The Big Question

A bold operation is one which has no more than a chance of success but which, in case of failure, leaves one with sufficient forces in hand to cope with any situation. A gamble, on the other hand, is an operation which can lead either to victory or to the destruction of one's own forces.

IRWIN ROMMEL, "Account of the War in Africa," Rommel Papers

By the end of the first week of November it was clear that Chinese Communist Forces had intervened in the Korean War. This intervention, long feared and by some expected, had become a fact. The intervention came in sufficient force to drive Eighth Army back to the Ch'ongch'on River and to delay the advance of X Corps in the east toward the Changjin Reservoir. After accomplishing this, the Chinese Communist Forces withdrew from immediate contact with Eighth Army behind a screen of North Korean soldiers. The big question now loomed-what was the purpose and extent of the Chinese intervention? The U.N. command and intelligence agencies had to ponder and answer it in determining the future conduct of military operations.

The Chinese Communist Forces

A look at the background of the Chinese Communist Forces seems necessary to an understanding of the problem. While the Chinese Communist Party itself dates from 1921, Chinese Communist fighting forces may be said to have come into existence with the outbreak of the Nanchang rebellion in China on 1 August 1927. This date is commemorated as the founding date of the Chinese Communist Forces by the Chinese ideograms in the upper left-hand comer of the CCF flag and insignia. [1] A month before the Nanchang rebellion, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had expelled the Communist Party from the Kuomintang. From that time on the two groups became increasingly hostile toward each other and engaged in an intermittent civil war lasting for two decades, until at last Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government in 1949 was driven from the China mainland to Formosa.

For a time in 1934 it had appeared that Chiang Kai-shek was on the point of destroying the Communist forces in China. But in a series of battles, be-


[1] GHQ FEC. MI Sec, Order of Battle Information, Chinese Communist 

Forces in Korea, 15 Jun 51 (hereafter cited as FEC MIS, Order of Battle 

Info, CCF), p. 1. 


ginning on 21 October of that year and lasting through the 29th, the Communists broke through the Nationalist forces that had surrounded them in Kiangsi Province and started out on what has since been called the "Long March" to Yenan in Shensi Province, far to the northwest. Approximately 100,000 Communist soldiers began this march with Lin Piao leading the First Army Corps.

Finally, on 20 October 1935, a year after they had started from Kiangsi, 20,000 survivors of the Long March met units of the 25th, 26th, and 27th Red Armies in Shensi that had been there since 1933. The veterans of the Long March had traveled more than 6,000 miles; they had crossed 18 mountain ranges, 24 rivers, 12 different provinces, and had averaged nearly 24 miles a day for the 235 days and 18 nights of actual travel. [2]

In Shensi Province the Chinese Communists then began a reorganization and consolidation of their forces. They established there a secure base that became the foundation for their future operations. Survivors of the Long March were organized into the 8th Route Army, commanded by Chu Teh. By 1947 the Chinese Communist Army was entrenched in North China and Manchuria with about 600,000 troops. The Soviet withdrawal from Manchuria had taken place in April of the preceding year. Chu Teh, commander of the Chinese Communist Army, at that time announced the primary mission of his force was the piecemeal annihilation of the Nationalist Armies by guerrilla-type action.

The Chinese Communist Army in Manchuria was called the North-East People's Liberation Army (NEPLA). Lin Piao commanded this army, which by the end of 1947 had cut Nationalist lines of communication to Manchuria and isolated that important area from the rest of China. In the spring of 1949 NEPLA was redesignated the Fourth Field Army, incorporating five army groups, the XII through XVI, which in turn comprised the CCF 38th through 58th Armies, a total of 60 divisions of about 10,000 men each. This gave a total of approximately 600,000 men in the Fourth Field Army. The Korean volunteers and Manchurian Korean veterans in this army numbered about 145,000.

Lin Piao's Fourth Field Army played a prominent role in the Chinese Communist Forces' great triumph of wresting control of the China mainland from the Nationalists in 1949. Some elements of his army marched all the way from Manchuria to South China where they made the amphibious attack against Hainan Island in the spring of 1950 and began preparations for a similar attack against Formosa. The Fourth Field Army had fought from Manchuria to Hainan Island in the China Civil War without a major defeat. In June 1950 these elements of the Fourth Field Army marched to Canton and entrained there for An-tung, Manchuria, across the Yalu River from Korea. Lin Piao was now taking them back to the Korean border to stand ready for any eventuality arising from the impending Communist invasion of South Korea. Still other elements of the Fourth Field Army moved during the


[2] Ibid., pp. 1-2; Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China (New York: Modern 

Library, 1944), pp. 207-16. 



summer from other points in China back to Manchuria. A part of the army had always remained there. [3]

Following on the heels of the Fourth Field Army, elements of the Third Field Army, which consisted of the 20th through the 37th Armies, moved to Manchuria in the late summer and early autumn of 1950. By mid-October the Chinese forces of the Third and Fourth Field Armies had concentrated more than 400,000 troops in Manchuria close to Korea. A Chinese Communist army comprised normally three divisions, although a few of them had four. A full-strength Chinese division had approximately 10,000 soldiers. It was elements of the Fourth Field Army, the best field army of the Chinese Communist Forces, that first intervened in the Korean War. [4]

Eighth Army Estimate of CCF Intervention

On 25 October, Col. Percy W. Thompson, G-2 of U.S. I Corps, made special arrangements to transport the first Chinese prisoner, captured that day at Unsan by the ROK 1st Division, to the Eighth Army advanced command post at P'yongyang for interrogation. There could be no doubt that he was Chinese; he spoke neither Korean nor Japanese. His story seemed straightforward and credible. [5] With this first interrogation of a captured Chinese soldier in Korea by U.S. Army intelligence officials began the build-up of a large body of information on Chinese Communist units in Korea. The Chinese Communist prisoners captured in the Eighth Army zone of responsibility grew steadily in number from the 3 captured at Unsan and Onjong on 25 October. By 29 October 10 had been captured; by 20 November, 55; by 20 November, 84; and by 23 November, as Eighth Army assumed its final deployment for the attack designed to reach the Yalu, 96 CCF prisoners had been captured. They identified six Chinese Communist armies-the 38th, 38th, 40th, 42d, 50th, and 66th, of which they were members-as being in Korea. (Each army had three divisions, thus the six totaled eighteen divisions.) Eastward in its zone, X Corps had captured prisoners from the 42d Army. [6] As events


[3] FEC MIS, Order of Battle Info, CCF, CCF Fourth Field Army, pp. 1-9; 

FEC Intel Digest, vol. I, No. 4, 1-15 Feb 53. CCF XIII Army Group, pp. 


[4] FEC MIS. Order of Battle Info, CCF, pp. 9, 171; FEC Intel Digest 10, 

2 Nov 51. 

[5] Ltr and attached statement, Col Percy W. Thompson to author, 9 Apr 


[6] EUSAK PIR's log, 29 Oct; 11, 31 Oct; 113, 2 Nov; 116, 5 Nov; 120, 9 

Nov; 121, 10 Nov; 124, 13 Nov; and 134, 23 Nov 50. 


[Caption] CHU TEH

were to prove, the 42d Army near the end of this period had sideslipped from the X Corps area southwest into the Eighth Army zone.

Within the first week of CCF intervention in Korea, prisoners had been taken from four different Chinese armies in the Eighth Army zone. Eighth Army interrogated these first Chinese prisoners intensively, even using a lie detector on three selected and flown to P'yongyang. [7] But in evaluating the interrogations, Eighth Army intelligence officials were skeptical of the stories of large Chinese forces in Korea and, lacking what they believed adequate confirmation, did not accept the substance of the prisoners' accounts. One intelligence item reproduced at different headquarters minimized the scale of Chinese intervention, stating that of 344 prisoners taken at Unsan in two days only two were Chinese. This statement was certainly inaccurate because that number of prisoners was never captured at Unsan. This figure could have been obtained only by counting the many disorganized and retreating North Koreans captured on the road from the Ch'ongch'on River to Unsan. After the Chinese entered the fight against the ROK 1st Division just above Unsan, very few prisoners were captured and these were wounded Chinese. [8]

The initial estimate at Eighth Army headquarters based on prisoners' reports was that the presence of Chinese troops at Unsan and Onjong indicated some reinforcement of North Korean units with troops taken from the Chinese Communist Forces in order to assist in defense of the border approaches, but that there were "no indications of open intervention on the part of Chinese Communist Forces in Korea." [9] On 30 October the 1st Cavalry quoted in one of its


[7] Interv, author with. Col Robert G. Fergusson (Deputy ACofS G-2,

Eighth Army Oct-Nov 50), 23 Jun 58. 

[8] EUSAK PIR 107, 27 Oct 50: 1st Cav Div PIR 100, on an., 30 Oct 50. 

Colonel Thompson says that at the time this report appeared he had 

objected to the statistical statement appearing in the 1st Cavalry 

Division PIR which allegedly was based on a I Corps report. Colonel 

Thompson, I Corps G-2; Colonel Hennig, Commanding Officer 10th AAA 

Group, supporting the ROK 1st Division at Unsan: and Colonel Hazlett, 

KMAG adviser to the ROK 1st Division, all have told the author there was 

no such number as 344 prisoners taken at Unsan. And there is no 

indication in the combat records that that many prisoners were taken 


[9] EUSAK PIR 106, 26 Oct 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 30 Oct 50; I Corps WD, 

Intel Summ 135, 30 Oct 50; New York Times, October 28, 1950. 


[Caption] LIN PIAO

reports from a I Corps estimate of a day or two earlier, "There are no indications at this time to confirm the existence of a CCF organization or unit, of any size, on Korean soil."

The first week of Chinese action in Korea, however, did cause General Walker to restrain I Corps, which, acting on his warning, ordered the 24th Division back to the Ch'ongch'on River from its advanced position. This order on 1 November disturbed the Far East Command. General Hickey telephoned General Allen about the withdrawal and the latter had to explain why General Walker and his staff considered it advisable. [10]

During the first phase of Chinese intervention the units involved tried to conceal their identity by using code names. This succeeded rather well at first. The 54th Unit, for instance, was not suspected of being in reality the 38th Army, which prisoners said it was, but was accepted as being only a small part of it. Similar evaluations were made of the 55th, 56th, 57th, and 58th Units, each of which represented a CCF army. In point of fact, the 54th Unit was the 38th Army; the 55th Unit, the 38th Army; and the 56th Unit, the 40th Army. This misconception was further deepened by the Chinese use of a battalion code to represent a full division; thus the 1st Battalion, 55th Unit, was actually the 115th Division, 38th Army. Chinese officials maintained from the first the fiction that the Chinese fighting in Korea were volunteers. Thousands of interrogations of Chinese prisoners later and scores of captured Chinese documents proved this contention false. [11]

Eighth Army intelligence noted on 31 October that out of a total of eleven Chinese prisoners taken in the Eighth Army zone by that date, six claimed to belong to the 56th Unit and two claimed the 55th Unit. The army intelligence estimate on that date spoke of these two units as "token units" and surmised that they probably were concerned with protecting the approaches to the Kanggye area. By 1 November, however, on the


[10] Interv, author with Maj Gen Leven C. Allen, 15 Dec 53: Ltr, 

Thompson to author, 9 Apr 54: Ltr, Lt Gen Doyle O. Hickey to author, 14 

Feb 56. 

[11] EUSAK WD, 31 Oct 50, G-2 Sec, Interrog of Yang Jun-tzu, 164-MISDI-

1171; Ibid., 28 Oct 50, G-2 Sec, Interrog of Yen Shu-cheng, 164-MISDI-

1167; Ibid., 1 Nov 50. Interrog of Huang Che-chan, 164-MISDI-1174; 

Ibid., PIR 113, 2 Nov 50; FEC Intel Digest, vol. 1, Nr 4, 17 Feb 53. 

XIII Army Group, CCF; FEC MIS, Order of Battle Info, CCF, 


eve of the 8th Cavalry disaster at Unsan, Eighth Army intelligence had changed its view so far as to say that the enemy forces in the vicinity of Unsan included "possibly at least two Chinese units of regimental size." [12]

By 4 November, Eighth Army intelligence had accepted two Chinese units of division size in Korea. The next day it raised this estimate to "three divisional sized Task Units," tentatively identified as the 54th, 55th, and 56th Units, totaling approximately 27,000 men. It will be noted that the Chinese code unit still was underestimated-now being accepted as of division size rather than army size, which it in fact was. [13]

On 6 November, at the very time as it chanced that the CCF withdrew from general contact with Eighth Army, General Walker wrote a letter to General MacArthur in which he expressed his views of the tactical situation on his front. He said in part:

There has never been and there is now no intention for this army to take up or remain in passive perimeter or any other type of defense. Every effort is being made to retain an adequate bridgehead to facilitate the resumption of the attack as soon as conditions permit. All units continue to execute local attacks to restore or improve lines. Plans have been prepared for the resumption of the offensive employing all forces available to meet the new factor of organized Chinese Communist forces. These plans will be put into execution at the earliest possible moment and are dependent only upon the security of the right flank, the marshaling of the attack troops and the restoration of vital supplies. [14]

On 13 November Eighth Army received its first report of a prisoner from the CCF 42d Army. The report came from the ROK II Corps on the right flank of the army front. In the next few days other Chinese prisoners from the 42d Army were taken in this same general area around Tokch'on. All came from the 374th Regiment, 125th Division, 42d Army. [15] This Chinese army at the time was sideslipping southwest from the Changjin Reservoir area in the X Corps zone to the right flank of Eighth Army, while elements of the CCF Third Field Army were replacing it in northeast Korea.

At the end of the third week in November, as U.N. forces made ready to resume their attack toward the border of Korea, Eighth Army intelligence estimated there were about 60,000 Chinese troops in Korea. Various field reports reaching the Department of the Army in Washington differed in their estimates, their figures ranging from 46,700 to 70,000. [16]

The opinions held by the ranking members of the Eighth Army staff on the extent of Chinese intervention, capability, and intention seem to have varied. General Walker apparently shared the view held by Lt. Col. James C. Tarkenton, his G-2, that the Chinese in Korea


[12] EUSAK PIR's 109, 29 Oct; 111, 31 Oct; and 112, 1 Nov 50.

[13] EUSAK PIR 115, 4 Nov, and 116, 5 Nov 50, Ltr, Thompson to author, 9 

Apr 54. 

[14] MacArthur, MS review comments, with Ltr to Maj Gen Richard W. 

Stephens, Chief, OCMH, 15 Nov 57. MacArthur's comments on the copy of 

the manuscript on file in OCMH are in pencil and each one is initialed 

by him. 

[15] EUSAK PIR's 124, 13 Nov; 129, Incl 2, 18 Nov; and 131, 20 Nov 50. 

[16] Interv, author with Fergusson, 23 Jun 53; DA Intel Rev, 175, Dec 

50, p. 33; Ltr, Maj Gen John A. Dabney to author, 3 Feb 54. 


numbered only a few divisions composed possibly of volunteers; that there were no organized CCF armies, as such, in Korea; and that China would not enter the war. [17] Colonel Dabney, Eighth Army G-3, was skeptical of this view. He arrived at the conclusion that the Chinese might well have crossed the Yalu River in great strength, but he too was still searching for final answers.

In the two weeks after the Chinese broke off their First Phase Offensive and withdrew from contact with Eighth Army, the impact of the Chinese menace on the American command gradually subsided. Among Eighth Army staff members, the motive generally ascribed for the first CCF intervention in October and early November was that the Chinese wanted to protect the power plants south of the Yalu River. Many now thought they would dig in on a defensive line to do this. As the days passed and the front remained quiet, fear of massive Chinese intervention dwindled.

A careful study of Eighth Army daily intelligence reports for the month of November 1950 reveals that, despite daily reference to the Chinese potential north of the Yalu River in Manchuria, there was a tapering off of concern about full Chinese intervention from about 10 November until 24 November, when Eighth Army resumed its offensive. In this connection it should be noted that the controlling Eighth Army viewpoint could scarcely avoid being influenced somewhat by that of the Far East Command, which seems to have been that China would not intervene with major forces.

The X Corps Estimate

The capture of sixteen prisoners from the 370th Regiment of the 124th Division by the ROK 26th Regiment on 29 October convinced the X Corps G-2 that "integral CCF units have been committed against U.N. forces." [18] General Almond said at this time he intended to attack with sufficient strength to find out if the Chinese were in only regimental or in greater strength. The 7th Marines' attack on the road to the Changjin Reservoir disclosed that the Chinese were there in at least division strength.

Elements of X Corps encountered and captured only a few Chinese soldiers from another division, the 126th, near the Changjin Reservoir. On the east side of the Pujon Reservoir, a few more were captured who said they were from the same division. These prisoners reported that a third division, the 125th, was in the Changjin Reservoir area. Because this division guarded the road and rail line approaching Yudam-ni and the reservoir from the southwest-the central part of the peninsula-X Corps was not in contact with it until the third week of November. By then most of this enemy division had already moved southwestward into the Eighth Army zone.

Although X Corps did not have as harsh an experience with Chinese forces


[17] Interv, author with Lt Gen Frank W. Milburn. 4 Jan 52; Ltr, Dabney 

to author, 3 Feb 54; Interv, author with Fergusson, 23 Jun 53; Interv, 

author with Allen, 15 Dec 53; Interv, author with Brig Gen William C. 

Bullock (Asst G-3 EUSAK, Nov 50), 28 Jan 54. The author has considered 

carefully and taken into account the MS review comments of Col. 

Tarkenton (Eighth Army G-2 at the time), Dec 57, in making final 

revisions in this chapter. 

[18] X Corps PIR 34, 30 Oct 50; Pacific Stars and Stripes, November 1, 



in the First Phase Offensive as did Eighth Army, it nevertheless received intelligence which indicated large-scale Chinese intervention. In mid-November, for instance, two civilian draftsmen, formerly employed by the Traffic Department of the P'yongyang Railway Bureau, reported on what they saw and heard of Chinese intervention before they left Manp'ojin on 26 October. According to them, there had been a continuous flow of CCF soldiers through Manp'ojin beginning on 26 October. One of the men estimated 80,000 Chinese had passed south through the border town. Chinese officers had variously told the two men that 200,000 and 400,000 Chinese soldiers were to enter Korea. [19]

The lack of enemy activity in front of X Corps during the second and third weeks of November prompted the corps intelligence officer to state officially on 18 November that "the enemy's recent delaying operations are apparently concluded and he is once again withdrawing to the north. The speed of his movements has caused a loss of contact at most points." General Almond himself at this time did not think that the Chinese had intervened in the Korean War in force. [20]

As the date approached for the U.N. attack intended to complete the occupation of all Korea, X Corps, like Eighth Army, seemed to take the view that enemy forces in front of it would fight only a delaying defensive action. On 22 November, corps intelligence reported that the enemy was "apparently preparing to make a defensive stand in his present positions," and that there was "no evidence to indicate any considerable number of CCF units have crossed the border since the initial reinforcement." [21]

The next day, however, elements of the 7th Marines captured two Chinese soldiers seven miles west of Hagaru-ri who said they belonged to the 267th Regiment, 89th Division, which had crossed the Yalu ten days earlier. The men had deserted from their unit the night before and walked toward the U.N. lines. [22] The most interesting and important thing about these two deserters was that, if their story was true, not only was there another new Chinese division in Korea, but it came from a new army, the 20th, a new army group, IX, and, most important of all, from a new field army, the CCF Third Field Army, which in the summer had been in the Shanghai area.

In preparing for its part in the impending U.N. offensive, X Corps anticipated that when the Eighth Army advance reached Huich'on, and X Corps itself neared the Kanggye road above Huich'on in the U.N. double envelopment attack, the enemy would react violently, and the possibility of enemy ground and air reinforcements from Manchuria could not be overlooked. [23]

While X Corps recognized the capabilities of CCF strength beyond the border, it seems clear that on the eve of


[19] X Corps PIR 49, 14 Nov 50.

[20] X Corps PIR's 53, 18 Nov, and 54, 19 Nov 50: X Corps POR 54, 19 Nov 

50; Interv, author with Almond, 13 Dec 51. 

[21] X Corps PIR 57, 22 Nov 50. 

[22] X Corps PIR 58, 23 Nov 50. 

[23] X Corps PIR 59, 24 Nov 50; X Corps WD, 25 Nov 50, app., an. A to X 

Corps Order 7, pp. 2, 5-6. 


the impending U.N. attack-set for 24 November in the west and 27 November in the northeast-corps believed that not more than one or two CCF divisions were on its front and that the enemy's efforts in the near future would be wholly defensive in character. General Almond, the corps commander, held this view. As in the case of Eighth Army, the controlling X Corps view was probably influenced by that of the Far East Command.

The Far East Command's and MacArthur's Estimates

Of all the intelligence levels of the U.N. command and the American government, perhaps the most decisive in evaluating the intention and capability of Chinese intervention in the Korean War was that of the Far East Command in Tokyo. The evaluation by General MacArthur and his intelligence officers of Chinese intervention and Chinese military capability in Korea in October and November 1950 seems to have been the determining factor in shaping the future course of U.N. military action in that country.

Why this was so requires explanation, for normally the intelligence evaluation of whether a foreign power has decided to intervene in a war in national force involves political intelligence at the highest level. Field and theater commanders could expect such an evaluation to by made by the government in Washington with the advice of its Central Intelligence Agency. The intelligence responsibility of Eighth Army and X Corps was tactical; strategic intelligence responsibility rested with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of the Army, and the theater headquarters, with the ultimate political intelligence the responsibility of the President and his immediate advisers. But apparently the Central Intelligence Agency and the administration generally did not evaluate the available intelligence so as to reach a conviction on the question of whether the Chinese intended to intervene in the Korean War different from that held by General MacArthur. It must be inferred that either Washington was undecided or that its view coincided with that of the Commander in Chief, Far East, since it did not issue directives to him stating a different estimate. The conclusion, then, is that in the developing situation of November the views of the Far East Command were decisive on the military course to be taken in Korea at that time.

The Korean War had scarcely started when the Far East Command began to consider the threat of CCF intervention. On 28 June its daily intelligence summary stated that the possibility existed that North Korea might receive Chinese Communist reinforcements from Manchuria. In early July General MacArthur informed the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington that if Chinese combat forces did become involved in the war the assistance of the Strategic Air Command would be required to destroy communications into and through North Korea from China. At this time the Far East Command estimated there were 116,000 CCF regular troops in Manchuria. An increase in CCF troop strength there became perceptible during the month and continued steadily thereafter. Much of the information concerning CCF troop movements from south to north China came from Chinese


[Caption] CHOU EN-LAI

Nationalist sources on Formosa. Chiang Kai-shek's government received a steady stream of intelligence from its agents on the China mainland, and it, in turn, provided General MacArthur's command with numerous reports. [24]

Many of the intelligence reports received at Tokyo, as is usual in such matters, were inaccurate and unreliable. Such were several reports in August and September that CCF troops had crossed the border into North Korea. One of these reports, on 29 August, alleged that four CCF armies had crossed the Yalu and were deployed in North Korea. [25]

On 8 September the daily intelligence summary included a report of the Chinese Nationalist Ministry of Defense G-2 that if the outcome of the war seemed doubtful, elements of Lin Piao's Fourth Field Army probably would be committed. This report further indicated that such troops would not be used as CCF units but would be integrated into the North Korea People's Army. [26]

The Far East Command learned in mid-September of an alleged conference in mid-July in Peiping where it was decided to support North Korea short of war. Chou En-lai was quoted, however, as having said that if the North Koreans were driven back to the Yalu, the CCF would enter Korea. Far East Command intelligence, in commenting on this report, said that the Chinese Communist authorities apparently were worried over Korea and would regard a U.N. advance to the Yalu as a "serious threat to their regime." [27] Two weeks later, on the last day of September, the daily intelligence summary reported on an alleged high-level conference in Peiping on 14 August, at which it had been decided to provide 250,000 CCF troops for use in Korea. [28]

A new note of more official character entered into the intelligence clamor on 3 October. The Chinese Communist Foreign Minister, Chou En-lai, summoned Ambassador Sardar K. M. Panikkar of India to his office in Peiping and told him that if the United States or United Nations forces crossed the 38th Parallel, China would send troops to de-


[24] FEC, Daily Intel Summ, 28 Jun 50 (hereafter cited as FEC DIS); 

Ibid., Nr 6, 2 Sep 51, p. A-3; FEC telecon with DA, TT3467, 6 Jul 50. 

[25] FEC DIS 2915, 2 Sep 50; X Corps PIR 22, an. 2, 10 Oct 50. 

[26] FEC DIS 2921, 8 Sep 50.

[27] FEC DIS 2929, 16 Sep 50. 

[28] FEC DIS 2943, 30 Sep 50. 


fend North Korea. He said this action would not be taken if only South Korean troops crossed the 38th Parallel. This information was communicated quickly by the Indian Ambassador to his government, which in turn informed the United States and the United Nations. The government at Washington immediately dispatched the message to General MacArthur in Tokyo. [29] Representatives of other nations reported similar statements coming from Chinese officials in Peiping. Then, on 10 October, the Peiping radio broadcast as a declaration of Chinese Communist intentions a statement to the same effect. On 15 October the Department of the Army informed MacArthur's headquarters of another report from a reliable source that Moscow was preparing a surprise for American troops when they approached the northern border. [30]

In early October an escaped American officer informed American intelligence authorities that he had been interrogated in North Korea by three Soviet officers and that one of them, a senior colonel, told him on 22 September that if U.S. forces crossed the 38th Parallel new Communist forces would enter the war in support of North Korea. [31]

On 5 October for the first time Far East Command intelligence listed as number one priority in enemy capabilities "Reinforcement by Soviet Satellite China." But this estimate did not long remain in first priority; it dropped to second place the next day, to third place on 9 October, and remained there through 13 October. On 14 October the intelligence estimate again raised the reinforcement of North Korea to first priority. There it remained during the Wake Island Conference. [32]

The Far East Command daily intelligence summary for 14 October carried a lengthy analysis of the problem and presumably represented the official view of Maj. Gen. Charles A. Willoughby, Far East Command G-2. This intelligence estimate accepted a total strength of thirty-eight CCF divisions in nine armies in Manchuria. It expressed the view that Russia would find it convenient and economical to stay out of the conflict and let the Chinese provide the troops if there was to be intervention. It went on to say that the interest of all intelligence agencies was focused on the "elusive Lin Piao" and the Yalu River. One significant paragraph stated:

Recent declarations by CCF leaders, threatening to enter North Korea if American forces were to cross the 38th Parallel, are probably in a category of diplomatic blackmail. [Italics supplied.] The decision, if any, is beyond the purview of collective intelligence: it is a decision for war, on the highest level; i.e. the Kremlin and Peiping. However, the numerical and troop potential in Manchuria is a fait-accompli. A total of 24 divisions are disposed along the Yalu River at crossing points. In this general deployment, the grouping in the vicinity of Antung is the most immediately available Manchurian force, astride a suitable road net for deployment southward. [33]


[29] FEC DIS 2947, 4 Oct 50; Senate MacArthur Hearings, pt. 3, p. 1833, 

testimony of Secy of State Dean Acheson. 

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

VII, p. 13, citing Msg 94214, DA to CINCFE, 15 Oct 50. 

[31] FEC DIS 2950, 7 Oct 50. 

[32] FEC DIS 2948, 5 Oct, and 2949-60, 6-17 Oct 50.

[33] FEC DIS 2957, 14 Oct 50. 


This same report pointed to the recent fall of Wonsan as a serious loss to the enemy and one jeopardizing his entire defense structure. It went on to say, "This open failure of the enemy to rebuild his forces suggests that the CCF and Soviets, in spite of their continued interest and some blatant public statements, have decided against further expensive investment in support of a lost cause."

Meanwhile, President Truman on 10 October had announced his intention to fly to the Pacific for a meeting with General MacArthur over the coming weekend to discuss "the final phase of U.N. action in Korea." The conference between the President, General MacArthur, and selected advisers of each took place on Wake Island, Sunday, 15 October. Most of the talk concerned plans for the rehabilitation of Korea after the fighting ceased. General MacArthur said he expected formal resistance to end throughout North and South Korea by Thanksgiving Day and that he hoped to get the Eighth Army back to Japan by Christmas. In response to President Truman's question, "What are the chances for Chinese or Soviet interference?", notes of the conference indicate that General MacArthur replied substantially as follows:

Very little. Had they interfered in the first or second months it would have been decisive. We are no longer fearful of their intervention. We no longer stand with hat in hand. The Chinese have 300,000 men in Manchuria. Of these probably not more than 100,000 to 200,000 are distributed along the Yalu River. Only 50,000 to 60,000 could be gotten across the Yalu River. They have no Air Force. Now that we have bases for our Air Force in Korea, if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be greatest slaughter. [34]

General MacArthur then discussed briefly the chance of Russian intervention, holding the view that it was not feasible and would not take place.

General MacArthur has challenged the accuracy of the notes of the conversations at the Wake Island Conference. He maintains that the question concerning possible Chinese or Soviet intervention was low on the President's agenda, and that while he replied that the chances of such intervention were "very little," he added that this opinion was purely speculative and derived from the military standpoint, while the question fundamentally was one requiring a political decision. His view, he states, was also conditioned by the military assumption that if the Chinese did intervene United States forces would retaliate, and in a peninsular war could work havoc with their exposed lines of communication and bases of supply. He says, in effect, that he took it for granted that Chinese knowledge of this capability would be a powerful factor in keeping them from intervening. [35]


[34] Substance of Statements Made at Wake Island Conference on October 

15, 1950, compiled by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, JCS, 

from notes kept by the conferees from Washington. Copies of this 

Substance of Statements were forwarded to General MacArthur by the JCS 

on 19 October 1950, and receipted for by his aide on 27 October. Neither 

General MacArthur nor his headquarters advised the JCS of any 

nonconcurrence with this record of the conference. See Bradley, Letter 

of Submittal, 2 May 1951, to Senator Richard Russell, Chairman, Senate 

Armed Services Committee, included as part of the document (printed by 

the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Foreign Relations, 

U.S. Senate (Washington, 1951); New York Times, October 11, 1950; Dept 

of State Pub 4263, United States Policy in the Korean Conflict, July 

1950-February 1951, p. 19. 

[35] MacArthur, MS review comments, 15 Nov 57. 


It must be noted that General MacArthur's opinion on the subject was not questioned by the President or any of the others present, who must be assumed to have had knowledge of the highest level of intelligence bearing on the matter. In fact, so thoroughly did they seem to agree with his opinion that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked him when he could spare a division for European duty. So it would seem that General MacArthur in responding to the President's question merely voiced the consensus of the highest officials from the seat of government. This is how matters stood at mid-October.

On 20 October the Far East Command daily intelligence summary carried a report from a source it regarded as reliable that 400,000 CCF troops were at the border alerted to cross on the 18th or 20th. The Far East Command stated that precautionary measures had been taken of conducting daily air reconnaissance flights over all avenues of approach to the U.N. forces from the Yalu but that "so far no positive movements except intermittent though large-scale truck convoys have been picked up." [36] On this same date, the Far East Command issued CINCFE Plan 202, which was to be the basis for withdrawal of U.N. forces from Korea when the fighting ended. This plan assumed there would be no intervention either by Chinese or Soviet forces. [37]

Strangely enough, beginning on 25 October and continuing throughout the month, and at a time when the U.N. forces were actually fighting the Chinese Communist Forces in North Korea and capturing Chinese prisoners, the Far East Command daily intelligence summary placed Chinese intervention second in priority to guerrilla operations in enemy capabilities. The intelligence summary for 27 October carried the story of the first CCF prisoners captured two days earlier. The G-2 comment on the prisoners' account of Chinese intervention was that it was "based on PW reports and is unconfirmed and thereby unaccepted." [38]

The next day, 28 October, after discussing further the question of possible CCF intervention, the intelligence estimate said:

From a tactical viewpoint, with victorious U.S. Divisions in full deployment, it would appear that the auspicious time for such [Chinese] intervention has long since passed; it is difficult to believe that such a move, if planned, would have been postponed to a time when remnant North Korean forces have been reduced to a low point of effectiveness. [39]

On 31 October the daily summary discussed the fact that ten Chinese prisoners had been taken by Eighth Army and that the ROK II Corps had suffered reverses. It then said that the situation "may signify the commitment of Chinese Communist Forces in the Korean conflict." The United Nations Command report to the Security Council covering the period 16-31 October, in mentioning the capture of Chinese prisoners, said there was no positive evidence


[36] FEC DIS 2963, 20 Oct 50. 

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

VII, pp. 1-2, citing CINCFE Opn Plan 202, 20 Oct 50, JSPOG files. 

[38] FEC DIS 2968-2974, 25-35 Oct 50. 

[39] FEC DIS 2971, 28 Oct 50. 


that Chinese units as such had entered Korea.[40]

On 3 November, however, the Far East Command accepted the estimate that 16,500 CCF troops were in contact with U.N. forces in Korea and that possibly the total might be 34,000. This intelligence report listed CCF strength in Manchuria totaling 833,000 men, of whom 415,000 were Chinese Communist regular ground forces. On this same day the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington dispatched a message to MacArthur expressing their concern over what appeared to be "overt intervention in Korea by Chinese Communist units," and asked his views on the matter. He replied the next day that while it was a distinct possibility, "there are many fundamental logical reasons against it and sufficient evidence has not yet come to hand to warrant its immediate acceptance." [41]

On the same day, 3 November, that MacArthur received the inquiry from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Peiping radio broadcast a joint communiqué in Chinese by the Chinese Communist Party and various political parties participating in the Peiping government. It declared the Korean War was a direct threat to the safety of China and that the Chinese people should take the initiative and exert utmost efforts to resist the United States and assist North Korea. The Far East Command G-2, in commenting on this broadcast, said that preceding ones had sounded like "bombast and boasting. The above does not." [42] Two days later, on 5 November, the daily intelligence summary stated that the Chinese Communist Forces had the potential to launch a large-scale counteroffensive at any time and without warning. [43]

On the heels of this estimate came General MacArthur's well-publicized special communiqué on 6 November which charged the Communists with having "committed one of the most offensive acts of international lawlessness of historic record by moving without any notice of belligerency elements of alien Communist forces across the Yalu River into North Korea," and of massing a great concentration of possible reinforcements behind the sanctuary of the Manchurian border. Concerning the future, he said, "Whether and to what extent these reserves will be moved forward to reinforce units now committed remains to be seen and is a matter of the gravest international significance." [44]

The Far East Command intelligence report the next day raised its accepted number of CCF troops in Korea to 34,500; 27,000 in the Eighth Army zone and 7,500 in the X Corps zone. [45] On the 8th it carried a rather detailed analysis of the CCF in Korea. It accepted 8 CCF divisions from 4 armies with a strength of 51,600 men as being in contact with U.N. forces; it accepted 2 more


[40] FEC DIS 2974, 31 Oct 50; Dept of State Pub 4051, United Nations 

Command Eighth Report to the Security Council, United Nations, 16-31 

October 1950. p. 2. 

[41] FEC DIS 2977, 3 Nov 50; Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and 

Participation in the Korean War, ch. VII, p. 14, quoting Msg W95790

CSUSA to CINCFE, 3 Nov 50, and Msg C68285 CINCFE to DA, 4 Nov 50. 

[42] FEC DIS 2980. 6 Nov 50. 

[43] FEC DIS 2979, 5 Nov 50. 

[44] GHQ FEC Communiqué 11, 6 Nov 50; see also New York Times, November 

6, 1950; Dept of State Pub 4263, pp. 20-22. 

[45] FEC DIS 2981, 7 Nov, and 2982, 8 Nov 50. 


divisions with 12,600 men as probably in contact, and still another 2 divisions with 12,600 men as possibly being in the X Corps zone but not in contact with U.N. forces. This analysis gave a total of 76,800 CCF troops as probably being in North Korea. [46]

The report of a conference in Peiping on 17 October when Chinese officials allegedly decided to go to war received further consideration on 12 November, in the light of more information, and the G-2 comment was that "this information may be evaluated as probably true." Reports continued to reach Tokyo from the Chinese Nationalist government on Formosa that the Chinese Communists intended to throw their main forces against the United Nations in Korea and also to increase their participation in the Indochina fighting. [47]

At mid-month, the U.N. Command reported to the Security Council that elements of twelve CCF divisions had been identified in forward areas, nine in Eighth Army zone, three in X Corps. As the third week of November passed, the Korean front was relatively quiet. Far East Command intelligence took notice of the continuing propaganda actively being carried on in Peiping and elsewhere by radio broadcasts, letters to newspaper editors, rallies, and other devices, in what seemed to be a campaign to prepare the nation for a defensive intervention war in Korea. The Far East Command now apparently accepted Chinese Communist strength in Korea at a maximum of 70,051 and a minimum of 44,851. Apparently this estimate did not change up to the beginning of the U.N. attack on 24 November. [48]

The Department of the Army estimate of CCF strength in Korea was essentially the same as that of the Far East Command, Eighth Army, and X Corps. In the week preceding the resumption of the U.N. attack on 24 November it accepted the estimate of 51,600 CCF troops in Korea, and a probable total of 76,800 CCF troops in Korea. It credited these troops to four CCF armies (the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 42d) with twelve divisions, giving each division a strength of 6,300 men. [49]

It is obvious that the Far East Command was in possession of a great amount of intelligence concerning the Chinese and their relation to the Korean War. But the vital questions still remained. Just what did General Willoughby, MacArthur's G-2, think, and, most important, what did General MacArthur himself think, of the probability of full-scale Chinese intervention?

While General Willoughby frequently pointed out in his intelligence summaries the potentialities of CCF intervention, it appears on all the evidence


[46] FEC DIS 2983, 9 Nov, and 2988, 14 Nov 50. 

[47] FEC DIS 2989, 15 Nov 50.


[48] Dept of State Pub 4051, United Nations Command Ninth Report to the 

Security Council, United Nations, 1-15 November 1950, p. 9; FEC DIS 

2993, 19 Nov 50. The original CCF strength in Korea before casualties 

was given as between 50,400 and 76,600. This indicated that FEC 

intelligence believed that approximately 5,500 CCF soldiers had become 

casualties in the fighting up to that time. See also FEC DIS 2994-2998, 

20-24 Nov 50. 

[49] See DA Wkly Intel Rpts 91, 17 Nov 50, pp. 19-21, and 92, 24 Nov 50, 

p. 32. A full treatment of the Department of the Army and the Joint 

Chiefs of Staff levels in the Korean War may be found in Schnabel, 

Theater Command. 


that he did not think it would take place. When Maj. Gen. Leven C. Allen passed through Tokyo in early September on his way to Korea to assume the post of Chief of Staff, Eighth Army, Willoughby in a conversation with him played down the possibility of Chinese intervention and said the Chinese were sensible and would keep out of the Korean affair. [50] When General Ruffner, Chief of Staff, X Corps, in talking with General Willoughby in November, expressed concern about the great number of CCF divisions identified in the Eighth Army and X Corps zones, Willoughby answered they may have been only elements of that many divisions-not that many full divisions. [51] And in November when General Hickey, Acting Chief of Staff, Far East Command, with the G-2, G-3, and G-4 of that command, visited the X Corps in Korea to form a first-hand estimate of the degree of Chinese intervention, he asked General Willoughby substantially the following question: "If, as General Almond states, Chinese forces have intervened, how many Chinese troops do you estimate are now in Korea?" General Willoughby reiterated that only volunteers had entered Korea and that probably only a battalion of volunteers of each division identified was actually in Korea. In this same conversation, in response to a question from General Almond about what had happened to the 8th Cavalry Regiment in the Eighth Army zone, General Willoughby reportedly replied that the regiment had failed to put out adequate security, been overrun by a small, violent surprise attack, and had scattered during the hours of darkness. [52]

The Far East Command intelligence reports themselves during October and November 1950, although filled with intelligence data and estimates of the CCF capabilities, seem never to reflect the evaluated opinion that the Chinese would intervene in full force.

General MacArthur's view seems to have paralleled closely that reflected in the Far East Command intelligence evaluations, but he may have been somewhat more apprehensive of massive Chinese intervention. On 7 November he sent a report to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in response to their request for one, that reflects his views and outlook at the time. His message, paraphrased, said:

Unquestionably . . . organized units of CCF have been and are being used against U.N. forces; that while it is impossible to determine accurately the precise strength it is enough to have taken the initiative in the west and to have slowed appreciably our offensive in the east. The pattern seems established that such forces will be used and increased at will, probably without a formal declaration of hostilities. If this enemy build-up continues, it can easily reach a point preventing our resumption of the offensive and even force a retrograde movement. An attempt will be made in the west, possibly within 10 days, again to assume the initiative if the flow of enemy reinforcements can be checked. Only through such an offensive can an accurate measure of the enemy strength be taken. [53]

Despite this somewhat somber view, MacArthur two days later expressed himself optimistically in a message to the JCS with respect to future possible


[50] Interv, author with Gen Allen, 15 Dec 53. 

[51] Interv, author with Maj Gen Clark L. Ruffner, 27 Aug 51. 

[52] Ltr, Col William J. McCaffrey (X Corps Deputy CofS, Nov 50) to Lt 

Gen Edward M. Almond, 1 Dec 54, and forwarded by Almond to author. 

[53] CINCFE to DA for JCS, C68465, 7 Nov 50. 


military operations against the Chinese Communist Forces. He said:

I believe that with my air power, now unrestricted so far as Korea is concerned except as to hydroelectric installations, I can deny reinforcements coming across the Yalu in sufficient strength to prevent the destruction of those forces now arrayed against me in North Korea. [54]

On the day the U.N. attack began, 24 November, General MacArthur gave further evidence of the degree to which this view guided his thinking. In a communiqué that day he announced:

The United Nations massive compression envelopment in North Korea against the new Red Armies operating there is now approaching its decisive effort. The isolating component of the pincer, our Air Forces of all types, have for the past three weeks, in a sustained attack of model coordination and effectiveness, successfully interdicted enemy lines of support from the North so that further reinforcement therefrom has been sharply curtailed and essential supplies markedly limited. [55]

Perhaps even more revealing of MacArthur's state of mind was his special communiqué to the United Nations later the same day in which he said:

The giant U.N. pincer moved according to schedule today. The air forces, in full strength, completely interdicted the rear areas and an air reconnaissance behind the enemy line, and along the entire length of the Yalu River border, showed little sign of hostile military activity. The left wing of the envelopment advanced against stubborn and failing resistance. The right wing, gallantly supported by naval air and surface action, continued to exploit its commanding position.

Our losses were extraordinarily light. The logistic situation is fully geared to sustain offensive operations. The justice of our course and promise of early completion of our mission is reflected in the morale of troops and commanders alike. [56]

In these dispatches General MacArthur expressed a viewpoint which apparently dominated his thinking during most of the critical period of October and November 1950 while he and the United Nations wrestled with the problem of CCF intervention. He seems to have believed, first, that the Chinese would not intervene in full force, and, second, that should they do so, his air power would destroy them. General MacArthur very likely expected to fight a battle with the Chinese Communist Forces short of the Yalu, but he expected to win it through the decisive effect of the interdiction and close support capabilities of his air power. This reliance on air power in dealing with the CCF was perhaps the crucial factor in MacArthur's calculations.


The statement of Chou En-lai to the Indian Ambassador on 3 October, the announcements made over the Peiping radio, the timing of CCF troop movements as learned from prisoners, and other forms of intelligence, taken in connection with later events, make it seem reasonably clear that the Chinese Communist government had decided by early


[54] CINCFE 10 DA for JCS, C68572, 9 Nov 50.

[55] GHQ UNC Communiqué 12, 24 Nov 50, in EUSAK WD, 24 Nov 50, EUSAK 

Daily News Bul, 24 Nov 50. 

[56] Senate MacArthur Hearings, pt. 3, p. 1834, testimony of Acheson, 

quoting MacArthur's message. 


October on intervention in North Korea if United Nations troops other than ROK's crossed the 38th Parallel. Whether the Chinese Communists believed the United Nations Command would cross the Parallel is unknown, but there is at least one good reason to think the North Korean Government believed the U.N. Command would stop at the 38th Parallel. Kim Il Sung, Commander in Chief of the North Korea People's Army, in an order to the army dated 14 October 1950, stated in part, "Other reasons that we have failed are that many of us felt that the 38th Parallel would be as far as the US Forces would attack...." [57]

Within a few days after the leading elements of the U.S. forces crossed the 38th Parallel at Kaesong on 9 October, elements of the CCF were crossing the Yalu River at the Manchurian border into North Korea. The first of these troops apparently crossed the boundary on 13 or 14 October, although it is possible that some may have crossed on the 12th.

Four CCF armies, each of three divisions, crossed the Yalu River between 14 and 20 October. Two of them, the 38th and the 40th, crossed from An-tung, Manchuria, to Sinuiju, North Korea; the other two, the 38th and 42d, crossed from Chi-an, Manchuria, to Manp'ojin, North Korea. All four armies were part of Lin Piao's Fourth Field Army and upon arrival in Korea were subordinated to the CCF XIII Army Group. The 1st Motorized Artillery Division, two regiments of the 2d Motorized Artillery Division, and a cavalry regiment also crossed into Korea at An-tung about 20-22 October in support of the four armies already across. [58]

Three of the four CCF armies entering Korea deployed in front of Eighth Army, the fourth deployed in front of X Corps. From west to east these armies took the following positions: the 38th Army was in front of Unsan, the 40th Army in front of Onjong. The 38th Army, marching from Manp'ojin through Kanggye, reached a position on Eighth Army's right flank in the Huich'on area. Very likely it was troops from this CCF army that General Dean saw in the early dawn one morning in mid-October twenty miles north of Huich'on as he was being taken by his captors to Manp'ojin. The 38th and 40th Armies entered combat with U.N. forces for the first time on 25 October; the 38th entered combat on the 26th.

The fourth army, the 42d, moved from Manp'ojin through Kanggye to the Changjin Reservoir area in front of the X Corps main axis of advance in northeast Korea. It, like the 38th and 40th Armies, first entered combat against forces under U.N. command on 25 October. The west flank units of this army, elements of the CCF 125th Division, overlapped into the Eighth Army zone and apparently constituted the enemy force that dispersed the ROK 7th Regi-


[57] X Corps PIR 55, 20 Nov 50, reproduces this captured document, Order 

1-1, 14 Oct 50, signed by Kim Il Sung and Pak Kun Yon, Chief, Korean 

People's Supreme Political Bureau. 

[58] FEC Intel Digest, vol. I, Issue 4, 1-15 Feb 53 pp. 26-38; Ibid., 

Issue 26, 16-30 Jun 52, Individual Histories, Chinese Communist Support 

and Service Units, pp. 46-47; FEC MIS, Order of Battle Info CCF, p. 9. 


[Caption] KIM IL SUNG

ment below Ch'osan at the end of October. [59]

At the time, then, that General MacArthur was expressing to President Truman and his advisers at Wake Island on 15 October his belief that there was very little likelihood that the Chinese Communist Forces would intervene, that, if they did, no more than 60,000 could get across the Yalu and that his air force would destroy them, approximately 120,000 CCF soldiers either had already crossed, were in the act of crossing, or were moving from their assembly and training areas to the crossing sites for the purpose of crossing.

Following the first four armies in approximately ten days, two more CCF armies crossed into North Korea at the end of October. These were the 50th and 66th Armies which, crossing from An-tung to Sinuiju, had completed their crossing into North Korea by 31 October. Each of these armies was composed of three divisions recently brought up to war strength. In these two armies approximately 60,000 more CCF troops came into North Korea, to make a total during the month of approximately 180,000 troops. The 50th Army deployed southward on the CCF west flank and remained in reserve during the CCF First Phase Offensive. An element of this army did, however, exchange fire with the 19th Infantry Regiment on 1 November near Kusong. [60]

Also, before the end of October the CCF 42d Truck Regiment entered Korea at Sinuiju from An-tung, and the 5th Truck Regiment and the 8th Artillery Division entered Manp'ojin from Ch-ian. Both truck units supported the First Phase Offensive. [61]

In the X Corps zone, the 42d Army had sent the 124th Division south of the Changjin Reservoir where it fought the delaying battle in late October and the first part of November with elements of the ROK 3d Division and the U.S. 7th Marines. The 126th Division remained in reserve in the reservoir area, but it had a number of minor engagements and patrol actions with the U.S. 7th Division in the Pujon Reservoir area. The 125th Division moved southward from Yudamni to block the axis of approach from


[59] FEC Intel Digest, vol. 1, Nr 4, 1-15 Feb 53, pp. 28-33: EUSAK WD, 

G-2 Sec, 12 Nov 50, interrog of Ma Yu-fu; Ibid., 14 Nov 50, ATIS 

Interrog Rpts (Enemy Forces), Issue 17, 2279, p. 186, interrog of Lin 

Piao Wu (a company grade officer); 1st Mar Div SAR, 8 Oct-15 Dec 50, 

vol. 1, an. B, p. 23.

[60] FEC Intel Digest, vol. 1, Nr 4, 1-15 Feb 53, pp. 36-37. 

[61] Ibid., Issue 26, 16-30 Jun 52, pp. 48, 52. 



Armies Divisions Regiments
38th 112th 334th, 335th, 336th
113th 337th, 338th, 339th
114th 340th, 341st, 342d
39th 115th 343d, 344th, 345th
116th 346th, 347th, 348th
117th 349th, 350th, 351st
40th 118th 352d, 353d, 354th
119th 355th, 356th, 357th
120th 358th, 359th, 360th
42d 124th 370th, 371st, 372d
125th 373d, 374th, 375th
126th 376th, 377th, 378th
50th 148th 442d, 443d, 444th
149th 445th, 446th, 447th
150th 448th, 449th, 450th
66th 196th 586th, 587th, 588th
197th 589th, 590th, 591st
198th 592d, 593d, 594th
Source: FEC Intel Digest, vol. 1, Nr 4, 17 Feb 53; FEC MIS, Order of 

Battle Info, CCF, 15 Jun 51; Ibid., Nr 35, 1-15 Nov 52, p. 45; Ibid., Nr 

6, 2 Sep 51, p. A-9. 

Sach'ang-ni to the north. By 13 November it had moved southwest across the X Corps-Eighth Army boundary into the Eighth Army zone where it appeared before the ROK 8th Division in the Tokch'on area on the Eighth Army east flank.

These six armies, five in the Eighth Army zone and one in the X Corps zone, composed the CCF XIII Army Group with a total of 18 divisions, each division at the standard strength of about 10,000 men. In the Chinese Army the division and regiment numeration proceeds progressively in sequence. The organization of the XIII Army Group illustrates this. (Table 5)

A third major CCF entry into North Korea now took place. The IX Army Group, Third Field Army, entered Korea during the first half of November. This army group had come by rail directly to the border from Shantung Province, China, in late October and early November and had started crossing at once. It comprised three armies, the 20th, 26th, and 27th, each of three divisions. Each of these armies was reinforced by a division taken from the 30th Army, this giving each army four divisions. [62] The IX Army Group entering Korea in the first part of November, therefore, added 12 infantry divisions to the 18 already there, for a total now of 30 divisions. In addition to these 30 infantry divisions, the Chinese Communist Forces also had in North Korea a number of artillery, cavalry, and support units.

The IX Army Group moved southeast to the Changjin Reservoir area, large units of it arriving there on or before 13 November. On that date, elements of the IX Army Group relieved the 42d Army of its responsibility in that sector, and the 124th and 126th Divisions of the 42d Army followed the 125th southwest into the Eighth Army zone. By the end of the third week of November, therefore, the XIII Army Group of the CCF Fourth Field Army, with 18 divisions of infantry (180,000 men), was concentrated in front of Eighth Army, and the IX Army Group of the CCF Third Field Army, with 12 divisions of infantry (120,000 men), was concentrated in front of X Corps. A formidable total of approximately 300,000 CCF infantry troops


[62] The 89th Division reinforced the 20th Army; the 88th Division, the 

26th Army; and the 90th Division, the 27th Army. 



were now deployed in North Korea. [63]

The entry of the Chinese Communists into the Korean War necessarily brought changes in the enemy command. It appears that Peng Teh-huai, Deputy CCF Commander, established a joint CCF-NKA Headquarters in Mukden and there made basic decisions concerning enemy operations. A subordinate headquarters, called the N.K. Army-CCF Combined Headquarters, under Kim Il Sung, Commander in Chief of the North Korean Army, was publicly given credit for controlling military operations in Korea, but it seems certain that actual control rested in Mukden. There is some indication that the CCF XIII Army Group at first may have been under Kim Il Sung's North Korean command. The IX Army Group apparently was under complete CCF control from the beginning.


Starting with an acceptance of only a few Chinese "volunteers" mixed with North Korean units, the U.N. Command in the course of a month had gradually raised its estimate to accept about 60,000 to 70,000 Chinese troops in Korea by 24 November, less than one-fourth the number actually there. How was it possible for the U.N. Command to mistake so grossly the facts in the situation, even after it had met a considerable part of these Chinese forces in combat?

The answer seems clear enough. First, although the Chinese Communist government had several times openly stated it would intervene if U.N. forces other than ROK troops crossed the 38th Parallel, American authorities were inclined to disbelieve this and to consider these statements to be in the nature of threats and diplomatic blackmail. Second, the actual troop movements across the Yalu and deployment south were made at night and so in the main were not subject to aerial observation. During the day, aerial observation failed to discover


[63] The approximate figure of 300,000 for the Chinese was arrived at 

only after careful study of the intelligence information. Although the 

30 regular divisions may not all have been precisely 10,000 strong, the 

round figure takes into account the miscellaneous service, cavalry, and 

artillery units. FEC Intel Digest, vol. 1, Nr 3, 16-31 Jan 53, IX Army 

Group, pp. 32-37; Ibid., vol. 1, Nr 4, 1-15 Feb 53, XIII Army Group, p. 

33; FEC Intel Digest, Nr 8, 16-30 Sep 51, and Nr 6, 16-31 Aug 51, p. A-

12; FEC MIS, Order of Battle Info, CCF, pp. 9-10, 87-91, and Third Field 

Army, 1 Mar 51; ATIS Enemy Docs, Issue 29, p. 84, Chinese Notebook, 11-

24 Nov 50; 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. 1, an. B, 8 Oct-15 Dec 50, pp. 25, 82. 


the troops, who remained hidden in the hills under perfect camouflage discipline. Third, because they were not adequately confirmed, the reports from prisoners and Korean civilians of mass CCF movements across the border were not accepted by intelligence authorities. The intelligence system of Eighth Army, for various reasons, did not work as well in North Korea as it had in South Korea during the days of the Pusan Perimeter.

A word should be said about the CCF march discipline and capabilities, which in large part accounted for the secrecy with which the Chinese Communists entered and deployed in North Korea. This march capability and performance equaled the best examples of antiquity. In Xenophon's account of the retreat of the 10,000 Greeks, a day's march on the average came to a little less than 24 miles. The Roman military pace was set to cover 20 miles in 5 hours, the usual day's march for a Roman legion. In normal training exercises the Roman legions had to make three such marches every month. On occasion the legions were required to march 24 miles in 5 hours. When Caesar besieged Gergovia in Gaul, he marched 50 miles in 24 hours. [64]

In a well-documented instance, a CCF army of three divisions marched on foot from An-tung in Manchuria, on the north side of the Yalu River, 286 miles to its assembly area in North Korea, in the combat zone, in a period ranging from 16 to 19 days. One division of this army, marching at night over circuitous mountain roads, averaged 18 miles a day for 18 days. The day's march began after dark at 1900 and ended at 0300 the next morning. Defense measures against aircraft were to be completed before 0530. Every man, animal, and piece of equipment were to be concealed and camouflaged. During daylight only bivouac scouting parties moved ahead to select the next day's bivouac area. When CCF units were compelled for any reason to march by day, they were under standing orders for every man to stop in his tracks and remain motionless if aircraft appeared overhead. Officers were empowered to shoot down immediately any man who violated this order. [65]

These practices, especially the march and bivouac discipline, explain why United Nations aerial observation never discovered the CCF deployment into Korea. The Chinese Communist Forces moved 300,000 men into position in October and November and none of them was ever discovered by the U.N. Command prior to actual contact. While the planes were overhead searching for possible Chinese movement into Korea, the Chinese, perfectly camouflaged, lay hidden below. The aerial observers did not see them nor did the aerial photographs reveal their presence.

The Pregnant Military Situation

On 6 November General MacArthur took official notice of the recent CCF offensive and summed up his estimate of the changing situation in Korea. He said


[64] See Xenophon, The Anabasis, and William Duncan's Caesar (includes 

Caesar's Commentaries), pp. 46-50. 

[65] FEC Intel Digest 16, 16-31 Jan 52, March of a CCF Army, pp. 33-39; 

I Corps WD, 30 Oct 50, Intel Summ 135, 30 Oct 50. Although the march 

described actually occurred early in 1951, a few months after the 

initial CCF intervention, the initial CCF troops entering Korea 

apparently marched at an equal rate of speed at night to reach their 

assembly areas. 



the defeat of the North Koreans had been decisive when the Chinese intervened in "one of the most offensive acts of international lawlessness of historic record." Speaking in high praise of General Walker, he said the possible trap "surreptitiously laid calculated to encompass the destruction of the United Nations Forces" was avoided, "with minimum losses only by the timely detection and skillful maneuvering of the United States commander responsible for that sector." General MacArthur announced his future intentions in these words, "Our present mission is limited to the destruction of those forces now arrayed against us in North Korea with a view to achieving the United Nations' objective to bring unity and peace to the Korean nation and its people." He intended, obviously, to destroy the Chinese forces in Korea as well as the remaining North Koreans. To accomplish this he considered it necessary to establish an integrated continuous front in western and central Korea for co-ordinated large-scale offensive action. [66]

That same day, 6 November, General Walker issued Eighth Army's operation plan for a renewal of the offensive. It called for an advance to the Korean border with three corps abreast-the U.S. I Corps on the west, the U.S. IX Corps in the center, and the ROK II Corps on the east in the army zone. [67] In preparing for the projected offensive, tentatively set for 15 November, Eighth Army had to bring the IX Corps into the line. Steps had already been taken to accomplish this. On 2 November the ROK III Corps had assumed responsibility for the then IX Corps zone, and IX Corps completed its move to Sunch'on on 4 November. The next day at noon the IX Corps became operational there with control of the 2d Infantry Division. [68]

Colonel Stebbins, Eighth Army G-4, estimated that Eighth Army needed 3,000 tons of supplies daily for passive defensive operations and 4,000 daily for active combat. At no time in October or up to about 20 November was Eighth Army able to supply this minimum need for active offensive combat. The 4,000


[66] GHQ FEC Communiqué 11, 6 Nov 50; Dept of State Pub 4051, United 

Nations Command Ninth Report to the Security Council, United Nations, 

1-15 November 1950, p. 10. 

[67] EUSAK Opns Plan 14, 6 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 6 Nov 50. 

[68] EUSAK POR 342, 3 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 4 Nov 50; IX Corps WD, 

Nov 50, bk. I, sec. IV, Opns. 


tons daily was finally achieved by bringing forward approximately 2,000 tons daily to P'yongyang by rail from the south, by unloading 1,000 tons daily at Chinnamp'o, and by bringing approximately 1,000 tons daily into North Korea by airlift. [69]

While Eighth Army was striving to overcome the logistical difficulties that delayed its resumption of the attack in mid-November, X Corps in northeast Korea continued its headlong rush to the border against scattered and ineffective opposition except in the 1st Marine Division sector below the Changjin Reservoir. There the Marine division and regimental commanders, much to the X Corps commander's dissatisfaction, deliberately slowed their advance.

From the very beginning of X Corps operations in northeast Korea, General Smith had looked with disfavor on the wide dispersal of the subordinate units of the Marine division. On 7 November in a conference with General Almond, he again urged the concentration of the division. The recent experience of X Corps with the CCF 124th Division and Eighth Army's encounter with the CCF in the west apparently caused General Almond to be more amenable to General Smith's arguments for concentrating the Marine division, and he agreed to it. Smith then went further and argued that the division should not advance to the Kot'o-ri plateau at the south end of the Changjin Reservoir with winter at hand, but General Almond felt that the marines should hold Hagaru-ri at the southern end of the reservoir. With the withdrawal of the CCF from contact both in the west and northeast Korea about 7 November, confidence soon reasserted itself in both Eighth Army and X Corps, and X Corps on 11 November reiterated its directive to proceed to the Yalu. Both Eighth Army and X Corps were still enjoined under General MacArthur's directive of 24 October to proceed to the Yalu. Apparently General Almond hoped that the troops could reach the border quickly, turn over the area to ROK troops, and withdraw before winter really set in. [70]

After the 7th Marines reached the Kot'o-ri plateau on 10 November, neither Colonel Litzenberg, the regimental commander, nor General Smith, the division commander, showed any inclination to hurry the advance. General Smith plainly indicated that he was apprehensive about his western exposed flank, that he wanted to improve the road up the pass from the division railhead at Chinhung-ni, that he wanted to develop a secure base at Hagaru-ri, and that he wanted to garrison key points on the main supply road back south. And most of all he wanted to concentrate the full strength of the Marine division in the Hagaru-ri area before trying to advance further toward the Yalu.

Winter struck early in the Changjin


[69] Interv, author with Stebbins, 4 Dec 53; Interv, author with Maj Gen 

Leven C. Allen, 15 Dec 53; Ltr, Allen to author, 27 Nov 54; EUSAK WD, G-

3 Sec, 13 Nov 50, and G-4 Jnl, Msg 7, 241015 Nov 50.


[70] Interv, author with Ruffner, 15 Aug 51; Interv, author with Lynn 

Montross and Capt Nicholas Canzona, Marine Corps Hist Sec, 6 Apr 54; 

Interv, author with Almond, 13 Dec 51; Lt Gen Oliver P. Smith, MS review 

comments, 15 Nov 57; X Corps Special Rpt on Chosin Reservoir, Nov 50; 

Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the Korean War, ch. VII, 

pp. 21-23. 


Reservoir area of Korea in 1950. It arrived with violent force and subzero temperatures on 10 November, the day the marines reached the Kot'o-ri plateau. From that day on the troops there were involved in a winter campaign. Patrols sent out from Kot'o-ri on 11 and 12 November found only small scattered enemy groups in the hills, and the next day a Marine unit advanced to Pusong-ni, halfway to the reservoir. On 14 November the 7th Marines, wearing their heavy arctic parkas, trudged in subzero weather toward Hagaru-ri over a road now covered with an inch of snow. Vehicles froze up on the move, brakes grabbed, transmissions were stiff, and the men themselves had difficulty in moving forward. Entering Hagaru-ri, the marines found it burned out by previous bombing attacks and practically deserted. Natives told them that the 3,000 Chinese soldiers occupying the town had departed three days earlier, going north and west. A Chinese soldier from the 377th Regiment, 126th Division, captured near Hagaru-ri during the day, said elements of his division were east of the reservoir. That night, 14-15 December, the temperature dropped to 15 degrees below zero. [71]

The next day the 7th Marines completed its movement into Hagaru-ri, and Colonel Litzenberg made arrangements for a perimeter defense. The 1st Battalion protected the northwest approaches, the 2d Battalion the southern, and the 3d Battalion the northeast approaches to the town. That same day the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, arrived at Kot'o-ri, beginning the concentration of the rest of the 1st Marine Division in the Changjin Reservoir area behind the 7th Marines. The 5th Marines now guarded the main supply route back to Hamhung.

Two days after the first Marine units entered Hagaru-ri, General Smith and Maj. Gen. Field Harris (Commanding General, 1st Marine Air Wing) on 16 November looked over the ground there and selected the site for a C-47 airstrip. Smith felt that such an airstrip would be needed to supplement supply by road and for fast evacuation of casualties. Engineer troops began work on the airstrip on 19 November, and others continued work on improving the road up the pass from Chinhung-ni. The first trucks climbed through the pass to Hagaru-ri on the 18th. Smith held the Marine advance to Hagaru-ri while this work continued.

Thus it was, that with virtually no enemy opposition, the marines advanced at an average rate of only a mile a day between 10 and 23 November. But this caution on the part of General Smith in concentrating the division and his insistence on securing its supply lines and of establishing a base for further operations in the frigid, barren wastes of the Changjin Reservoir area were to prove the division's salvation in the weeks ahead.

Although the projected Eighth Army attack on the 15th had to be postponed because of logistical difficulties, the army on the 14th ordered an attack to be made, on a day and hour to be announced, to seize a line running generally from Napch'ongjong, on the west coastal road, eastward through Taech'on-


[71] 1st Mar Div SAR, vol. II, pp. 38, 40, an. C, 13-14 Nov 50; X Corps 

PIR 49, 14 Nov 50; ATIS Interrog Rpts (Enemy Forces), Issue 18, Nr 2304, 

Cheng Cheng Kwo. 


Onjong-Huich'on to Inch'o-ri. This was to be the line of departure for the projected co-ordinated attack. The army was then to be prepared to continue the advance on order to the northern border of Korea. General Walker's order reflects an intention to proceed with a closely co-ordinated attack in order to have the army under control at all times. It also reflects a considerable degree of caution and a certain respect for the enemy forces. It appears on the weight of the evidence that General Walker wanted to make the attack. He expected opposition, but apparently believed he could reach the border. His chief of staff, General Allen, shared this view. [72]

On 17 November, with the logistical situation improved, Eighth Army announced to its subordinate organizations that the attack north would start on 24 November. General MacArthur notified the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the same time of the tentative attack date, emphasizing that the delay in mounting the offensive had been due to logistical difficulties. He optimistically reported that the intensified air attacks of the past ten days had isolated the battlefield from added enemy reinforcements and had greatly reduced the flow of enemy supplies. [73]

Up to the launching of the 24 November attack the U.S. Eighth Army and the X Corps had suffered a total of 27,827 battle casualties in the Korean War; 21,529 in Eighth Army and 6,298 in X Corps. Of the Eighth Army total, 4,157 had been killed in action, 391 more had died of wounds, and 4,834 were missing in action. [74]

On the afternoon of 2, November Eighth Army advised I and IX Corps and the ROK Army that H-hour for the army attack was 1000 24 November. Word of the attack hour had reached the front-line units by 23 November. That was Thanksgiving Day. The army front was generally quiet. Patrols went out several thousand yards in front of the line with little enemy contact. Nearly everywhere the enemy seemed to have withdrawn during the past week, leaving behind light outpost and covering positions. At no place did U.N. forces uncover what could be considered a main line of resistance. [75]

As Eighth Army units moved out in attack on 24 November they encountered only a few small enemy squad- and platoon-sized groups employing small arms fire. Even in the ROK II Corps zone of attack enemy opposition was unexpectedly light. In most places the U.N. advance was unopposed.

Generals MacArthur, Stratemeyer, Wright, Willoughby, and Whitney, to-


[72] EUSAK Opn Plan 15, 14 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 11, 14 Nov 50; 

Interv, author with Allen, 15 Dec 53; Interv, author with Stebbins, 4 

Dec 53. Colonel Stebbins, the Eighth Army G-4 at the time, however, told 

the author that General Walker did not want to make the attack. 

[73] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Msg 172100 to CG I and IX Corps and CG ROK; I 

Corps WD, 18 Nov 50; Schnabel, FEC, GHQ Support and Participation in the 

Korean War, ch. VII, p. 26, citing Msg C69211, CINCUNC to DA, 18 Nov 50. 

[74] EUSAK WD, AG Sec, Statistical Casualty Rpt, 24 Nov 50; X Corps POR 

59, 24 Nov 50; TAGO Rpt, May 52, shows Korean casualties through 15 Nov 

50 as 28,159; 5,702 KIA; 18,909 WIA, of which 482 were DOW; and 3,548 

missing or captured. 

[75] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Opn Instr, 211645 Nov 50; EUSAK PIR 133, 22 Nov 

50; 24th Div WD, 23 Nov 50; 89th Med Tk Bn Unit Hist, Nov 50, p. 3; I 

Corps WD, 22 Nov 50. 




gether with several chiefs of U.S. press bureaus in Tokyo, had flown to Korea the morning of the 24th to witness the beginning of the attack. General Walker joined them in visits to I Corps, IX Corps, and 24th Division headquarters along the Ch'ongch'on. At I Corps headquarters General Milburn cast a momentary shadow over the bright picture being drawn when he told the party that his patrols had found the Unsan area heavily defended, and in his opinion the projected IX Corps attack there would not progress easily. General Church briefed the party at the 24th Division headquarters shortly after noon on the progress of the attack. Optimism and enthusiasm as to chances of the attack succeeding seemed to prevail. [76]

In the afternoon when General Leven Allen returned to Eighth Army headquarters from the airstrip where he had accompanied the party, he remarked to some of the staff members, "I think the attack will go. General MacArthur would not have come over if he did not think so." [77]

[76] EUSAK PIR 135, 24 Nov 50; EUSAK WD, CG memoir for record 

(aide-de-camp), 24 Nov 50; IX Corps WD, bk. I, 24 Nov 50; I Corps WD, Nov 

50; Interv, author with Maj Gen Edwin K. Wright, 7 Jan 54.

[77] Interv, author with Brig Gen William C. Bullock, 28 Jan 54; Ltr, Maj Gen Leven C. Allen to author, 4 Dec 54.