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Korean War History Guide.. The History Beat...
Online Korean War Resources
The Inchon Invasion, September 1950, First Lieutenant Baldomero Lopez, USMC, leads the 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines over the seawall on the northern side of Red Beach, as the second assault wave lands, 15 September 1950. Wooden scaling ladders are in use to facilitate disembarkation from the LCVP that brought these men to the shore. Lt. Lopez was killed in action within a few minutes, while assaulting a North Korean bunker.
The Korean War, from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, was a conflict between communist North and anti-communist South Korea. This was also a proxy war of a kind between the United States and the Soviet Union. Principal combatants were North and South Korea, the United States and China although many nations sent troops under the aegis of the United Nations.
The invasion of South Korea came as a complete surprise to the US, Dean Rusk of the State Department had told Congress on June 20 that no war was likely . Interestingly a CIA report of early March had predicted an invasion in June. US officials had previously publicly stated that America would not fight over Korea, and that the country was outside of American concern in the Pacific. This attitude may have encouraged the North or given Syngman Rhee in the South a motive to gain US support.
On hearing of the invasion Truman agreed with his advisors, unilaterally, to use US airstrikes against the North Korean forces and also ordered the Seventh Fleet to protect Formosa. The US gained a United Nations mandate for action because the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council while Chiang Kai-shek's representative held the Chinese seat. Without the Soviet veto and with only Yugoslavia opposed the UN voted to aid South Korea. The US would have fought whatever the outcome, and MacArthur later told Congress "I had no connection with the UN whatsoever".
The US forces were suffering from demobilization which had continued since 1945. Excluding the Marines, the infantry divisions sent to Korea were at 40% of paper strength and the majority of their equipment was found to be useless.
In initial stages of the war, North Korea troops overwhelmed South Korean and American forces and drove them to a small area in the far South around the city of Pusan. This became a desperate holding action called the Pusan Perimeter. American general Douglas MacArthur, as UN commander in chief for Korea, ordered a invasion far behind the North Korean troops at Inchon. United Nations troops drove the North Koreans back past the 38th parallel and continued on toward the Yalu River border of North Korea and China. This brought the Chinese into the war.
The Chinese had issued warnings that they would react if the UN forces encroached on the frontier at the Yalu River. Mao sought Soviet aid and saw intervention as essentially defensive - "if we allow the US to occupy all of Korea... we must be prepared for the US to declare... war with China" he told Stalin, Zhou Enlai was sent to Moscow to add force to Mao's cabled arguments. Mao delayed his forces while waiting for Russian help, the planned attack was postponed from the 13th to the 19th of October. Soviet assistance was limited to providing air support no nearer than sixty miles to the battlefront - the MiG-15s in Chinese colours were an unpleasant surprise to the UN pilots, they held local air superiority until the newer F-86 Sabres were deployed. The Soviet role was known to the US but they kept quiet as "the last thing we [the US] wanted was... a more serious confrontation with the Soviets".
The Chinese assault repelled the United Nations troops back to the 38th parallel, the pre-conflict border. The battle of Chosin Reservoir in winter was a terrible defeat for the United Nation troops, mainly American Marines. The situation was such that Truman mentioned that atomic weapons may be used, much to the alarm of his allies. MacArthur was removed from command by President Harry S Truman in 1951. The rest of the war involved little territory changes and lengthy peace negotiations. A cease fire established a demilitarized zone (DMZ) around the 38th parallel which is still today defended by North Korean on one side and South Korean and American troops on the other. No peace treaty has yet been signed 50 years later.
Korea was officially a police action not a war in US parlance. 600,000 Koreans had died and perhaps a million Chinese. US troops suffered about 50,000 fatalities, roughly equal to the Vietnam conflict but in a much shorter time. However later neglect of remembrance of this war in favor of the Vietnam War and World War II has caused the Korean War to be called the Forgotten War.
However the war was instrumental in re-energising the US military-industrial complex from their post-war slump. The defense budget was boosted to $50 billion, the Army was doubled in size as was the number of Air Groups and they were deployed beyond American soil in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, including Vietnam where covert aid to the French was made overt. The Cold War became a much stronger state of mind for American policy makers.
Japan was a key beneficiary of the war. The US material requirements were organised through a Special Procurements system, which allowed for local purchasing without the complex Pentagon procurement system. Over $3.5 billion was spent with Japanese companies, peaking at $809 million in 1953 and still significant in 1955, other foreign non-military investment was less than 5% of this. US Aid Counterpart Funds gave Japan, by 1956, the most modern shipyards in the world and a 26% share in lauched tonnage. Left-wing organisations were closed down and the zaibatsu went from being distrusted to being encouraged - Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Sumitomo were amongst the zaibatsu tht thrived, not only on orders from the military but through American industrial experts, including W. Edward Denning. Japanese maufacturing grew by 50% between March 1950 and 1951. By 1952 pre-war standards of living were regained and output was twice the level of 1949. The 1951 peace treaty returned Japanese sovereignty (excluding Okinawa and the Ryukyu islands) and the non-belligerency clause in the constitution was being considered a "mistake" by 1953.
Aces of the Korean War - Brief bios and combat stories of U.S. fighter aces of Korean War, like Jabara, McConnell, Fischer, Risner, mostly F-86 Sabre jet pilots.
Aces of the Korean War - Brief bios and combat stories of U.S. F-86 and other fighter aces of Korean War, like Jabara, McConnell, Fischer, Risner..
The American Merchant Marine During the Korean War - Discusses how the United States Merchant Marine supported the war effort in Korea. Includes a detailed bibliography, a list of Merchant Ships in the war zone, and histories of several ships and crews that sailed in the war zone.
Britain in the Korean War - Comprehensive and well laid out guide to the British contribution to the war. Includes accounts from veterans.
Canadian Veterans 1998 Pilgrimage to Korea - Canadian veterans visited the war zone on the 45th anniversary of the Korean ceasefire. Site provides a daily report, a timeline, and map of the visit and biographies of the visiting veterans.
Casualties of the Korean War - The site is a joint effort of civilians and veterans who are determined to establish and maintain a medium in which the general public can learn more about the Korean War.
Coalition of Families - Information on American servicemen missing from the Korean and other conflicts of the Cold War. Includes news on this issue, recovery and identification of remains, research and documents, Congressional actions, and American foreign policy on this issue.
Combat Actions in Korea - A history of US Army's tactical operations during the Korean War. The focus is on the combat action at the level of platoons, companies and batteries.
Combat Support in Korea - A report on the role of combat support units in Korea. Covers the Corps of Engineers as well as transportations, logistics, signals, medics, ordnance and security units.
Examining the Korean War - Resources for researching the Korean War. Includes reviews of books on the war, an oral history of Korean veterans, maps of the conflict, and links to further related materials.
The Forgotten War ... Korea - Statistics on American casualties during the Korean War and on the contributions of other nations to the United Nations war effort in Korea. Includes photo galleries.
Friendly Fire Notebook - There were many instances where American forces in Korea mistook other other US soldiers for the enemy and opened fire on their own people. This site records such friendly fire incidents during the Korean War.
General Douglas MacArthur - A short biography of the highly controversial general Douglas MacArthur. Discusses his career and his actions during the Korean War.
Highlights of Mobilization, Korean War - A U.S. Army study of plans for mobilizing and transporting American troops and equipment to Korea as well as the mobilization of American industry to military production.
Korean Vignettes: Faces of War - Historical photographs and art from the Korean War. Includes personal stories, image galleries, and links to related sites.
The Korean War - Detailed history of the forces sent by many of the U.N. member states that participated in the conflict in Korea
Korean War, 1950-53 - An exhaustive bibliography of books, documents, and periodicals related to the war in Korea. Covers subjects such as communist activities, strategy, military operations, political considerations, nuclear issues, negotiations, and prisoners of war.
Korean War - U.S. Navy Order of Battle - Order of battle of U.S. Navy and Marine aircraft that served in Korea. Includes carrier, carrier-based squadrons and ground-based squadron deployments during the war.
Korean War FAQ - Answers to frequently asked questions about the history of the Korean War. Provides information on military and political dynamics of the conflict from a Chinese perspective.
Korean War Commemoration web site - Official, public access web site for the United States of America's Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War - By U.S. Army
The Korean War, Fresh Perspective - ** A MUST READ ** - A brief article by Harry G. Summers, a noted American strategist, providing fresh insights on the Korean War and its long-term impact on American foreign and military policy.
Korean War Project - A non-profit Corporation devoted to the study of the Korean War. Photography, recollections, message centers, POW/MIA information, Casualty Databases - a meeting place for Veterans and Families.
Korean War 50th Anniversary - Public information on events commemorating the Korean. Includes biographies, bibliographies, interviews, fact sheets, medal of honor recipients, chronology, images, commemorative events and communities, and other educational materials.
Korean War Veterans Association - Information on 50th anniversary events, Korean war memorials, key US Army Announcement, medals and award, state level casualty lists, veterans' efforts to revisit Korea. Includes chat room and links related sites.
Korean War Web Sites - Links to websites on the Korean War. Includes museums, memorials, veterans associations, unit histories, combat action reports, casualties, African-American soldiers, retrospective studies of the war and combat effectiveness.
Korean War.net - Articles and documents on Korean War topics such as the No Gun Ri incident, U.S. weapons and equipment, Australia's and Turkey's role in the war, and anti-guerrilla operations. Also includes interviews on the 50th anniversary of the war, an image gallery and links to related resources.
Lessons from Operation Strangle in the Korean War - Operation Strangle was an aerial campaign to destroy the North Korean rail system during the Korean War. This is an article on how to draw lessons from this campaign for planning air operations in future wars.
Liberation and the Korean War - Information on the liberation and division of Korea, the origins and events of the conflict, and its consequences for Korea and international politics.
The MacArthur Memorial - A museum about the life and military career of General Douglas McArthur. Includes an online exhibit about Korea and the campaign he fought there.
2nd Infantry Division - The 2nd Infantry Division of the US Army served in Korea. Includes information for members on the division's veterans association as well as an extensive history of the unit's role in the Korean War, casualties, and medal recipients.
Once More Into the Fire - An account of West Point graduates who served in the Korean War and the hard lessons of war they learned during the fighting.
Origins of the Korean War - An Interpretation from the Soviet Archives - Evgueni Bajanov: Presented to the conference on "The Korean War, An assessment of the Historical Record," 24-25 July 1995, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
Origins of the Korean War - By U.S Naval: Korean War section will be expanded to provide images of the entire scope of U.S. Navy involvement in the conflict.
Racism Played Role in All-Black Unit's Failure - The story of how racism between white officers and black soldiers in the segregated 24th Infantry regiment impeded the unit's combat effectiveness during operations in Korea during 1950 and led to the disbanding of the regiment in 1951.
Remembering the Korean War - A US Army official history of the Korean War. Topics include combat action, combat support, summaries of campaigns, and Medal of Honor recipients. Includes maps, images, and links to related studies and documents.
13th Bomb Squadron - The 13th Squadron of the US Air Force, a bomber unit using B-26 Invaders, performed many types of attack missions in the Korean War. Includes a squadron history, personal stories, scrapbook, and the technical specifications of the B-26.
40th Infantry Division War Veterans - Website for veterans of the 40th Infantry Division of the US Army. Includes information on reunions, a memorial, books, soldiers' stories, a chat room, and links to related websites.
U.S. Forces Korea : 50th Anniversary of the Korean War - General information, maps, photographs, artwork, and bibliography on the conflict as well events commemorating the war. Includes links to battle studies, travel tips for veterans, United Nations Command participation, New Zealand Korean War chronology, and veterans' FAQs.
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (seated, center), Commander-in-Chief, Far East Command, on board USS Mount McKinley (AGC-7) during the Inchon landing, September 15, 1950, The others present are (from left to right) Rear Admiral James H. Doyle, U.S. Navy, Commander, Task Force 90;Brigadier General Edwin K. Wright, U.S. Army, MacArthur's Operations Officer, and Major General Edward M. Almond, U.S. Army, Commander, Tenth Corps.
The Center for Korean Studies - A unit of the Institute of East Asian Studies, within International and Area Studies at UC Berkeley. The Center is one of the nation's most active academic centers for the study of Korean humanities and social sciences.