CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.20.08    Chapter 70


[Click on the map above for a much larger image]
 Although Gen. Smith’s Aide-Memoire is often limited to Marine action, it’s important to understand that the 5th Marines (less 2/5) had just left their positions east of Chosin on 27 November, just hours before the Chinese attack that night on both sides of the reservoir. If the Chinese had been able to initiate their attack as planned (25-26 November), they would have caught one Marine regiment on each side of the reservoir. This map shows you the positions of units of Army RCT-31 (two infantry battalions and one artillery battalion) east of Chosin and the Marine units at Yudam-ni at the time of the attack. Later readers will understand how the battle east of Chosin played its role in the survival of those at Yudam-ni.
Map by Melville J. Coolbaugh from The Chosin Chronology: Battle of the Changjin Reservoir, 1950, copyright © George A. Rasula, 2007.

The Changjin Journal is designed to disseminate and solicit information on the Chosin campaign. Comments and brief essays are invited. Subject matter will be limited to history of the Chosin campaign, as well as past or present interpretation of that history. See End Notes for distribution and other notices.

Colonel George A. Rasula, USA-Ret., Chosin Historian
Byron Sims, Contributing Editor


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CHANGJIN JOURNAL 01.30.08       (Chapter 70)

 

OPS AIDE-MEMOIRE IN CHANGJIN JOURNAL SERIES

Be advised that we are changing the sequence of documents published in Gen. O.P. Smith’s Aide-Memoire because they do not follow the chronology of events as known at the time. In the original A-M the next numbered section was addressed “Development of the enemy situation during the advance to the Chosin Reservoir area,” containing many details about the enemy not known at the time. The page numbers [in brackets]  of the original document will not be changed.

 

THIS ISSUE we continue the 2006-2008 series of the Changjin Journal addressing the Chosin Campaign from the viewpoint of Maj. Gen. O.P. Smith, commander of the 1st Marine Division. We use his Aide-Memoire as a basis, providing the reader with copies of his memoire within which we offer comments from various sources that relate to the topic at hand. In the last issue (CJ 11.10.07) we addressed preparations for and the attack west by the 2/5 Marines which was stopped abruptly by strong Chinese positions a few kilometers west of Yudam-ni. This was the first indicator of Chinese determination to control the actions in the Chosin area, in effect setting the stage for their planned encirclement on all area north of the Funchilin Pass. While the Marines had been tightening their perimeters, the Chinese used the long hours of darkness to move units into attack positions. In this issue we are exposed to Smith’s view as to what happened 27-28 November when the CCF launched their attack on both sides of the reservoir, a time when commanders and staffs all the way to Tokyo would find it necessary to take a new look at the situation. Keep in mind Smith’s words in the last issue, “The enemy was like a ‘will o’ the wisp.’ Enemy patrols would appear and disappear. It was difficult to capture prisoners.” Once again, readers are reminded that this document does not reflect details as General Smith saw them at the time of the action, but were accumulated from unit reports after the campaign.

 

Sections (…) and page numbers […] will be included for reference purposes. Bold typeface will be used for emphasis, with editor’s comments in [brackets]. Readers are reminded that these documents were not written at the time of the action, but finalized after Maj. Gen. Smith left Korea. His primary sources were unit reports and briefings by commanders and staff, and his own personal diary. However, they do reflect his view of what happened, as well as how he wished them to be remembered.


 

 (255) Initial steps taken by the Division to meet the critical situation in the Chosin Reservoir area

 

            Reports received by the Division  during the night of 27-28 November left no doubt as to the seriousness and scope of the CCF attack in the Chosin Reservoir area. Both RCT-5 and RCT-7 were under heavy attack in the Yudam-ni area. F 2/7 was isolated and under heavy attack at Toktong pass halfway between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri. [C 1/7 was also isolated at the west base of the Toktong Pass.] The CCF had also cut the MSR between Yudam-ni and Toktong Pass. The Army RCT [RCT-31] on the east side of the reservoir was being heavily attacked. There was evidence of a strong enemy build-up around Koto-ri and the MSR between Koto-ri and Hagaru-ri was cut. Hagaru-ri in the middle of this situation was not yet under attack but the situation was ominous as it was apparent that the town was surrounded by the Chinese. [The road east of Chosin from Hagaru-ri to the Tank Company/31 location at Hudong-ni remained open until the Hudong-ni units were ordered on 30 November to withdraw to and reinforce the Hagaru-ri perimeter.—GAR]

 

            The Division, on 28 November, immediately began to take steps to meet this dangerous situation.

(a)    The operational CP of the 1MarDiv was set up at Hagaru-ri on 28 November. Since the MSR between Koto-ri and Hagaru-ri had been cut by the enemy the Division Commander and selected members of his staff were flown into Hagaru-ri by helicopter and OY plane.

(b)   RCT-7 was directed to clear the MSR between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri.

(c)    RCT-5 was directed to remain in its present position  until the situation clarified instead of carrying out the attack mission which had been previously assigned, and was to coordinate its positions with RCT-7.

(d)   RCT-1 was directed to clear the MSR between Koto-ri and Hagaru-ri.

(e)    All north-bound convoys, including the 41st Ind Commando RM, were ordered held at Koto-ri pending further instructions from Division .

(f)     B Company and D Company (less 2d Platoon) of the 1st Tank Bn were ordered forward to Hagaru-ri.

(g)    At Hagaru-ri all units and detachments of units were placed under the operational control of the 3/1 Marines for the defense of the area.

[Instructions to subordinate commands to “clear the MSR” are major missions at a time when no one knew where the Chinese were located, other than those in direct contact. Once again night reconnaissance was needed to determine the location and strength of the enemy.—GAR]

            Reports from the west indicated that the 8th Army front was crumbling and that the Army was in full retreat. No word was received from the X Corps as to any change in the plan, which provided for an attack to the west from Yudam-ni. However, under the circumstances, I considered it unwise to continue offensive operations. We were now engaged in a fight for our lives and it was necessary to assume the defense at all points until the situation clarified. It was for this reason that I directed RCT-5 to consolidate positions then held, coordinating its operations with RCT-7, pending further instructions.

[Note here how Smith was operating in accordance with the field manual. To assume that a previous order still stands after surprise enemy attacks change the situation may seem to be irrational. What’s missing is communication between commanders and staffs to make sure one understands the other. This had apparently been a serious problem between Smith’s Division HQ  and Corps throughout the campaign.—GAR]

 
[Click on the map above for a much larger image]
This map will help readers track with Gen. Smith’s description of small unit actions on the various hills surrounding the village of Yudam-ni. Map by Melville J. Coolbaugh from The Chosin Chronology: Battle of the Changjin Reservoir, 1950, copyright © George A. Rasula 2007.

(256) Defense of Yudam-ni

                        Events during evening of 27 November

 

            By nightfall of 27 November, the 2/5 Marines, which had led out in assault to the westward form Yudam-ni, held positions north and south of the road about 5000 yards west of Yudam-ni (including Hill 1271). It had three companies in line: D to the south of the road, F on the ridge running north from the road (Hill 1271), and E on the right of D with its lines bent around to the eastward to face north. At 2125 the enemy launched a heavy attack at about the junction of F and E. This attack was broken  up by midnight.

 

            The 3/5 Marines, in rear of the 2/5, had arrived in the Yudam-ni area at 1150 on 27 November and had established itself in a perimeter defense astride the road northwest of Yudam-ni.

 

            The 1/5 Marines had arrived in Yudam-ni by 2000, 27 November, and occupied reserve positions just west of Yudam-ni.

 

            D and E, 2/7 Marines had, on 26 November, occupied defensive positions on Hills 1240 (1500 yards east of north of Yudam-ni) and 1167 (2000 yards northeast of Yudam-ni). These positions protected Yudam-ni from the north. On 27 November, D 2/7 had conducted a patrol 5000 yards due north of Yudam-ni, had encountered an estimated enemy company, exchanged fire with the enemy, then disengaged and returned to its perimeter defense positions on Hill 1240. E 2/7 now occupied positions on Hill 1282 (1800 yards north of Yudam-ni). At 2320, D 2/7 reported the enemy attempting to infiltrate its lines in the defensive perimeter.

 

At nightfall 27 November, H 3/7 was occupying Hill 1402 (4000 yards northwest of Yudam-ni). At 2135 it came under heavy enemy attack from the front and flanks. The intensity of the attack was such that H Company was driven from its positions, but the company counterattacked and restored the situation by midnight.

 

            To the west of Yudam-ni and south of the positions occupied by the 2/5 Marines, G 3/7, on 27 November at nightfall, occupied Hill 1425 (3000 yards west of Yudam-ni). During the day of 27 November, G Company had become involved in a heavy fire fight with an enemy located on the high ground about 500 yards west of Hill 1425. I Company assisted it in withdrawing to its former positions on Hill 1425.

 

To the southwest and south of Yudam-ni, at nightfall on 27 November, A 1/7 occupied positions astride the valley about 1000 yards southwest of Yudam-ni. B 1/7 was in position on Hill 1276 (2500 yards south of Yudam-ni), and C 1/7 remained in position on the MSR at TA 4175 (4 miles south of Yudam-ni).

 

                        The Garrison of Yudam-ni

[This section lists the units located at Yudam-ni, a total of 8236 Marine and Navy, and 60 Korean police, with the 5th and 7th Marine Regiments. Omitted from this copy.—GAR]

 

THE NIGHT BATTLE FOR YUDAM-NI

 

                        Events of 28 November

 

            Shortly after midnight 27 November, E 2/7 on Hill 1282 came under heavy enemy attack. At 0100, 28 November, the 1st Platoon [1A 1/5] was ordered to reinforce E Company. Shortly thereafter the 3d Platoon of A 1/5 was given the same mission. The enemy succeeded in effecting a penetration between Hills 1282 and 1240 and it was necessary to refuse the right flank. Bitter fighting ensued. Only one officer in this area was unwounded. At daylight E 2/7 and the reinforcing platoons from A 1/5 still held Hill 1282 and the spur south thereof, but the enemy was in possession of the spur leading in their direction of Hill 1240.

 

            At 0400, 28 November, the 3d Platoon C 1/5 was ordered to reinforce D 2/7 on Hill 1240 which was under heavy attack. The platoon leader found a confusing situation on Hill 1240 and was unable to make contact with D 2/7. He pushed his platoon to what he considered to be a point about 150 yards forward of D’s positions when he came under heavy attack and was forced to withdraw to the southern part of the hill. During the remainder of the morning D 2/7 and the 3 C1/5 were engaged in a continuous fire fight in attempting to defend and reorganize the south sector of Hill 1240. As a measure of the bitterness of the fighting, the 3d Platoon of C Company alone had 4 killed, one missing, and 17 wounded.

 

The situation of E 2/7 and the 1st and 3d Platoons of A 1/5 on Hill 1282 was considered critical, and, at 0400, 28 November, C 1/5 (less 3d Platoon) was send to reinforce E 2/7. The remaining platoon  of A 1/5l was also sent in. C Company moved directly toward the crest of Hill 1282 but when the company arrived within 100 yards of the crest it came under heavy fire. C Company launched an assault against the enemy on Hill 1282 which gained the crest. No officers of E 2/7 could be found and Captain Jones of C 1/5 assumed control in the area. Evacuation of approximately 200 casualties was commenced with the aid of almost 100 men from the H&S Company of the 1/5 Marines. The men evacuated were dead and wounded of A and C 1/5 and E 2/7. Reorganization of the ground on Hill 1282 was completed by 0830. Throughout the day the entire line was engaged in a continuous fire fight with the enemy to hold the positions on Hill 1282. At 1600, 28 November, A 1/5, C 1/5 (less 3d Platoon), and E 2/7 were relieved by I 3/5. A and C Companies returned to the battalion assembly area and E 2/7 was assigned to the 2d Provisional Battalion made up of D and E Companies 2/7, under command of Major Roach.  This Provisional Battalion was later made responsible for the southeastern side of the perimeter. For the period it was engaged 1/5 reported it had 5 killed and 37 wounded and C (less 3d Platoon) had 10 killed and 30 wounded. Enemy dead were estimated to be between 250 and 500.

 

            At 1400, 28 November, B 1/5 began the relief of D2/7 and the 3d Platoon C1/5 which were holding the southern part of Hill 1240. As B Company began to move into position it was unable to make contact with D 2/7 and was receiving fire from its front and left flank. It became apparent that B Company could not occupy its assigned sector by nightfall. An air strike was requested and successfully delivered at about twilight but failed to dislodge the enemy and C Company was forced to take up positions on the southern part of the hill. It was able to cover by fire the saddle between Hill 1240 and Hill 1282. After relief by B Company, the 3d Platoon of C Company rejoined its company in the battalion assembly area. D 2/7 was assigned by RCT-7 to the 2d Provisional Battalion which was charged with the defense of the southeastern part of the perimeter.

 

At 0415, 28 November, both RCT-5 and RCT-7 reported that they were heavily engaged and requested that maxim um air be made available at first light 28 November.

 

            While the battle for Hills 1282 and 1240 was going on to the east of Hill 1402, H 3/7 was heavily engaged on Hill 1402. At 0216, 28 November, H Company reported the enemy moving around its right flank in an apparent effort to cut the MSR. I 3/5 Marines in position near the road junction 1500 yards southeast of Hill 1402, at 0218, opened fire on an estimated enemy platoon approaching from the northwest. At 0220, the right flank platoon of I Company opened fire on a strong enemy force approaching down the ridge line from the north-northeast. The platoon was overrun. The Weapons Company 3/5 on the right of I Company also reported being attacked by a strong force. All staff and CP personnel of 3/5 formed a defense line to protect the CP but were forced to draw back across the MSR to the south, until, at 0245, the CP was penetrated and under attack by an enemy force employing small arms, automatic weapons and hand grenades of the concussion type. The attack was contained by the CP defense line until G 3/5 could initiate a strong counterattack at 0405 along the ridge to the north of the CP. The counterattack broke the enemy’s line and by 0505 G Company had secured the high ground to the north of the CP and had established a defense line. During the fire fight approximately 80 men of H Company 3/7 entered the area of the 3/5 Marines. H Company had been driven from Hill 1402 at about 0400. At 0733, G3/5 engaged in a fire fight with a force of about 90 enemy and dispersed them.

 

[What we don’t read is the logistic and other support that makes a battle possible; the ammo carriers humping the ridges, the corpsman hauling casualties and frozen bodies down the hills. When and what did the soldiers and marines eat? At Yudam-ni area we see two regimental commanders, neither one in overall command, fighting their battalions and companies wherever needed at the moment. This points out the difficulty by historians of learning what was taking place at the time. Here in his Aide—Memoire, we read how Gen. Smith interpreted the action from reports, both verbal and written. We do understand that commanders and staffs were far too busy to be submitting detailed written reports about a battle that was taking place in darkness, a battle that wasn’t supposed to have happened. The story does lack information about subordinate commanders and leaders, and of equal importance, details of the supply problems that can make or break a battle. Each hour the Chinese were facing serious difficulties while the Americans were wondering why there was a sudden lull in the fighting on the twenty-ninth.—GAR]

 

            West of Hill 1402, in the early morning hours of 28 November, the 2/5 Marines was in serious trouble. The first attack against the 2/5 had ceased by 0030, 28 November. However, at 0300, 28 November, the enemy launched another attack with greater force. This attack struck with a force of about 300 enemy down the valley west of Hill 1402 and with a force of about 200 down a ravine 500 yards further to the west. The attack developed into a continuous assault against the front of E 2/5 on the right, while the assault up the ravine to the west against F 2/5 positions appeared to be a probing attack. At approximately 0330, the enemy attacked from the west effecting a slight penetration of the lines on the southern part of Hill 1271. At 0430, 28 November, personnel of H 3/7 who had been driven from Hill 1402 began joining the 2/5. By the loss of Hill 1402, the rear of the 2/5 was exposed and it was cut off from its regiment. By 0800, the penetration of the friendly lines on Hill 1271 had been liquidated by joint action of E and F Companies.

 

            D 2/5 which, on 27 November, was on the left of F Company and holding the high ground south of the road, was not attacked in such strength as were F and E further north. At about 2100, 27 November, an enemy patrol appeared at the road block which D Company was maintaining just south of Hill 1271. After a brief exchange of hand grenade and small arms fire the enemy patrol was dispersed. Two enemy were killed.

 

            At 0545, 28 November, the 2/5 Marines received a field message from the regiment directing it to be prepared to withdraw to the high ground astride the road on the southern  spur of Hill 1402 north of the road and the northwestern spur of Hill 1425 south of the road. This would constitute a withdrawal of about 1000 yards from positions then occupied.

 

 

DAYLIGHT, 28 NOVEMBER

 
A row of dead Chinese, frozen in grotesque positions, on the high ground overlooking a command post of the 5th Marines at Yudam-ni, mark the line of their farthest advance. The burden of the Chinese attack was borne chiefly by isolated Marine rifle companies holding ridgeline positions.—Photo by Sgt Frank C. Kerr, DOD Photo (USMC) A-4839
 

            At 0830, 28 November, the Battalion S-3 of the 2/5 was directed to report to the regimental CP for a conference. At 0900, upon reporting to the regimental CP, he was given a verbal order for the 2/5 to assume new defensive positions tying in with elements of the 7the Marines on  the left and the 3/5 on the right. The battalion commander received the order at 1130. A recon of the new area was immediately instituted and the battalion began its move at 1145. D Company was directed to move south to its new defensive position on  Hill 1425. At the same time F Company began withdrawing from the defensive positions held the night before (Hill 1271). The H&S Company and the Weapons Company moved out along the MSR under harassing fire. E Company remained in position to cover the withdrawal of the battalion  and acted as battalion rear guard. The movement to the new defensive positions was completed and contact was made with units on the right and left by 2000, 28 November. Defensive fires were planned and coordinated but no harassing fires were executed due to the shortage of ammunition.

 

            In evaluating the fighting at Yudam-ni it must always be borne in mind that temperatures dropped as low as 20 below zero Fahrenheit (-28.8 Celsius). Many of the BARs and carbines failed to function in the extreme cold, leaving only M-1 rifles and machine guns to furnish the main fire power. The care of the wounded was of grave concern to the troop commanders. It was necessary to get these wounded men to a warming tent as rapidly as possible in order to prevent death from exposure to the extreme cold. It is to the credit of the troop commanders that no man died of exposure during the Chosin Reservoir operation, while there is evidence that hundreds of wounded Chinese suffered that fate. [The general is only referring to his Marines because there were no warming tents available in RCT-31 units east of the reservoir.—GAR]

 

            After nightfall, the 1/5 Marines, which had been under continuous attack throughout the day of 28 November, occupied positions with B Company on Hill 1240, the Weapons Company just southwest thereof, one platoon of C Company on Hill 1282, and the remainder of the battalion in reserve just northwest of the town of Yudam-ni. Two provisional platoons of the 3/11 Marines [Artillery] tied in with B Company with their lines extending to the east to Hill 1167 (2000 yards northeast of Yudam-ni).

 

            In the 3/5 Marines by 1455, 28 November, H Company had occupied new defensive positions on the western face of Hill 1282. I Company and other elements of the battalion were in position on Hill 1282 by 1545. The remaining elements of the 3/5 were located as follows: the Weapons Company in the valley southwest of Hill 1282, and the H&S Company near the road in the valley slightly in rear of the Weapons Company. I Company remained in close contact with the enemy throughout the day.

 
[Click on the map above for a much larger image] The map shows the route the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (1/7) used in their effort to rescue both Charlie and Fox Company, although succeeding only in extricating C1/7. Fox 2/7 was left in the Toktong Pass to fight its own battle with artillery support from 105mm howitzers at Hagaru-ri and air support during daylight hours. Map from The Chosin Chronology: Battle of the Changjin Reservoir, 1950, copyright © George A. Rasula, 2007.

            To the south of Yudam-ni, C Company 1/7, which was guarding the MSR at TA 4175, 4 miles south of Yudam-ni, came under heavy enemy attack at 0230, 28 November. At 0505 the attack had slackened, but at 0650 the company again came under heavy attack, this time from all sides. At 1015 A and B Companies of 1/7 moved out from the perimeter to aid C Company to disengage from the enemy and return to the defensive perimeter. A Company maneuvered into a jump-off position at TA 4176U (east of the road and north of C Company’s positions). B Company moved south to the west of the road. A and B Companies jumped off in a coordinated attack at 1510 driving the enemy from the area and extricating C Company. All units of the 1/7 returned to the defensive perimeter by 2130, 28 November.

 

            The defensive plans for RCT-7 for the night of 28-29 November provided for the 3/7 to hold positions on the perimeter from Hill 1425 southeast along a spur to the valley at a point about 2500 yards southwest if Yudam-ni The 1/7 was to hold from this point generally eastward to the MSR at a point about 2500 yards south of Yudam-ni. The 2d  Provisional Battalion, consisting of D and E Companies 2/7, was to hold from the left of 1/7 along a line curving to the north and reaching the western arm of the Chosin Reservoir at a point about 2500 yards east of Yudam-ni.

 

            It was determined that the enemy had established defensive positions cutting the MSR at TA 4075O, 4 miles south of Yudam-ni and at TA 4373W, east of Sinhung-ni and about 5 ½ miles southeast of Yudam-ni. During daylight hours helicopters evacuated the seriously wounded to the limit of their capabilities. Because of infantry casualties, 25% of every H&S unit and 33 1/3% of the personnel of artillery firing batteries were formed into provisional rifle platoons and were assigned to the infantry battalions of RCT-5 and RCT-7.

 

            At 0650, 28 November, the division sent the following dispatch orders to RCT-5: “Until present situation clarifies, remain present positions in lieu of mission assigned by Operation Order 24-50 X Coordinate positions with RCT-7 X”. This message was received by RCT-5 at 1930. It gave Division sanction to a course of action which had already been forced upon RCT-5 by the enemy. The X Corps had not yet recognized that there was reason to change the mission of the 1st Marine Division.

[Historians may wonder why commanders and staffs had not been talking with each other to work out problems that existed at the moment; at this time they were linked via RTT (radio telephone).—GAR]

 

During the night of 27-28 November Intelligence indicated that the attack launched by the CCF had been conducted by three CCF Divisions: elements of the 79th Division from the north, elements of the 89th Division from the northwest, and elements of the 59th Division from the west. Interrogation of POWs indicated that the CCF had suffered heavy losses during the night of 27-28 November, some estimates placing the casualties as high as 3000. Interrogation also indicated that the Chinese had suffered heavy losses from frost bitten hands and feet. [This information not known at the time.—GAR]

 

            The final official report of casualties for the entire 1MarDiv on 28 November showed 95 killed, 3 died of wounds, 43 missing, and 543 wounded in action, a total of 684 battle casualties. In addition to the casualties suffered at Yudam-ni, heavy casualties were incurred by F 2/7 at Toktong Pass and by the garrison at Hagaru-ri and moderate casualties at Koto-ri. In the Yudam-ni area the 7th Marines reported casualties on 28 November as 22 killed, 4 missing, and 160 wounded in action, for a total of 186 battle casualties. The casualties of the 5th Marines were probably about the same and there were, of course, casualties in the attached units. The frostbite casualties were still within reasonable limits, but would increase as the troops remained exposed to the bitter cold day after day.

[The numbers game will always arouse inquiry by those who fought with the division in two wars.  On the small island of Peleliu in the South Pacific , on D-day alone the Division suffered 1,298 casualties—1,148 wounded, 92 killed, and 58 missing. The division commander had estimated a total of 500 for the entire campaign, yet the eventual cost for the Division resulted in 1,121 killed, 5,142 wounded, and 73 missing. See PELELIU Tragic Triumph, The Untold Story of the Pacific War’s Forgotten Battle, 1991, by Bill D. Ross.—GAR]

 

                        Dispositions at Midnight 28 November

 

[Lists dispositions in Yudam-ni area; unit strengths not included.]

 

                        Events of 29 November

 

            On 29 November, the CO 5th Marines, in conjunction with the CO 7th Marines, decided to form provisional rifle platoons from available personnel of the infantry headquarters elements and artillery units to augment the depleted ranks of the infantry. The following units provided provisional rifle platoons for the 5th Marines and were assigned to the three infantry battalions.

[Total of 330]

 

In addition to the above, the attached engineer platoon was ordered to be prepared to act in the capacity of a rifle platoon and was later so employed by the 3/5 Marines.

 

            It has already been noted that the 7th Marines used 25% of the strength of the H&S units and 33 1/3% of the firing batteries of the attached artillery to form provisional rifle platoons.

 

            In the defensive sector of RCT-5 there was not a great deal of activity on 29 November.

 

            Minor enemy attacks were made throughout the morning against elements of the 1/5 north of Yudam-ni. At 1145 one Platoon of C Company was ordered to fill a gap between the left (west) flank of B Company on Hill 1240 and the right (east) flank of I Company on Hill 1282. At 1500, B Company reported enemy troops moving down the slopes northwest of Hill 1240 toward B Company’s left flank. 4.2” mortar fire and an air strike were requested and delivered, stopping the advance of the enemy and causing him to disperse. Napalm was dropped on what appeared to be an enemy OP and excellent strafing runs nullified the enemy threat.

 

            No enemy attacked the positions of the 2/5 Marines during the night. At 1035, 29 November, D Company sighted enemy troops southwest of Hill 1402 and an artillery mission was fired with undetermined results.

 

            I Company 3/5, on Hill 1282, remained in contact with the enemy, otherwise little enemy action was reported throughout the night, At about 0600, 29 November, the battalion road block, 1500 yards south of west of Hill 1282, reported an estimated 60 enemy approaching the battalion position from the northwest and the battalion was alerted. At 0621, H Company along the western face of Hill 1282 received an enemy thrust from the northwest which was repulsed, killing18 enemy and capturing 3. At 1105, 1130, and 1400, I Company on Hill 1282 was attacked by an estimated two companies of enemy. All three attacks were repulsed with the support of mortar fire and air strikes. I Company remained in contact with the enemy receiving continual small arms fire and occasional machine gun and light mortar fire. At 1800, the attached engineers had completed mining the main road and had blown the ice in the river in front of the battalion’s road block.

 

            In the defensive sector of RCT-7 to the southwest, south, and southeast of Yudam-ni there was practically no enemy activity during the day of 29 November. Only sporadic mortar fire was received. At 0945, the 2d Provisional Battalion and D Company were disbanded and the remnants of D Company were combined with E Company. E Company was attached to the 1/7 Marines.

 

            The principal effort of RCT-7 on 29 November was devoted to attempting to open up the MSR between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri. The account of these operations will be found under the note covering “Initial Attempts to Open Up the MSR Between Yudam-ni and Hagaru-ri”.

 

END NOTES

 

Gen Smith closes this section (256) [797] with: “It was our experience in the Chosin Reservoir Operation that the Chinese were incapable of sustained operations. At Yudam-ni they attacked viciously on 28 November but on 29 November were quiescent. This phenomenon was also observed at Toktong Pass, Hagaru-ri and Koto-ri. The answer probably lies in the fact that the Chinese at that time had no logistic system and the attrition from battle and cold weather casualties was very heavy.” Nowhere else do we read an admission that success could be attributed to this fact, not a phenomenon, which has been openly admitted by the Chinese commanders who faced these problems from the day the Chinese entered the war. Even Smith occasionally used the term that he had been attacked by “elements of” rather than entire regiments or divisions.

[797]

 
Marine wounded await evacuation at Yudam-ni. A total of 109 went out by helicopter. The rest would go out by ambulance or truck once the 5th and 7th Marines broke their way through to Hagaru-ri. Fixed-wing aerial evacuation from Hagaru-ri began on 1 December.—Photo by Sgt Frank C. Kerr, DOD Photo (USMC) A-4858

END CJ 01.30.08

 

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