Korean War – The Turning Point in the US Military History

When WWII ended and the Korean Peninsula was liberated from the Japanese rule, it was divided along the 38th Parallel to be under the wings of the Soviet Union and the United States respectively, following the status quo in Germany, for the reason put forward by the Americans that judging by history, the Korean people were not yet ready for self-determination.

Having gained huge dividend from the two world wars, both economically, mainly through arms sales, and politically, by becoming a major player on the world stage, American ruling elites started to seriously contemplate a possibility of establishing a world order with US dominance, thus a cold war against its competing power, the Soviet Union, began. It was executed in the name of defending its faith and ideology, but deep down its human greed for economic profit and political power in the play, which is why after the collapse of the Communist Soviet Union, the US is still highly hostile toward Russia.

So that is how it is – as soon as the military conflict between two regimes on the peninsular broke out on June 25, 1950, the United States smelled blood and jumped the gun.

The illustration by U.S. News & World Report shows how Americans perceive the necessity of involving themselves in a war fought in a distant Asian land: It is an opportunity to break up the newly formed communist bloc.

The U.S. Air Strikes Of North Korea And China

On June 27, 1950, the US Seventh Fleet entered the Taiwan Strait that China claims to be part of its territory.

On July 2, 1950, the first group of US combat units the 24th Infantry Division troops of Task Force Smith arrived at Taejon railroad station, South Korea.

On July 7, 1950, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution motioned by the United States to send a peacekeeping force, mainly consisted of US troops and commanded by US General MacArthur, to the Korean Peninsula. Since at the time the Soviet Union was boycotting the UN in protest over the Chinese seat, that it believed should belong to the People’s Republic of China, being continuously occupied by the Republic of China which only ruled a small island called Taiwan, therefore it was unable to veto the UN decision.

North Korea’s border city Sinuiju county was reduced to rubble in the US airstrikes.

North Korean army fought fiercely to save the situation.

But the real target of the US in the Korean War was the newly established People’s Republic of China, and its aircrafts repeatedly bombed Chinese cities and villages. This was Chinese border city Dandong after a US airstrike.

Granny Ma’s daughter and three nephews were killed by the Americans in the strike.

Chinese peasants were angered over the war crimes committed by the US Air Force that sent strafing planes to shoot Chinese villagers at Gulouzi (古楼子).

Chinese Government thus ordered to set up the Northeast Border Protection Task Force to protect the lives and defend the territory along the Yalu River.

The U.S. Invasion of North Korea

On September 10, 1950, 43 American warplanes dropped 93 napalm canisters on to Wolmi-do island to burn out its eastern slope. On September 15, 1950, under the cover of 260 warships and nearly 500 warplanes, 70,000 US X Corps soldiers landed on the shore of Inchon, on the west side of the peninsula near China. It was the day marked as the beginning of the US military occupation of South Korea.

On October 7, 1950, General MacArthur ordered American, British and Australian forces to cross the 38th Parallel and invade North Korea.

As the invasion force pushed toward the Chinese border, the PRC issued a stern warning against America’s military adventure.

On October 15, 1950, U.S President Truman met with Gen. MacArthur on Wake Island in the North Pacific Ocean, and the decision to ignore Chinese protest and conquer the entire peninsula was made.

The US-led military operation against North Korea came to full development, and the Chinese watched anxiously as the flames of war burned out of control on the east bank of Yalu River, which separates the two countries with its narrowest section being less than 1,000 meters wide.

By then the People’s Republic of China was barely one year old and the Chinese people were just out of the centuries-long turmoil marked with civil unrest and foreign invasion. As the U.S. troops massed at the Chinese border, the anti-American sentiment in China grew stronger by the day.

Such anti-US sentiment was especially apparent in the Chinese defense force. Numerous petitions were signed and handed in by the military officers and soldiers requesting to engage in direct combat with the US troops.

People in Shanghai congregated on the People’s Square condemning US aggression.

People in Chongqing held demonstrations protesting American intervention in Korean affairs.

Even Chinese housewives were mobilized to discuss the impending war that China was facing.

On October 26, 1950, The General Association of Chinese Supporting Korea Resistance Against US Invasion (中国人民抗美援朝总会成立 ) established.

In Xiangtan county (湘潭), Hunan Province, a 76-year old man donated his hard-earned money from selling freshwater he fetched with his wooden tubs in the river to residents to help arm the Volunteer Army.

In Tai County, Jiangsu Province, the students from Jiang’an Primary School (泰县姜堰学校) initiated a project to buy a warplane for the Volunteer Army with their pocket money.

The call was responded across the country and this was the warplane purchased with the pocket money donated by the kids, and the aircraft was hence named “Chinese Youth Pioneers” (中国少年先锋号).

People in East Germany donated goods to be sent to the Chinese Volunteer Army.

People in France marched in protest of the US invasion of North Korea.

Chinese university students were eager to join the army to defend their country.

Chinese workers quoted in a long line waiting to be enlisted in the defense force.

Chinese villagers honoured young men who became members of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army.

The factories pay tribute to the workers who went to the frontline.

The truck drivers were ready to be sent to Korea along with their vehicles.

So in the biting winter of 1950, off they went across the frozen Yalu River.

October 25 – November 5, 1950:
The First Phase Of Counter-Offensive

Comparison of PVA and US Armies Weaponry and Equipment in the Early Stage of the Korea War

Weaponry The U.S. 
Infantry 
Division
Chinese 
Infantry 
Army Group
Howitzer 72 0
High-transconductance gun 76 333
Field gun 39 109
Rocket gun 543 81
Antiaircraft gun 64 0-24
Cannon 794 522-548
Tank 149 0
Armoured vehicle 35 0
Automobile 3,800 100

On October 25, the PVA 13th Army Group launched the First Phase Offensive, which destroyed the South Korea Force II Corps at Onjong near the Chinese border.

The first confrontation between the Chinese and the US military occurred on November 1, 1950, when PVA 39th Army encircled and attacked the US 8th Cavalry Regiment and killed 1,800 American soldiers in the Unsan mountain region.

The surprise assault forced the US force and its alliance to retreat back to the Chongchon River.

Having captured Huichon, PVA 38th Army went on to taper toward the US base at the rear flank.

Once arrived at Funchilin Pass, PVA soldiers wasted no time to structure defense works.

The time finally came. Chinese soldiers blew little copper whistles to coordinate the synchronized attack on the US force.

The 42nd Army officers were on the frontline commanding the battle which ended with PVA claiming victory.

Chinese soldier Zhang Jinwu (张进武) single-handedly captured 12 U.S. combatants.

The booties seized by the PVA included U.S. armoured vehicles.

The deserting U.S. army officers were captured by Chinese soldiers.

The diagram indicates the first phase of PVA counter-offensive operations. The red arrows represent the PVA force and the black lines signify the US and its allied forces, of which over 15,000 were killed. More than 10,000 casualties were reported on the PVA side.

November 25 – December 24, 1950:
The Second Phase of Counter-Offensive

In late November 1950, PVA’s 38th Army was ready for Offensive Campaign Phase II and got into the position for carrying out ambush attacks on the US forces.

On November 24, the Home-by-Christmas Offensive was launched by the US and South Korean forces with the US 8th Army assaulting the northwest front of North Korea, and the US X Corps attacking along North Korean east coast, aiming to crush North Korea in the entirety.

On the night of November 25, PVA launched a counter-attack, hitting the 8th Army’s center and right. The worst defeat in U.S. military history was thus unfolding.

The U.S. 9th Infantry Regiment was one of the hardest-hit units. The next, it could only account for one-half of its assigned members.

The heavy fighting continued for several days. Then the PVA advanced along with the snowy mountain ranges in a weather condition of minus 30 towards the Chongchon River.

The PVA proved themselves being masters of infiltration by moving mainly at night, skillfully covering their tracks, and taking full advantage of the US and South Korean armies’ thinly-manned front and inadequate patrolling.

Having over-ran South Korean Army divisions in the vicinity of the Chongchon River, the PVA advanced to struck the back flank of the US X Corps.

The U.S. 1st Marine Division had to shoot its way down from Yudam-Ni, in face of the strong attack of the PVA 40th Army. And the Chinese decided to block their retreat.

Chinese soldiers quickly positioned themselves on the hilltop overlooking the mountain road leading to the sea.

On November 27, 1950, they descended on the U.S. 1st Marine Division and two battalions of the 7th Division retiring from the Chongchon River and stormed a nearby U.S. Army task force which was almost entirely wiped out.

Just in a few days, the PVA onslaught had reversed the military situation on the battleground. They destroyed several South Korean divisions, badly tore up the U.S. 2rd Division, and forced the rest to flee southwards.

On November 29, 1950, General MacArthur ordered the UN forces to withdraw from all fronts. By November 30, the PVA 13th Army Group had expelled the US 8th Army from northwest Korea.

What Americans and South Koreans left behind in North Korea was a large quantity of armoured and unarmoured vehicles …

Crashed choppers …

The bodies of dead US and South Korean soldiers, with those survived becoming the prisoners of war …

And a big smile on the faces of the US captives since they were well fed, warmed clothed, and kindly treated by the PVA.

After a group of US soldiers from the 25th Regiment surrendered to Chinese troops, they happily gather together for a photo opportunity.

“We face an entirely new war,” MacArthur notified Washington on November 28, 1950. On the following day, he instructed General Walker of the US 8th Army to make whatever withdrawals necessary to escape being enveloped by the Chinese force.

On December 6, PVA captured the North Korean capital Pyongyang and pursued the US 8th Army fleeing the town.

Over the following two weeks, the remaining US Marines battled their way to the port of Hungnam, from which they were evacuated by the sea.

By December 15, US and South Korean forces were back at the 38th parallel where they began their military adventure.

On December 16, US President Truman declared a national emergency with Presidential Proclamation, which remained in force until September 14, 1978.

On December 23, the commanding General Walton Walker was killed in a car accident, and the morale of the US force hit rock bottom.

Chinese Volunteers and North Koreans concluded the second phase counter-offensive by joining forces at the east coast after delivered a crushing blow to the US dream of the Home-by-Christmas (and they never recovered from the blow).

The diagram indicates the second phase of PVA counter-offensive operations that became the turning point of the Korean War. The red arrows represent the PVA force and the black lines signify the UN(US) force, of which over 36,000 were killed. More 30,700 casualties on the PVA side.

General MacArthur’s failed promise of Home-By-Chrismas marked the turning point in US military history – since then the myth of US forces’ invincibility burst. More than two years later, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed by the UN (US), China and North Korea and the US troops stationed in South Korea never ventured to step across the 38th Parallel again … so far.

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