To The Last Round - The Epic British Stand on the Imjin

Discussion in 'History' started by shellbackmac, May 5, 2009.

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    The Epic British Stand On The Imjin River, Korea 1951

    Just started this. When you read about the lads in Afghanistan being involved in 'the most vicious fighting British Forces have been engaged in
    for 50 years' this is the 'since' that the historians are referring to.

    The synopsis at the link gives a dit on the books scope. Basically 3 British
    infantry battalions (The Gloucesters, The Royal Ulster Rifles and the The Royal Nortumberland Fusiliers) plus Royal Artillery, tank support from Centurions of the Royal Irish Hussars and a battalion of the Belgian Army were assaulted by an entire Chinese Army numbering tens of thousands. The Gloucesters ceased to exist as a unit after the action, with many casualties and most of the survivors going into brutal North Korean
    captivity for a couple of years.

    I have read 'The Edge Of The Sword' by Anthony Farrar-Hockley which is his excellent autobiographical account of the Gloucesters stand and his own subsequent escapes and recaptures in North Korea (he explains how
    difficult it is to escape in an Asian country when your are 6ft tall and
    white!), but this one goes into full detail of the entire battle with lots of photos and interviews with veterans. Just started it but so far the best book on the British involvement in the Korean War I've found. Anyone
    else read any good stuff about our (and Commonwealth) forces in this conflict?
  2. Am I correct in believing that the epic stand by the Gloucesters saved the American left flank, enabling them to make a strategic withdrawal?
  3. Not got that far yet Gom, will let you know shipmate!
  4. Can't rate this book highly enough. A lot of the troops involved from the 3 infantry battalions (The Glosters, Royal Ulster Rifles and the Northumberland Fusiliers), the Royal Hussars, the RA and RE had been involved in WW2 but state that the Imjin was more vicious in its intensity. There were 141 lads killed in action over 72 hours but significantly they inflicted at least 3000 KIA on the Chinese attackers and played a massive part in prevening the Chinese and North Koreans from achieving their objective of taking Seoul, allowing a successful United Nations withdrawal to the next line of defence in what was the biggest Chinese and NK assault of the entire war.
    Also goes into detail about the terrible treatment of the POW's in communist hands and in particular Fusilier George Kinne who proved to be unbreakable despite 2 years of constant beatings and solitary confinement for being, in his own words 'an obnoxious bastard'.

    The Centurion tanks used by the Royal Hussars were classified as Top Secret due to highly classified gun stabilisation device fitted, making it necessary to totally destroy one before the battle that was unrecoverable. After the main battle the 6 that had been knocked out by the Chinese were discovered as they had been abandoned, the only things missing being a few pin-ups from inside and a set of adjustable spanners! Relief all round and no doubt the Soviets a bit peed off at a lost intel opportunity....

    Also sheds some light on the volunteer Belgian battalion who fought with the British brigade, it was made up of former WW2 commandos from no4 (allied) Commando, SOE agents, Belgian former members of the French Foreign Legion etc. The British troops swore by them and say they were some of the best soldiers they had served with.

    Get hold of it anyway, not a lot is known nowadays about a war in which we lost 1078 killed and ithe fact that South Koreans today are proud of our veterans, some of our old boys saying they are more welcome there then they are in our own country - sad but true.
  5. Strange that, given that it was only 6 years since the Regiment had been suffering at the hands of the Koreans acting as guards for the Japanese. Circumstance can make for strange bedfellows!

  6. Excellent story, really should be a film...

    Story goes that the Last Gloster to pull back from the hilltop knocked out the first Chinese soldier into the positions with his fists as he'd lost his rifle...

    The Hussars awful movement through the paddy fields being swarmed by Chinese soldiers, having to machinegun the Chinese off the tank in front as they tried to prise open the hatches, running down many. Treads red with blood...

    Epic story

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