"Rorkes Drift - Against Attackers with Submachine Guns"

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Andy_S, Apr 23, 2009.

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  1. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer


    Will post some excerpts over the weekend when I get a moment. In the meantime...

    “Rorke’s Drift – Against Attackers With Submachine Guns”
    58 Years Later, Book Details Britain’s Bloodiest Post-World War II Battle

    On 22 April, 1951, the bloodiest, most tragic battle fought by British troops since the Second World War commenced.

    On that night, across a 40-mile front, the greatest communist offensive of the Korean War was unleashed. At its epicenter on the Imjin River, stood Britain’s over-stretched 29th Infantry Brigade.

    “This was desperate, close-range fighting: all-round, all-out defense against nighttime, mass assault,” said Andrew Salmon, Seoul-based author of To The Last Round: The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea, 1951, released by Aurum Press on 22nd April, the battle anniversary. “Think of it as Rorke’s Drift – against attackers with submachine guns.”

    Strong points were overrun. Artillery fired over open sights. And strangely clad enemy troops – such as ‘The Witch’ - prowled the battlefield. But for three nights the brigade, outnumbered 7-1, stood fast.

    On the morning of the 25th, cut off, it was ordered to break out. As tanks of the 8th Hussars and infantry of the Belgian Battalion, Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and Royal Ulster Rifles battled south down a four-mile gauntlet of fire, for one unit, it was too late. The Glosters, having expended all their ammunition in a last stand on Hill 235, attempted to break out. Only 63 men escaped the trap.

    The UK has since fought in Malaya, Suez, Borneo, Oman, Dhofar, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Gulf War I, Gulf War II, Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Imjin remains the costliest battle fought by British soldiers since World War II. The 4,000-man 29th Brigade suffered 1,091 casualties, including 140 dead – the same number killed in seven years of Afghan fighting. And it is the only time in the last 60 years that a major unit – a battalion – has been lost in action.

    Yet despite the popularity of military history, Salmon’s is the first fully comprehensive work on the battle ever published.

    “The last stand of the ‘Glorious Glosters’ has passed into legend, but the rest of the battle remains largely unknown,” Salmon said, noting that the Belgians, 8th Hussars, Northumberland Fusiliers and Ulster Rifles fought equally hard. “I hope this book will fill a gap in British military history by keeping alive veterans’ stories – stories that would otherwise disappear forever.”

    Korea is dubbed the “Forgotten War.” The bloody but eventually indecisive struggle, coming so soon after World War II and lacking the iconic images of the subsequent conflict in Vietnam, remains overlooked by authors and filmmakers.

    However, UK-based filmmaker Dan Gordon of VeryMuchSo Productions – behind award-winning North Korea-based documentaries The Game Of Their Lives, A State Of Mind and Crossing The Line – has optioned the book. Filming began in March; in May, Gordon and Salmon plan to bring Imjin veterans back to the Korean battlefields, then fly them on to China to meet Chinese veterans.

    “Ever since Andrew told me about his project, I have been intrigued. When I read the men’s personal stories, I was blown away by their courage and what they had endured during this battle,” said Gordon. “After a trilogy of films in North Korea, this marks my debut in the South.”

    The filmmakers hope the film will be ready to screen by the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War next year.

    For more information on the book and the battle, please visit:
    For a YouTube presentation, see

  2. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    Thanks for the post Andy, I'll order a copy in a minute.

    your introduction, as listed here: http://tothelastround.wordpress.com/introduction-battle-tragedy-legend/ bodes well for the rest of the book and of course the fact that you are covering not just The Gloucesters will be appreciated by many I am sure.

    Personally I couldn't stand South Korea or the people but its an interesting place to visit I will give you that.

    Mr H
    Forum MOD
  3. Ditto. My late father lost many friends on Gloster Hill, and had little good to say either about Carne or the Yanks, who managed to mow a few down.
  4. About time the Heroic Glosters and all at Imjin were depicted in film, lets hope it gives justice to and really shows just how brave the 29th Infantry Brigade were...
  5. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    Cheers gents, hope you enjoy the read.

    Mr Happy:

    Presumably you had some negative experiences in S Korea....?
  6. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    I did mate, and entirely related to the people, who I found the worst in Asia (and I'm including the Aussies!).

    Admittedly I wasn't there to do a nice job but its not as if I wanted to sack them but the wall of hatred was entirely unescessary.
  7. Picked up a copy today the only problem I have with it is that I can't read it until holiday time, ah well July 4th isn't really that far away I suppose :x
  8. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    Mr Happy:

    Oh? What was the job, if you don't mind my asking? Downsizing a Brit investment?

    Commander Vimes:

    Well, if you are really in suspense, I can tell you what happens at the end...

    ....seriously, glad it has made it to the Northeast. The Northumberland Fusiliers fought a hard battle, but because they cut themselves out never achieved the recognition of the Glosters.
  9. Mr Happy

    Mr Happy LE Moderator

    Initially I was to implement a new system that changed their processes and there was such a level of resistance (R2C) that I was pretty much forced to bulldoze it through. We then had a catalog of issues with its use that the big boss decided to sell the team to another bank.

    Serves them right!
  10. Just ordered it. That youtube presentation is excellent Andy.
  11. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer


    Cheers. A lot of the blokes quoted in the YouTube presentation have their photos up if you are interested: click the Flickr stream on the website.