The Battle of Imjin River
The first wave
The Battle of Imjin River began on 22 April 1951. The first contact between British and Chinese forces was made at 09:45 and, throughout the day, small parties of Chinese advanced to the UN and ROK front line. By late evening, battle had been fully joined. British forces managed to fend off early attempts to cross the Imjin. By 23:30, however - and despite heavy fire from the Glosters' "A" Company whose Vickers guns grew so hot with firing belt after belt of ammunition that they started to seize up - Chinese forces were moving across the river en masse.
By 03:00 on 23 April, it was plain that the Chinese forces had successfully penetrated UN and ROK lines. The situation had calmed slightly by that afternoon, however, and it seemed that the first wave of attacks had been completed. Then, at 17:00, the Glosters were once again attacked. At around the same time, the Belgian Volunteer Battalion managed to fight its way out eastwards across the Imjin River and was withdrawn through the American 3rd Infantry Division.
After a lull in the fighting, during which the Chinese 187th Division reorganised, the action against the Glosters in particular became more concentrated. In the early hours of 24 April, in the face of heavy fire, the Glosters had to withdraw from their position and re-form on Hill 235 (which became known as Gloster Hill) above the hamlet of Solma-ri.
The Glosters were now completely surrounded and low on water, ammunition and battery power. An attempt to break through to them failed. The Glosters managed to fight off Chinese forces for over 24 hours. By early morning on 25 April, however, it was thought that Chinese movement southward threatened to cut off the whole of the 29th Independent Brigade and the Brigade was ordered to withdraw. At 10:30, the Glosters attempted to break out of their besieged position and reach UN and ROK lines. Only 39 succeeded and many were taken prisoner. The battle had been lost, but the Glosters' holding action had enabled the left flank of 1st Corps to withdraw safely.
For more on the Battle of Imjin River from the Glosters' point of view, link to the Military History Webring.
About 25% of the 29th Independent Brigade as a whole had been killed over three days of fighting; the Chinese 63rd Army had lost about 40% of its men.