Notes


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In planning the offensive in the southwest sector, the NKPA generals committed yet another tactical blunder. Rather than mass the four plus divisions on a single line of advance for a power punch through, they spread them out along a long front for a simultaneous frontal attack. The 2nd and 9th (and surviving remnants of the 4th) would attack toward the Naktong Bulge; the  6th and 7th, toward Masan. By this arrangement the NKPA denied itself power in depth to exploit a breakthrough. To succeed, the offensive had to break through across the entire front simultaneously.

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Fortunately for Walker and his troops, the Eighth Army code breakers had intercepted and decoded NKPA radio traffic describing some features  but not all  of the offensive. Believing the strongest NKPA effort would once more come in the southwest sector, Walker had time to redeploy to meet that threat.

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He pulled Michaelis's Wolfhounds and Paul Freeman's 23d Regiment out of the Bowling Alley and sent them to the southwest sector: the Wolfhounds back home to Bill Kean's 25th Division at Masan; the 23d back home to Dutch Keiser's 2nd Division, which had displaced Church's reorganizing 24th Division in the Naktong Bulge area immediately north of the 25th. In addition, Walker postponed the transfer of Throckmorton's 5th Regiment, then deployed on the "south road" at Chindong-ni, to the 24th Division, which had moved into reserve near Taegu. Finally, he did his utmost to delay the departure of Eddie Craig's Marines, then near Masan preparing to embark for Inch'ŏn.

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These redeployments gave Walker far more strength in the southwest sector than he had enjoyed theretofore. There were, in total, eight infantry regiments, most of which now had three battalions. On the extreme south flank near Masan, Bill Kean's 25th Division controlled four regiments (south to north): Throckmorton's 5th; Champeny's 24th; Michaelis's 27th; and Fisher's 35th. Continuing the line northward into the Naktong Bulge, Dutch Keiser's three 2nd Division regiments were disposed (south to north): John Hill's 9th (less the 3/9); Freeman's 23d (less the 3/23); and the 38th. The Fifth Marines, near Masan, were in position to reinforce either the 25th or the 2nd Division. All eight regiments were powerfully backed by tanks, artillery, and Marine and FEAF close air support.

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The weakest sector was the Naktong Bulge, held by John Hill's 9th and Paul Freeman's 23d. Both regiments were shy one battalion. McMains's black 3/9 was still in the northeast sector near Pohang. Freeman's 3/23 had been temporarily attached to the 1st Cav. Moreover, Hill had incurred heavy casualties in his 1/9, and these losses had not yet been fully replaced. As a result of all this, there were only about 3,500 men in the four battalions defending the Naktong Bulge.