Unit Detail

NKPA 1st Division

 

I Corps

Regiments 20, 22, 24

1st KPA Division This Division's original units were raised in 1946 as part of the Peace Preservation Corps. Its initial 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Infantry Regiments were originally called Branch Training Centers. It became a division in February 1948.

In March 1950, the 1st Infantry DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA 165 Regiment was reassigned to the 6th KPA Division to receive a new designation, and a new 1st Infantry Regiment was organized.

 

The 1st Infantry Division is a military formation of the Korean People's Army.

It was part of the North Korean advance from Seoul to Taejon.

The division fought in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.[1]

The intelligence section of U.S Far East Command headquarters listed the divisions order of battle as a 31 July 1952 as follows:[2]

This same report listed the 1st Division as being in III Corps Reserve at the same time period.

 

 

June 25, 1950

At 4 a.m. a tremendous artillery barrage hits the 1st Division of the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) on the western end and other ROKA outposts along the 38th Parallel that divides North and South Korea. The invasion of South Korea by the North Korean Peoples' Army (NKPA) has begun. The artillery bombardment is quickly followed by ground attacks by the NKPA's 1st and 6th Infantry Divisions against the ROKA 1st Division.

 

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The main effort by the NKPA comes later on the Uijŏngbu Corridor, a pathway to Sŏul, against the ROK 7th Division. The NKPA's 3rd and 4th Divisions and 105th Armored Brigade, supported by about 100 fighter planes, makes the assault.

 

 In about August/September 1950, the 1st KPA Division's regiments were reassigned to the reconstituted 7th KPA Division, and new regiments-the 20th, 22nd, and 24th Infantry Regiments-were assigned to the 1st KPA Division.

 

 A tabulation of estimated enemy strength by major units as of 5 August follows: [15-58]

Unit Strength
1st Division 5,000
2nd Division 7,500
3rd Division 6,000
4th Division 7,000
5th Division 6,000
6th Division 3,600
8th Division 8,000
12th Division 6,000
13th Division 9,500
15th Division 5,000
105th Armored Division (40 tanks) 3,000
83rd Motorized Regiment (detachedfrom 105th Armored Division) 1,000
766th Independent Infantry Regiment 1,500
  69,100

No reliable figures are available for the number of enemy tanks destroyed and for tank troop casualties of the 105th Armored Division by 5 August, but certainly they were high. There were only a few tank replacements during July.

 

July 12, 1950

The N.K. 1st Division, having entered the central sector from the northwest, turned south at Ch'ungju and on the 12th approached positions of the ROK 6th Division just above Mun'gyŏng.

June 25, 1950 0400

At 4 a.m. a tremendous artillery barrage hits the 1st Division of the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) on the western end and other ROKA outposts along the 38th Parallel that divides North and South Korea. The invasion of South Korea by the North Korean Peoples' Army (NKPA) has begun. The artillery bombardment is quickly followed by ground attacks by the NKPA's 1st and 6th Infantry Divisions against the ROKA 1st Division.

The main effort by the NKPA comes later on the Uijŏngbu Corridor, a pathway to Sŏul, against the ROK 7th Division. The NKPA's 3rd and 4th Divisions and 105th Armored Brigade, supported by about 100 fighter planes, makes the assault.

-- The ROK 17th Infantry Regiment is forced to withdraw from the Ongjin Peninsula, as the NKPA follows with furious attacks all along the 38th Parallel.

-- North Korean forces reach the outer defenses of Sŏul.

-- North Korean radio in P'yŏngyang called the attack a "defensive action" against invading South Korean troops. Russian news outlets follow with stories in the same vein.

-- When the news reaches the United States, most Americans had never heard of Korea, much less know where it is. Throughout the Japanese 35-year occupation Korea, which ended with Japan's defeat in 1945, was called Chosin, and most maps used Japanese names for cities.

But more than 36,000 Americans would die there between June 25, 1950, and July 27, 1953.

Division of the north and south was adopted after being recommended by the Russians, so they could accept surrender of Japanese forces north of the 38th Parallel and Americans would do the same below the line.

American troops are stationed in Korea after World War II, but the last unit was pulled out in 1948. Only a military assistance group headquarters remained. South Koreans were left to create their own armed forces, largely using equipment left behind by U.S. forces.

 

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]

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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 Fall of Sŏul

 

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.