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Striking Back

Striking Back: Combat in Korea, March-April 1951

Edited by William T. Bowers
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 504
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  • Book Info
    Striking Back
    Book Description:

    Striking Back: Combat in Korea, March-April 1951 is the second book in a three-volume series about the Korean War, examining the fighting that occurred during the late winter and early spring of the war's first year. By the beginning of March, UN forces shifted strategic focus from defense to offense. In April, the combination of stabilized fronts and the enemy's failed attacks made conditions ideal for launching combat offensives. The brutal nature and strategic significance of these campaigns is described in the book, which includes analysis of their profound influence on the remainder of the war. William T. Bowers provides detailed battle narratives based on eyewitness accounts recorded by Army historians within days of the operations. Through his use of personal accounts, official records, war diaries, and combat reports, Bowers sheds new light on the conflict in Korea, making this volume a must-read for military historians.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7360-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xv)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
    (pp. 1-20)

    March 1951 opened with UN forces on the move across the Korean peninsula. Two months earlier the situation was much different. The success of the Inch’on landing in September 1950 and the subsequent destruction of much of the North Korean army and its equipment had turned to stunning failure for UN forces with the massive Chinese intervention in November. Battlefield defeat and a hasty withdrawal from North Korea in late November and early December were costly in terms of manpower and material losses. Even more important, potentially, was the effect on morale among soldiers and their leaders at all levels,...

  7. Chapter 2 GRENADE HILL: 3d Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment, 14–16 March 1951
    (pp. 21-37)

    In the 3d Battalion sector, Hills 1286, 1577, and 1073 dominated the terrain and controlled the approaches to the pass. This pass on the MSR was vital to the continuing supply of units advancing northward. The 3d Battalion was to secure the pass and the surrounding area in order to keep open the lateral road from the Amidong sector to the east coast. This would permit supplies to be brought by LST to an east coast port, and from there to the west, and would therefore eliminate the necessity of using the long overland route from Pusan.

    On 14 March...

  8. Chapter 3 BREAKING THE HONGCH’ON DEFENSE LINE: 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 13–18 March 1951
    (pp. 38-73)

    On 13 March 1951, the relief of Australian elements by the 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, was a routine matter. One company of the battalion was placed on Hill 703. The remainder of the battalion was disposed on tactical positions to the east and west to maintain contact with a company of the 6th ROK Division on the left and the 5th Marine Regiment on the right.

    On the afternoon of 13 March the regimental commander notified me of a pending move. I alerted Company I, which was on Hill 703, and the other battalion elements. Upon reporting to regimental...

  9. Chapter 4 SUPPORTING THE ATTACK: 3d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 13–18 March 1951
    (pp. 74-88)

    The regimental supply problem was not great, since the regiment was able to utilize the MSR. The supply problem existed on battalion level, for the battalions had difficulty bringing supplies to the companies. The 3d Battalion had the most difficult problem of supply, for it operated over more rugged terrain and in a zone where few roads existed. Hand carry of supplies was necessary.¹

    Maj. James M. Gibson, the 3d Battalion’s executive officer, explains the supply problem during this operation and how it was solved.

    Prior to relieving the Australians, the 3d Battalion reconnoitered the positions to be occupied and...

  10. Chapter 5 OPERATION TOMAHAWK: 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 23–24 March 1951
    (pp. 89-130)

    Col. George H. Gerhart, deputy commander: We were alerted on 16 March 1951 that we were to jump on 20 March. We only had four days notice. We prepared for a drop in the Ch’unch’on area. It was well planned. Too bad we couldn’t have dropped there. But it didn’t materialize. The troops got in there ahead of time.¹

    Maj. Raymond H. Ross, assistant S-2 of the regiment: We had been planning and preparing for a jump on Ch’unch’on for approximately one week. So, as far as equipment was concerned, we were fully prepared.²

    Lt. Col. Thomas H. Lane, regimental...

  11. Chapter 6 TASK FORCE GROWDON: 21–24 March 1951
    (pp. 131-150)

    At 1830 hours, 21 March 1951, Lieutenant Colonel Growdon, accompanied by his S-3, arrived at I Corps headquarters at Suwon. Here he was briefed concerning the operation by Colonel Johnson, G-3 of I Corps, and told that Task Force Growdon must join up with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team within twenty-four hours after the drop. Johnson and Growdon at that time decided on the composition of the task force, and the following units were selected:

    6th Medium Tank Battalion [from 24th Infantry Division of IX Corps]

    2d Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment [from 3d Infantry Division]

    58th Armored Field Artillery...

  12. Chapter 7 THE ADVANCE EAST: 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 24–25 March 1951
    (pp. 151-177)

    Word was received from I Corps at 1110 hours ordering the 187th to move immediately to the vicinity of Sinch’on. The S-3 alerted all units and directed them to recall their patrols, move into a tight bivouac, and prepare to move to new positions by foot. The 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion was notified to carry all ammunition possible with what transportation was available. At this time, transportation was critically short due to the fact the land tail had not as yet accomplished their linkup. The land tail was not late in arriving, however. The move was ordered prior to...

  13. Chapter 8 CUTTING THE UIJONGBU ROAD: 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 26–28 March 1951
    (pp. 178-219)

    Maj. Charles M. Holland, executive officer, 1st Battalion: On 26 March at 0700 hours the 1st Battalion, under supporting fires from the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion and the 81mm and 60mm mortars of the 1st Battalion, jumped off in the attack. Two reinforced squads from the 3d Platoon of Company A took Hill 203 unopposed. The 3d Platoon of Company A remained on the hill to secure the left flank of the battalion attack. The 1st Battalion fought an all day firefight from 0700 to 1500 for Hill 178. Companies B and C attacked, and the remainder of Company...

  14. Chapter 9 OPERATION SWING—THE PUSH TO THE EAST: 23d Infantry Regiment, 4–8 April 1951
    (pp. 220-262)

    On 30 March, after eighteen days of training, reorganizing, and reequipping, the 23d Infantry was released from X Corps reserve and reverted to 2d Division control. The following day, orders were received directing the regiment to move to the vicinity of Hongch’on and prepare to relieve the 5th Marine Regiment on position. Later orders directed that this relief be completed by 1800 hours on 4 April. The original task force was composed of the following units: 23d Infantry Regiment, 37th Field Artillery Battalion, and Company B, 2d Engineer Battalion with one platoon of Company A, 2d Engineer Battalion, attached. With...

  15. Photo gallery
    (pp. None)
  16. Chapter 10 OPERATION SWING—THE THRUST NORTH AND THE “SWING”: 23d Infantry Regiment, 4–14 April 1951
    (pp. 263-311)

    Maj. Lloyd K. Jensen, commanding officer of the 2d Battalion: Prior to crossing the 38th parallel, the 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry, relieved elements of the 3d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, on Hill 734. The hill was the objective of the Marines, and the 2d Battalion was to take over at 1800 hours. The Marines were still fighting for the objective when the leading elements of my battalion arrived at 1600 hours. By 1800, however, the hill had been secured.¹

    1st. Lt. Chester C. Brumet, executive officer of Company E: The 2d Battalion was in an assembly area near Ch’unch’on, and...

  17. Chapter 11 HWACH’ON DAM—ATTACKS IN THE WEST: 1st Cavalry Division, 9–10 April 1951
    (pp. 312-340)

    The enemy, even though in strongly prepared and well-organized positions, withdrew frequently in rout when his positions were aggressively attacked and partially taken. Friendly artillery, mortar, and tank fire was then able to be placed on those who were fleeing. It was noted in almost every encounter that the enemy was poorly armed. Some troops had no weapons or grenades. There were few automatic weapons. Machine-gun fire was sporadic and harassing in nature. Many captured weapons contained no sights. The enemy could have defended many of his positions had he chosen to do so and had he had the weapons....

  18. Chapter 12 HWACH’ON DAM—THE AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT: 1st Cavalry Division, 10–12 April 1951
    (pp. 341-379)

    That night [10–11 April] the Ranger company occupied a position on the battalion perimeter. I was called to the battalion and then summoned to a meeting of the regimental staff and the battalion commanders, which took place some time after 2200 hours on 10 April. I was told at that time that the 4th Ranger Company would cross the reservoir amphibiously, establish a beachhead, and move to the high ground on the peninsula, all under the cover of darkness. At daylight, a platoon would be sent to Objective 80 [in the southwest corner of the peninsula; see map on...

  19. Chapter 13 THE HANT’AN RIVER CROSSING: 24th Infantry Regiment, 10–12 April 1951
    (pp. 380-407)

    Twelve miles south of Ch’orwon and twenty-five miles northeast of Uijongbu, the Hant’an River, a small tributary to the Imjin, flows in a generally east to west direction in the sector in which the 24th Infantry Regiment was to make its crossing. Here Hill 642, an almost vertical rocky mountain on the north bank of the Hant’an, dominated the terrain. An ungraded dirt trail ran north from across the Hant’an, where the Chinese had constructed a mud-branch cart bridge, and skirted the east side of Hill 642.

    On 7 April 1951, the 24th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division...

    (pp. 408-411)

    UN forces continued to push north as Operation Dauntless unfolded. In the 25th Infantry Division sector, the 24th Infantry Regiment, flanked by the Turkish Brigade on the left and the 27th Infantry Regiment on the right, gained the Pogae-san high ground south of Ch’orwan after crossing the Hant’an River. To their east, the 24th Infantry Division of I Corps and the 6th ROK and 1st Marine Divisions of IX Corps kept pace. The enemy offered sporadic resistance and fell back before the UN advance.

    The beginning of Operation Dauntless on 11 April also saw important changes in the UN command...

  21. NOTES
    (pp. 412-433)
    (pp. 434-438)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 439-450)