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Korea -- 50 years ago this week Oct. 11-17, 1951
Korea -- 50 years ago this week Oct. 11-17, 1951
Month-long U.N. battle for Heartbreak Ridge ends
by Jim Caldwell
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 10, 2001) --
Having cleared all but one hill on Heartbreak Ridge
the week before, the United Nations Command finally
took the last of the high ground in the area 50 years
ago this week in Korea.
Estimates determined the communist forces lost about 7
men for every U.N. soldier wounded or killed during
Oct. 11-17, 1951 -- Fighting to take Heartbreak Ridge
in the U.S. X Corps sector continues. The 1st
Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry
Division and a French Battalion attached to the 23rd
fight from bunker to bunker on Hill 851. Hill 851 is
the last objective on Heartbreak Ridge still held by
the enemy. In the bitter fighting, only a few Reds
survive to be taken prisoner.
The end to the 33-day battle comes on Oct. 13. French
troops charge the crest of the hill at daybreak wiping
out the last surviving North Koreans.
Winning Heartbreak Ridge and surrounding ridges and
peaks resulted in 3,700 casualties in the 2nd ID.
About half of the casualties were in the 23rd IR and
the French Battalion.
The 2nd ID leadership estimates the enemy, mostly
North Korean units, lost about 25,000 men.
The infantry received a tremendous amount of artillery
and air support. In artillery support, 76-mm guns
fired 62,000 rounds; 105-mm howitzers, 401,000 rounds;
105-mm, 84,000 rounds; and 8-inch howitzers, 13,000
rounds. Crews of 60-mm, 81-mm and 4.2-inch mortars
fired 119,000 rounds. In addition, 57-mm and 75-mm
recoilless rifle teams fired 18,000 rounds.
The U.S. Fifth Air Force tactical fighters flew 842
sorties in support and dropped 250 tons of bombs on
the enemy on Heartbreak Ridge and the surrounding
The 2nd ID advanced over five miles in the month-long
battle and removed the sag in the line in the
Punchbowl area, bringing them in phase with the IX
Corps to the west. X Corps' lines are also shortened.
In the west I Corps wraps up Operation Commando on
Oct. 12. The operation moves the corps a few miles
north to a new defense line named Jamestown, except in
the 1st Cavalry Division sector. The Republic of Korea
1st Division, the British Commonwealth Division, 1st
Cav, 3rd Infantry Division from I Corps, from left to
right, and the 25th ID from the IX Corps on the east
flank fought in the operation.
The X Corps soldiers also received heavy artillery and
close air support during the eight-day battle.
On Oct. 16 Operation Polecharge goes into action in
the 1st Cav's area. Reinforcing the 5th Cavalry
Regiment is the Belgian Battalion from the 3rd ID.
The 1st Cav immediately runs into heavy enemy
firepower. By Oct. 17 all of its regiments are making
little headway against well-entrenched Chinese troops.
In Kaesong negotiations at the liaison officer level
continue. The communists realize that the UN Command
is not going to move to elevate talks to the main
negotiation teams until the ground rules for Panmunjom
are worked out at the LO level.
Relations between the two sides are fairly cordial
until Oct. 12. A flight of U.S. F-80 fighters flies
over Kaesong on the way back to their base. One of the
pilots clears his machine guns, killing a 12-year-old
Korean boy and wounding his 2-year-old brother.
The U.N. Command immediately admits responsibility for
the tragic incident, but it puts a distinct chill on
the talks. By Oct. 13 the communists revert to their
cold, superior formality.
But the U.N. team begins negotiating to drastically
reduce the neutral area around Panmunjom to 3,000
yards rather than the five miles at Kaesong. Both
sides are still at it on Oct. 17.
Oct. 12 -- Paul S. Cadbury, one of seven British
Quakers who went on a peace mission to Moscow,
Leningrad and Kiev in July reports to the American
Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia. He tells
the American Quakers that Russia has improved "the
economic and social betterment of its people." Russian
citizens have a living standard "about the equivalent
of that in England." Citizens "appeared contented and
adequately clothed and fed" but "were totally ignorant
of ... the world outside. They have been told and they
believe that business interests in America and Great
Britain want war ... because it is profitable."
The U.N. Command in Tokyo reports that estimated
communist casualties in Korea by Oct. 2 were more than
Oct. 14 -- A different tale of Russia from the British
Quaker's report on Oct. 12 appears in the N.Y. Times
Magazine. Written by Prof. David J. Dallin of Yale
University, the article is based on interviews with
escapees from Russia. The Russian economy is bolstered
by millions of people in slave labor, the refugees
say. From five to six million people have been
sentenced to labor camps, where a long sentence is
tantamount to a death sentence.
Oct. 15 -- Russia should stop its "phony peace
propaganda" and make an honest effort at reaching
peace and disarmament agreements through the United
Nations, President Harry S. Truman charges. He said as
the U.S. "defenses improve, the chances of
negotiations successfully with the Soviet Union will
Speaking at a groundbreaking for a new Wake Forest
University college campus in Winston-Salem, N.C., he
also takes a swipe at Senator Joseph R. McCarthy,
R-Wis., by blasting "sowers of suspicions and peddlers
of fear." Being "paralyzed by doubts and fears" is
"the worst danger we face," he says.
North Korean refugees reaching South Korea report
widespread anticommunist rioting in Pyongyang and
Oct. 16 -- U.S. Air Force F-86 pilots report downing
nine MiGs over northwestern Korea to one damaged
American fighter. It's the largest one-day kill total
for U.N. Command pilots.
Oct. 17 -- The Defense Department announces the
American death toll in Korea is 15,401 as of Oct. 12.
The total casualty count stands at 90,935.
Retired Gen. Douglas MacArthur accuses the Truman
administration of blocking victory in Korea and
leading the country toward communism in a speech to
the American Legion convention in Miami. He said his
opposition to giving Formosa to Communist China and
seating China in the United Nations "unquestionably
wrecked the (administration's) secret plan to yield on
these issues as the price of peace in Korea."
The Nationalist Chinese News Service reports that
"volunteers" in two regiments of Russia's 18th
Anti-Aircraft Division entered North Korea in
(Editor's note: Jim Caldwell is a journalist with the
Training and Doctrine Command headquarters, Fort
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