Dutch Volunteers fighting in the Korean War

written by Elie van Schilt, veteran NDVN soldier

Chapter II : The First Deployment

Because no civilian was permitted to show up in the vicinity of the frontline there was a continuous stream of refugees who carried as much of their belongings with them as they could. Because of the extremely low temperatures old and young die along the way, children were born, but nobody seems to care about them.
If the frontline moved too fast, such refugees often end up between the fighting parties, and then thousands on them die on the battlefield, victims of deadly artillery and mortar fire.
The Netherlands' battalion now is attached to the 38th American Regiment, allocated to the 2nd division. It's first tasks are to patrol a certain area and to clear it of enemy infiltrants. The area is considerably large in size; mobile patrols of more than 100 km were not exceptional. Because we know very little about the war situation it can happen that we don't know what happens 25 km further on. It is well known, that ten thousands of Chinese keep entering Korea, which often move their positions during the night.
Again and again bombers and hunters fly northward to flatten things there; yet by the noise we can sense the frontline coming closer and closer. Our battalion continues to run patrols and to exercise. A few men were permitted to go into Seoul for a few days, but they return depressed by what they saw, small children clothed with nothing but a rag or a sack, barefoot at a temperature of minus 10 degrees, going around begging for something to eat, also women with their baby on the back, often half frozen and with only one goal : the South.
Then it is reported that the battalion shall move, which also happens at night, bitter cold, it is snowing, we drive for hours over slippery paths, over mountain passes, across frozen rivers. At times there is a short break to permit us to stretch our legs. On open trucks, at minus 10 degrees this ride was definitely not entertaining. The destination is Hwanggang, a South Korean village located on the banks of Han river.
Frozen through and through they climb off the truck, but there are no buildings or other lodgings to be seen. An area is designed for tents to be erected or to dig a hole in the snow, which then could be covered by a tentsail, all this after having spent all night on an open truck. Most boys know how to create an acceptable lodging with primitive means.
Christmas is a white one, no mail, but the Dutch residents at Tokyo had sent a christmas parcel for everybody, and a christmas tree was ornated with the delicacies from those parcels. Still a little of a christmas.
A Company is located at Suanbo, B Company at Yongpun, the Staff Company at Mungyong and O Company at Chochom-ri. There was a lack of transportation, still everybody was in his tent before dark.
The only news available was that South Korean recruits were called by the hundreds of thousands. Cold, snow and icy, American military police is stationed at the mountain passes to regulate the traffic. Only one car at a time may approach the mountain pass; this is regulated by MP via radio. It is our battalion's task to clear the way from Pusan to the front, via Taegu, from saboteurs. The area is known as a dangerous one, where saboteurs used to raid small villages, convois and military camps. On patrol, B Company has the opportunity to annihilate a small band.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on February 15th 2002

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