Death Trap: Slaughter in Happy Valley

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Andy_S, Jan 11, 2009.

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  1. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

  2. Very interesting that, thank you. Must order the book at the bottom when it comes out.
  3. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Max Hastings wrote a vey good book on Korea I can recommend it for a first read on Korea

    Can you imagine the outcry if these casualty figures were talked of today

    According to a memorandum presented to the British cabinet on 26 June 1950
    29th Brigade suffered 1,091 casualties, including 34 officers and 808 other ranks missing
    These casualties represented 20 to 25 per cent of the brigade’s strength on the eve of battle
    Of the 1091 soldiers killed, wounded or missing, 620 were from the Gloucestershire Regiment, which could muster 217 men on 27 April.
    522 soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment became prisoners of war.
    Of those taken prisoner, 180 were wounded and a further 34 died while in captivity 59 soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment were killed in action.
    Based on estimates, Chinese casualties in the Battle of the Imjin River can be put at around 10,000
    As a result of the casualties suffered during the battle, the Chinese 63rd Army, which had begun the offensive with three divisions and approximately 27,000 men, had lost over a third of its strength and was pulled out of the front line
  4. I live in the Gloster's Sgts Mess in mid 70's in Minden.
    They no longer had a 'C' company which had been 'wiped out' in the Imjin battle on what has become known a Gloster Hill.
    The Regt/Battalion was awarded the US Presidential Citation for the action.
    all from memory.
  5. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    As a result of the casualties suffered during the battle, the Chinese 63rd Army, which had begun the offensive with three divisions and approximately 27,000 men, had lost over a third of its strength and was pulled out of the front line

    Repeated in all British accounts - but totally untrue.

    63rd Shock were passed through as the offensive rolled on, but were not withdrawn from combat. The army was severely ground up going in against the previously disgraced ROK 6th Division (the unit that had disintegrated, forcing Commonwealth 27th Bde to fill the hole at Kapyong - an action fought on the other flank from the Imjin) in the Fifth Offensive's second phase in May.

    From there on, I am not sure what happened to it.

    RE: Glosters' C Co
    Are you sure it was not B Co you are thinking of? They were annihilated on the night of 23rd April...only 15 men of that company made it back to the 'last stand' position on Hill 235 (Gloster Hill).

    What happened to C Co on that same night remains a bit of a mystery...published accounts thus far only tell half the story....hopefully all will be revealed in April.

    When I was on the battlefield last year, a highway was being built over C Co's position which is a bit of a shame. Still, that's progress.
  6. Aha, so your the author of the new book, id suggest if you have not, also put this in the books bit.

    Off book topic, I have just read a bit about one of the Scots units out there in Korea, and the court martial of one of the guys, who lay at the bottom of his trench all night saying i surrender in chinese! Whilst his mate wanted ammo.
  7. Andy I am going off memory from 30 years ago.
    The Gloster dropped one company from the Roll Call, it had been 'Wiped out' on Gloster Hill.
    There must be a serving Gloster on the board.
  8. My Father was in that action.

    It was certainly not a lot of fun. The RUR/RIR remember it every year.

    Robin Charley spoke at my Father's funeral.
  9. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    RE: Lying in bottom of trench
    Yes, this happened on several occasions. Some blokes can take it, some can't: Not everyone is cut out to be an infantryman facing the human wave....

    Will post book info in book section when we have a def publ date.

    RE: LondonIrish's Dad
    Robin Charley is a real gent. He was very pleased that the photog in the Belfast Telegraph piece promoted him from colonel to general!
    What RUR company was your Dad in?

    RE: Serving Glosters
    There are none. The Chinese could not (quite) wipe out the 1st Batt (it was reformed from guys back at echelon, wounded, replacements and the 40-50 guys D Co acting OC Mike Harvey led out of the trap) but the MOD finished them off: The Glosters have been amalgamated into The Rifles.
  10. Although my Old Man has VERY RARELY spoken of the Korean War, he told many moons ago that the stand made by the British Brigade in January 1951 "saved" he U.N. armies in Korea. Although (I must hasten to add), he was posted there towards the end of the War. He was able to locate his fighting position on Gloucesters' Hill, which was close to "Death Valley" too as I understand it.

    As to dealing with Human Wave Assaults, my Old Man said from his point of view, the main issue he recalled was the rapid manner they expended their ammunition, as well as over heating of their Section weapons due to the rapidity of their firing.
    Although the fight he was referring to was not at the above mentioned Location, he implied that he and his oppo's were scared enough that they forced themselves to fight, as they knew what would happen if they did not.

    In 1997, just before he retired from Rolls-Royce, he had cause to visit Korea for the first time since the War. When he commented that "the country has changed since I was last here", his hosts then realised he was a Veteran of the war.
    This led to him being feted by the locals. Among other things they gave him two Dolls (in traditional national costume?) as a "thank you" gift.
    I think this was the FIRST TIME, anyone had made such an effort.
    Pretty much sums up how Britain treats it Veterans doesn't it?

    Because of his time there, I grew up with a spattering of Korean "Idiwa"[Sic] (Move it/come here) and "Nampo"[Sic] (Fire in the hole/ watch it I am passing gas :x ) are a Couple of Family "code phrases".
    My Old Man was an Royal Engineer BTW
  11. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer


    Interesting comments...all of your father's personal experiences gel almost exactly with what vets have told me (re human wave attacks, reception in modern South Korea, etc)

    Not sure that the British Brigade (27th or 29th?) saved the UN Army, but the stand northwest of Seoul certainly bought time while the remaining units pulled back, through burning Seoul, and over the Han to safety (Although the river was iced over, and so fordable, the UN units had motor transport, so could outrun the leg-reliant Chinese.)

    It was 55 Field Squadron, RE that blew the bridges at the last minute: several miles of fusing, much of it underwater, and not a single connection failed. The US Engineers said that they were better at building bridges, the British better at blowing them up!
  12. My Old Man reckons that the US Army engineers were geniuses at building wooden bridges from local materials.
    He was a "Nampo" (did field Demolitions) man whilst in the RE, I do not know his unit though.
    He has a couple of copies of a unit Newspaper, called "The Imjineers" that he keeps tucked away.