon as P'yongyang fell to Eighth Army an airlift of supplies to the airfield there got under way from Ashiya Air Base in Japan and from Kimpo Airfield near Seoul. The Kimpo airlift sought to attain a goal of transporting 1,000 tons daily to P'yongyang or north


[2] Maj William F. Fox, History of the Korean War, Inter-Allied Co-

operation During Combat Operations, vol. III, pt. 2, sec. B, pp. 10-11, 

MS in OCMH: Ltr Ord, Hq, EUSAK to CG, 2d Log Comd, 8 Oct 50, sub: 

Establishment of UNRC. 

[3] Log Comd Monthly Act Rpt, G-3 and G-4 Secs, Oct and Nov 50. 

[4] Interv, author with Maj Gen Leven C. Allen, 15 Dec 53: EUSAK WD, 

Trans Sec, 18 Nov and G-4 Jnl, Msg 9, 241430 Nov 50: 24th Div WD, G-4 

Daily Summ, 29-30 Oct 50: 2d Div WD, Narr Summ, Nov 50, p. 11.


ward. A large part of this airlift at the end of October carried ammunition. On 28 October, for instance, cargo planes carried 1,037 tons of ammunition from Kimpo to P'yongyang, and, as early as 31 October, planes carried ammunition to the hastily repaired fighter strip near Sinanju for the ROK units fighting along and above the Ch'ongch'on. [5]

American Optimism at End of October

Offsetting the bad logistical situation at the end of October was the general belief among U.S. commanders that the war in Korea was all but ended. Viewed in this light, the situation looked so favorable that the Department of the Army and the Commander in Chief, Far East, made plans for the redeployment of Eighth Army units, including the return of the 2d Infantry Division to the United States or to Europe, and of other organizations later. On 25 October the Department of the Army notified General MacArthur that it planned to cancel shipment of enlisted reserve corps troops to the Far East scheduled for October and November, except 17,000 noncommissioned officers. All this was in accordance with general agreements reached at the Wake Island Conference earlier in the month. [6]

Even in Korea this cutback fever had taken hold. On 22 October General Walker requested authority from General MacArthur to divert to Japan all bulk-loaded ammunition ships arriving thenceforth in Korea from the United States, as he felt there was enough ammunition in Korea to satisfy future needs. MacArthur approved this request, and he also took steps to have six ammunition ships, en route to the Far East carrying 105-mm. and 155-mm. shells and Air Force bombs, diverted to Hawaii or returned to the United States. And General Weible, Commanding General, Japan Logistical Command, requested the Commanding General, San Francisco Port of Embarkation, to cancel all outstanding requisitions for ground ammunition and to unload any ships still in port. [7]

Morale was high in the U.N. forces as they crossed the Ch'ongch'on and set out on what most of them though would be the last, brief phase of the war. In the 1st Cavalry Division many men thought they would parade on the Plaza in Tokyo wearing yellow cavalry scarves on Thanksgiving Day. The division even started turning in its equipment in expectation of being the first organization to return to Japan. Others throughout the army threw away handbills listing prices of gifts available at post exchanges, saying they were going to do their Christmas shopping in Japan.

In the United States the New York Times probably expressed the prevailing opinion there at this stage of the war when it stated editorially, "Except for unexpected developments along the frontiers of the peninsula, we can now be easy in our minds as to the military outcome." [8]


[5] EUSAK WD, Ord Daily Act Rpts, 27, 28, 31 Oct and 6 Nov 50: Ibid., 

Trans Sec, 25 Oct 50: 3d Log Comd Act Rpt. Nov 50, p. 8. 

[6] Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the Korean War, ch. 

VII, pp. 3-5, citing Msg 94651, JCS to CINCFE, 21 Oct 50, Msg C67065, 

CINCFE to DA for JCS, 21 Oct 50, and Msg S94985, DA to CINCFE, 25 Oct 


[7] Ibid., ch. VII, pp. 6-7, citing Msg CX67506, CINCFE to CG Eighth 

Army and CG JLC, 26 Oct 50, and Msg CX7702, CINCFE to DA, 28 Oct 50. 

[8] New York Times, October 29, 1950. 


Looking ahead to the task of rehabilitating the people of the Republic of Korea, General MacArthur took steps to establish a Civil Assistance Command in Eighth Army. On 30 October General Walker activated this command with an authorized staff of 161 officers and 117 enlisted men, to become effective 1 November. [9]

Until 17 October General MacArthur's orders, based on the Joint Chiefs of Staff directive of 27 September, had restrained U.N. ground forces other than ROK troops from operating north of a line extending from Ch'ongju on the west through Kunu-ri and Yongwon to Hamhung on the east coast. On 17 October General MacArthur, in his UNC Operations Order 4, lifted this restriction and advanced northward the line below which all U.N. ground forces could operate. This new line, confirmed in a message to all commanders on 19 October, extended generally from Sonch'on through Koin-dong-P'yongwon-P'ungsan to Songjin on the east coast. (See Map 21.) It was generally thirty to forty miles south of the Manchurian border across the greater part of the peninsula, and was within the spirit and meaning of the Joint Chiefs of Staff directive of 27 September, which was still in effect. In the policy laid down in this directive only ROK forces were to be used in the provinces of Korea bordering on the Yalu River. [10]

But on 24 October, as the leading U.N. forces crossed the Ch'ongch'on River, General MacArthur issued an order to his ground commanders in Korea which changed all earlier orders drastically. He now removed all restrictions on the use of U.N. ground forces south of the border, and instructed his commanders to press forward to the northern limits of Korea, utilizing all their forces. [11] Thus, when Eighth Army began what it thought would be the last series of maneuvers to end the war it did so under orders radically different from those that had so far guided its operations in Korea.

The day it was issued, this order brought a message from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to MacArthur stating that it was not in accord with the directive of 27 September and asking for an explanation. General MacArthur's reply the next day justified lifting the restriction as a matter of military necessity. He said that the ROK forces could not handle the situation by themselves, that he felt he had enough latitude under existing directives to issue the order, and that, furthermore, the whole subject had been covered in the Wake Island Conference. [12]

While it is clear that the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt that MacArthur had violated their basic 27 September directive, they did not countermand his orders to go to the Yalu. When the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade crossed the Ch'ong-


[9] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 30 Oct 50: Ibid., G-1 Sec, Civil Assistance Stf

Sec Rpt, 1 Nov 50. 

[10] Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the Korean War, ch. 

VI, pp. 31-32, citing Msg CX66705, CINCUNC to all comdrs, 17 Oct 50, and 

CX66839, CINCUNC to all comdrs, 19 Oct 50. 

[11] Ibid., p. 34, citing Msg CX67291, CINCUNC to all comdrs, 24 Oct 50. 

[12] C67397, CINCFE to JCS, 25 Oct 50; Senate MacArthur Hearings, 

MacArthur's testimony, pp. 97-98; Gen. of the Army Omar N. Bradley's 

testimony, pt. I, p. 757, and Gen Collins' testimony, pt. 2, pp. 1216-17, 1229-30, 3235, 1239-41, 1312-13. 


ch'on, that unit, the U.S. 24th Infantry Division which followed, and all the other U.N. troops deployed in Korea, were authorized to go to the Yalu River-to the extreme northern limits of the country.

General Walker on 25 October was quoted as saying, "Everything is going just fine." [13] And so it was-just then.

Continuation of the Pursuit

The Ch'ongch'on River and its tributaries, the Kuryong and Taeryong Rivers, all flowing from the north, together form the last major water barrier in the western part of North Korea short of the border. The Ch'ongch'on valley is a wide one for Korea, varying in width from 3 to 20 miles. The Ch'ongch'on, like the Yalu, flows from the northeast to the southwest and it generally parallels the Yalu at a distance of approximately 65 air miles. The Ch'ongch'on River, the principal terrain feature in the field of operations for Eighth Army during late October and November 1950, largely dictated the army's deployment and tactical maneuvers.

The main P'yongyang highway crosses the Ch'ongch'on at Sinanju and runs west and northwest in the coastal area to Sinuiju at the North Korean border. Inland from the west coast, mountainous spines run down from the Yalu to the valley of the Ch'ongch'on and the terrain becomes ever rougher and more forbidding. These mountains reach their greatest heights and become almost trackless wastes in central Korea between the Changjin (Chosin) 14 Reservoir and the Yalu. The Yalu itself, save for its lower west coast reaches, runs through a gorgelike channel rimmed by high mountains on both sides. The great Suiho hydroelectric dam on the middle Yalu impounds a reservoir of the same name that extends upstream for sixty air miles, pushing water into hundreds of little lateral fjord-like mountain valleys.

Above the reservoir there is a major crossing of the Yalu at Manp'ojin. Twenty air miles southeast of Manp'ojin, situated in the very heart of the mountain fastness, is Kanggye. There the North Korean governmental officials and high military commanders assembled. From there, if necessary, they could retreat across the Yalu at Manp'ojin to the sanctuary of Manchuria.

From the valley of the Ch'ongch'on the principal road to Kanggye and Manp'ojin ran northeast from the Sinanju-Aniu-Kunu-ri area through Huich'on. A railroad followed the same passageway. From the lower valley of the Ch'ongch'on, fifty air miles inland from the west coast, an important secondary road network ran north through Unsan to the Yalu. The events of the next few weeks were to give this particular road net special importance.

The configuration of the valley of the lower Ch'ongch'on in relation to the mountain ridges that approach it from the Yalu must be noted. North of the lower Ch'ongch'on for a distance of approximately fifteen air miles the ground is flat or only slightly rising with occasional low hills. A lateral road extending eastward from Yongsan-dong and generally paralleling the river marks the


[13] EUSAK WD, Daily News Bul, 25 Oct 50. 

[14] See p. 729, n. 1, below. 


cleavage line between this low ground, which in a broad sense can be described as the valley of the Ch'ongch'on, and the mountain spurs that rise rather abruptly from it and extend to the Yalu. The southern extremities of these mountain ranges with their limited corridors of passage form a natural defensive barrier to a military advance northward. The towns of Taech'on, Unsan, and Onjong stand at the entrances to these mountain corridors. There, the logical implications of the terrain were soon to be translated by an enemy into harsh and unwonted military reality.

The Eighth Army operation above the Ch'ongch'on began essentially as a continuation of the pursuit that had started with the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter; the U.S. I Corps was on the left, the ROK II Corps on the right. Within Milburn's I Corps, the 24th Division (British 27th Brigade attached) was on the left, the ROK 1st Division on the right. The U.N. Command expected little organized opposition from the enemy and emphasized a speedy advance to the northern border. Several columns were to strike out northward with little or no physical contact between them. The advance was not to be closely co-ordinated; each column was free to advance as fast and as far as possible without respect to gains made by others.

ROK Troops Reach the Yalu

As Eighth Army resumed its general advance toward the North Korean border, the ROK 6th Division of the ROK II Corps appeared to have the greatest success of any front-line U.N. division. (Map 22) Meeting virtually no opposition and traveling fast up the valley of the Ch'ongch'on, it reached Huich'on the night of 23 October. There it left the valley of the Ch'ongch'on and turned west, the 7th Regiment leading. Its advanced battalion marched northwest over a cart trail, but the remainder of the regiment had to turn west from Huich'on on a road to Onjong. The night of 24-25 October, the 7th Regiment passed through Onjong, then turned north and joined its advanced battalion. [15] Finding the road clear, it headed north for its objective, the town of Ch'osan, fifty air miles away on the Yalu. Late in the afternoon the regiment stopped at Kojang, a sizable town eighteen air miles south of Ch'osan, and bivouacked there for the night.

The next morning, 26 October, Maj. Harry Fleming, KMAG adviser with the ROK 7th Regiment, accompanied the Reconnaissance Platoon, reinforced, into Ch'osan. The remainder of the regiment stayed at its overnight position. In Ch'osan the Reconnaissance Platoon found North Koreans retreating into Manchuria across a narrow floating footbridge that spanned the Yalu. Fleming and the ROK officers directed the setting up of machine guns to halt this foot traffic into Manchuria, but so placed the weapons that the impact area of their fire would not be in China across the river. After a thorough reconnaissance of the town, Fleming and the main body of the Reconnaissance Platoon returned to the regimental position. They left a small party in Ch'osan because the next morning the main force of the ROK 7th


[15] Interv, author with Gramling, 17 Feb 54; Ltrs, Fleming to author, 9 

and 18 Mar 54: EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 23-24 Oct 50. 


Regiment was to come into the town. [16] The Reconnaissance Platoon from the 7th Regiment, ROK 6th Division, was the first U.N. unit to reach the northern border of North Korea, and, as events turned out, it was the only element operating under Eighth Army command ever to get there during the war.

Following behind the 6th Division, the ROK 8th Division had reached the valley of the Ch'ongch'on at Kujang-dong the night of 25-26 October, marching from Sunch'on through Tokch'on. On the 29th, the day the advanced elements of the 6th Division reached the Yalu, the 8th turned up the Ch'ongch'on Valley toward Huich'on for the purpose of joining the 6th Division.

Chinese Strike the ROK II Corps

The day before, on 25 October, the 3d Battalion, 2d Regiment, ROK 6th Division, had started northwest from the little crossroads village of Onjong, ten air miles northeast of Unsan, headed for Pukchin. There the 2d Regiment expected to turn north to Pyoktong on the Yalu. Eight miles west of Onjong the 3d Battalion came under enemy fire. The troops dismounted from their vehicles to disperse what they thought was a small force of North Koreans. But the roadblock turned out to be a Chinese trap. In the action that followed the Chinese destroyed the battalion as an organized force. Approximately 400 of 750 ROK's in the battalion escaped, however, and in the afternoon infiltrated back to Onjong. Among those captured in this action was Lt. Glen C. Jones, KMAG adviser to the battalion, who later died in a prison camp. [17]

Meanwhile, back at Onjong the 2d Battalion of the ROK 2d Regiment learned that the 3d Battalion had become heavily engaged, and moved out to support it. On the way, members of the battalion saw enemy troops moving about on the hills to the north. Patrols sent out to investigate came back with a Chinese prisoner. He said that Chinese forces had been waiting in the mountains around Pukchin since 17 October. Another Chinese soldier, badly wounded, was captured on the road ahead. That evening Chinese troops cut off the 2d Battalion from Onjong, but it escaped southward cross-country and succeeded in rejoining the 1st Battalion and regimental headquarters in the town.

At 0330 that night, the Chinese attacked Onjong. The ROK troops there broke in panic, but officers succeeded in stopping them at the southeast edge of town. When the Chinese penetrated this position at 0600 the ROK's started withdrawing eastward. They had gone only three miles when they came to a roadblock-the Chinese had cut them off. At this time not a single company of the ROK 2d Regiment was intact. The ROK's now scattered into the hills. Maj. Roy M. Gramling, KMAG adviser to


[16] This account of the ROK's at Ch'osan is based largely on Ltrs, 

Fleming to author 9 and 18 Mar 54: also Interv author with Lt Col 

Willard G. Pearson, 1 Aug 51; EUSAK POR 319, 26 Oct 50: EUSAK WD, Br for

CG, 26 Oct 50.

[17] Interv author with Gramling, 17 Feb 54; EUSAK POR 319, 26 Oct 50. 

Unless otherwise noted the Onjong narrative is based on the authors 

interview with Gramling. Army records have only a few fragmentary 

references to the ROK II corps action at Onjong. 


the regiment, and another KMAG officer escaped to Huich'on, but a third, Capt. Paul V. S. Liles, fell captive to the Chinese. That the 2d Regiment apparently did little determined fighting in its first encounter with the Chinese is indicated by the fact that about 2,700 men out of approximately 3,100 in the regiment eventually escaped to the Ch'ongch'on.

When the ROK 2d Regiment came under Chinese attack at Onjong, the 19th Regiment, except for one battalion, was in Huich'on. The 10th Regiment of the ROK 8th Division also was there. Maj. Gen. Yu Jae Hung, commanding the ROK II Corps, ordered these troops, less the 1st Battalion, 10th Regiment, which was to remain in Huich'on, to attack west in an attempt to recover the abandoned vehicles and artillery pieces of the 2d Regiment. These two regiments reached a point on 28 October from which advanced units could look down on Onjong and see some of the abandoned equipment, but they never got any farther. The next day these two regiments suffered the same fate that had overtaken the 2d Regiment. Heavily defeated, they lost their vehicles and three batteries of artillery-all they had. [18]

These startling developments in the Onjong area cut off the 7th Regiment of the ROK 6th Division to the north. At its headquarters at Kojang on the evening of the 26th, the regiment was making plans to occupy Ch'osan on the Yalu in the morning when it received a radio message from the ROK 6th Division. This message said that the 2d Regiment had been defeated and scattered, and ordered it, the 7th Regiment, to start south to rejoin the division. Major Fleming replied by radio that the regiment could not move unless it was resupplied with gasoline, food, and ammunition. An airdrop of supplies was successfully accomplished two days later at 1100.

The following morning, 29 October, the ROK 7th Regiment started south. Before noon, when approximately twenty miles south of Kojang, it ran into an enemy roadblock. In a very short time the entire regiment was committed against an enemy force. The tactical air control party called in strong air support and, according to Major Fleming, "with the tremendous help of the close air support we received, we were able to hold our own during the daylight hours, but after night fell and without the support of the fighter planes we could not hold the enemy off." [19]

During the night large numbers of ROK soldiers scattered into the hills in an effort to make their way south; some, however, stayed in position to the end. By daylight resistance had ended. It appears probable, from a hand-drawn operations map of the 373d Regiment, CCF 125th Division, captured in March 195l, that one battalion of this regiment set the trap and fought the action that destroyed the ROK 7th Regiment. Major Fleming, wounded in fifteen places and the only American to survive the battle, was captured at 0630 by the Chinese. Almost three years later Major Fleming returned to the United States in the pris-


[18] Interv, author with Gramling, 17 Feb 54; EUSAK WD, 28 Oct 50, Memo 

to CofS, G-2, et al., from Acting CofS, G-3 (Rpt of Lt Col F. J. Lagasse

after visiting Hq ROK II Corps); Ibid., 29 Oct 50. 

[19] Ltrs, Fleming to author, 9 and 18 Mar 54; EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 28 

Oct 50; Lagasse Rpt, cited n. 17. 


oner exchange in the fall of 1953. [20]

Eventually, about 875 officers and men of the 3,552 in the regiment escaped to Kunu-ri and rejoined the 6th Division. Col. Lim Bu Taik, the regimental commander, and two of his battalion commanders escaped, but the other principal regimental staff officers and the KMAG advisers were either killed or captured. [21]

The collapse of the ROK II Corps on the right of Eighth Army and the frightening, but confused, reports of Chinese troops in the action caused Eighth Army on 29 October to order the ROK 7th Division released from U.S. I Corps' control to revert to the ROK II Corps. It ordered the ROK II Corps to place the 8th Division in a defensive position north of the Ch'ongch'on, extending from Yongbyon eastward to the river at Kujang-dong, and then for the 7th Division to extend the line south toward Tokch'on. [22]

By 31 October Chinese forces were pressing against the ROK II Corps defensive line north and east of Kunu-ri. That morning they broke through the 16th Regiment of the 8th Division, near its boundary with the ROK 1st Division, causing one battalion to scatter.

On the south side of the Ch'ongch'on, Chinese forces by 1 November had pushed the ROK 7th Division back to the vicinity of Won-nil The ROK II Corps of necessity by this time had pivoted to face generally east. This resulted in a gap between its left flank and Eighth Army. The U.S. 2d Division, attached by Eighth Army to I Corps, was assembled hurriedly in the vicinity of Sunch'on to meet a possible emergency in this gap. [23]

Thus matters stood on 1 November. Within a few days after its first action on 25 October, the CCF had driven back the ROK II Corps, crippling it disastrously, and was south of the Ch'ongch'on on the open right flank of Eighth Army. And disaster was also threatening in the center of the Eighth Army front at Unsan.


In its part of the general advance, the ROK 1st Division on 25 October was strung out on the road running from the Ch'ongch'on River to Unsan. Its 15th Regiment passed through Yongbyon and continued on without opposition toward Unsan, fifteen air miles northward. Elements of D Company, 6th Medium Tank Battalion, led the way and passed through Unsan. A mile and a half northeast of the town, just before 1100, enemy mortar fire suddenly interdicted a bridge as the American tanks were approaching it. ROK troops deployed and engaged the enemy force. Half an hour later they reported 300 Chinese troops in the hills just north of Unsan. A little later they captured the first Chinese soldier taken prisoner by U.N. forces in the Korean War. American tank crewmen at the


[20] Ltrs, Fleming to author. 9 and 18 Mar 54; EUSAK WD. G-3 Jnl, Msg 

0130 30 Oct 50; Interv, author with Gramling, 17 Feb 54; ATIS Enemy 

Documents, Korean Operations, Issue 42 (11 Jun 51), item 52, opposite p. 


[21] Interv, author with Lt Col Thomas E. Bennett (KMAG adviser to ROK 

7th Regt in early Nov 50), 11 Dec 53: Paik Sun Yup, MS review comments, 

11 Jul 58.


[22] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 29 Oct 50; US I Corps WD, Oct 50, p. 45. 

[23] EUSAK PIR 111, 31 Oct 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 31 Oct and 1 Nov 



interdicted bridge learned at 1144 of the captured Chinese. The prisoner said there were 10,000 Chinese Communist troops in the hills north and northwest of Unsan and another 10,000 eastward toward Huich'on. [24]

During the afternoon the fighting north of town gradually intensified and just after 1400 the ROK troops in contact with the Chinese estimated them to be two reinforced companies. The TACP controller, who had been pinned down by enemy fire for more than an hour, finally established radio communication with the Mosquito plane overhead and informed its pilot of the Chinese prisoner and his story that 10,000 to 20,000 Chinese soldiers were in the vicinity of Unsan. The pilot related the alarming story at Eighth Army headquarters. That evening I Corps headquarters received a message from a G-2 liaison officer with the ROK 1st Division reporting the capture of the Chinese prisoner. Special arrangements were made to take the captive to the Eighth Army advance command post at P'yongyang for interrogation. The prisoner was interrogated there the next morning. There could be no doubt that he was Chinese. By midafternoon three more Chinese were brought into P'yongyang. They, too, looked Chinese, spoke Chinese, and understood neither Korean nor Japanese. [25]

The ROK 12th Regiment, second in the division column, turned west when it arrived at Unsan. Just beyond the town it, too, found Chinese troops blocking the way. The ROK 11th Regiment, bringing up the division rear, halted for the night a few miles below Unsan. The report spread rapidly among the ROK's during the afternoon that the enemy troops on their front were Chinese. [26]

Ironically, that same afternoon, 25 October, the U.S. I Corps headquarters at 1600 published its order directing its forces to go all the way to the Yalu. For its part, the ROK 1st Division was "to continue the destruction of North Korean forces." [27]

The 25th of October had been a cold day and carried promise of the bitter North Korean winter that lay ahead. All night the fight above Unsan continued with the sound of small arms and machine guns and the booming of supporting 155-mm. howitzers echoing through the darkness. A small flurry of snow fell early in the morning, the first snow of the winter for these troops. But it was a minor worry compared to the startling fact that during the night enemy forces had nearly surrounded Unsan. Morning brought more information that the forces were Chinese. One report told of thirty-three Chinese dead found north of the town.

Northeast of Unsan, ROK infantry of the 15th Regiment during the morning of the 26th fell back under enemy attack. At 1030 Lt. Col. John S. Growden, commanding the 6th Medium Tank Battalion, thinking that his tanks holding the road northeast of Unsan were in danger of being overrun, ordered D Company to fall back to high ground south-


[24] I Corps WD, 25 Oct 50; I Corps Intel Summ 122, 25 Oct 50; I Corps 

PIR 40, 25 Oct 50: 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 25 Oct 50. 

[25] 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 25 Oct 50: EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, Msg at 1715 25 Oct 

50: Ltr, Col Percy W. Thompson (G-2, I Corps Oct 50) to author, 9 Apr 

54; Collier, MS review comments, 10 Mar 58. 

[26] EUSAK POR 316, 25 Oct 50.

[27] I Corps Opn Dir 14, 251600 Oct 50.


east of the town. West of Unsan the ROK 12th Regiment held fast. The 11th Regiment moved up to join the 12th Regiment in the battle, but almost at once had to move back south of Unsan to combat an enemy force that cut the main supply road there in an envelopment from the west. Instead of driving off this enemy roadblock force, the 11th Regiment itself was pushed north to the edge of Unsan. An entry in the supporting U.S. 10th Antiaircraft Artillery Group War Diary at this time states, "Due to the seriousness of the situation around Unsan, the Group was prepared to move out on a moment's notice." The ROK's estimated that a full enemy division confronted them. [28]

The reaction of Eighth Army intelligence to this development was that the Chinese troops in the Onjong and Unsan areas indicated "some further reinforcement of North Korean units with personnel taken from the Chinese Communist Forces, in order to assist in the defense of the border approaches." The estimate stated there were "no indications of open intervention on the part of Chinese Communist Forces in Korea." [29]

On the 27th the situation at Unsan improved somewhat. An airdrop shortly after 1100 by ten C-119 planes flying from Ashiya Air Base eased the critical supply situation within the ROK 1st Division, the two supporting tank companies of the 6th Tank Battalion, and the 10th AAA Group. Freshly supplied with ammunition, the ROK 15th and 12th Regiments attacked and made slight gains north and west of the town. To the south of the town two battalions of the 11th Regiment cleared the road, and in the late afternoon reported the enemy there had withdrawn to the northwest. In these attacks the ROK's found the Chinese well dug-in, exceptionally well camouflaged, and very hard to locate.

When the ROK 1st Division first encountered the Chinese above Unsan on 25 October, General Paik, the division commander, was at P'yongyang attending a celebration. He had by now returned to his command post at Yongbyon. Going forward to the scene of fighting, Paik examined enemy dead. He said they were all Chinese. Paik had served with the Japanese Manchurian Army in World War II and he knew the Chinese well. He estimated there was a Chinese division of 10,000 soldiers-a solid organization and not just Chinese mixed with North Koreans-in front of him. He told General Milburn, the I Corps commander, there were "many, many Chinese." [30]

On the 28th the fighting at Unsan quieted down, although the ROK's captured two more Chinese prisoners. They repeated the same story told by previous


[28] 10th AAA WD, 25-31 Oct 50; U.S. units supporting the ROK 1st 

Division at this time were the 17th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm.), 

10th Antiaircraft Artillery Group (included 155-mm. howitzers and 90-mm. 

guns), and two companies of the 6th Medium Tank Battalion. EUSAK WD, Br 

for CG, 26-27 Oct 50; EUSAK PIR 106, 26 Oct 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, Msgs at 1340, 1530, 1700, and 2115, 26 Oct, and Jnl, 27 Oct 50; I Corps WD, 

26 Oct 50; 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 26 27 Oct 50; Arty Rpt 12, 27 Oct 50. 

[29] I Corps Opn Dir 15, 26 Oct 50; EUSAK PIR 6, 26 Oct 50. 

[30] Interv, author with Col William H. Hennig (CO, 10th AAA Croup, Oct 

50), 23 Mar 54 Interv, author with Milburn, 4 Jan 52; I Corps WD, 27 Oct 

50: New York Times, October 27, 1950.


[Caption] SUPPLY BY AIR to the ROK 1st Division in the Unsan area.

prisoners-that they were members of large Chinese organizations that had entered the war.

General Walker and the Eighth Army staff at P'yongyang had, of course, followed closely the many reports that came in concerning the puzzling and disturbing news from north of the Ch'ongch'on, particularly the information given by the first prisoners alleged by the ROK's to be Chinese. But, as would be natural in such a newly developing situation, the intelligence officials did not accept at face value all the information the prisoners related about the Chinese troop organizations they said were in Korea. As the extent of reverses north of the Ch'ongch'on mounted quickly within a day or two, General Walker and his staff, however, were forced to question the correctness of their initial reaction that the Chinese troops there represented only reinforcement of North Korean units.

By the morning of 28 October General Walker had become sufficiently concerned over events to order the 1st Cavalry Division relieved of its security mission at P'yongyang and to move north, pass through the ROK 1st Division at Unsan, and attack to the Yalu. General Gay ordered the 8th Cavalry Regiment to begin the division movement. It departed P'yongyang the next morning,


29 October. During the day it crossed the Ch'ongch'on at Anju and went into an assembly area at Yongsan-dong that evening. [31]

The ROK attack that began at first light on the morning of 29 October quickly developed into a stubborn fight against dug-in enemy using mortars, automatic weapons, and small arms. Even with the help of the artillery barrages and Fifth Air Force strafing attacks, the ROK's could not dislodge the Chinese.

Because Chinese forces had engulfed the ROK II Corps to the east in the Onjong and Huich'on areas, the ROK 1st Division now constituted a northern salient in the U.N. line. On its left there was a gap of fifteen air miles between it and elements of the U.S. 24th Division, the nearest Eighth Army unit on the west.

The next morning Lt. Col. Harold K. Johnson's 5th Cavalry Regiment arrived at Yongsan-dong. Johnson's mission was to protect the rear of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, which that morning had continued on north to Unsan where it was to relieve part of the ROK 1st Division. The 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, under Maj. John Millikin, Jr., arrived at Unsan that afternoon, 30 October. In conferring with KMAG officers attached to the ROK 12th Regiment, Millikin and his company commanders learned that the ROK line, about 8,000 yards north of Unsan, was under attack and being pushed back. [32]

On 31 October, the 2d and 3d Battalions, 8th Cavalry, relieved the ROK 12th Regiment. But on the right an enemy attack during the night had driven back the ROK 2d Battalion more than a mile. Its commander wanted his troops to regain the lost ground before they were relieved. Millikin's 1st Battalion, however, moved into a defensive position behind this part of the ROK line north of Unsan. That afternoon, General Milburn, U.S. I Corps commander, visited the 8th Cavalry regimental command post and was told everything was all right.

On the morning of 1 November the ROK's tried to regain their lost ground. Though assisted by elements of the 6th Tank Battalion they made only a slight gain. In this situation, elements of B Company of Millikin's battalion and an attached platoon of tanks from B Company, 70th Tank Battalion, attacked north along the west bank of the Samt'an River. In this fight tank fire greatly assisted the ROK's, but three of the tanks were damaged. By noon the 2d Battalion of the ROK 12th Regiment had regained something more than half a mile of ground. But it seemed that it would make no further gain as heavy enemy 120-mm. mortar fire started falling, forcing the tanks to withdraw. Eastward across the river, at a distance of about two miles, the ROK 15th Regiment could be seen under very heavy attack.

The ROK 2d Battalion commander gave notice in the afternoon that if he was not relieved by 1600 his battalion would leave its position anyway. Apparently Col. Raymond D. Palmer, the 8th Cavalry commander, refused to effect the relief of the ROK battalion while heavy


[31] I Corps WD, 28 Oct 50; EUSAK POR 325, 28 Oct 50; Ltr, Gay to 

author, 19 Feb 54. 

[32] Ltr, Gay to author, 19 Feb 54; Ltr, Millikin (CO, 1st Bn, 8th Cav 

Regt, Oct 50) to author, 6 May 54; I Corps WD, 29-30 Oct 50: EUSAK WD, 

Br for CG, 29 Oct 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 30 Oct 50: 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 30 

Oct 50; 8th Cav Regt Unit Jnl, entry at 301915 Oct 50.


fighting was in progress. The 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, actually relieved the ROK's north of Unsan at 1600 when the latter fell back through its lines, thus requiring Millikin's men to hold where they were. Watching the action across the river in the area held by the ROK 1 5th Regiment, while this change was taking place in his own front, Colonel Millikin saw through his field glasses that the hillside seemed alive as waves of enemy troops moved along the ridge leading into the ROK lines. [33]

The positions held in the late afternoon of 1 November by the 8th Cavalry were anchored on the right, about a mile northwest of Unsan, on the road below the village of Maebong-dong near the west bank of the Samt'an River. The line extended from there in an arc southwest across the mountain to a point three miles west of Unsan. There it crossed the east-west road out of Unsan and curved southeast to strike the main supply road, the Yongsan-dong and Yongbyon road, about three miles below Unsan. The 1st, 2d, and 3d Battalions were on this line in that order from east to west and southeast. This semicircle had a radius of about three miles from Unsan at the center, except on the north where the 1st Battalion was only a mile distant from the town. The 8th Cavalry regimental command post was on the main supply road south of Unsan between the town and the 3d Battalion command post. The day before, General Gay had established the 1st Cavalry Division command post at Yongsan-dong, twelve miles to the south. [34]

The arrival of the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment at Unsan had set in motion a redeployment of the ROK 1st Division. Upon being relieved west of Unsan on 31 October, the ROK 11th Regiment had shifted southeast to establish contact with the ROK 8th Division on the corps boundary. The ROK 12th Regiment moved to a rest and reserve assembly area at Ipsok south of the Kuryong River, six air miles from Unsan. Still engaged in the battle at Unsan, the ROK 15th Regiment was desperately trying to hold its position across the Samt'an River east of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. In short, the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment was to the north, west, and south of Unsan; the ROK 1st Division to the northeast, east, and southeast of it.

On the morning of 1 November, pursuant to I Corps and division orders, Colonel Johnson, the 5th Cavalry regimental commander, made ready to move a battalion of the 5th Cavalry eastward to bolster the disintegrating ROK II Corps lines near the I Corps boundary. Johnson alerted the 3d Battalion to move at 1230. At noon, Lt. Col. Hallett D. Edson, the 8th Cavalry regimental executive officer, arrived at the 5th Cavalry command post from Unsan. He told Johnson that about halfway between the two regiments, near the Nammyon River where it flows into the Camel's Head Bend of the Kuryong, he had encountered a great number of Korean refugees. They told him that a large force of Chi


[33] Ltr, Millikin to author, 6 May 54; Interv, author with Hennig, 23 

Mar 54; 70th Tk Bn WD, 1 Nov 50, Msg file, 1210, 1435; 8th Cav Regt Jnl 

file, 31 Oct-1 Nov 50, and 8th Cav POR 181, Msgs 311730, 011413, 011645, 

31 Oct-1 Nov 50.


[34] Ltr, Millikin to author, 6 May 54 and attached sketch map; Ltr, Lt 

Col William Walton (CO, 2d Bn, 8th Cav, Nov 50) to author, 27 Aug 54 and 

attached sketch map; I Corps POR's 150 and 151, 1 Nov 50; 8th Cav Regt 

Unit Jnl, 011430 Nov 50.


nese was approaching behind them from the west. Since it was the 5th Cavalry's mission to protect the rear of the 8th Cavalry, Edson asked Johnson what he would do about the report. Johnson at once directed the 1st Battalion to send at least a platoon-sized patrol to investigate it. [35]

Johnson then departed with the 3d Battalion and placed it in a defensive position six miles northeast of Yongbyon on a low line of hills astride the Yongbyon-Kujang-dong road, facing east. This accomplished, he and the battalion commander proceeded on eastward some miles until they encountered a mass of retreating troops of the ROK II Corps. Johnson said of them: "They were a solid mass of soldiers on the road-indifferent to vehicles moving, indifferent to all that was around them. They were a thoroughly defeated outfit at this particular time." Johnson had served in the Philippines during the fall of Bataan in World War II and he likened the appearance and behavior of these ROK's to what he had seen on Bataan just before the American surrender there. [36]

Johnson turned back, passed through the picturesque walled city of Yongbyon, and that evening, shortly after dark, arrived at his command post at Yongsan-dong. There he learned that the 1st Battalion patrol in the early afternoon had found Chinese soldiers astride the road opposite the Turtle Head Bend of the Kuryong River, four air miles south of the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, positions. During the afternoon two companies of the 1st Battalion had moved to the scene and were now engaged in battle there with a large enemy force.

On the West Coastal Road

Westward in the coastal area, the pursuit seemed to be going forward with success. On the evening of 25 October the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade crossed the Taeryong River at and near Pakch'on. On the west side it met enemy opposition. On the 27th the Middlesex 1st Battalion led the brigade attack, and three miles west of the river engaged an enemy force in a severe battle. In the course of it, air strikes and artillery preparations helped the infantry by knocking out ten North Korean T34 tanks and two self-propelled guns. After this battle, Brigadier Coad was convinced that the days of "rolling" were over, and he adopted a brigade formation better suited to heavy combat. On the 28th, after a 15-mile advance, the brigade stopped three miles from Ch'ongju. [37]

The next morning, 29 October, the Australian 3d Battalion attacked toward Ch'ongju. Aerial observers reported at least four enemy tanks with infantry on the ridge overlooking the road at the pass. In strikes against these positions with napalm and rockets, the Air Force destroyed four tanks. The Australian attack then gained the pass and the adjacent ridge lines. That evening the North Koreans attacked the Australians there in the two hours preceding midnight,


[35] Interv, author with Col Harold K. Johnson, 28 Apr 54; Johnson, MS 

review comments, recd Aug 54. 

[36] Ibid.; Ltr, Millikin to author, 6 May 54. 

[37] 27th British Commonwealth Brig Sitrep, 24-28 Oct 50; 24th Div WD, 

26-28 Oct 50: EUSAK POR 316, 25 Oct 50; Bartlett With the Australians in 

Korea, pp. 32-34. 


employing self-propelled gun and tank support. Australian bazooka teams destroyed three enemy T34's. Supporting American tank fire helped repel the attack. The Australians lost nine killed and thirty wounded in the battle before Ch'ongju. The next morning the Argylls entered Ch'ongju.

That evening, 30 October, North Korean high velocity shells landed in the vicinity of the town, six of them in the headquarters area of the Australian 3d Battalion. One of the six shells cleared a crest, hit a tree, and exploded outside Colonel Green's tent. Colonel Green was asleep inside on a stretcher. Strangely enough, although there were numerous soldiers in the area at the time, no one was injured except Colonel Green, who was struck in the stomach by a shell fragment. The seriously wounded officer was taken to the surgical hospital at Anju. There three days later the much admired Lt. Col. Charles H. Green, the Australian 3d Battalion commander, died. Lt. Col. I. B. Ferguson succeeded him in command of the battalion. The same night that North Korean fire struck down Colonel Green, similar artillery or tank fire killed Major Reith of the 27th Brigade.

Brigadier Coad on the 30th asked General Church, commanding the 24th Division, to pass a regiment through his British troops at Ch'ongju because they were very tired. Acceding at once, Church ordered the 21st Infantry Regiment to lead the advance.

At dark that evening, Lt. Col. Gines Perez' 2d Battalion, 21st Infantry, passed through the British lines and headed north past the burning houses of Ch'ongju. The moon was up and the silvery light promised to aid the night attack. Beyond Ch'ongju the men could hear the rumble of withdrawing North Korean tanks. At 0200 on high ground two and a half miles west of the village of Kwaksan seven enemy tanks and about 500 North Korean infantry troops tried to ambush the battalion column. The nearest enemy tank opened fire with its cannon at 300 yards' range. Other enemy tanks joined the fire, their shells looking like big orange balls as they came streaking down the road. Several of them hit American tanks, but all bounced off. These tanks returned fire at the enemy gun flashes. Colonel Stephens, the regimental commander, and Colonel Perez, the battalion commander, from their radio jeeps directed the battle that was now joined. By dawn the North Koreans abandoned their position, leaving behind fifty dead, 5 knocked-out tanks, 1 self-propelled gun, and 7 antitank guns. After daylight an air attack destroyed 2 more enemy tanks, and the infantry captured 2 on flatcars. [38]

After this night of battle, the regiment encountered only light resistance. Its advanced troops, Lt. Col. Charles B. Smith's 1st Battalion, by noon of 1 November reached the outskirts of Chonggo-dong, eighteen air miles from Sinuiju and the Yalu River.

There, acting on orders from the 24th Division, Colonel Stephens ordered the battalion to halt, consolidate its position and be prepared to defend in depth. The order from the 24th Division for the


[38] Interv, author with Col Gines Perez, 6 Aug 51; Interv, author with 

Maj Charles R. Alkire (S-2, 21st Inf Regt), 6 Aug 51; 24th Div WD, 29-31 

Oct 50; 21st Inf Unit Rpt 115, 31 Oct 50. Eighth Army General Order 244, 

26 April 1951, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel 



regiment to halt, which in turn had come from I Corps, hit the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, "like a bolt out of the blue." [39]

At midafternoon seven enemy tanks and an estimated 500 infantry attacked the 1st Battalion at Chonggo-dong. Capt. Jack G. Moss, commanding A Company, 6th Medium Tank Battalion, led his tanks out to meet the enemy armor. In a blazing tank battle that lasted half an hour, they destroyed it. Two of the American tanks were slightly damaged. The fire of infantry, tanks, and artillery turned back the North Korean infantry and inflicted on it an estimated 100 casualties. [40]

This was the northernmost action fought by a unit of the United States Eighth Army in the Korean War. By a strange coincidence, the infantry element engaged was Colonel Smith's 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry, part of which had fought the first American ground battle near Osan nearly four months earlier. In a geographical sense at least, the action near Chonggo-dong on the afternoon of 1 November was the high-water mark of Eighth Army's effort to reach the Manchurian border and consolidate all of Korea for a unified government.

Advancing behind the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, the 5th Regiment had been the first unit of the 24th Division to cross the Ch'ongch'on River. It continued on and crossed the Taeryong River above Pakch'on on 28 October. From there it marched northward on the right of the British troops toward Taech'on. On the 29th in a heavy battle it and supporting air units destroyed nine enemy tanks and four self-propelled guns. The 5th Regimental Combat Team then entered Taech'on. Two of 89 prisoners taken were Chinese, the first captured by American troops in the Korean War. They turned out to be deserters or stragglers from their units. There were no CCF units in contact with the 5th Regimental Combat Team at Taech'on. [41]

From Taech'on, Colonel Throckmorton's 5th RCT turned northwest toward Kusong. An enemy force estimated to number 5,000 to 6,000 men, supported by tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery, and mortars stubbornly opposed the advance. But the 5th RCT, strongly supported by tactical air, captured Kusong just after noon on the 31st. The regimental attack the next day secured the road junction a few miles north of Kusong. In this action the regiment killed an estimated 300 to 400 enemy soldiers, and destroyed 2 self-propelled guns, 8 76-mm. howitzers, 8 mortars, 6 antitank guns, and 5 machine guns. Advanced elements of the 5th RCT were about ten miles north of Kusong at midday when a liaison plane came over and dropped a message, as it had to the 21st Infantry along the coastal road. This ordered the regiment to stop and hold in place. [42]


[39] 21st Inf WD, 1 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 1 Nov 50; 24th Div WD, 1 

Nov 50. 

[40] 21st Inf Unit Rpt 116, 31 Oct-1 Nov 50: Interv, author with Lt Col 

Charles B. Smith, 6 Nov 51; Armor (May-June, 1951), article by 1st Lt. 

Robert D. Wilcox (tk plat ldr in the action), p. 28. 

[41] Interv, author with Col John L. Throckmorton, 16 Apr 54; Ltr, 

Thompson to author, 9 Apr 54. 

[42] 24th Div WD, 30 Oct-2 Nov 50: EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 30 Oct 50: 

Interv, author with Maj Gen Garrison H. Davidson, 28 Jan 54. 


The uncertainty of the 21st and 5th Regiments during the afternoon and evening of 1 November over their future courses of action was resolved an hour before midnight when the 24th Division ordered them to withdraw toward the Ch'ongchon. [43] Mystified and disappointed, the men of the two regimental combat teams traveled back toward the Ch'ongch'on the night of 1-2 November. They were to learn later that the explanation for this, to them, puzzling development lay in events that had taken place in the east. The day before, 31 October, General Walker verbally had ordered General Milburn to limit the 24th Division attack in keeping with the situation in the Unsan area. There lay the controlling events.

The X Corps' Changing Mission

Contemporary events unfolding at the X Corps front in northeast Korea complete the view of the whole situation at the time the Chinese were first appearing in the suddenly changed picture of the almost ended war. As late as 16 October General Almond had received orders from General MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo that, upon landing, X Corps would attack west along the Wonsan-P'yongyang axis. But the next day he received an alert order from General MacArthur stating that if Eighth Army had captured P'yongyang before X Corps landed, the corps would advance north instead of west. On the 18th came an alternate order from MacArthur which provided that, if P'yongyang was captured before D-day, X Corps would advance north in a zone parallel to Eighth Army, with the watershed of the Taebaek Range as the boundary between the two forces. The next day, 19 October, X Corps received the final and definite order to advance north. [44]

On 20 October General Almond flew from the USS Missouri by helicopter to the Wonsan Airfield. At noon he assumed command of troops in the X Corps area north of latitude 39° 10' north and east of the Taebaek Range. The X Corps command post was now officially in Wonsan. By the end of October, X Corps had teletype communications with Eighth Army and the 2d Logistical Command, and radio communications with GHQ in Tokyo. [45]

The troops which General Almond found in his corps area on 20 October consisted of his own small command group of approximately 10 officers and 30 men, ROK I Corps troops numbering more than 23,000 men, and the few hundred troops of the 1st Marine Air Wing already at the airfield. His own X Corps troops still afloat would bring the total to nearly 84,000 men. In addition, there was the U.S. 3d Division which he expected would soon join the corps. Of the approximately 84,000 men then in the corps, more than a third-32,000-were South Korean soldiers. The major tactical organizations were the U.S. 1st Marine and 7th Infantry Divisions, and the 31 and Capital Divisions of ROK I


[43] 24th Div WD, 1-2 Nov 50; 21st Inf Unit Jnl, Msg 31, 012211 and Msg 

35, 012300 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 31 Oct 50. 

[44] X Corps WD, Oct 50 Summ, p. 3; Ibid., Opns, p. 19, citing CINCUNC 

Msg CX66705, 17 Oct 50, and CINCUNC Msg CX66739, 19 Oct 50; Ibid., 

Diary, CG X Corps, 16 and 18 Oct 50. 

[45] X Corps WD, Summ and Diary, CG X Corps, 20 Oct 50: Ibid., Oct 50

Summ, Sig Sec, pp. 29-30. 


Corps. [46] The only known organized enemy groups in the X Corps area at this time were north and northeast of Hungnam.

Rough terrain characterized the area in northeast Korea assigned to the X Corps. (See Map 21.) Even the coastal plain hardly deserved that name; the only level or semi-level land there consisted of isolated pockets extending inland generally for a distance of from three to five miles. These were separated from each other by hill spurs that came down to the sea. The Wonsan-Hamhung pocket is by far the largest of these northeast coast semi-level areas. Wonsan and Hamhung, and the latter's port of Hungnam, were the largest centers of population in the X Corps zone of operation. Wonsan in 1949 had a population of 150,000, but it had fallen to an estimated 90,000 in October 1950. Hamhung's population in October 1950 was placed at 80,000, at least 40 percent of it Communist or Communist-inclined. Chemical, dye, medical, gunpowder, and fertilizer plants in the Hungnam-Hamhung area made it the outstanding industrial area of Korea. At the ports of Wonsan and Hungnam ice is unusual, and when it occurs it is so thin as to be unimportant.

Back of the coastal strip lies the northern Taebaek Range with its steep slopes and narrow, twisting valleys. The peaks in the highest parts of the range reach an altitude of 6,000 feet or more. In the interior part of the northern Taebaeks the winter temperatures often reach 20° to 30° below zero. Snow in October and November is normally infrequent, and in December not usually heavy enough to form deep, permanent drifts. But rivers in the Taebaek Range usually freeze over by mid-December. Beginning forty air miles northward from Hamhung and extending another forty miles north in the heart of the Taebaek Range lies the Changjin Reservoir. Fifteen air miles east of it lies the smaller Pujon (Fusen) [47] Reservoir.

The principal road north from the Wonsan-Hamhung plain climbs the Taebaek Range to the Kot'o-ri plateau and then continues on to Hagaru-ri at the southern end of the Changjin Reservoir. From the Hamhung area a second important road, the east coast road, curves northeast toward the border of the Soviet Union. Inland from this coastal road the communication routes were poor-in places scarcely more than mountain trails.

Almond's general plan of deployment in this mountainous waste of northeast Korea was for the ROK I Corps to advance to the northeast border along the coastal and adjacent roads; the U.S. 7th Infantry Division, southwest of the ROK's, to advance to the northern border over the Iwon-Pukch'ong-Hyesanjin corridor; southwest of the 7th Division,


[46] X Corps POR 24, 20 Oct 50. The actual strengths of the various 

organizations were as follows: 
X Corps U.S. ROK
Total 51,489 33,692
Hq and Hq and Service Group 3,870 80
X Corps Combat Troops 1,479  
1st Marine Div 24,031  
Army Attached Marine Div 93  
Engr Special Brig 1,393  
X Corps Tactical Air 1,786  
7th Div 18,837 7,804
1st and 5th ROK Marines   2,159
Hq and Hq Co, ROK I Corps   664
Capital Div (ROK)   11,626
3d Div (ROK)   11,359
[47] See p. 729, n. 1, below.  


the U.S. 1st Marine Division to advance northward from Hamhung to the Changjin Reservoir, with its specific route beyond that point dependent on tactical developments in its front; and the U.S. 3d Division, when it arrived, to secure the Wonsan-Hamhung area, keep open the corps lines of communication, and protect the corps rear and left flank from guerrilla interference. Until the 3d Division arrived, the 1st Marine Division would have the responsibility of securing the Wonsan-Hungnam area. Accordingly it would not be entirely free to concentrate for the advance northward. As General Almond himself said a little later of X Corps, "We are scattered all over the landscape." But, generally, the deployment was controlled by the road net of the area in which the corps was to operate. [48]

On 26 October General Almond issued orders for his plan of operation. In its zone, the 1st Marine Division was split into three regimental combat teams: (1) the 1st Marines to relieve ROK I Corps elements in the Kojo and Majonni areas south and west of Wonsan; (2) the 5th Marines to secure the Wonsan area, the Yonp'o Airfield south of Hungnam, and the X Corps west flank; and (3) the 7th Marines to relieve the ROK 3d Division along the Hamhung-Changjin Reservoir corridor, and to secure the power installations of the Changjin and Pujon Reservoirs. [49]

The CCF Block the Way to Changjin Reservoir

Acting upon its orders, the ROK I Corps had attacked north from the Hamhung area-the 3d Division north toward the Changjin Reservoir and the Capital Division northeast up the coastal road. The 26th Regiment led the advance for the ROK 3d Division. On the morning of 25 October two battalions of the regiment approached the first and second hydroelectric plants of the Changjin Reservoir area, about thirty road miles inland from Hungnam, and halfway to the reservoir itself. A message from Maj. Malcolm Smith, KMAG adviser with the regiment, to Colonel Emmerich that evening informed him that the regiment had captured a prisoner definitely identified as a Chinese soldier who said he belonged to the 5th Regiment of the Chinese 8th Army. This prisoner said there were 4,000 to 5,000 Chinese in the immediate vicinity.

During the next two days the ROK regiment moved ahead very slowly against increasing resistance. On the morning of 28 October the ROK's attacked in the vicinity of Sudong in what proved to be a very costly action, and suffered heavy casualties. ROK patrols to the Sinhung-ni and Koto-ri areas brought back news that they had seen at both places what they believed to be Chinese soldiers. That day two Chinese


[48] X Corps WD, 4 Nov 50, G-1 Rpt, Notes on Conference between CG X 

Corps and Partridge, 4 Nov 50; X Corps WD, 26 Oct 50; Ibid., Catalogue 

of Plans and Orders, p. 50, Opn Instr 13, 261000 Oct 50. 

     The corps boundary was changed slightly on 28 October to run from 

the Sea of Japan at the 38th Parallel to longitude 128° east, thence 

northwest to Poftong-ni, longitude 127° 5' east, latitude 38° 58' north, thence north to the 38th Parallel, thence west on that parallel to 

longitude 126° 45' east. See EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 28 Oct 50. 

[49] X Corps WD, Oct 50, Opns, p. 20; 1st Mar Div SAR, 8 Oct-13 Dec 50, an. C, pp. 9-10.


soldiers were captured one mile west of Sudong.

All day of the 29th small arms close combat continued in the large fields around the second hydroelectric plant. In the afternoon enemy 120-mm. fire increased. The ROK troops at the same time began to show signs of demoralization as their supply of grenades ran low. In the fighting on this day, the ROK's captured sixteen more Chinese soldiers and learned from them that the 370th Regiment, CCF 124th Division, 42d Army, XIII Army Group, blocked the way north, with the rest of the division nearby. North Korean tanks supported these Chinese. The Chinese division and regimental headquarters reportedly were at Hagaru-ri at the southern end of the Changjin Reservoir. On the 30th, after a heavy battle with the CCF, the ROK 26th Regiment withdrew a short distance to a stronger defensive position. [50]

The capture of the sixteen Chinese on the 29th was a considerable prize, and General Kim, the ROK I Corps commander, telephoned the news to General Almond. The next day, 30 October, General Almond went to the ROK I Corps command post at Hamhung and personally inspected the captives and interviewed them through an interpreter. The Chinese told him they had not eaten for three days. They said they had crossed the Yalu River at Manp'ojin on 16 October (later they said they had crossed on the 14th) and had marched from there on foot at night, their mortars being carried on packhorses and mules. Most of the sixteen soldiers were members of the Mortar Company, 370th Regiment. At the time of their capture they said three of their four mortars had been destroyed and the fourth had been withdrawn. The men were well-clothed, healthy, and averaged twenty-eight to thirty years in age. They asserted that their entire division had crossed into Korea and marched to the front. Most of the men in this division had been in Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army, stationed near Peiping, until about a year earlier, they said. Their division had surrendered there to the Communists and was immediately taken into the Red Army. General Almond at once sent a personal radio message to General MacArthur informing him of the presence of CCF units in northeast Korea and giving such details as he had learned in the course of his interview with the prisoners. [51]

The 370th Regiment apparently arrived at its positions near Sudong on 23 or 24 October and first encountered ROK troops on the 25th. Behind it came the other two regiments of the 124th Division, the 371st and 372d, one a few days behind the other. When General Almond visited General Kim again on 31 October, he learned that seven more CCF prisoners had been captured to make a total of twenty-five now in the X Corps zone. Some of them said a second CCF division was near the Changjin Reservoir. [52]


[50] X Corps WD, Oct 50, p. 15; X Corps PIR 33, 29 Oct, and 35, 31 Oct 

50; Emmerich, MS review comments, 30 Nov 57. 

[51] X Corps WD, Diary, CG X Corps, 30 Oct 50; Ibid., G-1 Rpt, Notes on 

Conference between CG X Corps and Partridge, 4 Nov 50: X Corps PIR 34, 

30 Oct 50; Interv, author with Almond, 1 Dec 5; Ltr, McCaffrey to 

Almond, 1 Dec 54, forwarded to author. 

[52] X Corps WD, Diary, CC X Corps, 31 Oct 50; Ibid., PIR 36, 1 Nov 50: 

ATIS Interrog Rpts (N.K. Forces), Issue 18, 2324, p. 57. 


A search of enemy dead showed they carried no official identification, although a few had written their names and units in ink on the left inside of their blouses. The officer's uniform differed from that of the rank and file only by a vertical red piping on trousers, on the left side of the jacket, around the collar, and a diagonal across the sleeve cuff. The uniforms were heavily quilted cotton, usually a mustard brown color, although some of the Chinese wore dark blue. The quilted uniform was warm until it became water-soaked; then it was difficult to dry. Underneath it the soldiers wore the summer uniform and any other clothing they owned. Their faceless shoes were of cloth, low-cut, rubber-soled, and worn with sets of cotton socks. Heavy cotton caps had ear flaps that gave neck protection. These soldiers were armed mostly with Japanese rifles confiscated in Manchuria at the end of World War II. The greater part of their mortars, machine guns, and Thompson submachine guns were American-made, having been captured from the Nationalists. Approximately 70 percent of the 124th Division had formerly been Nationalist soldiers in Chiang Kai-shek's army. Having left its artillery behind because of the mountains, the 124th Division in the battle below the reservoir used nothing larger than 82-mm. mortars. [53]

North Koreans as well as the newly arrived CCF fought in the Sudong area. On the 29th, for instance, in addition to the sixteen Chinese, the ROK 26th Regiment captured sixty North Korean prisoners. There, as in front of Eighth Army at the same time, the North Koreans fought delaying actions while they backed up to a point where they met the approaching Chinese or the latter lay in wait. It was perhaps a coincidence that the Chinese entered action on both fronts, first against ROK troops as it chanced, at almost the same moment. In both east and west that fateful day was 25 October.


[53] X Corps PIR 43, 8 Nov and 46, an. 2, 11 Nov 50; 1st Mar Div SAR, 

vol. I, pp. 15, 19, 20, 30, an. B, 6-8 Nov 50; SSgt Robert W. Tallent, 

"New Enemy," Leatherneck, vol. XXXIV, No. 2 (February 22, 1951), pp. 12-14. 

page updated 23 May 2001

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