Command Reports of the
2nd Chemical Mortar Bn in the Korean War
These are declassified official reports of the battalion in Korea. They were published in serial form in the May and September 1996 issues of The Red Dragon, the newsletter of the 2nd Chemical Mortar Battalion Association.
Part I: September & October 1950
Part II: November 1950
Part III: December 1950
Part IV: January 1951
Part V: February 1951
Part VI: March 1951
Part VII: April 1951
Part VIII: May 1951
Part IX: June 1951
Part X: July 1951
Part XI: August 1951
Part I: September & October 1950The first part of September was a period of accelerated POM training and processing. Upon receipt of Movement Order #7, Hq, Army Chemical Center (ACC), MD, dated 7 Sep 1950, the battalion suspended training and proceeded to prepare personnel and equipment for movement to Camp Stoneman, CA. A serious shortage of personnel and equipment existed and final checking was completed to meet POM requirements. The shortages in equipment were made up in part at ACC and the remainder was received at Camp Stoneman. Personnel replacements were received from various units at ACC which brought the Battalion up to approximately 65% of its authorized strength.
On 15 Sep, this organization departed from ACC via train en route to Camp Stoneman. The authorized and actual strength of the Battalion at the time of departure was:
Officers: authorized 44, actual 35 Warrant officers: authorized 5, actual 0 Enlisted men: authorized 683, actual 450
This movement was completed at 1700 hrs, 19 Sep, after which the unit was processed for overseas movement on 22 Sep per par 88, SO 263, Hq, Camp Stoneman, CA, dated 19 Sep 1950. The Battalion was relieved of assignment to Chief Chemical Officer, DA, and assigned to Sixth Army on 15 Sep per Movement Order #7, ACC, dated 7 Sep 1950.
The organization departed Camp Stoneman at 0900 hrs, 22 Sep, by ferry en route to Oakland Army Base where the unit boarded the USNS Shanks and departed for shipment to IZUR, destination unknown.
During the voyage, refresher classes were conducted in FDC and other specialist training until 7 Oct. The International Date Line was crossed on 30 Sep. Morale remained high throughout the voyage and every one was anxious to arrive at the destination. The unit arrived at Pusan harbor, Korea, at 1000 hrs, Sunday, 8 Oct. Debarkation began immediately and, at 1400 hrs, this task was complete.
The Battalion then moved by motor convoy to base camp at Tongnae on the outskirts of Pusan. Pursuant to Message GX25314KGO, the organization was relieved of assignment to Sixth Army, reassigned to Hq, Eighth Army, and attached to I Corps.
On 13 Oct, a total of 300 ROKA enlisted men and 3 ROKA officers were attached to the Battalion as filler personnel, as no U.S. Army replacements were available. 75 ROKA enlisted men and one ROKA officer were further attached to each mortar company (A, B and C), with 69 ROKA enlisted men to Hq & Hq Company and six ROKA enlisted men to the Medical Detachment.
On 15 Oct, the Battalion CO, Lt Col Edgar V.H. Bell, was informed by the 2nd Logistical Command that preparations were being made to transport the unit by ship to Inchon, Korea. Due to the lack of immediate shipping facilities (10 days to two weeks delay), the battalion commander was granted permission to proceed by organic transportation to Nakpong-ni where I Corps Hq Forward was located.
Processing was begun immediately to combat load all vehicles for the trip north directly through terrain in which many guerilla forces were active. The Battalion, traveling by organic vehicles, departed base camp at 0644 hrs, 16 Oct, and, with overnight halts at Taegu on 16 Oct and at Taejon on 17 Oct, arrived at the previously designated assembly area in Nakpong-ni, vicinity of Seoul, at 1700 hrs, 18 Oct.
During the movement north, the Battalion was held up two hours by a roadblock north of Taejon. Total miles traveled were 322. The unit remained in assembly area on 19 Oct and utilized the day performing necessary maintenance on vehicles plus readying equipment prior to joining front line forces.
Upon contacting EUSAK, Asst C/S G3, the Battalion CO was informed that I Corps Hq had recently moved to Sariwon and that the Battalion would move by organic vehicles for assignment to I Corps. Departing bivouac area vicinity of Seoul at 1000 hrs, 20 Oct, the unit crossed the 38th parallel at 1515 hrs and arrived at I Corps Hq Forward in Hwangju at 2030 hrs, traveling 138 miles. Further information was received that the unit was under the operational control of the 10th AAA Group, comprised of the 78th AAA Gun Bn armed with 90mm guns and the 9th FA Bn armed with 155mm howitzers, which were being used as the division artillery of the 1st ROKA Div. Weather remained rainy from 16 to 20 Oct.
The next day, at 1230 hrs, the unit departed Hwangju by motor convoy and arrived at Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, at 1545 hrs. Departing Pyongyang 22 Oct at 1130 hrs, the Battalion joined elements of the 1st ROKA Div at 1350 hrs and arrived in Sunchon at 1730 hrs.
The three mortar companies were placed in direct support of the three regiments of the division as follows: Co A to the 11th Rgmt, Co B to the 15th Rgmt and Co C to the 12th Rgmt. Companies B and C moved into firing positions with their assigned regiments which were already on line. Co B moved to Yongbyon in support of its regiment and fired the first mission at 1900 hrs, 23 Oct. On the same day, Co C advanced to Anju in support of its regiment.
On 25 Oct, the Battalion minus Co A moved to Unsan. Co B went into firing position and delivered fire on enemy mortar and small arms positions northeast of Unsan. The company received intermittent counter-mortar fire throughout the day. Co A moved into position near Yongsan-dong by motor convoy. The convoy was shelled by enemy artillery. No losses were incurred, and three prisoners were captured.
Companies B & C remained in the vicinity of Unsan in support of their respective regiments throughout the month of October. Co A continued in support of the 11th ROKA Rgmt the remainder of the month. The 1st ROKA Div was well forward forming a salient line with both flanks open. There was great concern over the possibility of being cut off and defeated in detail. ROKA intelligence reported that Chinese forces were encountered on 26 Oct and daily reported a constant buildup. The figure finally reached 60,000.
This was the first time that Chinese troops were reported fighting the United Nations forces. A 6000 yd front was being defended by two battalions of the 11th ROKA Rgmt and two battalions of the 8th ROKA Div. One battalion of the 15th ROKA Rgmt was annihilated. On the evening of 31 Oct an estimated enemy force of 1000 horse cavalry and 2000 infantry was reported swinging south around the right flank. During this whole period, the infantry was under constant pressure from the enemy.
October mission summary: 67 missions fired, 2118 HE and 17 WP rounds fired, two WIA.
Part II: November 1950On 1 Nov, the 8th Cavalry Rgmt relieved the 12th ROKA Rgmt which moved to Ipsok, five miles SE of Unsan. The 11th ROKA Rgmt, which had been in Corps reserve at Yongsan-dong, moved SE of Unsan to protect a ford on the Kuryong River. The 15th ROKA Rgmt, with Co B supporting, remained on line at Unsan.
At approximately 1845 hrs the Battalion CO received a call from the CO of the 10th AAA Group to be ready to move Hq & Hq Co from Unsan to the vicinity of the ford. The reason given for this call was that the 8th Cavalry Rgmt was being fiercely counter-attacked by a strong enemy force and was not expected to be able to contain it. Battalion Hq plus Hq & Hq Co moved to the ford and prepared to stay overnight, but soon another order was received to move to Yongsan-dong, which was completed by 0400 hrs, 2 Nov.
On 1 Nov, the 3rd platoon of Co B displaced 2= miles forward in support of the 15th ROKA Rgmt. At 1337 hrs, fire was directed on an enemy strong point in the vicinity of Sagi-dong, routing an enemy force of estimated company strength with many casualties.
At 2330 hrs, the enemy launched a strong counter-attack on both flanks of the 15th ROKA Rgmt, causing a general withdrawal of troops from the Unsan area. The attack continued through the early hours of 2 Nov. The 15th ROKA Rgmt had been hit hard and completely overrun. The 3rd platoon of Co B was cut off and all personnel, consisting of one officer and 23 enlisted men plus one ROKA officer and 23 ROKA enlisted men, were lost and reported as MIA. The company commander, 1st Lt Maurice E. Wilhelm, was also lost trying to extricate his 3rd platoon.
All equipment of the 3rd platoon was lost and an unknown number of rounds was fired. With the company executive officer in command, Co B reorganized at Yongbyon that morning and occupied a firing position in support of the 15th ROKA Rgmt.
Co A had been protecting the ford through which all other elements had to withdraw. In the early morning hours of 2 Nov, it was over-run, losing all 12 of its mortars and half of its vehicles. Personnel losses were one officer and six enlisted men MIA, two officers and 13 enlisted men WIA, one enlisted man injured in action, and seven ROKA enlisted men MIA. Total rounds fired by Co A in this action were 432. The entire Battalion assembled at Yongbyon by noon.
Co A, due to the loss of almost all equipment, moved with the Battalion's Hq & Hq Co to Yonghung-ni. Here the entire Battalion assembled on the night of 3 Nov. The 10th AAA Group was relieved from assignment to the 1st ROKA Div and sent to Kunu-ri to support elements of the 24th Div. The Battalion was placed in direct support of the 5th Infantry Regimental Combat Team (RCT) on 4 Nov.
During the above operations it was learned that the firing of WP rounds at ranges exceeding 3400 yds was not feasible due to the separation of the cartridge container. The cause of this was believed to be the extreme cold weather. Also, caution had to be exercised in centering the traversing mechanism when firing in excess of 3400 yds, as several instances occurred in which the traversing nut had cracked.
At this time it was found to be impracticable to maintain Battalion Hq and Hq & Hq Co together close to the front line. A command and service group was formed as follows: the Bn CO, S2, S3 and communications officer, with selected enlisted assistants, constituted the command or forward group. The remainder, made up of service elements, moved on 5 Nov to Sukchon to establish a Bn Rear Hq.
Co A accompanied this group to Sukchon to be re-equipped as soon as possible. At Sukchon, the complete Bn Rear was housed in a formerly North Korean barracks built of mud and straw. This was the only shelter available as no tentage other than pup tents was available. Service operations began at an accelerated pace due to the back log which accumulated during the frequent moves in the foregoing actions. The weather was cold.
On 6 Nov, the 5th Cav Rgmt relieved in place the 5th RCT, and companies A and B were attached to it. Co C was relieved the next day from direct support of the 5th Cav Rgmt and placed in direct support of the 9th Infantry RCT of the 2nd Inf Div, then under operational control of the 1st Cav Div. Co C occupied a position in the vicinity of Chongdong.
On 10 Nov, the Battalion was relieved from the 10th AAA Group and attached to the 1st Cav Div. The companies moved slowly forward as the advance northward continued. Co C was at Pugwon with the 9th Inf RCT. Co B was relieved from the 5th Cav Rgmt and placed in direct support of the 7th Cav Rgmt. On 19 Nov, Co A, having been re-equipped, moved from Sukchon to the vicinity of Pugwon. Co B left the 7th Cav Rgmt the next day and joined the 9th Inf RCT. The whole Battalion was now in direct support of the 9th Inf RCT.
On 21 Nov, the 9th Inf RCT reverted to the control of the 2nd Inf Div. At this time, IX Corps assumed control of the 2nd Inf Div. At the same time, the 2nd Cml Mortar Bn was reassigned from I Corps to IX Corps. The next day, Cpl William B. Hinds, reported MIA on 2 Nov, was released by Chinese forces in the 1st Cav Div sector. He reported that he was lightly WIA and captured by the Chinese forces on 2 Nov. He stated that he was not mistreated while interned just south of the Manchurian border in a Chinese POW camp.
The ROKA soldiers attached to the Battalion since 13 Oct as filler personnel were released on 24 Nov to the AG, ROKA forces, Seoul, for reassignment.
Beginning 23 Nov, the 2nd Inf Div executed an all-out attack. In the 9th Rgmt, two battalions were on line and one was in reserve. A battalion-size tank task force, reinforced by Co B of the 2nd Cml Mortar Bn, led the attack. The task force was to proceed forward by road with the ultimate objective of reaching the Yalu River where it was to remain in perimeter defense pending further advance of the entire front lines to this location.
During the early hours of 25 Nov, the task force proceeded forward, meeting heavy opposition 6000 meters to the front of the front lines, where the unit finally set up a perimeter defense for the night. That night a strong Chinese counter-attack was launched against the forward elements.
During ensuing attacks, the Chinese over-ran elements of all three battalions of the 9th Inf RCT, the remainder of the battalion in reserve having been committed to a holding position in the center of the line. Co C was completely surrounded from 2400 hrs on 25 Nov to 0800 hrs the next morning. The company was finally able to force its way through a road block to the Battalion CP, with six enlisted men MIA, 10 enlisted men lightly WIA, and two enlisted men who died of wounds received in action as they were being evacuated.
During the same period, Co A lost three FO personnel MIA, one officer and two enlisted men. All equipment of Co C was lost; however, before vacating the position due to a reinforced road block to the south, all mortars and vehicles were destroyed. During this operation, the same difficulties were encountered concerning the mortar equipment and ammunition as previously mentioned. The 9th Inf RCT, with Companies A and B, held through the night of 26-27 Nov. On 28 Nov, one officer of Co A was reported MIA while with a FO party.
On 29 Nov, the unit was placed in direct support of the 23rd Inf Rgmt of the 2nd Inf Div which established a defensive line north of Kunu-ri. At 1800 hrs, information was received that the 23rd Rgmt was withdrawing. At that time, Companies A and B were ordered to travel to the Battalion assembly area near Sukchon, via Anju. The Battalion closed at this location at 0930 hrs, 30 Nov, to await further orders.
The Battalion CO reported to IX Corps Hq in Pyongyang and was informed that the Battalion would be placed under operational control of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade on 30 Nov.
November mission summary: 127 missions fired, 3794 HE and 294 WP rounds fired. Two major engagements occurred: (1) on the night of 1-2 Nov while supporting the 1st ROKA Div in the vicinity of Unsan, and (2) on the night of 25-26 Nov while attached to the 9th Inf RCT of the 2nd Inf Div.
Actual strength on 30 Nov: 25 officers and 314 enlisted men. Battle casualties during the month: 34 WIA (one officer and 5 enlisted men wounded but not evacuated), 44 MIA, 2 died of wounds, 1 injured in action, and 1 MIA returned to military control. Non-battle casualties: 17 enlisted men.
In the fire fight which ensued on the night of 25-26 Nov and in which Co C was surrounded, firing of their mortars was continued down to 1= rings as the enemy advanced on the company's position.
Part III: December 1950On 1 Dec, Companies A and B plus Battalion Forward joined the 27th British Brigade in the vicinity of Sainjang. The Brigade then had the mission of blocking while other UN troops withdrew. There was a complete retrograde movement southward. The Brigade next withdrew to a position near Haguri on 4 Dec, and two days later moved to Sibyon-ni. The Brigade still had the mission of blocking and the additional mission of protecting IX Corps Hq then at Sibyon-ni. Vigorous patrolling to the north was about all the Brigade did in this position. Our mortar companies accompanied these patrols for additional support.
The Brigade withdrew on 11 Dec to various phase lines with the continued blocking mission. On 11 Dec, the Battalion moved across the 38th parallel with the British to Uijongbu with the mission of IX Corps reserve. The Battalion remained with the Brigade in this position throughout December.
Road patrols were sent out daily until 20 Dec. Co C, which was with Battalion Rear, was refitted and moved to a position with Battalion Forward. Co A was then placed in direct support of the Middlesex Rgmt, Co B in support of the Royal Australian Rgmt (RAR), and Co C with the Argyle and Sutherland Highlander Rgmt. These regiments were actually of battalion strength and made up the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade. The mortar companies spent Christmas at Uijongbu. Rations were excellent and bountiful, and almost every one was able to grab a bit of the spirit of Christmas.
December mission summary: 32 missions fired, 744 HE and 33 WP rounds fired.
Part IV: January 1951On New Year's Day, the Battalion moved with the Brigade north of Uijongbu about seven miles to Sanbung-ni, where blocking positions were set up for the 24th Inf Div which was to withdraw and occupy previously prepared positions. Co B, in support of the RAR, made contact with an enemy force of approximately 400 infantry, and mortar fire inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy force.
On 2 Jan, general withdrawal was made in and around Seoul. In the defense of Seoul, the Battalion supported not only the Brigade but elements of both the 1st Cav Div and the 11th Rgmt of the 24th Inf Div for short periods of time. The Battalion moved with the Brigade to vicinity of Changhowon-ni on 8 Jan to take up defensive positions. These positions were secured and held for the remainder of January with only light enemy contact.
January summary: 7 officer and 140 enlisted replacements were received. Of the enlisted men, approximately 100 were enlisted reservists called to active duty. These were the first replacements received since the Battalion left the U.S. Up to this time, the Battalion had been operating with less than one-half its authorized strength.
Part V: February 1951The Battalion remained in direct support of the Brigade. During the early part of the month, the Battalion dispatched security patrols in order to screen refugees for suspected enemy espionage agents. On 3 Feb, a patrol of one officer and nine enlisted men of Co A was sent out and captured two Chinese prisoners.
On 11 Feb, the Battalion CO and S2 were relieved for return to the ZI, and the executive officer, Major Merritt W. Briggs, assumed command.
On 10 Feb, all companies moved north to the vicinity of Yoju, in support of the Brigade, to establish new defensive positions along the Han River. On 13 Feb, the British Brigade was ordered to move north of Yoju, in the direction of Chipyong-ni, to assist elements of the 2nd Inf Div which was under heavy enemy attack.
On 15 Feb, Co A moved to area Oeryang-ri (8235), fired 12 missions of 333 rounds HE and 23 rounds WP, killing and dispersing an undetermined number of enemy forces. Two enlisted men were WIA. Twelve rounds of 4.2" WP ammunition were recaptured. Co B moved to position (8235), fired seven missions of 267 rounds HE and six rounds WP. Enemy dispersed with casualties. On 16 Feb, Co A fired 23 missions of 330 rounds HE and 24 rounds WP, destroying one ammunition dump and killing and dispersing an undetermined number of enemy.
During the operation, the Battalion fired observed missions, inflicting casualties on attacking units. The Brigade, with the Battalion attached, was successful in repulsing the enemy's continued drives to the south, and contributed materially to the successful relief of the 23rd Inf Rgmt, 2nd Inf Div, which had been surrounded in Chipyong-ni for a period of about seven days.
During this operation, the Brigade was reinforced by the 2nd Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), the first Canadian combat elements to arrive in Korea. The Battalion remained in support of the Brigade in its continual drive north and east for the rest of the month, with the final objective of relieving pressure on IX Corps troops in the Wonju area.
February mission summary: 205 missions fired, 3747 HE and 1149 WP rounds fired. One officer and two enlisted men were WIA.
Part VI: March 1951On 1 Mar, the Battalion command group was in the vicinity of Chaum-ni and the service group in the vicinity of Yoju. The Battalion was in direct support of the British Brigade. From 1 Mar to 13 Mar at 1600 hrs, the Battalion remained in support of the attacking elements of the Brigade, firing many missions on targets of opportunity. Enemy contact was heavy during this period.
On 14 Mar, the Battalion was in general support of the 6th ROKA Div. The Battalion command group moved with the line companies to the vicinity of Yongdogwan-ni.
On 20 Mar, Co B was attached to the 1st Cav Div to reinforce organic artillery in the drive north to Hongchon and then to Chunchon. Companies A and C continued their reinforcing mission for the 6th ROKA Div. A command inspection was conducted by IX Corps artillery on 22 Mar.
On 25 Mar, Battalion Command Group plus Companies A and C departed Yongdogwon-ni, a distance of 72 miles. The move was accomplished during heavy rain and was necessitated by lack of lateral roads and bridges in the 6th ROKA Div sector. This changed the Battalion's location from the east flank of the 6th ROKA Div to its west flank.
Co A was attached to the 2nd Bn of the 19th Inf Rgmt, 6th ROKA Div, Co C to the British Brigade, and Co B remained in the general area of Chunchon supporting the 7th Rgmt of the 6th ROKA Div from the east flank. The 6th ROKA Div advanced slowly northward during the remainder of March against stiffening resistance. In this phase of the campaign, the line companies fired numerous neutralizing missions on enemy strong points and received credit for destroying several enemy machine guns as well as inflicting numerous casualties on opposing forces.
By the end of March, the 6th ROKA Div was making steady progress and was nearing the 38th parallel again.
March mission summary: 173 missions fired, 3774 HE and 2412 WP rounds fired. One enlisted man KIA and 3 enlisted men WIA, one seriously. The unit's first R&R quota was received this month.
Part VII: April 1951During the first two weeks of April the Battalion's attachment remained the same as in March. The assigned mission of the 6th ROKA Div was to progress steadily north, maintaining constant contact with the enemy. During this period it became evident that the enemy was concentrating on a main defense line from which they would launch a major offensive against our attacking units. From PIR's and other sources of information, it was concluded that the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) had concentrated a force capable of launching a major offensive in the area directly to the front of the 6th ROKA Div.
The Battalion, in an effort to support the division, encountered many difficulties due to the lack of road nets in concerned areas. For this reason, it was difficult to place line companies in positions suitable for close and continuous support. Consequently, the Battalion fired a limited number of missions during the period. In an effort to render closer support, it was compulsory that the firing companies move east then north along the main supply route of the 1st Marine Div in order to establish positions within range of supported units.
At this time, the leading elements of the 6th ROKA Div were approximately 8 miles north of the 38th parallel with only one lateral road, which was not suitable for heavy traffic. On 21 Apr, Companies A and B moved into an assembly area in the vicinity of the Mojin Bridge on the east flank of the 6th ROKA Div to await further orders from KMAG officers of the supported units.
On 22 Apr, Co C was moving in support of the 7th ROKA Rgmt which had at this time secured high ground north of the lateral road. At 1700 hrs on 22 Apr, Co C was traveling along the lateral road to reach a previously reconnoitered firing position. During this move a major enemy offensive was launched which the 6th ROKA Div was unable to contain. As Co C approached its firing position, it was evident, from the disorganized movement from the east by the ROKA vehicles attempting to reach the north-south main supply route, that the enemy offensive now under way would not be contained at the present positions.
Supporting artillery preceded Co C on this lateral road and the critically-located bridge was destroyed due to the excessive weight placed on it. Thus it was impossible at this time for any vehicular traffic west of the bridge to continue eastward movement to the main supply route. Due to the circumstances, it was deemed advisable by the officer in charge of the movement to assemble the company in a position to the side of the road pending information in reference to the local situation.
During ensuing efforts to assemble the company in the position mentioned above, the road had become blocked by ROKA vehicles moving east, with only about 10 vehicles reaching the assembly area. At this time, it was decided to reverse the column of vehicles which were unable to reach the assembly area.
As the position was now under mortar and small arms fire, Co C was successful in reversing approximately 24 vehicles which were at the rear of the convoy. These vehicles included kitchen equipment, maintenance and other administrative units, and vehicles carrying five mortars.
The vehicles that were reversed were ordered to return to the position in which Co A and Co B were assembled awaiting further orders. The balance of the equipment was abandoned after an unsuccessful effort to remove the ROKA vehicles blocking the road. Due to the intensity of enemy mortar and small arms fire, it was impossible to destroy all equipment abandoned. It was felt that enemy fire had rendered the majority of the equipment useless. At this time, the remaining personnel were ordered to proceed south and east on foot.
On 23 Apr, the Battalion returned to the vicinity of Kapyong via Chunchon to await further orders. Immediately upon reaching the assembly area, the Battalion CO was informed that the unit would be attached to the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade. The Brigade was in reserve in this vicinity and was notified to remain on 30 minute alert for further movement.
At 2030 hrs, 23 Apr, the Brigade, with the 2nd Cml Mortar Bn minus Co C, and Co A of the 72nd Tank Bn attached, was ordered to assume blocking positions about six miles north of Kapyong, as the 6th ROKA Div was considered to no longer be an effective fighting unit.
Co B was attached to the RAR (3rd Bn of the Royal Australian Rgmt) and Co A was attached to the PPCLI (2nd Bn of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry). At approximately 0100 hrs on 24 Apr, the RAR received fire from the leading elements of the CCF. As action intensified, the RAR Hq was under attack and it was apparent that the unit was being outflanked.
At 0530 hrs, Co B, in support of the RAR, was also under attack from small arms and automatic weapons fire coming from the high ground to their left front. At the first light of day, the company was march ordered and notified to occupy a position to the south. As the convoy approached the main supply route for movement south, the driver of the lead vehicle was killed, thereby blocking access to the main supply route, and the company came under intense small arms and automatic weapons fire. The company commander issued orders to vacate the position and carry only individual weapons due to increased automatic weapons fire directed at the convoy.
These men departed in an orderly manner to the high ground to the south without destroying equipment as it was felt that the enemy force had automatic weapons at strategic positions which had fields of fire directly on the convoy, front and both flanks. It was the company commander's desire to stay on the high ground to the south until these positions were destroyed.
After a short period of time had elapsed, it was noticeable that these enemy positions had been considerably reinforced and thus a decision was made to move the personnel of Co B southward via Chunchon to an assembly area on foot in order to prevent annihilation of the entire command.
At 2100 hrs on 24 Apr, the Battalion CO was notified that the personnel of Co B were located just to the west of Chunchon, and vehicles were dispatched to transport the personnel to the Battalion CP.
At 0530 hrs on 24 Apr, Co A was also under attack from small arms and automatic weapons approximately 800 yards west of Co B's previous position. At 0600 hrs, Co A withdrew south under fire to new positions, after losing three mortars due to enemy mortar fire.
A task force consisting of one platoon of tanks and personnel located in the vicinity of Kapyong was formed under the leadership of the Battalion CO and proceeded north at 1000 hrs on 26 Apr. The mission of the task force was two-fold: first, to determine the extent of damage to the vehicles and equipment of Co B, and, secondly, to retrieve all serviceable equipment. All equipment was returned except for one <-ton vehicle and trailer, and two mortars.
After moving to the south into a new position, Co A was attached to the PPCLI for support. They remained in position and fired 1960 rounds on the enemy that was attempting to exploit his advance to the south toward Kapyong in order to cut the lateral main supply route to Chunchon.
The Battalion remained attached to the Brigade until defensive positions were reached just north of the Han River, at which time the Battalion, now reorganized, was attached to the 24th Inf Div for direct support.
It is deemed advisable in operations of close support (which is always the mission of a 4.2" mortar battalion) that a minimum of one M16 AA half-track, quad 50 caliber machine gun, be attached to each firing company or, preferably, included in the T/O&E for additional security. It is believed that Co B itself, with the aid of the above-mentioned equipment, would have been able to neutralize all automatic weapons fire encountered in the action in the vicinity of Kapyong. This equipment would also provide additional security while units are in the process of moving to new firing positions.
April summary: Ten officer and 90 enlisted replacements were received. Ammunition expenditures were 3579 rounds HE and 555 rounds WP. One officer and 20 enlisted men returned to duty from hospitalization. Casualties were one KIA, three MIA and three WIA. Major items of equipment lost during the month were:
1 command post and fire direction set and all fire direction equipment.
5 binoculars, M13A1 18 trailers, <-ton, 2W 17 trucks, <-ton, 4x4 2 machine guns, cal .50, M2, heavy 7 mortars, chemical, 4.2", complete 2 trailers, 1 ton, cargo, 2W 1 truck, 2=-ton, cargo 4 tool sets, general mechanic 1 binocular, M17 2 aiming circle, M1 1 launcher, rocket, 3.5" 2 rifles, BAR, cal .30 3 trucks, >-ton, WC
2 heaters, immersion type with can 1 tent, squad, complete w/poles 1 pack B, range, field, M37
1 converter, M209 1 switchboard, BD 72 1 radio set, SCR 619 4 telephones, EE 1 radio set, SCR 300 1 radio set, AN/GRC 9 1 radio set, 100/ORR All wire and wire equipment
The supply and logistics problems remained the same. Separate units encountered difficulties in acquisition of supplies due to frequent changes in attachment. Difficulty with elevating screws and replacement of same was the greatest problem, as in the past.
On Apr 24, when Co A was over-run, armor-piercing M1 rounds were fired into the barrels of the mortars to prevent their use by the enemy. These rounds penetrated one side of the tube and dented the other.
Part VIII: May 1951On 1 May, Battalion Forward was located in the vicinity of Chunchon and Battalion Rear was located in the vicinity of Inchon. Co C was attached for direct support to the PPCLI, which was not under operational control of the 24th Inf Div. From the 1 to 18 May inclusive, the Battalion mission and attachment remained unchanged as a new defensive line was being prepared. All firing companies improved positions with log bunkers, sand bags and double-apron wire to prevent infiltration into company areas. During this period the only missions fired consisted of H & I, which were fired between 2000 and 0600 hrs.
On 19 May, probing attacks on the new defensive line became more frequent and with greater force. That night, the Battalion fired 2426 rounds on continued enemy attempts to penetrate friendly positions. The attacks continued through 20 May when the supported units began their move to the north against the enemy whose number and equipment had been seriously depleted during their two-day attack on friendly positions.
The Battalion's fire missions on the initial advances to the north from the defensive line were directed primarily at scattered enemy troop concentrations, inflicting numerous casualties on enemy personnel as well as destroying several machine guns and mortars.
On 23 May, Co B was attached to the KSLI Bn of the 28th (formerly the 27th) British Commonwealth Brigade. During this operation, friendly troops encountered isolated mine fields resulting in the loss of one Co C vehicle and the serious wounding of its driver.
By the end of May, friendly forces had regained the ground lost during April and were once again in position north of the 38th parallel. The operation resulted in the capture of thousands of Chinese in our sector, as well as a great quantity of enemy materiel.
During the month, Ordnance stipulated that, to replace a bent elevating screw, an entire standard must be turned in and a new one drawn in its place. In terrain in which the mortars were fired, elevating screws were frequently bent. Thus, instances have occurred where an entire mortar has been out of action for ten days due to lack of standards.
Prior to this time, a bent elevating screw could be ex-changed for a serviceable one. The operation of exchanging elevating screws is very simple and takes only about five minutes. It is felt that anyone in a mortar squad is capable of performing this task. Thus, it is recommended that an entire standard with a bent elevating screw should not be turned in to acquire a standard with a serviceable elevating screw.
May mission summary: 6636 HE and 44 WP rounds were fired. Morale of both enlisted men and officers remained high for several reasons: first, the Battalion was receiving enlisted and officer replacements; second, rotation to the ZI of both enlisted men and officers was well under way; third, the R&R quota for Japan had been increased; and, fourth, UN forces were once again on the offensive, which in itself is always a great factor in the morale of fighting troops.
A letter was prepared during the month and sent through the Chief Chemical Officer to the Chief of Ordnance suggesting that the T/O&E of 4.2" mortar battalions be changed to include spare parts for the mortar in order to keep the unit at a higher level of operating efficiency and eliminate time delays in parts exchange.
A letter of appreciation was received from the CO, 31st Inf Rgmt, regarding Co A's support.
Part IX: June 1951On 1 Jun, the Battalion was given the mission of supporting the 7th Inf Div. Co A was attached to the 31st Rgmt, Co B was in support of the 32nd Rgmt and Co C was in support of the 17th Rgmt. The attachments were unchanged through 20 Jun. During this period, the line companies fired on enemy troop concentrations, machine guns and pack trains, and destroyed villages housing enemy personnel and supplies. During this drive north of Hwachon, Co B received 19 rounds of counter-battery fire in its firing positions with no damage to personnel or materiel.
Resistance was once again increasing, which meant almost continuous firing from the companies of the Battalion. In appreciation of the support rendered by Co A, a letter of commendation was received from the CO of the 31st Rgmt. This was the Battalion's first supporting mission with the 7th Inf Div.
On 21 Jun, the Battalion was attached to the 24th Div Arty with the mission of reinforcing the fire of their 105mm battalions. Co B was to reinforce the 555th FA Bn, Co C was to reinforce the 13th FA Bn, and Co A was assigned the mission of general support.
The drive continued north with the 24th Inf Div relieving the 7th Inf Div on 21 Jun. Following a limited advance northwards, the situation became static with the infantry preparing and occupying a defensive line. Missions fired by the line companies were directed primarily at small patrols during daylight hours, and H&I missions during the hours of darkness. These types of missions were the principle ones fired during the remainder of the month.
On 20 Jun, the Battalion received 239 Korean civilians comprising the 85th Civilian Transportation Corps. This company was to be utilized for the transport of ammunition and mortars over terrain inaccessible to vehicles. Experiments were made with these Korean personnel to determine the maximum weights that each individual could transport over rugged terrain.
The following conclusions were drawn from the experiments: first, four men are required to transport a base plate (175 lb); second, two men are needed to transport a barrel (110 lbs); third, one man can carry a standard (53 lbs); and fourth, each man can carry a maximum of three unboxed rounds (75 lbs), but preferably two boxes. The balance of organic equipment is equally distributed to give each man a weight of 50-75 lbs. Indigenous rations were drawn from the Korean CTC's.
June mission summary: 9226 HE and 891 WP rounds were fired. There were no battle casualties during the month. 11 officers and 67 enlisted men were rotated to the ZI. A rigorous program of field sanitation and fly control was initiated. 12 officer (1 Capt, 3 1st Lts, and 8 2nd Lts) and two enlisted replacements were received.
Difficulties encountered previously concerning replacement mortar parts were still prevalent. As the situation became static, more emphasis was placed on supply discipline, first echelon maintenance and care and preservation of mortars and other crew-served weapons.
Part X: July 1951From 1 through 6 Jul, missions, attachments and firing positions remained unchanged. Firing consisted mainly of H&I missions between 2200 and 0600 hrs.
On 1 Jul, the 109th ROKA Heavy Mortar Co was attached to the Battalion effective 1700 hrs. The attachment was for the purpose of determining the unit's training status and combat capabilities. The company reported to the Battalion with full T/O&E equipment and personnel.
On 3 Jul, arrangements and necessary clearance was received from IX Corps Arty Hq to conduct a suitable firing problem with this unit. The Battalion furnished FOs, squad leaders and gunnery officers to observe and aid the company during its field firing.
The initial firing problem, consisting of a platoon registration, was very satisfactory. However, in an attempt to mass the company's fire capabilities, discrepancies were noted due to failure of the gunnery officer to consider pro-jectile drift in his replot data. The unit fired the same problem the next day and favorable progress was noted. These firing problems were attended by IX Corps Arty CG.
On 10 Jul, the 109th Heavy Mortar Co was given the mission of reinforcing the fires of the 18th FA Bn of the 2nd ROKA Div, but still under operation control of the 2nd Cml Mortar Bn. On 21 Jul, the company was detached at 1400 hrs and attached to the 2nd ROKA Div.
On 7 Jul, Co A was attached for direct support to the 21st RCT, Co B was attached for direct support to the 5th RCT, and Co C was in general support. These attachments remained unchanged until 10 Jul, when the Battalion was once again reinforcing the 13th, 42nd and 555th FA Bns (Co A with the 13th, Co C with the 42nd, and Co B with the 555th). Attachments, missions and firing positions remained unchanged the rest of the month.
On numerous occasions, Co C moved about 2000 yds in front of the MLR to render close fire support to patrols from the 1st Bn of the 21st Inf Rgmt. In this position, Co C fired many missions on the enemy outpost line of resistance, receiving credit for destroying several enemy machine guns and light mortars, as well as firing smoke screens to conceal friendly attacks and patrol withdrawals.
During this period, the 24th Inf Div had the limited objective to force the CCF outpost line to withdraw in order to minimize mortar fire on the MLR. On these operations, maximum use was made of mortar, artillery and air support to inflict the greatest number of casualties on enemy personnel during their movement to reinforce or adjust positions to combat 24th Inf Div attacks.
During inactive periods, a rigorous training schedule was initiated for the benefit of newly arrived replacements and also to serve as refresher training for experienced personnel. This program began 23 Jul and was to continue as long as the tactical situation permitted.
July mission summary: 4717 HE and 329 WP rounds were fired. There were no battle casualties and 13 non-battle casualties. 39 enlisted men were rotated.
On 30 Jul, Co A went into reserve in the vicinity of Hwachon, the first line company of the Battalion to be in reserve since January 1951.
This month, Battalion troops received their first ice cream in the field, a great morale booster.
Part XI: August 1951From 1 through 6 August, attachments, missions and firing positions were unchanged, with only H&I missions being fired mainly between 2200 and 0600 hrs.
During this period, Co C fired numerous missions from positions in front of the MLR in support of patrols from the 1st Bn, 21st Inf Rgmt.
On 8 Aug, the Battalion minus Co A was detached from the 24th Div Arty and attached to the 7th Inf Div Arty in place. Co A was attached to the 6th ROKA Div for general support. Co B was further attached to the 31st Inf Rgmt for direct support and Co C was further attached to the 17th Inf Rgmt for direct support.
From 9 through 24 Aug, Co B continued firing H&I missions after making short moves necessitated by alterations in the outpost line of resistance.
On 25 Aug, one platoon of Co C was further attached in support of the 2nd Bn, 17th Inf Rgmt, on a limited objective attack. Due to the rugged terrain, it was necessary to hand carry mortars and ammunition approximately 1000 yds to reach a position from which the platoon could provide the required support. The Korean CTC personnel were used to accomplish this move.
Numerous missions were fired from this position. The unit received credit for neutralizing enemy strong points along the axis of attack, and also received commendation from the CO of the supported regiment for the close support and accurate fire provided.
For this operation, the remaining platoons of Co C were in support of the 1st Bn, 17th Inf Rgmt. The CO of this regiment commended the two platoons for their support.
On 30 Aug, it was necessary to move one platoon of Co B to the crest of Hill 1073 in order to support the 31st Inf. The move was accomplished by using CTC personnel as well as men from the remainder of the company.
Throughout this attack, stiff resistance was encountered as the friendly units continued their push for the commanding terrain in the area. The enemy also counter-attacked to regain terrain lost during this assault.
On 31 Aug, Co C fired a total of 3324 HE and 25 WP rounds in preparation and supporting fires during this limited objective attack, a new record for the Battalion.
August mission summary: 13,213 HE and 487 WP rounds were fired.
Operations this month were hampered considerably by heavy rain which also added to the discomfort of personnel. Firing positions in support of the MLR were improved by construction of bunkers for personnel and ammunition, and firing pits for the mortars.
Training was suspended after completing the sixth week due to changes in the tactical situation. A total of 204 hours of instruction had been completed. The following inspections were made of the Battalion: command inspection of Co A by a Hq IX Corps Arty team, ordnance inspection by EUSAK covering all ordnance items of all units, and supply inspection of all units by G4 team from Hq IX Corps. The Battalion was visited by the Chemical Officers from: IX Corps, EUSAK, and Far East Command.
Troop morale declined slightly due to: a reduction in rotation quotas because of a lack of replacements, the failure of negotiations to reach agreement on a peaceful settlement, and the change in rotation policy announced by the Far East Command.
On two occasions, platoons from Cos B and C were assigned on separate missions. This type of assignment is not recommended by the Battalion as it increases logistical and security problems, reduces a company commander's control of his company, and eliminates a company's capability to mass its fire power. Recommendations
From experience gained in 11 months of combat, the following recommendations are submitted which would materially increase the combat efficiency of this unit.
1. Each company supply be authorized four elevating screws as spare parts for mortars. On numerous occasions, mortars have been called "out of action" for lack of an elevating screw. 2. Each company supply be authorized to carry two barrels as spare parts. 3. Each company supply be authorized to carry two base plates as spare parts. 4. Research be conducted to determine suitable materials for cartridge containers, as firing in extremely cold weather has caused the present cartridge to separate from the projectile causing misfires on several occasions. 5. Waterproof containers should be designed for propellant to ensure dry storage. 6. That the T/O&E be changed to include SCR 619 radios in lieu of SCR 300s. 7. Each company be authorized an additional 2=-ton truck to supplement present organic transportation of ammunition. The present T/O&E authorizes only three 2=-ton trucks other than kitchen, supply and maintenance vehicles. This would increase unit mobility considerably. 8. Companies not be attached to any unit lower than regimental level in order that company control be the responsibility of the company commander. This enables the massing of fire power, greatly reduces logistical and administrative problems, and provides additional security.
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