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Korean War (22)

Royal Canadians in Korea

Royal Canadians in Korea

 

8 September 1951, was the onset of Operation Miden when the Commonwealth Brigade created a firm bridge hold on the northern bank of the lower Injin River.  From this point, and then pushing forward, they created a line from Sanggorangpo to Chung-gol.  Their Engineers constructed and reopened roads and rebuilt 2 bridges; these would become vital links for the Canadians.

11 September, the division of Canadians , along with the Americans moved north, the 29th Brigade on the left and the 25th Brigade on the right.  They received little opposition and the operation was completed on 13 September.  27 September, the new commander of the 2nd Division, MGeneral Robert N. Young, called a halt to regroup.  The new plan was to have the 72nd Tank Battalion attack and cut off the Mundung-ni Valley and hills that made up the enemy supply lines.  The trail was heavily mined and road-blocked and the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion was called in to clear the area and build a new roadway suitable for the Sherman tanks.  While this was in progress, the 9th, 38th and 23rd Infantry Regiments launched attacks on the ridge.

 

"Old Baldy"

“Old Baldy”

3 October, as Operation Miden ended, Operation Commando began, this being a fight for a hill nick-named “Old Baldy.”  The Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) went to the high ground by the Sami-chon River, the Americans were on the right and the 1st ROK Division on the left.  The Commonwealth, supported by artillery, launched their attack the first day.  The RCR, with the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles, followed the next day.  On 8 October, the Ulsters had Hill 217 and were extremely close and open to even more attacks by the enemy.

 

Royal Ulster Rifles

Royal Ulster Rifles

11 October, with 30 tanks in the lead, artillery pounding and planes soaring overhead, the 2nd Division stormed into the valley; this caught the North Koreans by surprise.  The Chinese 204th Division, moving in to assist, were given no time to dig in, causing massive casualties to the CCF.  The next day, for Hills 635.8 and 709.6, with 48 tanks in front, the Communist 610th Regiment had learned from the previous day’s fiasco and reinforced their anti-tank trenches and set up 49 infantry guns.  Along with their recoilless guns and rocket launchers, they destroyed 18 tanks and cost the Americans high casualties in the 23rd Regiment.

 

significant battles

significant battles

13 October, the 8th ROK Division launched  attacks on 4 hills and received a high casualty list.  The next day, 8 Sherman tanks attacked the Mundung-ni Valley and all were lost.  Two more were destroyed by anti tanks mines on the 19th.  While the tanks went through the enemy supply dumps and destroying 350 bunkers, a smaller team hit the Sat’ae-ri Valley, completing the circle and cutting off any chance the enemy had to reinforce.  The French captured the last Communist bastion.  The tanks never reached the town of Mundung-ni and this actually gave the North Koreans one of the few victories in this stage of the war. (South Korea celebrates this as a victory.)

Sherman tank, "Old Baldy"

Sherman tank, “Old Baldy”

In the first 16 months of the war, the 1st Cavalry lost 4,000 men, 4 times as many as they did in WWII and the unit was sent back to Japan.  The 45th (Oklahoma National Guard Division) were moved in to replace them.  The UN troops from August to October had lost 60,000 KIA, including 22,000 Americans; bringing the American casualty total to 100,000.  The enemy count was estimated at 234,000.  The numbers were climbing so high that the Chinese and North Koreans agreed to further talks to begin 25 October.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes –

Kenneth Lowell Brisbane – Canby, OR; US Army, WWII

Ralph Carr – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII PTO

David Fiske – Los Angeles, CA; US Air Force, WWII, fight surgeon

Ezra Koch – Saskatchewan, Canada & McMinnville, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Takeshi Kohatsu – Montebello, CA; US born Nisei, Poston Relocation Center, US Air Force

Gerald Ryan – Hicksville & Merrick, NY; US Army,  Korea

John Wilson – Chicago, IL; US Navy, Korea

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