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Armored combat in Korea.

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  • Armored combat in Korea.

    Does anybody know if there were any tank to tank combats between North Korean forces and United Nations forces during the Korean War,and if so what were the outcomes of these contests?

  • #2
    There were some small tank-on-tank battles early on, like in July and August at Pusan. However, these were not major, involving a handful of vehicles. I would think the M4 had trouble taking on the T-34. I might be wrong since our troops knew how to fight as underdogs in tank battles. The North Koreans were more determined than skilled tankers, I would think.
    "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942


    • #3
      During the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, there were a number of small T-34-M-46 tanks battles ( mostly 3 or 4 but on at least on occation, 8 T-34s) but no large scale tank-tank battles that I've heard about. Although there may have been one.

      Tank Battle at Naktong

      “The Korean War broke out on 25 June, 1950 (my 21st birthday), and I left for Korea with the First Provisional Marine Brigade on July 15th, 1950, arriving in Pusan, Korea on 2 August 1950. On the morning of August 6th or 7th, we, the Fifth Marines, were in the thick of combat north of Masan, Korea which is located west of Pusan and south of Tejon where the North Koreans had broken through the Army lines. On August 18th, the Marines were assigned the mission to stop the North Korean advance and push them back across the Naktong River. It was during this encounter with the enemy that the North Koreans had again broken through the lines and were coming in our direction with four tanks (Russian T34 Tanks) and approximately 200 to 250 Infantry.

      I and my Anti-Tank Platoon Section had just started to bed down for the night, set up defenses, set up watch, eat a little chow and hit the rack. Major Russell, our Company Commander, came running up the hill towards my section and said, “Heckelman, get your section down on the road where the jeeps are forming.” He pointed to the road and the jeeps and pinpointed on the map the area where we were expected to be to encounter the enemy tanks. We grabbed all the ammo that we could carry and headed down the hill to load on the jeep. I rode on the hood of the lead jeep as we proceeded up the road, which was primitive to say the least. We started to go around the bend of the road which was a sheer drop off on my left, and a hill that gradually climbed to the stars on our right. Located on the side of the hill were mounds which I later learned were graves of Korean dead, as they bury above ground.

      As we proceeded to round the curve, I stopped the caravan. The first enemy tank was penetrating the pass, the position where we were to be. We turned around and I immediately directed the guys to go up on the side of the hill, positioning them in a skirmish line that covered from the road leading down to the main line of resistance, where our troops were in position, to the furthest most position where I could observe with ease the tank activity and enemy troops positioning. Corporal Thomas and his ammo carrier were the furthest position to my left leading to the MLR. Corporals Bowles and Lewis were positioned directly in front of myself right at the peek of the curve in the road. Corporal Walt Carrow and his ammo carrier were positioned at the furthest position to my right. Sgt. Art Bernard and myself positioned ourselves in the middle of the skirmish and behind us was Lt. Brown, our section leader, Sgt. Charlie Hudson, Cpl. Miller and Pfc Bill Dabbs, Company runner. To the left of their position, I had positioned Cpl. Thomas Fava and Pfc. Thomas Fox. It would be their responsibility to drop a white phosphorus round inside the tank, should the enemy open the turret hatch.

      Our instructions to all were to let the first tank round the curve and then Cpl. Thomas was to hit the bogey wheel and knock the track off the tank causing it to become immobile. Then Cpl. Bowles was to concentrate on aiming for the gas tank and blow it up. I believed the second tank would then proceed to the curve and try to move the first tank out of the way. It was at that point, when the second tank made contact with the first tank, that Cpl. Bowles was to knock the bogey wheel out and Cpl. Carrow was to aim for the gas tank and destroy it. When the third tank came to the bend and made contact with the second tank, Cpl. Carrow was to aim for the gas tank and destroy it as well. All of us would then work out an instantaneous plan of attack should there be a slip up or slight deviation.

      The first tank went around the bend as planned and Cpl. Thomas did his job. Because that tank was now exposed to our main line of resistance and our troops, our own tanks fired armor piercing shells that went straight through the front of the tank and out the back, exploding in the rice paddy several yards away. It must have been a horrifying experience because we could hear the activity of the Koreans inside the tank trying to start the engine and make things happen. As the escape hatch on the turret opened, out came the tank commander. I think everybody in the section cut loose with their carbines, rifles and pistols.

      It was at this point that Cpl. Thomas Fava stood up from his fox hole and fired a white phosphorous round into the turret. Now we were not in the position that we were supposed to be in, and had no way to communicate with our troops as to our actual position. When Cpl. Fava stood up, our troops behind us thought he was a North Korean and opened up with a machine gun that riddled Cpl. Fava from his head to his waist, or he was shot down by our air Force planes strafing the area. Either way, it was friendly fire that took his life.

      We had no corpsman—we were out of position—no means of communication—and three more tanks coming at us. After checking Cpl. Fava, we could see that there was nothing we could do to save him. All we could do was to offer a prayer to the Almighty. I tried to comfort Cpl. Fava as best I could. It was the most agonizing death that I have ever witnessed in my life. When all was over I returned to my original position to watch the progress of the second tank that was now coming around the curve in the road. But I shall never forget his calling out for “Mama, mama.” I have heard that for years.

      I advised Cpl. Bowles to hold his fire until that second tank made contact with the first. As the tank made the contact and proceeded to back up, he was to aim for the gas tank rather than the bogey wheel. It was at this point that I noticed that Cpl. Bowles’ rocket launcher was not loaded properly and had he fired, in all probability, would have wiped us all off the map. I yelled to Cpl. Bowles not to fire and I immediately scrambled from my position down to Cpl. Bowles, grabbed the rocket launcher from his grip and returned to my position up the hill where Sgt. Bernard properly loaded the rocket and gave me the OK to fire. I aimed where I thought the gas tank was and when the spot was sighted in, pulled the trigger and Eureka—pay dirt! I had hit the tank in the gas tank and it immediately exploded like a roman candle—a sight that I can still see to this day but cannot explain to others. It was a good thing that I made that direct hit because as I fired the rocket, the turret with its cannon was turning to our position on the side of the hill and one round was all that he would need to wipe us all out.

      It was apparent the enemy troops that were some 1500 yards in front of our position had observed our positioning and communicated this to their incoming tank. We waited for what felt like hours after the explosion for the third tank to make its appearance. Although it seemed like hours, I’m sure it was almost momentarily—the third tank made its appearance and plowed into the second tank, trying to push it off the road or cliff. As contact was made, Sgt. Bernard yelled to Cpl. Carrow to aim for the gas tank. Cpl. Carrow fired his rocket after Sgt. Bernard and myself decided where we thought the most vulnerable spot would be—just in front of the back bogey wheel and a little to the top of the track. Cpl. Carrow’s aim was true and accurate and he hit the gas tank dead center. Another roman candle appeared in the night sky. Now it was a case of waiting for the fourth tank and/or the enemy troops—whichever came first.

      We did not dare move because we did not know the password for the night. We did not know where our friendly troops were and we did not know exactly where we were. So we decided the best thing to do was to lay low and hope that the Almighty was on our side and would look after us.

      As luck would have it, the Air Force came in, saw three tanks immobilized on the open road and began to strafe them. As they strafed the tanks, we took the brunt of their devastating fire power. I do not know to this day how or why we were not hit and wiped out but we would survive. After about an hour or what seemed to be an hour, no other tank or infantry arrived. But we were taking some sniper shots from the enemy troops that were approximately 1500 yards in our frontal area. Nobody moved—nobody panicked—but we were one scared anti-tank section that wishes we were somewhere else. As it developed, Lt. Brown made the decision that we would grab our equipment, start signing the Marine Corps Hymn—make as much racket as we could and head back towards our line. We made it through the listening post. We advanced and were recognized and were directed back to our company area. I was never so relieved in all my life to hear the familiar voices of my comrades in arms and buddies in life. I sprawled out on the ground and asked the Lord’s forgiveness for leaving Cpl. Fava dead and alone on the side of the hill, but I had no control over the circumstances and I prayed that both Tom and the good Lord would understand.

      The next morning, Lt. Dale Brown, our Platoon Leader, went back to the site where Cpl. Fava’s body had fallen and escorted his body to Graves Administration. He stayed with him until he was tagged for burial at a temporary resting site. Later his body would be returned to the United States and his home town for formal burial. Cpl. Fava was our Platoon’s first casualty, but certainly not our last. It hit all of us very hard.

      The above is a matter of military record, and the scars in my heart and mind will always be a part of me until the day I die.” - S/Sgt. Ted Heckelman, USMC, Weapons 1-5


      • #4
        Okay.I just find it strange that almost all accounts of the early part of the war mention that it was almost impossible to stop the norths Soviet armor.Then all of a sudden its like the North quite having tanks.There would have to have been at least some engaged around Pusan.After Inchon it is probably a mute point as they would have had to abandon most of their armor in the south for lack of supply.


        • #5
          Thanks Marko,it looks like i was a little slow in posting the second time,you managed to get that in before i was aware.I wonder what kind of rounds were used that the shells were actually passing straight through the Korean armor in the account you supplied.


          • #6
            Thanks Marko. Good account. There is little known about the tank on tank battles of the Korean War. I've never seen a photo of such an engagement.
            "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942


            • #7
              Dead thread case file #5,20380285555238028523500000000000000000000000000 0000000000000

              Dead thread. How would a "Jackson" M36 (I think) tnak do squaring off agianst a T-34?
              All warfare is based on deception.


              • #8
                Originally posted by [email protected]
                Dead thread. How would a "Jackson" M36 (I think) tnak do squaring off agianst a T-34?
                Depends on who got the 1st shot off............

                US did NOT use the M36. The ROKs used the M36, while Canadians used Achilles TDs.....

                What else you need to know about Korean War tanks?
                Kevin Kenneally
                Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
                Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)


                • #9
                  Tank Battle

                  Bowling Alley-The Sangju-Taegu Corridor
                  The 27th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Division had just completed its mission of clearing the North Koreans from the southern part of the Naktong Bulge area in the 24th Division sector when the enemy pressure north of Taegu caused new alarm in Eighth Army headquarters. Acting on the threat from this quarter, Eighth Army on 14 August relieved the regiment from attachment to the 24th Division and the next day ordered it northward to Kyongsan in army reserve. Upon arrival at Kyongsan on 16 August, Colonel Michaelis received orders to reconnoiter routes east, north, northwest, and west of Kyongsan and be prepared on army orders to counter any enemy thrusts from these directions. During the day, two enemy tanks came through the ROK 1st Division lines twelve miles north of Taegu at Tabu-dong, but ROK 3.5-inch bazooka teams knocked out both of them.

                  At noon the next day, 17 August, Eighth Army ordered the 27th Infantry to move its headquarters and a reinforced battalion "without delay" to a point across the Kumho River three miles north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong-Sangju road "to secure Taegu from enemy penetration" from that direction. ROK sources reported that a North Korean regiment, led by six tanks, had entered the little village of Kumhwa, two miles north of Tabu-dong.

                  The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry; a platoon of the Heavy Mortar Company; and the 8th Field Artillery Battalion, less B Battery, moved north of Taegu at noon. Later in the day this force moved two miles farther north to Ch'ilgok where the ROK 1st Division command post was located. By dark, the entire 27th Regiment was north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong road, reinforced by C Company, 73d Tank Battalion. Alarm spread in Taegu where artillery fire to the north could be heard. Eighth Army ordered the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, less A Battery, to move from the Kyongju-P'ohang-dong area, where a heavy battle had been in progress for days, for attachment to the 27th Infantry Regiment in order to reinforce the fires of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion above Taegu. It arrived there the next day. To the south at this same time the critical battle at Obong-ni Ridge and Cloverleaf Hill was still undecided.

                  In its part of the Perimeter battle, the N.K. 13th Division had broken through into the Tabu-dong corridor and had started driving on Taegu. This division had battled the ROK 11th and 12th Regiments in the high Yuhak-san area for a week before it broke through to the corridor on 17 August. A regimental commander of the division said later it suffered 1,500 casualties in achieving that victory. On 18 August the 13th Division was concentrated mostly west of the road just north of Tabu-dong.

                  To the west of the 13th, the N.K. 15th Division also was now deployed on Yuhak-san. It, too, had begun battling the ROK 1st Division, but thus far only in minor engagements. At this critical point, the North Korean High Command ordered the 15th Division to move from its position northwest of Tabu-dong eastward to the Yongch'on front, where the N.K. 8th Division had failed to advance toward the Taegu lateral corridor. The 15th left the Yuhak-san area on or about 20 August. Meanwhile, the N.K. 1st Division on the left, or east, of the 13th advanced to the Kunwi area, twenty-five miles north of Taegu. The North Korean command now ordered it to proceed to the Tabu-dong area and come up abreast of the 13th Division for the attack on Taegu down the Tabu-dong corridor.

                  At this juncture, the North Koreans received their only large tank reinforcements during the Pusan Perimeter fighting. On or about 15 August, the 105th Armored Division received 21 new T34 tanks and 200 troop replacements, which it distributed to the divisions attacking Taegu. The tank regiment with the N.K. 13th Division reportedly had 14 tanks.

                  This was the enemy situation, with the 13th Division astride the Sangju-Teague road just above Tabu-dong and only thirteen miles from Teague, when Eighth Army on 18 August ordered the 27th Infantry Regiment to attack north along the road. At the same time, two regiments of the ROK 1st Division were to attack along high ground on either side of the road. The plan called for a limited objective attack to restore the ROK 1st Division lines in the vicinity of Sokchok, a village four miles north of Tabu-dong. The line of departure was just north of Tabu-dong. Pershing M26 tanks of C Company, 73d Tank Battalion, and two batteries of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion were to support the 27th Infantry.

                  As the trucks rolled northward from Tabu-dong and approached the line of departure, the men inside could see the North Koreans and ROK's fighting on the high hills overlooking the road. The infantry dismounted and deployed Colonel Check's 1st Battalion on the left of the road and Colonel Murch's 2d Battalion on the right of it. With tanks leading on the road, the two battalions crossed the line of departure at 1300. The tanks opened fire against the mountain escarpments, and the rumble of their cannonade echoed through the narrow valley. The infantry on either side of the road swept the lower hills, the tanks on the road pacing their advance to the infantry's. An enemy outpost line in the valley withdrew and there was almost no opposition during the first hour. This enemy outpost line proved to be about two and a half miles in front of the main positions. The 27th Infantry had reached a point about two miles north of Tabu-dong when Colonel Michaelis received a message stating that neither of the ROK regiments on the high ground flanking the valley road had been able to advance. He was ordered to halt and form a perimeter defense with both battalions astride the road.

                  The two battalions of the 27th Infantry went into a perimeter defense just north of the little mud-thatched village of Soi-ri. The 1st Battalion, on the left of the road, took a position with C Company on high ground somewhat in advance of any other infantry unit, and with A Company on a ridge behind it. On their right, B Company, somewhat in advance of A Company, carried the line across the stream and the narrow valley to the road. There the 2d Battalion took up the defense line with E Company on the road and east of it and F Company on its right, while G Company held a ridge behind F Company. Thus, the two battalions presented a four-company front, with one company holding a refused flank position on either side. A platoon of tanks took positions on the front line, two tanks on the road and two in the stream bed; four more tanks were back of the line in reserve. The artillery went into firing positions back of the infantry. Six bazooka teams took up positions in front of the infantry positions along the road and in the stream bed. The ROK 1st Division held the high ground on either side of the 27th Infantry positions.

                  In front of the 27th Infantry position, the poplar-lined Taegu-Sangju road ran northward on a level course in the narrow mountain valley. A stream on the west closely paralleled it. The road was nearly straight on a north-south axis through the 27th Infantry position and for some distance northward. Then it veered slightly westward. This stretch of the road later became known as the "Bowling Alley."

                  A little more than a mile in front of the 27th Infantry position the road forked at a small cluster of houses called Ch'onp'yong-dong; the left-hand prong was the main Sangju road, the right-hand one the road to Kunwi. At the road fort, the Sangju road bends northwestward in a long curve. The village of Sinjumak lay on this curve a short distance north of the fork. Hills protected it against direct fire from the 27th Infantry position. It was there, apparently, that the enemy tanks remained hidden during the daytime.

                  Rising abruptly from the valley on the west side was the Yuhak-san mountain mass which swept up to a height of 2,700 feet. On the east, a similar mountain mass rose to a height of 2,400 feet, culminating two and a half miles southward in towering Ka-san, more than 2,900 feet high at its walled summit. This high ground looks down southward into the Teague bowl and gives observation of the surrounding country.

                  The Kunwi and Sangju roads from the northeast and northwest entered at Ch'onp'yong-dong the natural and easy corridor between Yuhak-san and Ka-san leading into the Teague basin. The battles of the Bowling Alley took place just south of this road junction.

                  The first of seven successive enemy night attacks struck against the 27th Infantry defense perimeter shortly after dark that night, 18 August. Enemy mortars and artillery fired a heavy preparation for the attack. Two enemy tanks and a self-propelled gun moved out of the village of Sinjumak two miles in front of the 27th Infantry lines. Infantry followed them, some in trucks and others on foot. The lead tank moved slowly and without firing, apparently observing, while the second one and the self-propelled gun fired repeatedly into F Company's position. The tank machine gun fire seemed indiscriminate, as if the enemy did not know the exact location of the American positions. As the tanks drew near, a 3.5-inch bazooka team from F Company destroyed the second one in line. Bazooka teams also hit the lead tank twice but the rockets failed to explode. The crew, however, abandoned the tank. Fire from the 8th Field Artillery Battalion knocked out the self-propelled gun, destroyed two trucks, and killed or wounded an estimated hundred. Lt. Lewis Millett, an artillery forward observer, and later a Medal of Honor winner after he transferred to the infantry, directed this artillery fire on the enemy with a T34 tank within fifty yards of his foxhole. Three more enemy tanks had come down the road, but now they switched on their running lights, turned around, and went back north. Half an hour after midnight the entire action was over and all was quiet. Enemy troops made a second effort, much weaker than the first, about two hours later but artillery and mortar fire dispersed them.

                  Certain characteristics were common to all the night battles in the Bowling Alley. The North Koreans used a system of flares to signal various actions and to co-ordinate them. It became quickly apparent to the defending Americans that green flares were used to signal an attack on a given area. So the 27th Infantry obtained its own green flares and then, after the enemy attack had begun, fired them over its main defensive positions. This confused the attacking North Koreans and often drew them to the points of greatest strength where they suffered heavy casualties. The use of mines in front of the defensive positions in the narrow valley became a nightly feature of the battles. The mines would stop the tanks and the infantry would try to remove them. At such times flares illuminated the scene and pre-registered artillery and mortar fire came down on the immobilized enemy with fatal results.

                  On the morning of 19 August, the ROK 11th and 13th Regiments launched counterattacks along the ridges with some gains. General Walker ordered another reserve unit, a battalion of the ROK 10th Regiment, to the Teague front to close a gap that had developed between the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions. In the afternoon he ordered still another unit, the U.S. 23d Infantry, to move up and establish a defense perimeter around the 8th and 37th Field Artillery Battalions eight miles north of Teague. The 3d Battalion took up a defensive position around the artillery while the 2d Battalion occupied a defensive position astride the road behind the 27th Infantry. The next day the two battalions exchanged places.

                  Sunday, 20 August, was a day of relative quiet on the Teague front. Even so, United States aircraft attacked North Korean positions there repeatedly during the day. The planes began their strafing runs so close in front of the American infantry that their machine gun fire dotted the identification panels, and expended .50-caliber cartridges fell into friendly foxholes. General Walker visited the Teague front during the day, and later made the statement that enemy fire had decreased and that Teague "certainly is saved."

                  By contrast, that night was not quiet. At 1700, a barrage of enemy 120-mm. mortar shells fell in the Heavy Weapons Company area. A bright moon silhouetted enemy tanks against the dark flanking mountains as they rumbled down the narrow, green valley, leading another attack. Artillery and mortar fire fell among them and the advancing enemy infantry. Waiting Americans held their small arms and machine gun fire until the North Koreans were within 150-200 yards' range. The combined fire of all weapons repulsed this attack.

                  The next morning, 21 August, a patrol of two platoons of infantry and three tanks went up the road toward the enemy positions. White flags had appeared in front of the American line, and rumors received from natives alleged that many North Koreans wanted to surrender. The patrol's mission was to investigate this situation and to form an estimate of enemy losses. The patrol advanced about a mile, engaging small enemy groups and receiving some artillery fire. On its way it completed the destruction with thermite grenades of five enemy tanks disabled in the night action. The patrol also found 1 37-mm. antitank gun, 2 self-propelled guns, and 1 120-mm. mortar among the destroyed enemy equipment, and saw numerous enemy dead. At the point of farthest advance, the patrol found and destroyed an abandoned enemy tank in a village schoolhouse courtyard.

                  That evening at dusk the 27th Infantry placed an antitank mine field, antipersonnel mines, and trip flares across the road and stream bed 150 yards in front of the infantry line. A second belt of mines, laid on top of the ground, was placed about 100 yards in front of the buried mine field.

                  Later that evening, 21 August, the North Koreans shelled the general area of the 27th Infantry positions until just before midnight. Then the N.K. 13th Division launched a major attack against the ROK units on the high ground and the Americans in the valley. Nine tanks and several SP guns supported the enemy troops in the valley. Because it was on higher ground and more advanced than any other American unit, C Company on the left of the road usually was the first to detect an approaching attack. That evening the C Company commander telephoned that he could hear tanks out front. When the artillery fired an illuminating shell he was able to count nineteen vehicles in the attacking column on the road. The tanks and self-propelled guns, firing rapidly, approached the American positions. Most of their shells landed in the rear areas. Enemy infantry moved forward on both sides of the road. Simultaneously, other units attacked the ROK's on the high ridges flanking the valley.

                  American artillery and mortar fire bombarded the enemy, trying to separate the tanks from the infantry. Machine gun fire opened on the N.K. infantry only after they had entered the mine field and were at close range. The Pershing tanks in the front line held their fire until the enemy tanks came very close. One of the American tanks knocked out the lead enemy tank at a range of 125 yards. A 3.5-inch bazooka team from F Company knocked out a SP gun, the third vehicle in column. The trapped second tank was disabled by bazooka fire and abandoned by its crew. Artillery and 90-mm. tank fire destroyed seven more enemy tanks, three more SP guns, and several trucks and personnel carriers. This night battle lasted about five hours. The fire from both sides was intense. On the American side, a partial tabulation shows that in support of the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, B Battery, 8th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers), fired 1,661 rounds, the 4.2-inch mortar platoon fired 902 rounds, the 81-mm. mortar platoon fired 1,200 rounds, and F Company itself fired 385 60-mm. mortar rounds. The enemy column was destroyed. Patrols after daylight counted enemy dead in front of the perimeter position, and on that basis, they estimated the North Koreans had suffered 1,300 casualties in the night battle. Eleven prisoners captured by the patrol said the action had decimated their units and that only about one-fourth of their number remained.

                  The men of F Company, 27th Infantry apparently coined the name Bowling Alley during the night battle of 21-22 August. The enemy T34 tanks fired armor-piercing shells straight up the road toward the American positions, hoping to knock out the American tanks. The balls of fire hurtling through the night and the reverberations of the gun reports appeared to the men witnessing and listening to the wild scene like bowling balls streaking down an alley toward targets at the other end.

                  During the night battle, enemy forces infiltrated along the high ridge line around the east flank of the 27th Infantry and appeared the next day about noon 6 miles in the rear of that regiment and only 9 miles from Teague. This enemy force was the 1st Regiment of the N.K. 1st Division which had just arrived from the Kunwi area to join in the battle for Teague. It brought the main supply road of the 27th Infantry under small arms fire along a 5-mile stretch, beginning at a point 9 miles above Teague and extending northward.

                  About this time, Colonel Michaelis sent an urgent message to Eighth Army saying that the ROK troops on his left had given way and that "those people are not fighting." Prisoners told him, he said, that about 1,000 North Koreans were on his west flank. He asked for an air strike.

                  It must not go unnoticed that all the time the 27th Infantry and supporting units were fighting along the road, the ROK 1st Division was fighting in the mountains on either side. Had these ROK troops been driven from this high ground, the perimeter position of the 27th Infantry Regiment would have been untenable. Several times the ROK troops came off the mountains in daytime looking for food in the valley and a bath in the stream. But then, supported by the American artillery, they always climbed back up the heights and reoccupied the high ground. The ROK 1st Division must receive a generous share of the credit for holding the front north of Teague at this time.

                  General Paik bitterly resented Colonel Michaelis' charge that his men were not fighting. He said he would like to hold the valley position with all the tank and artillery support given the 27th Regiment while that regiment went up on the hills and fought the night battles with small arms. The Eighth Army G-3 staff investigated Colonel Michaelis' charge that the ROK troops had left their positions. KMAG officers visited all the ROK 1st Division units. The Assistant G-3 went to the ROK front personally to inquire into the situation. All reports agreed that the ROK units were where General Paik said they were.

                  The afternoon of 22 August, Lt. Col. James W. Edwards' 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry, guarding the support artillery behind the 27th Infantry, came under attack by the N.K. 1st Division troops that had passed around the forward positions. The regimental commander, Col. Paul L. Freeman, Jr., reported to Eighth Army at 1640 that the enemy had shelled the rear battery of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, that enemy riflemen were between the 27th and 23d Regiments on the road, and that other enemy groups had passed around the east side of his forward battalion. An intense barrage began falling on the headquarters area of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion at 1605, and 25 minutes later two direct hits on the fire direction center utterly destroyed it, killing four officers and two noncommissioned officers. The individual batteries quickly took over control of the battalion fires and continued to support the infantry, while battalion headquarters displaced under fire.

                  Air Force, Navy, and Australian planes delivered strikes on the enemy-held ridge east of the road and on the valley beyond. These strikes included one by B-26's employing 44,000 pounds of bombs. That night, General Walker released control of the 23d Infantry, less the 1st Battalion, to the 1st Cavalry Division with orders for it to clear the enemy from the road and the commanding ground overlooking the main supply road.
                  A bit of drama of a kind unusual in the Korean War occurred north of Tabu-dong on the 22d. About 1000, Lt. Col. Chong Pong Uk, commanding the artillery regiment supporting the N.K. 13th Division, walked up alone to a ROK 1st Division position three miles north of Tabu-dong. In one hand he carried a white flag; over his shoulder hung a leather map case. The commanding general of the 13th Division had reprimanded him, he said, for his failure to shell Tabu-dong. Believing that terrain obstacles made it impossible for his artillery fire to reach Tabu-dong and smarting under the reprimand, Chong had deserted.

                  Colonel Chong, the highest ranking prisoner thus far in the war, gave precise information on the location of his artillery. According to him, there were still seven operable 122-mm. howitzers and thirteen 76-mm. guns emplaced and camouflaged in an orchard four and a half miles north of Tabu-dong, in a little valley on the north side of Yuhak-san. Upon receiving this information, Eighth Army immediately prepared to destroy the enemy weapons. Fighter-bombers attacked the orchard site with napalm, and U.S. artillery took the location under fire.

                  During the night of 22-23 August, the enemy made his usual attack against the 27th Infantry, but not in great force, and was easily repulsed. Just before noon on the 23d, however, a violent action occurred some distance behind the front line when about 100 enemy soldiers, undetected, succeeded in reaching the positions of K Company, 27th Infantry and of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion. They overran part of these positions before being driven off with fifty killed.

                  Meanwhile, as ordered by General Walker, the 2d Battalion, 23 Infantry, after repelling several enemy night attacks, counterattacked at dawn, 23 August, and seized the high ground overlooking the road at the artillery positions. At the same time the 3d Battalion started an all-day attack that swept a 3-mile stretch of high ground east of the road. This action largely cleared the enemy from the area behind and on the flanks of the 27th Infantry. At 1335 in the afternoon, Colonel Michaelis reported from the Bowling Alley to Eighth Army that the N.K. 13th Division had blown the road to his front, had mined it, and was withdrawing.

                  The next day, 24 August, the 23d Infantry continued clearing the rear areas and by night it estimated that there were not more than 200 of the enemy behind the forward positions. The Bowling Alley front was quiet on the 24th except for an unfortunate accident. An Eighth Army tank recovery team came up to retrieve a T34 tank that had stopped just in front of the forward American mine field. As the retriever began to pull the T34 forward, an American mine unseen and pushed along in some loose dirt underneath the tank, exploded, badly damaging the tank and wounding twelve men standing nearby.

                  Shortly after midnight of 24 August the North Koreans launched what had by now become their regular nightly attack down the Bowling Alley. This attack was in an estimated two-company strength supported by a few tanks. The 27th Infantry broke up this fruitless attempt and two more enemy tanks were destroyed by the supporting artillery fire. This was the last night the 27th Infantry Regiment spent in the Bowling Alley. The confirmed enemy loss from 18 to 25 August included 13 T34 tanks, 5 self-propelled guns, and 23 vehicles.

                  With the enemy turned back north of Teague, General Walker on 24 August issued orders for the 27th Infantry to leave the Bowling Alley and return to the 25th Division in the Masan area. The ROK 1st Division was to assume responsibility for the Bowling Alley, but the U.S. 23d Regiment was to remain north of Teague in its support. ROK relief of the 27th Infantry began at 1800, 25 August, and continued throughout the night until completed at 0345, 26 August. On 30 August the regiment received orders to move from near Teague to Masan, and it started at 0800 the next morning, personnel going by train, vehicles by road. The Wolfhound Regiment completed the move by 2030 that night, 31 August. And a very fortunate move it proved to be, for it arrived in the nick of time, as a later chapter will show.

                  As if to signalize the successful defense of the northern approach to Teague in this week of fighting, a 20-year-old master sergeant of the ROK 1st Division executed a dangerous and colorful exploit. MSgt. Pea Sung Sub led a 9-man patrol 6,000 yards behind the North Korean lines to the N.K. 13th Division command post. There his patrol killed several enemy soldiers and captured three prisoners whom they brought back with no loss to themselves. General Paik gave the daring sergeant 50,000 won ($25.00) for his exploit. [

                  Colonel Murch's 2d Battalion and Colonel Check's 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, had gained something of a reputation for themselves in the Bowling Alley north of Teague. The defense in depth behind their front line by the 2d and 3d Battalions, 23d Infantry, had frustrated all enemy efforts to gain control of the gateway to Teague. The supporting tanks and the artillery had performed magnificently. During the daytime, Air Force attacks had inflicted destruction and disorganization on the enemy. And on the mountain ridges walling in the Bowling Alley, the ROK 1st Division had done its full share in fighting off the enemy thrust.

                  Survivors of the 1st Regiment, N.K. 1st Division, joined the rest of that division in the mountains east of the Taegue-Sangju road near the walled summit of Ka-san. Prisoners reported that the 1st Regiment was down to about 400 men and had lost all its 120-mm. mortars, 76-mm. howitzers, and antitank guns as a result of its action on the east flank of the N.K. 13th Division at the Bowling Alley.

                  Kevin Kenneally
                  Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
                  Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)


                  • #10
                    Good stuff Kevin.....Thanks .


                    • #11
                      Another one is Chongju October 1950


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Deltapooh View Post
                        There were some small tank-on-tank battles early on, like in July and August at Pusan. However, these were not major, involving a handful of vehicles. I would think the M4 had trouble taking on the T-34. I might be wrong since our troops knew how to fight as underdogs in tank battles. The North Koreans were more determined than skilled tankers, I would think.
                        The Shermans actually did quite well against the T-34. With a 76mm cannon and powerful AT rounds (not sure which kind, exactly, might have been APDS) and better-trained crews, the Shermans did very well, and I believe accounted for about half of all enemy tanks destroyed in tank-on-tank combat. Not sure about how many Shermans were destroyed by T-34s, though. The M24 Chaffees, to my knowledge, are the only ones that had difficulty with the T-34.
                        "The Bangalore Torpedo was 50' long and packed with 85 pounds of TNT and you assembled it along the way. By hand. I'd love to meet the ******* who invented it."


                        • #13
                          The Allies had much better armor in service. The Canadians and Americans were using 76.2mm armed Shermans IIRC, the US also had Pershings. While the British had Cromwells and Centurions.
                          A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.


                          • #14
                            There were 119 recorded tank actions, and according to Dunstan, most of those were actually fought between the T-34 and the Sherman 76.

                            Dunstan, S. (1982). Armour of the Korean War 1950-53 (Vol. Vanguard No. 27). London: Osprey Publishing.


                            • #15
                              Kevin, may I ask for reference info on the above. It is good work and so on.


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