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Re: Yr 2/2/2002 Msg
Title: Re: Yr 2/2/2002 Msg
I'm responding to the following to both the senders and the Korean-War-L since its a subject that I've been often asked (possibly even here on the list), but haven’t had the time to prepare a reasonable answer to (even the below answer is just a quick one – sorry).
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.
> My question, which I have asked of several military historians, is: "How did
> the NK field two Corps (NK II & NK V) with a total five (5) divisions from
> what were "remnants" two months earlier?"
> I have subsequently found references that talk about NK divisions which were
> being "reconsituted" and "re-equipped" in Manchuria during this period. From
> my limited military experience, I would have to say that somebody did one hell
> of a job!
Several things must be borne in mind when assessing the “rebirth” of the KPA during the period in question (January-April 1951).
- Few of the KPA units were completely and utterly destroyed. Some suffered grievous personnel losses, but many other were more correctly severely disorganized and rendered combat ineffective. (They probably would have been destroyed had they not been able to retreat into Manchuria and the PLA intervened).
- The terms “corps,” “divisions,” “brigades” and “regiments” have to be used with extreme caution. When reconstituted/reorganized/reequipped during this period these units were often at 40-50% of original personnel strength. Most lacked almost all heavy equipment.
- Since its inception the KPA had a significant recruit training establishment. This continued to function (and morphed into a recruit/replacement organization) at a much reduced rate during the first phase of the war, and was almost completely disrupted by the UN drive to the Yalu. It was quickly reestablished in Manchuria and moved progressively south following the PLA intervention. At the time in question, any male Korean (North or South) and many females of military age (early teens to 60s) found in North Korea (and some say Manchuria) were impressed into this establishment by KWP and KPA security forces. Thus, providing a flow of replacements to the depleted KPA units.
Now on to the V and II Corps:
During its concerted assault on Wonju in mid-January 1951 the V Corps suffered very heavy casualties and was forced to withdraw to the area north of Hoengsong to reorganize. To accomplish
This reorganization was accomplished by deactivating the 28th and 43rd Infantry Divisions and their remaining personnel were assigned to the 6th, 7th and 12th Infantry Divisions. At this time the 27th Infantry Division which had been attached to the V Corps reverted back to control of its parent II Corps.
During the first week of February, the V Corps was relieved by the PLA’s 66th Army. With this the V Corps displaced eastward from its positions north of Hoengsong
On February 12, 1951 the V Corps bypassed UN forces at Wonju to the east and attacked south toward Chech’on. This attack was repulsed by UN forces and the V Corps again assumed a defensive role. From this time until mid-March 1951, it conducted an outstanding delaying action. Under UN pressure the V Corps now began a withdrawal along the Hongch’on - Inje axis, By the end of March the V Corps was concentrated in the Komisong area where it underwent a substantial reorganization. The 7th Infantry Division was exchanged for the 32nd Division (VII Corps), the 41st Infantry Division (VIII Corps) was deactivated and its personnel absorbed by the V Corps as replacements.
During early April the V Corps moved to the eastern front where it subsequently reentered combat during April 22-24. For a variety of reasons the Corps achieved only modest success during these operations.
During the PLA’s "Fifth Campaign, 2nd Phase" (a.k.a., Spring Offensive) beginning May 16, 1951, the V Corps was more successful when it encircled in the Hyong-ni area capturing large numbers of ROKA troops and substantial quantities of material.
During mid-January 1951, the II Corps’ 27th Infantry Division was relieved of its assignment to V Corps and returned to the control of the Corps. The division then moved to the area north of Chech’on to reinforce the badly depleted II Corps. At this point the II Corps consisted of the 2nd, 9th, 10th, 27th and 31st Infantry Divisions. Although it should be noted that the 10th Infantry Division was deep behind UN lines and was not in physical contact with the II Corps. Despite the return of the 27th Infantry Division the II Corps withdrew north of P’yongch’ang to rest and reorganize.
The II Corps had little time to regroup as it was forced to conducted a delaying action during February 1951 as a result of a UN advance. This delaying action continued until February 12th, when a PLA-KPA counter-offensive was launched in the Hongch’on-Hoengsong area. During the next several weeks, in order to compensate for continued losses, the 31st Infantry Division was deactivated and its personnel distributed among the 2nd, 9th and 27th Infantry Divisions (the 10th still being behind UN lines). The II Corps continued to press southward in the P’yongch’ang area until the latter part of March 1951, when due to mounting losses it withdrew to the Inje area to once again reorganize.
The 10th Infantry Division, which had been deep behind UN lines in the Andong-Ulsong area since late January 1951, reverted to guerrilla operations to harass the UN rear area. During February and March the division was under constant UN attack and suffered heavy losses. During March the remaining elements of the divisions began to exfiltrate north. By late March the surviving elements of the 10th Infantry Division numbering less than 1,000 troops regained KPA lines. Due, however, due to its grievous losses it was a unit in name only having lost most of its principal commanders and staff officers. The unit was, however, not deactivated but was considered combat ineffective and was subsequently subordinated to the IV Corps on the west coast. (BTW, the KPA still uses the “heroic” battle of the 10th Infantry Division as a tutorial for its light infantry and special operations forces).
By the end of March 1951 the II Corps had withdrawn to the Hoeyang area where it underwent another substantial reorganization. The 13th Infantry Division was assigned from VII Corps, the 9th Infantry Division was transferred to VI Corps, and 10th Infantry Division was transferred to IV Corps. Additionally, the 2nd and 27th Infantry Divisions received a large number of replacements. These came from a wide variety of sources although it appears that the a significant number came from the deactivation of the VIII Corps’ 42nd Infantry Division.
By mid-May 1951 the II Corps, consisting of the 2nd, 13th and 27th Infantry Divisions, was deployed on the Eastern Front. It subsequently participated in the "Fifth Campaign, 2nd Phase" (a.k.a., Spring Offensive) beginning May 16, 1951.