June 25, 1950 0500
On the east coast across the high Taebaek Range from Inje, the last major concentration of North Korean troops awaited the attack hour. There the NKPA 5th Division, the 766th Independent Unit, and some guerrilla units were poised to cross the Parallel.
On the south side of the border the 10th Regiment of the ROK 8th Division held defensive positions. But not quite, the division was scattered all over South Korea.
The ROK division headquarters was at Kangnung, some fifteen miles down the coast; the division's second regiment, the 21st, was stationed at Samch'ŏk, about twenty-five miles farther south. Only a small part of the 21st Regiment actually was at Samch'ŏk on 25 June, however, as two of its battalions were engaged in anti-guerrilla action southward in the Taebaek Mountains. [03-35]
The division's 3rd regiment the 16th was assigned to the ROK 2nd Division at Taejŏn at this time.
[03-35] Interv, Sawyer with Col George D. Kessler, 24 Feb 54; ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 96 (NKPA 5th Div), p. 39; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, 25 Jun 50.
About0500 Sunday morning, 25 June, Koreans awakened Maj. George D. Kessler, KMAG adviser to the ROK 10th Regiment, at Samch'ŏk and told him a heavy North Korean attack was in progress at the 38th Parallel. Within a few minutes word came that enemy troops were landing at two points along the coast nearby, above and below Samch'ŏk.
The commander of the 10th Regiment and Major Kessler got into a jeep and drove up the coast. From a hilltop they saw junks and sampans lying offshore and what looked like a battalion of troops milling about on the coastal road.
They drove back south, and below Samch'ŏk they saw much the same scene.
By the time the two officers returned to Samch'ŏk enemy craft were circling offshore there.
ROK soldiers brought up their antitank guns and opened fire on the craft. Kessler saw two boats sink. A landing at Samch'ŏk itself did not take place.
These landings in the Samch'ŏk area were by guerrillas in the approximate strength of 400 above and 600 below the town. Their mission was to spread inland into the mountainous eastern part of Korea. [03-36]
[03-36] Interv, Sawyer with Kessler 24 Feb 54; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Jun 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt, Nr 72, 7 Jul 50, p. 18.
Jun 25, 1950
Meanwhile, two battalions of the 766th Independent Unit had landed near Kangnung. Correlating their action with this landing, the NKPA 5th Division and remaining elements of the 766th Independent Unit crossed the Parallel with the 766th Independent Unit leading the attack southward down the coastal road. [03-37]
[03-37] ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 2 (Documentary Evidence of NKPA Aggression), pp. 46-50; Ibid., Issue 96 (NKPA 5th Div), p. 39; 24th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Jun 50; DA Wkly Intel Rpt, Nr 72, 7 Jul 50, p. 18; KMAG G-2 Unit Hist, 25 Jun 50. According to North Korean Col. Lee Hak Ku, the 17th Motorcycle Regiment also moved to Kangnung but the terrain prevented its employment in the attack. See ATIS Res Supp Interrog Rpts, Issue 9 (NKPA Forces), pp. 158-74, Nr 1468.
The 21st Infantry on 10 and 11 July north of Choch'iwŏn lost materiel and weapons sufficient to equip two rifle battalions and individual and organic clothing for 975 men.
June 25, 1950 0830
At0830 a ROK officer at the front sent a radio message to the Minister of Defense in Sŏul saying that the North Koreans in the vicinity of the Parallel were delivering a heavy artillery fire and a general attack, that they already had seized the contested points, and that he must have immediate reinforcements-that all ROK units were engaged. [03-27] The strong armored columns made steady gains on both roads, and people in Uijŏngbu, twenty miles north of Sŏul, could hear the artillery fire of the two converging columns before the day ended. At midmorning reports came in to Sŏul that Kimp'o Airfield was under air attack. A short time later, two enemy Russian-built YAK fighter planes appeared over the city and strafed its main street. In the afternoon, enemy planes again appeared over Kimp'o and Sŏul. [03-28]
Eastward across the peninsula, Ch'unch'ŏn, like Kaesŏng, lay almost on the Parallel. Ch'unch'ŏn was an important road center on the Pukhan River and the gateway to the best communication and transport net leading south through the mountains in the central part of Korea. The attacks thus far described had been carried out by elements of the NKPA I Corps.
From Ch'unch'ŏn east ward the NKPA II Corps, with headquarters at Hwach'ŏn north of Ch'unch'ŏn, controlled the attack formations. The NKPA 2nd Division at Hwach'ŏn moved down to the border, replacing a Border Constabulary unit, and the NKPA 7th Division did likewise some miles farther eastward at Inje. The plan of attack was for the 2nd Division to capture Ch'unch'ŏn by the afternoon of the first day; the 7th Division was to drive directly for Hongch'ŏn, some miles below the Parallel. [03-29]
The 7th Regiment of the ROK 6th Division guarded Ch'unch'ŏn, a beautiful town spread out below Peacock Mountain atop which stood a well-known shrine, Nocheon-ri, Sutasa, with red lacquered pillars. An other regiment was disposed eastward guarding the approaches to Hoengsŏng. The third regiment, in reserve, was with division headquarters at Wŏnju, forty-five miles south of the Parallel.
The two assault regiments of the NKPA 2nd Division attacked Ch'unch'ŏn early Sunday morning; the NKPA 6th Regiment advanced along the river road, while the NKPA 4th Regiment climbed over the mountains north of the city. From the outset, the ROK artillery was very effective and the enemy 6th Regiment met fierce resistance. Before the day ended, the NKPA 2nd Division's reserve regiment, the 17th, joined in the attack. [03-30]
Lt. Col. Thomas D. McPhail, adviser to the ROK 6th Division, proceeded to Ch'unch'ŏn from Wŏnju in the morning after he received word that the North Koreans had crossed the Parallel.
June 26, 1950
Lt. Col. Thomas D. McPhail, adviser to the ROK 6th Division, proceeded to Ch'unch'ŏn from Wŏnju in the morning after he received word that the North Koreans had crossed the Parallel. Late in the day the ROK reserve regiment arrived from Wŏnju. A factor of importance in Ch'unch'ŏn's defense was that no passes had been issued to ROK personnel and the positions there were fully manned when the attack came.
The battle for Ch'unch'ŏn was going against the North Koreans. From dug-in concrete pillboxes on the high ridge just north of the town the ROK 6th Division continued to repel the enemy attack. The failure of the N.K. 2nd Division to capture Ch'unch'ŏn the first day, as ordered, caused the N.K. II Corps to change the attack plans of the N.K. 7th Division. This division had started from the Inje area, 30 miles farther east, for Hongch'ŏn, an important town southeast of Ch'unch'ŏn. The II Corps now diverted it to Ch'unch'ŏn, which it reached on the evening of 26 June. There the 7th Division immediately joined its forces with the 2nd Division in the battle for the city.
Apparently there were no enemy tanks in the Ch'unch'ŏn battle until the 7th Division arrived.