The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 16

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Chinese 79th Division at Yudam-ni during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Lacking all but a handful of radios and field telephones, higher echelon Chinese commanders used flares, gongs, and bugles to communicate with their troops. These had the effect of not only ordering the Chinese troops forward but of also alerting the Marines they were about to be assaulted. There aren’t that many photographs of the Chinese attacking the Marines or other American and Allied forces because the Chinese mainly attacked at night. They did this to reduce the effectiveness of Marine air and artillery.

Because of their inability to communicate with their troops in anything but the most rudimentary manner, Chinese commanders briefed their troops at length on their objectives. Once the attack was launched, however, the Chinese troops could not deviate from it. Over and over again Marines had the experience of Chinese troops running in lines at Marine machine gun positions only to be shot down in windrows.

In spite of their dead comrades covering the battlefield, the following Chinese units just stepped over and between the bodies and kept charging the same US Marine machine gun position, only to be mowed down in-turn. This could go on all night. Oft times the machine gun barrels grew so hot Marines had to pack snow around them to cool them off.

A Marine Corsair offers close contact with the enemy as it zooms skyward through the smoke after dropping napalm on an enemy position (one in a series of three photographs).

US Marines move forward after close-air support flushes out the enemy from hillside trenches. Billows of smoke rise from the target areas.

CLOSE SUPPORT – This is one of a series of three remarkable combat photographs showing the close coordination of the United States Marine air and ground units during recent fighting with Chinese Communists in Korea. United States Marines drive forward after effective close air support of F4U-5 Corsairs. Billows of smoke and flame from a small target area bear out the accuracy of the flying Leathernecks’ markmanship.

[Source: Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950 by Martin Russ. Images courtesy of Wikipedia, DefenseImagery.mil, DefenseImagery.mil, and DefenseImagery.mil.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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