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CHAPTER XXII

Perimeter Battle

 

Every battle has a turning point when the slack water of uncertainty becomes the ebb tide of defeat or the flood water of victory.

ADMIRAL CHARLES TURNER JOY

For most of the men who fought the battles of the Pusan Perimeter in early September 1950, it was a period of confusion. So many actions went on simultaneously that only a wide-screen view could reveal the situation as the commander had to cope with it in its totality. Since this panoramic approach is not feasible,

[we shall see]

the story in this chapter will follow the battles from the east coast near P'ohang-dong westward to Taegu and the Naktong River for the first two weeks of September. The next chapter will follow the battles for the same period of time in the southern part of the Pusan Perimeter.

It is necessary to keep in mind that not one of the battles in this phase of the war was an isolated event, but that everywhere over the extent of the Perimeter other battles of equal, greater, or lesser intensity were being waged. As an example of their impact, on 3 September 1950 General Walker faced at least five distinct and dangerous situations on the Perimeter-

  1. an enemy penetration in the east at P'ohang-dong,
  2. severance of the lateral corridor at Yŏngch'ŏn between Taegu and P'ohang-dong,
  3. alarming enemy gains in the mountains north of Taegu,
  4. the threat posed by North Korean units slicing through the defenses of the Naktong Bulge area of the lower Naktong,
  5. and enemy penetration behind the greater part of the 25th Division in the Masan area in the extreme south.

  

 

In addition, at this time in the east the ROK II Corps was on the point of collapse; above Taegu the 1st Cavalry Division withdrew closer to that city; and in the south disaster threatened the U.S. 2nd and 25th Divisions.

Action in the East-Task Force Jackson

Although the N.K. II Corps' general attack in the north and east was planned for 2 September, the enemy 12th Division, now numbering about 5,000 men, started earlier to move forward from the mountain fastnesses where it had reorganized after its defeat in the Kigye and P'ohang-dong area. (Map 14) The division was low in food supply, weapons, and ammunition, and its men were in a state of lowered morale.