Unit Details

1st R.O.K. Division

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1st Infantry Division

Division Capital 1st 2nd 3rd 5th 6th 7th 8th
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21st               21st
22nd       22nd        
23rd       23rd        
25th     25th          

 

 

Division Organization

CG Col. Paik Sun Yup, CO

ADC

G-1 Personnel

G-2 Intelligence

G-3 Plan sand Operations Lieutenant Colonel Powhida

G-4 Logistics

 

Regiments

 

June 25, 1950 0511

The young (thirty-year-old) commander of the ROK 1st Division, Colonel Paik Sun Yup, was able and dedicated. Unfortunately he and his KMAG adviser, Darrigo's immediate boss, Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd H. Rockwell, were in Sŏul for the weekend. However, Paik's headquarters quickly found and alerted Paik, and he in turn found and roused Rockwell. Shortly after dawn both men joined Darrigo at the 1st ROK Division headquarters.

September 1950

The first such major action took place in September 1950 when the ROK 1st Division was attached to the U.S. I Corps. About the same time the ROK 17th Regiment was attached to the U.S. X Corps for the Inch'ŏn landing. Over such attached units the ROK Army Chief of Staff made no attempt to exercise control. 

 

1st ROK Division headquarters



Division insignia
Active December 1, 1947 – present
Country Republic of Korea
Branch Republic of Korea Army
Type Division
Role Infantry
Part of I Corps (South Korea)
Garrison/HQ Paju, Gyeonggi
Nickname "Forward"
Motto "Allegiance, Honor, Solidarity"


Engagements Korean War
First Battle of Sŏul
Battle of Pusan Perimeter
Battle of Pyongyang (1950)
Battle of Unsan
Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River
Third Battle of Sŏul
Commanders
Notable
commanders Paik Sun-yup


The 1st Infantry Division is a military formation of the Republic of Korea Army's I Corps. The division was established on 12 May 1945 under the command of Colonel Suk-won Kim. It is based around three infantry regiments:


11th Infantry Regiment

12th Infantry Regiment - The 12th Infantry Regiment was originally activated as the 12th Regiment on May 1, 1948 at Kunsan and was first commanded by Lt. Col. Paik In Ki. The unit was not initially assigned to a division but was assigned to the 1st Division following that unit's activation in May 1949. It participated in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.

 13th Infantry Regiment



The division was the first units of the ROK Army to be attacked by the North Koreans on June 25, 1950. At 4 a.m. the North Koreans began an artillery barrage on the division's positions along the 38th Parallel. The artillery bombardment was quickly followed by ground attacks by the NKPA's 1st and 6th Infantry Divisions.

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.

 

Korean_War   Korean_War

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.

 

 

It became part of II Corps after the first fall of Sŏul, and was part of the defensive line to slow the North Korean advance from Sŏul to Taejon. It subsequently fought in the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.


On October 14, 1950 Company F of the U.S. 5th Cavalry entered Pyongyang, followed shortly thereafter by 1st Division elements from the northeast. The next morning, the division reached the heart of the city and took the strongly fortified administrative center without difficulty. The entire city was secured by 10:00 that day.


 Battle of Unsan


"In the western half of North Korea, as part of the U.S. I Corps’ general advance on October 25, 1950, the 1st Division was spread out on the road that ran from the Chongchon River to Unsan. The division’s 15th Regiment passed through Yongbyon and continued toward Unsan without opposition. In the lead were elements of Company D, 6th Medium Tank Battalion, which also passed through Unsan without incident. Just before 1100, as the tanks approached a bridge one and a half miles northeast of the town, enemy mortar fire destroyed the bridge. Engaging the enemy force, the soldiers reported a half-hour later that at least three hundred Chinese troops were in the hills just north of Unsan. The 12th Regiment, the second division unit in the column, turned west when it arrived at Unsan, and also ran into Chinese forces just beyond the town. The CCF’s attacks against the 1st Division continued on the twenty-sixth but eased up the following day."


During the afternoon of November 1, the CCF’s attack north of Unsan gained strength against the 15th Regiment and gradually extended to the right flank of the U.S. 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry. At nightfall the 1st Battalion controlled the northern approaches to the Samtan River, except for portions of the 15th Regiment’s zone on the east side. The battalion’s position on the left was weak; there were not enough soldiers to extend the defensive line to the main ridge leading into Unsan. This left a gap between the 1st and 2d Battalions. East of the Samtan the 15th Regiment was under heavy attack, and shortly after midnight it no longer existed as a combat force.


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 25, 1950 0500

Capt. Joseph R. Darrigo, assistant adviser to the ROK 12th Regiment, 1st Division, was the only American officer on the 38th Parallel the morning of 25 June.

He occupied quarters in a house at the northeast edge of Kaesŏng, just below Son'gak-san [Son'gak Mountain). At daybreak, approximately 0500, Captain Darrigo awoke to the sound of artillery fire. Soon shell fragments and small arms fire were hitting his house. He jumped from bed, pulled on a pair of trousers, and, with shoes and shirt in hand, ran to the stairs where he was met by his Korean houseboy running up to awaken him. The two ran out of the house, jumped into Darrigo's jeep, and drove south into Kaesŏng. They encountered no troops, but the volume of fire indicated an enemy attack.

At about three-thirty on Sunday morning Darrigo was jarred awake by the crash of close artillery fire. He sat bolt upright and listened intently. At first he believed it to be the South Koreans firing their 105mm snub-nosed "infantry cannons" at NKPA positions. But as the noise increased in fury, he realized it was not South but North Korean artillery. Moreover, it was not the usual sporadic harassing border fire. It was heavy, continuous, and alarming.

Was this it? Darrigo asked himself. Invasion?

He pulled on his trousers and ran outside to get a better look. He could see the muzzle flashes reflected on low-lying dark clouds, which presaged the onset of the rainy season. The guns were close and seemingly firing without letup. Then he heard a tattoo of small arms fire, the unmistakable advance of infantry. Bullets whined all around him and thudded into the stone house.

Darrigo grabbed his shirt and shoes and jumped into his jeep, his Korean houseboy on his heels. Still shirtless and shoeless, he drove the jeep down twisting, dusty roads, south toward downtown Kaesŏng. In the middle of town at a traffic circle he stopped suddenly, mouth agape. Pulling into the railroad station was a fifteen car North Korean train, jammed with infantry - some hanging on the sides. Sometime during the evening the NKPA had re-laid the railroad tracks!

The train - and the large numbers of NKPA soldiers - was proof to Darrigo that this was no "rice raid" or minor border incident. It was obviously a meticulously planned, highly professional military attack, the real thing. And like Pearl Harbor, he thought, it had come on a Sunday morning without warning. The NKPA movement by train into Kaesŏng had cannily outflanked Darrigo's thinly deployed 12th Regiment. The outfit did not stand a chance, and there was no way Darrigo could get back to its CP to offer his advice.

June 25, 1950 0511

The young (thirty-year-old) commander of the ROK 1st Division, Colonel Paik Sun Yup, was able and dedicated. Unfortunately he and his KMAG adviser, Darrigo's immediate boss, Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd H. Rockwell, were in Sŏul for the weekend. However, Paik's headquarters quickly found and alerted Paik, and he in turn found and roused Rockwell. Shortly after dawn both men joined Darrigo at the 1st ROK Division headquarters.[2-78]  

June 25, 1950 0530

Korean_War

The North Korean soldiers - a full infantry regiment - detrained and almost immediately spotted Darrigo. They opened fire with Russian made rifles, carbines, and pistols. With bullets whistling all around the open jeep, Darrigo sped out of Kaesŏng, southbound. Like a Paul Revere, he drove through the night to spread the alarm.

Korean_War

 Thirty minutes later he reached headquarters of the ROK 1st Division, located in a heavily fenced compound just south of the Imjin River near Munsan. Unable to raise the sleeping headquarters guards, Darrigo doggedly and noisily rammed the jeep against the heavy wooden gate until he got a response.

June 25, 0600

Korean_War

 

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]

Korean_War

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.

Korean_War

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]

Korean_War

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.

Korean_War

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.

Korean_War

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.

Korean_War

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 26, 1950

Korean_War

Two LST's from Inch'ŏn joined one already offshore, and on Monday, 26 June, they evacuated Col. Paik In Yup (17th Regiment, and most of two battalions-in all about 1,750 men. The other battalion was completely lost in the early fighting.

Korean_War

The 14th Regiment, 6th Division, turned over the Ongjin Peninsula area to security forces of the BC 3rd Brigade on the second day and immediately departed by way of Haeju and Kaesŏng to rejoin its division.

East of the Ongjin Peninsula, Kaesŏng, the ancient capital of Korea, lay two miles south of the Parallel on the main Sŏul-P'yŏngyang highway and railroad. Two battalions of the 12th Regiment, ROK 1st Division, held positions just north of the town. The other battalion of the regiment was at Yŏnan, the center of a rich rice-growing area some twenty miles westward.

The 13th Regiment held Korangp'o-ri, fifteen air miles east of Kaesŏng above the Imjin River, and the river crossing below the city. The 11th Regiment, of the 1st Division in reserve, and division headquarters were at Suisak, a small village and cantonment area a few miles north of Sŏul. Lt. Col. Lloyd H. Rockwell, senior adviser to the ROK 1st Division, and its youthful commander, Col. Paik Sun Yup, had decided some time earlier that the only defense line the division could hold in case of attack was south of the Imjin River.

Songak-san (Hill 475), a mountain shaped like a capital T with its stem running east-west, dominated Kaesŏng which lay two miles to the south of it. The 38th Parallel ran almost exactly along the crest of Songak-san, which the North Koreans had long since seized and fortified. In Kaesŏng the northbound main rail line linking Sŏul-P'yŏngyang-Manchuria turned west for six miles and then, short of the Yesŏng River, bent north again across the Parallel.

June 26, 1950

Korean_War

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 T34 Russian tanks.

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]

Korean_War

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.