Extracted from AThe Korean War@ by Gen. Mathew Ridgway with introduction and summary by Patrick C. Roe, author of The Dragon Strikes: China and the Korean War


Introduction to General Ridgway’s Description of Chosin

The Inchon Landing broke the back of the North Korean Army.   How to exploit that victory; simply drive the North Korean=s back across the border, or re-unify a divided country.  President Truman decided on re-unification.  General MacArthur=s plan, approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was to advance with UN forces to the narrow neck of the Korean peninsula, generally from Hamhung westward. To avoid provoking the Chinese and the Russians only South Korea forces would advance north from there into the sparsely settled and steep mountains of North Korea.


The Eighth Army would advance directly north from Seoul.  X Corps, led by the 1st Marine Division was to land at Wonsan, on the east coast, and drive west to trap North Korean remnants.  But the North Korean resistance crumbled more rapidly than anticipated.  The landing at Wonsan was delayed by mines.  Then, on October 24th, for reasons still unknown, MacArthur suddenly changed his plan and ordered all forces to advance with all speed through those mountains to the Yalu River border.  The following day UNC forces in the east and west collided with Chinese Communist Forces now entering the war.


In the west advance forces of the Eighth Army were halted, badly mauled and driven back to the Chongchon River line.  In the east, the 1st Marine Division relieved  ROK forces on the road to Chosin, fought off a vicious Chinese attack and advanced cautiously northward reaching the Chosin Reservoir and the town of Yudam-ni, 72 miles inland.  Then, on November 24th, with the Eighth Army reorganized and ready to advance, forces both in the east and west set out again to advance to the Yalu River.


General Mathew Ridgway takes up the story here. Of all the accolades received by the 1st Marine Division for the Chosin operations few have meant more and have carried more authority than the following description by General Ridgway, himself one of the most highly regarded field commanders of our time.  Ridgway and the Marines developed an immediate and intuitive regard for each other, with total justification.


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