Place Names

Yongp'o, South Korea

The northernmost unit of the 1st Cavalry Division was G Company of the 5th Cavalry Regiment. It held Hill 303, the furthest position on the Eighth Army's extreme right flank.

 

The_NK_Attack_on_Taegu_4-24_August_1950.pdf

 

The Enemy 10th Division's Crossing at Yongp'o

The North Korean plan for the attack against Taegu from the west and southwest had called for the N.K. 10th Division to make a coordinated attack with the N.K. 3d Division. The 10th Division so far had not been in combat. It had started from Sukch'on for the front by rail about 25 July.

August 12, 1950

  

AUGUST 12, 1950 0600

By daylight, an enemy force of 300 to 400 men had penetrated to Wich'on-dong. There, H Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment, engaged it in close combat. In a grenade and automatic weapons attack, the North Koreans overran the advance positions of the company, the mortar observation post, and the heavy machine gun positions. The initial enemy objective seemed to be to gain possession of the high ground east of Yongp'o in order to provide protection for the main crossing that was to follow.

Nam-gang
Naktong-gang
Yongp'o
Wich'on-dong, South Korea


Yongp'o crossing

The North Korean plan for the attack against Taegu from the west and southwest demanded that the KPA 10th Division make a coordinated attack with the KPA 3rd Division. The 10th Division, so far untested in combat, had started from Sukch'on for the front by rail on July 25. At Chonan it left the trains and continued south on foot through Taejon, arriving at the Naktong opposite Waegwan around 8 August. The division was ordered to cross the Naktong River in the vicinity of Tŭksŏng-dong, penetrate east, and cut the main supply route of the U.N. troops from Pusan to Taegu. The division assembled in the Koryong area on 11 August.

Two regiments of the KPA 10th Division, the 29th to the south and the 25th to the north, were to make the assault crossing with the 27th Regiment in reserve. The 2nd Battalion, 29th Regiment, was the first unit of the division to cross the river. Its troops waded across undetected during the night of August 11/12, west of Hyŏnp'ung. It then occupied Hill 265, a northern spur of Hill 409, 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of Hyŏnp'ung, and set up machine gun positions. The other two battalions followed it and occupied Hill 409. The North Koreans on Hill 409 soon ambushed a patrol from the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division, which was moving north and trying to establish contact with the 7th Cavalry Regiment during the Battle of the Naktong Bulge occurring simultaneously to the south.

Further north, the 25th Regiment started crossing the Naktong around 03:00 on August 12, in the vicinity of Tŭksŏng-dong, on the Koryong-Taegu road. The 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, covered this crossing site, which was 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Taegu. By daylight, a North Korean force of 300 to 400 had penetrated to Wich'on-dong and 2nd Battalion's H Company engaged it in close combat. In a grenade and automatic weapons attack, the North Koreans overran the advance positions of the company, the mortar observation post, and the heavy machine gun positions. The North Koreans were apparently attempting to control high ground east of Yongp'o in order to provide protection for the main crossing that was to follow. By 09:00, however, the 2nd Battalion, supported by the 77th Field Artillery Battalion and air strikes, drove the North Koreans troops back through Yongp'o and dispersed them.

Second Yongp'o attack

In the three days from 10 to 12 August, the Naktong River had dropped 3 feet (0.91 m) in depth and it was only shoulder-deep at many places due to the lack of rain and the torrid weather. This made any attempt at crossing the river considerably easier.

A more determined North Korean crossing of the Naktong in the vicinity of the blown bridge between Tŭksŏng-dong and Yongp'o began early in the morning on 14 August. By 06:20, about 500 North Korean soldiers had penetrated as far as Yongp'o. Fifteen minutes later, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry soldiers engaged the North Koreans at Wich'on-dong, 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the crossing site. At 08:00, General Gay ordered 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry to move to the Yongp'o area to support the 2nd Battalion.

North Korean artillery and tank fire from the west side of the river supporting the infantry crossing. A large number of North Korean reinforcements were crossing in barges near the bridge, while under fire from American air strikes and artillery. This attack also stalled, with the deepest North Korean penetration reaching Samuni-dong, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) beyond the blown-up bridge. From there the combined fire of US light weapons, mortars, and artillery drove them back to the river. By noon, large groups of North Koreans were trying to re-cross the river to the west side as American artillery continued hammering them, causing heavy casualties.

By nightfall, the 7th Cavalry Regiment had eliminated the North Korean bridgehead at Yongp'o. In the fight, the only major one to take place along the Naktong at a prefabricated crossing site, the 25th and 27th Regiments of the KPA 10th Division suffered crippling losses. The 7th Cavalry estimated that of 1,700 North Korean troops that had succeeded in crossing the river, 1,500 had been killed. Two days after the battle, H Company reported it had buried 267 enemy dead behind its lines. In front of its position, G Company counted 150 enemy dead. In contrast, G Company suffered only two men killed and three wounded during the battle. In its first combat mission, the crossing of the Naktong, the 10th Division suffered 2,500 casualties.

Hill 303

Several dead bodies lay on stretchers with gunshot wounds to their backs

 Bodies of massacre victims gathered near Waegwan, South Korea, many with their hands still bound

Almost simultaneously with the KPA 10th Division's crossing in the southern part of the 1st Cavalry Division sector at Tŭksŏng-dong and Yongp'o, another was taking place northward above Waegwan near the boundary between the division's sector and the ROK 1st Division's sector. The northernmost unit of the 1st Cavalry Division was G Company of the 5th Cavalry Regiment. It held Hill 303, the furthest position on the Eighth Army's extreme right flank.

For several days UN intelligence sources had reported heavy North Korean concentrations across the Naktong opposite the ROK 1st Division. Early in the morning on August 14, a North Korean regiment crossed the Naktong 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Waegwan into the ROK 1st Division sector through an underwater bridge. Shortly after midnight that night, ROK forces on the high ground just north of the U.S.-ROK Army boundary were attacked by this force. After daylight an air strike partially destroyed the underwater bridge. The North Korean attack spread south and by 12:00 North Korean small arms fire fell on G Company, 5th Cavalry Regiment, on Hill 303. Instead of moving east into the mountains as other landings had, this force turned south and headed for Waegwan.

A River with two bridges extending over it, and a large hill on the south bank

 The Waegwon Bridge crossing of the Naktong River. Hill 303 is visible on the bottom right.

Early in the morning on August 15, G Company men on Hill 303 spotted 50 North Korean infantry supported by two T-34 tanks moving south along the river road at the base of the hill. They also spotted another column moving to their rear which quickly engaged F Company with small arms fire. In order to escape the enemy encirclement, F Company withdrew south, but G Company did not. By 08:30, the North Koreans had completely surrounded it and a supporting platoon of H Company mortarmen on Hill 303. A relief column, composed of B Company, 5th Cavalry, and a platoon of US tanks tried to reach G Company, but was unable to penetrate the North Korean force that was surrounding Hill 303.

Later that day, B Company and the tanks tried again to retake the hill, now estimated to contain a 700-man battalion. The 61st Field Artillery Battalion and elements of the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion, fired on the hill during the day. During the night, G Company succeeded in escaping from Hill 303. Before dawn on the 17th, troops from both the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, supported by A Company of the 70th Tank Battalion, attacked Hill 303, but heavy North Korean mortar fire stopped them at the edge of Waegwan. During the morning, heavy artillery preparations pounded the North Korean positions on the hill.

At 14:00, an air strike came in, with planes bombarded the hill with napalm, conventional bombs, rockets, and machine guns. The strike and artillery preparation, were successful in pushing North Korean forces off the hill. After the strike, the infantry attacked up the hill at 15:30 unopposed and secured it by 16:30. The combined strength of E and F Companies on top of the hill was about sixty men. The artillery preparations and the air strike killed and wounded an estimated 500 enemy troops on Hill 303, with survivors had fleeing in complete rout after the air strike.

In regaining Hill 303 on August 17, the 5th Cavalry Regiment discovered the bodies of 26 mortarmen of H Company, hands tied in back, with gunshot wounds to the back. First knowledge of the event came in the afternoon when scouts brought in a man from Hill 303, Pvt. Roy Manring of the Heavy Mortar Platoon, who had been wounded by automatic weapons fire. Manring had crawled down the hill until he saw scouts of the attacking force. In all about 45 men were shot by the North Koreans in the event, of which only five survived. The total number of men executed around Hill 303 is unclear, as several more men were subsequently discovered in other locations around the hill with evidence of execution. Angered, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, commander of all UN forces in Korea, broadcast a warning to North Korean leaders they would be held accountable for the atrocity. However intercepted documents show the North Korean command was also concerned with the conduct of its troops and issued orders to limit killing of Prisoners of War.