Korean War (10)

187th RCT on foot to the Yalu River

187th RCT on foot to the Yalu River

Gen. Almond and his X Corps were still bouncing on the waves 24 October 1950 in what would embarrassingly be called, “Operation Yo-Yo.” (True code name – Operation Tailboard). Two more days of mine-sweeping would be necessary as Bob Hope and his USO troupe flew into Wonsan to entertain the Marines – he had beat the fleet. Using helicopters, the brass left the Mount McKinley to see the show and bring Hope back to the ship. The entire Marine Division enjoyed the amusing program and then finally went ashore 31 October.

Confirmed - Bob Hope took Wonsan before the Marines did!

Confirmed – Bob Hope took Wonsan before the Marines did!

An enemy soldier was captured near Unsan wearing a quilted uniform, khaki on one side and white on the other for snow camouflage. He calmly stated that he was not Korean, but Chinese from Kwangtung Province and ten of thousands of fellow soldiers were swarming in the hills. Farther south, Col. Michaelis’ troops found well-stocked ammunition dumps uncommon to the North Korean army. The locals admitted that they were stockpiles for the Chinese. Almond went to Hamhung to help question 16 POWs. Each man, a fully equipped and well uniformed Chinese soldier answered that they belonged to a larger division and their destination was Pusan. Still, no one believed the Chinese had crossed into Korea in mass. Mao realized this and took it as the reason MacArthur had divided his troops into east and west lines.

Turkish brigade

Turkish brigade

24 October, 180,000 CCF troops punched through the South Korean II Corps and then headed west toward the U.S. 2nd Division; which was then ambushed. The Battle of Kuni-ri cost the division 4,000 men and most of its heavy weapons. The British 27th and the Turkish brigades were sent in by Gen. Walker to assist as the Eighth Army pulled back.

Kim Il Sung speaking at a mass rally

Kim Il Sung speaking at a mass rally

The CCF was under the command of Kim Il Sung, and the Chinese commander, Lin Piao who held no formal rank, but was officially known as Yen-chan-chun Ssu-ling-yuan, (Field Army Commanding Officer). In October, after the CIA failed to predict the attack on the South Koreans, the head of the agency was replaced by LGeneral Walter Bedell Smith, who had been Eisenhower’s chief of staff in WWII.

29 October, soldiers of the 7th Division, that had landed at Iwon unopposed, reinforced the X Corps and began their drive northward to the Yalu River and link up with the 8th Army in the central mountainous region. U.N. forces continued north with great difficulty. The Marines and units from the Army 7th Infantry Division went 64 miles from Hungnam to Hagaru; at the base of the infamous Chosin Reservoir.

At the start of November, both Tokyo and the Pentagon learned of a declaration made in Beijing, “Aid Korea, Protect Our Homes…To save our neighbors is to save ourselves…” Mao was declaring ROK and American troops as ineffective as the CCF attacked in mass at night, creating heavy fighting and chaos. Walker’s troops were paying a costly price. Having been outflanked and in hand-to-hand combat at Unsan, they lost at least 1,000 men either KIA or MIA. The 5th Cavalry, in their attempts to break through and relieve the 8th Army were also hit hard, but managed to force the Chinese back and continue advancing.

Chines MiG-15 fighter planes began going over the area south of the Yalu River. The first American plane was shot down on 8 November. The air space was dubbed “MiG Alley” by the pilots. The enemy would strike and then return north, but the Americans were under orders not to follow. The British members of the U.N. (nominally in charge of the war) insisted there would be NO hot pursuit of the MiGs. The Far East Air Force, thinking they were out of “strategic” targets in North Korea, sent two B-29 groups back to the U.S.

Gen. Almond in Korea

Gen. Almond in Korea

The temperatures were dropping and the Yalu River was freezing over. This made the sunken water bridges unnecessary and supplies from China were transported south with even more efficiency. The 11th Marines came into fierce battles with the CCF 124th Division for 5.5 days, after which 1,500 of the enemy dead were counted and 50 Marines KIA and 200 wounded. (Yet, Gen. Almond’s diary is only seen to mention his inspection of a posh railroad car to be used for the X Corps staff.) In hearing about the EUSAK sector’s combat, MacArthur ordered what B-29s he had left to destroy the “Korean end” of the bridge over the Yalu that connected Sinuiju with Manchuria.

General Stratemeyer

General Stratemeyer

Air Force commander, Stratemeyer, felt this order exceeded his authority and radioed the Air Force Chief of Staff, Vandenberg. An argument ensued about having to consult with the British, who needed to be consulted with on any actions concerning Manchuria; as they were still protecting their interests in Hong Kong. (The U.N. had asked for opinions of authorizing pursuit of the Chines aircraft into Manchuria: London, Paris, Canberra, Ottawa, Delhi and Moscow all answered in the negative – Korea was not worth risking a third world war was the common consensus.) Truman initially gave the order not to bomb, but after receiving detailed information, he rescinded that command and gave the Okay. (By the time the B-29s bombed the bridges on 8 November, the Chinese had already left the area.)

The Chosin, Nov.-Dec. 1950

The Chosin, Nov.-Dec. 1950

In the beginning of November, the CCF had hit the Allied forces hard and then suddenly stopped. Politics began flying around the globe through every form of communication while Tokyo intelligence was left unaware of what exactly had crossed the border from China or why there was now, no contact. This month gave everyone a false sense of security, but 150,000 Chinese troops and 60,000 more bringing in the supplies were laying new traps for both the EUSAK in the west and the Marines in the east. The CCF even went so far as to release 100 Allied prisoners to report back of a Chinese retreat.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Thomas Beasley – Brooklyn, NY & Boynton Bch., FL; USMC, Korean War

Aaron Combs – Scuddy, KY & Linville, NC; U.S. Navy in WWII, U.S. Air Force in Korea, 20 year veteran

Luther Gaillard, Jr. – Charleston, SC; U.S. Air Force, Vietnam

Norma Yates – (78) – Goose Creek, SC; Naval Supply Clerk at Charleston Naval Base

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Personal note – My next guest post for Greatest Generation Lessons will be this coming Tuesday, 10 September. Please stop in for, “Women of WWII”

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Resources: “Rakkasans” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; History.com;”Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; “Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; “MacArthur’s War” by Stanley Weintraub; Koreanwaronline.com

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on September 5, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. Interesting stuff. Sometimes it seems that the Korean War got sort of lost between WWII and Vietnam in terms of popular culture – books, movies etc. – so it’s interesting to read this account. I had my own…experience(?) when meeting the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Tibet.

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  2. Another great post. If you would like to see an interesting movie from the South Korean perspective I can recommend Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0386064/

    It trys to recreate some of the battles with vast hordes of Chinese troops charging on mass

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  3. The one thing I do remember hearing about the Korean War is the bitter cold that the troops had to deal with. I think I came by this information in a young adult’s book/novel on the Korean War. I can’t remember the title of the book. I googled for it without success. I found this though which sounds interesting. https://www.penguin.com.au/products/9780143307570/brave-company I am looking forward to your guest post.

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  4. Thanks again for giving information I had never heard before. Seems like the Korean War was something I don’t remember studying much in school, so now I feel like I am getting better informed. Bob Hope certainly spread a lot of cheer to the troops.

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    • Hope was only one USO troop out of many, but he sure made quite the impact in his lifetime. Don’t feel bad – I hear from countries all around the world, and I don’t think any one of them taught anything about the Korean War in their schools.

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  5. LGeneral Walter Bedell Smith – his nickname was Beetle, wasn’t it? I think Ike would have had a much tougher time pulling off Overlord without him… Just my humble opinion.

    You know, when will our politicians let the military “do their thing”. As soon as they stick their political goals into Long Toms, the dang breech explodes. I know… I won’t get you started on this… 🙂

    But Bob Hope… True American. Where is he now…? We need him oh, so badly. Marilyn Monroe wouldn’t hurt, either.

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  6. I don’t what is more ridiculous, bomb the “southern end of the bridge” or the fact that Moscow was consulted about whether to chase Chinese Mig’s into Manchuria. Was Berlin consulted before the British chased the Italian planes that first raided Malta in WWII?…lol

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  7. Just a note to say that I am really enjoying your posts on the Korean War. I like to thing I know a lot about WW II. I really know next to nothing about Korea. Very interesting!

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  8. I’ve read about the Marines and the ” frozen Chosin “. They had to pull back , but no retreat , just ” an advance in the other direction ” .

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  9. Even if I don’t comment on every post in this series, I want you to know how much I appreciate this well-researched, approachable explanation of that war. Perhaps it was too recent when I was in school, but it got little mention in history classes.

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    • Frankly, Weggie, I have not heard from any one who was taught much in school about this war. I believe the governments involved felt it was better left FORGOTTEN. I appreciate your compliment and I don’t expect you to comment on each and every post.

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  10. No one believed the Chinese had crossed into Korea in mass. What? Were the Americans so good at disinformation that this is all the evidence meant to them? Or was the possibility too horrible to contemplate?

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  11. Great read again. Looking forward to your guest post about Women of WWII.

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  12. I’d forgotten about the Bob Hope incident amongst all the other snafus of that stretch of the conflict. Interesting.

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  13. One small suggestion…

    With all the information you are giving in some posts, when using acronyms, write the meaning in parenthesis the first time acronyms are used.

    CCF = Chinese Communist Forces
    EUSAK = Eighth United States Army in Korea (Korean war era)

    I had to use this site to make reading easier.

    http://www.acronymfinder.com/Eighth-United-States-Army-in-Korea-(Korean-war-era)-(EUSAK).html

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  14. A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    Korean War Part 10

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