North Korean Breakthrough in the South

Exact knowledge of the terrain regulates the dispositions of the troops and the order of battle.... Knowledge of the country is to a general what a rifle is to an infantryman and what the rules of arithmetic are to a geometrician.

FREDERICK THE GREAT, Instructions for His Generals

The dog days of August had given way to September. Casualties during the next two weeks were to be the greatest of the Korean War. To the men of Eighth Army, these were to be the worst of "the days along the Naktong." And, as if to envelop this deadly clash of arms with a misery of nature's own making, the elements brought to the battlefield blackened skies and torrential rains. It was the end of the summer monsoon season.

Aerial reconnaissance in the last week of August had disclosed to Eighth Army exceptional enemy activity behind the lines opposite the U.S. 2d and 25th Divisions in the southern part of the Pusan Perimeter. Ominously, the enemy had built three new underwater bridges across the Nam River in front of the 35th Infantry in the 25th Division sector. Aerial bombing only temporarily and partially destroyed these bridges, for they could be repaired overnight.

Eighth Army intelligence credited the North Koreans with having moved one or two new divisions and about twenty tanks to the Hyopch'on area on the west side of the Naktong River opposite the U.S. 2d Division. On 28 August the Eighth Army intelligence officer warned that a general attack "may be expected at any time along the 2d Division and 25th Division front," aimed at severing the Taegu-Pusan railroad and highway and capturing Masan. [1]

With this tense situation as the setting, the N.K. I Corps before midnight 31 August started its great offensive. As the final hours of August gave way to the first hours of September, North Korean soldiery crossed the lower Naktong at a number of points in a well-planned attack. From Hyongp'ung southward to the coast, in the zones of the U.S. 2d and 25th Divisions, the enemy's greatest effort struck in a single massive coordinated attack.

In the southern part of its sector, where the U.S. 25th Division held the U.N. line, the N.K. I Corps planned a crushing blow, co-ordinating it with an

[1] GHQ FEC Sitrep, 1 Sep 50; EUSAK PIR's 46-50, 27 Aug-1 Sep 50; EUSAK 
WD, entry for 30 Aug 50, and Aug 50 Summ; 25th Div WD, 28 Aug 50.


attack against the 2d Division just to the north. The North Korean 6th and 7th Divisions prepared for the breakthrough effort against the 25th Division after receiving their attack orders about 20 August. The operation order called for the N.K. I Corps to assault all along the line at 2200, 31 August. The 6th Division, farthest south on the enemy right flank, was to attack through Haman, Masan, and Chinhae and capture Kumhae. on the west side of the Naktong River delta fifteen miles from Pusan, by 3 September. The division zone of attack was to be south of the Chinju-Komam-ni (Saga)-Masan highway. The 7th Division, next in line north of the 6th Division, was to attack north of the Masan highway, wheel left to the Naktong, and wait for the 6th Division on its right and the 9th on its left to join it. Part of the 7th Division was concentrated in the Uiryong area west of the Nam River. This plan pitted the 6th Division against the 24th Infantry and the 7th Division against the 35th Infantry. [2]

On 24 August, Maj. Gen. Pang Ho San, commanding general of the N.K. 6th Division, much decorated for the exploits of his division thus far, issued an order calculated to improve troop morale. He said the mission of the division was "to liberate Masan and Pusan within a few days." He demanded stricter discipline and more perseverance than ever before, and stated that tactics must adjust to the changes "this epoch-making conflict has introduced into the art of warfare." He summed up the battle lessons:

Our experience in night combat up to now shows that we can operate only four or five hours in the dark since we start night attacks between 2300 and 2400 hours, and, therefore, if the battle continues until dawn, we are likely to suffer losses. From now on, use daylight hours for full combat preparation, and commence attacks soon after sunset. Concentrate your battle actions mostly at night and capture enemy base positions. From midnight on, engage enemy in close combat by approaching to within 100 to 150 meters of him. Then, even with the break of dawn, the enemy planes will not be able to distinguish friend from foe, which will enable you to prevent great losses. This is the most valuable battle experience we have gained from the Chinju operation. [3]

Midnight Near Masan

On 31 August 1950 the 25th Division held a front of almost thirty miles, beginning in the north at the Namji-ri bridge over the Naktong River and extending westward on the hills south of the river to the Nam's confluence with it. (Map V) It then bent southwest up the south side of the Nam to where the Sobuk-san mountain mass tapered down in its northern extremity to the river. There the line turned south along rising ground to 850-foot-high Sibidang-san (Hill 276), crossed the saddle on its south face through which passed the Chinju-Masan railroad and highway, and continued southward, climbing to 2,200-foot-high Battle Mountain (Hill 665) and on to 2,400-foot-high P'il-bong (Hill 743). From P'il-bong the line dropped down

[2] GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. Army, p. 63 ATIS Res Supp Interrog 
Rpts, Issue 100 (N.K. 6th Div), pp. 39-40; Ibid., Issue 99 (N. K. 7th 
Div), p. 35.

[3] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 100 (N.K. 6th Div), pp. 41-42; 
GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. Army, p. 97. 


[Caption] MOUNTAIN MASS WEST OF HAMAN. The town is in the center foreground; the 2d Battalion, 24th Regiment, position is on the crest of the second ridge west of Haman.

spur ridge lines to the southern coastal road near Chindong-ni.

Colonel Fisher's 35th Infantry held the northern part of the division line, approximately 26,000 yards of it from the Namji-ri bridge to the Chinju-Masan highway. The regiment was responsible for the highway. Colonel Fisher considered his weakest and most vulnerable point to be a 3-mile gap along the Naktong River between most of F Company on the west and its 1st Platoon to the east. This platoon guarded the Namji-ri cantilever steel bridge on the division extreme right at the boundary with the 2d Division across the Naktong.

South of the highway, Colonel Champney's 24th Infantry held the high country west of Haman up to and including Battle Mountain and P'il-bong. Colonel Throckmorton's 5th Infantry held the southern spur of Sobuk-san to the coastal road at Chindong-ni. From Chindong-ni some ROK Marine units continued the line to the southern coast. General Kean's 5th Division command post was at Masan; Colonel Fisher's 35th Infantry command post was on the east side of the Chirwon-Chung-ni road about midway between the two towns; Colonel Champney's 24th Infantry command post was at Haman; and Colonel Throckmorton's command post was at Chindong-ni. [4]

In the left center of the 25th Division line, Lt. Col. Paul F. Roberts' 2d Bat-

[4] 25th Div, 35th, 24th, and 5th Inf WD's, 31 Aug 50; Interv, author 
with Fisher, 5 Jan 52; Interv, author with Champney, 22 Jul 51; Interv, 
author with Throckmorton, 20 Aug 52.


talion, 24th Infantry, held the crest of the second ridge west of Haman, a little more than a mile from the town. From Chungam-ni, in enemy territory, a secondary road zigzagged to Haman along the shoulders of low hills and across paddy ground, running generally east a mile south of the main Chinju-Masan road. It came through Colonel Roberts' 2d Battalion position in a pass a little more than a mile directly west of Haman.

Late in the afternoon of 31 August, observers with G Company, 24th Infantry, noticed a lot of activity a mile to their front. They called in two air strikes that hit this enemy area at twilight. Artillery also took it under fire. All line units were alerted for a possible enemy attack. [5]

Shortly before midnight the North Koreans struck, first hitting F Company on the north side of the pass on the Chungam-ni-Haman road. The ROK troops in the pass left their positions and fell back on G Company south of the pass. The North Koreans captured a 75-mm. recoilless rifle in the mouth of the pass and turned it on American tanks, knocking out two of them. They then overran a section of 82-mm. mortars at the east end of the pass. South of the pass, at dawn, 1st Lt. Houston M. McMurray found that only 15 out of 69 men remained with him, 8 from his own 1st Platoon, G Company, and 7 ROK's of a group he had taken into his position during the night. The enemy attacked his position at first light. They came through an opening in the barbed wire, supposedly covered by a BAR, but the BAR men had fled. Throwing grenades and spraying the area with burp gun fire, the North Koreans quickly overran the position. [6]

Farther up the slope, enemy tank fire hit E Company at midnight. The company commander, 1st Lt. Charles Ellis, an able and courageous officer, ran over to his left flank when he heard a noise there. He found that his 3d Platoon was leaving its position. Ellis threatened the platoon leader, saying he would shoot him if he did not get back in position, and fired a shot between his feet to impress him. Ellis then went to his right flank and found that platoon also leaving its position. During the night everyone in E Company ran off the hill except Ellis and eleven men. Several E Company men in fleeing their position had run through their own mine field and were killed.

It is worthwhile to anticipate a bit and tell the fate of Ellis and his small group of men who stood their ground. Enemy fire pinned them down after daylight. When three or four of the group tried to run for it, enemy machine gun fire killed them. Ellis and the rest stayed in their holes on the hill for two days, repelling several attacks in that time. Ellis was then able to withdraw southward up the mountain to the 3d Battalion's position. In his withdrawal, Ellis, discovering a man who had been injured earlier in a mine explosion, entered the mine field to rescue him. [7]

[5] 24th Inf WD, 31 Aug 50; Interv, author with Corley, 6 Nov 51; 
Fisher, MS review comments, Jan 58. 

[6] 24th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; EUSAK IG Rpt, 24th Inf Regt, Sep 50, 
testimony of Lt McMurray; Col John T. Corley, MS review comments, 22 Jul 

[7] Interv, author with Champney, 22 Jul 51; Interv, author with Corley, 
6 Nov 51; EUSAK IG Rpt, testimony of Capt Charles Ellis, E Co, 24th Inf.


The fact is that shortly after the enemy attack started most of the 2d Battalion, 24th Infantry, fled its positions. The enemy passed through the line quickly and overran the 2d Battalion command post, killing many men there and destroying much equipment. Haman was then open to direct attack. As the enemy encircled Haman, Colonel Roberts, the 2d Battalion commander, ordered an officer to take remnants of the battalion and establish a roadblock at the south edge of the town. Although the officer directed a large group of men to accompany him, only eight did so. The 2d Battalion was no longer an effective fighting force. [8]

Colonel Champney at 0400, 1 September, moved the 24th Regiment command post from Haman two miles northeast to a narrow defile on the New Engineer Road. At this time, an enemy group attacked C Battery, 159th Field Artillery Battalion, a mile north of Haman. Two tanks of the 88th Tank Battalion helped defend the battery until the artillerymen could pull out the howitzers and escape back through Haman and then eastward over this recently improved trail. [9]

The enemy assault did not strike the southern part of the line held by Corley's 3d Battalion, 24th Infantry, and Colonel Throckmorton's 5th Infantry. That part of the line, however, did receive artillery and mortar fire and some diversionary light attacks. About 0200, 1 September, men in an outpost on the right flank of Colonel Corley's battalion watched an estimated 600 enemy soldiers file past at a distance of 100 yards, going in the direction of Haman. Viewed during the night from the high ground of the 3d Battalion, Haman seemed to be in flames. At dawn, men in the battalion saw an estimated 800 enemy troops enter the town. [10]

When the enemy attack broke through the 2d Battalion, Colonel Champney ordered the 1st Battalion, about three miles south of Haman on the Chindong-ni road, to counterattack and restore the line. Colonel Roberts, a superior battalion commander, assembled all the men of the disorganized 2d Battalion he could find-about forty-to join in this counterattack, which got under way at 0730. But it was of short duration. Upon contact with the enemy, the 1st Battalion broke and fled to the rear. Thus, shortly after daylight the scattered and disorganized men of the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 24th Infantry had fled to the high ground two miles east of Haman. The better part of two regiments of the N.K. 6th Division poured into and through the 3-mile-wide Haman gap. [11]

Meanwhile, action-packed events were taking place simultaneously to the north, on the right side of the 25th Division line. Half an hour before midnight, 31 August, an enemy self-propelled high-velocity gun from across the Nam fired shells into the position of G Company, 35th Infantry, overlooking the river.

[8] Inter, author with Corley, 6 Nov 51; Corley, MS review comments, 22 
Jul 53; EUSAK IG Rpt, testimony of 1st Lt John L. Herren. 

[9] 24th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; 159th FA Bn WD, Sep 50: Barth MS, p. 16; 
Interv, author with Champney, 22 Jul 51. 

[10] 3d Bn, 24th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; Corley, MS review comments. 22 Jul 

[11] 25th Div WD, 1 Sep 50; Interv, author with Corley, 6 Nov 51; EUSAK
IG Rpt, testimony of Col Roberts.


Within a few minutes, enemy artillery had taken under fire all front-line rifle companies of the regiment from the Namji-ri bridge west. Under cover of this fire a reinforced regiment of the N.K. 7th Division crossed the Nam River and attacked F and G Companies, 35th Infantry. Other enemy soldiers crossed the Nam on an underwater bridge in front of the paddy ground north of Komam-ni and near the boundary between the 2d Battalion, led by Lt. Col. John L. Wilkins, Jr., holding the river front and Lt. Col. Bernard G. Teeter's 1st Battalion holding the hill line that stretched from the Nam River to Sibidang-san and the Chinju-Masan highway.

In the low ground between these two battalions at the river ferry crossing site, Colonel Fisher had placed about 300 ROK police. He expected them to hold there long enough in case of a major attack to serve as a warning device. Guns from the flanking hills there could cover the low ground with fire. Back of Komam-ni he held the 3d Battalion ready for use in counterattack to stop an enemy penetration should it occur.

Unexpectedly, the ROK police companies near the ferry scattered at the first enemy fire. Half an hour after midnight enemy troops streamed through this hole in the line, some turning left to take G Company in flank and rear, and others turning right to attack C Company, which was on a spur of ground west of the Komam-ni road. The I&R Platoon and elements of C and D Companies formed a defense line along the dike at the north edge of Komam-ni where tanks joined them at daybreak. But the enemy did not drive for the Komam-ni road fork four miles south of the river as Colonel Fisher expected him to do; instead, he turned east into the hills behind Fisher's 2d Battalion. [12]

The position of B Company, 35th Infantry, on 1,100-foot-high Sibidang-san, flanking the Masan road two miles west of Komam-ni and giving observation over all the surrounding country, was certain to figure prominently in the enemy's attack. It was a key position in the 25th Division line. The enemy's preparatory barrage there lasted from 1130 to midnight. Under cover of it two battalions of the N.K. 13th Regiment, 6th Division, moved up within 150 yards of the American foxholes. At the same time, enemy tanks, self-propelled guns, and antitank guns moved toward Komam-ni on the road at the foot of Sibidang-san. An American Sherman tank there destroyed a T34 just after midnight, and a 3.5-inch bazooka team destroyed a self-propelled gun and several 45-mm. antitank guns.

On the crest of Sibidang-san, an antipersonnel mine field stopped the first enemy infantry assault. Others followed in quick succession. They were met and turned back with the fire of all weapons. By 0230 the B Company riflemen were stripping machine gun ammunition belts for their rifles. The 1st Platoon of C Company, at the base of the mountain behind B Company, met the emergency by climbing Sibidang-san in forty-five minutes with an ammunition resupply for the company. Just before dawn the enemy attack subsided. Daylight dis-

[12] The Distinguished Unit Citation was awarded the 35th Infantry 
Regiment for action on 11 September 1950. Supporting Docs, AG files. 
25th Div WD. 1 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0120 1 Sep 50; 2d Bn, 35th 
Inf, Narr of Act, 31 Aug-1 Sep 50; 35th Inf WD, 31 Aug 50; I&R Plat Unit 
Hist, 1 Sep 50; Interv, author with Fisher, 5 Jan 52. 


closed a great amount of abandoned enemy equipment scattered on the slope just below the crest, including thirty light and three heavy machine guns. Among the enemy dead lay the body of the commanding officer of the N.K. 13th Regiment. [13]

At daybreak, 1 September, a tank-led relief force of C Company headquarters troops cleared the road to Sibidang-san and resupplied the 2d Platoon, B Company, with ammunition just in time for it to repel a final North Korean assault, killing seventy-seven and capturing twenty-one of the enemy.

Although Colonel Fisher's 35th Infantry held all its original positions, except that of the forward platoon of G Company, it nevertheless was in a dangerous situation. Approximately 3,000 North Korean soldiers were behind its lines. The farthest eastern penetration reached the high ground just south of Chirwon overlooking the north-south road there.


On the 35th Regiment's right flank, in the 9th Infantry, 2d Division, sector across the Naktong, the enemy also made deep penetrations. (Map VI) There, in the southern part of the U.S. 2d Division zone, the 9th Infantry Regiment held a sector more than 20,000 yards long, including the bulge area of the Naktong where heavy fighting had taken place earlier in August. The rifle companies on the river line here had frontages of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, and, like the units to the north and south of them, they held only key hills and observation points.

As August neared its end, men on these hills could see minor enemy activity across the river, which they interpreted as North Koreans organizing the high ground on the west side of the Naktong against a possible American attack. There was moderate enemy infiltration into the 9th Infantry forward positions, but to the men in the front line this appeared to be only normal patrol action.

Opposite, on the west side of the Naktong, General Pak Kyo Sam, commanding the N.K. 9th Division, issued his operational order to the division on 28 August. Its mission in the forthcoming attack was stated in part as follows:

To outflank and destroy the enemy by capturing the Miryang and Samnangjin areas, thereby cutting off his [Eighth Army] route of withdrawal between Taegu and Pusan, is the mission of this division. [14]

The North Koreans apparently did not know on the eve of their attack that the U.S. 2d Division had replaced the 24th Division in this sector of the front, since they named the latter division in the attack order as being opposite it in the attack zone.

On the left and southern flank of the 9th Infantry river line, just above the junction of the Nam River with the Naktong, A Company was dug in on a long finger ridge paralleling the Naktong that terminates in Hill 94 at the Kihang ferry site. The river road from Namji-ri running west along the Naktong passes the southern tip of this ridge

[13] 35th Inf WD, 31 Aug 50; 35th Inf DUC award supporting does, AG 

[14] ATIS Enemy Documents, Issue 4, pp. 16-20, 9th Inf Div Opn Ord 
concerning Naktong River crossing, signed by CG Pak Kyo Sam.


and crosses to the west side of the river at the ferry. A small village of a few huts, called Agok, lay at the base of Hill 94 and 300 yards from the river. Two medium tanks of A Company, 72d Tank Battalion and two antiaircraft vehicles of D Battery, 82d AAA Battalion, one mounting twin 40-mm. guns and the other four .50-caliber machine guns, together with two rifle squads of A Company, 9th Infantry, held a roadblock near the ferry and close to Agok. On the evening of 31 August, A Company, in accordance with orders just received, moved from its ridge positions overlooking Agok and the river to new positions along the river below the ridge line. [15]

That evening Sgt. Ernest R. Kouma took a Pershing tank to Agok to replace one that had developed gun trouble. Kouma placed his tank on the west side of Agok about forty yards from the Kihang ferry. At 2000 a heavy fog covered the river. An hour later dogs started barking on the far side of the Naktong, and continued to bark in the otherwise unbroken silence until enemy mortar shells began falling on the American-held side of the river at 2200. Fifteen minutes later a heavy enemy mortar preparation struck A Company's positions. American mortars and artillery began firing counterbattery. Some of the A Company men reported they heard noises on the opposite side of the river and splashes in the water. [16]

Suddenly at 2230 the fog lifted and Kouma saw that an enemy bridge, already two-thirds completed, was being laid across the river directly in front of him. He ordered his tank gunner to lay the 90-mm. cannon on the bridge and he himself went to the .50-caliber machine gun mounted behind the tank cupola. Kouma's gunner opened fire on the bridge and the bridging party; the other tank and the two antiaircraft vehicles joined in the action. After about a minute of this heavy fire the bridge collapsed, and after another two minutes the ponton boats used to hold the bridge in place broke loose. Machine gun fire then sank many of them. Except for the barking of the dogs across the river and an occasional mortar round, silence once again reigned as Kouma's guns fell silent after the destruction of the bridge.

At 2300 this quiet suddenly gave way to a small arms fight which flared around the left side of A Company north of the tanks. This gunfire had lasted only two or three minutes when the A Company roadblock squads near the tanks received word by field telephone that the company was withdrawing to the original ridge positions and that they should do likewise. Someone in the outpost shouted, "We are moving out, tankers!" [17] Then, as Kouma tells it:

The infantry outpost had hardly left when I spotted seven men running towards me from the direction of where Able Company's CP formerly was located. I halted them and noticed that they were wearing the division patch. [The Indianhead of 2d Division, which the newly augmented Koreans wore on their herringbone twill as did regular members of the division. Com-

[15] Ltr, Capt Albert J. Fern, Jr. (Plat Ldr, 2d Plat, A Co, 9th Inf, 31
Aug 50) to author, 1 Apr 56; Ltr, Maj Robert L. Cody (S-3, 1st Bn, 9th 
Inf, Aug-Sep 50) to author, 18 Nov 55. 

[16] Ltr, MSgt Ernest R. Kouma to author, 1 May 53; Ltr, SFC Oscar V. 
Berry to author with location sketch map, 24 Apr 53 (Berry commanded the 
second tank at the Kihang ferry); Ltr, Fern to author, 1 Apr 56. 

[17] Ltr, Kouma to author, 1 May 53; Ltr, Fern to author, 1 Apr 56.


pany A had some of these South Koreans.] One of them spoke excellent English. All seven came next to my tank ... three of them crawled on the deck of the tank and informed me that a large force had crossed the river farther down approaching my position and that most of Able Company were killed or captured. At the time I had the idea that they were part of the 9th Infantry. During this time I was on top of the turret checking my 50 cal. machine gun. At a given signal they leaped from the tank and began throwing grenades on the tank and about the same time a steady spray of machine gun and rifle fire began hitting the tanks and AA guns from the crest of the high bluff about 150 yards to my right. My gunner at once took them under fire as well as SFC Berry's and the AA guns. I got back in the turret and threw about 7 or 8 grenades over the house as well as inside the house through the door which faced us. [18]

In this exchange, enemy grenades and fire wounded Kouma twice. Enemy soldiers now attacked the tanks and the antiaircraft vehicles from the rear. The group approaching the quad-50 knew the password and overran the vehicle, killing all crew members except one who escaped. Several men in the second, the dual 40-mm. gun vehicle (M 19), were wounded but this tracked vehicle escaped to the rear. The two tanks were alone. They quickly changed their positions, driving out from under the cliffs and near the village to open ground with clear fields of fire for 200 yards in every direction. There they repelled repeated attacks, some enemy soldiers reaching within twenty yards of the tanks before they turned back leaving their dead and wounded. About 0130, SFC Oscar V. Berry informed Kouma his tank engine was overheating and that he was going to withdraw. A mile to the rear Berry's tank engine caught fire and he abandoned the tank. Kouma maintained his position throughout the night. With the coming of daylight the enemy attempts to destroy the tank by infantry attack ceased. At 0730 Kouma started back toward friendly lines and got through safely, firing into enemy positions on the way. [19]

In the attack against A Company, the North Koreans happened to strike the 1st Platoon, which was near Agok, but they did not find the 2d Platoon northward, commanded by 2d Lt. Albert J. Fern, Jr. Fern could tell by the sound of combat that C Company on his right and that part of A Company on his left were under heavy attack. Two stragglers from C Company soon told him the North Koreans had overrun that company. The A Company commander, 1st Lt. Adam B. Rodriguez, quickly found it necessary to abandon his command post in Agok and withdraw up the ridge to his original positions, ordering his subordinate units to do likewise. Fern's 2d Platoon had a skirmish with a small group of North Koreans in the dark in going up the slope. On top, the company reassembled and went into perimeter defense positions. For them the rest of the night passed quietly.

The N.K. 9th Division's infantry crossing of the Naktong and attack on its east side near midnight quickly overran the positions of C Company, north of A Company. There the North Koreans as-

[18] Ltr, Kouma to author, 1 May 53. 

[19] Ltrs. Kouma and Berry, 1 May 53 and 24 Apr 53. Department of the 
Army General Order 38, 4 June 1951, awarded the Medal of Honor to 
Sergeant Kouma.


saulted with unusual force, to the accompaniment of green flares and blowing of whistles. The company held its positions only a short time and then attempted to escape. Many of the men moved southward, a few of them coming into A Company's ridge line positions near Agok during the night. Most of C Company moved all the way to the 25th Division positions south of the Naktong. On 1 September that division reported that 110 men of C Company had come into its lines. [20]

Task Force Manchu Misfires

Five miles north of Agok and A Company's position, B Company, 9th Infantry, held a similar position on Hill 209 overlooking the Paekchin ferry crossing of the river. This ferry was located at the middle of the Naktong Bulge where the Yongsan road came down to the Naktong and crossed it. The U.S. 2d Division, as it chanced, had planned an important reconnaissance action to start from there the night of 31 August, the very night that the N.K. I Corps offensive rolled across the river.

Near the end of the month two reconnaissance patrols from the 9th Infantry had crossed to the west side of the Naktong and from a hill position watched enemy tank and troop activity at a place approximately two miles west of the river, which they suspected was a division command post. Information obtained later indicated it was in fact the command post of the N.K. 9th Division. On 25 August, Col. John G. Hill outlined projected "Operation Manchu," which was to be a company-sized combat patrol to cross the river, advance to the suspected enemy command post and communications center, destroy it, capture prisoners, and gain information of enemy plans. [21]

The 9th Infantry Regiment had planned Task Force Manchu on orders from the 2d Division, which in turn had received instructions from Eighth Army for aggressive patrolling. Colonel Hill selected three possible crossing sites for the operation. General Keiser decided on the one at the Paekchin ferry. The 9th Infantry reserve, E Company, reinforced with one section of light machine guns from H Company, was to be the attack force. The 1st Platoon, 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, was to transport it across the river in assault boats the night of 31 August. Two heavy weapons companies, D and H, were each to furnish one section of heavy machine guns, one section of 81-mm. mortars, and one section of 75-mm. recoilless rifles for supporting fires. A platoon of 4.2-inch mortars was also to give support. [22]

After dark on the evening of 31 August, 1st Lt. Charles I. Caldwell of D Company and 1st Lt. Edward Schmitt of H Company, 9th Infantry, moved their men and weapons to the base of Hill 209, which was within B Company's defense sector and overlooked the Paekchin ferry crossing of the Naktong River. The raid-

[20] 9th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; Ltr, Fern to author, 1 Apr 56. 

[21] Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53; Cody, Operation Manchu, 
student MS, Advanced Inf Off Course, Class 2, Inf School, Ft. Benning, 

[22] Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 50; Cody, Operation Manchu; Ltr, 
Capt Lee E. Beahler (CO D Co, 2d Engr C Bn, Aug-Sep 50) to author. 10
Jun 53.


ing force, E Company, was still in its regimental reserve position about two miles west of Yongsan, getting ready with the engineer platoon to move to the crossing site. Colonel Hill, the regimental commander, went forward in the evening with the 4.2-inch mortar platoon to its position at the base of Hill 209 where the mortarmen prepared to set up their weapons.

Schmitt and Caldwell took their section leaders up the hill and showed them where they wanted the weapons set up. The first of the carrying parties soon followed them. It was now a little after 2100, and dark.

The closest front line unit was B Company on top of Hill 209, approximately a mile north of the river road which curved around the hill's southern base. The regimental chaplain, Capt. Lewis B. Sheen, had gone forward in the afternoon to B Company to hold services. [23] On top of Hill 209, Chaplain Sheen and men in B Company after dark thought they could hear a swishing sound in the water below them. By straining their eyes and staring through field glasses for a long time into the near darkness, they made out a long line of North Korean soldiers wading the river.

The first enemy crossing at the Paekchin ferry caught the Heavy Mortar Platoon wholly unaware in the act of setting up its weapons. It also caught most of the D and H Company men at the base of Hill 209, only a little more than half a mile from the crossing site. The North Koreans killed or captured many of them. Colonel Hill was there, but escaped to the rear just before midnight, together with several others, when the division canceled Operation Manchu. His S-3, who was with him, delayed a bit and never got out. The first heavy weapons carrying party was on its way up the hill when the enemy engulfed the men below. It hurried on to the top where the advance group waited and there all hastily dug in on a small perimeter. This group was unmolested during the night.

Word of the enemy crossing that had caught the support elements of Task Force Manchu flat-footed had been received at the 2d Division headquarters. This news, together with the heavy enemy barrages that had developed all along the river, caused the division to cancel Operation Manchu five minutes before midnight.

From approximately 2130 until shortly after midnight the N.K. 9th Division crossed the Naktong at a number of places and climbed the hills quietly toward the 9th Infantry river line positions. Then, when the artillery barrage preparation lifted, the North Korean infantry were in position to launch their assaults. These began in the northern part of the regimental sector and quickly spread southward. Chaplain Sheen in the B Company perimeter heard cries of "Manzai!" northward and saw many flares light the sky in that direction. At the river crossing below him he could hear enemy troops working on a bridge. By this time the sounds of enemy tanks and trucks and shouting men came up from the river. And from the hills up stream the men in B Company heard, ever so often, after a flurry of small arms

[23] Interv, author with Hill, 15 Apr 53; Ltr, Capt Charles I. Caldwell 
to author, 29 May 53, together with sketch map of positions of D and H 
Co units of TF Manchu, 31 Aug-4 Sep 50. Hill 209 is Hill 210 on the 
revised map of Korea, AMS 4, 1950.


fire, a massed shout which they interpreted as the North Korean capture of another position. [24]

At 0200, B Company's turn came. A truck stopped at the bottom of the hill, a whistle sounded, then came a shouted order, and enemy soldiers started climbing the slope. The hills on both sides of B Company were already under attack as was also Hill 311, a rugged terrain feature a mile and a half back from the river and apparently the enemy's principal immediate objective. The North Koreans apparently were not aware of the Task Force Manchu group lower down on the hill for it remained unmolested during the night. But higher up on Hill 209 the enemy drove B Company from its position, inflicting very heavy casualties on it. Chaplain Sheen led one group of soldiers back to friendly lines on 4 September. [25]

Approximately at 0300, 1 September, the 9th Infantry Regiment ordered its only reserve, E Company, which was to have been the striking force of Task Force Manchu, to move west along the Yongsan-Naktong River road and take a blocking position at the pass between Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge, about three miles from the river and six miles from Yongsan. This was the critical terrain where so much heavy fighting had taken place in the first battle of the Naktong Bulge. Fighting began at the pass at 0230 when an American medium tank of A Company, 72d Tank Battalion, knocked out a T34 at Tugok (Morisil). E Company never reached its blocking position. A strong enemy force surprised and delivered heavy automatic fire on it at 0330 from positions astride the road east of the pass. The company suffered heavy casualties, the killed including the company commander and General Keiser's aide who had accompanied the force. With the critical parts of Cloverleaf Hill and Obong-ni Ridge in enemy hands before dawn of 1 September, the best defensive terrain between Yongsan and the river was lost. The 2d Division now had to base its defense of Yongsan on relatively poor defensive terrain, the low jumbled hills at the western edge of the town. [26]

The North Koreans Split the U.S. 2d Division

North of the 9th Infantry sector of the 21 Division front along the Naktong, the 23d Regiment on 29 August had just relieved the 3d Battalion of the 38th Infantry Regiment, which in turn had only a few days before relieved the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division. On 1 August, therefore, the 23d Regiment was in a new sector of which it had only a limited knowledge. It took over a 16,000-yard Naktong River front without its 3d Battalion which had been attached to the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division. Colonel Freeman, the regimental commander, deployed the 1st Battalion on the high ground along the river with the three companies abreast. Actually,

[24] Cody, Operation Manchu; 9th Inf WD, Sep 50, Sheen MS, From 
Encirclement to Safety; 9th Inf WD, 1 Sep 50, Rpt at 0040 to 9th Regt. 

[25] Sheen, From Encirclement to Safety; Ltr, Caldwell to author, 29 May 
53; Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53. 

[26] Interv, author with Hill, 30 Jun 53; 72d Tk Bn WD, 1 Sep 50; 9th 
Inf WD, 1 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0343 1 Sep 50; Cody, Operation 


the 1st Battalion, under Lt. Col. Claire E. Hutchin, Jr., little more than outposted the hills with platoons and squads. He placed the 2d Battalion in a reserve position approximately eight miles in the rear of the 1st Battalion and in a position where it commanded the road net in the regimental sector. On the last day of the month the 2d Division moved E Company south to a reserve position in the 9th Infantry sector. [27]

Two roads ran through the regimental sector from the Naktong River to Changnyong. The main road bent south along the east bank of the river to Pugong-ni and then turned northeast to Changnyong. A northern secondary road curved around marshland and lakes, the largest of which was Lake U-p'o, to Changnyong. In effect, the 1st Battalion of the 23d Regiment guarded these two approach routes to Changnyong.

The forty-two men of the 2d Platoon, B Company, 23d Infantry, led by 1st Lt. William M. Glasgow held outpost positions on seven hills covering a 2,600-yard front along the east bank of the Naktong north of Pugong-ni. Across the river in the rice paddies they could see, in the afternoon of 31 August, two large groups of enemy soldiers. Occasionally artillery fire dispersed them.

Just before dusk turned to darkness, Glasgow and the men in his 1st Squad saw "a large and bizarre torchlight parade" come out of the hills and proceed toward the river. Glasgow immediately reported the spectacle to the battalion command post. The artillery forward observer, who estimated the crowd to number 2,000 people, thought they were refugees. When the matter was referred to Colonel Freeman, he immediately ordered the artillery to fire on the torchbearers. With each bursting shell some of the torches disappeared but others took their places and the procession continued unchecked toward the river bank. [28]

At 2100 the first shells of what proved to be a two-hour enemy artillery and mortar preparation against the American river positions jarred the fascinated Glasgow and his companions from their absorbed contemplation of the torchlight scene. As the enemy barrage rolled on, North Korean infantry crossed the river and climbed the hills in the darkness under cover of its fire. At 2300 the barrage lifted. A green flare signaled the North Korean assault. A few minutes later enemy grenades showered into Glasgow's position. After a short fight at close quarters, Glasgow and his men ran off the hill toward the rear. Similar assaults took place elsewhere along the battalion outpost line.

On the regimental left along the main Pugong-ni-Changnyong road enemy soldiers completely overran C Company by 0300, 1 September. Capt. Cyril S. Bartholdi, the company commander, and most of his men were lost. Only seven men of C Company could be accounted for, and

[27] 23d Inf WD, Aug 50 Summ: Freeman, Highlights of the Combat 
Activities of the 23d Infantry Regiment from 5 August to 30 September 
1950, MS, copy in OCMH: Maj Gen Paul L. Freeman, Jr., MS review 
comments, 30 Oct 57. 

[28] Glasgow, Platoon Leader in Korea, pp. 100ff; Glasgow, "Through Hell 
and Out," Bluebook Magazine (August, 1951), pp. 71-77 (reproduces that 
part of above MS covering experiences of 1-7 September 1950): 23d Inf 
WD, Aug 50 Summ; Interv, author with Lt Col Frank Meszar (S-3, 23d Inf, 
Sep 50), 15 May 53; Freeman, MS review comments, 30 Oct 57. 


three days later, after all the stragglers and those cut off behind enemy lines had come in, there were fewer than twenty men in the company. [28]

As the enemy attack developed during the night, Colonel Hutchin succeeded in withdrawing a large part of the battalion, less C Company, to his command post just north of Lake U-p'o and the hills there covering the northern road into Changnyong, three miles east of the river and five air miles west of the town. B Company lost heavily in this action.

When word of Colonel Hutchin's plight and of the disaster that had overtaken C Company reached regimental headquarters, Colonel Freeman obtained the release of G and F Companies from 2d Division reserve and sent the former to help Hutchin and the latter on the southern road toward Pugong-ni and C Company. Maj. Lloyd K. Jensen, executive officer of the 2d Battalion, accompanied F Company down the Pugong-ni road. This force was unable to reach C Company, but Major Jensen collected stragglers from it and seized high ground astride this main approach to Changnyong near Ponch'o-ri above Lake Sanorho, and went into a defensive position there. The 2d Division released E Company to the regiment and the next day it joined F Company to build up what became the main defensive position of the 23d Regiment in front of Changnyong. Lt. Col. James W. Edwards took command of this 2d Battalion position. [30] Enemy troops during the night passed around the right flank of Colonel Hutchin's northern blocking position and reached the road three miles behind him near the division artillery positions. The 23d Infantry Headquarters and Service Companies and other miscellaneous regimental units finally stopped this enemy penetration near the regimental command post five miles northwest of Changnyong.

Before the morning of 1 September had passed, reports coming in to 2d Division headquarters made it clear that North Koreans had penetrated to the north-south Changnyong-Yongsan road and cut the division in two; the 38th and 23d Infantry Regiments with the bulk of the division artillery in the north were separated from the division headquarters and the 9th Infantry Regiment in the south. General Keiser decided that this situation made it advisable to control and direct the divided division as two special forces. Accordingly, he placed the division artillery commander, Brig. Gen. Loyal M. Haynes, in command of the northern group. Haynes' command post was seven miles north of Changnyong. Task Force Haynes became operational at 1020, 1 September. [31] Southward, in the Yongsan area, General Keiser placed Brig. Gen. Joseph S. Bradley, Assistant Division Commander,

[29] 2d Div WD, JA Stf Sec Hist Rpt, 1 Sep-31 Oct 50, p. 5; 23(1 Inf WD, 
Narr Summ, Sep 50; Interv, author with Meszar, 15 May 53; EUSAK WD, 21 
Sep 50, ADVATIS Interrog Rpts, Sr Lt Lee Kwan Hyon, Med Off, 17th Regt, 
2d Div; Glasgow, Platoon Leader in Korea. 

[30] Interv, author with Meszar, 15 May 53; Freeman MS; Freeman, MS 
review comments, 30 Oct 57. 

[31] 2d Div Arty WD, Narr Summ, Sep 50. Task Force Haynes remained 
operational until 1300, 15 September 1950. Units forming the task force 
were the following: 23d Inf; 38th Inf; 37th FA Bn; C Btry, 503d FA Bn; 
Btrys A, B, C, 82d AAA AW Bn (SP); and C Co, 72d Tk Bn. 


[Caption] AREA OF MAIN DEFENSIVE POSITION in front of Changnyong.

in charge of the 9th Infantry Regiment, the 2d Engineer Combat Battalion, most of the 72d Tank Battalion, and other miscellaneous units of the division. This southern grouping was known as Task Force Bradley.

All three regiments of the enemy 2d Division-the 4th, 17th, and 6th, in line from north to south-crossed during the night to the east side of the Naktong River into the 23d Regiment sector. The enemy 2d Division, concentrated in the Sinban-ni area west of the river, had, in effect, attacked straight east across the river and was trying to seize the two avenues of advance into Changnyong above and below Lake U-p'o. The water area of this lake and the surrounding marshland varied according to the season and the amount of rainfall. On 31 August 1950, Lake U-p'o was a large body of water although in most places only a few feet deep. [32]

General Walker's Decisions on 1 September

At daybreak of 1 September, General Keiser at 2d Division headquarters in Muan-ni, seven air miles east of Yongsan on the Miryang road, knew that his division was in the midst of a crisis. A massive enemy attack was in progress and had made deep penetrations everywhere in his sector except in the north in the zone of the 38th Infantry. The N.K. 9th Division had effected major crossings of the Naktong at two principal points

[32] Interv, author with Meszar, 15 May 53; 2d Div WD, Aug 50 (G-3 Stf 
Sec Rpt is incorporated with Div Narr Summ-all G-3 supporting documents 
were destroyed or lost through enemy action at Kunu-ri in November 
1950); 23d Inf WD, Narr Summ, Sep 50. 


against the 9th Infantry; the 2d Division, three major crossings against the 23d Infantry; and the 10th Division had crossed more troops in the Hill 409 area near Hyongp'ung in the 38th Infantry sector. At 081o General Keiser telephoned Eighth Army headquarters and reported the situation as he then understood it, indicating that the heaviest and deepest enemy penetrations were in the 9th Infantry sector.

The picture of the situation darkened as the morning hours passed. Liaison planes rose from the division strip every hour to observe the enemy's progress and to locate 2d Division front-line units. Communication from division and regimental headquarters to nearly all the forward units was broken. Beginning at 0930 and continuing throughout the rest of the day, the light aviation section of the division artillery located front-line units cut off by the enemy, and made fourteen drops of ammunition, food, water, and medical supplies. As information slowly built up at division headquarters it became apparent that the North Koreans had punched a hole six miles wide and eight miles deep in the middle of the division line and made lesser penetrations elsewhere. The front-line battalions of the 9th and 23d Regiments were in various states of disorganization and some companies had virtually disappeared. General Keiser hoped he could organize a defense along the Changnyong-Yongsan road, five to eight miles east of the Naktong River, and prevent enemy access to the passes eastward leading to Miryang and Ch'ongdo. [33]

On its part, the Eighth Army staff had sufficient information soon after daybreak of 1 September to realize that a big enemy attack was under way in the south. At 0900 General Walker requested the Air Force to make a maximum effort along the Naktong River from Toksong-dong, just above the 2d Division boundary, southward and to a depth of ten to fifteen miles west of the river. He wanted the Air Force to isolate the battlefield and prevent enemy reinforcements and supplies from moving across the river in support of the North Korean spearhead units. The Far East Command requested the Navy to join in the air effort, and the Seventh Fleet, pursuant to NAVFE orders, turned back from its strikes in the Inch'on-Seoul area and sped southward at full steam toward the southern battle front. General Walker came to the 2d Division front at noon and ordered a "stand or die" defense. He had already ordered ground reinforcements to the Yongsan area. [34]

For a few hours during the morning of 1 September, General Walker weighed the news coming in from his southern front, wavering in a decision as to which part of the front most needed his Pusan Perimeter reserves. Since midnight the N.K. I Corps had broken his Pusan Perimeter in two places-the N.K. ad and 9th Divisions in the U.S. 2d Division sector, and the 7th and 6th Divisions in the U.S. 25th Division sector, below the junction of the Nam and Naktong Rivers. In the 2d Division sector enemy troops were at the edge of Yongsan, the

[33] EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 1 Sep 50: Ibid., PIR 51, 1 Sep 50; 2d Div WD, Hq 
Co, Aviation Sec, 1 Sep 50; Ibid., vol. II, Summ, 1 Sep-31 Oct 50, p. 6. 

[34] EUSAK WD. G-3 Jnl, 1 Sep 50; 2d Div WD. vol. II, Summ, 1 Sep-3 Oct 
50, pp. 61; Memo for Dept of Navy, Hist Sec, 1950, in OCMH.


gateway to the corridor leading twelve air miles eastward to Miryang and the main Pusan-Mukden railroad and highway.

Walker had a critical decision to make. He had in reserve three understrength infantry regiments and the 2-battalion British 27th Infantry Brigade which was not yet completely equipped and ready to be placed in line. Even so, this was an unusually large reserve for Eighth Army in the summer of 1950. The three U.S. regiments available to Walker were the 5th Marines at Changwon, six miles northeast of Masan, preparing for movement to the port of Pusan; the 27th Regiment of the 25th Division which had arrived at Masan only the night before at 2030 to relieve the 5th Regimental Combat Team, which was then to join the 24th Division in the Taegu area; and the 19th Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division, then with that division's headquarters at Kyongsan southeast of Taegu. Walker alerted both the 24th Division headquarters, together with its 19th Regiment, and the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade to move at a moment's notice; the 24th Division either to the 2d or 25th Division fronts, and the marines to an unannounced destination.

As the morning passed, General Walker decided that the situation was most critical in the Naktong Bulge area of the 2d Division sector. There the North Koreans threatened Miryang and with it the lifeline of the entire Eighth Army position. There, for the moment at least, was the most critical spot of the far-flung battlefield. An hour before noon General Walker ordered General Craig to prepare the marines to move at once. Just after noon the action order came and the marines made ready to depart at 1330. They were going back to the bulge area. [35]

[35] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 1 Sep 50; Rd Div WD, 1 Sep 50; Interv, author 
with Hill, 30 Jun 53; Transcription and Summ of fonecon, Walker with 
Hickey, Deputy CofS, FEC, 020935 Sep 50, CofS files FEC.