Imjin River 1951

Published: December 6th, 2018     
Product Image
Author: Brian Drohan, Illustrated by Steve Noon
Reviewed by: Bill Kluge - IPMS# 45849
ISBN #: 9781472826923
E-Book ISBN #: 9781472826909
Other Publication Information: Paperback, October 2018; 96 pages
Price: $24.00
Product / Stock #: Campaign 328
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

In November, 1950, "volunteer" forces of the Chinese Army crossed the Yalu River and swept the advancing UN forces out of North Korea and back below the 38th Parallel. By the following February, Allied forces had halted the Chinese and stabilized the front, pushing them back into North Korea with limited counterattacks. By April, with an infusion of fresh divisions, the Chinese were once again on the offensive, pressing the UN line in another attempt to capture the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Attached to the 3rd US Infantry Division protecting Seoul was the British 29th Brigade, under the command of highly respected former Chindit, Brigadier Tom Brodie. The Brigade was comprised of three British battalions - 1st Battalion, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers; 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment; 1st Battalion, the Royal Ulster Rifles; and the Belgian Infantry Battalion. Additional attached supporting units included C Squadron, 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars, with 16 Centurion Mk.III tanks; 45 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery with twenty-four 25-pounder howitzers; 55 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers; the 170 Independent Mortar Battery with heavy 4.2" mortars; and finally, A Troop, 11 Light Anti-Aircraft Battery, who eventually used their 40mm Bofors guns as anti-personnel weapons. Facing the 29th Brigade were 3 divisions of the Chinese 63rd Army.

Author Brian Drohan describes in detail the background and equipment of the principal constituent units of the 29th Brigade, and to a lesser degree, the opposing Chinese forces. He also lays out the battlefield - a series of low hills and ridges adjacent to the winding Imjin River. While the terrain presented good defensive ground for the British, there was just too much of it to adequately defend against the overwhelming human wave attacks that the Chinese repeatedly threw against them. After the initial Chinese nighttime onslaught, the battalions of the 29th time and again were for forced to give ground so as not to be cut off and overwhelmed. Again and again, the guns of the 45 Field Regiment were called to beat back Chinese breakthroughs or open escape routes for their infantry battalions. At one point, they were even forced to defend themselves by leveling their barrels and firing at advancing Chinese over open sights. Not only were the hard pressed battalions fighting to defend key positions, but for their own survival as well. By the battle's third day, the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (the "Glorious Glosters") was surrounded. Repeated rescue attempts failed. Forced to split up and break out of their stranglehold in small groups, the majority were either killed or captured. Only 63 escaped.

Many of us on this side of the Atlantic often forget the full range of the United Nation's participation during the Korean War. This volume does an admirable job in providing a close up account of Britain's combat forces in one of the many battles of the back-and-forth campaign that made up the middle period of the Korean War. Drohan's clear and descriptive text, coupled with Steve Noon's three excellent 2-page spread illustrations (along with several other sourced spot illustrations) make this an enjoyable read and a good opportunity to catch up on aspect of the Korean War that is often overlooked. Thanks to IPMS and to Osprey Publishing for providing this review sample.

  • Contents
  • 2-Page Spread
    2-Page Spread
  • Map
  • Photo
  • Spot Illustration
    Spot Illustration

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