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Passing the Test

Combat in Korea, April-June 1951

edited by William T. Bowers and John T. Greenwood

Publication Year: 2011

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.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page, Copyright Page

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A NOTE ON THE TEXT

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Sadly, Col. William T. “Tom” Bowers, U.S. Army (retired), passed away in September 2008, just as the University Press of Kentucky published The Line: Combat in Korea, January–February 1951, the first volume of his trilogy on the U.S. Army’s combat operations in Korea from January to early June 1951. Fortunately for us, he had ...

CONTENTS

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pp. vii-viii

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PREFACE

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pp. ix-xiv

Much can be learned about war from studying the thirty-eight months of fighting in Korea, from June 1950 to July 1953. Military operations ranged from rapid advances and withdrawals and amphibious landings and evacuations, all reminiscent of World War II, to static operations interrupted by set-piece battles and vicious raids ...

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NOTE ON MAPS

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pp. xv-xvii

A number of the maps used in this work were rough sketches drawn by soldiers as they recounted their experiences during the Korean War. As such, the maps employ a variety of symbols for terrain and military operations. To ensure clarity, notations have been added to some sketches. ...

ABBREVIATIONS

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pp. xviii-xxi

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1. THE WAR BEFORE THE COMMUNIST SPRING OFFENSIVE OF 1951

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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 ...

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2. BATTLES ALONG THE OUTPOST LINE

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pp. 13-38

The enemy’s Spring Offensive fell unevenly across the UN front. The Chinese and North Koreans planned to hit hard at the weakest and most vulnerable areas and at those UN units defending key terrain covering their main objective, the South Korean capital of Seoul. In other sectors the Communist attacks were designed to ...

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3. CAUGHT IN A CHINESE AMBUSH

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pp. 39-58

On the far western flank of the UN line along the Imjin River, due north of Seoul, a strong Communist attack hit the ROK 1st Division of the U.S. I Corps hard. One of the best of the ROK army divisions, the South Korean unit was reinforced by the U.S. 999th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, an African American organization. ...

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4. TANKS ABOVE KAP’YONG

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pp. 59-87

In the center of the UN line the ROK 6th Division held the left flank of the U.S. IX Corps, the 1st Marine Division to the east and the 24th Infantry Division of the U.S. I Corps on the west. The Chinese planned to steamroll the South Korean division with a massive attack by two armies and then exploit the gap by driving into the flanks of the adjacent American divisions and following ...

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5. ARTILLERY IN PERIMETER DEFENSE

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pp. 88-116

The Chinese attack that collapsed the ROK 6th Division exposed the flank of the U.S. 1st Marine Division. Several artillery units had moved forward to support the South Koreans and were caught in the enemy onslaught. The battalion commander of the 92d Armored Field Artillery Battalion, Lt. Col. Leon F. Lavoie, describes ...

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6. HILL 628

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pp. 117-142

West of the ROK 6th Division on the right flank of I Corps, the Chinese 27th Army hit the front of the U.S. 24th Infantry Division while part of the Chinese 20th Army moved into its flank and rear through the ROK 6th Division sector. The 8th Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne), a unit organized and trained in the United States late in 1950 and shipped to Korea early in 1951, was assigned ...

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7. GLOSTER HILL

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pp. 143-179

To the west in the U.S. I Corps, the Chinese main attack in the spring offensive fell on the ROK 1st Division and the U.S. 3d Infantry Division, blocking the main routes to Seoul. The 3d Division’s front generally followed the Imjin River, which in this area fl owed south and then west. The 65th Infantry Regiment, with its attached Philippine 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT), held the right ...

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8. ACTION ALONG THE NO NAME LINE

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pp. 180-222

The hard fighting and sacrifices of such frontline units as the Gloucestershire Battalion allowed UN forces to break contact with the enemy and withdraw in good order to prepared defensive positions, while at the same time inflicting heavy casualties and disrupting the Chinese timetable. To the west, U.S. I Corps began pulling back on 25 April. As the withdrawal continued in I Corps to Line ...

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9. ANYTHING BUT PEACEFUL VALLEY

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pp. 223-243

Rain and fog limited UN aerial reconnaissance and hid the extent of the Chinese concentration east of Ch’unch’on aimed at U.S. X Corps. The main enemy blow, consisting of two Chinese armies, was to fall on the U.S. 2d Infantry Division manning Van Fleet’s designated No Name Line. The 9th Infantry Regiment held the left ...

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10. THE BATTLE BELOW THE SOYANG RIVER

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pp. 244-284

East of Peaceful Valley and the U.S. 9th Infantry Regiment, the Chinese planned to deliver their main attack. This blow was designed to smash the 2d Infantry Division’s center and right and to separate the Americans from the ROK divisions to the east. The enemy would then drive down the Hongch’on corridor into the UN ...

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11. THE SUPPLY BATTLE OF THE SOYANG RIVER

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pp. 285-296

Logistics was one of the greatest challenges facing the UN forces as they fought to halt the main enemy attack in the X Corps sector. Maintaining the movement of critical supplies to the front lines and ensuring the rapid shift of reinforcements to threatened areas was essential to stopping the Chinese Communist offensive. It was even ...

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12. TASK FORCE GERHART

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pp. 297-330

On 19 May 1951, as the 2d Infantry Division took up positions on a new defensive line in the Han’gye area, enemy pressure lessened. The Chinese commander, General Peng Dehuai, had ordered a rapid withdrawal because of heavy losses to his main attack forces in the X Corps’s sector. Sensing that the enemy was off-balance, General Van Fleet ...

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13. TASK FORCE HAZEL

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pp. 331-375

To the west in the U.S. I and IX Corps sectors, the Chinese had sought to hold UN forces in place with limited attacks. This effort failed, and Gen. Van Fleet shifted reinforcements east to reinforce X Corps. With resources in place to stabilize the line in X Corps, Van Fleet next ordered the U.S. I and IX Corps and the 1st Marine Division of X Corps ...

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CONCLUSION

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pp. 376-381

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 ...

NOTES

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pp. 383-413

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BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY

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pp. 415-423

This volume is based primarily on the interviews, documents, and detailed operational resumes that U.S. Army military historians assigned to the historical detachments of the Military History Section, Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army Korea (EUSAK), U.S. Army Forces, Far East, collected during the Korean War. The various historical detachments ...

INDEX

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pp. 425-447

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Images

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pp. 471-486

After a meeting at I Corps headquarters at Uijongbu on 24 April 1951, Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway (right) confers with his successor, Lt. Gen. James A. Van Fleet, about the critical situation at the front resulting fromthe Chinese Communist Spring Offensive launched on the night of 22–23 Elements of the North Korean 45th Division attacked the positions of Company B, 32d ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780813134536
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813134529

Page Count: 488
Illustrations: 25 b&w photos, 27 maps
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Battles and Campaigns
Series Editor Byline: Roger Cirillo