5th REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM
Command Reports from end of August 1951 to beginning of February 1952
Compiled by Al McAdoo, 7506 S. Mascotte St., Tampa, FL, 33616-2206, 813-837-2728, 5th RCT
When the month of August closed the Regiment was continuing in reserve status in the same location with a mission of apprehending enemy stragglers, protecting high frequency stations and continuing the training program established 13 August, 1951. During the month of September the Regiment gained in overall strength by 138 men, 157 enlisted men were rotated to the Z.I. (states), while 400 men were received as replacements. It has been noted that many NCO replacements have been received whose grades and prior training hinders their proper utilization in an Infantry Unit.. The reserve period afforded an excellent opportunity to train these replacements.
Casualties were light with most of them from the previous month but Company "A" suffered one KIA and three WIA.
COMMAND REPORTS FOR OCTOBER, 1951.
Since late April and May the RCT had participated in very little active combat. The action, generally, consisted of the defense of an already established MLR from which local patrols were dispatched. Engagements consisted for the most part of limited objective attacks by individual companies. During this period of limited activity a total of 45 Officers and 1,300 enlisted men rotated to the United States (ZI). This turnover of one-third of our personnel together with the limited action indicated that the RCT would have to undergo actual battle conditions before it could be considered an efficient combat organization.
The 5th RCT, as part of the 24th Infantry Division, remained in IX Corps Reserve had just completed ninety day period of intensive On The Job Training. Because the RCT would be called upon to provide back-up for any future operations an intensive program was put in place.
Korea was a hostile environment with bad guys close at hand. Regular patrols and other details were required. Only a portion of the command would be available to receive the instructions as required. A system had to be established to accommodate everyone and bring a unit such as the 5th RCT to become ready for the up coming offensive and take a major part.
The Outfit that shipped from HAWAII were all rotated out. Some missed April some did not. A large portion present were un-tested. Patrols served to keep the enemy in check and give those present a taste of what would be expected of them. Casualties through the summer were light compared to April, 1951.
As the month opened the 5th Infantry Regiment was bivouacked in the general area of Soojihachon, North Korea. It had just completed an eight week training program in which the new replacements were molded into battalion, company, and platoon teams. Both supply and administrative problems were reduced to a minimum Excess equipment was turned back to issuing services. All enlisted men were issued their basic field equipment and necessary winter clothing from the lots drawn by the regiment.
The 5th RCT was altered that it would relieve the 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division on or about 7 October on Line Wyoming. The sector to be occupied was practically the same as the regiment had occupied when relieved there by the 31st Infantry on 8 August. Hill 1073 was still the main defensive position on the left flank. The regiment's right flank was changed as the line had been advanced about 1500 meters in that area. From 1-6 October the regimental, battalion, and company staffs reconnoitered the areas they were to occupy, and made preparations to depart from the training areas.
The regiment moved by motor from Soojihachon to the vicinity of Champg'yong'dong without incident. The Regimental Commander assumed responsibility for the defense of the assigned sector at 1200 hours of 7 October. Each battalion adjusted and strengthened its position according to plan from 7-12 October. Regardless, as an alert came on 9 October for a general attack slated for the 13th defense plans along Line Wyoming were diminished.
The 5th RCT's role in the October 13 attack was to seize enemy held high ground running generally east/west along the 48 grid line. The headquarters of the 5th RCT planned to attack along two ridge lines. The 2nd Battalion would advance on the right, and the 1st on the left. The 5th RCT's 3"I Battalion and the 2"4 Battalion of the 21st Infantry, attached to the 5th RCT for this attack, were set to exploit a breakthrough by the 1st Battalion, press north, and envelope enemy forces facing the 2nd Battalion. This attack went according to plan. [Executive Officer's Command Report.]
The 2nd Battalion commenced their attack at 0530 hours on 13 October with George and Fox Companies leading. Fox Company took their objective without contacting the enemy. At 0700 an enemy machine gun engaged George Company from the south of their position. It was knocked out and two enemy crewmen killed. In advancing on their objective George Company knocked out another MG, and killed six enemy by 1000 hours. Casualties in George were 5 WIA & 1 KIA.
At 1200 hours Easy Company moved up and passed through George Company to continue the attack and seize the next objective, Hill 602. As they did so the enemy struck them with thirty 60mm mortar rounds. Easy Company had 28 WIA & 2 KIA. Meanwhile, Fox Company was advancing on its next objective. At 1300 they received heavy enemy automatic weapon and small arms fire from enemy troops dug in on their objectives. Artillery and supporting fires were called to strike the enemy defenders while Fox and Easy continued the advance. Despite the supporting fire, these companies continued to receive heavy enemy fire. Fox Company had Objective #6 by 1545 hours, but was counter-attacked and driven back by two enemy platoons at 1600 hours. The company fell back to its first objective. Fox Company suffered 4 WIA & 2 KIA Meanwhile, Easy Company pressed to its objective, forcing the enemy back. Easy Company continued to call artillery on the withdrawing enemy, By 1700 hours the rd Battalion's lines were consolidated for the night. It was estimated that the enemy strength facing 2nd Battalion during the day consisted of two battalions, of whom an estimated 150 were killed. 2nd Battalion suffered reported losses of 3 killed and 32 wounded.
1st Battalion also had some tough going during the day. At the commencement of the attack at 0530 Baker Company encountered mine fields, and by 0830 were still held up, being fired on by enemy machine gun and small arms fire. Charlie Company, advancing from the east, was also subjected to this fire, coming from an estimated enemy battalion. Both companies were pinned down. At 1305 hours Able Company was committed to break through, passing between Baker's right and Charlie Company's left. All of these companies were lashed with MG, small arms, mortar and artillery fire from an enemy battalion positioned on Hill 633. Having suffered heavy casualties, Charlie Company was ordered to pull back off the hill about a half hour later. The enemy reinforced their positions during the day via communication trenches on the reverse slope. Meanwhile the 5th RCT's 1st Battalion called in artillery on the hill. At 1715 Chinese troops on the hill signaled with a white flag. Some of the 1st Battalion men who advanced to receive the surrender were then fired upon. At 1730 the friendly tank, artillery and mortar fire abated and 1St Battalion advanced slowly to secure the hill. They found that the enemy had constructed a series of strong bunkers on the hilltop, covered
with four feet of earth. The rest of the hill was "honeycombed" with trenches and fighting positions. By dark they were still short of the final crest, and dug in to hold their gains.
"B" Company had 49 WIA and 2 KIA on the 13th
With 1st Battalion still short of their objectives, it was decided to pass the 2nd Battalion, 21St Infantry through them to continue the attack at first light on 14 October. That night further operational orders were received at 5th RCT headquarters. Meanwhile, the Chinese counter-attacked both the 1st and 2nd Battalions. Able and Baker Companies on Hill 633 were struck by heavy mortar and artillery fire through the night. An enemy squad probed their position at 0110, and withdrew after a brief fire fight. An enemy platoon next struck Baker Company but was repulsed. "A" Company had 8WIA and 3 KIA over night Oct 13-14. "B" Company Had 3 WIA on the 14th "C" Company had 14 WIA and 2 KIA on the 14th.ln the 2hd Battalion sector, Easy Company was attacked by an enemy company at 2215 hours on the morning of the 14th. Easy Company repulsed the attack, aided by mortar fire, by 2250 hours."E" Company had 7 WIA and 2 KIA on the 14th Fox had 4 WIA and 1 KIA on the 14th and How Company suffered 4 WIA and 1 KIA on the 14th.
During the morning the 5th RCT continued its attacks. Fox Company secured its objectives by 0820 hours against moderate resistance, while Easy sent patrols forward to reconnoiter its next objective. The 2nd Battalion, 21st Infantry advanced to continue 1st Battalion's attack and secured Hill 633 early in the morning. At 1045 hours this battalion continued on to secure its next objectives through the day. Just after dark, the 3rd Battalion, 5th RCT was ordered to pass through them to continue the attack on the morning of 15 October. They did so, and during the day advanced along a ridge, capturing one crest after another. A total of 54 Casualties were recorded on the 15th.By the end of the day the 3rd Battalion found itself on a newly won crest which had been reported taken the previous day. This error was made from the similarity of the terrain features. As the 2na Battalion, 21st Infantry was reverted back to control of its regiment, the 3rd Battalion, 5th RCT was attached to them as well.
During 16 October, the 3rd Battalion advanced with the 21st Infantry, receiving sporadic enemy resistance, including fire from a self-propelled gun. The advance on the final objective high ground was slow, but the enemy was dislodged by a final bayonet charge near dark. They were enveloping enemy forces positioned in front of 2nd Battalion, 5th RCT. The RCT suffered 18 Casualties on the 16thThe action on this day concluded five days of bitter fighting for the 5th RCT.
On 18 October further orders were received to continue the attack, driving on high ground on the 850 grid line. The 3rd BN suffered 20 casualties on the 18th , The other elements were out of action. Again the principle of fire and maneuver was used, resulting in the capture of all regimental objectives,The 1st & 2nd Battalions suffered 66 Casualties on the 19th and 27 on the 20th. A key feature in the 19th Infantry's sector by the 21st of October. This success made the enemy positions to the right and rear of the 5th RCT untenable. From the 22nd through the close of the month the 5th RCT constructed defensive positions on the newly captured ground, and patrolling to locate enemy positions in the vicinity. After several firefights it was discerned the enemy were largely positioned in the vicinity of Kumsong.
Overall, the two months of training was considered useful given the success of the 5th RCT in the attacks. Despite the hard work, fatigue, assault rations, cold, rain, and enemy fire, the men acted as a "fighting team" and captured all objectives. Casualty lists state that during the month of October, 1951 approximately 59 men killed in action, and three missing in action, and 495 men wounded. The principal difficulty encountered by the 5th RCT in the offensive was the evacuation of casualties. "Due to the rugged terrain and the lack of an MSR," reported the executive officer, "initial evacuation by two battalions was made through the regiments on our right and left." The battalion service elements had to make lengthy road movements to the rear to support the combat elements. During the offensive this difficulty was erased by the 3"I Engineer Battalion who completed a road dovvn the center of the 5fil RCT axis of advance. [Executive Officer's Command Report, Lt. Col. John Healy.] (Revised by Author)
The last offensive action in a grand scale was in October, 1951 with all elements of the RCT participating.
During the month of October the 5th Infantry, as part of the IX Corps, had advanced from line WYOMING driving the enemy back a distance of 10 miles. The attack stopped along the higher ground running East and West just South of the City of KUMSONG. The attack which started on 13 October ended on October 22, 1951. As the month closed, the RCT had begun building a MAIN LINE of RESISTANCE and patrolled to the North to try and locate the enemy. Our positions were flanked on the Left by the 21st Infantry and on the Right by the 19th Infantry. The Regimental Command Post was located in the vicinity of INAM-NI. (These positions would be the furthest North friendly forces would advance for the remainder of the KOREAN WAR. All future adjustments would be minor in nature.)
A trench would be built extending from the Yellow Sea in the west to the Sea of Japan in the East. The trench line would be improved over the next two years by covering parts of the trench, digging sleeping bunkers, with direct access to the trench and communication trenches dug to facilitate access to the main defensive trench without observation from the opposing positions. In time access to the Front would be improved by building TRAMWAYS and ACCESS Roads from the rear areas to allow easy access to the front lines to a point where two hot meals could be served each day. The History of WW I was being repeated 1950 style.
Apparently the CCF were in full flight from the position recently secured by our friendly forces, because the 5th RCT were able to mount long range patrols utilizing Tank-Infantry patrols with infrequent contact with the enemy. Patrol action reported November rt at 11:40 in the 2nd 8N sector resulted in a heavy firefight. Contact continued till 12:20 when the patrol was ordered to withdraw. 5th Tanks in support reported incoming mortars. As the tanks began to withdraw two tanks were damaged by mines. One tank was recovered successfully , but the other tank was more severely damaged and the enemy kept the salvage crews under small arms and automatic fire. Some repairs would have to be done before the tank could be recovered. Permission was granted to abandon this tank after destruction was completed. Artillery fires were called upon enemy sightings, but the enemy failed to make any attacks early in November.
Company "B" detected enemy probes that would withdraw when discovered. Patrols are the only effective way to deal with these enemy probes. By 8 November the enemy increased his activity to our front. Night time probes of platoon size were reported in front of both the 1st & 2nd BN. A 2nd BN patrol engaged an enemy force estimated to be platoon size. Permission was granted to withdraw through Co "B" was approved. Enemy mortar fire was impacting "B" Company. "B" company dispatched a reinforcing platoon to aid the 2nd BN patrol. The enemy was detected attempting to follow the patrol into friendly positions. Friendly fires continued to engage the enemy well into the night. Enemy fires diminished come dawn. Increased enemy activity was attributed to the replacement of the CCF 67th Army by the 12th Army.
By November 9th enemy probes and attacks dropped off to nothing., confirming the CCF changes having been completed. :"C' company captured POW at 07:00 to their front who confirmed the Intel regarding the CCF shift. Light contacts continued, and overcast conditions limited friendly observations of the enemy.
Incoming enemy fires caused most of the friendly casualties. Enemy supplies continue to be discovered by friendly patrols. Much of the ammo is American and most of the enemy material is either destroyed or sent to our rear when transportation was made available. The Attack by Fire(AXF) missions continued for the remainder of the month with mixed results. The enemy appears to choose to remain in his prepared positions. His bunkers and automatic weapon positions appear to have been covered with more soil than our own. Of course they must defend against our Air Attacks and our AXF fires on their positions
A sniper team utilizing a .50 Cal. MG set to fire single shots was successfully uitilized, giving the CCF something else to worry about. MA's were inflicted at a range of 1,600 yards. Any hit with a .50 Caliper bullet would do great harm and many hits would result in a K1A.
Overnight on November 28th the CCF established a bivouac some 2,500 yards, Northeast of our MLR of an estimated Battalion in size. Sighting included groups of over 100 being spotted with some alarm. Every available weapon was called to bear with favorable results. Indications of a limited attack could be expected very soon. By 17:00 some 300 incoming impacts of enemy shells landed to the rear of 3rd BN. A barrage of shells impacted a single platoon of "I" Company. Most of the incoming fires were inaccurate but one Machine gun position was hit and one bunker received a direct hit. By 18:50 the enemy were spotted deployed to attack "I" company within 40 yards of our positions Within 100 yards a group of 5 enemy soldiers were observed setting up a 60 mm mortar position. Both 60 and 4.2 mortar fire was placed upon this position. Long range Machine gun fire impacted friendly positions At least 2 CCF platoons attacked "I" company where a major firefight commenced.
After taking heavy losses the CCF forces withdrew leaving at least 17 KIA's behind. At 07:00 the following morning several enemy soldiers were observed trying to drag the dead bodies off the slope. A concentration of 60 mm mortar fire greeted them and causing at least 2 more KIA's. A 57mm Recoilless rifle from the 4th Platoon of "I" company spotted two Chinese within range and took them out. The CCF used various colored flares during the attack but it was noted no bugles were heard. Some of the enemy were observed wearing white parkers for the first time. Their weapons were burp guns and anti tank grenades, rocket propelled. Other enemy troops wore green uniforms and had Bangalore Torpedoes.(these were explosive devices like a 4" pipe placed under barbwire to clear a path for an attacking force.)
A Security Patrol sent out the next day November 29, 1951 found several items left behind, including 19 Dead Bodies. CCF material collected for S-2 included maps, some signal flags, a cigarette case a burp gun and one parka.
With the relief of the 67th and the 68th CCF elements by fresh troops including the 103rd Regiment, 35th Division and 12th Army (Corps size), there was indication that a larger unit faced the 5th RCT. Prisoners taken seemed to be more aware of the CCF units that may have indicated the CCF were reducing their reliance on peasant troop and introducing their Regulars to the fight.
In the Tank Company Command report , TANK # 43 was lost named, "Four Roses"ffourth Platoon # 3 Tank). Tank #23 "Bernadine" was also damaged but recovered.
Aggressive patrol action together with the construction of a defensive line was the main accomplishment during the month of November. At first our patrols supported by tanks moved more or less freely in and beyond the City of KUMSONG. As time passed it was discovered that the CCF were fortifying position further south than where they occupied at the beginning of November. As the month progressed no mans land began to be defined at a distance of 3,000 meter separation.
An Adjustment of the Corps line of defense was made twice during the month. The 5th RCT was moved to the right taking over some of the 19th Infantry positions and relinquish some of our positions to the 21st Infantry on our left. The moving of our positions would generate a lot of gripes from the men who had to give up some of their handy work. The comforts of home would be developed quickly by the ingenuity of the INFANTRY.
The CCF in their own defense constructed obstacles and laid mine fields to curtail the use of tanks by our friendly patrols. The on going Peace Talks would;limit the sizes of patrols and aggressive actions to expand territory.
As a result of these restrictions someone came up with the "ATTACK BY FIRE" which would call for the concentration of all available fire power on certain objectives for a short period of tinie. The attacks were delivered at odd periods on known locations used by the enemy. They were very successful and many dead would be seen by our patrols. The counter these fires the CCF increased their efforts to increase their fires on our positions, They were more successful in delivering these fires because they had made improvements in their logistics than in the past. In spite of this extra effort there was no significant increase in damages or casualties on our side. Winter had begun to impact the troops whose comfort would be limited to their ability to improvise weatherproof huts for the long winter months in the inhospitable mountains of North Korea in the Second Korean Winter Campaign. Our logistical support had been excellent and all winter clothing was in the hands of the frontline troops. Your Author would be a replacement in Easy Company in January 1952.
Casualties for the month included 24 WIA in November and 1 KIA & 1 MIA. Other casualties listed for October but not reported in October were 6 W1A & 7 KM.
During the month of November, the Regiment occupied a sector of Line POLAR on ground very favorable for digging emplacements, placement of weapons, supply and evacuation. During the month, the Regiment in two moves shifted to the East into a sector formerly occupied by the 19th Infantry Regiment.. It was found that this new ground did not lend itself to the defense as well as did the sector just relinquished. The closing day of November was spent in integrating the new ground into the Regimental defensive framework and in aggressive patrolling to the North.
As the month began, the 5th RCT, with the 21st Infantry on the left and the 19th Infantry on the right, occupied a 4,000 meter sector of Line Missouri with an Out Post Line of Resistance (OPLR) forward of the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) The Regiment held this line with two(2) Battalion forward and one(1) in Reserve. The Second Battalion occupied the left sector, and the third Battalion the right. The first Battalion was held in reserve. The 24th Reconnaissance Company was occupying a portion of the line between the two on line Battalions. The right company of the 3rd BN was in a position that could not be considered as part of the M:LR as the ridgeline which it occupied was approximately perpendicular to the line of positions which comprised Line MISSOURI. It's location, however, permitted the occupying company to serve as an outpost for the 5th RCT and the 19th Infantry.
The terrain in the Regimental sector was characteristic of KOREA. The hills were high (700) meters steep slopes and craggy. Digging in the rocky soil was difficult and the problem was further aggravated by the ground being frozen later in the month of December. The steep slopes restricted our fields of fire and the general nature of the terrain prohibited the use of tanks and quad 50 Half-tracics. An imaginary line, LINE BILL, generally parallel to and a mean distance of 2,000 meters North of Line MISSOURI, was established and orders issued that no enemy be allowed to set up fortified positions south of it.
The Regiments mission was two-fold. Line MISSOURI was to be completed and improved so that the ground could be held at all cost and aggressive patrolling was to be conducted in order to maintain firm contact with the enemy to determine his strength, disposition, and intentions. Accordingly, protective and tactical wire continued to be laid, bunkers improved and mine fields emplaced.
Aggressive patrols continued in December and if challenged by mortars or other fires, counter-fire responses would be implemented. The enemy response by fire began to increase our casualties On December 3, a Time on Target was fired with excellent results. They were the first in a program that called for concentrated fire on some remunerative target daily.
On December 5 the 3rd BN was given a mission of establishing contact with the enemy. One platoon of "1" Company, supported by all available direct and indirect fire weapons, departed at 09:30 hours. Contact was made early when the patrol received automatic and small arms fire from the enemy in ambush positions at the base of the hill objective. Apparently the enemy ambush forces, split into two groups of ten to twelve, and were laying in wait for the smaller security patrol which normally screened the area. However, the combat patrol was strong enough, with the aid of supporting fires and smoke to extricate itself.
Meanwhile your author was boarding a Troop Train at Trenton, N.J. bound for Chicago and points west, beginning his journey to KOREA as a replacement with orders to the Far-East Command.
On the sixth of December the 1st BN relieved the 3rd BN on line. Enemy Artillery and mortar fire fell on the sector during the relief. On the night of 8 December an estimated 30 CCF attacked "B" company outpost ("B" Company had relieved "L" Company). The enemy approached from the south, moving into the saddle that separates the outpost from the main position, and cut the communication wires. They then slipped into the outpost by way of the opening in the wire used by friendly troops for supply.
The CCF, were discovered by the defenders and an intense small arms and grenade fire fight ensued. The enemy patrol leader succeeded in placing himself on top of the position from where he directed the fire of his men. A machine gun, shifted from the forward portion of the outpost, began to fire and the enemy patrol leader was killed. Subsequently, the enemy was repulsed and dispersed. The enemy suffered four (4) counted KIA and (9 estimated KIA) and 12 estimated WIA. Morning revealed the bodies of four additional CCF who had been killed in friendly mine fields near the outpost.
A good lesson can be drawn from the manner in which the CCF patrol leader planned and conducted his attack. His visual reconnaissance must have been very complete and his planning careful and detailed. He chose a route approach considered unlikely by the defenders and one where the defenses were weakest. His courageous act of placing himself in a position, although dangerous, where he could control his fire most effectively was an example that all leaders could profitably emulate (this looked more like a suicide mission,)
On the night of December 9th an enemy force of ten men followed a friendly ambush patrol on its return route and discovered and attacked a four man outpost forward of "F" company. The outpost was driven in but the company was not attacked. It had been noted by friendly patrols that the enemy had established a bunkered position close to a "C' Company outpost and well south of the previously announced "Line Bill" and well within 2000 meters of our line MISSOURI. At 06:58 hours a platoon sized combat patrol from "C" Company assaulted the fortified position and after a brief but intense fire fight, drove the enemy from the objective. Three were KIA and five WIA and the rest driven off. After destroying the enemy bunkers, the patrol started its with-drawl but received long range small arms fire from three sides, With the aid of smoke fired by supporting Artillery the patrol extricated itself.
Small night actions occurred on 12 & 13 December, 1951. On the twelfth a security patrol sighted 10 CCF gathered around a spring. The patrol leader moved his men to higher ground and gave the order to fire. Five of the enemy were KIA and the remainder fled. The patrol withdrew and called mortar fire on the old watering hole. On the 13th, as 1st BN ambush patrol engaged 10 CCF and confirmed one KIA.
An unidentified single engine aircraft bombed and strafed the "D" company area of the 3rd Engineer Battalion, 24 ID the night of 14 December. These Bed Check Charlies persisted as long as the fighting lasted and never caused much damage.
The 3rd BN relieved the 1st BN on the 16th of December. 5th RCT policy was to relieve the right battalion more frequently than the battalion on the left. In the two company positions on the right, no hot meals could be served because the enemy's unrestricted observation and his ability to place mortar and artillery fire on mess lines within the position rendered the risk too great. The right flank company of the right battalion, moreover, was located in very rocky ground and was unable to construct suitable shelters against the sever weather conditions. Frequent relief and turnover of units was the only way found to distribute the risk of occupation of these positions.
Meanwhile on the 17th of December in the States was the actual arrival of the troop train out of Trenton, N.J. to Seattle, Washington. The destination was Fort Lawton a repo-depot that apparently was a mad house over the Holidays in 1950, where all of the Staff were apparently denied holiday leave. With the 1951 holidays approaching and our troop train due on the 12th and no word as to where or when they could be expected to arrive, a decision was made to release the garrison for leave for the Holidays. The train was fighting snow drifts and equipment failures deep in the Rockies. To prevent the troop-train from freezing, Steam Locomotives had to be added to the length of the train to provide additional heat to the cars while the train crews labored to clear the track.
The train finally arrived in Seattle only five days late. Fort Lawton was deserted except for the caretaker security force of Military police. Some how that gang were able to organize themselves to house and feed the new arrivals. I remember we had to exchange our "IKE JACKETS" for Field jackets when it was decided passes could be given, so in town we could be identified as Fort Lawton Refugees due back by midnight. I was broke in Seattle. I remember wearing low quarters in the rain and snow hitch hiking back to camp. If you didn't check in by midnight you couldn't get a pass the next day. I was 19 and my first Christmas away from home. I remember the barracks built on a side hill. Easy access at one end, but a 50 steps out the other end. I remember the Mess-hall was in a gully. I don't know how we survived our stay in Fort Lawton. We could not access our duffle- bags, no change of clothes, no MONEY! I draw a blank on what we did over the holidays. The Army caught up with us in 1952 ouch!
Back to Korea.
Daily patrols conducted in no-mans land would often return with negative contact. Other times contact would result in small arm firefights, but after a brief period contact would be broken and friendly troops would withdraw and call for mortars on the enemy. This routine continued through most of the month.. Enemy supplies continued to be found and evacuated. It was slow going with the weather and bulky clothes and equipment that had to be carried.
On the 17th of December, 1951, a platoon sized combat patrol from "G" Company was ordered to establish contact with the enemy on objective baker. The patrol was well supported with artillery , 4.2 mortars, 81 mm mortars and direct fire weapons from Fox Company's position. Tanks and Quad .50 half tracks were provided., and placed on call should they be needed.
The patrol moved onto the objective without opposition, receiving only light fire from a distance. The patrol withdrew, re-grouped in the valley at the base of the objective and waited further orders. Cosequently, the patrol was given a new objective nearby. The enemy alerted to the activity placed small arms and automatic fire upon the patrol. The tanks were call to engage the enemy firing upon the patrol. The tanks and quads were positioned where effective fire was placed on the enemy; the tank gun was particularly effective, showering fragments into the bunker openings and trenches. The patrol assaulted and drove the enemy to the north. During this action, 19 enemy were killed and 50 estimated wounded. It should be noted that throughout the engagement enemy artillery and mortar fell in great amounts on our tanks. This was a further manifestation of the enemy's strong inclination, exhibited numerous times before, to bring all the fire that he could muster on our armor. It was apparent that he was firing his artillery in battery, not sporadically, as is most often the case. A squad sized reconnaissance patrol was dispatched to this objective the following day to determine if the enemy had attempted to re-establish himself; he did not.
It had become apparent through patrol action that the enemy had reestablished himself at the end of the finger extending northeast from the 3rd BN outpost position. On the 19th of December, 1951 a combat patrol from "K" company moved down the finger with the mission of clearing it of enemy. When they reached a point 150 yards from the objective they came under small arms and mortar fire. Friendly artillery was then adjusted on the position and the patrol advanced. It was now determined that the enemy was heavily entrenched with a platoon of infantry employing small arms and automatic weapons to include a .50 caliber machine gun. The patrol was w2ithdrawn and 8 inch artillery was employed in a destruction mission on the objective destroying one(1) bunker and killing four (4) CCF.
On 20 December an under-strength company sized patrol was dispatched with the objective of definitely establishing the enemy strength, and the location and disposition of his defensive works. The patrol was supported by two(2) platoons of tanks with four quad .50 AAA guns mounted on M-16 Half Tracks. The patrol moved on the objective without a fight, receiving only light, long range fire from positions to the north and east. One tank and one halftrack were disabled due to enemy mines. On the same day an "A" Company squad sized patrol with a 57mm Recoilless rifle attached located ten (10) enemy bunkers. The recoilless rifle fire was placed on the resulting in five (5) enemy killed and one bunker destroyed. That night, a second BN ambush patrol engaged two separate enemy groups. The first contact was with two enemy and both were killed. The second was a group of ten of the enemy. In this contact 2 were killed and five were estimated wounded.
Beginning the night of the 22nd of December, 1951, the enemy initiated a propaganda campaign calculated to depress the spirits of our soldiers during the Christmas Season. The CCF troops would come within hearing distance of our positions at night and yell," G.I. Go Home " and "what are you fighting for?" At times the enemy would leave Christmas Stockings, filled with Christmas Cards and leaflets, hanging on trees and stakes. On Christmas Eve, he set up phonographs with loudspeakers in the valley to our front and played Christmas Carols. Artillery and mortar fires were placed on the enemy's suspected locations.
Another attempt was made to dislodge the CCF from his fortified positions but was later called off. (perhaps not the time to take friendly casualties) Companies "F" & "L" were probed by small groups the night of December 24, 1951. Both groups were dispersed by artillery, mortar and small arms fire. A small group probed "K" Company the morning of the 25th, the enemy withdrew after a 40 minute grenade and small arms firefight. Also on Christmas Day a two (2) squad sized Easy Company patrol scatted an estimated twenty five (25). As luck would have it one CCF was wounded and captured.
The first BN relieved the 3rd BN on December 26th. At 21:30 hours December 29, 1951 the 2nd BN I & R Platoon in ambush position was approached by two separate groups of the enemy, one of ten CCF from the North and a larger group from the East. When the first Group was within 20 yards the patrol opened fire. An intense fire fight followed, but the patrol leader felt the group was too strong and gave the order to disengage and withdraw to the pre-determined rally point. Artillery fire was placed upon the enemy position. As a result 13 of the enemy were estimated to be KIA. The biggest complaint during December was the extreme cold temperatures the lowest being noted at minus 19 degrees F.
Casualties for the month of December, 1951 were,
12 KIA & 38 WIA and one died of wounds
There were 12 WIA in November but not reported in November.
A major shift of Personal in the 24th Infantry Division was noted including the CO MG BRYAN Reassigned as FECOM GHQ, and the CO & Exec of DIVARTY Rotated together with many of the Division Staff.
No Mention of the fact that the entire Division were being relieved and replaced by the 40th Infantry Division at this time. The 5th RCT would be detached from the 24th ID and would remain in country for the duration plus 15 months.
Casualties for the month included 12 EM KIA and 38 WIA and 1 died of wounds 12 WIA in November were listed, not reported in November.
There was no change from December, 1951 except the beginning of a new year 1952. The21st Infantry remained on our left and the 19th remained on our right. The 5th RCT had two BN on line the 3rd BN was on the left and the rt BN on the right The 24th Recon. Company occupied a position between the two on line BN. The 2nd BN was in reserve.
The on line BN were on a mountain ridge line entrenched in dug outs and bunkers with what ever was available to make them as comfortable as possible. Stoves were not available and charcoal was never made available. The only fuel available was combustible Gas or Diesel fuels. Stoves and fuel was available to the reserve Battalion but the men on line were burning green- wood , ammo wooden crates and such. There was a rotation of battalions where one BN on line would be relieved by another due to the weather and primitive living conditions on line.
The reserve battalions would complete a blocking position during the month of January. It was built behind the left BN but left unoccupied until needed. The year opened little activity from the CCF. The relief system proved to be necessary. No BN would remain on line longer than 10 days and each battalion would have two five day rests per month. Security would be conducted by each company and little contact except an occasional long range sniper fire, but no one being hit.
One of these patrols discovered an enemy ammo stock pile in the valley. The 3rd BN dispatcher a demolition team and "I" Company provided cover. On the night of January 9th an ambush patrol by "L" company caught eight CCF, killing five. Incoming CCF fire prevented the capture of prisoners or the search of the KIAs. On January 10th the el BN conducted a platoon sized patrol with tank support. The objective was a hill shaped like a horseshoe. The highest elevation in the middle with two fingers leading to the high ground. A second ambush patrol was set in place to intercept any CCF who may try to escape this attack. The attacking patrol advanced at 10:00 A followed the plan to attack but found the enemy position unoccupied. Long range fire impacted the attacking force so they had to dig in. The long range enemy fire from both the North and East were engaged by the tanks with good results. One tank hit a box minr but was recovered. The friendly patrol was able to return to the mlr by 14:00.
On the night of 11 January a platoon sized patrol from Fox company was sent to attack a CCF position at the end of a finger leading down from Easy Company who were now on the MLR. The plan for the attack was for the fox Co. combat patrol to pass through Easy Company then hit the CCF from the north west/ Covering fires were planned and adjusted as the patrol made its approach and contact was made about 00:40 hours. The defenders reacted with automatic weapons fire and a hail of grenades. CCE machine gun fire from another CCF hill impacted the attacking force, Resulting in a cross fire upon the advancing patrol. Artillery and mortar counter fire was ordered to engage the fire from the secondary source, By 00:45 the friendly patrol was ordered to break contact leaving two CCF KIA behind. As the partrol withdrew, heavy concentrations of friendly artillery and mortar fire saturated the objective area. Later an airstrike finished the job.
The 24th Recon Company was relieved by a 5th RCT Company from the reserve Battalion. This completed the relief of the 24th Infantry Division by the newly committed 40th Infantry Division. The 24th would take the 40th Division place with only two Regiments. The fifth RCT was only attached to the 24th and therefore would remain in KOREA attached now to the 40th Division. The 16 months attached to the 24th Division allowed the reactivation of the 34th Infantry, de-activated in 1950, to rejoin the 24th division taking the place of the 5th RCT but in JAPAN. (It should be noted that the 5th RCT never served in Japan, the major base of the FAR East Command. It never served in the Continental United States but did serve in the territory of Hawaii. Hawaii became the 50th State in 1959 when most of the men who fought in KOREA would be discharged and only the career vets would remain, and some of these would switch to the Air Corps, I wonder why?)
The men on the ground would not be affected by this change of Command. There were no contacts made in the Regimental sector on 13 January, 1952.Another attack on the same objective of January 11, was ordered for for the night of 14 January. The approach through Easy Company would be the same, but the approach to the objective would be shifted further north. The change would allow the friendly force to neutralize a bunker located along the latter route from which harassing fires had been placed on the patrol during the previous attack. At 1900 hours, the patrol departed Easy Company ,followed the planned route, found the above bunker to be empty and made contact at 22:50 hours when the enemy opened the engagement with automatic weapons fire and grenades, The patrol leader deployed and directed three squad sized assaults on the objective, but all failed to carry the objective. Enemy machine guns from the north again delivered fire on the patrol and friendly artillery and mortars countered, silencing two of the four guns firing. Friendly casualties had mounted with each succeeding assault and it was determined that the value of the hill was not commensurate with further losses; therefore, at 01:55 hours the patrol was ordered to withdraw. The steepness of the slopes and slickness of the snow covered ground worked to the disadvantage of the attackers as an assault must be carried forward with speed and vigor if it is to succeed. Seven (7) enemy were killed and six (6) were wounded in the attack.
On the night of the 16th, following a day of no contacts on the 15th, a King Company ambush patrol engaged five CCF killing two (2). At 10:50 hours 17 January a Fox Company patrol was engaged by an enemy squad suffering several wounded. The patrol returned and forced the enemy to withdraw to the northwest. As this group was well within friendly territory, an effort was made to converge on the area with several patrols to cut off its line of retreat. A platoon was dispatched from Easy Company, with the mission of moving to the valley and screening south, other smaller patrols took positions in a circular fashion around the area of engagement. Efforts to trap the CCF were futile, however, and all patrols closed by 17:30 hours.
On 18 January, the 3rd BN relieved the 2nd BN on the right of the MLR. Forty rounds of 8 inch howitzer fire were placed on the objective twice assaulted without success. (This 8 inch fire is the heaviest Artillery that was available, inland beyond the ocean, where the Navy had 16 inch guns on Battleships. These 8 inch guns required a special Forward Observer and as your Author recalls they were very accurate.) With that much power the completely destroyed that position. A Love Company patrol approached the target at 19:00 hours to assess the damage and determine if the enemy were still in passion of the position, were fired upon as they approached within 50 yards. Love Company made a hasty withdrawal.
One contact was made during the period of 21-26 January. A security patrol received small arms fire from several of the enemy some distance away. Artillery fire was placed on them and the patrol continued on its mission. On 23 January, the Regimental Tank Company with six Quad Fifty half tracks attached conducted an attack by fire on enemy strong points to the north. Eighteen bunkers were destroyed and twenty seven damaged. Three (3) of the enemy were counted dead. Two Tanks lost treads as a result of box mines but were recovered. ( Author's note. We are relying on War time reports first written when they happened. They would use code names to keep the reports secret. The National Archives allowed me to copy certain records. The military always refer to Map Coordinates but we don't have the maps. We do the best we can. Sometimes they give us Hill elevations such as the following piece. )
Patrol reports indicated a possible relocation of an enemy force on Hill 378. A platoon sized combat patrol, supported by a platoon of tanks (5), were ordered to attack the hill. At 13:00 hours 27 January a platoon from George Company crossed the MLR into no mans land. Artillery and mortar fires had been planned and adjusted to include isolation, preparation, and covering missions. Contact was first made when one friendly squad became engaged with about seven of the enemy firing from a trench. After a brief skirmish, the friendly squad was ordered to rejoin the remainder of the patrol at the base of the hill. From there a new advance was begun toward the crown of Hill 378 under cover of overhead fire from the tanks. As the patrol drew near the top of the objective, an estimated twenty of the enemy entrenched in bunkers opened fire with automatic weapons and threw showers of grenades. The patrol was sustaining casualties at a fast rate and the enemy fire was mounting, it was apparent the friendly force was not of a sufficient size to do the job. The patrol withdrew at 16:07 hours under cover of a smoke screen laid by the artillery and mortars. In the engagement, ten of the enemy were killed and five were wounded, That night three "Time on Target" barrages were placed on Hill 378, and plans were made for conducting a destruction mission on its bunkers with 8 inch guns the next day.
At 07:55 hours, January 28, 1952, the regiment passed to the operational control of the 40th Infantry Division. The day was spent in preparation for a raiding patrol to be conducted on Hill 378 now designated as objective # 13, and be prepared to move to Objective 15, a hill mass further north. All enemy personnel on these objectives were to be killed or captured and all bunkers, ammunition and food stores destroyed. Artillery and mortar fires were planned and adjusted. At 07:30 hours, the morning of the 29th, the patrol crossed the line of departure with the strength of 2 platoons (about 90 men), advancing abreast and approached Objective #13 under the cover of overhead fire delivered by the supporting tanks and heavy machine guns from Company "H". Objective #13 was found to be unoccupied. One platoon was dispatched to objective #15 which was found to have been vacated. Demolition teams accompanying the patrol destroyed bunkers. Small arms fire was received from enemy locations north and east of the objectives. Artillery fire was placed immediately on these weapons. The tanks in the valley received sporadic artillery fire but no damage was done. The patrol withdrew at 10:30 hours under covering fires of the artillery and mortars. During the tank action, two tanks were damaged by CCF Box Mines and a third tank threw a tank tread, however all 3 tanks were recovered. ( the only defense the CCF have against tanks was by the setting their Box Mines wherever tanks could be used.)
The month closed quietly with only the Baker Company outpost being harassed during the night of 30- 31 January, 1952. Your Author arrived in Japan about January 20th, a day or two at Camp Drake, We re-boarded another ship the Marine Phoenix to INCHON ,KOREA. We Traveled from Inchon by rail to the 40th Division Railhead and on to Service Company 5th RCT. We remained there a few days and joined our respective Companies. I was assigned to Easy Company who happened to be on the MLR. To get there we rode ammo trucks up a very steep road and stopped bumper to bumper. Off loaded with all of our gear and proceeded up a steep switch-back trail, reported to third platoon Sgt. Paul Hart. I spent one night, over-looking KUMSHON, NORTH KOREA. It was all lit up no blackout there, Out of range of all of our weapons. I was so cold it reminded me of home in Massachusetts.
Casualties for January, 1952 were 3 KIA, 32 WIA, No MIA, one Died Non-Battle and 37 Non-battle injuries
During the month of January the 5th RCT defended the same ground they did the previous month. Plans were being formulated for the relief of the 5th RCT by the 224 Infantry Regiment of the 40th Infantry Division. The 5th RCT held 4,000 meters of the MLR. The 160th Infantry was on the Right and the 223rd Infantry was on the left The MLR was held with two BN with the lst BN on the right and the 2nd BN on the left. The 3rd BN was held in reserve. One company of the 3rd BN occupied an Out Post line of resistance and was located between the two front line BN. There was little activity from 1 February to 6 February. Tank Company had a Bunker destruction mission on February 3rd
The relief of the 5th Infantry Regiment began on 7 February and continued through the 12th.. The RCT was in the reserve area by 14:50 Hours of the 10th. Off the line the RCT was dismantled with a complete change of activity. The 1st & 2"d BN would be transported by Truck, Train and ship the USNS Marine Phoenix to KOJE-DO an island off the south coast near where the 5th RCT was first committed to combat in August 1950. The 3rd BN would have a different mission.
They would be transported by truck convoy to the SANGDONG Mining area with the responsibility of securing the industrial area at several locations. There was a Tungsten Mine, a Coal Mine, Overhead conveyor belts, An ore concentrator, an Air Strip, Railroad facilities, a Road Network ETC. It was estimated it would take the better part of one day to make the transfer. This detached Battalion would remain under the control of the 5th RCT Commanding Officer with Radio-Telephone Communications.
The 555 Field Artillery BN would be assigned to IX Corps Artillery until relieved. The 72"d Engineer Combat Company would be assigned several missions before in was reunited with the 5th RCT. The Infantry together with the HQ and support units would be transported to KOJE-DO by a troop transport and four LSTs (Landing Ship Tanks). All of the crew served weapons would be in the LSTs with the trucks to carry them. Fifteen Companies went to KOJE-DO.
KOJE-DO is the location of UN POW Camp #1 and had 175,000 inmates of all classes. From NKPA POW, CCF POW, SPYS, Civilian detainees and Common criminals. The RCT would be attached to an MP group. The island has about 500,000 North Korean Refugees relocated when the X corps pulled out the Marines from the EAST coast North Korean Ports