by: Fay Baker [ ]
The following is taken from the Pen and Sword website:
As of October 1950, a quarter of a million Communist Chinese troops, in twenty-seven divisions, had poured across the Yalu River into North Korea, with the singular objective of forcing General Douglas MacArthur’s United Nations troops back across the 38th Parallel and into the Sea of Japan.
Shortly before midnight on 22 April 1951, to the west of the US Eighth Army’s defensive front, the Chinese Sixty-third Army fell on the British 29th Brigade. On the left flank, the 1st Battalion, Gloucester Regiment (‘Glosters’) held a tenuous position at a ford on the Imjin River. Despite a gallant defence, the battalion was pushed back to make a desperate but futile stand on Hill 235. On what became known as ‘Glosters’ Hill’, the battalion ceased to exist. It was subsequently estimated that the attacking force of 27,000 Chinese troops suffered 10,000 casualties, forcing the Chinese army to be withdrawn from the front.
From August 1951 to the summer of 1952, the USAF conducted Operation Strangle in a futile and costly attempt to disrupt Chinese supply routes. In the last two years of fighting, Communist Chinese and UN forces faced each other from well-entrenched positions in hilly terrain, where mapped hill numbers were contested. From June 1952 to March 1953, a series of five hard-fought engagements took place in central Korea as the antagonists sought ownership of Hill 266, commonly referred to as ‘Old Baldy’. This was followed during April–July 1953 by two tactically pointless battles over Pork Chop Hill, in which the UN forces won the first battle and the Chinese the second, with both sides sustaining major casualties. On 27 July 1953, the two belligerents signed an armistice agreement, implementing a ceasefire that stands to this day. De facto, the Korean War has never ended.
This offering from Pen and Sword, is part of a series of books covering the Cold War from 1945 - 1991. This offering is a soft backed book, containing 128 pages and authored by Gerry von Tonder. Gerry Von Tonder has authored a large number of titles within this series, covering the Korean War but his interests also lay further afield covering the Berlin airlift, the Malayan conflict and histories of Regiments. This offering from Pen and Sword covering the Gloster’s retreat along the Imjin River is of particular interest to me, as my father took part in this retreat. Having lost their artillery guns being part of the Royal Artillery, he took the rifle from a dead American and praised the Garant there after. The book is presented to the reader as follows:
One Red Spring Offensive
Two Trapped on the Imjin
Three Last Stand
Four Defeat to Victory
Six At What Cost
Severn Quo Vardis
The story, or if you prefer history that took place nearly seventy years ago, and resulted in a British Army Regiment that wore two cap badges is one that is known to most in the UK with an interest in military history. This book is a very good mix of written work, and visual presentation. The writing style tends to be a little dry due to it being a presentation of fact rather than the words of the people who were there. But, with that said, the writing does flow as best as possible.
The photographs in the book are well captioned and cover a very broad swath of the content, from air, land and to some extent sea power is covered within the pages. Captions are fairly short, but do their job well, and I particularly like that good effort has been put into providing images of the badges of the units that took part on the UN side. There are also images of two plaques that of a member of the Gloucester Regiment and a member of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry who were awarded the VC posthumously. Drawing of the maps that show the conflict, both regionally and Korea as a whole are included, and these in conjunction with photographs show just how inhospitable some of the regions being fought over were.
The Korean War as with World War II, is slowly drifting away from living memory, and that fact increases the value of books such as this. The text is easy enough to read, if a little dry, but the mix with the photographs and graphics lifts its appeal greatly, as it enables the reader to visualise some aspects of the conflict both sides faced.
Fay Baker takes a look at a Pen and Sword book titled 'Korean War Imjin River'.
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| || ||9781526778130|
| || ||£14.99|
| || ||Nov 29, 2020|
Copyright ©2021 text by Fay Baker [ ]. All rights reserved.