MAP 14 Taejŏn Region L552-NJ52-14
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, 0600
When Paik began issuing orders, his three regiments were disposed as follows.
The 12th was at the parallel near Kaesŏng, outflanked by the train borne NKPA soldiers and apparently overrun.
The 13th was about fifteen miles east of Kaesŏng [near Korangp'o-ri] and
the 11th was in reserve near Sŏul.
[The 11th Regiment moved rapidly and in good order from Suisak and took position on the left of the 13th Regiment]
Paik ordered the 11th to move rapidly forward to positions behind the Imjin River. For the next two days the 11th and 13th ROK regiments would fight valiantly at the Imjin in a vain attempt to hold back nearly two full NKPA divisions, whose attack was led by a battalion of T-34 Russian tanks.[2-79]
This NKPA attack was powerful and determined, but the main attack came as expected, in the Uijŏngbu Corridor. Two full NKPA divisions, each spearheaded by forty T34 tanks and other mechanized vehicles and supported by 120mm howitzers, hit the ROK 7th Division. The ROKs reeled, recovered, then mounted a surprisingly stout defense.
As planned, Sŏul ordered the 2nd Division to move rapidly forward from Taejŏn to reinforce this critical corridor. But the 2nd could not get there in time. The 7th was forced to give way. It fell back on Uijŏngbu, thereby exposing the right flank of Paik's 1st Division, which was holding along the Imjin River, and forcing Paik to fall back toward Sŏul. [not for two days, I hope]
Farther east, in the hills of mid-Korea, elements of two other NKPA divisions simultaneously struck the ROK 6th Division. As with Paik's 1st, only two regiments were on the line; but as it happened, he had not issued any weekend passes, and these regiments were at full strength. Besides that, the ROK 6th Division had unusually good artillery units. Its forward elements, some fighting from concrete pillboxes, held, giving the commanders time to rush the reserve regiment forward from Wŏnju, forty miles south. The division inflicted harsh casualties on the NKPA regiments and might have held longer, but the collapse of the ROK 7th Division at Uijŏngbu exposed its distant left flank, also forcing it to withdraw.
There were two other subsidiary D day NKPA attacks on the extreme flanks.
West of Paik's 1st Division, on the Ongjin peninsula, which juts into the Yellow Sea, a strong NKPA force attacked the lone 17th ROK Regiment, commanded by Paik's younger brother. One ROK battalion was overrun and decimated, but the other two evacuated as planned (the ROKs correctly did not consider the peninsula defensible) on three LST's.
On the opposite side of Korea, on the mountainous east coast bordering the Sea of Japan, the NKPA simultaneously hit the widely dispersed and under strength ROK 8th Division, both frontally and by multiple amphibious assaults on its coastal flanks. Caught in a well executed land-sea envelopment, the division was powerless to mount an effective defense, and was soon forced to withdraw.
During these well planned and well executed quadruple assaults the NKPA Air Force was out in full force, about 100 planes. Some of the bombers attacked Sŏul and its airport, Kimp'o, causing panic among the civilians. Some of the fighters bombed and strafed ROK Army forces. But the NKPA Air Force's contribution to the battle was slight. Contrary to the predictions of Roberts and Muccio, the ROK soldiers did not panic; they all but ignored the planes. Of far greater menace and effectiveness were the Russian T34 tanks. The NKPA made a mockery of Roberts's judgment that Korea was "not good tank country." The T34s rolled southward, easily and relentlessly, creating terror and panic among most ROK units. But not all. About ninety of Paik's 1st Division troopers died valiantly in suicidal attempts to destroy the tanks with satchel charges and other makeshift explosive devices.
June 25, 1950 1430
Acting in accordance with plans previously prepared, it began moving reserves to the north of Sŏul for a counterattack in the vital Uijŏngbu Corridor. The ROK 2nd Division at Taejŏn was the first of the divisions distant from the Parallel to move toward the battle front. The first train with division headquarters and elements of the 5th Regiment left Taejŏn for Sŏul at 1430, 25 June, accompanied by their American advisers.
By dark, parts of the 5th Division were on their way north from Kwangju in southwest Korea.
The 22nd Regiment, the 3rd Engineer Battalion, and the 57-mm. antitank company of the ROK 3rd Division also started north from Taegu that night.
During the 25th, Capt. James W. Hausman, KMAG adviser with General Chae, ROK Army Chief of Staff, had accompanied the latter on two trips from Sŏul to the Uijŏngbu area. General Chae, popularly known as the "fat boy," weighed 245 pounds, and was about 5 feet 6 inches tall.
General Chae's plan, it developed, was to launch a counterattack in the Uijŏngbu Corridor the next morning with the 7th Division attacking on the left along the Tongduch'ŏn-ni road out of Uijŏngbu, and with the 2nd Division on the right on the P'och'on road. In preparing for this, General Chae arranged to move the elements of the 7th Division defending the P'och'on road west to the Tongduch'ŏn-ni road, concentrating that division there, and turn over to the 2nd Division the P'och'on road sector. But the 2nd Division would only begin to arrive in the Uijŏngbu area during the night. It would be impossible to assemble and transport the main body of the division from Taejŏn, ninety miles below Sŏul, to the front above Uijŏngbu and deploy it there by the next morning.
Brig. Gen. Lee Hyung Koon, commander of the 2nd Division, objected to Chae's plan. It meant that he would have to attack piecemeal with small elements of his division. He wanted to defer the counterattack until he could get all, or the major part, of his division forward. Captain Hausman agreed with his view. But General Chae overruled these objections and ordered the attack for the morning of 26 June.
The Capital Division at Sŏul was not included in the counterattack plan because it was not considered tactical and had no artillery. It had served chiefly as a "spit and polish" organization, with its cavalry regiment acting as a "palace guard."
Despite the stand of the 1st ROK division, the USAF official line still stands that the ROK's were ready to bail.
On 26 June, the second day of hostilities, U. S. forces worked at evacuation while the North Korean attack continued southward. FEAF fighters covered two vessels evacuating personnel from Inch'ŏn, and during the morning two 68th All Weather Fighter Squadron F-82's were attacked over the port area by a pair of North Korean fighters. The F-82 pilots, still a bit uncertain as to whether they should return fire, took evasive action and resumed patrols.
Evacuation progressed smoothly; in the afternoon a Norwegian ship Reinholte left Inch'ŏn carrying 682 civilians. During the day the North Korean Air Force made a substantial number of sorties in support of their ground troops, but offered no concerted air action. Ground fighting on the 26th gave little encouragement to the hope that the ROK army might be able to withstand the North Korean onslaught, and although Ambassador Muccio tried to dissuade him, President Rhee announced his intention to evacuate the ROK government to Taejŏn. The KMAG reported widespread defeatism among ROK troops, and Muccio added that he held no more than "faint confidence that the Koreans may hold out."
June 26, 1950 0800
His two battalions occupied defensive positions about two miles northeast of Uijŏngbu covering the P'och'on road. There, these elements of the ROK 2nd Division at 0800 opened fire with artillery and small arms on approaching North Koreans. A long column of tanks led the enemy attack. ROK artillery fired on the tanks, scoring some direct hits, but they were unharmed and, after halting momentarily, rumbled forward. This tank column passed through the ROK infantry positions and entered Uijŏngbu. Following behind the tanks, the enemy 7th Regiment engaged the ROK infantry. Threatened with encirclement, survivors of the ROK 2nd Division's two battalions withdrew into the hills. [03-45]
This failure of the 2nd Division on the eastern, right-hand, road into Uijŏngbu caused the 7th Division to abandon its own attack on the western road and to fall back below the town. By evening both the N.K. 3rd and 4th Divisions and their supporting tanks of the 105th Armored Brigade had entered Uijŏngbu. The failure of the 2nd Division above Uijŏngbu portended the gravest consequences. The ROK Army had at hand no other organized force that could materially affect the battle above Sŏul. [03-46]
General Lee explained later to Col. William H. S. Wright that he did not attack on the morning of the 26th because his division had not yet closed and he was waiting for it to arrive. His orders had been to attack with the troops he had available. Quite obviously this attack could not have succeeded. The really fatal error had been General Chae's plan of operation giving the 2nd Division responsibility for the P'och'on road sector when it was quite apparent that it could not arrive in strength to meet that responsibility by the morning of 26 June.
The tactical situation for the ROK Army above Sŏul was poor as evening fell on the second day, 26 June. Its 1st Division at Korangp'o-ri was flanked by the enemy 1st Division immediately to the east and the N.K. 3rd and 4th Divisions at Uijŏngbu. Its 7th Division and elements of the 2nd, 5th, and Capital Divisions were fighting un-co-ordinated delaying actions in the vicinity of Uijŏngbu.
During the evening the Korean Government decided to move from Sŏul to Taejŏn. Members of the South Korean National Assembly, however, after debate decided to remain in Sŏul. That night the ROK Army headquarters apparently decided to leave Sŏul.
June 26, 1950 0900
Monday morning Sunday evening in Washington [6/26/1950 0900 - [6/25/1960 2000 DC] MacArthur's first Korean orders came in over his telecon, a form of communication comprising two typewriters and two screens; messages punched out on the Pentagon keyboard appeared on MacArthur's tube.
Operation of all U.S., forces in Asia was now officially vested in him. His new title, added to SCAP, was Commander in Chief, Far East (CINCFE). He was instructed to "support the Republic of Korea" with warships around, and warplanes over, South Korea. He could expect broader powers as Austin applied greater pressure on UN allies.
Already America had one foot on the battlefield. By now reports from Taejŏn had eclipsed any hope that the invaders could be swiftly driven back, and both he and Dulles were gloomy when he drove the envoy to Haneda for his flight home.
MacArthur, as pessimistic as he had been ebullient before, now spoke darkly of writing off the entire Korean peninsula. He had just radioed Truman:
"South Korean units unable to resist determined North Korean offensive. Contributory factor exclusive enemy possession of tanks and fighter planes. South Korean casualties as an index to fighting have not shown adequate resistance capabilities or the will to fight and our estimate is that a complete collapse is imminent."
In his reply the President again cautioned him to send no fliers or vessels north of the Parallel. [note]