The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 18

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Artillery Spotters – Two New Jersey Marines serving as artillery spotters with the First Marine Division in Korea, relay information concerning enemy positions back to their command post. Photo by R.J. Franks.

Occasionally the radios used by forward spotters went down from being hit by enemy fire or because the batteries ran out. Radio men discovered that the extreme cold of a Korean winter reduced battery life by as much as 50%. The Germans experienced a similar problem on the Eastern Front in World War Two. As you can imagine, this led to some tense moments until communications were restored.

Often parts had to be cannibalized from other radios to create one working radio — in the middle of a battle. Doing this under the extreme pressure of an attacking enemy must have set the pulse to pounding. Forward artillery observers had to be highly experienced and trained since any miscalculation could result in artillery rounds dropping on American or Allied troops. (In the Korean War, British, French and Turkish soldiers among others fought alongside Americans.)

Wearied by long marches on foot, a Turkish UN solider sits astride a mule he took from an enemy soldier in Korea on May 5, 1951. He ambushed the advancing Chinese and grabbed the mule for use in directing stragglers to the rear in ruins of Uijongbu during the recent communist offensive. (AP Photo/Robert Schutz)

[Images courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine and the Boston Big Picture.]

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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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