Battle of the Bowling Alley

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Coordinates: 35°52′N 128°36′E / 35.867°N 128.600°E / 35.867; 128.600

Battle of the Bowling Alley
Part of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter
A tank advances into a valley
US tanks advance into the Bowling Alley on August 21.
Date August 12–25, 1950
Location Gasan, Chilgok, South Korea
Result United Nations victory
Belligerents
 United Nations  North Korea
Commanders and leaders
South Korea Paik Sun Yup
United States John H. Michaelis
United States Paul L. Freeman, Jr.
North Korea Choi Yong Chin
North Korea Hong Rim
North Korea Paik Son Choi
Units involved
South Korea 1st Division North Korea 13th Division
North Korea 1st Division
North Korea 15th Division
Strength
United States: ~5,000
South Korea: 7,500
16,000[1]
Casualties and losses
South Korea: 2,300 killed
United States: 8 killed, 70 wounded
5,690 killed
13 T-34 tanks
6 SU-76s[2]

In the Battle of the Bowling Alley (August 12–25, 1950), United Nations (UN) forces defeated North Korean (NK) forces early in the Korean War near the city of Taegu, South Korea. The battle took place in a narrow valley, dubbed the "Bowling Alley", which was north of Taegu. It followed a week of fighting between the North Korean People's Army 13th Division and the Republic of Korea Army's (ROK) 1st Division along the latter's last defensible line in the hills north of the city. Reinforcements, including the US Army's 27th and 23rd Infantry Regiments were committed to bolster the South Koreans' defenses. This battle and several others were smaller engagements of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter.

For another week, North Korean divisions launched all the troops they had in massed attacks against the ROK and US lines. Their attacks, which usually occurred at night and were supported by armor and artillery, advanced with infantry and tanks in close support of one another. Each North Korean attack ran into well-established UN lines, where US tanks, mines and entrenched infantry were positioned to counter them. Strikes by US aircraft ravaged the attacking North Koreans. The fighting was fierce with many casualties on both sides, particularly where the North and South Koreans fought one another. The repeated attacks eventually broke and pushed back the North Korean forces. They continued their push against the Pusan Perimeter until they were turned back in the Battle of Inchon.

Background[edit]

Outbreak of war[edit]

Soldiers carrying their bags off of a train in a Korean train station
Task Force Smith arrives in South Korea.

Following the invasion of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and the subsequent outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, the United Nations voted to enter the conflict on behalf of South Korea. The United States, a member of the UN, simultaneously committed ground forces to the Korean peninsula with the goal of pushing back the North Korean invasion and preventing South Korea from collapsing. But US forces in the Far East had been steadily decreasing since the end of World War II, five years earlier, and at the time the closest forces were the US 24th Infantry Division, headquartered in Japan. The division was understrength, and most of its equipment was antiquated due to reductions in military spending. Nevertheless, the 24th was ordered to South Korea.[3]

The 24th Infantry Division was the first US unit sent into Korea with the mission to take the initial "shock" of North Korean advances, delaying much larger North Korean units to buy time to allow reinforcements to arrive.[4] The division fought for several weeks while the 1st Cavalry, 7th Infantry and 25th Infantry Divisions and Eighth United States Army supporting units were arriving.[4] Advance elements of the 24th were badly defeated in the Battle of Osan on July 5, the first encounter between American and North Korean forces.[5] For the first month after the defeat at Osan, the 24th Infantry Division was repeatedly defeated and forced south by superior North Korean numbers and equipment.[6][7] The regiments of the division were systematically pushed south in engagements around Chochiwon, Chonan, and Pyongtaek.[6] The 24th was finally annihilated in the Battle of Taejon, but was able to delay the North Korean forces until July 20.[8] By that time, the Eighth Army's force of combat troops were roughly equal to North Korean forces attacking the region, with new UN units arriving every day.[9]

North Korean advance[edit]

A map of a perimeter on the southeastern tip of a land mass
Tactical map of the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950. The fight at P'ohang-dong occurred between North and South Korean forces on the northeastern line.

After the fight at Taejon, UN forces were pushed back repeatedly before finally halting the North Korean advance in a series of engagements in the southern section of the country. Forces of the 3rd Battalion, 29th Infantry, newly arrived in the country, were wiped out at Hadong in a coordinated ambush by North Korean forces on July 27, opening a pass to the Pusan area from the west.[10][11] Soon after, North Korean forces took Chinju, east of Hadong, pushing back the US 19th Infantry Regiment and leaving routes to Pusan open to direct North Korean attacks.[12] The UN formations were subsequently able to defeat the North Koreans in the Battle of the Notch on August 2, halting their advance from the west. Suffering mounting losses, the Korean People's Army force withdrew for several days to re-equip and receive reinforcements. This granted both sides a reprieve to prepare for the attack on the Pusan Perimeter.[13][14]

Taegu[edit]

Meanwhile, the Eighth Army commander Lieutenant General Walton Walker had established Taegu as his headquarters.[15] At the center of the Pusan Perimeter line, Taegu stood at the entrance to the Naktong River valley, an area where North Korean forces could advance in large numbers in close support. The natural barriers provided by the Naktong River to the south and the mountainous terrain to the north converged around Taegu, a transportation hub and the last major South Korean city aside from Pusan itself to remain in UN hands.[16] From south to north, the city was defended by the US 1st Cavalry Division, the ROK 1st Division, and the ROK 6th Division, which were under the command of ROK II Corps. The 1st Cavalry Division was spread out along a long line on the Naktong River to the south, with its 5th Cavalry and 8th Cavalry regiments holding a 24,000-meter (79,000 ft) line along the river south of Waegwan, facing west. The 7th Cavalry held position to the east in reserve, along with artillery forces, ready to reinforce anywhere a North Korean crossing could be attempted. The ROK 1st Division held a northwest-facing line in the mountains immediately north of the city while the ROK 6th Division held position to the east, guarding the narrow valley holding the Kunwi road into the Pusan Perimeter area.[17]

Five North Korean divisions amassed around Taegu to oppose the UN forces in the city. From south to north, the 10th,[18] 3rd, 15th, 13th,[19] and 1st North Korean Divisions occupied a wide line encircling Taegu from Tuksong-dong and around Waegwan to Kunwi.[20] The North Korean army planned to use the natural corridor of the Naktong River valley from Sangju to Taegu as its main axis of attack for the next push south, so the North Korean divisions all eventually moved through this valley, crossing the Naktong at different areas along the low ground.[21] Elements of the NK 105th Armored Division also supported the attack.[17][22]

Prelude[edit]

US forces assemble[edit]

During mid-August, US 27th Infantry Regiment of the US 25th Infantry Division was mopping up North Korean resistance from the southern part of the Naktong Bulge area to counter a North Korean attack there. The regiment, temporarily attached to the US 24th Infantry Division, was recalled by the Eighth Army when a new North Korean threat formed to the north of Taegu, alarming Walker. Acting on the threat, Walker relieved the regiment from the 24th Infantry Division on August 14 and the next day ordered it northward to Kyongsan as a reserve force. Arriving at Kyongsan on August 16, Colonel John H. Michaelis, 27th Infantry's commander, was ordered to reconnoiter routes east, north, northwest, and west of Kyongsan and counter any North Korean attacks from these directions. During the day, two North Korean T-34 tanks came through the ROK 1st Division lines 12 miles (19 km) north of Taegu at Tabu-dong, but South Korean 3.5-inch bazooka teams knocked out both of them.[23] The ROK 1st Division, also in the area, was ordered to assemble in the hills around the road and wait for reinforcements or make a last stand if needed to prevent the North Koreans from coming any closer to Taegu. To its east was the ROK 6th Division and to its west was the Naktong River.[24]

At 12:00 the next day, August 17, Eighth Army ordered the 27th Infantry to move its headquarters and a reinforced battalion "without delay" to a point across the Kumho River 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Taegu on the road from Tabu-dong to Sangju "to secure Taegu from enemy penetration" from that direction.[25] South Korean sources reported a North Korean regiment, led by six T-34 tanks, had entered the village of Kumhwa, 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Tabu-dong.[23] The 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, a platoon of the Heavy Mortar Company, and most of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion moved north to Ch'ilgok where the ROK 1st Division command post was located.[25] By nightfall, the entire 27th Regiment was north of Taegu on the Tabu-dong road, reinforced by C Company, 73rd Tank Battalion.[23] US Army commanders also ordered the 37th Field Artillery Battalion to move from the area around Kyongju and P'ohang-dong, where a heavy battle had been in progress for days, for attachment to the US 27th Infantry Regiment in order to reinforce the 8th Field Artillery Battalion above Taegu. It arrived there the next day.[25][26] At the front, ROK 1st Division commander Brigadier General Paik Sun-yup assumed senior command of the 27th Infantry and the other US units, to the chagrin of Michaelis.[2]

NK forces assemble[edit]

In its engagements during the Perimeter battle, the North Korean 13th Division, with 9,500 men,[1] had forced South Korean troops into the Tabu-dong corridor and started advancing on Taegu.[27] This division had battled the ROK 11th and 12th Regiments in the Yuhak-san area for a week before it broke through to the corridor on August 17.[28] A regimental commander of the division said later it suffered 1,500 casualties in the process. On August 18, the 13th Division was concentrated mostly west of the road just north of Tabu-dong.[26]

To the west of the NK 13th Division, the NK 15th Division with 5,000 men[1] was also deployed on Yuhak-san.[29] It, too, had begun battling the ROK 1st Division, but thus far only in minor engagements. The North Korean High Command then ordered the NK 15th Division to move from its position northwest of Tabu-dong eastward, to the Yongch'on front, where the NK 8th Division had tried and failed to advance to the Taegu lateral corridor. The NK 15th Division left the Yuhak-san area on August 20. Meanwhile, the NK 1st Division, to the east of the 13th, advanced to the Kunwi area, 25 miles (40 km) north of Taegu. The North Korean command ordered it to proceed to the Tabu-dong area and maneuver astride the 13th Division for the attack on Taegu down the Tabu-dong corridor. At the same time, the North Koreans received their only substantial tank reinforcements during the Pusan Perimeter fighting.[25] On August 15, the NK 105th Armored Division received 21 new T-34 tanks and 200 troop replacements, which it distributed to the divisions attacking Taegu. The tank regiment with the NK 13th Division reportedly had 14 T-34 tanks.[2][26]

On August 18, the NK 13th Division was astride the Sangju–Taegu road just above Tabu-dong and only 13 miles (21 km) from Taegu. The Eighth Army ordered the 27th Infantry Regiment to attack north along the road to counter the threat.[2] At the same time, two regiments of the ROK 1st Division were to attack along high ground on either side of the road.[25][26] The plan called for a limited-objective attack to restore the ROK 1st Division lines in the vicinity of Sokchok, a village 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Tabu-dong. M26 Pershing tanks of C Company, 73rd Tank Battalion, and two batteries of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion were to support the 27th Infantry in the attack.[30]

Terrain[edit]

A long, narrow valley
The Bowling Alley, 1950

In front of the 27th Infantry position, the poplar-lined Taegu–Sangju road ran northward in the narrow mountain valley. A stream on the west closely paralleled the road, which was nearly straight on a north-south axis through the 27th Infantry position and for some distance northward. This stretch of the road later became known as the "Bowling Alley."[31] About 1 mile (1.6 km) in front of the 27th Infantry position the road forked at a small village called Ch'onp'yong-dong; the western prong was the main Sangju road, the eastern one was the road to Kunwi. At the road fork, the Sangju road bends to the northwest in a long curve. The village of Sinjumak lay on this curve a short distance north of the fork. Hills protected it against direct fire from the 27th Infantry position. It was there that the North Korean tanks remained hidden during the daytime.[31]

Rising from the valley on the west side was the Yuhak-san mountain range which swept up to a height of 2,700 feet (820 m). On the east, a similar mountain range rose to a height of 2,400 feet (730 m), culminating 2.5 miles (4.0 km) southward in a mountain called Ka-san, more than 2,900 feet (880 m) high at its walled summit. The Kunwi and Sangju roads from the northeast and northwest entered the natural and easy corridor between Yuhak-san and Ka-san at Ch'onp'yong-dong, leading into the Taegu basin. The battles in the Bowling Alley occurred south of this road junction.[31]

Battle[edit]

Deadlock[edit]

The ROK 1st Infantry Division, with 7,500 men[32] had held the line around the Bowling Alley since August 12.[28] The Bowling Alley area was selected because of its advantageous high ground which provided natural barriers to funnel North Korean troops into smaller fronts where South Korean defenses could attack them from the high ground in concealed positions.[33] In the meantime, the NK 3rd, 13th, and 15th Divisions were advancing south and preparing to close on Taegu.[27][34] The North Korean 13th Division converged on the Tabu-dong corridor and a vicious melee ensued between the North and South Korean troops, with ROK 1st Division's 11th, 12th, and 13th regiments committed against the NK 13th Division's 19th, 21st and 23rd regiments.[35] The fight became a battle of attrition.[36] As the two sides closed on one another, the battle took a brutal turn by August 15 as supplies ran low and units were locked in close quarters combat with little ammunition for the weapons. Fighting across the entire front became hand-to-hand combat and grenade fights at close range. The two divisions were so evenly matched that neither could make any appreciable gains for days of fighting and huge numbers of casualties.[37]

The bloody fighting obliged Paik to call for emergency reinforcements to hold the line. The Eighth Army responded immediately by sending the US 27th Infantry from the US 25th Infantry Division[38] as well as the ROK 10th Regiment from the ROK 8th Division to reinforce the ROK 1st Division's three regiments. US Air Force aircraft also conducted a carpet bombing campaign against the advancing North Korean positions to undetermined effect.[35] Around that time the NK 15th Division, which had been supporting the NK 13th Division, withdrew from the front to attack elsewhere, leaving the ROK 1st Division, with the US 27th Infantry, and the NK 13th Division as principal opponents in the conflict that followed.[38]

US infantry advance[edit]

As the 27th Infantry's trucks rolled northward from Tabu-dong and approached their Line of Departure, the men inside could see the North Koreans and South Koreans fighting on the ridges overlooking the road. The infantry dismounted and deployed an attacking line, with the 1st Battalion on the left of the road and the 2nd Battalion on the right. With US tanks leading the infantry on the road, the two battalions crossed the line at 13:00. The tanks opened fire against the mountain escarpments to aid the South Korean infantry engaged there. The US infantry on either side of the road swept the lower hills, as the tanks on the road paced their advance with the infantry. A North Korean outpost line in the valley withdrew and there was almost no North Korean opposition during the first hour of the US advance. North Korean outpost lines were 2.5 miles (4.0 km) in front of their main positions. The 27th Infantry had reached a point about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Tabu-dong when Michaelis was informed that neither of the ROK regiments on the high ground flanking the valley road had been able to advance.[38] He was ordered to halt and form a perimeter defense with both battalions astride the road.[30]

The two battalions of the 27th Infantry went into a perimeter defense just north of the village of Soi-ri.[39] The 1st Battalion, on the left of the road, took a position with C Company on high ground in front, and with A Company on a ridge behind it. On their right, B Company was placed parallel to A Company, and carried the line across the stream and the narrow valley to the road. There the 2nd Battalion took up the defense line with E Company on the road and F Company on its right, while G Company held a ridge behind F Company. Thus, the two battalions presented a four-company front, with one company holding a refused flank position on either side. A platoon of tanks took positions on the front line, two tanks on the road and two in the stream bed, with four more tanks in reserve. The artillery went into firing positions behind the force. Six bazooka teams took up positions in front of the infantry positions along the road and in the stream bed. At the same time, the ROK 1st Division remained in control of the high ground on either side of the 27th Infantry positions.[30]

August 18 attack[edit]

The first of seven successive North Korean night attacks struck the 27th Infantry defensive perimeter shortly after dark that night, August 18.[2][40] North Korean mortars and artillery fired a heavy preparation for the general attack for several hours.[38] Two T-34 tanks and an SU-76 self-propelled gun moved out of the village of Sinjumak 2 miles (3.2 km) in front of the 27th Infantry lines. Infantry followed them, some in trucks and others on foot. The lead tank moved slowly and without firing, apparently observing, while the second one and the SU-76 fired repeatedly into F Company's position. As the tanks drew near, a 3.5-inch bazooka team from F Company destroyed the second one in the line.[31][38]

Bazooka teams also hit the lead tank, causing its crew to abandon it. Fire from the 8th Field Artillery Battalion knocked out the self-propelled gun, destroyed two trucks, and killed or wounded an estimated 100 North Korean troops at the point of the advance. US First Lieutenant Lewis Millett, an artillery forward observer and later a Medal of Honor winner after he transferred to the infantry, directed this artillery fire on the North Koreans, even as a T-34 tank approached within 50 yards (46 m) of his position.[41] Three more North Korean tanks had come down the road but, on realizing that the Americans had effective anti-tank weapons, they switched on their running lights and retreated north without engaging the UN troops.[42] Around 00:30 on August 19 the first North Korean attack had stalled and they withdrew. North Korean troops made a second effort, much weaker than the first, around 02:30 but artillery and mortar fire dispersed them before they reached the UN lines.[41]

Over the course of the next week, the US troops were able to discern the North Koreans' system of attack and use it to their advantage. The North Koreans used a system of flares to signal various actions and coordinate them. It quickly became apparent to the defending Americans that green flares were used to signal an attack on a given area. So the 27th Infantry obtained its own green flares and then, after the North Korean attack had begun, fired them over its main defensive positions.[41] This confused the attacking forces and often drew them to the points of greatest US strength where they suffered massive casualties from defensive machine-gun crossfire.[42] The US troops also began using land mines in front of their positions to stall the North Koreans. The mines stopped the tanks and the infantry tried to remove them. When this happened, US troops fired flares to illuminate the scene and pre-registered artillery and mortar fire blasted the immobilized North Koreans. This tactic was effective in inflicting further significant casualties.[41]

Stalemate[edit]

On the morning of August 19, the ROK 11th and 13th Regiments launched counterattacks along the ridges with some gains, however the fight continued to produce heavy casualties for both sides.[40] Walker ordered another reserve unit, a battalion of the ROK 10th Regiment, to the Taegu front to close a gap between the ROK 1st and 6th Divisions.[43] Later in the day, Walker also ordered the US 23rd Infantry Regiment, under command of Colonel Paul L. Freeman, Jr., to move up and establish a defense perimeter around the 8th and 37th Field Artillery Battalions at their positions 8 miles (13 km) north of Taegu, to protect them from North Korean attack.[44] This was the only occasion during the war that two US regiments were assigned to a South Korean command.[45] The 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry took up a defensive position around the artillery while the 2nd Battalion occupied a defensive position on the road behind the 27th Infantry. The next day the two battalions exchanged places.[43] South Korean troops, suffering losses from the fighting, began recruiting students and civilians from nearby villages to fight.[44]

A pair of heavily damaged tanks destroyed in a ditch
Destroyed North Korean T-34 tanks, 1950.

There was little fighting on the ground during the day on August 20. However, US aircraft attacked North Korean positions around Taegu repeatedly during the day, often in close proximity to American ground forces. As night fell, North Korean troops launched a second attack, firing a barrage of 120–mm. mortar shells into the US 27th Infantry's Heavy Weapons Company area at 17:00; several of their tanks also began advancing down the corridor. The US troops responded with artillery and mortar fire, hitting the North Korean column and its accompanying infantry. Waiting Americans held their small arms and machine gun fire until the North Koreans were within 200 yards (180 m) of their positions. The combined fire of all the US weapons repulsed this attack.[43]

The next morning, August 21, a US patrol of two platoons of infantry and M26 Pershing tanks went up the road toward the North Korean positions. White flags had appeared in front of the American line, and civilians in the area said many North Koreans wanted to surrender. The US patrol's mission was to investigate this situation and to form an estimate of North Koreans losses. The patrol advanced about 1 mile (1.6 km), engaging small North Korean groups and receiving some artillery fire. On its way it destroyed five disabled North Korean tanks with thermite grenades. The patrol also found a 37 mm anti-tank gun, two SU-76 self-propelled guns, and a 120 mm mortar among the destroyed North Korean equipment, as well as recognizing a large number of North Korean dead. At the point of farthest advance, the patrol found and destroyed an abandoned T-34 tank in a village schoolhouse courtyard.[46]

August 21 attack[edit]

That evening, the 27th Infantry placed two belts of antipersonnel mines and trip flares across the road and stream bed 250 yards (230 m) and 150 yards (140 m) in front of its positions in the valley. After dusk, the North Koreans began shelling the general area of the 27th Infantry positions until just before midnight.[46] ROK troops had planned to mount an attack, but it became apparent that the North Koreans would hit first.[47] Then the NK 13th Division launched a major attack against the entire UN front in and around the valley.[48] Nine US tanks supported the infantry troops in the valley. Because it was on higher ground and positioned in front of all the other American units, C Company on the left of the road usually was the first to detect an approaching attack. That evening the C Company commander telephoned the regimental headquarters that he could hear tanks. When the artillery fired an illuminating shell he was able to count 19 North Korean vehicles in the attacking column on the road. The tanks and self-propelled guns approached the American positions, firing rapidly. Most of their shells landed in the rear areas. North Korean infantry moved forward on both sides of the road. Simultaneously, other North Korean units attacked the ROK troops on the high ridges flanking the valley.[46]

American artillery and mortar fire bombarded the North Koreans, trying to separate the tanks from the infantry.[48] US machine gun fire opened on the NK infantry only after they had entered the mine field and were at close range. The US Pershing tanks in the front line held their fire until the North Korean tanks came very close. One of the American tanks knocked out the lead North Korean tank and a 3.5-inch bazooka team from F Company knocked out a towed gun, the third vehicle in column. The trapped second tank was disabled by bazooka fire and abandoned by its crew.[46] It was during this fight that the battle received its name. The US troops at the battle noted the tank shells being fired up and down the valley in the dark looked "like bowling balls."[45][48]

Artillery and 90 mm tank fire destroyed seven more North Korean T-34 tanks, three more SU-76 towed guns, and several trucks and personnel carriers. This night battle, which was at times very intense, lasted about five hours. The US B Battery, 8th Field Artillery Battalion alone fired 1,661 105 mm rounds, the 4.2-inch mortar platoon fired 902 rounds, the 81 mm mortar platoon fired 1,200 rounds, and F Company, 27th Infantry fired 385 60 mm mortar rounds. The North Korean column was completely destroyed.[46] US patrols after daylight estimated the North Koreans had suffered 1,300 casualties in the fight.[42][48] Eleven prisoners captured by the patrol said the action had decimated their units and that the division was only at 25 percent strength.[46]

NK flanking moves[edit]

During the night battle, North Korean forces infiltrated along the high ridge line around the east flank of the 27th Infantry and appeared the next day at about 12:00 6 miles (9.7 km) in the rear of that regiment and only 9 miles (14 km) from Taegu. This force was a regiment of the NK 1st Division, and was 1,500 men strong. The regiment had just arrived from the Kunwi area to join in the battle for Taegu.[49] It began ambushing supply lines to the American forces in the valley.[50] One of the regiment's companies attacked the ROK 1st Division's headquarters with intent to capture Paik, but was repulsed by the ROK 10th Regiment.[40]

About this time, Michaelis sent an urgent message to Eighth Army saying that the ROK troops on his left had given way and that "those people are not fighting."[50] One of the battalions of the ROK 11th Regiment had been driven back and was retreating in disarray.[47] Prisoners told him that about 1,000 North Koreans were on his west flank. He asked for an air strike. Had these South Korean troops been driven from this high ground, the perimeter position of the 27th Infantry Regiment would have been untenable. Paik bitterly resented Michaelis' charge that his men were not fighting, and in the argument, Eighth Army Korean Military Advisory Group advisers visited each ROK unit to ensure they were remaining in position.[50] Paik personally rallied the ROK 11th Regiment for a charge back into its positions, impressing Michaelis.[51] Later, Michaelis apologized to Paik though their relationship for the remainder of the battle remained strained.[2]

The afternoon of August 22, US 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, guarding the support artillery behind the 27th Infantry, came under attack by the NK 1st Division troops that had passed around the forward positions.[49] Freeman reported to Eighth Army at 16:40 that the North Koreans had shelled the rear battery of the 37th Field Artillery Battalion, that North Korean infantry were between the US 27th and US 23rd Regiments on the road, and that other North Korean groups had passed around the east side of his forward battalion. An intense artillery barrage began falling on the headquarters area of the 8th Field Artillery Battalion at 16:05, and 25 minutes later two direct hits destroyed the fire direction center, killing four officers and two non-commissioned officers. The individual batteries quickly took over control of the battalion fires and continued to support the infantry, while the battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Company withdrew under fire.[52]

UN aircraft launched air strikes on the North Korean-held ridge east of the road and on the valley beyond.[2] That night, Walker released control of the 23rd Infantry, less the 1st Battalion, to the US 1st Cavalry Division with orders for it to clear the North Koreans from the road and the commanding ground overlooking the main supply route.[49][52]

About 10:00, Lieutenant Colonel Chong Pong Uk, commanding the artillery regiment supporting the NK 13th Division, walked up alone to a ROK 1st Division position 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Tabu-dong and defected.[2][52] Chong, the highest ranking North Korean prisoner of war thus far in the war, gave precise information on the location of his artillery.[48] According to him, there were seven 122 mm howitzers and thirteen 76 mm guns emplaced and camouflaged in an orchard 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north of Tabu-dong, in a little valley on the north side of Yuhak-san. Upon receiving this information, Eighth Army immediately prepared to destroy the North Korean weapons. Fighter-bombers attacked the orchard site with napalm, and US artillery took the location under fire.[48][52] Chong was eventually commissioned in South Korea's armed forces.[2]

Final moves[edit]

During the night of August 22–23, the North Koreans launched a weak attack against the 27th Infantry, which was quickly repulsed. Just before 12:00 on August 23, however, a violent action occurred some distance behind the front line when about 100 North Korean soldiers, undetected, succeeded in reaching the positions of K Company, 27th Infantry and of the 1st Platoon, C Company, 65th Engineer Combat Battalion. They overran parts of these positions before being driven off and suffering 50 killed. Meanwhile, as ordered by Walker, the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, after repelling several North Korean night attacks, counterattacked at dawn and seized the high ground overlooking the road at the artillery positions. At the same time the 3rd Battalion started an all-day attack that swept a stretch of high ground east of the road. This action largely cleared the North Koreans from the area behind and on the flanks of the 27th Infantry. At 13:35, Michaelis reported from the Bowling Alley to Eighth Army that the NK 13th Division had blown the road to his front, had mined it, and was withdrawing.[53][54]

The next day, August 24, the 23rd Infantry continued clearing the rear areas and by night it estimated that there were fewer than 200 North Koreans behind the forward positions. The Bowling Alley front was quiet during the day. Shortly after midnight on August 24 the North Koreans launched what had by now become their regular nightly attack down the Bowling Alley. This attack was in an estimated two-company strength supported by a few tanks. The 27th Infantry broke up the attack and two more North Korean tanks were destroyed by the supporting artillery fire. This was the last night the 27th Infantry Regiment spent in the Bowling Alley.[49][53]

With the North Koreans turned back north of Taegu, Walker issued orders for the 27th Infantry to leave the Bowling Alley and return to the 25th Division in the Masan area.[55] The ROK 1st Division was to assume responsibility for the Bowling Alley, but the US 23rd Infantry was to remain north of Taegu in its support. ROK relief of the 27th Infantry began at 18:00, 25 August, and continued throughout the night until completed at 03:45 August 26. Survivors of the 1st Regiment, NK 1st Division, joined the rest of that division in the mountains east of the Taegu–Sangju road near the walled summit of Ka-san. Prisoners reported that the 1st Regiment was down to about 400 men and had lost all its 120 mm mortars, 76 mm howitzers, and antitank guns as a result of its action on the east flank of the NK 13th Division at the Bowling Alley.[56]

Aftermath[edit]

The confirmed North Korean losses from August 18 to 25 included 13 T-34 tanks, five SU-76 self-propelled guns, and 23 trucks.[53] The NK 13th Division's troops suffered heavy casualties during the fight with the American unit, with an estimated 3,000 killed, wounded and captured. The division withdrew to rebuild.[2] The North Koreans' total casualties from August 12 to 25 were 5,690 killed.[57]

US losses during the battle were extremely light; unusual for fighting at a time in which other UN offensive forces were paying a heavy price when making similar pushes against the North Korean troops.[58] The US infantry forces suffered only five killed and 54 wounded in the 27th Infantry, plus three killed and 16 wounded in the 23rd Infantry. This brought the total American casualty count to 8 dead, 70 wounded.[59] South Korean troops suffered much more heavily during the fight. An estimated 2,300 South Korean men were killed in the fighting; 2,244 enlisted men and 56 officers.[57] However, these losses were not crippling, as volunteers poured in from the surrounding countryside to fight for the South Korean Army.[60]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Appleman 1998, p. 255
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Millett 2010, p. 221
  3. ^ Varhola 2000, p. 3
  4. ^ a b Alexander 2003, p. 52
  5. ^ Catchpole 2001, p. 15
  6. ^ a b Varhola 2000, p. 4
  7. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 90
  8. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 105
  9. ^ Fehrenbach 2001, p. 103
  10. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 221
  11. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 114
  12. ^ Catchpole 2001, p. 24
  13. ^ Catchpole 2001, p. 25
  14. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 247
  15. ^ Fehrenbach 2001, p. 135
  16. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 335
  17. ^ a b Appleman 1998, p. 337
  18. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 253
  19. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 254
  20. ^ Leckie 1996, p. 112
  21. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 336
  22. ^ Catchpole 2001, p. 31
  23. ^ a b c Appleman 1998, p. 353
  24. ^ Millett 2010, p. 220
  25. ^ a b c d e Millett 2000, p. 464
  26. ^ a b c d Appleman 1998, p. 354
  27. ^ a b Paik 1992, p. 36
  28. ^ a b Paik 1992, p. 34
  29. ^ Millett 2000, p. 466
  30. ^ a b c Appleman 1998, p. 355
  31. ^ a b c d Appleman 1998, p. 356
  32. ^ Paik 1992, p. 28
  33. ^ Paik 1992, p. 35
  34. ^ Alexander 2003, p. 144
  35. ^ a b Paik 1992, p. 39
  36. ^ Paik 1992, p. 37
  37. ^ Paik 1992, p. 38
  38. ^ a b c d e Alexander 2003, p. 145
  39. ^ Paik 1992, p. 40
  40. ^ a b c Paik 1992, p. 41
  41. ^ a b c d Appleman 1998, p. 357
  42. ^ a b c Alexander 2003, p. 146
  43. ^ a b c Appleman 1998, p. 358
  44. ^ a b Millett 2000, p. 465
  45. ^ a b Paik 1992, p. 42
  46. ^ a b c d e f Appleman 1998, p. 359
  47. ^ a b Paik 1992, p. 43
  48. ^ a b c d e f Millett 2000, p. 467
  49. ^ a b c d Alexander 2003, p. 147
  50. ^ a b c Appleman 1998, p. 360
  51. ^ Paik 1992, p. 44
  52. ^ a b c d Appleman 1998, p. 361
  53. ^ a b c Appleman 1998, p. 362
  54. ^ Millett 2000, p. 468
  55. ^ Millett 2000, p. 469
  56. ^ Appleman 1998, p. 363
  57. ^ a b Paik 1992, p. 45
  58. ^ Ecker 2004, p. 29
  59. ^ Ecker 2004, p. 30
  60. ^ Paik 1992, p. 46

Sources[edit]

Attribution

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military History document "South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu: United States Army in the Korean War".