Once the enemy has taken flight, they can be chased with no better weapons than air-filled bladders . . . attack, push, and pursue without cease. All maneuvers are good then; it is only precautions that are worthless.

MARSHAL MAURICE DE SAXE, Reveries on the Art of War

By 23 September the North Korean Army was everywhere in retreat from the Pusan Perimeter. Eighth Army, motorized and led by armored spearheads, was ready to sweep forward along the main axes of advance.

The Eighth Army decision to launch the pursuit phase of the breakout operation came suddenly. On 20 September General Allen, in a telephone conversation with General Hickey in Tokyo, reported, "We have not had any definite break yet. They [the North Koreans] are softening but still no definite indication of any break which we could turn into a pursuit." [1] The next day General Allen thought the break had come, and on 22 September General Walker issued his order for the pursuit.

The Eighth Army order stated:

Enemy resistance has deteriorated along the Eighth Army front permitting the assumption of a general offensive from present positions. In view of this situation it is mandatory that all efforts be directed toward the destruction of the enemy by effecting deep penetrations, fully exploiting enemy weaknesses, and through the conduct of enveloping or encircling maneuver get astride enemy lines of withdrawal to cut his attempted retreat and destroy him. [2]

The order directed a full-scale offensive: I Corps to continue to make the main effort along the Taegu-Kumch'on-Taejon-Suwon axis and to effect a juncture with X Corps; the 2d Infantry Division to launch an unlimited objective attack along the Hyopch'on-Koch'ang-Anui-Chonju-Kanggyong axis; the 25th Division on the army's southern flank to seize Chinju and be ready to attack west or northwest on army order; and the ROK Army in the east to destroy the enemy in its zone by deep penetrations and enveloping maneuvers. An important section of the Eighth Army order and a key to the contemplated operation stated, "Commanders will advance where necessary without regard to lateral security."

Later in the day, Eighth Army issued radio orders making IX Corps, under General Coulter, operational at 1400, 23

[1] Fonecon, Gen Allen with Gen Hickey, 1145 20 Sep 50, CofS GHQ files. 

[2] Eighth Army Opn Ord 101, 22 Sep 50, copy in EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 22 

Sep 50.


September, and attaching the U.S. 2d and 25th Infantry Divisions to it. This order charged IX Corps with the responsibility of carrying out the missions previously assigned to the 2d and 25th Divisions. In preparing for the pursuit, Eighth Army moved its headquarters from Pusan back to Taegu, reopening there at 1400, 23 September. [3]

The U.N. forces around the Pusan Perimeter at this time numbered almost 160,000 men, of whom more than 76,000 were in Eighth Army and about 75,000 in the ROK Army. United Nations reinforcements had begun arriving in Korea by this time. On 19 September the Philippine 10th Infantry Battalion Combat Team began unloading at Pusan, and on 22 September the 65th Regimental Combat Team started unloading there, its principal unit being the 65th Puerto Rican Infantry Regiment. The next day Swedish Red Cross Field Hospital personnel arrived at Pusan. On the 19th, the Far East Command deactivated the Pusan Logistical Command and reconstituted it as the 2d Logistical Command-its mission of logistical support unchanged. [4]

Since pursuit of the enemy along any one of the several corridors leading away from the Pusan Perimeter did not materially affect that in any other, except perhaps in the case of the Taejon and Poun-Ch'ongju central roadways, the pursuit phase of the breakout operation will be described by major corridors of advance. The story will move from south to north and northeast around the Perimeter. It must be remembered that the various movements were going on simultaneously all around the Perimeter.

The 25th Division Crosses Southwest Korea

On the day he assumed command of operational IX Corps, 23 September, General Coulter in a meeting with General Walker at the 25th Division command post requested authority to change the division's axis of attack from southwest to west and northwest. He thought this would permit better co-ordination with the 2d Division to the north. Walker told Coulter he could alter the division boundaries within IX Corps so long as he did not change the corps boundaries. [5]

The change chiefly concerned the 27th Regiment which now had to move from the 25th Division's south flank to its north flank. General Kean formed a special task force under Capt. Charles J. Torman, commanding officer of the 25th Reconnaissance Company, which moved through the 27th Infantry on the southern coastal road at Paedun-ni the evening of the 23d. The 27th Regiment then began its move from that place to the division's north flank at Chungam-ni. The 27th Infantry was to establish a bridgehead across the Nam River and attack through Uiryong to Chinju. [6] (Map VIII)

On the morning of 24 September Task

[3] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 22-23 Sep 50. 

[4] GHQ FEC, G-3 Opn Rpt, 22 Sep 50. The assigned strength as of 1800, 

21 September 1950, was: Eighth Army, 76,837; British 27th Infantry 

Brigade, 1,679; Air Force in Korea, 4,794: Philippine 10th Battalion 

Combat Team, 1,200; ROK Army, 74,987. EUSAK WD, 19-23 Sep 50: 2d Log 

Comd Act Rpt, Sep 50. 

[5] Intervs, author with Coulter, 20 Jul 51 and 2 Apr 53: IX Corps WD, 

Sep 50, Personal Recollections of Coulter. 

[6] 27th Inf Hist Rpt, Sep 50, p. 10; 25th Div WD, 23 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 

23 Sep 50; 25th Recon Co WD, 23 Sep 50.


Force Torman attacked along the coastal road toward Chinju. North of Sach'on the task force engaged and dispersed about 200 enemy soldiers of the 3d Battalion, 104th Security Regiment. By evening it had seized the high ground at the road juncture three miles south of Chinju. The next morning the task force moved up to the Nam River bridge which crossed into Chinju. In doing so one of the tanks hit a mine and fragments from the explosion seriously wounded Captain Torman, who had to be evacuated. [7]

Meanwhile, on the main inland road to Chinju the N.K. 6th Division delayed the 35th Infantry at the Chinju pass until the evening of 23 September, when enemy covering units withdrew. The next day the 35th Infantry consolidated its position at the pass. That night a patrol reported that enemy demolitions had rendered the highway bridge over the Nam at Chinju unusable.

On the strength of this information the 35th Regiment made plans to cross the Nam downstream from the bridge. Under cover of darkness at 0200, 25 September, the 2d Battalion crossed the river two and a half miles southeast of Chinju. It then attacked and seized Chinju, supported by tank fire from Task Force Torman across the river. About 300 enemy troops, using mortal and artillery fire, served as a delaying force in defending the town. The 3d and 1st Battalions crossed the river into Chinju in the afternoon, and that evening Task Force Torman crossed on an underwater sandbag ford that the 65th Engineer Combat Battalion built 200 yards east of the damaged highway bridge. Working all night, the engineers repaired the highway bridge so that vehicular traffic began crossing it at noon the next day, 26 September. [8]

Sixteen air miles downstream from Chinju, near the blown bridges leading to Uiryong, engineer troops and more than 1,000 Korean refugees worked all day on the 25th constructing a sandbag ford across the Nam River. Enemy mortars fired sporadically on the workers until silenced by counterbattery fire of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion. Before dawn of the 26th the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, crossed the Nam. Once on the north bank, elements of the regiment attacked toward Uiryong, three miles to the northwest, and secured the town just before noon after overcoming an enemy force that defended it with small arms and mortar fire. The regiment pressed on to Chinju against negligible resistance on 28 September. [9]

On 24 September Eighth Army had altered its earlier operational order and directed IX Corps to execute unlimited objective attacks to seize Chonju and Kanggyong. To carry out his part of the order, General Kean organized two main task forces with armored support centered about the 24th and 35th Infantry Regiments. The leading elements of these two task forces were known respectively as Task Force Matthews and Task Force Dolvin. Both forces were to start their drives from Chinju. Task Force

[7] 25th Recon Co WD, G-3 Sec, Sep 50; 25th Div WD. 23-24 Sep 50: ATIS 

Interrog Rpts, Issue 12, p. 193, Rpt 1769, Lt Col Pak Chong Song, CO, 3d 

Bn, 104th Security Regt. 

[8] 35th Inf Unit Rpt, 25-26 Sep 50; 25th Recon Co WD, Sep 50; 25th Div 

WD, Hist Narr, p. 44; IX Corps WD, 25 Sep 50; 65th Engr C Bn WD, 25-26 

Sep 50. 

[9] 1st Bn, 27th Inf, Unit Rpt, 26 Sep 50; 27th Inf Hist Rpt, 25-26 Sep 

50, p. 11; 25th Div WD, Sep 50, Narr Hist, p. 46.


Matthews, the left-hand column, was to proceed west toward Hadong and there turn northwest to Kurye, Namwon, Sunch'ang, Kumje, Iri, and Kunsan on the Kum River estuary. Taking off at the same time, Task Force Dolvin, the right-hand column, was to drive north out of Chinju toward Hamyang, there turn west to Namwon, and proceed northwest to Chonju, Iri, and Kanggyong on the Kum River. [10]

Three blown bridges west of Chinju delayed the departure of Task Force Matthews (formerly Task Force Torman) until 1000, 27 September. Capt. Charles M. Matthews, commanding officer of A Company, 79th Tank Battalion, replaced Torman in command of the latter's task force after Torman had been wounded and evacuated. He led the advance out of Chinju with the 25th Reconnaissance Company and A Company, 79th Tank Battalion. The 3d Battalion, 24th Infantry, followed Task Force Matthews, and the rest of the regiment came behind it. Matthews reached Hadong at 1730. [11]

In a sense, the advance of Task Force Matthews became a chase to rescue a group of U.S. prisoners that the North Koreans moved just ahead of the pursuers. Korean civilians and bypassed enemy soldiers kept telling of them being four hours ahead, two hours ahead-but always ahead. At Hadong the column learned that some of the prisoners were only thirty minutes ahead. From Hadong, in bright moonlight, the attack turned northwest toward Kurye. About ten miles above Hadong at the little village of Komdu the advanced elements of the task force liberated eleven American prisoners. They had belonged to the 3d Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment. Most of them were unable to walk and some had open wounds. [12]

Just short of Namwon about noon the next day, 28 September, several vehicles at the head of the task force became stuck in the river crossing below the town after Sgt. Raymond N. Reifers in the lead tank of the 25th Reconnaissance Company had crossed ahead of them. While the rest of the column halted behind the stuck vehicles Reifers continued on into Namwon.

Entering the town, Reifers found it full of enemy soldiers. Apparently the North Koreans' attention had been centered on two F-84 jet planes that could be seen sweeping in wide circles, rocketing and strafing the town, and they were unaware that pursuing ground elements were so close. Surprised by the sudden appearance of the American tank, the North Koreans in wild disorder jumped over fences, scurried across roof tops, and dashed madly up and down the streets.

[10] Eighth Army, Ltr of Inst to CG, I and IX Corps, 24 Sep 50; EUSAK 

WD, 23 Sep 50; 25th Div WD, 24-25 Sep 50. 

[11] The name Task Force Torman is used frequently in the official 

records when TF Matthews is meant. TF Matthews consisted of the 25th Rcn 

Co; A Co. 79th Tk Bn; a platoon of B Co, 67th Engr C Bn; an air TAC 

Party; and the medical section of the 27th Inf Regt. 

There were three separate task forces in this movement: (1) TF Matthews 

which formed the point; (2) TF Blair, named after Maj Melvin R. Blair, 

CO 3d Bn, 24th Inf, which followed close behind Matthews; and (3) TF 

Corley, named for Col John T. Corley, CO 24th Inf Regt, which included 

the rest of the RCT, following TF Blair. See 24th Inf WD, 26-30 Sep 50: 

3d Bn, 24th Inf Unit Rpt, 26-30 Sep 50. 

[12] Sawyer, Notes for author, 1 Oct 52 (Sawyer, then a 1st lieutenant, 

commanded the 3d Plat, 25th Recon Co, in TF Matthews); 25th Div WD, Med 

Co Unit Rpt (24th Inf), 28 Sep 50; 3d Bn, 24th Inf WD, 27 Sep 50; 

Corley, MS review comments, Oct 57 


Reifers said later that the scene would have appeared ludicrous if his own plight had not been so precarious. Suddenly he heard American voices calling out, "Don't shoot! Americans! GI's here!" A second later a gateway leading into a large courtyard burst open and the prisoners-shouting, laughing, and crying-poured out into the street.

Back at the head of the stuck column, 1st Lt. Robert K. Sawyer over his tank radio heard Reifer's voice calling out, "Somebody get up here! I'm all alone in this town! It is full of enemy soldiers and there are American prisoners here." Some of the tanks and vehicles now pushed ahead across the stream. When Sawyer's tank turned into the main street he saw ahead of him, gathered about vehicles, "a large group of bearded, haggard Americans. Most were bare-footed and in tatters, and all were obviously half starved. We had caught up with the American prisoners," he said, "there were eighty-six of them." [13]

Task Forces Matthews and Blair cleared Namwon of enemy soldiers. In midafternoon Task Force Dolvin arrived there from the east. Task Force Matthews remained overnight in Namwon, but Task Force Blair continued on toward Chongup, which was secured at noon the next day, 29 September. That evening Blair's force secured Iri. There, with the bridge across the river destroyed, Blair stopped for the night and Task Force Matthews joined it. Kunsan, the port city on the Kum River estuary, fell to the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, without opposition at 1300, 30 September. [14]

Eastward of and generally parallel to the course of Task Force Matthews and the 24th Infantry, Task Force Dolvin and the 35th Infantry moved around the eastern and northern sides of the all but impenetrable Chiri-san area, just as the 24th Infantry had passed around its southern and western sides. This almost trackless waste of 750 square miles of 6,000 to 7,000-foot-high forested mountains forms a rough rectangle northwest of Chinju about thirty by twenty-five miles in dimension, with Chinju, Hadong, Namwon, and Hamyang at its four corners. This inaccessible area had long been a hideout for Communist agents and guerrillas in South Korea. Now, as the North Korean forces retreated from southwest Korea, many enemy stragglers and some organized units with as many as 200 to 400 men went into the Chiri Mountain fastnesses. There they planned to carry on guerrilla activities. [15]

[13] Intervs, author with Sawyer at numerous times in the fall of 1951 

and in 1952; Sawyer, Notes for author, 1 Oct 52; 24th Inf WD, 28 Sep 50; 

25th Div WD, Med Co Unit Rpt (24th Inf), 28 Sep 50; 3d Bn, 24th Inf WD, 

28 Sep 50. Sawyer is the source for details of the Reifers; incident his 

information was based on personal experience and numerous extended 

conversations held with Reifers at the time of and shortly after the 

event. Reifers was later killed near Unsan in North Korea on 27 November 

1950 in the CCF offensive. 

Most of the official Army records erroneously give credit to TF Dolvin 

for liberating these prisoners (EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 28 Sep 50; IX Corps 

PIR, Msg 281645 Sep 50; 25th Div WD, Narr, Sep 50, p. 49). The 3d Bn, 

24th Inf Unit Rpt, the Med Co Rpt, and Sawyer's Notes, however, leave no 

doubt that TF Matthews effected the liberation. TF Dolvin did not reach 

the outskirts of Namwon until midafternoon, about 1515, nearly three 

hours after TF Matthews had entered the town. See 89th Med Tk Bn WD, Sep 


[14] 43d Bn, 24th Inf, Unit Rpt, 28-30 Sep 50; 24th Inf WD, 30 Sep 50. 

[15] ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 12 (N.K. Forces), Rpt 1728, p. 86, Jr Lt 

Ku Sung Son, 110th Security Regt; Rpt 1764, p. 175, Jr Lt Kang Myong Ho, 

110th Security Regt; Rpt 1711, p. 36, Jr Lt Kim Tok Ho, 102d Security 



Lt. Col. Welborn G. Dolvin, commanding officer of the 88th Tank Battalion, led Task Force Dolvin out of Chinju at 0600, 26 September, on the road northwest toward Hamyang, the retreat route taken by the main body of the N.K. 6th Division. The tank-infantry task force included as its main elements A and B Companies, 89th Medium Tank Battalion, and B and C Companies, 35th Infantry. It had two teams, A and B, each formed of an infantry company and a tank company. The infantry rode the rear decks of the tanks. The tank company commanders commanded the teams. [16]

Three miles out of Chinju the lead M26 tank struck a mine. While the column waited, engineers removed eleven more from the road. Half a mile farther on, a second tank was damaged in another mine field. Still farther along the road a third mine field, covered by an enemy platoon, stopped the column again. After the task force dispersed the enemy soldiers and cleared the road of mines, it found 6 antitank guns, 9 vehicles, and an estimated 7 truckloads of ammunition in the vicinity abandoned by the enemy. At dusk, the enemy blew a bridge three miles north of Hajon-ni just half an hour before the task force reached it. During the night the task force constructed a bypass. [17]

The next morning, 27 September, a mine explosion damaged and stopped the lead tank. Enemy mortar and small arms fire from the ridges near the road struck the advanced tank-infantry team. Tank fire cleared the left side of the road, but an infantry attack on the right failed. The column halted, and radioed for an air strike. Sixteen F-51 fighter-bombers came in strafing and striking the enemy-held high ground with napalm, fragmentation bombs, and rockets. General Kean, who had come forward, watched the strike and then ordered the task force to press the attack and break through the enemy positions. The task force broke through on the road, bypassing an estimated 600 enemy soldiers. Another blown bridge halted the column for the night while engineers constructed a bypass.

Continuing its advance at first tight on the 28th, Task Force Dolvin an hour before noon met elements of the 23d Infantry, U.S. 2d Division, advancing from the east, at the road junction just east of Hamyang. There it halted three hours while engineers and 280 Korean laborers constructed a bypass around another blown bridge. Ever since leaving Chinju, Task Force Dolvin had encountered mine fields and blown bridges, the principal delaying efforts of the retreating N.K. 6th Division.

When it was approaching Hamyang the task force received a liaison plane report that enemy forces were preparing to blow a bridge in the town. On Colonel Dolvin's orders the lead tanks sped ahead, machine-gunned enemy troops who were placing demolition charges, and seized the bridge intact. This success upset the enemy's delaying plans. The rest of the afternoon the task force dashed ahead at a speed of twenty miles

[16] Interv, author with 1st Lt Francis G. Nordstrom (89th Med Tk Bn 

elements of TF), 31 Aug 51; 89th Med Tk Bn Unit Rpt, 25-26 Sep 50; 25th 

Div WD, 24 Sep 50; Joseph M. Quinn, "Catching the Enemy Off Guard," 

Armor, vol. 60 (July-August, 1951), pp. 47-48. 

TF Dolvin also included the 1st Plat, A Co, 65th Engr C Bn; 2d Plat, Hv 

Mort Co, 35th Regt; Medical Det, 89th Med Tk Bn; and TF trains. 

[17] 89th Med Tk Bn WD, 26 Sep 50.


an hour. It caught up with numerous enemy groups, killing some of the soldiers, capturing others, and dispersing the rest. At midafternoon Task Force Dolvin entered Namwon to find that Task Force Matthews and elements of the 24th Infantry were already there.

Refueling in Namwon, Task Force Dolvin just after midnight continued northward and in the morning reached Chonju, already occupied by elements of the 38th Infantry Regiment, and continued on through Iri to the Kum River. The next day at 1500, 30 September, its mission accomplished, Task Force Dolvin was dissolved. It had captured or destroyed 16 antitank guns, 19 vehicles, 65 tons of ammunition, 250 mines, captured 750 enemy soldiers, and killed an estimated 350 more. It lost 3 tanks disabled by mines and 1 officer and 45 enlisted men were wounded in action. [18]

In crossing southwest Korea from Chinju to the Kum River, Task Force Matthews had traveled 220 miles and Task Force Dolvin, 138 miles. In the wake of Task Force Dolvin the 27th Regiment moved north from Chinju to Hamyang and Namwon on 29 September and maintained security on the supply road. This same day, 29 September, ROK marines captured Yosu on the south coast.

The 2d Division Pushes West

Opposite the old Naktong Bulge area, the N.K. 9th, 4th, and 2d Divisions retreated westward. At Sinban-ni the 4th Division turned toward Hyopch'on. The 9th withdrew on Hyopch'on, and the 2d, after passing through Ch'ogye, continued on to the same place. Apparently the 9th Division, in the lead, had passed through Hyopch'on before elements of the U.S. 2d Division closed in on the place. [19]

On 23 September the 38th Infantry of the U.S. 2d Division had hard fighting in the hills around Ch'ogye before overcoming enemy delaying forces. The next day the 23d Infantry from the southeast and the 38th Infantry from the northeast closed on Hyopch'on in a double envelopment movement. Elements of the 38th Infantry established a roadblock on the north-south Chinju-Kumch'on road running northeast out of Hyopch'on and cut off an estimated two enemy battalions still in the town. During the day the 3d Battalion, 23d Infantry, entered Hyopch'on after a rapid advance of eight miles from the southeast. As the North Koreans fled Hyopch'on in the afternoon, 38th Infantry fire killed an estimated 300 of them at the regiment's roadblock northeast of the town. Two flights of F-51 fighter planes caught the rest in the open and continued their destruction. The surviving remnant fled in utter disorder for the hills. The country around Hyopch'on was alive with hard-pressed, fleeing North Koreans on 24 September, and the Air Force, flying fifty-three sorties in the area, wrought havoc among them. That night elements of the 1st Battalion, 38th

[18] 89th Med Tk Bn WD, 28-30 Sep 50; A Co, 78th Tk 13n, Unit Rpt, Sep 

50; IX Corps WD, Hist Narr, 23-30 Sep 50; 25th Div WD, Narr, Sep 50, pp. 

49, 58; EUSAK WD, Recommendation for Distinguished Unit Citation, 89th 

Med Tk Bn, Armor Sec, 11 Mar 51. 

[19] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 100 (N.K. 9th Div), p. 53; 

Ibid., Issue 94 (N.K. 4th Div), p. 50; Ibid., Issue 94 (N.K. 2d Div), p. 

38; EUSAK WD, G-2 Sec, 3 Oct 50.


Infantry, entered Hyopch'on from the north. [20]

At daylight on the 25th, the 38th Infantry started northwest from Hyopch'on for Koch'ang. The road soon became impassable for vehicles and the men had to detruck and press forward on foot.

In retreating ahead of the 38th Infantry on 25 September the N.K. 2d Division, according to prisoners, abandoned all its remaining vehicles and heavy equipment between Hyopch'on and Koch'ang. This apparently was true, for in its advance from Hyopch'on to Koch'ang the 38th Infantry captured 17 trucks, 10 motorcycles, 14 antitank guns, 4 artillery pieces, 9 mortars, more than 300 tons of ammunition, and 450 enemy soldiers, and killed an estimated 260 more. Division remnants, numbering no more than 2,500 men, together with their commander, Maj. Gen. Choe Hyon, who was ill, scattered into the mountains.

Up ahead of the ground troops, the Air Force in the late afternoon bombed, napalmed, rocketed, and strafed Koch'ang, leaving it virtually destroyed. After advancing approximately thirty miles during the day, the 38th Infantry stopped at 2030 that night only a few miles from the town. [21]

Elements of the 38th Infantry entered Koch'ang at 0830 the next morning, 26 September, capturing there a North Korean field hospital containing forty-five enemy wounded. Prisoners disclosed that elements of the N.K. 2d, 4th, 8th, and 10th Divisions were to have assembled at Koch'ang, but the swift advance of the U.S. 2d Division had frustrated the plan. [22]

The 23d Infantry was supposed to parallel the 38th Infantry on a road to the south, in the pursuit to Koch'ang, but aerial and road reconnaissance disclosed that this road was either impassable or did not exist. General Keiser then directed Colonel Freeman to take a road to the north of the 38th Infantry. Mounted on organic transportation, the regiment, less its 1st Battalion, started at 1600 on the 25th and made a night advance to Koch'ang, fighting three skirmishes and rebuilding four small bridges on the way. It arrived at Koch'ang soon after the 38th Infantry, in daylight on 26 September.

That evening the 23d Infantry continued the advance to Anui, fourteen miles away, which it reached at 1930 without enemy opposition. Except for the small town itself, the area was a maze of flooded paddies. The regimental vehicles could find no place to move off the roads except into the village streets where they were dispersed as well as possible. At least one enemy group remained in the vicinity of Anui. At 0400 the next morning, 27 September, a heavy enemy artillery and mortar barrage struck in the town. The second round

[20] 38th Inf Comd Rpt, 24 Sep 50; 2d Div WD, G-3 Sec, 24 Sep 50; EUSAK 

WD, Br for CG, 24 Sep 50, and PIR 74, 24 Sep 50; Interv, author with 

Peploe, 12 Aug 51. The Air Force claimed it destroyed on 24 September in 

the Hyopch'on area 3 tanks, 5 artillery pieces, 1 antitank gun, an 

ammunition dump, a supply dump, a POL dump, and an estimated 1400 enemy 

soldiers. See EUSAK WD, G-3 Air Br Rpt, 24 Sep 50. 

[21] ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 12 (N.K. Forces), Rpt 1741, p. 118, Lt Ko 

Kon Su, Aide to CG, N.K. 2d Div; EUSAK WD, 25 Sep 50; 38th Inf Comd Rpt, 

25 Sep 50; 2d Div PIR 32, 25 Sep 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 

94 (N.K. 2d Div), p. ,8. 

[22] 38th Inf Comd Rpt, Sep-Oct 50, p. 13; 23d Inf Comd Rpt, 26 Sep 50; 

EUSAK WD, 26 Sep 50; IX Corps PIR, Msg 332, 261700 Sep 50. 


hit the 3d Battalion command post, killing the battalion executive officer, the S-2, the assistant S-3, the motor officer, the artillery liaison officer, and an antiaircraft officer. Lt. Col. R. G. Sherrard, the battalion commander, was severely wounded; also wounded were twenty-five enlisted men of the Regimental and Headquarters Companies. [23]

At least passing notice should be taken of another event on 27 September. The last organized unit of the North Korean forces east of the Naktong River, elements of the N.K. 10th Division, withdrew from notorious Hill 409 near Hyongp'ung and crossed to the west side of the river before daylight. Patrols of the 9th Infantry Regiment entered Hyongp'ung in the afternoon, and two companies of the 2d Battalion occupied Hill 409 without opposition. On 28 September the 2d Battalion, 9th Infantry, crossed the Naktong to join the 2d Division after the newly arrived 65th Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. 3d Division relieved it on Hill 409. [24]

At 0400, 28 September, Colonel Peploe started the 38th Infantry, with the 2d Battalion leading, from Koch'ang in a motorized advance toward Chonju, an important town in the west coastal plain seventy-three miles away across the mountains. The 25th Division also was approaching Chonju through Namwon. Meeting only light and scattered resistance, the 2d Battalion, 38th Infantry, entered Chonju at 1315, having covered the seventy-three miles in nine and a half hours. At Chonju the battalion had to overcome about 300 enemy soldiers of the 102d and 104th Security Regiments, killing about 100 of them and taking 170 prisoners.

There the 38th Infantry ran out of fuel for its vehicles. Fortunately, a 2d Division liaison plane flew over the town and the pilot learned the situation. He reported it to the 2d Division and IX Corps which rushed gasoline forward. At 1530 on 29 September, after refueling, the 3d Battalion departed Chonju for Nonsan and continued to Kanggyong on the Kum River, arriving there without incident at 0300 the morning of 30 September.

The IX Corps had only two and a half truck companies with which to transport supplies to the 25th and 2d Divisions in their long penetrations, and the distance of front-line units from the railhead increased hourly. When the 2d Division reached Nonsan on the 29th the supply line ran back more than 200 road miles, much of it over mountainous terrain and often on one-way roads, to the railhead at Miryang. The average time for one trip was forty-eight hours. In one 105-hour period, Quartermaster truck drivers supporting the 2d Division got only about thirteen hours' sleep. [25]

At the end of September the 2d Division was scattered from the Kum River southward, with the 38th Infantry in


[23] 23d Inf Comd Rpt, 26-27 Sep 50; 2d Div WD, G-3 Sec, 26-27 Sep 50; 

Freeman, MS review comments, 30 Oct 57; Combat Activities of the 23d 


[24] 2d Div PIR 34, 27 Sep 50; EUSAK POR 232 and PIR 77, 27 Sep 50; 

EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 27-28 Sep 50; 2d Div Hist, vol. II, p. 31. 

[25] Intervs, author with Coulter, 20 Jul and 2 Apr 53; Interv, author 

with Peploe, 12 Aug 51; 2d Div Comd Rpt Hist, vol. II, 28 Sep 50: 2d Div 

WD, G-4 Sec, Sep-Oct 50; 38th Inf Comd Rpt, Sep-Oct 50, p. 14; Capt 

Perry Davis, The 2d Infantry Division in Korea, July-September 1950, MS, 

copy in OCMH; Coulter, MS review comments, 22 Nov 57.


the Chonju-Kanggyong area, the 23d Infantry in the Anui area, and the 9th Infantry in the Koryong-Samga area.

Taejon Regained

On the right flank of the U.S. 2d Division, the British 27th Infantry Brigade, attached to the U.S. 24th Division for the pursuit, was to move against Songju while the 24th Division simultaneously attacked parallel to and north of it on the main highway toward Kumch'on. After passing through Songju, the British brigade was to strike the main highway halfway between the Naktong River and Kumch'on. Its path took it along the main retreat route of the N.K. 10th Division. The brigade was across the Naktong and ready to attack before daylight on 22 September.

At dawn the 1st Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, seized a small hill, called by the men Plum Pudding Hill, on the right of the road three miles short of Songju. The battalion then attacked the higher ground immediately to the northeast, known to the British as Point 325 or Middlesex Hill. Supported by American tank fire and their own mortar and machine gun fire, the Middlesex Battalion took the hill from dug-in enemy soldiers before dark. [26]

While the Middlesex Battalion attacked Hill 325, the Scottish Highlander Argyll Battalion moved up to attack neighboring Hill 282 on the left of the road. Starting before dawn on 23 September, B and C Companies after an hour's climb seized the crest of Hill 282 surprising there a North Korean force at breakfast. Across a saddle, and nearly a mile away to the southwest, higher Hill 388 dominated the one they had just occupied. C Company started toward it.

But enemy troops occupying this hill already were moving to attack the one just taken by the British. The North Koreans supported their attack with artillery and mortar fire, which began falling on the British. The action continued throughout the morning with enemy fire increasing in intensity. Shortly before noon, with American artillery fire inexplicably withdrawn and the five supporting U.S. tanks unable to bring the enemy under fire because of terrain obstacles, the Argylls called for an air strike on enemy-held Hill 388. [27]

Just after noon the Argylls heard the sound of approaching planes. Three F-51 Mustangs circled Hill 282 where the British displayed their white recognition panels. The enemy on Hill 388 also displayed white panels. To his dismay, Captain Radcliff of the tactical air control party was unable to establish radio contact with the flight of F-51's. Suddenly, at 1215, the Mustangs attacked the wrong hill; they came in napalming and machine-gunning the Argyll position.

The terrible tragedy was over in two minutes and left the hilltop a sea of orange flame. Survivors plunged fifty feet down the slope to escape the burning napalm. Maj. Kenneth Muir, second

[26] 24th Recon Co (24th Div) WD, Summ, 22 Sep 50; Linklater, Our Men in 

Korea, p. 19. Linklater was with the British brigade in Korea and used 

its records in preparing this small book. Middlesex Hill is shown on 

revised maps as Hill 341. 

[27] Linklater, Our Men in Korea; Malcolm, The Argylls in Korea, pp. 17-



in command of the Argylls, who had led an ammunition resupply and litter-bearing party to the crest before noon, watching the flames on the crest die down, noticed that a few wounded men still held a small area on top. Acting quickly, he assembled about thirty men and led them back up the hill before approaching North Koreans reached the top. There, two bursts of enemy automatic fire mortally wounded him as he and Maj. A. I. Gordon-Ingram, B Company commander, fired a 2-inch mortar. Muir's last words as he was carried from the hilltop were that the enemy "will never get the Argylls off this ridge." But the situation was hopeless. Gordon-Ingram counted only ten men with him able to fight, and some of them were wounded. His three Bren guns were nearly out of ammunition. At 1500 the survivors were down at the foot of the hill.

The next day a count showed 2 officers and 11 men killed, 4 officers and 70 men wounded, and 2 men missing for a total of 89 casualties; of this number, the mistaken air attack caused approximately 60. [28]

That night, after the Argyll tragedy, the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry, attacked south from Pusang-dong on the Waegwan-Kumch'on highway and captured Songju at 0200, 24 September. From there it moved to link up with the British 27th Brigade below the town. That day and the next the 19th Infantry and the British brigade mopped up in the Songju area. On the afternoon of 25 September the British brigade, released from attachment to the U.S. 24th Division, reverted to I Corps control.

The N.K. 10th Division which had been fighting in the Songju area, its ammunition nearly gone and its vehicles out of fuel, withdrew on the 24th and 25th after burying its artillery. A captured division surgeon estimated the 10th Division had about 25 percent of its original strength at this time. The N.K. I Corps, about 25 September, ordered all its units south of Waegwan to retreat northward. [29]

On 23 September, the day that disaster struck the British from the air near Songju, the U.S. 24th Division started its attack northwest along the Taejon-Seoul highway. General Church had echeloned his three regiments in depth so that a fresh regiment would take the lead at short intervals and thus maintain impetus in the attack. Leading off for the division, the 21st Infantry headed for Kumch'on, the N.K. headquarters. Elements of the N.K. 105th Armored Division blocked the way with dug-in camouflaged tanks, antitank guns, and extensive mine fields.

[28] Malcolm, The Argylls in Korea, pp. 22-23; Linklater, Our Men in 

Korea, pp. 20-21; I Corps WD, G-3 Sec, 2 Aug-30 Sep 50, Rpt of Lt Col 

Thomas C. Gillis; I Corps WD, 23 Sep 50; FEAF Opn Hist, I, 25 Jun-31 Oct 

50, p. 184 (23 Sep). The British Government awarded Major Muir 

posthumously the Victoria Cross, England's highest military award for 

valor. Text of citation in Brig. C. N. Barclay, The First Commonwealth 

Division (Aldershot: Gale and Polden, 1954), app. D, p. 218. 

[29] 24th Div WD, 23 Sep 50; 19th Inf WD, 23-26 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 

British Forces, 23-24 Sep 50; Ibid., POR 228, 26 Sep 50; Ibid., G-2 Sec, 

5 Oct 50, Interrog ADVATIS 1039, Pak In Hyok, Surgeon 10th Div Hosp; GHQ 

FEC, History of the N.K. Army, pp. 41 and 69; ATIS Res Supp Interrog 

Rpts, Issue 106 (N.K. Arty), pp. 68 and 76.



In the afternoon a tank battle developed in which D Company, 6th Medium Tank Battalion (Patton M46), lost four tanks to enemy tank and antitank fire. During a slow advance, American tanks and air strikes in turn destroyed three enemy tanks. [30]

Just as this main Eighth Army drive started it was threatened with a supply breakdown. Accurate enemy artillery fire during the night of the 22d destroyed the only raft at the Naktong River ferry and cut the footbridge three times. The ferrying of vehicles and supplies during the day practically stopped, but at night local Koreans carried across the river the supplies and ammunition needed the next day.

Shortly after midnight, 23-24 September, the 5th Regimental Combat Team passed through the 21st Infantry to take the lead. Enemy troops in positions on Hill 140, north of the highway, stopped the regiment about three miles east of Kumch'on. There the North Koreans fought a major delaying action to permit large numbers of their retreating units to escape. The North Korean command diverted its 9th Division, retreating from the lower Naktong toward Taejon, to Kumch'on to block the rapid Eighth Army advance. Remaining tanks of two regiments of

[30] 21st Inf WD, 23 Sep 50; 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 22-24 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 

G-3 Jnl, 1715, 23 Sep 50; 24th Div WD, 23 Sep 50.


[Caption] ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF KUMCH'ON infantrymen take a brief rest.

the N.K. 105th Armored Division and the 849th Independent Anti-Tank Regiment, the latter recently arrived at Kumch'on from the north, also joined in the defense of the town.

In the battle that followed in front of Kumch'on, the 24th Division lost 6 Patton tanks to enemy mines and antitank fire, while the North Koreans lost 8 tanks, 5 to air attack and 3 to ground fire. In this action the enemy 849th Regiment was practically destroyed. The 5th Regimental Combat Team and supporting units lost approximately 100 men killed or wounded, most of them to tank and mortar fire. Smaller actions flared simultaneously at several points on the road back to Waegwan as bypassed enemy units struck at elements of the 19th Infantry bringing up the rear of the 24th Division advance. [31]

As a result of the battle in front of Kumch'on on 24 September, the 21st Infantry swung to the north of the highway and joined the 5th Regimental Combat Team that night in a pincer attack on the town. The 3d Battalion of the 5th Regimental Combat Team entered Kumch'on the next morning, and by 1445 that afternoon the town, a mass of rubble from bombing and artillery barrages, was cleared of the enemy.

[31] I Corps WD, Narr Hist, 24 Sep 50: EUSAK WD, G-2 Sec, 30 Sep 50, 

interrog Lt Kim Chong Song (N.K. 9th Div); 24th Div WD, 24 Sep 50, and 

G-1 Hist Rpt, 25 Sep; 5th RCT Unit Rpt 43, 24 Sep 50; 6th Med Tk Bn WD, 

24-25 Sep 50: New York Times, September 26, 1950. 


That evening the 21st Infantry continued the attack westward. The 24th Division was interested only in the highway. If it was clear, the column went ahead. With the fall of Kumch'on on the 25th, enemy resistance melted away and it was clear that the North Koreans were intent only on escaping. [32]

On 26 September the 19th Infantry took the division lead and its 2d Battalion entered Yongdong without resistance. In the town jail the troops found and liberated three American prisoners. The regiment continued on and reached Okch'on, ten miles east of Taejon, at 0200, 27 September. There it halted briefly to refuel the tanks and give the men a little rest.

At 0530 the regiment resumed the advance-but not for long. Just outside Okch'on the lead tank hit a mine and enemy antitank fire then destroyed it. The 1st Battalion deployed and attacked astride the road but advanced only a short distance. The North Koreans held the heights west of Okch'on in force and, as at Kumch'on three days earlier, were intent on a major delaying operation. This time it was to permit thousands of their retreating fellow soldiers to escape from Taejon. An American tank gunner moving up to join the fight in front of Taejon sang, "The last time I saw Taejon, it was not bright or gay. Today I'm going to Taejon and blow the place away." [33]

This fight in front of Taejon on 27 September disclosed that the city, as expected, was an assembly point for retreating North Korean units south and west of Waegwan. The 300 prisoners taken during the day included men from seven North Korean divisions. The reports of enemy tanks destroyed in the Taejon area during the day are confusing, conflicting, and, taken together, certainly exaggerated. The ground forces reported destroying 13 tanks on the approaches to the city, 3 of them by A Company, 19th Infantry, bazooka teams. The Air Force claimed a total of 20 tanks destroyed during the day, 13 of them in the Taejon area, and another 8 damaged. [34]

On the morning of the 28th an air strike at 0700 hit the enemy blocking; position. When the 2d Battalion advanced cautiously up the slopes, it was unopposed. It then became clear that the North Koreans had withdrawn during the night. Aerial reconnaissance at the time of the air strike disclosed approximately 800 North Korean troops moving out of Taejon on the road past the airstrip. At noon aerial observers saw more enemy troops assembling at the railroad station and another concentration of them a few miles west of Taejon turning toward Choch'iwon. The Air Force napalmed and strafed still another force of 1,000 enemy soldiers west of the city.

Scouts of the 2d Battalion, 19th Infantry, and engineers of C Company, 3d Engineer Combat Battalion, entered the outskirts of Taejon at 1630. An hour later the 19th Infantry secured the city

[32] 21st Inf WD, 25 Sep 50; 24th Div WD, 25 Sep 50; I Corps WD, Narr 

Hist, 25 Sep 50; EUSAK POR 226, 25 Sep 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, 

Issue 4 (N.K. 105th Armd Div), pp. 39-40; Interv, author with Alkire, I 

Aug 51. 

[33] 24th Div WD, 26-28 Sep 50 and G-1 Summ, 26 Sep; 19th Inf WD, Opn 

Summ, 26 Sep 50. 

[34] 19th Inf WD, 27 Sep 50; 24th Div WD, 27 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec 

and G-3 Air Br Rpt, 27 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 271603 Sep 50.


after engineers had cleared mines ahead of tanks leading the main column. At 1800 a 24th Division artillery liaison plane landed at the Taejon airstrip. [35]

On 28 September, the day it entered Taejon, the 19th Infantry captured so many North Korean stragglers that it was unable to keep an accurate count of them. The capture of large numbers of prisoners continued during the last two days of the month; on the 30th the 24th Division took 447 of them. At Taejon the division captured much enemy equipment, including four U.S. howitzers lost earlier and fifty new North Korean heavy machine guns still packed in cosmoline. At Choch'iwon the North Koreans were destroying equipment to prevent its capture. [36] Already other U.S. forces had passed Taejon and Choch'iwon on the east to cut the main highway farther north at Ch'onan and Osan.

With the capture of Taejon, the 24th Division accomplished its mission in the pursuit. And sweet revenge it was for the Taro Leaf Division to re-enter this now half-destroyed town where it had suffered a disastrous defeat nine weeks earlier. Fittingly enough, it was the 19th Infantry Regiment and engineers of the 3d Engineer Combat Battalion, among the last to leave the burning city on that earlier occasion, who led the way back in. But there was bitterness too, for within the city American troops soon discovered that the North Koreans had perpetrated there one of the greatest mass killings of the entire Korean War. American soldiers were among the victims.

While this is not the place to tell in detail the story of the North Korean atrocities perpetrated on South Korean civilians and soldiers and some captured American soldiers, an account of the breakout and pursuit would not be complete without at least a brief description of the grisly evidence that came to light at that time. Everywhere the advancing columns found evidence of atrocities as the North Koreans hurried to liquidate political and military prisoners held in jails before they themselves retreated in the face of the U.N. advance. At Sach'on the North Koreans burned the jail, causing some 280 South Korean police, government officials, and landowners held in it to perish. At Anui, at Mokp'o, at Kongju, at Hamyang, at Chonju, mass burial trenches containing the bodies of hundreds of victims, including some women and children, were found, and near the Taejon airstrip the bodies of about 500 ROK soldiers, hands tied behind backs, lay in evidence of mass killing and burial.

Between 28 September and 4 October a frightful series of killings and burials were uncovered in and around the city. Several thousand South Korean civilians, estimated to number between 5,000 and 7,000, 17 ROK Army soldiers, and at least 40 American soldiers had been killed. After Taejon fell to the North Koreans on 20 July civilian prisoners had been packed into the Taejon city jail and still others into the Catholic Mission. Beginning on 23 September, after the first U.S. troops had crossed the Naktong, the North Koreans began executing these people. They were

[35] 24th Div WD, 28 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Air Br Rpt, PIR 78, G-3 Jnl

1715 and 1920, 28 Sep 50; 3d Engr C Bn Unit Rpt, Narr Summ, Sep 50.

[36] 24th Div WD, 28-30 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, G-2 Sec, 10 Oct 50, PW Rpt, 

ADVATIS 1028, Lt Pak Kyu, I Corps Rear Command.


taken out in groups of 100 and 200, bound to each other and hands tied behind them, led to previously dug trenches, and shot. By 26 September American forces had approached so close to Taejon that the N.K. Security Police knew they had to hurry. The executions were speeded up and the last of them took place just before the city fell.

Of the thousands of victims only six survived-two American soldiers, one ROK soldier, and three South Korean civilians. Wounded and feigning death, they had been buried alive. The two wounded Americans had only a thin layer of loose soil over them, enabling them to breathe sufficiently to stay alive until they could punch holes to the surface, one of them with a lead pencil. Still wired to their dead comrades beneath the soil and partially buried themselves, they were rescued when the city fell to the 24th Division. Hundreds of American soldiers, including General Milburn, the I Corps commander, and General Church, the 24th Division commander, saw these ghastly burial trenches and the pathetic bodies of the victims. [37]

On 29 September the 24th Division command post moved to Taejon. From there the division had the task of protecting the army line of communications back to the Naktong River. Its units were strung out for nearly 100 miles: the 9th Infantry held the Taejon area up to the Kum River, the 21st Infantry extended from Taejon southeast to Yongdong, the 5th Regimental Combat Team was in the Kumch'on area, and the 24th Reconnaissance Company secured the Waegwan bridges.

From Tabu-dong to Osan-Eighth Army Link-up With X Corps

The Eighth Army breakout plans initially required the 1st Cavalry Division to cross the Naktong River at Waegwan and follow the 24th Division toward Kumch'on and Taejon. As the breakout action progressed, however, I Corps changed the plan so that the 1st Cavalry Division would cross the river at some point above Waegwan, pursue a course east of and generally parallel to that of the 24th Division, and seize Sangju. General Milburn left to General Gay the decision as to where he would cross. General Gay, the 1st Cavalry Division commander, and others, including Colonel Holmes, his chief of staff, and Colonel Holley of the 8th Engineer Combat Battalion, had proposed a crossing at Naktong-ni where a North Korean underwater bridge was known to exist. General Walker rejected this proposal. He himself flew in a light plane along the Naktong above Waegwan and selected the ferry site at Sonsan as the place the division should cross. [38]

In front of the 1st Cavalry Division

[37] The documentation on these atrocities is voluminous in the official 

records of the Army. Only a few citations will be given here: 25th Div

WD, 5 Oct 50; 24th Div WD, Stf Secs, 29 Sep-31 Oct and G-1 Hist Rpt, 4 

Oct 50; 2d Div WD, JA Stf Sec Rpt, Sep-Oct 50; Interim Hist Rpt, War 

Crimes Div, JA Sec, Korean Communications Zone (cumulative to 30 Jun 

53); Lt Gen Frank W. Milburn, MS review comments, Nov 57; New York 

Times, October 3, 1950. 

[38] Ltrs, Gay to author, 30 Sep and 21 Oct 53; Interv, author with 

Holmes, 27 Oct 53; Interv, author with Holley, 20 Feb 52; 1st Cav Div 

WD, 21 Sep 50; 7th Cav Regt Opn Plan 18; EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 21 Sep 50; 

Milburn, MS review comments, Nov 57. 


[Caption] COL. LEE HAK Ku, Chief of Staff . N.K 13th Division, being transported to 1st Cavalry Division headquarters for questioning.

two enemy divisions were retreating on Sangju. The N.K. 3d Division reportedly had only 1,800 men when its survivors arrived there. The other division, the 13th, was in complete disorder in the vicinity of Tabu-dong and northward along the road to Sangju when the 1st Cavalry Division prepared to engage in the pursuit. [39]

Shortly before noon, 21 September, General Walker telephoned from Taegu to General Hickey in Tokyo. He had important news-the chief of staff of the N.K. 13th Division had surrendered that morning. Walker told Hickey that, based on the prisoner's testimony, the N.K. II Corps had ordered its divisions on 17 September to go on the defensive and that the 13th Division knew nothing of the Inch'on landing. [40]

The 13th Division's chief of staff had indeed surrendered that morning. Shortly after daylight Sr. Col. Lee Hak Ku gently shook two sleeping American soldiers of the 8th Cavalry Regiment on the roadside near the village of Samsan-dong, four miles south of Tabu-dong. Once they were awake, the 30-year-old North Korean surrendered to them.

[39] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts. Issue 96 (N.K. 3d Div), p. 35; Ibid., 

Issue 106 (N.K. Arty). p. 76; GHQ FEC. History of the N.K. Army, p. 57. 

[40] Fonecon, Walker with Hickey, 1145, 21 Sep 50, GHQ CofS files. 


Colonel Lee had slipped away from his companions during the night and approached the American lines alone. He was the ranking North Korean prisoner at the time and remained so throughout the war. Before he became chief of staff of the 13th Division, Lee had been operations officer (G-3) of the N.K. II Corps. Later he was to become notorious as the leader of the Communist prisoners of the Compound 76 riots on Koje Island in 1952.

Now, however, on the day of his voluntary surrender, Colonel Lee was most co-operative. He gave a full report on the deployment of the 13th Division troops in the vicinity of Tabu-dong, the location of the division command post and the remaining artillery, the status of supply, and the morale of the troops. He gave the strength of the division on 21 September as approximately 1,500 men. The division, he said, was no longer an effective fighting unit, it held no line, and its survivors were fleeing from the Tabu-dong area toward Sangju. The regiments had lost communication with the division and each, acting on its own impulse and according to necessity, was dispersed in confusion. Many other 13th Division prisoners captured subsequently confirmed the situation described by Colonel Lee.

Colonel Lee said the 19th Regiment had about 200 men, the 21st Regiment about 330, the 23d about 300; that from 70 to 80 percent of the troops were South Korean conscripts and this condition had existed for a month; that the officers and noncommissioned officers were North Korean; that all tanks attached to the division had been destroyed and only 2 of 16 self-propelled guns remained; that there were still 9 122-mm. howitzers and 5 120-mm. mortars operational; that only 30 out of 300 trucks remained; that rations were down one-half; and that supply came by rail from Ch'orwon via Seoul to Andong. [41]

At the time of Colonel Lee's surrender, General Gay had already directed Lt. Col. William A. Harris, Commanding Officer, 7th Cavalry Regiment, to lead the pursuit movement for the 1st Cavalry Division. Colonel Harris, now with a 2-battalion regiment (the 2d Battalion had relieved the British 27th Brigade on the Naktong), organized Task Force 777 for the effort. Each digit of the number represented one of the three principal elements of the force: the 7th Cavalry Regiment, the 77th Field Artillery Battalion, and the 70th Tank Battalion. Harris assigned Lt. Col. James H. Lynch's 3d Battalion as the lead unit, and this force in turn was called Task Force Lynch. In addition to the 3d Battalion, 7th Cavalry, it included B Company, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion; two platoons of C Company, 70th Tank Battalion (7 M4 tanks); the 77th Field

[41] The first extensive interrogation report on Colonel Lee is in EUSAK 

WD, 21 Sep 50. Others more complete include ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 9 

(N.K. Forces), Interrog Rpt 1468, pp. 158-74. See also ATIS Interrog 

Rpts, Issue 14 (N.K. Forces) Rpt 1915, Col Mun Che Won, CO 23d Regt, 

13th Div, p. 43; Ibid., Issue 27 (N.K. Forces), p. 82, Rpt 2978, Lt Col 

Yun Bong Hun, CO 19th Regt, 13th Div; Ibid., Issue 10 (N. K. Forces), p. 

38, Interrog Rpt 1516, Maj Yu Pong Sun, Medical Off of 19th Regt; Ibid., 

p. 52, Lt Kim Pyon Jon. There is a very large number of prisoner 

interrogation reports from the N.K. 13th Division available in the ATIS 

documents not cited here which, collectively, give a detailed picture of 

the nearly complete destruction of this division by 22 September 1950. 

Capt Jones N. Epps, Reduction of Compound 76, UN POW Camp, Koje-do, 

Korea, Student MS, Advanced Inf Course, Ft. Benning, Class 1, 1952-53, 

is of interest relative to Colonel Lee in the prisoner riots in 



Artillery Battalion (less one battery); the 3d Platoon, Heavy Mortar Company; the regimental I&R Platoon; and a tactical air control party. [42]

After helping to repel an attack by a large force of North Koreans cut off below Tabu-dong and seeking to escape northward, Task Force Lynch started to move at 0800, 22 September from a point just west of Tabu-dong. Brushing aside small scattered enemy groups, Colonel Lynch put tanks in the lead and the column moved forward. Up ahead flights of planes coursed up and down the road attacking fleeing groups of enemy soldiers.

Near Naksong-dong, where the road curved over the crest of a hill, enemy antitank fire suddenly hit and stopped the lead tank. No one could see the enemy guns. General Gay, who was with the column, sent the remaining four tanks in the advance group over the crest of the hill at full speed firing all weapons. In this dash they overran two enemy antitank guns. Farther along, the column halted while men in the point eliminated a group of North Koreans in a culvert in a 10-minute grenade battle. [43]

After the task force had turned into the river road at the village of Kumgok but was still short of its initial objective, the Sonsan ferry, a liaison plane flew over and dropped a message ordering it to continue north to Naktong-ni for the river crossing. The column reached the Sonsan ferry at 1545. There, before he turned back to the division command post in Taegu, General Gay approved Lynch's decision to stop pending confirmation of the order not to cross the river there but to proceed to Naktong-ni. At 1800 Lynch received confirmation and repetition of the order, and an hour later he led his task force onto the road, heading north for Naktong-ni, ten miles away.

A bright three-quarter moon lit the way as the task force hastened forward. Five miles up the river road it began to pass through burning villages, and then suddenly it came upon the rear elements of retreating North Koreans who surrendered without resistance.

An hour and a half before midnight the lead tanks halted on the bluff overlooking the Naktong River crossing at Naktong-ni. Peering ahead, men in the lead tank saw an antitank gun and fired on it. The round struck a concealed enemy ammunition truck. Shells in the truck exploded and a great conflagration burst forth. The illumination caused by the chance hit lighted the surrounding area and revealed a fascinating and eerie sight. Abandoned enemy tanks, trucks, and other vehicles littered the scene, while below at the underwater bridge several hundred enemy soldiers were in the water trying to escape across the river. The armor and other elements of the task force fired into them, killing an estimated 200 in the water. [44]

Task Force Lynch captured a large

[42] Ltrs, Harris to author, 25 Nov 52 and 23 Dec 53; Ltr, Col James H. 

Lynch to author, 11 Dec 53; 1st Cav Div WD, 21 Sep 50. 

[43] 3d Bn, 7th Cav Regt, G-3 Jnl, Msg 4, 220800 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div, 

G-3 Jnl, 22 Sep 50; Lt. Col. James H. Lynch, "Task Force Penetration," 

Combat Forces Journal (January, 1951), pp. 11-16; Lynch, "Tie-in in 

Korea," Armor, vol. 59, No. 6 (November-December 1950), pp. 34-36; Ltr, 

Gay to author, 30 Sep 53. 

[44] Ltr, Gay to author, 30 Sep 53; Ltr, Lynch to author, 11 Dec 53; 3d 

Bn, 7th Cav Regt, Unit Jnl, 22 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 22 Sep 50; C Co, 

70th Tk Bn, Summ of Action, 17-24 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 22 Sep 



amount of enemy equipment at the Naktong-ni crossing site, including 2 abandoned and operable T34 tanks; 50 trucks, some of them still carrying U.S. division markings; and approximately 10 artillery pieces. According to prisoners taken at the time, this enemy force consisted principally of units of the N.K. 3d Division, but it included also some men from the 1st and 13th Divisions.

Reconnaissance parties reported the ford crossable in waist-deep water and the far bank free of enemy troops. Colonel Lynch then ordered the infantry to cross to the north bank. At 0430, 23 September, I and K Companies stepped into the cold water of the Naktong and began wading the river. The crossing continued to the accompaniment of an exploding enemy ammunition dump at the other end of the underwater bridge. At 0530 the two companies secured the far bank. Altogether, in the twenty-two hours since leaving Tabu-dong, Task Force Lynch had advanced thirty-six miles, captured 5 tanks, 50 trucks, 6 motorcycles, 50 artillery pieces, secured a Naktong River crossing site, and had killed or captured an estimated 500 enemy soldiers. [45]

During the 23d, Maj. William O. Witherspoon, Jr., led his 1st Battalion across the river and continued on ten miles northwest to Sangju, which he found abandoned by the enemy. Meanwhile, Engineer troops put into operation at Naktong-ni a ferry and raft capable of transporting trucks and tanks across the river, and on the 24th they employed 400 Korean laborers to improve the old North Korean underwater bridge. Tanks were across the river before noon that day and immediately moved forward to join the task force at Sangju.

As soon as the tanks arrived, Colonel Harris sent Capt. John R. Flynn with K Company, 7th Cavalry, and a platoon of tanks thirty miles farther up the road to Poun, which they entered before dark. Colonel Harris had authority only to concentrate the regiment at Poun; he was not to go any farther.

On the 24th also, General Gay sent a tank-infantry team down the road from Sangju toward. Kumch'on where the 24th Division was engaged in a hard fight on the main Waegwan-Taejon-Seoul highway. Since this took the force outside the 1st Cavalry Division zone of action, I Corps ordered it to withdraw, although it had succeeded in contacting elements of the 24th Division. [46]

On 24-25 September General Gay concentrated the 1st Cavalry Division in the Sangju-Naktong-ni area while his advanced regiment, the 7th Cavalry, stayed at Poun. About dark on the 25th he received a radio message from I Corps forbidding him to advance his division farther. Gay wanted to protest this message but was unable to establish radio communication with the corps. He was able, however, to send a message to Eighth Army headquarters by liaison plane asking for clarification of what he

[45] 3d Bn, 7th Cav Regt, S-3 Jnl, 222230 Sep 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 23 Sep 

50. EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 22 Sep 50: Lynch, articles cited n. 44. 

[46] 1st Cav Div WD, 23-24 Sep 50; C Co, 70th Tk Bn Unit Rpt, 17-24 Sep 

50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0201 and 1345 24 Sep 50; Ltr, Gay to author, 30 

Sep 53; Ltr, Harris to author, 23 Dec 53: Interv, author with Holley, 20 

Feb 52: Itschner (CO I Corps Engrs Sep 50), "The Naktong River Crossings 

in Korea, " op. cit., pp. 96ff; Lynch, articles cited n. 44; 70th Tk Bn 

WD, 23-27 Sep 50.


thought was a confusion of General Walker's orders, and requesting authority to continue the breakthrough and join X Corps in the vicinity of Suwon. During the evening, field telephone lines were installed at Gay's forward echelon division headquarters at the crossing site, and there, just before midnight, General Gay received a telephone call from Col. Edgar T. Conley, Jr., Eighth Army G-1, who said General Walker had granted authority for him to go all the way to the link-up with X Corps if he could do so. [47]

Acting quickly on this authority, General Gay called a commanders' conference in a Sangju schoolhouse the next morning, 26 September, and issued oral orders that at twelve noon the division would start moving day and night until it joined the X Corps near Suwon. The 7th Cavalry Regiment was to lead the advance by way of Poun, Ch'ongju, Ch'onan, and Osan. Division headquarters and the artillery would follow. The 8th Cavalry Regiment was to move on Ansong via Koesan. At noon the 5th Cavalry Regiment, to be relieved by elements of the ROK 1st Division, was to break off its attack toward Hamch'ang and form the division rear guard; upon reaching Choch'iwon and Ch'onan it was to halt, block enemy movement from the south and west, and await further orders. [48]

On the right of the 1st Cavalry Division the ROK 1st Division, as part of the U.S. I Corps and the only ROK unit operating as a part of Eighth Army, had passed through Tabu-dong from the north on 22 September and headed for the Sonsan ferry of the Naktong. It crossed the river there on the 25th, and moved north on the army right flank to relieve elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, and particularly the 5th Cavalry Regiment, in the Hamch'ang-Poun area above Sangju. The 1st Cavalry Division was now free to employ all its units in the pursuit. [49]

Upon receiving General Gay's orders at the commanders' conference in Sangju, Colonel Harris in turn ordered Colonel Lynch at Poun to lead northwest with his task force as rapidly as possible to effect a juncture with 7th Division troops of the X Corps somewhere in the vicinity of Suwon. This task force was the same as in the movement from Tabu-dong on the 22d, except that now the artillery contingent comprised only C Battery of the 77th Field Artillery Battalion.

The regimental I&R Platoon and 1st Lt. Robert W. Baker's 3d Platoon of tanks, 70th Tank Battalion, led Task Force Lynch out of Poun at 1130, 26 September. Baker had orders from Lynch to move at maximum tank speed and not to fire unless fired upon. For mile after mile they encountered no enemy opposition-only cheers from South Korean villagers watching the column go past. Baker found Ch'ongju deserted except for a few civilians when he entered it at midafternoon.

Approximately at 1800, after traveling sixty-four miles, Baker's tanks ran out of gasoline and the advance stopped at

[47] Ltrs, Gay to author, 30 Sep 52 and 31 Dec 53; Ltr, Harris to 

author, 23 Dec 53; Ltr, Brig Gen Edgar T. Conley, Jr., to author, 26 Mar 

56; 1 Corps WD, 22 and 24 Sep 50.

[48] Ltrs, Gay to author, 30 Sep 52 and 31 Dec 53; Ltrs, Harris to 

author, 8 and 23 Dec 53. 

[49] Ltr, Gay to author, 30 Sep 53; Itschner, "The Naktong River 

Crossings in Korea," op. cit.; I Corps WD, Narr Hist, 25 Sep 50; EUSAK 

WD, G-3 Sec, and Br for CG, 29 Sep 50.


Ipchang-ni. For some reason the refuel truck had not joined the tank-led column. Three of the six tanks refueled from gasoline cans collected in the column.

Just after these three tanks had refueled, members of the I&R Platoon on security post down the road ran up and said a North Korean tank was approaching. Instead, it proved to be three North Korean trucks which approached quite close in the near dark before their drivers realized that they had come upon an American column. The drivers immediately abandoned their vehicles, and one of the trucks crashed into an I&R jeep. On the trucks was enough gasoline to refuel the other three tanks. About 2000 the column was at last ready to proceed. [50]

Colonel Harris ordered Colonel Lynch, at the latter's discretion, to drive on in the gathering darkness with vehicular lights on. This time Baker's platoon of tanks, rather than the I&R Platoon, was to lead the column. The other platoon of three tanks was to bring up the rear. At his request, Colonel Lynch gave Baker authority to shoot at North Korean soldiers if he thought it necessary. Shortly after resuming the advance at 2030 the task force entered the main Seoul highway just south of Ch'onan.

It soon became apparent that the task force was catching up with enemy soldiers. Ch'onan was full of them. Not knowing which way to turn at a street intersection, Baker stopped, pointed, and asked a North Korean soldier on guard, "Osan?" He received a nod just as the soldier recognized him as an American and began to run away. The rest of the task force followed through Ch'onan without opposition. Groups of enemy soldiers just stood around and watched the column go through. Beyond Ch'onan, Baker's tanks caught up with an estimated company of enemy soldiers marching north and fired on them with tank machine guns. Frequently they passed enemy vehicles on the road, enemy soldiers on guard at bridges, and other small groups.

Soon the three lead tanks began to outdistance the rest of the column, and Colonel Lynch was unable to reach them by radio to slow them. In this situation, he formed a second point with a platoon of infantry and a 3.5-inch bazooka team riding trucks, the first truck carrying a .50-caliber ring-mounted machine gun. Actions against small enemy groups began to flare and increase in number. When they were ten miles south of Osan men in the task force heard from up ahead the sound of tank and artillery fire. Lynch ordered the column to turn off its lights. [51]

Separated from the rest of Task Force Lynch, and several miles in front of it by now, Baker's three tanks rumbled into Osan at full speed. After passing through the town, Baker stopped just north of it and thought he could hear vehicles of the task force on the road behind him, although he knew he was out of radio communication with it. T34 tank tracks in the road indicated that enemy armor might be near.

[50] Ltrs, Harris to author, 25 Nov 52 and 23 Dec 53; Ltr, Lynch to 

author, 11 Dec 53; 70th Tk Bn WD, Act Rpt of 1st Lt Robert W. Baker, C 

Co, Oct 50. 

[51] Baker Rpt, C Co, Oct 50; Lynch, articles cited n. 44; 3d Bn, 7th 

Cav Regt, S-3 Jnl, 262000 Sep 50; 61st FA Bn WD, 26 Sep 50; EUSAK WD, 

G-3 Jnl, 0350 27 Sep 50. 


Starting up again, Baker encountered enemy fire about three or four miles north of Osan. His tanks ran through it and then Baker saw American M26 tank tracks. At this point fire against his tanks increased. Antitank fire sheared off the mount of the .50-caliber machine gun on the third tank and decapitated one of its crew members. Baker's tanks, now approaching the lines of the U.S. 31st Infantry, X Corps, were receiving American small arms and 75-mm. recoilless rifle fire. American tanks on the line held their fire because the excessive speed of the approaching tanks, the sound of their motors, and their headlights caused the tankers to doubt that they were enemy. One tank commander let the first of Baker's tanks go through, intending to fire on the second, when a white phosphorus grenade lit up the white star on one of the tanks and identified them in time to avoid a tragedy. Baker stopped his tanks inside the 31st Infantry lines. He had established contact with elements of X Corps. The time was 2226, 26 September; the distance, 106.4 miles from the starting point at Poun at 1130 that morning. [52]

That Baker ever got through was a matter of great good luck for, unknown to him, he had run through a strong enemy tank force south of Osan which apparently thought his tanks were some of its own, then through the North Korean lines north of Osan, and finally into the 31st Infantry position just beyond the enemy. Fortuitously, American antitank and antipersonnel mines on the road in front of the American position had just been removed before Baker's tanks arrived, because the 31st Infantry was preparing to launch an attack.

Baker's tanks may have escaped destruction from American weapons because of a warning given to X Corps. Shortly after noon of 26 September MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo had radioed a message to X Corps, to NAVFE, and to the Far East Air Forces saying that elements of Eighth Army might appear at any time in the X Corps zone of action and for the corps to take every precaution to prevent bombing, strafing, or firing on these troops. A little later, at midafternoon, Generals Walker and Partridge, flying from Taegu unannounced, landed at Suwon Airfield and conferred with members of the 31st Infantry staff for about an hour. Walker said that elements of the 1st Cavalry Division attacking from the south would probably arrive in the Osan area and meet the 7th Division within thirty-six hours. [53]

After his miraculous escape, Baker and the 31st Infantry tank crews at the front line tried unsuccessfully to reach Task Force Lynch by radio.

Instead of being right behind Baker at Osan, the rest of Task Force Lynch was at least an hour behind him. After turning out vehicular lights approximately ten miles south of Osan, Task Force Lynch continued in blackout. Just south of the village of Habong-ni, Colonel Lynch, about midnight, noticed a T34 tank some twenty yards off the road and commented to Captain Webel, the regimental S-3 who accompanied the task force, that the Air Force must have destroyed it. Many men in the column

[52] Baker Rpt, C Co, Oct so; 70th Tk Bn WD, Oct 50, Opn Rpt, 23-27 Sep.

[53] X Corps WD, C-3 Sec, Msgs J-5 at 0200, J-33 at 1400, and J-39 at 

1738; 31st Inf WD, 26 Sep 50; 7th Div WD, Narr, 26 Sep 50.


saw the tank. Suddenly it opened fire with cannon and machine gun. A second enemy tank, unnoticed up to that time, joined in the fire. Task Force Lynch's vehicular column immediately pulled over and the men hit the ditch.

Lt. John G. Hill, Jr., went ahead to the point to bring back its rocket launcher team. This bazooka team destroyed one of the T34's, but the second one moved down the road firing into vehicles and running over several of them. It finally turned off the road into a rice paddy where it continued to fire on the vehicles. A 75-mm. recoilless rifle shell immobilized the tank, but it still kept on firing. Captain Webel had followed this tank and at one point was just on the verge of climbing on it to drop a grenade down its periscope hole when it jerked loose from a vehicle it had crashed into and almost caught him under its tracks. Now, with the tank immobilized in the rice paddy, a 3.5-inch bazooka team moved up to destroy it but the weapon would not fire. Webel pulled a 5-gallon can of gasoline off one of the vehicles and hurried to the side of the tank. He climbed on it and poured the gasoline directly on the back and into the engine hatch. A few spurts of flame were followed by an explosion which blew Webel about twenty feet to the rear of the tank. He landed on his side but scrambled to his feet and ran to the road. He had minor burns on face and hands and two ribs broken. The burning tank illuminated the entire surrounding area.

Up at the head of the halted column, Colonel Lynch heard to the north the sound of other tank motors. He wondered if Baker's three tanks were returning. Watching, he saw two tanks come over a hill 800 yards away. Fully aware that they might be enemy tanks, Lynch quickly ordered his driver, Cpl. Billie Howard, to place the lead truck across the road to block it. The first tank was within 100 yards of him before Howard got the truck across the road and jumped from it. The two tanks halted a few yards away and from the first one a voice called out in Korean, "What the hell goes on here?" A hail of small arms fire replied to this shout.

The two tanks immediately closed hatches and opened fire with cannon and machine guns. The truck blocking the road burst into flames and burned.

The three tanks still with Task Force Lynch came up from the rear of the column and engaged the enemy tanks. Eight more T34's quickly arrived and joined in the fight. The American tanks destroyed one T34, but two of them in turn were destroyed by the North Korean tanks. Webel, in running forward toward the erupting tank battle, came upon a group of soldiers who had a 3.5-inch bazooka and ammunition for it which they had just pulled from one of the smashed American trucks. No one in the group knew how to operate it. Webel took the bazooka, got into position, and hit two tanks, immobilizing both. As enemy soldiers evacuated the tanks, he stood up and fired on them with a Thompson submachine gun.

Sgt. Willard H. Hopkins distinguished himself in this tank-infantry melee by mounting an enemy tank and dropping grenades down an open hatch, silencing the crew. He then organized a bazooka team and led it into action against other tanks. In the tank-infantry battle that raged during an hour or more, this bazooka team was credited by some sources


with destroying or helping to destroy 4 of the enemy tanks. Pfc. John R. Muhoberac was an outstanding member of this team. One of the enemy tanks ran all the way through the task force position shooting up vehicles and smashing into them as it went. At the southern end of the column a 105-mm. howitzer had been set up and there, at a point-blank range of twenty-five yards, it destroyed this tank. Unfortunately, heroic Sergeant Hopkins was killed in this exchange of crossfire as he was in the act of personally attacking this tank. Combined fire from many weapons destroyed another tank. Of the 10 tanks in the attacking column, 7 had been destroyed. The 3 remaining T34's withdrew northward. In this night battle Task Force Lynch lost 2 men killed, 38 wounded, and 2 tanks and 15 other vehicles destroyed. [54]

After the last of the enemy tanks had rumbled away to the north, Colonel Harris decided to wait for daylight before going farther. At 0700 the next morning, 27 September, the task force started forward again. The men were on foot and prepared for action. Within a few minutes the point ran into an enemy tank which a 3.5-inch bazooka team destroyed. An enemy machine gun crew opened fire on the column but was quickly overrun and the gunners killed in a headlong charge by Lt. William W. Woodside and two enlisted men. A little later the column came upon two abandoned enemy tanks and blew them up. The head of Task Force Lynch reached Osan at 0800.

At 0826, 27 September, north of Osan at a small bridge, Platoon Sgt. Edward C. Mancil of L Company, 7th Cavalry, met elements of H Company, 31st Infantry, 7th Division. Task Force 777 sent a message to General Gay which said in part, "Contact between H Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Division, and forward elements of Task Force 777 established at 0826 hours just north of Osan, Korea." [55]

After the link-up with elements of the 31st Infantry, elements of Task Force 777 did not actually participate in this regiment's attack against the North Koreans on the hills north of Osan. Their communication equipment, including the forward air controllers, and their medical troops, however, did assist the 31st Infantry. General Gay arrived at Osan before noon and, upon seeing the battle in progress on the hills to the north, conferred with a 31st Infantry battalion commander. He offered to use the 8th Cavalry Regiment as an enveloping force and assist in destroying the enemy. He also offered to the 31st Infantry, he said, the use of the 77th and 99th Field Artillery Battalions and one tank company. The battalion com-

[54] 7th Cav Regt WD, 27 Sep 50; Lynch, articles cited n. 44; Ltr, Lynch 

to author, 11 Dec 53: Ltrs, Harris to author, 8 and 23 Dec 53; Lt Col 

James B. Webel, MS review comments, 15 Nov 57. Eighth Army General Order 

132, 11 March 1952, awarded Colonel Lynch the Oak Leaf Cluster to the 

Distinguished Service Cross. Department of the Army General Order 35, 8 

April 1952, awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation to the 3d Battalion, 

7th Cavalry Regiment, and attached units. GHQ FEC General Order 21, 3 

February 1951, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Captain Webel 

and the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Sergeant Hopkins. 

[55] Brig Gen William A. Harris, MS review comments, 29 Oct 57, quoting 

copy of message in his possession; 7th Cav Regt WD, 27 Sep 50; Lynch, 

articles cited n. 44. It would appear that some elements of K Company, 

7th Cavalry, were also in the contacting group.


mender said he would need concurrence of higher authority. Just what happened within the 31st Infantry after General Gay made this offer has not been learned. But elements of the 1st Cavalry Division stood idly by at Osan while the 31st Infantry fought out the action which it did not win until the next afternoon, 28 September. General Barr, commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division, has said he was never informed of General Gay's offer of assistance. [56]

In this rapid advance to Osan, the 1st Cavalry Division cut off elements of the 105th Armored Division in the Ansong and P'yongt'aek area and miscellaneous units in the Taejon area. On the 28th, elements of C Company, 70th Tank Battalion, and K Company, 7th Cavalry, with the strong assistance of fighter-bombers, destroyed at least seven of ten T34's in the P'yongt'aek area, five by air strikes. Elements of the 16th Reconnaissance Company barely escaped destruction by these enemy tanks, and did suffer casualties. [57]

As late as 29 September, L Company of the 5th Cavalry Regiment ambushed approximately fifty enemy soldiers in nine Russian-built jeeps driving north from the vicinity of Taejon.

The ROK Army Arrives at the 38th Parallel

Eastward, the ROK Army made advances from Taegu that kept pace with Eighth Army, and in some instances even outdistanced it. This performance is all the more remarkable because the ROK Army, unlike the Eighth Army, was not motorized and its soldiers moved on foot.

In the ROK II Corps, the 6th and 8th Divisions on 24 September gained approximately sixteen miles. The 6th Division advanced on Hamch'ang and entered it the night of 25 September. By the 27th it was advancing across the roughest part of the Sobaek Range, past Mun'gyong in the high passes, on its way to Chungju. On the last day of the month the 6th Division encountered enemy delaying groups as it approached Wonju.

The ROK 8th Division made similarly rapid advances on the right of the 6th Division. Its reconnaissance elements entered Andong before midnight of the 24th. Five spans of the 31-span bridge over the Naktong there were down. Remnants of two enemy divisions, the N.K. 12th and 8th, were retreating on and through Andong at this time. The 12th Division was pretty well through the town, except for rear guard elements, when advanced units of the ROK 8th Division arrived, but the main body of the N.K. 8th Division had to detour into the mountains because ROK troops arrived there ahead of it. After two days of fighting, during which it encountered extensive enemy mine fields, the ROK 8th Division secured Andong on 26 September. That evening the division's advanced elements entered Yech'on, twenty miles northwest of Andong. The next day some of its troops were at Tanyang preparing to cross the

[56] Ltr, Gay to author, 31 Dec 53; Harris, MS review comments, 29 Oct 

57; Interv, author with Barr, 1 Feb 54. 

[57] 70th Tk Bn WD, Oct 50, Opn Rpt, C Co, 23-27 Sep 50; Ltr, Capt 

Charles A. Rogers to author, 1 Feb 54 and his attached MS on 16th Recon 

Co action in Korea, 1950 (written May 1951 in Korea); Webel, MS review 

comments, 15 Nov 57. 


upper Han River. [58] On the last day of the month the division met strong enemy resistance at Chech'on and bypassed the town in the race northward.

The ROK Capital Division was keeping pace with the others in the pursuit. On the 27th it had entered Ch'unyang, about thirty-one miles east of the ROK 8th Division, and was continuing northward through high mountains.

On the night of 1-2 October, shortly after midnight, an organized North Korean force of from 1,000 to 2,000 soldiers, which had been bypassed some place in the mountains, struck with savage fury as it broke out in its attempt to escape northward. Directly in its path was Wonju where the ROK II Corps headquarters was then located. This force overran the corps headquarters and killed many of its men, including five American officers who were attached to the corps or who had come to Wonju on liaison missions. The North Koreans ran amok in Wonju until morning, killing an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 civilians. [59]

Along the east coast the ROK 3d Division, with heavy U.S. naval gunfire support, captured Yongdok on 25 September. A huge cloud of black smoke hung overhead from the burning city. The fall of the town apparently caught the N.K. 5th Division by surprise. Some Russian-built trucks were found with motors running, and artillery pieces were still in position with ammunition at hand. Horse-drawn North Korean signal carts were found with ponies hitched and tied to trees. After the fall of Yongdok it appears that remnants of the 5th Division, totaling now no more than a regiment, turned inland for escape into the mountains. One North Korean regimental commander divided his three remaining truckloads of ammunition and food among his men and told them to split into guerrilla bands.

In the pursuit up the coastal road above Yongdok, Maj. Curtis J. Ivey, a member of KMAG, with the use of twenty-five 2 1/2-ton trucks made available for the purpose through the efforts of Colonel McPhail, KMAG adviser to the ROK I Corps, led the ROK's northward in shuttle relays. When a roadblock was encountered it was Major Ivey who usually directed the action of the point in reducing it. [60]

The impressive gains by the ROK units prompted General Walker to remark on 25 September, "Too little has been said in praise of the South Korean Army which has performed so magnificently in helping turn this war from the defensive to the offensive." [61]

[58] EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 25-26 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 26 Sep 50; EUSAK 

WD, 5 Oct, G-2 Sec, PW Interrog ADVATIS 1038, and ATIS Interrog Rpts, 

Issue 12 (N.K. Forces), Rpt 1753, p. 148, Lt Col Kim Chong Ung, Supply 

Officer, 31st Regt, N. K. 12th Div. 

[59] EUSAK WD, 2 Oct 50. Eighth Army General Order 35, 21 January 1951, 

awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously to Capt. Walt W. 

Bundy and 2d Lt. George E. Mannan, 205th Signal Repair Company, who were 

killed in Wonju while covering the escape of seventeen enlisted men. 

[60] EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 24-26 Sep 50; Ibid., POR 229, 26 Sep 50; Ibid., Br 

for CG, 24-26 Sep 50; Ibid., Engr Hist Rpt, 24 Sep 50; Ibid., G-2 

Sec, 30 Sep 50, interrogs of Lt Kim Kun Bong, Arty Maintenance Off, 11th 

Regt, N.K. 5th Div, and of Sr Lt Pak Kwan Hyok, Medical Off, 2d Regt, 

N.K. 8th Div; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 13 (N.K. Forces), Rpt 1865, p. 

153, Lt Han Si Hong; GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpt, 25 Sep 50; Emmerich, MS review 

comments, Dec 57. 

[61] New York Times, September 26, 1950.


On up the coast road raced the ROK 3d Division. It secured Samch'ok on the morning of 29 September, and then continued on toward Kangnung. It moved north as fast as feet and wheels could take it over the coastal road. It led all ROK units, in fact, all units of the United Nations Command, in the dash northward, reaching a point only five miles below the 38th Parallel on the last day of the month. [62]

The Invaders Expelled From South Korea

The last week of September witnessed a drastic change in the pattern of North Korean military activity. Enemy targets were disappearing from the scene. On 24 September some fighter pilots, unable to find targets, returned to their bases without having fired a shot. Survivors of the once victorious North Korea People's Army were in flight or in hiding, and, in either case, they were but disorganized and demoralized remnants. On 1 October there occurred an incident illustrating the state of enemy demoralization. An Air Force Mosquito plane pilot dropped a note to 200 North Korean soldiers northeast of Kunsan ordering them to lay down their arms and assemble on a nearby hill. They complied. The pilot then guided U.N. patrols to the waiting prisoners.

The virtual collapse of the North Korean military force caused General MacArthur on 1 October to order the Air Force to cease further destruction of rail, highway, bridge, and other communication facilities south of the 38th Parallel, except where they were known to be actively supporting an enemy force. Air installations south of the 40th Parallel were not to be attacked, and he halted air action against strategic targets in North Korea. [63]

The extent of his collapse was truly a death blow to the enemy's hopes for continuing the war with North Korean forces alone. Loss of weapons and equipment in the retreat north from the Pusan Perimeter was of a scope equal to or greater than that suffered by the ROK Army in the first week of the war. For the period 23-30 September, the IX Corps alone captured 4 tanks, 4 self-propelled guns, 41 artillery pieces, 22 antitank guns, 42 mortars, and 483 tons of ammunition. In I Corps, the 24th Division on one day, 1 October, captured on the Kumsan road below Taejon 7 operable tanks and 15 artillery pieces together with their tractors and ammunition. On the last day of September the 5th Cavalry Regiment captured three trains complete with locomotives hidden in tunnels. A few miles north of Andong advancing ROK forces found approximately 10 76-mm. guns, 8 120-mm. mortars, 5 trucks, and 4 jeeps, together with dead enemy soldiers, in a tunnel-all had been destroyed earlier by air force napalm attacks at either end of the tunnel. At Uisong, ROK forces captured more than 100 tons of rice, other supplies, and most of the remaining equipment of one North Korean division. The North Koreans had abandoned

[62] EUSAK WD, G-2 Sec, 27-30 Sep 50; Ibid., Summ, p. 43, Sep 50; Ibid., 

Br for CG, 29-30 Sep 50. Beginning on 25 September, LST's from Pusan 

helped supply the ROK 3d Division in this advance. Sixty tons a day were 

required for a ROK division. See 2d Log Comd Activities Rpt Sep 50. 

[63] USAF Study 71, pp. 66 67; "Air War in Korea," Air University 

Quarterly Review, IV (Fall, 1950), p. 55.

Page 601



76-mm. howitzer

Chinese grenades

Russian-made SU76

Small arms (front to rear): Russian 7.62-mm. submachine (burp) gun; Russian 7.62-mm. carbine M1944; Japanese 7.7-mm. rifle; Russian 7.62 Tokarev semiautomatic rifle with flash hider; Russian 14.5-mm. antitank rifle PTRD-1941 (Degtyarev).

120-mm. mortar

76-mm. gun

Coryunov heavy machine gun


many tanks, guns, vehicles, ammunition, and other equipment because they lacked gasoline to operate their vehicles. [64]

During the approximately three months of the war up to the end of September, all U.N. combat arms had made various claims regarding destroyed enemy equipment, especially tanks and self-propelled guns. Air Force claims for the period, if totaled from daily reports, would be extravagantly high. After the U.N. breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, in the period from 26 September to 21 October 1950, seven survey teams traveled over all major routes of armored movement between the Perimeter line and the 38th Parallel, and also along the Kaesong-Sariwon-P'yongyang highway above the Parallel. This survey disclosed 239 destroyed or abandoned T34 tanks and 74 self-propelled 76-mm. guns. The same survey counted 60 destroyed U.S. tanks. [65]

According to this survey, air action destroyed 102 (43 percent) of the enemy tanks, napalm accounting for 60 of them or one-fourth the total enemy tank casualties; there were 59 abandoned T34's without any visible evidence of damage, also about one-fourth the total; U.N. tank fire accounted for 39 tanks (16 percent); and rocket launchers were credited with 13 tanks (5 percent). The number credited to bazooka fire is in error, for the number certainly is much higher. Very likely air action is credited in this survey with many tanks that originally were knocked out with infantry bazooka fire. There are many known cases where aircraft attacked immobilized tanks after bazooka fire had stopped them. There was an almost complete absence of enemy tanks destroyed by U.S. antitank mines.

No reliable information is available concerning the number of damaged tanks the North Koreans were able to repair and return to action. But the figure of 239 found destroyed or abandoned comes close to being the total number used by the North Korea People's Army in South Korea. Very few escaped from the Pusan Perimeter into North Korea at the end of September.

From July through September 1950 United States tank losses to all causes was 136. A survey showed that mine explosions caused 70 percent of the loss. This high rate of U.S. tank casualties in Korea to mines is all the more surprising since in World War II losses to mines came to only 20 percent of tank losses in all theaters of operations. [66]

In the two weeks beginning with 16 September, the breakout and pursuit period, the U.N. forces in the south placed 9,294 prisoners in the Eighth Army stockade. This brought the total to 12,777, Eighth Army had captured 6,740 of them and the ROK Army 6,037. Beginning with 107 prisoners on 16 September the number had jumped to 435

[64] IX Corps WD, sec. IV, Sep 50; EUSAK PIR 81, 1 Oct 50; GHQ FEC 

Sitrep, 1 Oct 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 30 Sep 50; 5th Cav Regt Unit Hist, 30 

Sep 50; USAF Hist Study 71, p. 40; 24th Div WD, Narr Summ, 29 Sep-31 Oct 


[65] ORO, The Employment of Armor in Korea, ORO-R-1 (FEC), vol. II, and 

app. K, 8 Apr 51. The figures for 239 tanks and 74 SP guns are adjusted 

from a larger total in overlapping reports from the seven surveys. 

As late as July 1951, the author counted 74 enemy T34 tanks and 14 76-

mm. SP guns rusting along the main highway running from Waegwan on the 

Naktong River to Seoul; 30 of the T34's were between the river and 


[66] ORO, The Employment of Armor in Korea, 8 Apr 51; DA Intelligence 

Review, March 1951, No. 178, p. 53.


on 23 September and passed the 1,000 mark daily with 1,084 on 27 September, 1,239 the next day, and 1,948 on 1 October. [67]

The rapid sweep of the U.N. forces northward from the Pusan Perimeter in the last week of September bypassed thousands of enemy troops in the mountains of South Korea. One of the largest groups, estimated to number about 3,000 and including soldiers from the N.K. 6th and 7th Divisions with about 500 civil officials, took refuge initially in the Chiri Mountains of southwest Korea. At the close of the month, of the two major enemy concentrations known to be still behind the U.N. lines, one was south of Kumch'on in the Hamyang area and the other northeast and northwest of Taejon.

Just before midnight, 1 October, a force of approximately sixty North Korean riflemen, using antitank and dummy mines, established and maintained a roadblock for nearly ten hours across the main Seoul highway about fifteen miles northwest of Kumch'on. A prisoner said this roadblock permitted about 2,000 North Korean soldiers and a general officer of the N.K. 6th Division to escape northward. The 6th at the time apparently still had its heavy machine guns and 82-mm. mortars but had discarded all heavier weapons in the vicinity of Sanch'ong. [68]

Enemy sources make quite clear the general condition of the North Korean Army at the end of September. The 6th Division started its withdrawal in good order, but most of its surviving troops scattered into the Chiri Mountain area and elsewhere along the escape route north so that only a part reached North Korea. The 7th Division commander reportedly was killed in action near Kumch'on as the division retreated northward; remnants assembled in the Inje-Yanggu area above the 38th Parallel in mid-October. In the 2d Division, Maj. Gen. Choe Hyon, the division commander, had only 200 troops with him north of Poun at the end of September. Other elements of the division had scattered into the hills.

Parts of the 9th and 10th Divisions retreated through Taejon, and other parts cut across the Taejon highway below the city in the vicinity of Okch'on when they learned that the city had already fallen. Only a handful of men of the 105th Armored Division reached North Korea. The commanding general of the N.K. I Corps apparently dissolved his headquarters at Choch'iwon during the retreat and then fled with some staff officers northeast into the mountains of the Taebaek Range on or about 27 September. From the central front near Taegu, 1,000 to 1,800 men of the 3d Division succeeded in reaching P'yonggang in what became known as the Iron Triangle at the beginning of October. The 1st Division, retreating through Wonju and Inje, assembled approximately 2,000 men at the end of October.

Of all the North Korean divisions fighting in South Korea perhaps no other suffered destruction as complete as the 13th. Certainly no other yielded so many

[67] EUSAK WD, Provost Marshal Sec, 16 Sep-7 Oct 50; U.S. Military 

Academy, Operations in Korea (25 Jun 50-1 Apr 51), p. 72. As contrasted 

with the number of prisoners in the stockade, the total number reported 

captured by 20 September, however, was 23,620 (4,305 by 15 September), 

and by 1 October approximately 30,000. 

[68] 25th Div WD, Sep 50; Ibid., G-2 Sec, 8 Oct 50, ADVATIS 7069, Maj 

Chi Ki Chol, N.K. 6th Div Arty Regt: EUSAK PIR 79 and 80, 29 and 30 Sep 

50; 24th Div WD, Enemy Situation, 29 Sep-31 Oct 50; Throckmorton, Notes 

for author.


high-ranking officers as prisoners of war. In August the 13th Division artillery commander surrendered; on 21 September Col. Lee Hak Ku, the chief of staff, surrendered; three days later the commander of the self-propelled gun battalion surrendered; the division surgeon surrendered on the 27th; and Col. Mun Che Won, a 26-year-old regimental commander, surrendered on 1 October after hiding near Tabu-dong for nearly a week. The commander of the 19th Regiment, 22-year-old Lt. Col. Yun Bon,, Hun. led a remnant of his command northward by way of Kunwi, Andong, and Tanyang. Near Tanyang, finding his way blocked by ROK troops, he marched his regiment, then numbering 167 men, into a ROK police station at Subi-myon and surrendered. A few members of the division eventually reached the P'yonggang area in the Iron Triangle.

Remnants of the 8th Division, numbering perhaps 1,500 men, made their way northeast of P'yonggang and continued on in October to a point near the Yalu River. Some small elements of the 15th Division escaped northward through Ch'unch'on to Kanggye in North Korea. From Kigye about 2,000 men of the 12th Division retreated through Andong to Inje, just north of the 38th Parallel, picking up stragglers from other divisions on the way so that the division numbered about 3,000 to 3,500 men upon arrival there. Remnants of the 5th Division infiltrated northward above Yongdok along and through the east coast mountains in the direction of Wonsan.

The bulk of the enemy troops that escaped from the Pusan Perimeter assembled in the Iron Triangle and the Hwach'on-Inje area of east-central North Korea just above the 38th Parallel. On 2 October an Air Force pilot reported an estimated 5,000 enemy marching in small groups along the edge of the road north of the 38th Parallel between Hwach'on and Kumhwa.

The commanding general of the N.K. II Corps and his staff apparently escaped to the Kumhwa area in the Iron Triangle, and the best available evidence indicates that the commanding general and staff of the N.K. Army Front Headquarters at Kumch'on also escaped northeast to the Iron Triangle. From there in subsequent months this headquarters directed guerrilla operations on U.N. lines of communications.

It appears that not more than 25,000 to 30,000 disorganized North Korean soldiers reached North Korea from the Pusan Perimeter after the U.N. breakout in late September. For all practical purposes the North Korea People's Army had been destroyed. That was the real measure of the success of the Inch'on landing and Eighth Army's correlated attack-General MacArthur's strategy for winning the war. [69]

[69] This summary of the condition of the North Korean Army at the end 

of September 1950 is based upon an analysis of a large body of enemy 

materials. The most important of them are GHQ FEC, History of the N.K. 

Army; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issues 3 (1st and 15th Divs). 94 (2d 

and 4th Divs), 96 (3d and 5th Divs), 100 (6th and 8th Divs), 99 (7th and 

12th Divs), 4 (8th Div and 105th Armd Div), 104 (10th and 13th Divs), 

and 106 (N.K. Arty); ATIS Interrog Rpts (N.K. Forces), Issues 9, 10, 12, 13, 

14, 15, 18, 20, 25; ATIS Enemy Documents, Issue 16, p. 48; ATIS 

Interrog Rpts (Korean Opns), Issue 27, p. 82; FEC, Order of Battle 

Information, 16 Sep 51. N.K. Army Supp. Chart 9; EUSAK WD, G-2 Sec, PW 

Interrog, 16 Sep-31 Oct 50.



Organization U.N. Forces Attached Koreans
Total Ground Combat Forces 198,211 22,404
Total U.S. Ground Combat Forces 113,494 22,404
Eighth Army 1,120  
I Corps 4,141 267
1st Cavalry Division 13,859 2,961
24th Infantry Division 15,591 3,606
IX Corps 4,224 1,009
2d Infantry Division 14,122 2,756
25th Infantry Division 14,617 3,230
X Corps 8,344 600
7th Infantry Division 15,865 7,975
1st Marine Division (reinforced) 21,611  
ROK Army 81,644  
British Ground Combat Forces 1,704  
Philippine Ground Combat Forces 1,369  
FEAF 36,677  
Other U.N. Air Forces 330  
NAVFE 59,438 7,045
Total Ground Service Forces 20,608 444
Eighth Army 2,820  
I Corps 1,235 305
IX Corps 187 110
X Corps 2,039 29
Pusan Base 9,792  
Inch'on Base 4,452  
Seoul Area Command 83  
[a] Figures are adjusted and do not include personnel previously carried 

as wounded, missing, or injured who had returned to duty by 30 September 

Source: EUSAK WD, 30 Sep 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 29-30 Sep 50.

The war in Korea by the end of September had cost Eighth Army 24,172 battle casualties-5,145 killed in action; 16,461 wounded in action, of whom 422 died of wounds; 402 reported captured; and 2,164 missing in action. Many of the latter were prisoners of war. [70]

Estimated U.N. strength in Korea as of 30 September 1950 is shown in Table 3.


[70] Battle Casualties of the Army, 31 May 52, DA TAGO.



Organization Strength
Total Ground Combat Forces 229,772
U.S. Army 103,601
1st Cavalry Division 14,472
2d Infantry Division 17,656
7th Infantry Division 15,620
24th Infantry Division 11,876
25th Infantry Division 14,824
Nondivisional units 29,153
U.S. 1st Marine Division (reinforced) 21,525
ROK Army 101,573
Korean divisions 82,786
Attached to U.S. Army combat units 18,787
British Brigade 1,704
Philippine Battalion Combat Team 1,369
Total Ground Service Forces 119,559
U.S. Army 28,507
ROK Army 91,052
Korean Service units 90,608
Attached to U.S. Army service units 444
U.S. Far East Air Forces 36,677
U.S. Naval Forces, Far East 59,438
Other U.N. Air Forces 330
Source: ROK and UN Ground Forces Strength in Korea, 31 July 1950-31 July 

1953, DA, COA, 7 Oct 54, and GHQ FEC Sitrep, 29-30 Sep 50. 

page updated 23 May 2001

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