CHANGJIN JOURNAL 11.10.07 [Chapter 69]
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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 2006/07 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 will offer comments from various sources that relate to the topic at hand. In the last issue (CJ 08.30.07) we addressed the Engineer, Motor Transport and Tank support in the Chosin area.
Here General Smith addresses the orders issued by X Corps and 1MarDiv for the attack west from Yudam-ni on 27 November, the attack west by 2/5 Marines which opened the door to the presence of Chinese in force, as well as other indicators of enemy presence from patrols of the 7th Marines.
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.
XV. ATTACK TO THE WEST ON 27 NOVEMBER
(250) X Corps Warning Order of 24 November
X Corps Warning Order 13069 was received by the 1st Marine Division at 1855, 24 November. This order directed the Division to move RCT-5, then on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir, west of the Hamhung-Hagaru-ri – Sinpo-ni (8 miles southwest of Yudam-ni) road upon relief on 25 November by elements of the 7th Infantry Division. The 7th Infantry Division was ordered to relieve RCT-5 east of the Chosin Reservoir with not less than one infantry battalion at 1200, 25 November. This battalion was to be attached to the 1st Marine Division until the arrival of its regimental commander.
The warning order also directed the 1st Marine Division to complete the C-47 strip at Hagaru-ri by 1 December. The fixing of deadlines was normal practice with the X Corps. Our Engineer Battalion had been working night and day on the construction of the airstrip. The fixing of a deadline would make no difference in the date of completion of the strip. [Completion of the airstrip was related to a plan to establish the X Corps Forward Command Post (CP) at Hagaru-ri. D/10 Engineer Battalion and a Corps Signal Platoon were in the process of arriving at this time to work on the CP.– GAR]
The “end of war” offensive of the 8th Army had jumped off in the west on 24 November. Gen. MacArthur issued his usual flowery communiqué describing the “massive compression envelopment” which was to be effected. By the warning order we found that the 1st Marine Division was to be the northern arm of the pincer in this envelopment. We were given a new boundary that cut across Korea north of the 8th Army. Our mission was to sever the main rail and road connection between Huichon and Kanggye. Our route of advance was to be along the Yudam-ni – Mup’yong-ni (55 road miles north of west of Yudam-ni) road. Mup’yong-ni is about halfway between Huichon in the south and Kanggye in the north. Kanggye was supposed to be the assembly area for the defeated North Korean army. The road we were to follow passed through the central mountain chain and was narrow, steep and winding. Our line of communication promised to be very tenuous.
(251) Provisions of the X Corps OpO #7 of 25 November
X Corps OpO 7 was issued at 2400, 25 November. It provided for the reorientation of the attack of the X Corps to assist the 8th Army in its “end of war” offensive that had jumped off on 24 November. This was in accordance with orders to the X Corps from the United Nations Command.
At 1000, 25 November, I attended a briefing at Corps Headquarters concerning the new plan that provided for our westward movement. By this time, the 8th Army offensive had been stopped by a massive Chinese counter-offensive against its right flank. At the briefing I learned that the 1st Marine Division was to make the main effort of the Corps. The 7th Infantry Division was to take over our previous mission of advancing due north along the east side of the Chosin Reservoir to the Manchurian border. Apparently the 7th Infantry Division was now expected to accomplish this mission with one RCT. The 7th Division was required to maintain one RCT in the general vicinity of Hamhung and another of its RCTs was still on the Yalu River at Hyesanjin, 90 air miles northeast of Hagaru-ri. This left one RCT to take over our mission.
The 1st Marine Division was fairly well concentrated for its task except that it was necessary to leave battalions of RCT-1 on the MSR at Hagaru-ri, Koto-ri, and Chinhung-ni. In accordance with X Corps OpO 7 the rear boundary of the 1st Marine Division had been moved north of a line just south of Hagaru-ri. The 3d Infantry Division now had the responsibility for the area south of Hagaru-ri. The X Corps Security Force, consisting of the 50th AAA (AW) Bn and one infantry battalion of the 3d Infantry Division, was directed by X Corps OpO 7 to guard the MSR between Hamhung and Hagaru-ri. This force was entirely inadequate for the task. Therefore, in view of the vital importance of the MSR to the 1st Marine Division and the conviction of the Division that the 3d Infantry Division, because of its other commitments in the south, would be unable to move additional troops to the MSR, the 1st Marine Division requested authority of the X Corps to retain garrisons at Koto-ri and Chinhung-ni to protect the MSR between Chinhung-ni and Hagaru-ri. This request was approved and the 3d Infantry Division was made responsible for the protection of the MSR from Sudong southward to Hamhung. Even on this stretch of the MSR the 1st Marine Division played a significant role in keeping the road open. Some 850 Marines, consisting of elements of the 1st Engineer Bn and 1st Tank Bn, the Tank Platoons of the AT Companies of the 1st, 5th and 7th Marines, and C Battery 1st 4.5” Rocket Bn, were distributed along the MSR at Sudong, Majon-dong, Sangbong-ni, and Soyang-ni. These units conducted both foot and motorized patrols on and to the flanks of the MSR.
Paragraph 2 of X Corps OpO 7 provided for an attack by the Corps at 0800, 27 November, to sever the enemy LOC [Line of Communication] at Mup’yong-ni (55 road miles north of west of Yudam-ni) and to destroy the enemy in zone to the northern boundary of Korea, along the Yalu River on the left to the mouth of the Tumen River on the right.
The tasks assigned the principal subordinate units of the Corps were as follows:
(a) 1st Marine Division to attack at 0800, 27 November, seize Mup’yong-ni, advance to the Yalu River….
(b) 7TH Infantry Division to attack north at 0800, 27 November, from the Chosin Reservoir, advance to the Yalu River….
(c) I ROK Corps to defend the Yalu river line in zone….
(d) 3d Infantry Division to gain and maintain contact with the right flank of the 8th Army along its boundary in zone; to protect the west flank of the X Corps in zone; to support the 1MarDiv on X Corps order; to protect the airfield and harbor facilities in the Wonsan area; and to destroy enemy guerrilla forces in zone.
(e) X Corps Security Force …
(f) Corps Engineers …
(x) Contained the following miscellaneous provisions:
(1) All echelons of command exert utmost energy to surmount weather and terrain conditions.
(2) Employ air and artillery support to maximum along axis of advance.
(3) Rigidly enforce necessary measures to conserve food and fuel supplies.
(4) Exploit to the maximum the superior capabilities of our troops and equipment.
X Corps OpO 7, in effect, provided for a wide envelopment. By 25 November, the attack of the 8th Army had been stopped, Therefore the 8th Army could be considered as the holding force and 1st Marine Division as the enveloping force. The right flank of the 8th Army (II ROK Corps) was in the vicinity of Tokch’on (70 air miles southwest of Yudam-ni) and from there the front of the 8th Army extended generally westward to the Yellow Sea. It was at Tokch’on, on 25 November, that the CCF launched a violent counter-offensive which crushed the II ROK Corps. The defeat of the II ROK Corps caused the remainder of the 8th Army to withdraw and this withdrawal rapidly became a retreat. In an envelopment, the holding force is required to hold until the enveloping force can carry home its attack. In this case, the holding force (8th army) began its withdrawal on 25 November and by the time the enveloping force (1st Marine Division) attacked on 27 November, the 8th Army was in full retreat. Therefore, the attack of the 1st Marine Division on 27 November could have no effect on the fortunes of the 8th Army and the Division itself was to become involved in a fight for its life against a Chinese army group separate and distinct from the CCF forces following up the retreat of the 8th Army.
[The purpose of the foregoing paragraph is questioned, but it does fit Gen. Smith’s nickname as the professor. It’s an apparent attempt to justify something from a position of hindsight because details about the action to the west were not known at the division level of X Corps. We must bear in mind that 18 CCF divisions attacked U.S. IX Corps and ROK II Corps, directing a major effort against 8th Army right flank. By the 27th, the damage had been done and any discussion about the anvil is but a classroom exercise In brief, it didn't make much difference what the Marines did on the 27th, other than tighten up their perimeters. – GAR]
[From CHAPTER 67, CJ 07.15.07]
(252) Provisions of the 1st MarDiv OpO 24-50 of 26 November
… issued at 0800, 26 November, to implement X Corps OpO 7 of 25 November. It confirmed previous verbal instructions.
(a) RCT-7 to seize and secure Yudam-ni without delay, and, when passed through by RCT-5, to protect the Division MSR from Sinhung-ni (7 mi. west of Hagaru-ri) to Yudam-ni, prepare to advance elements west to protect the Division MSR to Namha-ri (20 road miles west of Yudam-ni).
(b) RCT-5 to pass through RCT-7 west of Yudam-ni by 0800, 27 November, advance to the west and seize Objective One (the road junction at Yongnim-dong, 7 road miles northwest of Namha-ni) prepared for further advance on Objective Two (high ground one mile south of Kogae-gol and 8 miles northwest of Yongnim-dong), on order. [All but one battalion of RCT-5 was still east of the reservoir at the time 2/5 attacked west from Yudam-ni on the morning of 27 November.]
(c) RCT-1, in Division reserve, to occupy positions in the vicinity of Chinhung-ni, Koto-ri, and Hagaru-ri and protect the division MSR south of Sinhung-ni (7 miles west of Hagaru-ri).
(d) 41 Commando, RM, reinforced, to move to Yudam-ni prepared for operations in the direction of Sinpo-ri (8 miles southwest of Yudam-ni) to protect the division left flank, coordinating operations with RCT-7. [The mission of protecting the division flank is a combat mission, not a recon mission; 41 Commando was highly trained for reconnaissance. – GAR]
(e) Recon Company to move to the vicinity of Yudam-ni and recon north of Yudam-ni toward Choksu-ri (7 miles north of Yudam-ni), coordinating operations with RCT-7.
(f) 11th Marines, less detachments, reinforced, to provide general support from positions in the vicinity of Yudam-ni.
(g) 1st Tank Bn … [remains at Majon-dong]
(h) 1st Engineer Bn to support division operations with priority to maintenance of MSR and the construction of the airfield at Hagaru-ri.
(i) VMO-6 to operate as directed.
The task organization to execute the provisions of OpO 24-50 was as follows: [p.733-735]
[Noted are artillery attachments: RCT-7 – 3/11; RCT-5 – 1(reinf)/11, RCT-1 – 2/11. This leaves 4/11 (155mm) in general support from Yudam-ni which, from that position, could support RCT-7 and also RCT-5 (already reinforced) until the 5th Marines moved out of range to the west (which never happened).]
(253) Attack of RCT-5 to the West from Yudam-ni on 27 November
At 1440, 24 November, the Division notified RCT-5 that OpO 23-50 had been modified to the extent that the Regiment’s mission to advance to the north to the Manchurian border had been cancelled and it was to remain in its present positions on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir until relieved by elements of the 7th Infantry Division at 1200, 25 November. Elements of the 7th Infantry Division in the area of RCT-5 were placed under the operational control of the Division until the relief was completed by the 7th Infantry Division. [“Operational control” should properly read “attached.” – GAR]
EAST OF CHOSIN
During the morning of 25 November, RCT-5 continued to patrol the area east of the Chosin Reservoir having two contacts and killing one Chinese soldier. Later in the day the Division directed RCT-5 to move to the vicinity of Yudam-ni and to be prepared to pass through elements of RCT-7. In pursuance of this directive the CO, 5th Marines issued orders for the movement of the Regiment to an assembly area northwest of Hagaru-ri, the movement to begin at 0800, 26 November, after relief by elements of the 7th Infantry Division. [Only one battalion, 2/5, moved to Yudam-ni on 26 November; the remaining units of RCT-5 moved to Yudam-ni on 27 November. – GAR]
On 25 November, also, the Division issued orders to the 1st Bn, 32 Infantry (1/32), which was now east of the Chosin Reservoir, to remain in its present positions and to protect the Division’s right flank. The Battalion was to remain under the operational control of the Division until the assumption of command in the area by the CO, 31st Infantry.
[Since 1/32 was in the zone of RCT-5, it would have been proper to have attached Faith to Murray. That’s probably what happened. From an operations point of view, it appears strange for Faith’s 1/32 to be given a mission of protecting the 1MarDiv right flank when the majority of RCT-5 remained east of Chosin until 27 November. – GAR]
1MarDiv OpO 24-50, issued at 0800, 26 November, confirmed previous verbal instructions and directed RCT-5 to pass through RCT-7 west of Yudam-ni by 0800, 27 November, and to advance to the west and seize Objective One… prepared for further advance on Objective Two…on order.
On this same date, 26 November, the 2d Bn, 5th Marines [2/5] was ordered by RCT-5 to move to the vicinity of Yudam-ni beginning at 0830, and, upon arrival, to establish local security at that position. At 0730, 27 November, the 2/5 was to pass through RCT-7 and attack to the west. The mission assigned 2/5 by RCT-5 was to seize, occupy, and defend positions astride the road some 5,000 yards west of Yudam-ni, prepared to continue the attack on order. Other units of RCT-5 were to remain alerted to move on six hours notice to the vicinity of Yudam-ni.
All elements of RCT-5 were relieved by elements of the 7th Infantry Division [RCT-31] on the east side of the Chosin Reservoir by early afternoon, 26 November. The 2/5 moved as scheduled and reached the perimeter of RCT-7 at Yudam-ni at 1800, 26 November. Preparations for the movement of the 3/5 were made for 27 November. The CP of RCT-5 displaced to the vicinity of Hagaru-ri at 1000, 26 November.
[At this time two-thirds of the combat power of RCT-5 remained in the forward positions east of the reservoir and would not withdraw from their positions until the next day, 27 November, when the remainder of RCT-31 (3/31, 57FA et al) would arrive. If the Chinese had attacked that night, 26 November, as they had originally planned, the battle east of Chosin would have been fought by the 5th Marines (minus one battalion) and one Army battalion.]
7TH MARINES AT YUDAM-NI
On 26 November, while RCT-5 was moving its 2/5 to Yudam-ni, RCT-7 was active in the Yudam-ni area. After a quiet night, the 1/7 moved out at 0830, with D and E Companies, 2/7 attached, to seize Hills 1240 (1500 yards east of north of Yudam-ni) and 1167 (2000 yards northeast of Yudam-ni). Both hills were occupied by the battalion at 1155 without enemy resistance. Upon occupying Hill 1167, D Company found five civilians with their hands tied behind their backs and shot. D and E Companies took up defensive positions for the night on the commanding ground 1000 yards north and northeast of Yudam-ni.
At 1500, a patrol form A Company 1/7 made contact with an undetermined number of enemy southwest of Hansang-ni (4 miles southwest of Yudam-ni), exchanged fire with the enemy, who withdrew to the southwest. The patrol returned to the perimeter at 1730 reporting the area cleared of the enemy. Other local patrols of the 1/7 ranged as far as 2000 yards east of the MSR without making enemy contact.
The 3/7 moved out at 0930, 26 November, to clear the high ground to the west of Yudam-ni and to seize the nose of a hill some 2500 yards northwest of the town of Yudam-ni. A patrol from G Company 3/7 was ordered to seize Hill 1425 (3000 yards west of Yudam-ni), but, on approaching the hill, was pinned down by heavy enemy small arms and mortar fire. Air and artillery were employed and the patrol was able to advance and scout the forward slopes of Hill 1425 and the high ground to the northwest thereof. Upon return of the patrol at dusk, fire was again received from Hill 1425. Artillery fire was directed on the hill and G Company went into positions for the night just short of the crest.
One platoon of I Company 3/7 moved west to clear Hill 1293 (1500 yards west of Yudam-ni), which was accomplished without enemy resistance. The patrol then proceeded northwest across the valley to the nose of a hill 2000 yards due north. The platoon here came under small arms fire from the enemy. H Company 3/7, following the platoon of I company, moved up the hill, securing it at 1300 and killing an estimated 25 to 30 of the enemy. H Company continued its advance to the west along the main road but was pinned down at 1530 approximately 3500 yards northwest of Yudam-ni by enemy small arms fire from Hill 1402 (4000 yards northwest of Yudam-ni). Air and artillery were called down on the hill, but H Company was unable to proceed further before nightfall and returned to its perimeter position. The 2/7 (less D, E, and F companies) remained at Hagaru-ri.
At 0930, 26 November, I left Hungnam by helicopter for a visit to RCT-7 at Yudam-ni. I landed at what I thought was the CP of RCT-7 but it proved to be the CP of the 1/7 Marines which was then located just south of the town of Yudam-ni. After a visit with Lt. Col. Davis, CO of 1/7, I got directions from him as to the location of the regimental CP which was at TA4175, 4 miles south of Yudam-ni, on the road leading back to Hagaru-ri. In making the landing at the Regimental CP I discovered some of the limitation of helicopters. We first attempted to land on a gentle slope near the CP. As the pilot put his wheels down we slipped backward on the ice and snow. After 4 or 5 tries the pilot went down to the floor of the valley a few hundred yards away to attempt a landing. The elevation here was about 4000 feet. (The ceiling of the helicopter was 5000 feet.) At this altitude a helicopter does not have much hovering capability. There was no air stirring in the bottom of the valley and for the last 10 feet we simply dropped. We hit with quite a bump but no damage was done. Had here been a breeze it might have assisted us in hovering. I discussed the situation of RCT-7 with Col.l Litzenberg who would have liked to have kept on going rather than act in a backing up role for RCT-5. After the visit with Col. Litzenberg I took off for Hungnam following the MSR back to Hagaru-ri and thence south of Hungnam. The weather on this date was cold and very clear. There was considerable traffic on the MSR between Hagaru-ri and Yudam-ni. The road, from the air, did not appear to be as bad as the stretch between Chinhung-ni and Koto-ri but the elevation was greater.
At 1830, 26 November, RCT -7 issued orders to all units to conduct patrolling and to protect the passage of the 2/5 through the lines of RCT-7 on 27 November. Plans were made for the arrival of the 3/5 in Yudam-ni at about 1300, 27 November. Additional orders were issued to the 1/7 and 3/7 to seize and occupy the high ground that dominated the town of Yudam-ni from the north and northwest.
On 27 November, the CP of RCT-5 displaced from Hagaru-ri to Yudam-ni and opened at 1230 just west of Yudam-ni at TA3982S.
CHINESE BLOCK 2/5 MARINES ATTACK
At 0730, 27 November, the 2/5 attacked to the west in column of companies. RCT-7 was then holding position astride the road about 3000 yards northwest of Yudam-ni. Approximately 9 roadblocks were encountered on the road by the 2/5 between 3000 and 4000 yards north of west of Yudam-ni. F Company 2/5 in assault bypassed these roadblocks and the attached engineers cleared them. At approximately 0930, F Company 2/5, at a point about 3500 yards north of west of Yudam-ni, received small arms and automatic weapons fire from the ridge to the west. Mortar and artillery fires and an air strike were brought to bear on the enemy positions and D Company 2/5 was committed on the left of F Company. F Company then cleared the ridge in TA3682 (Hill 1271) from which the enemy fire had come and D Company occupied the high ground south of the road from F Company. E Company occupied positions on the right of F company bending its line to face generally north.
At 1600, night defensive positions were organized on the ground seized north and south of the road about 5000 yards north of west of Yudam-ni. The 2/5 had made an advance of about 1500 yards beyond the positions held by RCT-7 against moderate to heavy resistance. At 2125, the enemy launched an attack at about the junction of the positions of F and E Companies. The tactics employed by the enemy were to creep as close to friendly lines as possible, throw hand grenades into the positions, and assault in mass with automatic weapons and small arms. With the assistance of artillery and mortar fire this attack was broken up by midnight.
The 3/5 at 0737, 27 November, departed by motor convoy from its old area east of the Chosin Reservoir and arrived at Yudam-ni by 1150. It then went into an assembly area northwest of Yudam-ni and in rear of the 2/5, establishing a perimeter defense before nightfall. At about 2120 Marines from H/7 began entering the battalion position reporting that elements of H Company occupying the crest of Hill 1403 (TA3783, 4000 yards northwest of Yudam-ni) had been overrun. (The hill, however, was shortly thereafter retaken.)
The 1/5 on 27 November moved in two serials from its positions east of the Chosin Reservoir to Yudam-ni. By 2000 the battalion had completed its movement and occupied a reserve position just west of Yudam-ni. A perimeter defense was set up.
At the same time the 2/5 attacked to the west from the perimeter, the 3/7 also attacked to the west to assist the 2/5 in its advance.
H Company 3/7 jumped off at 0815 to seize Hill 1402 (4000 northwest of Yudam-ni) and occupied the hill at 1015 without enemy opposition. (H Company had almost reached Hill 1402 the previous afternoon but was stopped by enemy fire and withdrew to the perimeter for the night.) After occupying Hill 1402, H Company sent patrols to the west and north, with the northern patrol flushing an estimated 7 enemy approximately 700 yards north of Hill 1402. H Company received a heavy enemy attack from the front and flanks at 2135. The enemy used small arms, automatic weapons, and grenades during the attack and succeeded in driving H Company from its positions on Hill 1402. H Company counterattacked at 2400 and regained the positions.
G Company 3/7 also jumped off at 0815, 26 November to seize Hill 1425 (3000 yards west of Yudam-ni), which was taken without enemy resistance. (G Company had scouted this hill the previous afternoon, but at dusk had withdrawn to positions just east of the crest.) After occupying Hill 1425, G Company proceeded forward to a hill about 500 yards west of Hill 1425, where, at 1305, the company came under heavy enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. By 1515 the enemy attack increased to such intensity that G Company was forced from its positions on the hill. I Company 3/7, which had been directed to reinforce G Company, set up a base of fire to assist G Company to withdraw. Both companies then returned to their positions in the perimeter on Hills 1425 and 1293.
D Company 2/7 which was attached to 1/7 on 27 November, moved due north from the perimeter and, at 1355, came under heavy enemy fire from the northeast at a position approximately 5000 yards north of Yudam-ni. Air and artillery were called down on the enemy positions inflicting casualties, and, at 1644, D Company broke off the engagement and returned to the defensive perimeter. D Company estimated that it had been opposed by a company of enemy, reinforced by heavy weapons and mortars. At 2320, D Company, on Hill 1240 (1500 yards east of north of Yudam-ni) reported the enemy attempting to infiltrate its lines in the defensive perimeter.
B Company 1/7 on 27 November was directed to patrol to Hasang-ni (4 miles southwest of Yudam-ni), and en-route to the town the patrol made contact with about 12 enemy at approximately 1130. Artillery fire was called down and the enemy dispersed. The patrol upon returning reached a point about 2500 yards north of Hansang-ni where it received enemy fire from the north and south from an undetermined number of enemy. At this point, the patrol was ordered to return to dispose of approximately 50 to 60 enemy in TA3880 (2500 yards southwest of Yudam–ni) which constituted a threat to the MSR. C Company as sent to reinforce B Company and to protect the MSR from positions 6000 yards due south of Yudam-ni. B Company broke contact with the enemy at 1700 and withdrew toward the MSR north of C Company, while C Company covered the withdrawal from positions on the high ground 4000 yards south of Yudam-ni. Trucks were dispatched to C company positions and B Company entrucked and returned to the Yudam-ni perimeter at 2040. C Company remained in position on the high ground at a point 4000 years south of Yudam-ni for the night to protect the MSR.
[Click on the map for a larger image] This map shows the 14-mile gravel road from Hagaru-ri through the Toktong Pass to Yudam-ni. It was at the hairpin curve where Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines (F/7) established a perimeter to secure the pass. Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines (C/7), was positioned at the west base of the pass on the slopes of Hill 1520. Fortunately, F/7 was within range of 105mm artillery at Hagaru-ri while C/7 was to enjoy 155mm artillery support from guns at Yudam-ni. Map CC 7-1 by Melville J. Coolbaugh from The Chosin Chronology: Battle of the Changjin Reservoir, 1950, copyright © George A. Rasula, 2007.
FOX 7 MOVED TO TOKTONG PASS
F Company 2/7, still at Hagaru-ri, was moved from that place at 1500 to positions 2500 yards east of Sinhung-ni at Toktong Pass, where it consolidated positions to protect the MSR.
At 1400, 27 November, all available trucks were returned from Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri to pick up vital supplies. The trucks got through but the road was blocked shortly thereafter by the Chinese and the trucks were unable to return to Yudam-ni.
Up to midnight of 27 November, the final official reports on casualties shown that the 1st Marine Division as a whole had 37 killed, 1 died of wounds, 17 missing, and 190 wounded for that date. The majority of these casualties were incurred at Yudam-ni.
After the decimation of the 124th CCF Division at Chinhung-ni on 7 November and the withdrawal of the 126th CCF Division from the Fusen Reservoir area, until 25 November, it was very difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the enemy situation. The enemy was like a "will o’ the wisp”. Enemy patrols would appear and disappear. It was difficult to capture prisoners. However, by 25 November, it became apparent that CCF Divisions other than the 124th and 126th were in the area. By 27 November we had identified by the capture of prisoners five additional CCF Divisions in the Yudam-ni area. Had we entirely believed the reports of civilians we would have known that there were still other CCF Divisions in the area. We had learned from experience, however, to discount civilian reports. In this case their reports happened to be correct. The situation was ominous. The Division felt that the enemy would put up a determined defense west of Yudam-ni. It was our hope that we would meet the enemy in strength at Yudam-ni before the Division became still further extended along the road to Mup’yong-ni. In this we were not disappointed. Although we had not anticipated a massive counteroffensive such as was launched by the CCF, we had taken sufficient precautions to be able to withstand the attack when it was launched.
At this point in our series of the OPS Aide-Memoire, readers may have concluded that the 1MarDiv continued to make one major error, that of not being aggressive and moving forward rapidly the find the enemy (as had been directed by Almond), determine the strength of the enemy, and taken action to confront the enemy at a place and time of his choosing. By the time units of RCT-5 were making adjustments in preparation for the attack to the west, and while units of RCT-7 were also adjusting positions to take advantage of the terrain, the presence of Chinese in far more locations and strength should have alerted Gen. Smith that he needed to find the enemy before the enemy found him. The lead battalion of his division had reached the Kaema Plateau at Koto-ri on 10 November. He used 17 days to move his units 24 miles to Yudam-ni, a time during which the two Chinese armies had marched their troops south from the Yalu River and prepared for their envelopments in many locations. Once again, the history of Chosin continues to march at its own pace.
End CJ 11.10.07