Korean War (19)

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

15 April 1951, the Canadian Royal 22nd Regiment headed toward Korea while the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) is awarded a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for preventing an enemy breakthrough of United Nation’s lines at Kap’yong.

19 April, all US I and IX Corps were along Line Utah and preparing to advance to Line Wyoming. For 2 days they attacked the high ground overlooking Chorwon. They were halted on 22 April as the combined CCF and North Korean offensive began. The Chinese had some 700,000 troops in Korea and were using about half, which made the Battle of Kap’yong the largest battle of the Korean War. The enemy wanted to present Mao with the recapture of Seoul on May Day. The destroyed ROK 6th Division left a 10-mile gap between the US 24th Division and the 1st Marine Division. Ground was lost when the I and IX Corps were ordered to pull back to fill the void.

An officer of the Glosters points to Gloster Hill after the battles.

An officer of the Glosters points to Gloster Hill after the battles.

During 21-29 April, the UN planes had completed 7,420 air sorties. The 8 days of battles had halted the persistent CCF offensive. A miniature epic of heroism occurred on the Imjin as the British 29th Brigade (3 battalions and the Belgian 1st Battalion) held off a major push by the Chinese Communist Forces. They caused 11,000 KIA of the enemy after 3 days of heavy combat. Out of the brigade rearguard, the 1/Gloucestershire Regiment (“the Glosters”), only 63 men returned to safety. Gloster Hill was added to the list of British battle honors marked as small units that overcame impossible odds.Gen. Van Fleet himself described Gloster Hill as “the most outstanding example of unit bravery in modern warfare.”

Chinese Spring Offensive

Chinese Spring Offensive

23-25 April, the 1st Battalion of the Australian Middlesex Regiment and 16th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery were attacked by the entire 118th Division of the CCF. The PPCLI held the forward positions for the Middlesex to withdraw. Massive human waves from the enemy that continued unrelentingly came down to hand-to-hand combat. Captain Mills, of D Company, PPCLI, called for artillery from Hill 677. By the afternoon of the 25th, the road was clear of the enemy and the units joined up with the US Army’s 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion. The CCF routed the 6th ROK Div. The CCF then gave themselves away with their horns and tracer bullets and the Canadians were able to coordinate their firing while remaining hidden. The CCF turned to Hill 677. By calling for artillery fire on his own position, Capt. Mills had totally confused the enemy and they were easily beaten back.

29-30 April, six US ships bombarded the east coast and two made amphibious landings to divert the CCF pressure on the 8th Army.

25th Div. & "No Name Line

25th Div. & “No Name Line

14 May, Gen. Van Fleet at the No Name Line had been considerably reinforced during this time. The UN forces laid mines, set up artillery of inter-locking machine-guns, strung barbed wire over 500 miles and situated 55 gallon drums of gasoline and napalm to be detonated electronically. Van Fleet wanted to start new amphibious landings in North Korea to outflank the enemy, but Ridgeway was proving to be more cautious than MacArthur. The Far East commander stated in a memo: UN offensives would seek only to deliver advantage in support of diplomatic negotiations.

The Kapyong Valley

The Kapyong Valley

15 May, showed signs of an impending attack including an increase in the number of enemy agents attempting to slip into the lines. The next day, 21 CCF divisions, flanked by 3 North Korean divisions stormed down the center of the Kimpo Peninsula. To the east of this sector, the CCF crossed the Pukhan River and hit the ROK 5th and 7th Divisions along a 20-miles front. The 40,000 ROKs scattered and pulled a bug-out; abandoning their artillery and rifles in what would be the largest and most disgraceful of the war. When the US 2nd Div. and 1st Marines were able, on 18 May, they moved east to fill in the gap. During this battle, the 2nd Div. lost about 900 KIA or WIA to the enemy’s 35,000 loss.

New Zealand troops fire a 25-pounder at Kapyong

New Zealand troops fire a 25-pounder at Kapyong

Ridgeway flew to Korea on 19 May to meet with Generals Van Fleet and Almond of the X Corps to discuss a new offensive. Almond wanted the 187th RCT (Regimental Combat Team) as his replacements. But, as a paratrooper himself, Ridgeway did not wish to use the 187th as a ground force. He felt his “expensive and elite” troops should be available for other operations; nevertheless in the end, he conceded.

23 May, the 1st Marine Division attacked on the east side of the Hwachon Reservoir. The 187th went up the Hangye-Inje road along the river with the support of the 64th Tank Battalion. The sides of the river were very steep. Near Oron-ni there was a bridge about 8 miles south of Inje; the Soyang River crossed the road and these would become bloody markers in the attack. The staff of the 187th felt that at least 4 Chinese divisions were still in the area.

A lot of the enemy were hidden in foxholes with a camouflaged cover. As the men pushed on toward Inje, the ground was bayonet tested and hundreds of the CCF died in their holdouts. By late evening of 25 May, the city was in the 187th’s hands, despite the Communists fighting hard to try and protect their supply bases.

C Company, 3 RAR, Occupying a Chinese dug trench

C Company, 3 RAR, Occupying a Chinese dug trench

26 May, the column was receiving a heavy bombardment of grenades and rifle fire and then the mortar fire kicked in. It would take till the next day before they could advance again. Hills were fought for through heavy combat and hand-to-hand action with very few prisoners taken on either side. Cpl. Hernandez, although severely wounded, survived to receive the Medal of Honor.

On 27 May, The 2nd RCR (Royal Canadian Regiment) organized A Company to take Chail-li and Kakul-hong to the north; B Company on the left flank, C Company to secure Hill 269 between the town and Hill 467 and D Company to go on the main assault – which received heavy machine-gun resistance. Brigadier Rockingham called for a withdrawal and reorganized. This area was vital to the CCF as a supply route and they fought hard to protect it, but the RCR retook their positions with only 6 men KIA and 54 WIA.

The PPCLI, originally with the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade, moved south to rejoin the Canadian command.

Click images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Robert Lavender – Douglas, MI; US Army 1951-56

Clarence “Hank” McCall, Jr. – W.Palm Bch., FL – US Navy, Lt. Commander, submarine duty, PTO, USS Greenling

Carlos “Scotty” Tadlock – Corpus Christie, TX, Jupiter, FL; US Air Force, 23 years, Vietnam

Thomas Todd – Northfield, IL & Carlsbad, CA; USMC Captain, WWII & Korea

Tom Adelfio – Palermo, Italy, Tequesta, FL; US Army, WWII

Nathan R. Chapman – Seattle, WA; US Army, Sgt. 1st Class, Afghanistan

Arthur Blank – NYC, NY & N.Palm Beach, FL; US Navy (Ret.), Commander, WWII

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Personal note –

I had planned to fully explain the ‘Lines’ such as Utah and Wyoming, but I’m afraid my resource for that is down due to the government “shut-down.” Perhaps it will be activated soon.

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Resources: “Korean War” by Stephen Badsey; Warfare of the 20th Century” by Christopher Chant; Wikipedia; “Rakkasans” by Gen. EM Flanagan; Korean War on line; Army photos

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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 October 12, 2013, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Thanks GP, great post. If your readers are interested in the participation of other nations, I highly recommend “To The Last Round” (Andrew Salmon), which describes the 29th Brigade’s stand against the April offensive across the Imjin. It is told through the recollections of veterans, including the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and the Royal Ulster Rifles — who fought alongside the Glosters and the Belgians — and the King’s Royal Irish Hussars and 45 Field Regiment.

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    • Thank you for the added information, Tom. I have included those units in the Korean War section, but I’m certain this book has far more data. I have a Search space if you care to look at what I have. If I’m not mistaken, the 29th was mentioned in 6 posts ranging from August ’13 to October ’13.

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  2. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    My gosh, this is fascinating. My dad fought in the Korean war. I didn’t know anything but what I could glean from the black & white photos he brought back, & the lion wallhanging (which is now mine). Fantastic post. Really valuable.

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  3. You know, gpcox, that reading of 55 gallon drums of napalm wired to be detonated electronically brings to the forefront the horrors of war. From banzai charges that Smitty may have endured to pungi sticks in Viet Nam to pouring fuel down tunnels on Okinawa to set off with grenades… War is death in the ugliest and most wasteful of ways.

    Keep on reporting, gpcox…

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  4. gpcox – Your research continues to amaze me… even with the difficulty. Great job.

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  5. On behalf of my brethren in my adoptive unit, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, thanks for acknowledging that there were actually Canadian troops in Korea, much less the great work they did. I have to give this post an “eh” plus! (Sorry, couldn’t resist. 😉 )

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    • Love it, adds character. I have mentioned the Canadian troops in the past; They have been loyal, brave men in every war they’ve gone into – how could I slight them? It is just difficult sometimes to locate the specific information for units after all this time. So many are of the histories on line are recaps, condensed, digested and take up 3/4 of a page on some website. I try.

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  6. Utah and Wyoming lines: my ears perked up. I want to know.

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    • I did find out that the Wyoming Line was the I Corps Phase Line forward of Line Kansas, around the 38th parallel. Sorry Susan, that’s the best I’ve got for now.

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  7. I found this very informative as always. Ironic that the government shutdown affected your research! Maybe some of those tea party folks in Washington should read your blog – sounds like they need a reminder about democracy and what folks fought for. Hope your country gets up and running soon.

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    • I do too. They actually call it a slim-down, but it is causing havoc where you least expect it sometimes. Maybe they would get together if we slimmed down their paychecks until they resolve their issues. Thanks for stopping in.

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  8. Every time I read these posts, I feel overwhelming depression at the succession of figures killed and wounded on both sides. This was all that life held for so many men. If you add in the thought that someone gave birth to everyone of these hundreds of thousands of KIA WIA, it is difficult to believe that we are an intelligent species.

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    • Truthfully, Hillary, I believe humans are the one species that does NOT – in ANY way – fit into the Nature of this planet. As far as intelligent, I have my theories on that as well. Sorry the post depresses you, but you know I want all the history (or as much as possible) recorded. Maybe then, someone, somewhere, somehow will learn from it. Ya think?:)

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  9. Thanks Gp. You’re pretty fabulous! 😉

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  10. I wanted to say thank you for your tribute to the past. Not many are around to talk about it, and those you are, don’t…usually.
    My mother was born in ’27 or ’28 (not sure as the bible says one thing, the birth certificate, another), so I was raised with some knowledge of these things, and of another way of life.

    As a physically single woman in my 40’s, I am appalled at the fate of the returning soldier. Having been in contact with a few now in my dating experience, they are broken, bent and missing both physical and emotional appendages; scarred from PTSD, biological sterility, abandoned by family and county – many homeless or close to it. I had no idea how to begin to sift through the wreckage and create a relationship. It was beyond my humble abilities with no funds to do the individual work.

    These people have served, were true, and brave; in return, no one seems to want to extend a hand.

    I applaud your efforts at memoralization, teaching, and illumination of truth. We, as a combined effort, hould be helping to lift veterans out of despair, instead of adding to it.
    Blessings….

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    • Thank you for your reply and very sorry for the men you have come in contact with; there are way too many. With the help and hard work of Sheri de Grom, some veterans are being helped at the VA hospital near her.

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  11. The numbers of men involved on both sides is hard for me to imagine. Our country is so small that I keep thinking,”Wow, that would be like the whole population of …such and such…town on the move.” Nice to see the photo of the New Zealanders 🙂

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  12. This gives me some insight into my father’s life as a soldier in the Korean War. Thanks so much!

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  13. Sounds like intense action.

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  14. Gee, it’s just all so complex! But that’s war for ya. You do such a good job of writing about these things.

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  15. I agree with Mike that these articles bring to light the intensity of action. I wish more was taught about these operations in school. Also agreed that these Vets do not get their due. Thank you for writing! Woof! Love, Maggie

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  16. Is is just me? When I hear “Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry” I immediately feel like I walked into a fairy tale…like The Princess Bride story. No disrespect to the Canadians, but I have to keep reminding myself they were real soldiers who fought gallantly.

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  17. What becomes apparent in these articles is the shear intensity of the action. Rarely do we get to know just how tough it was for them. This makes me wonder why the European vets did not get so much recognition? Was it because the political dimension? At least, in the last couple of years I have seen the Belgian Korean war vets marching in front of their king on their national holiday. For a long time they were forgotten or neglected.

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    • I do not intentionally leave the other nations out, the information is difficult to locate. (Another reason I am always asking for the readers to contribute anything they know.) When I do locate something – I am more than happy to include it – all history needs to be recorded. Thanks for stopping in.

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  18. Your post has filled in a lot of information for me about Kapyong. Great post , as usual.

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