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British Battles

British Battles

Korea, 1951

The build-up to Imjin River

Spring offensive

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In April 1951, the Chinese launched a new and meticulously planned advance. General P'eng The-huai (or Dehai), commander of the Chinese Communist Field Army, directed a massive attack on a weak point in the UN and ROK lines.

Until 21 April, the opposing forces had been between 16 and 24 kilometres apart. On Sunday 22 April 1951, P'eng's 63rd Army attacked, aiming to break through the lines and capture Uijongbu and, ultimately, to recapture Seoul.

The 29th Independent Brigade

P'eng's forces were opposed by the UN's Ist Corps, principally by the British 29th Independent Brigade, which held a 15 kilometre section of the front line: if this collapsed, American units to the north-east would be cut off. Of the 29th Independent Brigade, the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment (known as the Glosters) and C Troop, 170th Independent Mortar Battery, Royal Artillery held the principal invasion route towards Seoul. The Glosters under Lieutenant-Colonel Carne, together with the Royal Artillery and the reserves, had 773 men holding three points, after which there was a 3 kilometre gap before the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers' position on the right. The Royal Ulster Rifles and the tanks of the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars were in reserve further down the road to Seoul.

The British soldiers were better armed than their opponents and many were veterans of the Second World War. They were however no match in numbers for the 27,000-30,000 Chinese troops who attacked them.


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American actions during the Battle of Imjin River - with transcript


Chinese actions during the spring offensive - with transcript


P'eng's tactics were to probe the UN and ROK front line for weaknesses using numerous 'feeler' patrols of two or three men. He then sent in huge numbers of less experienced troops in order to overwhelm the enemy, after which he followed through with his best men.

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