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Passing the Test

Passing the Test: Combat in Korea, April-June 1951

William T. Bowers
John T. Greenwood
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 488
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  • Book Info
    Passing the Test
    Book Description:

    For U.S. and UN soldiers fighting the Korean War, the spring of 1951 was brutal. The troops faced a tough and determined foe under challenging conditions. The Chinese Spring Offensive of 1951 exemplified the hardships of the war, as the UN forces struggled with the Chinese troops over Line Kansas, a phase line north of the 38th parallel, in a conflict that led to the war's final stalemate. Passing the Test: Combat in Korea, April--June 1951 explores the UN responses to the offensive in detail, looking closely at combat from the perspectives of platoons, squads, and the men themselves. Editors William T. Bowers and John T. Greenwood emphasize the tactical operations on the front lines and examine U.S. and UN strategy, as well as the operations of the Communist Chinese and North Korean forces. They employ a variety of sources, including interviews conducted by U.S. Army historians within hours or days of combat, unit journals, and after action reports, to deliver a comprehensive narrative of the offensive and its battles.

    Passing the Test highlights the experiences of individual soldiers, providing unique insights into the chaos, perseverance, and heroism of war. The interviews offer a firsthand account that is untainted by nostalgia and later literature, illuminating the events that unfolded on the battlefields of Korea.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-3453-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xviii-xxii)
    (pp. 1-12)

    The military situation in Korea had already seen four major turning points by April 1951. On 25 June 1950 the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA) attacked a peaceful Republic of South Korea (ROK). When the United Nations (UN) Security Council called on its member nations to assist the Republic of Korea two days later, it was the first time the United Nations committed armed forces of its members to oppose aggression against a peaceful nation. The piecemeal commitment of U.S. and UN forces in an attempt to stabilize the military situation before restoring captured territory to the control of the...

  7. Chapter 2 BATTLES ALONG THE OUTPOST LINE: 32d Infantry Regiment, 19–23 April 1951
    (pp. 13-38)

    Members of Company B, 32d Infantry Regiment, which held a combat outpost north of Line Kansas, provided an account of the North Korean 45th Division’s initial attack.

    At 0700, 19 April 1951, Company B, 32d Infantry Regiment, 7th U.S. Infantry Division, jumped off from Hill 915 [about four miles northwest of Inje] to seize the high ground to the NE approximately 6,000 meters away. Advancing in platoon columns, this objective was secured at 1200 hours without enemy resistance. Upon seizing the objective, a squad patrol was sent 1,500 meters forward to Hill 770 to check and clear the area of...

  8. Chapter 3 CAUGHT IN A CHINESE AMBUSH: Battery B, 999th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 22–24 April 1951
    (pp. 39-58)

    In late April 1951 the 1st ROK Division anchored the western end of the U.S. I Corps front on the Imjin River, the MLR being on the south bank with the OPLR north of the river. The 999th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (155mm howitzers, self-propelled) had the mission of giving artillery support to the 1st ROK Division. Its Battery B, under the command of Capt. James Welden, was at the mud hut village of Taech’on, four miles south of the Imjin.

    In the vicinity of the settlement of Tuji-ri on the south bank of the Imjin, the commanding terrain feature...

  9. Chapter 4 TANKS ABOVE KAP’YONG: Company A, 72d Tank Battalion, 23–24 April 1951
    (pp. 59-87)

    Lt. A. Argent, intelligence officer, 3d Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RAR): The 3d Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, was in reserve in the vicinity of Kap’yong when it was ordered on the afternoon of 23 April to move north four miles. The battalion occupied the high ground northwest of Hill 504 in order to block the valleys to the north and to the northwest. The 2d Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, occupied positions on the high ground east of Hill 677.

    The RAR Battalion was in position at 1600, 23 April. The battalion consisted of four rifle companies and one...

  10. Chapter 5 ARTILLERY IN PERIMETER DEFENSE: 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 22–24 April 1951
    (pp. 88-116)

    On 20 April 1951 the 213th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and the 2d Rocket Field Artillery Battery were attached to the 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalion north of Kap’yong. These units moved to positions north of Ch’unch’on and deployed on the east–west road along the unnamed tributary of the Pukhan River.

    During the period 20–22 April, the Chinese attacked. Enemy forces partially overran the 987th [Armored] Field Artillery Battalion [105mm howitzers, self-propelled], which lost some of its equipment. Enemy troops completely overran the 2d Rocket Field Artillery Battery, which lost all of its equipment.² The 92d Armored Field...

  11. Chapter 6 HILL 628: 8th Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne), 23–25 April 1951
    (pp. 117-142)

    The Chinese April offensive in 1951 caused the 6th ROK Division to disintegrate. As a result of this, widespread readjustment of friendly positions had to be made. For several days, as friendly units withdrew, the situation was fluid. Communications were not always reliable. Supporting units, in the process of moving to new positions, were sometimes unable to render support. Rumors of organizations encircled and destroyed by the enemy gave rise to feelings of uneasiness, presentiments of disaster, nervousness.

    The action on Hill 628 must be considered in the light of these factors.¹

    Lt. Alfred J. Giacherine, executive officer, 8th Ranger...

  12. Chapter 7 GLOSTER HILL: 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (the Glosters), 22–25 April 1951
    (pp. 143-179)

    Various headquarters described the situation before the Chinese attack.

    British 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Group, Review of the Battle of the Imjin Fought by 29 Bde [Brigade] on 22–25 April 1951.

    General: This review does not pretend to be a history of the battle but rather it is an endeavor to describe the deployment of the enemy and to give an indication of the manner in which he fought and the tactics which he employed. Though an offensive had been expected from the 15th Apr, there were no real indications on the 29 Bde front, a front extending over...

  13. Chapter 8 ACTION ALONG THE NO NAME LINE: U.S. IX Corps
    (pp. 180-222)

    In U.S. IX Corps the 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalion, after supporting the ROK 6th and 1st Marine Divisions during the opening days of the Chinese Spring Offensive, was given the initial mission of providing artillery support to the newly arrived ROK 2d Division, which was inserted into the line between the ROK 6th Division on the east and the U.S. 24th Infantry Division on the west. Because of the unique nature of the artillery grouping, called Task Force Lindy Lou, a combat historian, 1st Lt. Martin Blumenson, prepared a report on its operations. He describes the establishment of the...

  14. Photo gallery
    (pp. None)
  15. Chapter 9 ANYTHING BUT PEACEFUL VALLEY: 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 16–18 May 1951
    (pp. 223-243)

    During a two-day period from 16 May 1951 to 18 May 1951, the 15th FA [Field Artillery] Battalion, the 105mm howitzer outfit that provided direct support for the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2d Division, participated in a retrograde action down a small valley in the vicinity of Hongch’on before advancing elements of the enemy. During this retreat, the battalion provided defensive covering fire for the 9th Infantry as two battalions of this regiment extricated themselves from a position on the division OPLR that became untenable and retreated to safety behind the MLR, known as the No Name Line.


  16. Chapter 10 THE BATTLE BELOW THE SOYANG RIVER: Company C, 72d Tank Battalion, 16–18 May 1951
    (pp. 244-284)

    At the time of the action, 16–18 May 1951, Major George R. Von Halban [executive officer, 72d Tank Battalion; retired as a colonel in April 1962] was in command of Task Force Zebra. Task Force Zebra, which was composed of the French Battalion; 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry Regiment; Ranger Company, 2d U.S. Infantry Division; and the 72d Tank Battalion (minus A Company), had the mission of guarding two approaches into the “No Name Line” … One approach was down the MSR (Ch’onggu-ri–Han’gye road) [Kwandae-ri–Ch’onggu-ri–Umyang-ni–Chaun-ni–Han’gye–Hongch’on road, Route 24] from the northeast, and the other...

  17. Chapter 11 THE SUPPLY BATTLE OF THE SOYANG RIVER: U.S. X Corps, 10 May–7 June 1951
    (pp. 285-296)

    During the Battle of the Soyang (10 May–7 June 1951), the ferocity of the battle against the massed Communist hordes and the necessity of moving additional troops to prevent [their] advance and later to afford friendly troops the opportunity of a counterattack presented the technical services of X Corps with an unusual challenge. The basic and most immediate problem was the resupplying [of] the Corps Artillery battalions with ammunition. The tonnages fired were far excessive to any previous battle. During this period, the amount of ammunition fired reached an all-time high [of] 24,800 tons—2,380 tons of supplies were...

  18. Chapter 12 TASK FORCE GERHART: Company B, 72d Tank Battalion, 24 May 1951
    (pp. 297-330)

    During 16–23 May 1951, the Communist forces had hurled division after division at the United Nations lines in the X Corps sector, forcing the 5th and 7th ROK Divisions to disintegrate. The 2d U.S. Infantry Division, although badly mauled, was able to fight a stubborn withdrawing action, enabling the Eighth U.S. Army to send reinforcements to bolster the retreating ROKs and the 2d Division. The 187th Regimental Combat Team was attached to the 2d U.S. Infantry Division, and the 3d U.S. Infantry Division was moved from I Corps to X Corps to support the 5th and 7th ROK Divisions....

  19. Chapter 13 TASK FORCE HAZEL: 7th Reconnaissance Company, 24–25 May 1951
    (pp. 331-375)

    On 23 May 1951, as the enemy fought delaying actions, IX U.S. Corps forces advanced. The Ch’unch’on basin, with its tactically important road network, was considered by IX Corps the most important geographical area. Seizure of this objective would deny the enemy the use of primary roads from the Hwach’on area south to Ch’unch’on and thence east, thus cutting off one of his important escape routes north from X Corps and causing him to utilize mountainous terrain and secondary roads for withdrawal. A rapid advance in the IX Corps zone would prevent the enemy from regrouping and reorganizing. It would...

    (pp. 376-382)

    The United Nations Command and Eighth U.S. Army fully expected both phases of the Fifth Chinese Offensive, and they made several methodical advances to keep the enemy off-balance as well as to position UN forces to receive the enemy counteroffensive on the ground of their choosing. Although forewarned, many UN and Eighth Army units continued to press north to gain a new defensive line rather than wait for the inevitable Chinese attack. In Operation Rugged, at the end of March 1951, Ridgway, then still commanding the Eighth Army, reiterated his three basic principles: coordinating the forces, inflicting maximum punishment on...

  21. NOTES
    (pp. 383-414)
    (pp. 415-424)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 425-450)