General Walker’s primary objective in August was to retain a foothold in Korea. From this he intended to launch an attack later when his forces were of sufficient strength. Walker kept saying to his key staff officers and to his principal commanders substantially the following: “You keep your mind on the fact that we will win this thing by attacking. Never let an opportunity to attack pass. I want the capability and opportunity to pass to the offensive. Until that time comes I want all commanders to attack—to raid—to capture prisoners and thus keep the enemy off balance. If that is done, more and more opportunities to hurt the enemy will arise and our troops will be better prepared to pass to a general offensive when things are ripe.”
General Walker wanted the foothold in Korea to include the rail route from Pusan north through Miryang to Taegu, eastward to Kyongju, and back to Pusan. This would make possible the logistical support necessary for a breakout offensive later. To retain this circumferential communication net, General Walker had to combine a fine sense of timing with a judicious use of the small reserves he was able to assemble at any given time. He had to know just when to move his limited reserves and where. They had to be at the right place and not too late. A study of the defensive fighting of the Pusan Perimeter by Eighth Army and the ROK Army will reveal that Walker proved himself a master in it.
[n19-2 Ltr, Major General John A. Dabney to author, 18 Dec 53 (Dabney was Eighth Army G-3 during the summer and fall of 1950); Landrum, Comments on author’s ltr to him of 1 Sep 53; Interv, author with Stebbins, 4 Dec 53.]
The difficulty of forming a small reserve was one of the principal problems that confronted the Eighth Army staff during August and September 1950. It was a daily concern to the Eighth Army commander. Colonel Landrum, Eighth Army’s chief of staff during August, considered it one of his most important daily tasks to find any unit that could be “tagged” as an army reserve. This search included both Eighth Army and ROK troops. It was considered a certainty that any troops so designated would be committed somewhere on the Perimeter within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. One of General Walker’s daily greetings to his chief of staff was, “Landrum, how many reserves have you dug up for me today?”
General Walker left most of the headquarters work to his staff. He spent the greater part of each day on visits to his combat units. It fell to Colonel Landrum to keep him fully informed of what had happened around the Perimeter front during his absence from headquarters. Landrum did this every day when Walker returned to Taegu. In addition to keeping in close touch with the army G-2, G-3, and G-3, Air, Colonel Landrum made it a practice to telephone each major combat unit sometime between 2200 and midnight each night and talk with the unit commander or the chief of staff about the situation on that part of the front. This provided fresh information and reflected the state of mind of the various commanders at that moment. On the basis of these nightly telephone calls, General Walker often planned his trips the next day. He went where he felt a serious situation was or might be developing.
The central, or Taegu, front was to present its full measure of problems involving the use of limited reserves hastily assembled from another part of the perimeter. It was a sector where the Eighth Army commander needed to make a reasonably correct appraisal of the situation day by day. For here several corridors of approach southward converged on the valley of the Naktong, and the enemy forces advancing down these corridors were assembling in relatively great strength in close supporting distance of each other. The enemy frontal pressure against Taegu developed concurrently with that on both flanks already described.
The North Koreans Cross the Naktong for the Attack on Taegu
The enemy forces assembled in an arc around Taegu, from south to north, were the N.K. 10th, 3rd, 15th, 13th, and 1st Divisions, and elements of the 105th Armored Division. They reached from Tuksong-dong on the south northward around Waegwan to Kunwi. This concentration north and west of Taegu indicated that the North Koreans expected to use the natural corridor of the Naktong valley from Sangju to Taegu as a principal axis of attack in the next phase of their drive south.
Across the Naktong opposite the five North Korean divisions, in early August, were, from south to north, the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division and the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions of the ROK II Corps. The boundary between the 1st Cavalry Division and the ROK 1st Division lay about two miles north of Waegwan and ten air miles northwest of Taegu. The 10th Division and part of the 3rd Division were opposite the 1st Cavalry Division. Opposite the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions were part of the 3rd, and the 15th, 13th, and 1st Divisions, together with supporting units of the 105th Armored Division.
Like the 24th Infantry Division just south of it, the 1st Cavalry Division had a long front. From south to north, the 7th, 8th, and 5th Cavalry Regiments were on line in that order. The two battalions of the 8th Cavalry Regiment west of Taegu each had a front of about 10,000 yards. The 5th Cavalry Regiment at Waegwan had a front of 14,000 yards.In order to provide artillery fire support for such great frontages, the artillery firing batteries were placed about 7,000 yards behind the front lines and about 6,000 to 7,000 yards apart. Each battery laid its guns on two different deflections. By shifting trails it was possible to mass the battery fire. In some instances, two batteries could mass their fire, but an entire artillery battalion could not do so because of the great flank distance within a regimental sector. The artillery tried to achieve volume of fire by rapidity of firing. In one instance, ten 105-mm. howitzers fired 120 rounds in seventy seconds, an average of one round every six seconds for each gun.
In the north, the N.K. 1st Division between 6 and 8 August crossed the Naktong River between Hamchang and Sangju in the zone of the ROK 6th Division. On 6 August, American planes observed ten barges engaged in ferrying troops across the river. The enemy division, although reinforced by 2,500 green replacement troops—partly at Hamchang and partly after crossing the river—was still only at half-strength.
Many of the replacements did not have weapons and were used in rear areas in miscellaneous duties. This division, upon attacking toward Kunwi, met stub born resistance from the ROK 6th Division
and did not reach that town, twenty-five air miles due north of Taegu, until about 17 August. In battle there with the ROK 6th Division, it suffered further losses before it was able to advance south to the Tabu-dong area and the approaches to Taegu.
South of the N.K. 1st Division, the 13th Division had started crossing the Naktong during the night of 4-5 August. On the 5th the main part of its 21st Regiment crossed at Naktong-ni, forty air miles northwest of Taegu on the Sangju road. After the crossing was discovered, some of the enemy soldiers came under aerial strafing attacks while they were still in the water and ROK artillery and mortar fire was directed at the crossing site. On the south bank the regiment came under continuing aerial and artillery fire, but with unknown casualties. That night the 19th Regiment crossed the river in the path of the 21st, the men holding their weapons over their heads and wading in neck deep water. They left behind their heavy weapons and vehicles. Then the following night, 6-7 August, the third regiment of the division, the 23rd, together with two battalions of artillery, crossed below Naktong-ni on rafts. These crossings of the N.K. 13th Division were in the zone of the ROK 1st Division, but were several miles from that division’s prepared positions.
ROK troops attacked the 13th Division immediately after it crossed, forcing it into the mountains. There, the N.K. 13th Division, its elements uniting on the east side, launched a concerted night attack, broke the ROK defenses, and began an advance that carried it twenty miles southeast of Naktong-ni on the main road to Taegu. A week after crossing the Naktong, the 13th Division and the 1st Division were converging on the Tabu-dong area, about fifteen miles due north of Taegu. There lay the critical terrain for the northern defense of the city.
[n19-10 1st Cav Div WD, 5 Aug 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 6 Aug 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 105 (N.K. 13th Div), pp. 61-62.
[n19-11 ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 2, Rpt 777, p. 177, 1st Lt Han Pyong Chol, 45th Regt, 15th Div; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 105 (N.K. 13th Div), p. 63.]
The N.K. 15th Division, next of the enemy divisions in line southward, received approximately 1,500 replacements at Kumchon on 5 August, which brought its strength to about 6,500 men. The next day its 45th Regiment marched northeast toward the Naktong. The regiment passed through Sonsan on 7 August and crossed the river southeast of that town. United Nations planes strafed part of it in the crossing. Once across the river, the regiment headed into the mountains, encountering no opposition at first. The other two regiments, the 48th and 50th, departed Kumchon later and began crossing the Naktong between Indong and Waegwan before dawn of 8 August. The men waded the river in four feet of water at two ferry sites, four and six miles north of Waegwan. Tanks and vehicles crossed on an underwater bridge at the upper ferry site. The major initial crossing occurred at the upper ferry site six miles from Waegwan where an estimated two battalions and at least two tanks had crossed by 0810. The North Koreans supported this crossing by direct tank fire from the west side of the river. The Air Force estimated seven tanks were in firing position there. These tanks evidently succeeded in crossing the river during the day. The N.K. 15th Division seized Hills 201 and 346 on the east side of the river at the crossing site, before advancing eastward into the mountains toward Tabu-dong, seven air miles distant.[n19-12]
Considering these enemy crossings the most serious threat yet to appear against Taegu, Eighth Army made plans to support the ROK Army with American troops in the event of an enemy penetration. The Air Force, in the meantime, discovered the underwater bridge six miles north of Waegwan and dropped 1,000-pound bombs on it with undetermined results.[n19-13]
[n19-12 EUSAK WD and G-3 Jnl, 8 Aug 50; EUSAK PIR 27, 8 Aug 50; EUSAK Summ, 1-31 Aug 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K.15th Div), pp. 42-43; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 2, Rpt 777, p. 177. Lieutenant Han.]
[n19-13 EUSAK WD, 8 Aug 50, G-3 Jnl and Informal Checkslip, Daily Rpt from Plans Sec, G-3 Jnl; New York Herald Tribune, August 12, 1950.]
The ROK 1st Division the next day reported it had regained the high ground at the crossing sites. The enemy force, however, had not been destroyed or driven back across the river. It had simply moved on eastward deeper into the mountains. Between 12 and 16 August the three regiments of the N.K. 15th Division united on the east side of the Naktong in the vicinity of Yuhaksan, a towering 2,800-foot peak, five miles east of the crossing site and three miles northwest of Tabu-dong. The N.K. 13th Division was already locked in combat on Yuhak-san with the ROK 1st Division.[n19-14]
Opposite, and south of, Waegwan, two enemy divisions stood ready to cross the Naktong in a co-ordinated attack with the divisions to the north. The first of these, the N.K. 3rd Division, was concentrated in the vicinity of Songju, four miles southwest of Waegwan. Ten miles below the 3rd, the N.K.10th Division was concentrated in the Koryong area. Both these divisions were opposite the 1st Cavalry Division.
[n19-14 EUSAK POR 85, 10 Aug 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 9 Aug 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K. 15th Div), p. 43; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 2, p. 177, Lt Han. Geographical locations given in this portion of the text have been determined by correlating place names on the AMS Map, Korea, scale 1:50,000, with map co-ordinate readings in U.S. Army records and place names given in prisoner of war interrogations.]
The 7th Regiment of the 3rd Division started crossing the Naktong about 0300 9 August at a ferry site near the village of Noch’on, two miles south of the Waegwan bridge. The river at this point had a firm sandy bottom and a depth of five feet. The troops waded across holding their weapons above the water.
Discovering the crossing, elements of the 5th Cavalry Regiment directed automatic weapons fire against the enemy force and called in pre-registered artillery fire on the crossing site. Although the enemy regiment suffered some casualties, the bulk of it reached the east bank safely and moved inland into the hills.[n19-15] One of the soldiers wrote in his diary of the crossing: Gradually advanced toward the river. Enemy shelling is fierce. Arrived at the shores of the river. The terrible enemy has sent up flares. The Naktong River is flowing quietly and evenly. Entered the river. After advancing 200 meters, shooting began with the firing of an enemy flare. The noise is ringing in my ears. Have already crossed the river. Occupied a hill. A new day is already breaking.[n19-16]
Half an hour after the 7th Regiment had crossed, the 8th and 9th Regiments started crossing the river south of it. By this time, the 5th Cavalry Regiment and all its supporting mortars and artillery were fully alerted. Flares and star shells brightly illuminated these two North Korean regiments in midstream. American fire from all supporting weapons, with the artillery playing the dominant role, decimated the enemy troops and turned them back to the west side. Only a small number reached the east side. There, either they were captured or they hid until the next night when they re-crossed the river.[n19-17]
[n19-15 EUSAK WD, 9 Aug 50; EUSAK, Aug 50 Summ; 1st Cav Div WD, G-2 Monthly Narr Rpt, Aug 50; 61st FA Bn WD, 9 Aug 50; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 3rd Div), p. 33.]
[n19-16 ATIS Supp Enemy Docs, Issue 2, pp. 66-67, diary from 21 Jul to 10 Aug 50 of Choe Song Hwan, entry for 9 Aug (diary captured 12 Aug).]
[n19-17 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 3rd Div), pp. 33-34; EUSAK WD, 12 Aug 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 494, Kang Don Su.]
At daylight, 9 August, General Gay at 1st Cavalry Division headquarters in Taegu learned of the enemy crossing in his division sector south of Waegwan. As first reports were vague, he decided to withhold action until he learned more about the situation. A report informed him that 1st Lieutenant Harry A. Buckley, Acting S-2, 5th Cavalry Regiment, had personal knowledge of the enemy crossing. General Gay sent for the lieutenant and, while awaiting his arrival, placed the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, in reserve on one-hour alert.
Upon reporting to General Gay at the division headquarters, Lieutenant Buckley stated: Just prior to daylight this morning, I, with a small group of men from the I&R Platoon, was on reconnaissance. Approximately 45 minutes prior to daylight, I observed enemy forces moving up the ridge line just northwest of Hill 268. The enemy were moving at a dog trot in groups of four. Every fourth man carried an automatic weapon, either a light machine gun or a burp gun. I watched them until they had all disappeared into the brush on Hill 268. In my opinion, and I counted them carefully, the enemy was in strength of a reinforced battalion, approximately 750 men. General, I am not a very excitable person and I know what I saw, when I saw it, where I was when I saw it, and where the enemy was going. [n19-18 Gay, Ltr and comments, 24 Aug 53.]
A few minutes later, General Walker arrived at the division headquarters. He asked General Gay what his plans were. The latter replied that at least an enemy battalion had crossed the Naktong and was on Hill 268, that another enemy regiment was at that moment trying to cross the river under heavy fire from the 5th Cavalry Regiment, and that as soon as he was sure of his ground he was going to attack the enemy on Hill 268 and drive them back across the river. Walker commented, “Fine, be sure you are right before you move because this enemy battalion might be a feint and the real attack could well be coming farther to the left.19 Events were later to prove this possibility correct.
At 0930, 9 August, General Gay ordered Lieutenant Colonel Peter D. Clainos, commanding the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, to eliminate the enemy penetration. The battalion moved at once from its bivouac area just outside of Taegu, accompanied by five tanks of A Company, 71st Heavy Tank Battalion. This motorized force proceeded to the foot of Hill 268, also known as Triangulation Hill, three miles southeast of Waegwan and ten air miles northwest of Taegu. The 61st Field Artillery Battalion meanwhile heavily shelled the hill. The hill was doubly important because of its proximity to lines of communication. The main Korean north-south highway from time immemorial, and the main double-track Pusan-Seoul-Harbin, Manchuria, railroad skirted its base.[n19-20 ]
At noon the artillery fired a preparation on Hill 268, and the 1st Battalion then attacked it under orders to continue on southwest to Hill 154. Hill 268 was covered with thick brush about four feet high and some trees eight to ten feet high. The day was very hot. Many 1st Battalion soldiers collapsed from heat exhaustion during the attack, which was not well co-ordinated with artillery fire. The enemy repulsed the attack.[n19-21 ]
The next morning, 10 August, air strikes and artillery preparations blasted Hill 268. According to prisoners, these fires caused extremely heavy losses and created chaos in the enemy regiment. During the morning, the assistant division commander, the chief of staff, the G-2, and several military police were ambushed and nearly all wounded on the Waegwan road at Hill 268. That afternoon, General Gay and his aide stopped near Hill 268 to talk with the 1st Battalion executive officer and a small group of men. An enemy mortar shell made a direct hit on the group, killing or wounding everyone there except Gay and his aide. Gay ordered five tanks to proceed along the Waegwan road until they could fire from the northwest into the reverse slope of the enemy-held hill. This tank fire caught the enemy soldiers there as they were seeking refuge from the artillery fire.
[n19-20 1st Cav Div WD, Summ, Aug 50; EUSAK WD. 9 Aug 50; 7th Cav Regt WD, 9-10 Aug 50; Engagement of 1st Bn; 61st FA Bn WD, 9 Aug 50; Interv, 1st Lieutenant Fred L. Mitchell with Clainos, 16 Aug 50, copy in OCMH files.]
[n19-21 Gay, Ltr and comments, 24 Aug 53; Interv, Mitchell with Lieutenant Edward G. Deacy, 3rd Plat, B Co, 7th Cav, Aug 50; Interv, Mossman with Lieutenant Eugene E. Fells, CO B Co, 7th Cav, 24 Aug 50.]
Trapped between the two fires they started to vacate their positions. An infantry attack then reached the top of the hill without trouble and the battle was over by 1600. American artillery and mortar fire now shifted westward and cut off the enemy retreat. One time-on-target mission of white phosphorus fired by the 61st Field Artillery Battalion at this time caught a large number of enemy soldiers in a village where American ground troops later found 200 enemy dead. That evening the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, reverted to division reserve, and elements of the 5th Cavalry finished mopping up on Hill 268 and vicinity.[n19-22]
When Hill 268 was examined carefully on 13 August, the enemy dead, equipment, and documents found there indicated that the 7th Regiment of the N.K. 3rd Division had been largely destroyed. The 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, counted between 300 and 400 enemy dead in the battle area. The battalion itself suffered 14 men killed, and 48 wounded in the 2-day battle.[n19-23] Prisoners taken in the final action which cleared Hill 268 agreed substantially that about 1,000 men of the 7th Regiment had crossed the Naktong to Hill 268, and that about 700 of them became casualties. The prisoners also agreed that artillery and mortars had inflicted most of the crippling casualties on the regiment. After crossing to the east side of the Naktong, the enemy regiment had received no food or ammunition supply. An estimated 300 survivors recrossed the river to the west side the night of 10-11 August.[n19-24]
The N.K. 3rd Division’s attempted crossing of the Naktong south of Waegwan had ended in catastrophe. When the survivors of the 7th Regiment rejoined the division on or about 12 August, the once mighty 3rd Division was reduced to a disorganized unit of some 2,500 men. The North Korean Army placed the division in reserve to be rebuilt by replacements.[n19-25] This division, which had been the first to enter Seoul at the beginning of the war, fought the battle of Chochiwon , crossed the Kum River before Taejon and defeated the 19th Infantry there, joined subsequently with the 4th Division in the capture of Taejon, and drove the 1st Cavalry Division from Yongdong, was now temporarily out of the fight for Taegu.
[n19-22 Gay, Ltr and comments, 24 Aug 53; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 3rd Div), p. 34; 1st Cav Div WD, 10 Aug 50.]
[n19-23 61st FA Bn WD, 10 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 10 Aug 50; 5th Cav Regt WD, 13 Aug 50.]
[n19-24 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 3rd Div), p. 34; EUSAK WD, 12 Aug 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 505, Lee Sung Won; 1st Cav Div WD, G-2 Rpt, Aug 50, Interrog Rpt 0052, Sergeant Kim Yon Hu, and Rpt 0050, Yung Tei Kwan.]
The Enemy 10th Division’s Crossing at Yongp’o
The North Korean plan for the attack against Taegu from the west and southwest had called for the N.K.10th Division to make a co-ordinated attack with the N.K. 3rd Division. The 10th Division so far had not been in combat. It had started from Sukchon for the front by rail about 25 July. At Chonan it left the trains and continued southward on foot, passing through Taejon and arriving at the Naktong opposite Waegwan on or about 8 August. There it received its combat orders two days later. Its mission was to cross the Naktong River in the vicinity of Tuksongdong, penetrate east, and cut the Taegu-Pusan main supply road. The division assembled in the Koryong area the next day, 11 August. There it was astride the main highway running northeast to Taegu over a partially destroyed Naktong bridge.[n19-26]
[n19-25 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (N.K. 10th Div.)
[n19-26 Ibid., Issue 104 (N.K.10th Div), pp. 44-45.]
Eighth Army purposely had not completely destroyed this bridge; it was passable for foot soldiers but not for vehicles. In its partially destroyed condition it provided something of a trap if used by an enemy crossing force, because the bridge and its approaches channeled any enemy movement over it and were completely covered by preregistered mortar and artillery fire. To this was to be added the fire of infantry weapons located in good defensive positions on the hills near the river.
Two regiments of the N.K. 10th Division, the 29th on the south and the 25th on the north, were to make the assault crossing with the 27th Regiment in reserve. The commander of the 25th Regiment issued an order on the eve of the crossing, stating that the objective was to “destroy the enemy in Taegu City in coordination with the 3rd Infantry Division.” [n19-27]
The 2nd Battalion, 29th Regiment, was the first unit of the division to cross the river. Its troops waded unopposed to the east side, during the night of 11-12 August, at three ferry sites 3 to 5 miles due west of Hyongpung. This battalion climbed Hill 265, a northern spur of Hill 409, 2 miles southwest of Hyongpung, and set up machine gun positions. The other two battalions then crossed and occupied Hill 409. About twenty to thirty men of the 1st Battalion reportedly drowned in the 5-foot-deep swift current in this crossing. It will be recalled that this enemy force in the Hill 409 area ambushed an I&R patrol from the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division, on the morning of 12 August, when it moved north along the river road trying to establish contact with the 7th Cavalry Regiment during the battle of the Naktong Bulge.[n19-28]
[n19-27 Ibid., p. 46, reproduces this captured order.]
On the north flank, the 25th Regiment started crossing the Naktong about 0300, 12 August, in the vicinity of the partially blown highway bridge at Tuksong-dong, on the Koryong-Taegu road. The 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, covered this crossing site fourteen miles southwest of Taegu. By daylight, an enemy force of 300 to 400 men had penetrated to Wichon-dong. There, H Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment, engaged it in close combat. In a grenade and automatic weapons attack, the North Koreans overran the advance positions of the company, the mortar observation post, and the heavy machine gun positions.
The initial enemy objective seemed to be to gain possession of the high ground east of Yongpo in order to provide protection for the main crossing that was to follow. By 0900, however, the 2nd Battalion, with the powerful help of the 77th Field Artillery Battalion and of air strikes, drove the enemy troops back through Yongp’o toward the bridge and dispersed them.[n19-29]
It could not be assumed that this failure would end the efforts of the N.K. 10th Division west of Taegu. In the three days from 10 to 12 August the Naktong River had dropped three feet and was only shoulder-deep at many places. The opportunity for large-scale enemy crossings was at hand.[n19-30]
[n19-28 21st Inf Regt WD, 12 Aug 50; Ibid., Unit Rpt 42, an. 1; 1st Cav Div WD, G-2 Narr, Aug 50; EUSAK WD, 14 Aug 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 551, Lee Yong Il, 1st Cav Div WD, G-2 Interrog Rpt 0038, Aug 50, Lee Yong Il; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 104 (N.K. 10th Div), pp. 47-48.]
[n19-29 7th Cav Regt WD, 12 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 12 Aug 50.]
[n19-30 5th Cav Regt WD, 12 Aug 50.]
A more determined enemy crossing of the Naktong in the vicinity of the blown bridge between Tuksong-dong and Yongp’o began about dawn, 14 August. Men in the outposts of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, at 0520 heard voices in the pea patches and rice paddies to their front. By 0620, an estimated 500 enemy soldiers had penetrated as far as Yongpo. Fifteen minutes later, close combat was in progress in the 2nd Battalion positions near Wichondong, a mile east of the crossing site.
When word of the enemy crossing reached the 1st Cavalry Division command post before daylight, General Gay alerted his division reserve, Colonel Clainos’ 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, to move on an hour’s notice. More North Koreans crossed the river in the hours after daylight, and at 0800 General Gay ordered Colonel Clainos’ battalion, already loaded into trucks, to move to the Yongp’o area to support the 2nd Battalion.
Enemy artillery and tank fire from the west side of the river was supporting the crossing. At midmorning, large additional enemy forces just west of the river at Tuksong-dong and Panjang apparently were about ready to attempt a crossing in support of the units already heavily engaged on the east side. Some enemy troops were crossing in barges near the bridge. Air strikes bombed the North Koreans on the west side and artillery then took them under heavy fire. The 77th Field Artillery Battalion fired approximately 1,860 rounds into the enemy concentration. In delivering this heavy, rapid fire it damaged its gun tubes.[n19-32]
In this attack the deepest North Korean penetration reached Samuni-dong, about a mile and a half beyond the blown bridge. There the combined fire of all infantry weapons, mortars, and artillery drove the enemy back toward the river. By noon, large groups of North Koreans were trying to re-cross the river to the west side. Forward observers adjusted artillery and mortar fire on the retreating enemy, causing heavy casualties. By dusk, the 7th Cavalry had eliminated the enemy bridgehead at Yongpo. In this battle, as in the one fought two days before, the 2nd Battalion distinguished itself. This was the same battalion that only three weeks earlier had performed in a highly unsatisfactory manner east of Yongdong.
[n19-32Ibid.; Gay, Ltr and comments, 24 Aug 53; Interv, author with Harris, 30 Apr 54.]
In this river-crossing battle, the only major one to take place along the Naktong actually at a crossing site, the 25th and 27th Regiments of the N.K. 10th Division suffered crippling losses. The 7th Cavalry Regiment estimated that of 1,700 enemy who had succeeded in crossing the river, 1,500 were killed. Two days after the battle, H Company reported it had buried 267 enemy dead behind its lines, while those in the rice paddies to its front were not counted. In front of its position, G Company counted 150 enemy dead. In contrast, G Company lost only 2 men killed and 3 wounded during the battle. One of its members, Private First Class. Robert D. Robertson, a machine gunner, twice had bullets pierce his helmet in the half-inch space above his scalp and tear through several letters and photographs he carried there, but leave him unhurt.[n19-33]
Among the enemy dead were found the bodies of two colonels. Found, also, were many enemy documents. One of these documents, dated 13 August, said in part: Kim Il Sung has directed that the war be carried out so that its final victory can be realized by 15 August, fifth anniversary of the liberation of Korea. . . .Our victory lies before our eyes. Young soldiers! You are fortunate in that you are able to participate in the battle for our final victory. Young soldiers, the capture of Taegu lies in the crossing of the Naktong River . . . The eyes of 30,000,000 people are fixed on the Naktong River crossing operation . . .Pledge of all fighting men: We pledge with our life, no matter what hardships and sacrifice lies before us, to bear it and put forth our full effort to conclude the crossing of the Naktong River. Young Men! Let us protect our glorious pride by completely annihilating the enemy!! [n19-34]
These words may have stirred the young soldiers of the N.K. 10th Division but their promise was not fulfilled. Instead, the Naktong valley and surrounding hills were to hold countless North Korean graves. In its first combat mission, the crossing of the Naktong on 12-14 August, the 10th Division, according to prisoners, suffered 2,500 casualties, some units losing as much as 50 percent of their troops.[n19-35]
[n19-33 7th Cav Regt WD, 14, 16 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 14 Aug 50.]
[n19-34 1st Cav Div WD, G-2 Rpt, Aug 50, Batch 68, Trans 10034, 19 Aug 50; Gay, Ltr and comments, 24 Aug 53.]
[n19-35 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 104 (N.K. 10th Div), p. 48.]
Hill 303 at Waegwan
Almost simultaneously with the major enemy crossing effort in the southern part of the 1st Cavalry Division sector at Tuksong-dong and Yongpo, another was taking place northward above Waegwan near the boundary between the division and the ROK 1st Division. The northernmost unit of the 1st Cavalry Division was G Company of the 5th Cavalry Regiment. It held Hill 303, the right-flank anchor of the U.S. Eighth Army.
Hill 303 is an elongated oval more than two miles long on a northeast-southwest axis with an extreme elevation of about 1,000 feet. It is the first hill mass north of Waegwan. Its southern slope comes down to the edge of the town; its crest, a little more than a mile to the northeast, towers nearly 950 feet above the river. It gives observation of Waegwan, the road net running out of the town, the railroad and highway bridges across the river at that point, and of long stretches of the river valley to the north and to the south. Its western slope terminates at the east bank of the Naktong. From Waegwan a road ran north and south along the east bank of the Naktong, another northeast through the mountains toward Tabu-dong, and still another southeast toward Taegu. Hill 303 was a critical terrain feature in control of the main Pusan-Seoul railroad and highway crossing of the Naktong, as well as of Waegwan itself.
For several days intelligence sources had reported heavy enemy concentrations across the Naktong opposite the ROK 1st Division. In the first hours of 14 August, an enemy regiment crossed the Naktong six miles north of Waegwan into the ROK 1st Division sector, over the second underwater bridge there. Shortly after midnight, ROK forces on the high ground just north of the U.S.-ROK Army boundary were under attack. After daylight an air strike partially destroyed the underwater bridge. The North Korean attack spread south and by noon enemy small arms fire fell on G Company, 5th Cavalry Regiment, on Hill 303. This crossing differed from earlier ones near the same place in that the enemy force instead of moving east into the mountains turned south and headed for Waegwan.[n19-36]
Before dawn, 15 August, G Company men on Hill 303 could make out about fifty enemy troops accompanied by two tanks moving boldly south along the river road at the base of the hill. They also saw another column moving to their rear and soon heard it engage F Company with small arms fire. In order to escape the enemy encirclement, F Company withdrew southward. By 0830, North Koreans had completely surrounded G Company and a supporting platoon of H Company mortar-men on Hill 303. A relief column, composed of B Company, 5th Cavalry, and a platoon of tanks tried to reach G Company, but enemy fire drove it back.[n19-37]
[n19-36 2n Bn, 5th Cav Regt WD, 14 Aug 50; 5th Cav Regt WD, 14 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, Aug 50 Summ; Ibid., G-2 PIR 33, 14 Aug 50.]
[n19-37 5th Cav Regt WD, 15 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 15 Aug 50.]
Again on 16 August, B Company and the tanks tried unsuccessfully to drive the enemy, now estimated to be a battalion of about 700 men, from Hill 303. The 61st Field Artillery Battalion and three howitzers of B Battery, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion, fired on the enemy-held hill during the day. Waegwan was a no man’s land. For the most part, the town was deserted. Colonel Marcel B. Crombez, the regimental commander, relieved the 2nd Battalion commander because he had lost control of his units and did not know where they were. A new commander prepared to resume the attack. During the night, G Company succeeded in escaping from Hill 303.[n19-38]
Before dawn of the 17th, troops from both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, supported by A Company, 7oth Tank Battalion, attacked Hill 303, but heavy enemy mortar fire stopped them at the edge of Waegwan. During the morning, heavy artillery preparations pounded the enemy positions on Hill 303, the 61st Field Artillery Battalion alone firing 1,159 rounds. The 5th Cavalry at 1130 asked the division for assistance and learned that the Air Force would deliver a strike on the hill at 1400.[n19-39]
[n19-38 2nd Bn, 5th Cav Regt WD, 16-17 Aug 50; Interv, author with Brig Gen Marcel B. Crombez, 28 Jun 55.
[n19-39 2nd Bn, 5th Cav Regt WD, 17 Aug 50; 61st FA Bn WD, 17 Aug 50.]
The air strike came in as scheduled, the planes dropping napalm and bombs, firing rockets, and strafing. The strike was on target and, together with an artillery preparation, was dramatically successful. After the strike, the infantry at 1530 attacked up the hill unopposed and secured it by 1630. The combined strength of E and F Companies on top of the hill was about sixty men. The artillery preparations and the air strike killed and wounded an estimated 500 enemy troops on Hill 303. Approximately 200 enemy bodies littered the hill. Survivors had fled in complete rout after the air strike.[n19-40]
Tragedy on Hill 303
In regaining Hill 303 on 17 August the 5th Cavalry Regiment came upon a pitiful scene—the bodies of twenty-six mortar-men of H Company, hands tied in back, sprayed with burp gun bullets. First knowledge of the tragedy came in the afternoon when scouts brought in a man from Hill 303, Private Roy Manring of the Heavy Mortar Platoon, who had been wounded in both legs and one arm by burp gun slugs. Manring had crawled down the hill until he saw scouts of the attacking force. After he told his story, some men of the I&R Platoon of the 5th Cavalry Regiment under Lieutenant Paul Kelly went forward, following Manring’s directions, to the scene of the tragedy. One of those present has described what they saw: The boys lay packed tightly, shoulder to shoulder, lying on their sides, curled like babies sleeping in the sun. Their feet, bloodied and bare, from walking on the rocks, stuck out stiffly . . . All had hands tied behind their backs, some with cord, others with regular issue army communication wire. Only a few of the hands were clenched.[n19-41]
The rest of the I&R Platoon circled the hill and captured two North Korean soldiers. They proved to be members of the group that had captured and held the mortar-men prisoners. From them and a third captured later, as well as five survivors among the mortar-men, have come the following details of what happened to the ill-fated group on Hill 303.[n19-42]
[n19-40 5th Cav Regt WD, 17 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 17 Aug 50; 2nd Bn, 5th Cav Regt WD, 19 Aug 50. The North Korean communiqué for 17 August, monitored in London, claimed the complete “liberation” of Waegwan on that date. See New York Times, August 18, 1950.]
[41 Charles and Eugene Jones, The Face of War, pp. 45-49. At least one of the Jones brothers accompanied the I&R Platoon on this mission. See also 5th Cav Regt WD, 17 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div WD, 17 Aug 50.]
[n19-42 JAG, Korean War Crimes, Case Nr 16, 17 Jul 53]
Before dawn on Tuesday morning, 15 August, the mortar platoon became aware of enemy activity near Hill 303. The platoon leader telephoned the Commanding Officer, G Company, 5th Cavalry, who informed him that a platoon of some sixty ROK’s would come to reinforce the mortar platoon. About breakfast time the men heard tank motors and saw two enemy tanks followed by 200 or more enemy soldiers on the road below them. A little later a group of Koreans appeared on the slope. A patrol going to meet the climbing Koreans called out and received in reply a blast of automatic weapons fire. The mortar platoon leader, in spite of this, believed they were friendly. The watching Americans were not convinced that they were enemy soldiers until the red stars became visible on their caps. They were then close upon the Americans. The North Koreans came right up to the foxholes without either side firing a shot. Some pushed burp guns into the sides of the mortar-men with one hand and held out the other as though to shake hands. One of the enemy soldiers remarked later that “the American soldiers looked dazed.” [n19-43]
The 4th Company, 2nd Battalion, 206th Mechanized Infantry Regiment of the 105th Armored Division, apparently were the captors, although some members of Headquarters Company of the 45-mm. Artillery Battalion, 105th Armored Division, were present. The North Koreans marched the prisoners down the hill after taking their weapons and valuables. In an orchard they tied the prisoners’ hands behind their backs, took some of their clothing, and removed their shoes. They told the Americans they would send them to the Seoul prisoner of war camp if they behaved well.
[n19-43 Ibid., Statement of Chong Myong Tok, PW 216. The other North Korean captured with Chong on 17 August was Kim Kwon Taek, PW 217. Heo Chang Keun was the third prisoner who had personal knowledge of this incident. It is not clear how many men were captured in the mortar platoon. The 5th Cav Regt WD, 17 Aug 50, said 41; one of the survivors said there were 43; one of the captured North Koreans said about 40; and another said about 45. For contemporary press reports of interviews with survivors see New York Herald Tribune, August 18, 1950, quoting Corporal James M. Rudd; New York Times, August 18, 1950, account by Harold Faber based on interview with Roy Manring; Life Magazine, September 4, 1950, p. 36, based on interview with Corporal Roy L. Day, Jr.; and Newsweek, August 28, 1950, p. 25, for personal accounts.]
Apparently the original captors did not retain possession of the prisoners throughout the next two days. There is some evidence that a company of the N.K. 3rd Division guarded them after capture. It appears that the enemy force that crossed the Naktong above Waegwan on the 14th and turned south to Hill 303 and Waegwan was part of the 3rd Division and supporting elements of the 105th Armored Division. In any event, the first night the North Koreans gave their prisoners water, fruit, and cigarettes. They intended to move them across the Naktong that night, but American fire prevented it. During the night two of the Americans loosened the shoe laces binding their wrists. This caused a commotion. At least one of the survivors thought that a North Korean officer shot one of his men who threatened to shoot the men who had tried to free their hands.
The next day, 16 August, the prisoners were moved around a great deal with their guards. One of the mortar-men, Corporal Roy L. Day, Jr., spoke Japanese and could converse with some of the North Koreans. That afternoon he overheard a North Korean lieutenant say that they would kill the prisoners if American soldiers came too close. That night guards took away five of the Americans; the others did not know what became of them.
On the morning of 17 August, the guards exchanged fire with U.S. soldiers. Toward noon the North Korean unit holding the Americans placed them in a gulley with a few guards. Then came the intense American artillery preparations and the air strike on the hill. At this time a North Korean officer said that American soldiers were closing in on them, that they could not continue to hold the prisoners, and that they must be shot. The officer gave the order and, according to one of those who participated, the entire company of fifty men fired into the kneeling Americans as they rested in the gulley. Some of the survivors said, however, that a group of 14 to 20 enemy soldiers ran up when 2 of their guards yelled a signal and fired into them with burp guns. Before all the enemy soldiers left the area, some of them came back to the ravine and shot again those who were groaning. Corporal James M. Rudd escaped death from the blazing burp guns when the man at his side fell dead on top of him. Rudd, hit three times in the legs and arms, burrowed under the bodies of his fallen comrades for more protection. Four others escaped in a similar way. Two of them in making their way down the hill later were fired upon, but fortunately not hit, by 5th Cavalry soldiers attacking up the hill, before they could establish their identity.[n19-44]
That night additional atrocities occurred near Hill 303. Near Waegwan, enemy antitank fire hit and knocked out two tanks of the 70th Tank Battalion. The next day, 18 August, American troops found the bodies of six members of the tank crews showing indications that they had been captured and executed.[n19-45]
[n19-44 JAG, Korean War Crimes, Case Nr 16, 17 Jul 53, citing 1st Cav Div ltr, 23 Aug 50; War Diaries of 5th Cav Regt and lst Cav Div. These and published accounts by survivors are the principal sources for the above account. Also see 2nd Log Comd Activities Rpt, JA Sec, Sep 50.
[n19-45 EUSAK WD, G-3 Jnl, 0945, 18 Aug 50.]
These incidents on Hill 303 and vicinity caused General MacArthur on 20 August to broadcast an announcement to the North Korean Army and address a leaflet to the Commander-in-chief Armed Forces of North Korea, denouncing the atrocities. The Air Force dropped the leaflets over North Korea in large numbers. General MacArthur closed his message by saying: Inertia on your part and on the part of your senior field commanders in the discharge of this grave and universally recognized command responsibility may only be construed as a condonation and encouragement of such outrage, for which if not promptly corrected I shall hold you and your commanders criminally accountable under the rules and precedents of war.” [n19-46]
There is no evidence that the North Korean High Command sanctioned the shooting of prisoners during this phase of the war. What took place on Hill 303 and elsewhere in the first months of the war appears to have been perpetrated by uncontrolled small units, by vindictive individuals, or because of unfavorable and increasingly desperate situations confronting the captors. On 28 July 1950, General Lee Yong Ho, commanding the N.K. 3rd Division, transmitted an order pertaining to the treatment of prisoners of war, signed by Kim Chaek, Commander-in-chief, and Kang Kon, Commanding General Staff, Advanced General Headquarters of the North Korean Army, which stated:
- The unnecessary killing of enemy personnel when they could be taken as POW shall be strictly prohibited as of now. Those who surrender will be taken as POW, and all efforts will be made to destroy the enemy in thought and politically.
- Treatment of POW shall be according to the regulations issued by the Supreme Hq, as attached herein, pertaining to the regulation and order of PW camps.
- This directive will be explained to and understood by all military personnel immediately, and staff members of the Cultural Section will be responsible for seeing that this is carried out.[n19-47]
Another document captured in September shows that the North Korean Army was aware of the conduct of some of its soldiers and was somewhat concerned about it. An order issued by the Cultural Section of the N.K. 2nd Division, 16 August 1950, said in part, “Some of us are still slaughtering enemy troops that come to surrender. Therefore, the responsibility of teaching the soldiers to take prisoners of war and to treat them kindly rests on the Political Section of each unit.” [n19-48]
[n19-46 Ibid., 22 Aug 50, has full text of MacArthur’s message; see also New York Times, August 21, 1950.]
[n19-47 ATIS Enemy Docs, Issue 4, p. 2 (captured by U.S. 8th Cav Regt, 6 Sep 50). 48 Ibid., Issue 9, p. 102 (captured 12 Sep 50 near Changnyong, apparently by U.S. 2nd Div).]
Carpet Bombing Opposite Waegwan In the stretch of mountain country northeast of Waegwan and Hill 303, the ROK 1st Division daily absorbed North Korean attacks during the middle of August. Enemy pressure against this ROK division never ceased for long. Under the strong leadership of Major General Paik Sun Yup, this division fought a valiant and bloody defense of the mountain approaches to Taegu. American artillery fire from the 1st Cavalry Division sector supported the division in part of its sector. The ROK 13th Regiment still held some positions along the river, while the 11th and 12th Regiments engaged the enemy in the high mountain masses of Suam-san and Yuhak-san, west and northwest of Tabudong and 4 to 6 miles east of the Naktong River. The North Koreans kept in repair their underwater bridge across the Naktong 6 miles north of Waegwan in front of Hills 201 and 346. Even direct hits on this bridge by 155-mm. howitzers did not seem to damage it seriously.[n19-49]
The enemy penetration at the middle of August in the ROK 13th Regiment sector and along the boundary in the 5th Cavalry sector at Waegwan and Hill 303, together with increasingly heavy pressure against the main force of the ROK 1st Division in the Tabu-dong area, began to jeopardize the safety of Taegu. On 16 August, 750 Korean police were stationed on the outskirts of the city as an added precaution. Refugees had swollen Taegu’s normal population of 300,000 to 700,000. A crisis seemed to be developing among the people on 18 August when early in the morning seven rounds of enemy artillery shells landed in Taegu. The shells, falling near the railroad station, damaged the roundhouse, destroyed one yard engine, killed one Korean civilian, and wounded eight others. The Korean Provincial Government during the day ordered the evacuation of Taegu, and President Syngman Rhee moved his capital to Pusan.[n19-50]
This action by the South Korean authorities created a most dangerous situation. Swarms of panicked Koreans began to pour out on the roads leading from the city, threatening to stop all military traffic. At the same time, the evacuation of the city by the native population tended to undermine the morale of the troops defending it. Strong action by the Co-ordinator for Protection of Lines of Communication, Eighth Army, halted the evacuation. Twice more the enemy gun shelled Taegu, the third and last time on Sunday night, 20 August. At this time, six battalions of Korean police moved to important rail and highway tunnels within the Pusan Perimeter to reinforce their security.[n19-51]
[n19-49 1st Cav Div WD, 21-24 Aug 50; 1st Cav Div Arty WD, 22 Aug 50; GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpt 60, 23 Aug 50.]
[n19-50 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 16 Aug 50; Ibid., entry 3, 18 Aug, Med Stf Sec Rpt;Ibid., G-3 Sec Rpt, entry 2; Ibid., Aug 50 Summ, p. 52; New York Times, August 18, 1950; New York Herald Tribune, August 18, 1950.]
[n19-51 EUSAK WD, Aug 50 Summ, p. 52; 1st Cav Div Arty WD, 21 Aug 50; New York Herald Tribune, August 18, 1950; New York Times, August 16 and 21, 1950. Seoul City Sue began to make propaganda broadcasts at this time. Members of the 588th Military Police Company first heard her about 10 August.]
Just as the enemy attack on Waegwan and Hill 303 began, mounting concern for the safety of Taegu—and reports of continued enemy concentrations across the river opposite the ROK 1st and the U.S. 1st Cavalry Divisions in the Waegwan area—led to an extraordinary bombing mission. On 14 August, General MacArthur summoned to his Tokyo office General Stratemeyer, commanding general of the Far East Air Forces, and told him he wanted a carpet bombing of the North Korean concentrations threatening the Pusan Perimeter.[n19-52] General Stratemeyer talked with Major General Emmett (Rosie) O’Donnell, Jr., commanding general of the Far East Bomber Command, who said a relatively good job of bombing could be done on a 3-by-5 mile area. General MacArthur’s headquarters selected a 27-square-mile rectangular area 3½ miles east to west by 7½ miles north to south on the west side of the Naktong River opposite the ROK 1st Division. The southeast corner of this rectangle was just north of Waegwan. Intelligence estimates placed the greatest concentrations of enemy troops in this area, some estimates being as high as four enemy divisions and several armored regiments, totaling approximately 40,000 men.[n19-53]
General Gay, commanding the 1st Cavalry Division, repeatedly requested that the bombing include the area northeast of Waegwan, between the Naktong River and the Waegwan-Tabu-dong road. This request was denied because of fear that bombing there might cause casualties among the 1st Cavalry and ROK 1st Division troops, even though General Gay pointed out that terrain features sharply defined the area he recommended. General Gay also offered to have 1st Cavalry Division L-19 planes lead the bombers to this target. FEAF ordered a five-group mission of B-29’s from Japan and Okinawa for 16 August. Since there was no indication of enemy groupings in the target area, the bomber command divided it into twelve equal squares with an aiming point in the center of each square. One squadron of B-29’s was to attack each square.
[n19-52 Colonel Ethelred L. Sykes’ diary. Sykes was on General Stratemeyer’s staff in Tokyo in the summer of 1950.
[n19-53 “Air War in Korea, II,” Air University Quarterly Review, IV, No. 3 (Spring, 1951), 60; EUSAK WD, Aug 50 Summ.]
At 1158, 16 August, the first of the 98 B-29’s of the 19th, 22nd, 92nd, 98th, and 307th Bomber Groups arrived over the target area; the last cleared it at 1224. The bombers from 10,000 feet dropped approximately 960 tons of 500and 1,000-pound general purpose bombs. The bomber crews reported only that the bombs were on target. General O’Donnell was in the air over the target area for more than two hours, but he saw no sign of enemy activity below.[n19-55]
General Walker reported to General MacArthur the next day that the damage done to the enemy by the “carpet bombing of 16 August could not be evaluated.” Because of smoke and dust, observation, he said, was difficult from the air and the impact area was too far to the west to be observed by U.S. and ROK ground troops. Ground patrols sent out to investigate the bombed area never reached it. One 1st Cavalry Division patrol did not even get across the river, and enemy fire stopped another just after it crossed. The U.N. Command could not show by specific, concrete evidence that this massive bombing attack had killed a single North Korean soldier.[n19-56] Information obtained later from prisoners made clear that the enemy divisions the Far East Command thought to be still west of the Naktong had, in fact, already crossed to the east side and were not in the bombed area. The only benefit that seemingly resulted from the bombing was a sharp decrease in the amount of enemy artillery fire that, for a period after the bombing, fell in the 1st Cavalry and ROK 1st Division sectors.
[n19-55 “Air War in Korea,” op. cit.; EUSAK WD, 17 Aug 50, G-3 Sec, 171115 Aug 50; GHQ FEC G-3 Opn Rpt 53, 16 Aug 50; New York Times, August 16, 1950, R. J. H. Johnston dispatch.]
Generals Walker, Partridge, and O’Donnell reportedly opposed future massive carpet bombing attacks against enemy tactical troops unless there was precise information on an enemy concentration and the situation should be extremely critical. The personal intercession of General Stratemeyer with General MacArthur caused the cancellation of a second pattern bombing of an area east of the Naktong scheduled for 19 August. [n19-57]
[n19-56 EUSAK WD, 17 Aug 50, G-3 Sec, Msg 171115; 1st Cav Div WD, 16 Aug 50; 5th Cav Regt WD, 16 Aug 50; New York Times, August 17, 1950; New York Herald Tribune, August 17, 1950.]
Bowling Alley—The Sangju-Taegu Corridor
The 27th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Division had just completed its mission of clearing the North Koreans from the southern part of the Naktong Bulge area in the 24th Division sector when the enemy pressure north of Taegu caused new alarm in Eighth Army headquarters. Acting on the threat from this quarter, Eighth Army on 14 August relieved the regiment from attachment to the 24th Division and the next day ordered it northward to Kyongsan in army reserve. Upon arrival at Kyongsan on 16 August, Colonel Michaelis received orders to reconnoiter routes east, north, northwest, and west of Kyongsan and be prepared on army orders to counter any enemy thrusts from these directions. During the day, two enemy tanks came through the ROK 1st Division lines twelve miles north of Taegu at Tabu-dong, but ROK 3.5-inch bazooka teams knocked out both of them.[n19-58]
At noon the next day, 17 August, Eighth Army ordered the 27th Infantry to move its headquarters and a reinforced battalion “without delay” to a point across the Kumho River three miles north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong-Sangju road “to secure Taegu from enemy penetration” from that direction. ROK sources reported that a North Korean regiment, led by six tanks, had entered the little village of Kumhwa, two miles north of Tabu-dong. The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry; a platoon of the Heavy Mortar Company; and the 8th Field Artillery Battalion, less B Battery, moved north of Taegu at noon. Later in the day this force moved two miles farther north to Chilgok where the ROK 1st Division command post was located. By dark, the entire 27th Regiment was north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong road, reinforced by C Company, 73rd Tank Battalion. Alarm spread in Taegu where artillery fire to the north could be heard. Eighth Army ordered the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, less A Battery, to move from the Kyongju-Pohang-dong area, where a heavy battle had been in progress for days, for attachment to the 27th Infantry Regiment in order to reinforce the fires of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion above Taegu. It arrived there the next day.[n19-59] To the south at this same time the critical battle at Obong-ni Ridge and Cloverleaf Hill was still undecided.
In its part of the Perimeter battle, the N.K. 13th Division had broken through into the Tabu-dong corridor and had started driving on Taegu. This division had battled the ROK 11th and 12th Regiments in the high Yuhak-san area for a week before it broke through to the corridor on 17 August. A regimental commander of the division said later it suffered 1,500 casualties in achieving that victory. On 18 August the 13th Division was concentrated mostly west of the road just north of Tabu-dong.[n19-60] To the west of the 13th, the N.K. 15th Division also was now deployed on Yuhak-san. It, too, had begun battling the ROK 1st Division, but thus far only in minor engagements. At this critical point, the North Korean High Command ordered the 15th Division to move from its position northwest of Tabudong eastward to the Yongchon front, where the N.K. 8th Division had failed to advance toward the Taegu lateral corridor.
[n19-58 27th Inf WD, 15-16 Aug 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 14 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, Opn Directive, 16 Aug 50; Ibid., G-3 Sec, 16 Aug 50; Ibid., Aug 50 Summ, p. 47.]
[n19-59 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 17 Aug 50, 27th Inf WD, 17 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Msg 171210 Aug 50; Ibid., G-3 Sec, 17 Aug 50; 37th FA Bn WD, 17 18 Aug 50; New York Times, August 18, 1950, Parrott dispatch from Eighth Army Hq.]
[n19-60 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 105 (N.K. 13th Div), p. 64; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 2, Rpt 771, p. 160, Lt Col Chong Pong Uk, CO, Arty Regt, N.K. 13th Div (Col Chong surrendered on 22 Aug 50). Other Interrog rpts on Colonel Chong are to be found in Issue 3, Rpt 733, p. 78 and Rpt 831, p. 66, and EUSAK WD, 24 Aug 50, G-2 Sec, Interrog Rpt 771; EUSAK WD, 5 Sep 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 895, Major Kim Song Jun, S-3,19thRegt, N. K.13th Div. and later CO of the regt; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 3, Rpt 895, Major Kim.]
The 15th left the Yuhak-san area on or about 20 August. Meanwhile, the N.K. 1st Division on the left, or east, of the 13th advanced to the Kunwi area, twenty-five miles north of Taegu. The North Korean command now ordered it to proceed to the Tabu-dong area and come up abreast of the 13th Division for the attack on Taegu down the Tabudong corridor.
At this juncture, the North Koreans received their only large tank reinforcements during the Pusan Perimeter fighting. On or about 15 August, the 105th Armored Division received 21 new T34 tanks and 200 troop replacements, which it distributed to the divisions attacking Taegu. The tank regiment with the N.K. 13th Division reportedly had 14 tanks.[n19-61]
This was the enemy situation, with the 13th Division astride the Sangju-Taegu road just above Tabu-dong and only thirteen miles from Taegu, when Eighth Army on 18 August ordered the 27th Infantry Regiment to attack north along the road. At the same time, two regiments of the ROK 1st Division were to attack along high ground on either side of the road. The plan called for a limited objective attack to restore the ROK 1st Division lines in the vicinity of Sokchok, a village four miles north of Tabu-dong. The line of departure was just north of Tabu-dong. Pershing M26 tanks of C Company, 73rd Tank Battalion, and two batteries of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion were to support the 27th Infantry.[n19-62]
[n19-61 ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 9 (N.K. Forces), Rpt 1468, pp. 158-74, Sr Col Lee Hak Ku, CofS N.K. 13th Div, formerly G-3 N.K. II Corps; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K.15thDiv), p.43, Issue 3 (N.K. 1st Div), p. 34, and Issue 4 (105th Armord Div), p. 39, Interrog of Col Chong; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 2, Rpt 777, p. 177, Lieutenant Han.]
As the trucks rolled northward from Tabu-dong and approached the line of departure, the men inside could see the North Koreans and ROK’s fighting on the high hills overlooking the road. The infantry dismounted and deployed, Colonel Check’s 1st Battalion on the left of the road and Colonel Murch’s 2nd Battalion on the right of it. With tanks leading on the road, the two battalions crossed the line of departure at 1300. The tanks opened fire against the mountain escarpments, and the rumble of their cannonade echoed through the narrow valley. The infantry on either side of the road swept the lower hills, the tanks on the road pacing their advance to the infantry’s. An enemy outpost line in the valley withdrew and there was almost no opposition during the first hour. This enemy outpost line proved to be about two and a half miles in front of the main positions. The 27th Infantry had reached a point about two miles north of Tabu-dong when Colonel Michaelis received a message stating that neither of the ROK regiments on the high ground flanking the valley road had been able to advance. He was ordered to halt and form a perimeter defense with both battalions astride the road.[n19-63]
[n19-62 EUSAK WD, Br for CG, 18 Aug 50; Ibid., G-3 Stf Sec Rpt, 18 Aug 50, entry 2; 27th Inf WD, 18 Aug 50; GHQ FEC Sitrep, 18 Aug 50.]
[n19-63 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 18 Aug 50; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53.]
The two battalions of the 27th Infantry went into a perimeter defense just north of the little mud-thatched village of Soi-ri. The 1st Battalion, on the left of the road, took a position with C Company on high ground somewhat in advance of any other infantry unit, and with A Company on a ridge behind it.
On their right, B Company, somewhat in advance of A Company, carried the line across the stream and the narrow valley to the road. There the 2nd Battalion took up the defense line with E Company on the road and east of it and F Company on its right, while G Company held a ridge behind F Company.
Thus, the two battalions presented a four-company front, with one company holding a refused flank position on either side. A platoon of tanks took positions on the front line, two tanks on the road and two in the stream bed; four more tanks were back of the line in reserve. The artillery went into firing positions back of the infantry. Six bazooka teams took up positions in front of the infantry positions along the road and in the stream bed.64 The ROK 1st Division held the high ground on either side of the 27th Infantry positions.
[n19-64 2nd Bn, 27th Inf WD, Aug 50, sketch map of Soi-ri position, 18-25 Aug; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53, and attached sketch map of 27th Inf position; Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53.]
In front of the 27th Infantry position, the poplar-lined Taegu-Sangju road ran northward on a level course in the narrow mountain valley. A stream on the west closely paralleled it. The road was nearly straight on a north-south axis through the 27th Infantry position and for some distance northward. Then it veered slightly westward. This stretch of the road later became known as the “Bowling Alley.”
A little more than a mile in front of the 27th Infantry position the road forked at a small cluster of houses called Chonpyong-dong; the left hand prong was the main Sangju road, the right-hand one the road to Kunwi. At the road fork, the Sangju road bends northwestward in a long curve. The village of Sinjumak lay on this curve a short distance north of the fork. Hills protected it against direct fire from the 27th Infantry position. It was there, apparently, that the enemy tanks remained hidden during the daytime.
Rising abruptly from the valley on the west side was the Yuhak-san mountain mass which swept up to a height of 2,700 feet. On the east, a similar mountain mass rose to a height of 2,400 feet, culminating two and a half miles southward in towering Ka-san, more than 2,900 feet high at its walled summit. This high ground looks down southward into the Taegu bowl and gives observation of the surrounding country.
The Kunwi and Sangju roads from the northeast and northwest entered at Chonpyong-dong the natural and easy corridor between Yuhak-san and Ka-san leading into the Taegu basin. The battles of the Bowling Alley took place just south of this road junction.
The first of seven successive enemy night attacks struck against the 27th Infantry defense perimeter shortly after dark that night, 18 August. Enemy mortars and artillery fired a heavy preparation for the attack. Two enemy tanks and a self-propelled gun moved out of the village of Sinjumak two miles in front of the 27th Infantry lines. Infantry followed them, some in trucks and others on foot. The lead tank moved slowly and without firing, apparently observing, while the second one and the self-propelled gun fired repeatedly into F Company’s position. The tank machine gun fire seemed indiscriminate, as if the enemy did not know the exact location of the American positions. As the tanks drew near, a 3.5-inch bazooka team from F Company destroyed the second one in line. Bazooka teams also hit the lead tank twice but the rockets failed to explode. The crew, however, abandoned the tank. Fire from the 8th Field Artillery Battalion knocked out the self-propelled gun, destroyed two trucks, and killed or wounded an estimated hundred. Lieutenant Lewis Millett, an artillery forward observer, and later a Medal of Honor winner after he transferred to the infantry, directed this artillery fire on the enemy with a T34 tank within fifty yards of his foxhole. Three more enemy tanks had come down the road, but now they switched on their running lights, turned around, and went back north. Half an hour after midnight the entire action was over and all was quiet. Enemy troops made a second effort, much weaker than the first, about two hours later but artillery and mortar fire dispersed them.[n19-65]
[n19-65 2nd Bn, 27th Inf WD, Aug 50 Summ of Activities, 18 Aug; 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 18 Aug 50; 27th Inf WD, 18-19 Aug 50; New York Herald Tribune, August 21, 1950, Bigart dispatch, 20 August; Check, MS review comments, 6 Dec 57.]
Certain characteristics were common to all the night battles in the Bowling Alley. The North Koreans used a system of flares to signal various actions and to co-ordinate them. It became quickly apparent to the defending Americans that green flares were used to signal an attack on a given area. So the 27th Infantry obtained its own green flares and then, after the enemy attack had begun, fired them over its main defensive positions. This confused the attacking North Koreans and often drew them to the points of greatest strength where they suffered heavy casualties. The use of mines in front of the defensive positions in the narrow valley became a nightly feature of the battles. The mines would stop the tanks and the infantry would try to remove them. At such times flares illuminated the scene and preregistered artillery and mortar fire came down on the immobilized enemy with fatal results.
On the morning of 19 August, the ROK 11th and 13th Regiments launched counterattacks along the ridges with some gains. General Walker ordered another reserve unit, a battalion of the ROK 10th Regiment, to the Taegu front to close a gap that had developed between the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions. In the afternoon he ordered still another unit, the U.S. 23rd Infantry, to move up and establish a defense perimeter around the 8th and 37th Field Artillery Battalions eight miles north of Taegu. The 3rd Battalion took up a defensive position around the artillery while the 2nd Battalion occupied a defensive position astride the road behind the 27th Infantry. The next day the two battalions exchanged places.[n19-66]
Sunday, 20 August, was a day of relative quiet on the Taegu front. Even so, United States aircraft attacked North Korean positions there repeatedly during the day. The planes began their strafing runs so close in front of the American infantry that their machine gun fire dotted the identification panels, and expended .50-caliber cartridges fell into friendly foxholes. General Walker visited the Taegu front during the day, and later made the statement that enemy fire had decreased and that Taegu “certainly is saved.” [n19-67] By contrast, that night was not quiet. At 1700, a barrage of enemy 120-mm. mortar shells fell in the Heavy Weapons Company area. A bright moon silhouetted enemy tanks against the dark flanking mountains as they rumbled down the narrow, green valley, leading another attack. Artillery and mortar fire fell among them and the advancing enemy infantry. Waiting Americans held their small arms and machine gun fire until the North Koreans were within 150-200 yards’ range. The combined fire of all weapons repulsed this attack.
[n19-66 27th Inf WD, 19 Aug 50; 23rd Inf WD, Aug 50 67 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 20 Aug 50; EUSAK G-3 Narr Summ, p. 7; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 19 Aug Jnl, 200955 Aug 50; New York Herald Tribune, 50; ROK Army Hq, MS review comments, Jul 58. August 21, 1950.]
The next morning, 21 August, a patrol of two platoons of infantry and three tanks went up the road toward the enemy positions. White flags had appeared in front of the American line, and rumors received from natives alleged that many North Koreans wanted to surrender. The patrol’s mission was to investigate this situation and to form an estimate of enemy losses. The patrol advanced about a mile, engaging small enemy groups and receiving some artillery fire. On its way it completed the destruction with thermite grenades of five enemy tanks disabled in the night action. The patrol also found 1×37-mm. antitank gun, 2 self-propelled guns, and 1 120-mm. mortar among the destroyed enemy equipment, and saw numerous enemy dead. At the point of farthest advance, the patrol found and destroyed an abandoned enemy tank in a village schoolhouse courtyard.[n19-68]
That evening at dusk the 27th Infantry placed an antitank mine field, antipersonnel mines, and trip flares across the road and stream bed 150 yards in front of the infantry line. A second belt of mines, laid on top of the ground, was placed about 100 yards in front of the buried mine field.
[n19-68 27th Inf WD, 21 Aug 50; 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 21 Aug 50; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53; New York Herald Tribune, August 22, 1950, Bigart dispatch, 21 August.]
Later that evening, 21 August, the North Koreans shelled the general area of the 27th Infantry positions until just before midnight. Then the NK.13th Division launched a major attack against the ROK units on the high ground and the Americans in the valley. Nine tanks and several SP guns supported the enemy troops in the valley. Because it was on higher ground and more advanced than any other American unit, C Company on the left of the road usually was the first to detect an approaching attack. That evening the C Company commander telephoned that he could hear tanks out front. When the artillery fired an illuminating shell he was able to count nineteen vehicles in the attacking column on the road. The tanks and self-propelled guns, firing rapidly, approached the American positions. Most of their shells landed in the rear areas. Enemy infantry moved forward on both sides of the road. Simultaneously, other units attacked the ROK’s on the high ridges flanking the valley.
American artillery and mortar fire bombarded the enemy, trying to separate the tanks from the infantry. Machine gun fire opened on the N.K. infantry only after they had entered the mine field and were at close range. The Pershing tanks in the front line held their fire until the enemy tanks came very close. One of the American tanks knocked out the lead enemy tank at a range of 125 yards. A 3.5-inch bazooka team from F Company knocked out a SP gun, the third vehicle in column. The trapped second tank was disabled by bazooka fire and abandoned by its crew.
Artillery and 90-mm. tank fire destroyed seven more enemy tanks, three more SP guns, and several trucks and personnel carriers. This night battle lasted about five hours. The fire from both sides was intense. On the American side, a partial tabulation shows that in support of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, B Battery, 8th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers), fired 1,661 rounds, the 4.2inch mortar platoon fired 902 rounds, the 81-mm. mortar platoon fired 1,200 rounds, and F Company itself fired 385 60-mm. mortar rounds. The enemy column was destroyed. Patrols after daylight counted enemy dead in front of the perimeter position, and on that basis, they estimated the North Koreans had suffered 1,300 casualties in the night battle. Eleven prisoners captured by the patrol said the action had decimated their units and that only about one-fourth of their number remained.[n19-69]
The men of F Company, 27th Infantry apparently coined the name Bowling Alley during the night battle of 21-22 August. The enemy T34 tanks fired armor-piercing shells straight up the road toward the American positions, hoping to knock out the American tanks. The balls of fire hurtling through the night and the reverberations of the gun reports appeared to the men witnessing and listening to the wild scene like bowling balls streaking down an alley toward targets at the other end.[n19-70]
During the night battle, enemy forces infiltrated along the high ridge line around the east flank of the 27th Infantry and appeared the next day about noon 6 miles in the rear of that regiment and only 9 miles from Taegu. This enemy force was the 1st Regiment of the N.K. 1st Division which had just arrived from the Kunwi area to join in the battle for Taegu. It brought the main supply road of the 27th Infantry under small arms fire along a 5-mile stretch, beginning at a point 9 miles above Taegu and extending northward.[n19-71]
[n19-69 2nd Bn, 27th Inf WD, Activities Rpt, 21 Aug, and Summ of Activities, 21-22 Aug 50; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53; Interv, author with Check, 6 Feb 53; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 3, Rpt 895, Major Kim Song Jun, CO 19th Regt, 13th Div, 21 Aug 50; EUSAK WD, 5 Sep 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 895. The North Korean division commander blamed the 19th Regiment for incompetence and failure to correlate its action with the rest of the division in this battle.]
[n19-70 2nd Bn, 27th Inf WD, Summ of Activities, 22 Aug 50.]
About this time, Colonel Michaelis sent an urgent message to Eighth Army saying that the ROK troops on his left had given way and that “those people are not fighting.” Prisoners told him, he said, that about 1,000 North Koreans were on his west flank. He asked for an air strike.[n19-72] It must not go unnoticed that all the time the 27th Infantry and supporting units were fighting along the road, the ROK 1st Division was fighting in the mountains on either side. Had these ROK troops been driven from this high ground, the perimeter position of the 27th Infantry Regiment would have been untenable. Several times the ROK troops came off the mountains in daytime looking for food in the valley and a bath in the stream. But then, supported by the American artillery, they always climbed back up the heights and reoccupied the high ground. The ROK 1st Division must receive a generous share of the credit for holding the front north of Taegu at this time.
[n19-71 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 22 Aug 50; 23rd Inf WD, Aug 50 Summ, 22 Aug; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K. 1st Div), p. 34.
[n19-72 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, Msg at 1320, 22 Aug 50.]
General Paik bitterly resented Colonel Michaelis’ charge that his men were not fighting. He said he would like to hold the valley position with all the tank and artillery support given the 27th Regiment while that regiment went up on the hills and fought the night battles with small arms. The Eighth Army G-3 staff investigated Colonel Michaelis’ charge that the ROK troops had left their positions. KMAG officers visited all the ROK 1st Division units. The Assistant G-3 went to the ROK front personally to inquire into the situation. All reports agreed that the ROK units were where General Paik said they were.[n19-73]
The afternoon of 22 August, Lieutenant Colonel James W. Edwards’ 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, guarding the support artillery behind the 27th Infantry, came under attack by the N.K. 1st Division troops that had passed around the forward positions. The regimental commander, Colonel Paul L. Freeman, Jr., reported to Eighth Army at 1640 that the enemy had shelled the rear battery of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, that enemy riflemen were between the 27th and 23rd Regiments on the road, and that other enemy groups had passed around the east side of his forward battalion. An intense barrage began falling on the headquarters area of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion at 1605, and 25 minutes later two direct hits on the fire direction center utterly destroyed it, killing four officers and two noncommissioned officers. The individual batteries quickly took over control of the battalion fires and continued to support the infantry, while battalion headquarters displaced under fire.[n19-74]
[n19-73 Interv, author with Brig Gen William C. Bullock, 2 Dec 53 (Bullock was Asst G-3. Eighth Army, at the time; Gay, Comments, 24 Aug 53; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53.]
[n19-74 Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53; 22 Aug 50; 8th FA Bn WD, 1-31 Aug 50; 23rd Inf WD, Aug 50 Narr Summ in, p. 7. ]
Air Force, Navy, and Australian planes delivered strikes on the enemy-held ridge east of the road and on the valley beyond. These strikes included one by B-26’s employing 44,000 pounds of bombs. That night, General Walker released control of the 23rd Infantry, less the 1st Battalion, to the 1st Cavalry Division with orders for it to clear the enemy from the road and the commanding ground overlooking the main supply road.[n19-75 ]
A bit of drama of a kind unusual in the Korean War occurred north of Tabudong on the 22nd. About 1000, Lieutenant Colonel Chong Pong Uk, commanding the artillery regiment supporting the N.K. 13th Division, walked up alone to a ROK 1st Division position three miles north of Tabu-dong. In one hand he carried a white flag; over his shoulder hung a leather map case. The commanding general of the 13th Division had reprimanded him, he said, for his failure to shell Tabu-dong. Believing that terrain obstacles made it impossible for his artillery fire to reach Tabu-dong and smarting under the reprimand, Chong had deserted.
Colonel Chong, the highest ranking prisoner thus far in the war, gave precise information on the location of his artillery. According to him, there were still seven operable 122-mm. howitzers and thirteen 76-mm. guns emplaced and camouflaged in an orchard four and a half miles north of Tabu-dong, in a little valley on the north side of Yuhak-san. Upon receiving this information, Eighth Army immediately prepared to destroy the enemy weapons. Fighter-bombers attacked the orchard site with napalm, and U.S. artillery took the location under fire.[n19-76]
[n19-75 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 22 Aug 50; 27th Inf WD, 22 Aug 50; 23rd Inf WD, Aug 50 Narr Summ.]
During the night of 22-23 August, the enemy made his usual attack against the 27th Infantry, but not in great force, and was easily repulsed. Just before noon on the 23rd, however, a violent action occurred some distance behind the front line when about 100 enemy soldiers, undetected, succeeded in reaching the positions of K Company, 27th Infantry and of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion. They overran part of these positions before being driven off with fifty killed.[n19-77]Meanwhile, as ordered by General Walker, the 2nd Battalion, 23 Infantry, after repelling several enemy night attacks, counterattacked at dawn, 23 August, and seized the high ground overlooking the road at the artillery positions. At the same time the 3rd Battalion started an all-day attack that swept a 3mile stretch of high ground east of the road. This action largely cleared the enemy from the area behind and on the flanks of the 27th Infantry. At 1335 in the afternoon, Colonel Michael is reported from the Bowling Alley to Eighth Army that the N.K. 13th Division had blown the road to his front, had mined it, and was withdrawing.[n19-78]
[n19-76 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 106 (N.K. Arty), p. 55; ATIS Interrog Rpts, Issue 2, Rpt 771, Colonel Chong; New York Times, August 24, 1950, dispatch from Taegu, 22 August.]
[n19-77 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 23 Aug 50; 3rd Bn, 27th Inf WD, 23 Aug 50; 65th Engr C Bn WD, 23 Aug 50. ]
[n19-78 23rd Inf WD, Aug 50 Narr Summ; EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 23 Aug 50; Ibid., Aug 50 Summ, p. 67.]
The next day, 24 August, the 23rd Infantry continued clearing the rear areas and by night it estimated that there were not more than 200 of the enemy behind the forward positions. The Bowling Alley front was quiet on the 24th except for an unfortunate accident. An Eighth Army tank recovery team came up to retrieve a T34 tank that had stopped just in front of the forward American mine field. As the retriever began to pull the T34 forward, an American mine unseen and pushed along in some loose dirt underneath the tank, exploded, badly damaging the tank and wounding twelve men standing nearby.[n19-79]
Shortly after midnight of 24 August the North Koreans launched what had by now become their regular nightly attack down the Bowling Alley. This attack was in an estimated two-company strength supported by a few tanks. The 27th Infantry broke up this fruitless attempt and two more enemy tanks were destroyed by the supporting artillery fire. This was the last night the 27th Infantry Regiment spent in the Bowling Alley. The confirmed enemy loss from 18 to 25 August included 13 T34 tanks, 5 self-propelled guns, and 23 vehicles.[n19-80]
With the enemy turned back north of Taegu, General Walker on 24 August issued orders for the 27th Infantry to leave the Bowling Alley and return to the 25th Division in the Masan area. The ROK 1st Division was to assume responsibility for the Bowling Alley, but the U.S. 23rd Regiment was to remain north of Taegu in its support. ROK relief of the 27th Infantry began at 1800, 25 August, and continued throughout the night until completed at 0345, 26 August. On 30 August the regiment received orders to move from near Taegu to Masan, and it started at 0800 the next morning, personnel going by train, vehicles by road. The Wolfhound Regiment completed the move by 2030 that night, 31 August.[n19-81]And a very fortunate move it proved to be, for it arrived in the nick of time, as a later chapter will show.
[n19-79 2nd Bn, 27th Inf WD, Summ of Activities, 24 Aug 50; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53.]
[n19-80 27th Inf WD, 24-25 Aug 50; 1st Bn, 27th Inf WD, 25 Aug 50; New York Herald Tribune, August 26, 1950.]
As if to signalize the successful defense of the northern approach to Taegu in this week of fighting, a 20-year-old master sergeant of the ROK 1st Division executed a dangerous and colorful exploit. Master Sergeant Pea Sung Sub led a 9-man patrol 6,000 yards behind the North Korean lines to the N.K. 13th Division command post. There his patrol killed several enemy soldiers and captured three prisoners whom they brought back with no loss to themselves. General Paik gave the daring sergeant 50,000 won ($25.00) for his exploit.
[n19-81 EUSAK WD, G-3 Sec, 24-25 Aug 50; 27th Inf WD, 25-26 and 30 Aug 50. The S-3, 2nd Battalion, was killed by enemy fire just as the regiment started to leave the line in the Bowling Alley. A ROK battalion commander in the relieving force was also killed about this time. 2nd Bn, 27th Inf WR, 25 Aug 50; Ltr, Check to author, 29 Sep 53. ]
Colonel Murch’s 2nd Battalion and Colonel Check’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, had gained something of a reputation for themselves in the Bowling Alley north of Taegu. The defense in depth behind their front line by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, 23rd Infantry, had frustrated all enemy efforts to gain control of the gateway to Taegu. The supporting tanks and the artillery had performed magnificently. During the daytime, Air Force attacks had inflicted destruction and disorganization on the enemy. And on the mountain ridges walling in the Bowling Alley, the ROK 1st Division had done its full share in fighting off the enemy thrust. Survivors of the 1st Regiment, N.K. 1st Division, joined the rest of that division in the mountains east of the Taegu-Sangju road near the walled summit of Ka-san. Prisoners reported that the 1st Regiment was down to about 400 men and had lost all its 120-mm. mortars, 76-mm. howitzers, and antitank guns as a result of its action on the east flank of the N.K. 13thDivision at the Bowling Alley.
[n19-83 ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 3 (N.K. 1st Div), pp. 34-35; EUSAK WD, 28 Aug 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 819, Chu Chae Song; Ibid., 31 Aug 50, ATIS Interrog Rpt 856, Yom In Bok. ]
SOURCE: South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu; BY: Colonel Roy E. Appleman (United States Army Center of Military History)