Eighteen countries fought under the United Nations flag in the Korean War (1950-1953) and 22 nations agreed to send either troops or medical units.. Sixteen nations fought with the United States and South Korea during the Korean War: 1) Australia, 2) Belgium, 3) Canada, 4) Colombia, 5) Denmark, 6) Ethiopia, 7) France, 8) Greece, 9) India, 10) the Netherlands, 11) New Zealand, 12) Norway, 13) the Philippines, 14) South Africa, 15) Sweden and 16) Turkey. Pre-Castro Cuba, Thailand and Bolivia were among the countries that contributed materials.

Lead by the United States, the United Nations passed a resolution calling for a cease-fire and withdrawal of North Korean forces and call for other nations to join the U.S. in international effort to halt North Korea aggression. The Soviet Union was boycotting the U.N. Security Council as the United Nations was addressing the Korean issue because the Soviet’s were so outraged by the insistence of the United States to give China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council to Taiwan rather than to Beijing. That proved to be advantageous for South Korea. If the Soviet Union had been present they no doubt could have used their veto the resolution. With the Soviets absent the United Nations voted to become involved in the Korean War.

The United Nations did not declare war but authorized a “police action” to halt the invasion and empowered its members to send troops to defend South Korea. The initiative was sort of test for the fledgling United Nations. It was first time countries from around the world joined together to fight an aggressor. After the South Koreans and Americans, the largest forces in the first batch of soldiers were from the United Kingdom (14,200 troops), Canada (6,146), Turkey (5,450), Australia (2,282),

At the urging of the United States, the U.N. Security Council branded the DPRK (North Korea) an aggressor and called for the withdrawal of the attacking forces. The Security Council, upon the request of the United States, condemned North Korea's invasion of South Korea and asked members of the U.N. to assist South Korea. The eighteen nations fought under the U.N. flag and under the unified command of General Douglas A. MacArthur, commander in chief of U.N. forces. [Source: Andrea Matles Savada and William Shaw, Library of Congress, 1990*]

Britain's Involvement in the Korean War

Almost 100,000 British troops fought in the Korea War and 1,078 died. About 6 percent of British troops were killed or wounded, many in a major battle on the Imjin River in April 1951 that slowed a major Chinese attack.

The BBC reported: In 1951 “600 soldiers of the British Army took on a force of 30,000 Chinese troops crossing the Imjin River in Korea. Reporting to his American superior, Brigadier Tom Brodie of the Gloucestershire Regiment admitted the situation was "a bit sticky". Such classic British understatement failed to secure the "Glorious Glosters" reinforcements or permission to fall back. At the end of the battle 10,000 Chinese troops had fallen. British losses stood at just 59, but only 39 of the survivors evaded capture. Two Victoria Crosses, Britain's highest military honour, were awarded for the action. But despite such heroism, Britain's role in the conflict has largely been forgotten by the public. [Source: BBC, April 20, 2001]

“In 1950, the UK was still licking the wounds of World War II. The British Empire was in sharp decline and Clement Attlee's government (with a Commons majority of just five) was facing its own military woes in Malaya. When Korea was first divided in 1945, the Labour cabinet suspected it might one day be forced to dispatch combat troops there, something it viewed as a "most undesirable commitment". However, the UK was a full member of the Security Council, somewhat indebted to the U.S. and still adjusting to its reduced global importance. Reminded by a colleague that Korea was not a priority interest for Britain, Clement Attlee mused: "Distant, yes, but nonetheless an obligation."

“More than 90,000 Britons served in Korea, among them Fusilier Maurice Micklewhite (better known as Sir Michael Caine) and Captain Anthony Farrar-Hockley (who was promoted to general and later commanded Nato). Due to cutbacks and difficulties recruiting regular troops, a large number of those sent to Korea were National Service conscripts.

“The Korean War revealed the limits of the "special relationship" between the UK and the US. The Attlee and Churchill governments found it almost impossible to influence America's execution of the war. “More than 1,000 British servicemen fell into enemy hands. Many were subjected to brutal treatment and "political re-education". Some 82 prisoners never returned home and are presumed dead. Royal Marine Andrew Condron chose to settle in China, only returning to the UK in 1960.

Australia in The Korean War

A total of 17,164 Australians served in the Korean War; 339 died and 1,216 were wounded. According to the Returned & Services League Of Australia: “Australia's contribution included 77 Squadron of the RAAF and the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR). When 3 RAR arrived in Pusan, the North Korean advance had been halted and their army was in full retreat. The U.N. forces commander, General MacArthur, was given permission to pursue them into North Korea. Three RAR moved north as part of the invasion force and fought their first major action near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. As the U.N. forces continued their advance, a series of successes led many to believe that the U.N. forces would soon bring the war to an end. [Source: Returned & Services League Of Australia, Australia’s Military Heritage]

At this point, China entered the war and moved 18 divisions into North Korea, attacking the U.N. forces, inflicting defeats on the U.N. forces and forcing them into retreat towards the 38th parallel. The Chinese halted their offensive in January 1951, Seoul once again having fallen. At the UN, efforts were made to conclude a ceasefire without success. By the end of February, Chinese resistance collapsed south of the Han River near Seoul, and the city was recaptured by U.N. forces in mid-March and the line of war remained around the 38th parallel – where it had started.

▪Australian troops participated in two major battles in 1951. On the evening of 22 April, Chinese forces attacked the Kapyong valley and forced South Korean and New Zealand troops into retreat; other U.N. troops, including Australians, were ordered to halt the attack. After a night of fierce fighting, during which their positions were overrun, the Australians recaptured their positions and stalled the Chinese advance, at a cost of only 32 men killed and 53 wounded. For their contribution to this action, 3 RAR was awarded a US Presidential Citation.

The second major battle for the Australians was Operation Commando, an attack against a Chinese-held salient in a bend of the Imjin, a river running north-south that crosses the 38th parallel just above Seoul. Here the Commonwealth Division, including the Australians, had two key objectives: Hills 355 and 317. The attack began on 3 October, and after five days of heavy fighting the Chinese withdrew. 20 Australians were killed in the battle and 89 were wounded.

Killing of Prisoners by Commonwealth Soldiers

British and Commonwealth soldiers, according to veterans of the war, looted and burnt villagers and killed villains and prisoners of war. Second Lieutenant Owen Light ordered his men to kill wounded North Korean troops lying among the dead on the battlefield because they allegedly had live hand grenades concealed beneath their bodies. [Source: Richard Lloyd Perry, The Times, June 26, 2011]

“These were sound tactics,” one veteran was quoted as saying in the book “Scorched Earth, Black Snow: Britain and Australia in the Korean War”. “It is a very Oriental thing to leave your wounded crying and blubbering; if you go and talk to them, there may be another ambush. They made the right tactical decision.”

Describing how a Australian unit dealt with “gooks.” Lance Corporal Don Barret of the Middlesex Regiment said: “Out in [the] field was an Aussie and he had two gooks — he’d taken their burp [sub-machine] gun — and he motioned and they started to walk away. It misfired, so he called them back. One came back and fixed it. They walked away, then he mowed them down.”

Ethiopians in the Korean War

More than 3,000 Ethiopians fought in the Korean War, more than 121 were killed and 536 were wounded. The survivors returned to Addis Ababa as heroes. The Ethiopian Kagnew Battalions were three successive battalions drawn from the 1st Division Imperial Bodyguard sent by Emperor Haile Selassie I between June 1951 and April 1954 as part of the United Nations forces in the Korean War. Even after the armistice, a token Ethiopian force remained in the country until 1965. Altogether, 3,158 Ethiopians served in Kagnew Battalions during the war. [Source: Wikipedia]

Alex Last of the BBC wrote: In 1951, the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie, decided to send thousands of troops to fight as part of the American-led U.N. force supporting South Korea against the communist North and its ally, China. They were called the Kagnew battalions and were drawn from Haile Selassie's Imperial Bodyguard — Ethiopia's elite troops. Capt Mamo Habtewold — 81 years old in 2012 — was then a young lieutenant in the 3rd Kagnew Battalion. He clearly remembers a send-off from the Emperor himself, as he was about to leave for the other side of the world. "Always when a battalion went to Korea, he came himself and made a speech and he gave each battalion a flag — and he ordered us to bring that flag back from Korea," Mamo recalls. [Source: Alex Last, BBC World Service, 5 September 2012]

“When Ethiopia had been invaded by Italy in 1935 Haile Selassie had condemned the League of Nations for its failure to act. Now, as a staunch ally of the US, he was eager to practise what he had preached. "As you know our King, Haile Selassie, was a great man for collective security. And when the U.N. asked him for troops for Korea, he accepted without any question," Mamo says.

“Mamo was himself keen to go, especially after the first Ethiopian battalion sent to Korea returned in 1953. "Everyone was boasting when they came back from Korea, so everybody wanted to fight," he says. The Ethiopians fought as part of the U.S. 7th Division. At the time, the American army had only just started to become racially de-segregated. But for Mamo discrimination was not an issue. "You know Ethiopia has a 3,000-year history as an independent country. We Ethiopians were proud and boasting that we were Ethiopians. We don't care about any colour. The Americans didn't call us 'Negro' as we would be angry," he says. And Mamo is proud of their record in Korea. "We were the best fighters. The three Ethiopian battalions fought 253 battles, and no Ethiopian soldier was taken prisoner in the Korean War," he says. "That was our Ethiopian motto: 'Never be captured on the war field.'"”

Ethiopian Hero of the Korean War

Alex Last of the BBC wrote: “In 1953, while peace talks dragged on, the two sides hoped to strengthen their negotiating position by battling for control of the barren, rocky hills and ridges which lay in front of the main U.N. front line. Some of the hills had nicknames: Old Baldy, T-bone and, most famously, Pork Chop Hill. Defence of this area was assigned to the U.S. 7th Division, which included the Ethiopian Kagnew battalion. One night in May 1953, Mamo led a small patrol down from his hilltop outpost to scout out the land below. [Source: Alex Last, BBC World Service, 5 September 2012]

What he didn't know was that his patrol was about to be enveloped in a major Chinese army assault. "We were 14 Ethiopians and one American in our patrol. It was written later that we were fighting 300 Chinese soldiers — one man against 20," he remembers. Four members of the patrol were killed, including the American corporal. Everyone else was wounded. "They tried to take my radio operator prisoner, but I killed the Chinese soldier and saved that man. And one time they came to finish us when we were all wounded, and I was left with one hand grenade and I killed them. It was very hard."

“The fighting continued on and off through the night. Cut off, his men wounded, Mamo feared they could not hold out much longer. "I was wounded several times, I was tired, exhausted and I fell unconscious twice. The most important thing was to find a radio to contact the American artillery. But my three radios were destroyed. "I gave one soldier my pistol to cover me while I went looking for a radio. I fainted again, and I was afraid I might be captured, I wanted to kill myself. But when I ordered the soldier to give me my pistol back, he refused, and the other soldiers said 'Don't give it to him!'" So Mamo decided to fight on, after all. "I just looked for a weapon from one of the dead men, and when the Chinese attacked I would shoot, and when it was quiet, I would look for a radio," he says.

“In the end he did find a radio. He called in American artillery which halted the Chinese attacks. Reinforcements got through and under the cover of smoke he and his wounded soldiers were withdrawn. Back at base, Mamo was the only one of his patrol left standing. "They all went to hospital. I was the only one who went back to the bunker. It's like a man who is living with his family, and all the family is dead and he returns to an empty house — that is how I felt. I was so sorry. I was very depressed." For his actions, he was awarded Ethiopia's highest military honour. The Americans also gave him a Silver Star for gallantry in action.

Colombian Battalion

The Colombian Battalion was active in the Korean War from 1951 to 1954. Soldiers were drawn from Colombian Army and Navy. About 5,100 men served over the duration of war. They were involved in fighting at Operation Thunderbolt (1951), the recapture of Geumseong and the Battle of Old Baldy. A total of 163 men in the Colombian Battalion were killed in action, 448 were wounded, 60 went missing, and 30 were captured over the course of the conflict [Source: Wikipedia]

The first Colombian military unit to serve in Asia, the Colombian Battalion was attached to the U.S. 7th Infantry Division and 25th Infantry Divisions during the war. The election of President Laureano Gómez in 1950 sparked renewed interest in building up Colombian-American relations. In contrast to his predecessor, Gómez wanted greater U.S. economic support in exchange for direct involvement as an ally, and a means to erase any lingering impressions caused among U.S. policy makers of his previous attitude of anti-U.S. sentiment during the World Wars.

Following the outbreak of the Korean War, the Colombian Battalion was deployed to Busan in June 1951 under the command of Colonel Jaime Polanía Puyo. The overall strength of the battalion was 5100 infantry soldiers and 300 Navy sailors on board the frigates ARC Almirante Padilla, ARC Capitán Tono, and ARC Almirante Brión.

Turkish Brigade in the Korean War

The Turkish Brigade — code name North Star, Simal Yildizi or Kutup Yildizi in Turkish — was a Turkish Army the U.S. 25th Infantry Division under United Nations Command in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. The Turkish Brigade fought in several battles and was awarded Unit Citations from Korea and the United States after fighting in the Kunuri Battle. The Turkish Brigade developed a reputation for its fighting ability, stubborn defense, commitment to mission, and bravery. A total of 14,936 men served in the Turkish Brigade, with about 5,455 soldiers in Korea at any one time. A total of 721 were killed in action, with 2,111 wounded and 168 missing [Source: Wikipedia]

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: “In the course of the U.N. offensive and the Chinese counteroffensive, the 1st Turkish Brigade suffered 3,514 casualties, of which 741 were killed in action, 2,068 wounded, 163 missing and 244 taken prisoner, as well as 298 noncombatant casualties. The Turks acquitted themselves in a brave and noble fashion in some of the worst conditions experienced in the Korean War. Very little else could have been required or expected of them. Their heavy casualties speak of their honor and commitment. Their bravery requires no embellishment. It stands on its own. [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

“The Turks, armed and trained by American military advisers, did better than even they had hoped or expected in this, their first real combat since World War I. The American units to which they were attached respected their skills and tenacity in combat. Some comments by American officers give insight into the Turks and their abilities. ‘They really prefer to be on the offensive and handle it quite well,’ went one appraisal. ‘They are not as good at defensive positions, and certainly never retreat.’ Another report told of their patrol skills: ‘Certain Turkish patrols always reported high body counts when they returned from patrols. Headquarters always scoffed at the high numbers, much higher in fact than any other unit, until the Turks decided to bring the enemy bodies back and dump them at headquarters for the body count.’

Arrival of the Turkish Brigade in the Korean War

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: The first Turkish contingent arrived on October 19, 1950, and in varying strengths remained until midsummer 1954. Initially, Turkey sent the 1st Turkish Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Tahsin Yazici. The brigade consisted of three battalions commanded by Major Imadettin Kuranel, Major Mithat Ulunu, and Major Lutfu Bilgon. The Turkish Armed Forces Command (TAFC) was a regimental combat team with three infantry battalions, along with supporting artillery and engineers. It was the only brigade-sized U.N. unit attached permanently to a U.S. division throughout the Korean War. [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

“More than 5,000 men of the 1st Turkish Brigade, including liaison and the advance party, arrived in Pusan, South Korea, on October 17 from the eastern Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, Turkey. The brigade unloaded from their ship and proceeded to the newly opened U.N. reception center located just outside of Taegu. The bulk of the enlisted men were from small towns and villages in the mountains of eastern Turkey. For these volunteer officers and volunteer enlisted men who were just completing their compulsory two year service, it was not only the first time that they had left their native country–it was the first time they had been out of the villages of their birth. It was, at least for the enlisted men, the first time that they had encountered non-Muslims. Vast cultural and religious differences existed between the Turks and the Americans.

“Their commander, aging Brig. Gen. Yazici, was highly regarded in the Turkish military establishment and willingly stepped down a rank in order to command the first contingent of Turks in Korea. He had only one drawback–no real command of English–yet he was attached to an American division. Later, that lack of language proficiency would prove to be a major hindrance to his understanding of orders and troop deployments.

“The U.S. Army command was unaware of the difficulties in coordination, logistics and, above all, basic communication in a common language that would complicate orders and troop movements, especially in the crucial early months of their joint exercises. Unfamiliar food, clothing requirements and transportation would come to create more problems than the American high command had counted on. The dietary requirements of the Turks forbade pork products, and the American rations definitely contained pork products forbidden to all Muslims. A Japanese food processor was hired to provide rations that met the Turkish requirements. Bread and coffee presented other problems. The Turks favored a heavy, substantial bread containing nonbleached flour along with thick, strong, heavily sweetened coffee. The U.S. Army found a way to satisfy these needs along with those of the other Allied forces.

“The Turks’ arrival in Korea garnered a considerable amount of publicity. The Turkish soldiers’ fierce appearance, flowing mustaches and great knives were a war correspondent’s dream come true. Although they had not fought in a major conflict since World War I, the Turkish soldiers had the reputation of being rough, hard fighters who preferred the offensive position and gave no quarter in battle. Most of the enlisted men were young and carried a sidearm sword that, to Americans and the other U.N. troops, appeared to be a long knife. No other U.N. troops were armed with that kind of knife, or indeed any other weapon out of the ordinary. The Turks had a dangerous proficiency in close combat with their long knives that made all other Allied forces want to stay clear of them.

“Most of the enlisted men were from the eastern steppe region of Turkey near the Russian border and had little more than three or four years of basic schooling. In the conscription process, they were given uniforms, plus some training by the Turkish military and their U.S. military advisers. Life in their native villages had been largely unchanged for hundreds of years. A central village well still provided water, and news of the outside world seldom penetrated village daily life.”

Turkish Brigade at the Battle of Wawon

The Turkish Brigade distinguished itself at Battle of Wawon (Wayuan), a series of delay actions that took place from November 27–29, 1950 near Wawon in present-day North Korea. After the collapse of the U.S. Eighth Army's right flank during the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River, the Chinese 38th Corps advanced rapidly towards the critical road junction at Kunu-ri in an effort to cut off United Nations forces' retreat route. In what was considered to be Turkey's first real combat action since the aftermath of World War I, the Turkish Brigade attempted to delay the Chinese advances at Wawon. Although during the battle the Turkish Brigade was crippled after being encircled by Chinese forces with superior numbers, they were still be able to breach the Chinese trap and rejoin the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division. Delay of Chinese troops' advance after meeting with heavy Turkish resistance helped the other United Nations forces to withdraw without suffering many casualties and reassemble later in December. [Source: Wikipedia]

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: On November 19, the U.S. 25th Division left Kaesong at 6:00am and bedded down at the mining town of Kunu-ri around 2 o’clock that night. The next day, the Turkish Brigade, which was largely an infantry unit without trucks for troop transport, was detached and reassigned to the IX Corps reserve at Kunu-ri. Walker’s Eighth Army command was split down the middle by the Chongchon River. As part of the IX Corps’ general northward advance, the Turks were ordered on November 21 to move north with the 25th Division. By November 22, 1950, the Turks had completed their assignment of neutralizing North Korean patrols in their assigned area. The steady movement to Kunu-ri had begun in earnest. Kunu-ri, much like all the other small villages in the northern sector, was mainly mud-and-stick houses. It was a totally unremarkable place, little different from any of the other villages perched on the mountainsides and in the deep valleys cut by swift-moving mountain rivers and streams. [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

“Advancing along with their American counterparts, the Turks were ordered to establish contact with the U.S. 2nd Division on the right flank of the IX Corps and also to cover the right flank and rear of their division. The brigade had received information concerning a Chinese regiment known to be northwest of Tokchon. General Yazici described the situation that confronted him in these words: ‘This was what the order was. Further intelligence was asked about the enemy and the ROK Corps, but none was available or more information was not supplied lest it lower the morale of the Turkish Brigade….The situation was serious, and demanded prompt action.’

“On November 26, the Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) launched strong counterattacks against the U.S. I Corps and IX Corps. The main Chinese force moved down the central mountain ranges against the ROK II Corps at Tokchon. The South Koreans could not withstand the attack and their defenses collapsed. The Chinese onslaught assumed alarming proportions, and the Turks were ordered to protect the U.N. right flank. Trucks were assigned to transport the Turks’ 1st Battalion to Wawon, 15 miles east of Kunu-ri, about halfway to Takchon, unload and return for the 2nd Battalion. After insufficient trucks arrived, some of the brigade set out on foot. Orders, counterorders and garbled transmissions made the situation an unintelligible mess.

“The Turks were ordered to close the road and secure Unsong-ni. Trying later to explain the confusion of that time, General Yazici wrote: ‘There was no time to move the brigade to Unsong-ni and deploy it there before dark. Besides, the enemy, which was supposed to be at Chongsong-ni, was in fact too close to the line which the Corps wanted us to hold. That the Brigade might be subjected to a surprise attack before reaching its position was highly probable. Even more important was the fact that the civilian population had not been moved out of the area. If the peasants and the guerrillas that might have been infiltrated among them attempted to block the mountain crossing or the Wawon Pass in the rear, the Brigade might suffer heavily. As a matter of fact, the 2nd Division, of which we were supposed to defend the right flank, was withdrawing. It was impossible to fulfill the task from Karil L’yong, where the Brigade was, because the terrain was very rugged and thickly wooded. In order to protect the Kunu-ri―Tokchon road and the other roads to the north and the south, a 12-mile-wide front had to be held. This was impossible against a numerically superior enemy who knew the region well. Further, the terrain restricted the effective use of artillery and heavy infantry weapons.’

Fighting by Turkish Brigade at the Battle of Wawon

A.K. Starbuck wrote in Military History magazine: “As Yazici clearly outlined, the Turks were in an unenviable situation. They had to withdraw to the southeast. That withdrawal compounded the exposure of the Turks’ own east flank as well as the 2nd Division’s east flank. Yazici ordered his men to move in the direction of Wawon northeast of Kunu-ri. The brigade had lost contact with corps. Therefore, Yazici assumed responsibility and ordered his men to position themselves at Wawon. When they reached Wawon, they attacked toward Tokchon, on foot and without tank support. The terrain was upstream along the Tongjukkyo River into the mountain divide that separated the Chongchon River from the Taedong drainage. Here, the headwaters of the Tongjukkyo River fan out into numerous small streams. [Source: A.K. Starbuck, Military History magazine, December 1997]

“When he received intelligence that air observers had seen hundreds of Chinese moving toward Tokchon, Maj. Gen. Laurence Kaiser, commanding the U.S. 2nd Division, remarked, ‘That’s where they are going to hit.’ The Chinese counteroffensive actually struck all along the front. Two platoons of the Turkish Brigade assigned reconnaissance duty were now given rear-guard duty. The Chinese followed the brigade closely. The reconnaissance unit engaged the oncoming Chinese at the Karil L’yong Pass, was unable to break contact. Only a few men survived.

“The Turks had achieved one objective–they had tied down the enemy. The Chinese suffered heavy casualties trying repeatedly to take the Turkish position, and all their attacks were repelled. Finally, Yazici, understanding that the brigade was being encircled by the numerically superior Chinese, ordered withdrawal.

“The Turks were isolated in the subzero temperatures, their orders not fully understood. And during the night, the Chinese kept up a steady barrage of sudden noises using drums, bugles, whistles, flutes, shepherds’ pipes and cymbals, along with the shouting, laughing and chattering of human voices. The offensive had changed and now became a rout of the U.N. forces. The engulfing enemy constantly changed tactics and directions.. Communications resumed with the Turkish Brigade. Some orders were understood, but most were not. The brigade was ordered to merge with the U.S. 38th Regiment, cover the 38th’s flank and secure a retreat route westward. In the confusion of the retreat and the garbled, misdirected and delayed messages, that crucial directive was two hours late in delivery. The column got turned about in the mass confusion and congestion of the road.

“Once again, as the Turks approached Wawon, they encountered heavy enemy fire. The CCF had arrived before the Turks were able to reassemble and assume defensive positions. The Chinese ripped into the ragged column and the soldiers were ordered to turn about once again. The Turkish 9th Company took the brunt of the attack as it covered for the retreating main body. The 10th Company of the brigade’s 3rd Battalion received orders to form the brigade’s general outpost line. Major Lutfu Bilgin, commander of the 3rd Battalion, sent his 9th Company to defend the 10th and 11th companies’ flank. The Chinese eased off on the 10th but continued to besiege the 9th and the 11th. Midmorning on November 28, the Chinese broke through and attacked the 9th’s position in force. The company was overrun, and Major Bilgin and many of his men were killed.

“Enemy reinforcements tried to encircle the entire brigade. General Yazici, however, assessed the situation and took steps to protect his flank and avoid encirclement. The CCF poured forward, and the Turks were caught in the trap that the Chinese were laying. Suddenly, the Chinese broke off after encountering strong resistance of the 3rd Battalion.

“During the withdrawal, the Chinese had attacked the Turks with overwhelming force and the brigade took such high casualties that by November 30 it was destroyed as a battleworthy unit. The only support the Turks received from IX Corps was a tank platoon and truck transportation. That was added to the brigade’s artillery and enabled some of the brigade to survive.

“The flow of messages and changed orders to the Turks on the road to Tokchon on November 27 reflected the lack of precise information and the high level of uncertainty that IX Corps and the Eighth Army experienced as they struggled to interpret the rapidly enfolding events. One certainty was that, during the day, the Chinese attacked the leading 1st Battalion at Wawon and this ambush inflicted the devastating blow to the Turks. The battalion was surrounded, and a hand-to-hand battle between Chinese bayonets and Turkish long knives took place. It was reported that the two companies of Turks were still fighting east of Wawaon and had about 400 men wounded. General Yazici was at his headquarters in Taechon, a larger village southeast of Kunu-ri. The Turks held out at Wawon until the afternoon and then withdrew to another position southwest of Wawon. Again, the Chinese outflanked those Turks, who then withdrew toward Kunu-ri. The Turkish battalion lost most of its vehicles. The survivors scrambled into the hills when all other means of escape was denied them. By that time, the Chinese held all the roads. The Turks continued to fight delaying actions to gain time for the rest of their troops to re-form and establish some semblance of an orderly defense.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: South Korean government websites, Korea Tourism Organization, Cultural Heritage Administration, Republic of Korea, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun, The Guardian and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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