The Forces and the Plans

Notwithstanding the tendency of U.S. officials to discount a massive Chinese intervention, the entry of Chinese forces into the war ended a retrenchment of UNC forces begun when the complete defeat of the North Korean Army had seemed at hand. The Army halted the infant redeployment of major units from Korea, and Department of Defense and State officials stopped a move to reduce or cancel further contributions of forces from other nations. The Air Force did not return two groups of medium bombers sent back to the United States, but the Navy sharply cut back a redeployment of ships of the line, particularly fast carriers.l

Earlier steps that reduced or diverted materiel originally scheduled for shipment from the United States to the Far East also were canceled, as was planning for a roll-up of supplies in the theater. The Army also halted the release of South Korean troops who earlier, under a Korean Augmentation to the United States Army Program (KATUSA), had been incorporated in understrength American ground units as expedient fillers and replacements.

Because of a continuing and growing understrength among American ground units, the Army resumed the once-curtailed flow of individual replacements and filler units from the United States at a rate greater than its earlier norm. The individual replacements were a particular boon to divisions, some of which were as much as 30 percent understrength. Army officials planned to ship 40,000 replacements in November and December and estimated that all units in the Far East would reach full strength by March 1951.2

The United Nations Command

With the full effect of these restorations yet to be felt, the United Nations Command on 23 November 1950 was a force of some 553,000 men from the Republic of Korea and thirteen members of the United Nations. Ground forces in Korea totaled 423,313 men; air forces based in both Japan and Korea around 55,000; and naval forces, ashore and afloat, about 75,000. The ground forces were predominately South Korean (223,950) and American (178,464). The American contingent included 153,536 Army and 24,928 Ma-


rine Corps troops.3 The remainder represented the United Kingdom (11,186), Turkey (5,051), the Philippines (1,349), Thailand (1,181), Australia (1,002), the Netherlands (636), India (326), and Sweden (168). The preponderance of both air and naval forces was American. Supplementing the air strength were forces from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Union of South Africa, and South Korea; reinforcing the naval strength were contingents from South Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Thailand.4

The theater command lines reaching down to these diverse forces differed in two major respects from the way they had been established during the first month of the war, both changes involving arrangements for controlling and administering ground operations. In July General MacArthur had assigned the Eighth Army to conduct ground operations and to perform communications zone functions while continuing to meet responsibilities in the occupation of Japan. General Walker consequently had been obliged to divide his headquarters, leaving a rear echelon in Yokohama to carry out logistical and occupation duties while he and the remainder of his staff entered Korea to direct the ground campaign.5 To permit Walker to concentrate on operations in Korea, MacArthur on 24 August had phased out the Eighth Army's rear headquarters and established the Japan Logistical Command, a separate command subordinate to the Far East Command with headquarters in Yokohama. Walker remained responsible for the receipt, storage, and forward movement of supplies in Korea itself, while the logistical command, under Maj. Gen. Walter L. Weible, absorbed the


missions the Eighth Army had been performing in Japan.6

The other change had occurred in September when the separate X Corps under General Almond landed at Inch'on. Until that time, General Walker had commanded or exercised operational control over all ground forces. As of 23 November Walker was responsible for the logistical support of Almond's forces, but otherwise the Eighth Army and the X Corps remained separate commands. The centralized control of ground forces within Korea and their operations thus rested in General MacArthur at theater, or UNC, level in Tokyo. (Chart 1)

Ground Forces

The heart of the UNC ground combat strength comprised Eighth Army headquarters, ROK Army headquarters, six corps headquarters, seventeen infantry divisions (including one of U.S. marines), three infantry brigades, two separate infantry regiments (one of U.S. airborne troops and one of ROK marines), and three separate infantry battalions. Among lesser formations were a number of ROK Army security battalions and ROK National Police


23 NOVEMBER 1950

battalions, all low-strength units organized primarily for antiguerrilla operations. Also included were a few separate ROK marine battalions, which came under ROK Army control when operating on the mainland but under ROK Navy control when located, as they were most of the time, on offshore islands. Still smaller units included a provisional company of U.S. Rangers, a company of British marine commandos, and a U.S. special operations company- a provisional unit of Army troops originally organized for commando-type operations during the Inch'on landing.7

By far the larger portion of the ground strength was vested in the Eighth Army and was located west of the main Taebaek spine, where, in the wake of the drive out of the Pusan Perimeter and the pursuit above the 38th parallel, General Walker's forces had become spread from the port of Pusan northwestward to the Ch'ongch'on River. Walker also had split his headquarters during the autumn offensive, establishing main headquarters in Seoul while he and a small staff operated from a forward command post in P'yongyang.

U.S. combat formations of the Eighth Army included two corps (I and IX), four infantry divisions (1st Cavalry, 2d, 24th, and 25th), the airborne regiment (187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team), and the Ranger company (8213th).8 Other U.N. forces in Walker's command accounted for the three infantry brigades (1st Turkish Armed Forces Command, 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, and 29th British Independent Brigade Group) and the three separate infantry battalions (10th Battalion Combat Team, Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea; 21st Regimental Combat Team, Thailand Expeditionary Force; and Netherlands Detachment, United Nations).9

Most of the ROK Army also was under General Walker's control. The ma-


jor combat units included two corps (II and III) and eight divisions (1st, 2d, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 11th). To date, the ROK Army headquarters had seldom directed the operations of its combat formations within an assigned sector or zone at the front. The headquarters functioned more as a clearinghouse for instructions issued to ROK corps on line by Eighth Army headquarters and did not enter the command picture at all when an ROK unit was attached to a U.S. headquarters below Eighth Army level. On the other hand, the headquarters did play a normal role under the ROK Army chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Chung Il Kwon, in planning and directing operations in rear-area security missions.

Walker maintained close liaison with South Korean forces through six hundred officers and men constituting the U.S. Military Advisory Group to the Republic of Korea (KMAG). Commanded by Brig. Gen. Francis W. Farrell, this group guided the ROK Army in both training and combat and kept Walker and other American commanders under whom ROK units served informed of South Korean capabilities and activities. General Farrell's headquarters currently was located with that of the ROK Army in Seoul, while the remainder of his command was spread, rather thinly, through the various ROK Army staffs and technical services and among the combat units as far down the chain of command as battalions.10

Eighth Army supplies were handled by the 2d Logistical Command, under Brig. Gen. Crump Garvin, and its subordinate 3d Logistical Command, under Brig. Gen. George C. Stewart. As of 23 November the port, depot, and transportation units of the 2d Logistical Command operated in and from the major port and storage facilities at Pusan, while those of the 3d Logistical Command worked in and out of smaller installations in the Inch'on-Seoul and Chinnamp'o-P'yongyang areas. Pusan, the main supply center, was the starting point of three not easily distinguishable but separate supply lines. Through the principal line, that of the United States, flowed the supplies for all American units and, except for a few items, for all attached U.N. units other than those of the British Commonwealth. Commonwealth units main-


tained their own supply line and, except for perishable foods and petroleum products obtained from American stocks, used only commonwealth supplies and equipment. A supply line for ROK forces constituted the third system, through which passed, for the most part, issues of war materials from the United States. Other supplies for ROK forces came from local sources, but, except for food, only in small amounts because of South Korea's flimsy economy and limited industrial development.11

Besides supply functions, the two logistical commands handled the confinement of prisoners of war, currently at camps in Pusan, Inch'on, and P'yongyang holding 130,921 captives. The 2d Logistical Command also operated the U.N. Reception Center at Taegu, sixty miles northwest of Pusan, where arriving UNC contingents received any required clothing, equipment, and training with U.S. Army gear before joining combat operations.

Also operating as part of the 2d Logistical Command was Sweden's contribution to the U.N. Command, a 400-bed Red Cross field hospital. The 160 civilians on the hospital staff had received assimilated military ranks so as to be "respected and protected" as provided in the Geneva Conventions of 1949.12 Although organized as a mobile evacuation hospital, it had been augmented by a U.S. Army medical administrative detachment and had become a fixed installation in Pusan handling not only military but also civilian patients when the work load permitted.

Dealing with civilians on a larger scale was a command of some three hundred officers and enlisted men, the U.N. Public Health and Welfare Detachment.13 Civil assistance teams of the command, using foreign aid supplies, worked throughout the Eighth Army area to prevent disease, starvation, and unrest among the civil population. Theirs was essentially a relief mission, but some team activity, such as assisting the movement of refugees, also was designed to prevent civilians from interfering with military operations.

Units with the separate X Corps in northeastern Korea included the ROK I Corps taken over from the Eighth Army in late October after General Almond's forces landed at Wonsan, three American divisions (3d, 7th, and 1st Marine), two ROK divisions (3d and Capital), the ROK marine regiment (1st Korean Marine Corps), the British commando company (41st Independent Commando, Royal Marines), and the American Special Operations Company. General Almond also controlled the U.S. Army's 2d Special Engineer Brigade, which handled port operations at Hungnam, fifty miles north of Wonsan, where most of the X Corps' seaborne supplies, either transshipped from Pusan or shipped directly from Japan, arrived. Ten miles inland from Hungnam, Almond had established X Corps headquarters in the city of Hamhung. (Chart 2)

The American predominance in operations was nowhere more evident than in the organization and equipment


23 NOVEMBER 1950


of the assorted ground forces assembled under U.S. command. ROK formations and, except for the British Commonwealth forces, all U.N. units were structured under modified U.S. Army tables of organization, and all of their weapons and almost all of their other equipment and supplies were of American manufacture.14

As a result of revised tables of organization and equipment, the structure of U.S. divisions was distinctly different in many respects from that of their World War II counterparts. The modifications affected every unit level from squad upward; the latest change, to become effective on 29 November 1950, set the authorized war strength of an infantry division at 18,855, more than 4,000 greater than that of a World War II division. A comparable increase in organic firepower came largely from an increase in the number of field artillery pieces and the addition of tanks, antiaircraft artillery, and heavy mortars that previously had not been included in a division's own arsenal.15

The weapons being used in Korea, as well as the vehicles and other equipment, were in the main the same models and types used during World War II. Large numbers were the very same weapons. The .30-caliber M1 rifle, .30-caliber Browning automatic rifle, and light and heavy .30-caliber Browning machine guns remained basic infantry weapons. Continuing in use were Colt .45-caliber pistols, .30-caliber carbines, .45-caliber Thompson and M3 submachine guns, .50-caliber Browning machine guns, and 60mm., 81-mm., and 4.2-inch mortars (but a new model of the 4.2 with considerably greater range). Although 2.36-inch rocket launchers remained standard weapons, they were being supplanted by a new and more powerful 3.5-inch version. Virtually new were 57-mm. and 75mm. recoilless rifles tested but used very little during the last few months of World War II.

The tank units assigned to infantry divisions were equipped with light M24 Chaffee, medium M4A3 Sherman, and heavy M26 Pershing tanks, all World War II models, and the M46 Patton, a modified version of the Pershing introduced in 1948. New tank models were being developed, but none would reach Korea in time to play a combat role. British tanks in use included the World War II vintage Churchill and a new 52-ton Centurion.

The basic divisional field artillery weapons continued to be the 105-mm. and 155-mm. howitzers, but now with six tubes in each battery instead of four as in World War II, an increase that raised a division's total to fifty-four 105-mm. and eighteen 155-mm. pieces. Nondivisional battalions in Korea also were equipped with these weapons and with 155-mm. guns and 8-inch howitzers. Except for the single 8-inch unit in Korea, their batteries, too, had six tubes each.

The antiaircraft battalion now organic to division artillery was equipped with twin 40mm. guns and quad .50-caliber machine guns, all self-propelled. In addition to the same weapons, a few


nondivisional antiaircraft artillery battalions in Korea were armed with 90mm. guns. Of significant benefit to the divisions in Korea was the virtual absence of enemy air attacks on UNC ground troops, which permitted extensive use of divisional antiaircraft weapons in a ground support role. The value of these weapons in support of both offensive and defensive ground operations had been well established during World War II and was quickly reaffirmed.

An operational innovation of growing importance was the use of helicopters as ambulances to evacuate seriously wounded mete from the front. This practice had started in July 1950 with occasional requests from ground units to the 3d Air Rescue Squadron of the Fifth Air Force for the help of Sikorsky H-5s in evacuating critically wounded men from forward aid stations. An increasing demand for such assistance and the success of the squadron in safely bringing back wounded who might not have survived a slow, rough overland move led to the Army's formal adoption of helicopters for medical evacuation. The Army's 2d Helicopter Detachment, the first of four such units scheduled for deployment to Korea, arrived on 22 November. Following a two-month training period to


become familiar with its Bell H-13 craft and the Korean terrain, the unit was to become operational as an attachment to the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

The mobile army surgical hospital, or MASH, as it was instantly and permanently dubbed, also was a new kind of organization conceived soon after World War II, mainly as a way of bringing emergency lifesaving surgery closer to critically wounded men. The concept called for placing and keeping a sixty-bed, truck-borne MASH in a forward location just out of enemy artillery range in support of each division. Only four of the mobile units were in Korea, not enough to place one in support of each division; and, because of a shortage of evacuation hospitals, each MASH had been enlarged to 150 beds and was handling more than just surgery patients. But the early treatment of wounded at a MASH located only minutes from the battlefield, combined with the swift, comfortable delivery of seriously hurt men by helicopter, had helped to lower the fatality rate for the Army's wounded. The rate had been 4.5 percent during World War II. In Korea, it would eventually reach a new low of 2.5 percent.16


Air Forces

For air operations in Korea, it had been necessary at the beginning of hostilities to make expedient and expeditious changes in Far East Air Forces dispositions, equipment, and organization. General Stratemeyer's principal prewar mission of maintaining an air defense of his theater had compelled the deployment of subordinate air commands over a wide area. Only the Fifth Air Force and the Far East Air Materiel Command, which handled air logistics throughout the theater, had been based in Japan. To create a force capable of operations in Korea, General Stratemeyer had found it necessary to pull in units from distant theater locations and adjust the locations of some units within Japan to bring them within range of the battle area. Additional forces and equipment also had had to be requisitioned from the United States.

The change in equipment had stemmed from a recent conversion of Far East Air Forces fighter units from F-51 Mustangs to F-80C Shooting Stars, short-range jet interceptors not meant to be flown at low altitudes in support of ground operations. The U.S. Air Force inventory included the F-84E Thunderjet that was adaptable to airground operations, but its use required better airfields than those existing in Japan and Korea. The immediate alternative had been to return to the F-51 with its longer range and its capacity for low-level missions and operations from short and rough fields. In striking a balance to meet all air requirements, Stratemeyer had reconverted half of his F-80C squadrons to F-51s. As of 23 November the F-80Cs and F-51 s remained the basic fighter aircraft, but the Far East Air Forces were in the process of importing both F-84Es and the high performance F-86A Sabres from the United States and were improving airfields in Japan and Korea to handle them.

In organizational changes, two provisional commands subordinated to the Far East Air Forces had been established, Bomber Command under Maj. Gen. Emmett O'Donnell, Jr., to handle deep interdiction and strategic bombing operations and Combat Cargo Command under Maj. Gen. William H. Tunner to lift troops and supplies.17 Bomber Command currently possessed ninety-five B-29s, now classed as medium bombers, and included the 19th and 307th Bombardment Groups based at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa and the 98th Bombardment Group and 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron at


Yokota, Japan. Combat Cargo Command comprised four carrier groups, all based in Japan, equipped with C-46, C-47, C-54, and C-119 aircraft. General Tunner also controlled the operations of a U.S. Marine squadron flying R5Ds.18

Tactical air operations were the province of the Fifth Air Force under Maj. Gen. Earle E. Partridge. By 23 November General Partridge had set up headquarters in Seoul adjacent to the main headquarters of the Eighth Army, including the Joint Operations Center and Tactical Air Control Center, which arranged and dispatched air sorties. Fifth Air Force units included two light bomber wings, each with three squadrons of B-26s based in Japan, and five fighter wings located on Korean fields. The fighter wings included six squadrons of F-80Cs and eight squadrons and a separate flight of F-51s.19 The F-80C jets operated from Kimpo Airfield west of Seoul and a field at Taegu; the F-5 is flew from North Korean fields, five squadrons and the separate flight based on P'yongyang and P'yongyang East Airfields behind the Eighth Army, three squadrons stationed at Yonp'o Airfield near Hungnam behind the X Corps. Other Fifth Air Force units included a squadron of F-82 all-weather fighters based in Japan but used sparingly over Korea because the Air Force possessed so few and supply support for them was limited. For reconnaissance missions, General Partridge had two photo squadrons (RF-80 and RB26) at the Taegu field and a visual squadron (RF-51) in Japan. His remaining unit was a squadron of T-6 Mosquitoes based at P'yongyang East Airfield for the control of close support sorties.20

Additional UNC air strength included the U.S. 1st Marine Aircraft




Wing with four squadrons of F4U Corsairs and two squadrons of F7F Tigercat night fighters based on Wonsan and Yonp'o Airfields behind the X Corps and on an escort carrier off the east coast, and two U.S. Navy air groups aboard carriers, each with five squadrons, equipped with F4Us, F9F Pantherjets, and AD Skyraiders. Naval air units also included Fleet Air Wing Six, which, with three U.S. squadrons of Neptunes and Mariners and two Royal Air Force squadrons of Sunderlands, carried out Naval Forces, Far East, air patrol operations over Japanese and Korean waters. 21

Given the varied sources of UNC air strength, effective air operations in Korea had required some form of centralized control. General Stratemeyer during the first days of the war had sought operational control of all aviation operating from Japan or over Korea except that employed in purely naval tasks, such as the patrolling by Fleet Air Wing Six. Admiral joy had resisted giving over that much control of his aircraft and carriers, judging that doing so could damage his command's ability to meet other naval responsibilities. In compromise, General MacArthur had given Stratemeyer "coordination control," a lesser degree of authority that centralized the conduct of air operations in Stratemeyer without giving him direct control of Navy and Marine air units. Stratemeyer, in turn, had delegated the coordination of close support operations to the Fifth Air Force commander, General Partridge. Although differences arose between the air and naval commands over the exact meaning of coordination control, the system was still in use in late November.22 (Chart 3)

Naval Forces

UNC naval units currently included the U.S. Seventh Fleet and three separate task forces. Task Force 96, the single, small combat force available to Admiral Joy at the opening of hostilities, now included Fleet Air Wing Six, an escort carrier group, a submarine group, and a service group located in Japan to handle Naval Forces, Far East, logistical functions in port. The task


23 NOVEMBER 1950

force also had a number of Japanese-manned and -supported freighters and landing ships of the Shipping Control Administration, Japan, that were employed in the intra-area lift of troops and supplies.23 Joy himself was the task force commander. From a nucleus of five ships, Task Force 90 commanded by Rear Adm. James H. Doyle had become a full-fledged amphibious force.24 So far in the war, Admiral Doyle's force had participated in three major landings- at P'ohang-dong, Inch'on, and Wonsan- and was currently posted in both Japanese and Korean waters. Task Force 95, under Rear Adm. Allen E. Smith, constituted the U.N. Blockading and Escort Force. Incorporated with the U.S. contingent of the force were all line ships furnished by other U.N. countries and South Korea. To enforce the blockade of the Korean coast and to perform bombardment and minesweeping assignments, Admiral Smith's force was deployed in both the Yellow Sea washing Korea on the west and the Sea of Japan on the east.25

Before the outbreak of hostilities, the Seventh Fleet, commanded by Vice Adm. Arthur D. Struble, had been based in the Philippines. Its operations at that time were under the control of Adm. Arthur E. Radford, Commander


in Chief, Pacific Fleet, but standing orders passed control to Admiral Joy whenever the Seventh Fleet operated in Japanese waters or in the event of an emergency. When these orders went into effect after the war started, the Seventh Fleet, at the direction of President Truman, was assigned both to conduct combat operations in Korean waters and to operate in the Formosa area where its presence and patrolling could discourage the Chinese on the mainland and the Nationalists on the island From attacking each other and thus prevent a widening of hostilities.

As of 23 November Fleet Air Wing One, headquartered on Okinawa, and surface ships constituting Task Force 72 were handling the Formosa patrol. Admiral Struble himself and two task forces were in the immediate battle area. Task Force 77, a fast carrier force commanded by Rear Adm. Edward C. Ewen, was deployed off the eastern Korean coast in the Sea of Japan. Its two carriers, the Leyte and Philippine Sea, each carried an air group of five squadrons and, together, were operating with approximately a hundred fifty planes. Underway replenishment for Ewen's ships was provided by a logistical support force, Task Force 79.26 (Chart 4)



The UNC Plan of Advance

With these forces at his disposal, General MacArthur planned to continue operations by combining his overland advance with air attacks on the principal Yalu River bridges to shut off Chinese reinforcement from Manchuria. He also planned to intensify air attacks opened during the first week of November on North Korean towns judged to be important centers for enemy supply and communications.

Against the earlier attacks on towns deep in northwestern Korea, enemy fighter pilots, some flying Russian-built MIG-15 jets, had adopted a special countermeasure, rising from nearby Manchurian fields and climbing to superior altitudes before crossing the border, then making diving attacks on UNC planes and darting back to sanctuary above the Yalu.27 On 7 November, as MacArthur began to increase air operations in the northwest, he asked the joint Chiefs of Staff for instructions on how to deal with the enemy hit-and-run tactics. There was historical and legal precedent under which UNC pilots, once engaged by enemy fliers over North Korea, could continue the air battle even though maneuvers carried them into the air space above Manchuria. The Joint Chiefs, Secretary of Defense Marshall, Secretary of State Acheson, and President Truman all favored adopting this course, commonly referred to as "hot pursuit," since it could not be construed, at least according to precedent, as a violation of Manchurian territory. They dropped the idea, however, after encountering strong objections from officials of other nations with forces in Korea.28

The Washington reaction to MacArthur's plan to bomb the Yalu bridges followed an opposite sequence. Because bridge attacks at the border might result in inadvertent bombing of Man-


churian territory, thus undermining forthcoming endeavors to assure China that the northern border of Korea was the extent of UNC interest and perhaps triggering a crisis expanding the war, President Truman ordered the air plan canceled. But MacArthur won a reversal from the president by protesting that unopposed Chinese troop and materiel movements across the Yalu bridges threatened to destroy his command. On 8 and 9 November he opened air attacks on the Yalu crossings at Sinuiju, Ch'ongsongjin, Namsan-ni, Manp'ojin, and Hyesanjin. So as not to violate Manchurian territory, bombing runs were made against only the first overwater spans on the Korean side of the river.29

For the ground advance, General MacArthur initially let stand his order of 24 October allowing General Walker and General Almond each to proceed toward the border independently. In the northeast, where Chinese had resisted only the X Corps' west flank forces before breaking contact on 6 November, Almond resumed his advance with almost no perceptible pause, pushing four divisions over three widely separated axes. Inland on the corps left, the U.S. 1st Marine Division climbed toward the Changjin Reservoir atop the Taebaek Mountains. The U.S. 7th Infantry Division moved northward over the next arterial road to the east leading from Pukch'ong near the coast to Hyesanjin on the Yalu. On the corps right, the South Korean Capital and 3d Divisions of the ROK I Corps followed the coastal road toward the Tumen River, which for eleven miles upstream from its mouth marks the border between Korea and the Soviet Union.30

General Walker laid out a new plan of advance on 6 November but delayed executing it while he strengthened his attack force and supplies. In pursuit of North Korean Army remnants, the Eighth Army had moved through western North Korea with two corps and six divisions. Fully expecting to meet Chinese forces when he again moved north, Walker intended to increase his force to three corps, eight divisions, and three brigades. By 6 November he had started the additional units forward and planned to reopen his advance around the 15th provided he could arrange adequate logistical support by that date.31

Supply requirements had plagued Walker from the time he crossed the 38th parallel. For the initial advance into North Korea, the Eighth Army was to have received supplies through Inch'on, but the port had been tied up during the first half of October by the X Corps' outloading for Wonsan. Walker, as a result, had sent forces across the parallel with only a marginal store of provisions.32

Replenishing these small stocks had been another problem. Battle-damaged rail lines had not been repaired beyond the Pusan Perimeter at the time of the


crossing, and at the last week of October train service on the main line had been restored no farther than the Imjin River, thirty miles above Seoul and a hundred fifty miles below the Eighth Army front on the Ch'ongch'on River. Even then, Walker's engineers had pieced together only a single pair of rails out of a double track system, which, together with the poor condition of the bridges, sharply limited the line's capacity. This restriction had forced extremely heavy supply traffic onto the roads. Three-fourths of the Eighth Army's trucks had operated around the clock out of Pusan and Inch'on and from railheads and airheads to keep Walker's forces moving. This support had threatened to wear out before the Eighth Army reached the Ch'ongch'on because of too many deadlined vehicles and too few repair parts. In fact., only through the addition of a daily airlift of 1,000 tons from Kimpo Airfield to P'yongyang had the Eighth Army been able to support its advance from the North Korean capital to the Ch'ongch'on.33

Far too few supplies were stockpiled at the front on 6 November to support the advance; petroleum products and ammunition were especially short, the latter amounting only to a single day of fire. With winter approaching, Walker also needed to equip his troops with heavier clothing. In addition to building up stocks in forward areas, he faced the necessity of accelerating the northward flow of resupply. His logistics officer, Col. Albert K. Stebbins, estimated that a daily flow of at least 4,000 tons was needed to sustain a three-corps offensive. This rate could be established only by repairing the main rail line from the existing railhead at the south bank of the Imjin River into P'yongyang and by opening the west coast port of Chinnamp'o on the estuary of the Taedong River twenty-five miles southwest of P'yongyang.34

The time needed to meet these requirements, in particular to complete railroad bridge repairs and to sweep away mines strewn by the North Koreans at Chinnamp'o, forced Walker to drop his 15 November target date. By the 17th, however, five trains were running about a hundred cars with 2,000 tons of supplies into P'yongyang daily, and at Chinnamp'o the daily discharge was reaching upwards of 1,500 tons. With his transportation system moving into higher gear, Walker was able to set the 24th as the date for reopening his offensive.35

During the time used to arrange adequate logistical support, Walker maintained some contact with enemy forces through patrolling and short advances. He mounted the advances with the I Corps and ROK II Corps, keeping the IX Corps, which only recently had come forward, to his right rear to secure and refuse the Eighth Army's east flank. Enemy resistance initially ranged from little or none in the west to sharp local counterattacks in the rougher ground to the east, then subsided everywhere after 12 November. Later, in final preparation for the attack, Walker inserted


the IX Corps in the center of his line so that the I, IX, and ROK II Corps were deployed west to east along a seventymile front. As the Eighth Army was disposed on the eve of the renewed advance, the Ch'ongch'on River flowing southwestward into the Yellow Sea split the army position into two nearly equal parts. (Map 3) The western half formed a bridgehead above the Ch'ongch'on, arching from the mouth of the river to a depth of ten miles and then returning to the Ch'ongch'on some thirty-five miles upstream. The remainder stretched another thirty-five miles almost due east into the western watershed of the Taebaek Mountains.36

The Eighth Army Plan

Walker meanwhile revised his attack plan to include more specific instructions for a coordinated advance. He originally had directed his forces to "coordinate their advance with elements on flanks," otherwise giving them only the general instruction to advance to the northern border in zone. In revision, he drew clearly defined phase lines and restricted to himself the authority to move beyond each.37 This would keep his forces from dangling tenuously at the ends of their supply lines and from inviting ambush by moving independently into enemy territory as they had done during the October pursuit.

In view of the terrain north of the Eighth Army, close coordination would not be easy. Except for the flats and low hills of the lower Ch'ongch'on valley and a slim band of lowlands on the west coast, rough mountains filled the space between the army front and the northern border. Extremely dissected ridges trended northwestward above the western half of the army line, and the western watershed of the Taebaeks spread in dendritic patterns beyond the Eighth Army positions in the east. Six roads offered the main axes of movement through this ground. On the extreme west, Korea's main arterial road, Route 1, with the main rail line alongside, moved from Sinanju on the Ch'ongch'on through the coastal lowland to Sinuiju on the Yalu opposite An-tung, Manchuria. Another arterial road, with a single-track rail line paralleling it, ran northeastward from Sinanju along the upstream trace of the Ch'ongch'on through the towns of Anju, Kunu-ri, Huich'on, and Kanggye, then turned northwest to Manp'ojin on the border. The other roads passed northwestward through mountain corridors between these two routes.

Walker intended that his three corps advance abreast over all six axes. The I and IX Corps initially were to move to a phase line some twenty miles out, which would give them a road to assist lateral communication and would get them into the mountain corridors leading to the border. On the right, the ROK II Corps was to advance through the mountains east of the Ch'ongch'on valley road to a phase line arching from Huich'on east and southeast to the army boundary at the village of Inch'o-ri. The South Koreans were to contact


Map 3. The Battlefront, 23 November 1950


General Almond's rear units in the vicinity of Inch'o-ri and thus, nominally at least, close a worrisome fortymile gap- holding the spine and highest watershed ridges of the northern Taebaeks- that currently existed, between the Eighth Army and X Corps. Meanwhile, as Walker issued his final instructions, Far East Air Forces pilots, under General MacArthur's orders, flew night and day reconnaissance missions over the gap area but sighted no enemy forces.38

A Change in X Corps Plans

By 23 November the X Corps' assault divisions had advanced against spotty resistance to separated positions spread over a space of 150 air miles. The 1st Marine Division held the town of Hagaru-ri at the lower end of the Changjin Reservoir. Seventy miles to the northeast, the 7th Division occupied Hyesanjin on the Yalu. Thirty miles east and slightly south of Hyesanjin, the ROK 3d Division had moved inland to the town of Hapsu; and some forty miles northeast of Hapsu, the ROK Capital Division was at the outskirts of Ch'ongjin on the coast.

General Almond had given his divisions their border objectives on 11 November. The 1st Marine Division was to occupy a forty-mile stretch of the lower Yalu River bank due north of the Changjin Reservoir; the 7th Division was to hold the region between Hyesanjin and Hapsu; the two divisions of the ROK I Corps were to clear the remaining ground to the east. General MacArthur, however, chose to revive the concept formulated but not used in October of sending X Corps forces westward toward the Eighth Army. Since the UNC front slanted across the peninsula with the Eighth Army holding the more southerly portion of the tilted line, a westward attack by Almond's forces would place them deep in the enemy's rear, giving them an excellent opportunity to ease the Eighth Army's progress.39

Almond initially proposed that he could best help the Eighth Army by continuing northward and then, if feasible, by attacking west from some point above the Changjin Reservoir. This proposal fairly coincided with what MacArthur had in mind. On 15 November he instructed Almond to open an attack to the west after his inland flank forces reached the town of Changjin, twentyfive miles north of the reservoir. Thirty miles west of Changjin lay Kanggye and a junction with the arterial road and rail line connecting Manp'ojin and Huich'on. The road and track obviously served as enemy supply routes, and it was MacArthur's intention that the X Corps' westward attack would cut them.40


Apprehensive, after further consideration, that the supply line of the attack force would become precariously extended in any drive westward from a point as far north as Changjin town, Almond offered the alternative of an attack over the road leading into the Eighth Army zone from Yudam-ni at the western edge of the Changjin Reservoir. The enemy supply routes were to be cut at the village of Mup'yong-ni, fifty-five miles west of Yudam-ni and forty miles north of Huich'on. Almond intended that the 1st Marine Division make the westward effort into Mup'yong-ni and then press an attack northwestward to the Yalu, pinching out in the process the ROK II Corps on the Eighth Army right. MacArthur agreed to the change and instructed Almond to begin the attack as soon as possible.41

Almond set the 27th as the opening date. The 7th Division meanwhile was to expand its zone westward, placing forces on the east side of the Changjin Reservoir for an advance to the Yalu through the zone previously assigned to the marines. The ROK I Corps was to continue to the border from Hapsu and Ch'ongjin while Almond's remaining major units, the U.S. 3d Division and 1st Korean Marine Corps Regiment, secured the corps rear area between Wonsan and Hungnam.42

The Air Plan

Believing that the Eighth Army would encounter heaviest resistance in the ground bordering the Ch'ongch'on valley in the center of its zone, General Walker asked the Fifth Air Force to give that region priority for close support. He wanted second priority given to his inland flank, which was held insecurely by South Korean forces, and some attention given to the west coast area, although he expected opposition there to be light.43

In line with these priorities, the Joint Operations Center arranged 120 sorties for the Eighth Army's opening advance, these and others that might be requested during the day to be flown by the Fifth Air Force squadrons based in western Korea. General Partridge allotted the Fifth Air Force and Marine squadrons in northeastern Korea to the support of the X Corps. The Navy squadrons aboard the Leyte and Philippine Sea meanwhile were to fly interdiction missions in the Eighth Army zone. Although Admiral Ewen considered interdictory flights into western Korea from carriers in the Sea of Japan uneconomical, Partridge turned down as unneeded Ewen's counterproposal that the carrier-based planes fly supplemental close support missions for the X Corps. As planned, Task Force 77 and Far East Air Forces' Bomber Command were to strike bridges and lines of communications within a fifteen-mile strip along the Yalu River.44 This interdiction would in effect extend the air cam-


paign launched earlier by General MacArthur against the Yalu bridges and North Korean supply and communications centers.

The Outlook for Victory

Brightening the outlook for success in reaching the border during the time taken to prepare the forces and plans was the light opposition to the X Corps' latest advances, in which 7th Division units near the center of the corps zone had gone all the way to the Yalu. In the Eighth Army zone, too, enemy forces for the most part had remained inactive and inconspicuous since mid-November. Eighth Army patrols ranging deep into enemy territory during that time had encountered outposts but no major force or position. In neither zone was any evidence of offensive preparations uncovered. It appeared, rather, that the enemy had adopted a defensive strategy and that the Chinese, after breaking off their engagement on 6 November, had withdrawn into position defenses some distance to the north.45

Also encouraging was the estimate of enemy strength, in particular the strength of Chinese forces. By 23 November the latest, and highest, estimate of total enemy strength was about 167,000, that of Chinese forces alone about 70,000.46 The figures represented substantial increases over the estimates of early November but still left the Eighth Army and X Corps with a solid numerical superiority.

General MacArthur expressed his confidence when he reviewed operations after flying to Korea to watch the Eighth Army take its first steps forward on the morning of the 24th. He described the advance toward the border as "massive compression envelopment," and as a "pincer" operation in which his air units were the "isolating components" for the two arms of the ground advance, the Eighth Army and X Corps. In the air campaign, now more than two weeks old, the bombing attacks on the Yalu River crossings had knocked down spans of the highway bridge at Sinuiju and two bridges at Hyesanjin, and incendiary strikes against North Korean towns had destroyed between 20 and 95 percent of the built-up areas. It was MacArthur's appraisal that this effort had "successfully interdicted enemy lines of support from the north so that further reinforcement therefrom has been sharply curtailed and essential supplies markedly limited." In the ground advance, MacArthur believed the recent moves of the X Corps had placed it in a "commanding envelopment position" for the westward thrust into the Eighth Army zone. Enthusiastic, if less positive, about the Eighth Army's advance just getting under way, he believed that "if successful," it "should for all practical purposes end the war."47

By appearances and appraisals, a UNC victory did seem within reach. If the bright outlook had a drab side, it was the lack of definite knowledge


about the extent and purpose of Communist China's participation in the war. Indeed, persisting questions involved the "accurate measure of enemy strength," which MacArthur intended to obtain by advancing, and the clarification of Chinese objectives, which the joint Chiefs of Staff had decided they needed before considering a change in the UNC mission.


1 Schnabel, Policy and Direction, pp. 222-30, 237-39; Robert Frank Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, 1950-1953 (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1961), p. 195; James A. Field, Jr., United States Naval Operations, Korea (Washington, 1962), pp. 251-56.

2 Schnabel, Policy and Direction, pp. 237-39, 295.

3 The Army's total strength was 1,032,613, with 372,519 posted overseas. Thus, less than half of the forces overseas and approximately 15 percent of the total strength had been committed in Korea.

4 The ground strength is from Summary, ROK and U.N. Ground Forces Strength in Korea, 31 July 1950-31 July 1953, prepared by Program Review and Analysis Division, OCA, 7 Oct 54 and Mono, Hq, FEC, Maj William J. Fox, "Inter-Allied Co-operation During Combat Operations," copy of both in CMH. The air and naval strengths are estimates based on Hq, FEAF, Korean Air War Summary, 25 June 1950-30 June 1951, and Field, United States Naval Operations, Korea, p. 253.

5 During the time that the Eighth Army had forces in both Korea and Japan, its contingent in Korea was designated the Eighth United States Army in Korea (EUSAK). This designation, though appropriate for only a brief period, was not abolished until 19 February 1953.

6 Mono, Hq, Eighth Army, "Logistical Problems and Their Solutions," and Mono, Hq, JLC, "Logistical Problems and Their Solutions," copy of both in CMH.

7 For an account of the unusual activities of this special operations company during the Inch'on-Seoul campaign, see Robert D. Heinl, Jr., Victory at High Tide: The Inch'on-Seoul Campaign (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1968), pp. 60-61, 79, 145, 186.

8 The 1st Cavalry was an infantry division retaining its former designation.

9 The 27th British Infantry, which had arrived in Korea from Hong Kong with only two battalions, had been augmented by the attachment of the 3d Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and 60th Indian Field Ambulance and Surgical Unit, resulting in its redesignation as a commonwealth brigade. Advance parties of infantry battalions due from Canada and France also had joined the Eighth Army by 23 November.

10 See Major Robert K. Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea: KMAG in Peace and War (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1962).

11 See Eighth Army, "Logistical Problems and Their Solutions."

12 The conventions provide certain protections for military medical personnel in combat areas and offer the same to Red Cross members if they are "subject to military laws and regulations."

13 In January 1951 this detachment would become the U.N. Civil Assistance Command, Korea.

14 See Fox, "Inter-Allied Co-operation During Combat Operations."

15 For accounts of the development of postwar tables and the resulting changes in units, see John K. Mahon and Romana Danysh, Infantry, Part I: Regular Army (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1972), a volume in the ARMY LINEAGE SERIES, pp. 70-87; and MS, John B. Wilson, Divisions and Separate Brigades, also to be in the same series, CMH files.

16 The rates cited are from Frank A. Reister, Battle Casualties and Medical Statistics: U.S. Army Experience in the Korean War (Washington: Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General), pp. 15-16.

17 General O'Donnell was on temporary duty from his assignment as commander of the Fifteenth Air Force, Strategic Air Command.

18 Canada also had allocated a transport squadron to support the U.N. Command. Its Royal Canadian Air Force Transport Squadron No. 426 equipped with North Star planes flew regularly scheduled flights between McCord Air Force Base, Washington, and Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Additional transports for flights within the theater would become available on 26 November upon the arrival from Greece of the Royal Hellenic Air Force Flight No. 13 with six Dakota aircraft.

19 Australia and South Africa had contributed two of the F-51 units, the 77 Royal Australian Air Force Squadron and 2d South African Air Force Squadron. The separate flight belonged to the fledgling ROK Air Force. Also serving with the Fifth Air Force were twenty fighter pilots and a number of technicians from Canada.

20 The above information on UNC air forces is based on Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea; Hq, FEAF, Korean Air War Summary, 25 Jun 50-30 Jun 51; and Lt. Col. Herbert Fairlie Wood, Strange Battleground (Ottawa: Queen's Printer and Controller of Stationery, 1966), pp. 14, 179.

21 Field, United States Naval Operations, Korea, p. 276; Commander Malcolm W. Cagle and Commander Frank A. Manson, The Sea War in Korea (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1957), pp. 374-77, 499, 520-22. The British units were RAF Squadrons 88 and 209.

22 Field, United States Naval Operations, Korea, p. 388; Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea.

23 On 25 June 1950, Joy's line ships had consisted of 1 antiaircraft light cruiser, 4 destroyers, 1 frigate (Australian), and 1 submarine.

24 The five original vessels were a command ship, attack transport, attack cargo ship, LST, and fleet tug.

25 Another assignment, the escort of convoys between Japan and Korea, was canceled early in the war after it became obvious that the North Koreans would make no effort against shipping.

26 The information on UNC naval forces is based on Field, United Slates Naval Operations, Korea; Cagle and Manson, The Sea War in Korea.

27 The first MIG-15 appeared over northwestern Korea on 1 November. The first all-jet air battle in history occurred on 8 November when Lt. Russell J.Brown, U.S. Air Force, flying an F-80, shot down a MIG-15 over Sinuiju. In another first, the initial use of incendiary bombs in the war occurred on 4 November when B-29s of the 98th Group attacked the city of Ch'ongjin in northeastern Korea.

28 Schnabel, Policy and Direction, pp. 247-50; Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 210-11.

29 Schnabel, Policy and Direction, pp. 241-46; Futrell, The United States Air Force in Korea, pp. 209-13.

30 X Corps operations between 26 October and 26 November 1950 are covered in Appleman, South to the Naktong, chs. XXXVIII and XXXIX.

31 Eighth Army Opn Plan 14, 6 Nov 50; Memo, Gen Walker for CinC, FEC, 6 Nov 50; Rad, GX 27681 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to C/S ROKA et al., 13 Nov 50.

32 Memo, Gen Walker for CinC, EEC, 6 Nov 50; Eighth Army G4 SS Rpt, 6 Nov 50.

33 Ibid.

34 Ibid.; Appleman, South to the Naktong, p. 771.

35 Eighth Army G4 SS Rpts, 7-18 Nov 50; Eighth Army Trans SS Rpts, 7-18 Nov 50; Rad, GX 27880 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to C/S ROKA et al., 17 Nov 50; Rad, GX 50025 KGLX, CG Eighth Army to CINCFE, 22 Nov 50.

36 Rad, GX 27333 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to C/S ROKA et al., 7 Nov 50; Rad, GX 27470 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to C:/S ROKA et al., 9 Nov 50; Rad, GX 27914 KGOO, CG Eighth Army to C:/S ROKA et al., 18 Nov 50; Eighth Army WD, Sum, Nov 50; Eighth Army G3 SS Rpt, 23-24 Nov 50.

37 Eighth Army Opn Plan 14, 6 Nov 50, Opn Plan 15, 14 Nov 50, and Opn Plan 16, 23 Nov 50.

38 Ibid.; Schnabel, Policy and Direction, p. 272.

39 X Corps Opn 0 6, 11 Nov 50; Ltr, Gen Wright to Gen Almond, 10 Nov 50. In reviewing the above discussion of planning for the X corps' attack to the west, General Matthew B. Ridgway commented: "I find it amazing that highly trained professionals with extensive combat experience could have approved and tried to execute the tactial plan of operations for the X Corps in northeast Korea in November 1950. It appears like a pure Map Exercise put on by amateurs, appealing in theory, but utterly ignoring the reality of a huge mountainous terrain, largely devoid of terrestrial communications, and ordered for execution in the face of a fast approaching sub-arctic winter." Ridgway, MS review comments, 27 Feb 85.

40 Ltr, Gen Almond to Gen Wright, 15 Nov 50; Rad, CX 69009, CINCFE to CG X Corps, 15 Nov 50.

41 X Corps WD, Sum, Nov 50; X Corps Opn plan 8, 16 Nov 50; Rad, CX 69661, CINCFE to CG X Corps, 23 Nov 50.

42 X Corps WD, Sum, Nov 50; X Corps Opn 0 7, 25 Nov 50.

43 Ltr, Maj Gen Leven C. Allen, CofS Eighth Army, to CG Fifth Air Force, 23 Nov 50.

44 Eighth Army G3 Air Briefing Rpts, 24 and 25 Nov 50; Field, United States Naval Operations, Korea, p. 262.

45 Eighth Army PIRs 118-135, 7-24 Nov 50.

46 Field, United States Naval Operations, Korea, p. 259; Appleman, South to the Naktong, p. 763.

47 Cagle and Manson, The Sea War in Korea, pp. 222-29; USAF Historical Study No. 72, pp. 22-32; GHQ FEC Communique No. 12, 24 Nov 50. The quotations are from the last source.

page created 2 February 2001

Return to the Table of Contents