Dutch Volunteers fighting in the Korean War

written by Elie van Schilt, veteran NDVN soldier



Chapter III : Chohyon-ri : The First Engagement




The day after newyears there is the rumour that the battalion is to be relocated to Hoengsong. The front reports are fraught with disaster, the U.N. forces are still withdrawing in front of the Chinese forces.
On the day of departure the weather is decent. B Company moved first, via Chugju and Wonju, and arrived at Hoengsong at night. Now there stands the battalion with its bags of clothes on a frozen field covered by snow, there is nothing, no camp, no food, the only thing which can be heard is artillery fire, a sign that the front line is nearby. Finally a couple of unoccupied houses are found, where the night can be spent. In Korea the floor heating technique is as old as Methuselah, here also a fire was made under the floor and the men spent the night warm.
The next morning trucks were ready again, it was time for action. The trucks carried the men for a certain distance, and further it went by the shank's mare. It seemed that on the east side of the 2nd division there was an opening, where the defense line did not connect with the rest; to check one and the other this patrol was sent, with an radio operator who was in contact with reconnaissance aircraft which was to fly above them and to immediately call for reinforcements if necessary. The plan was even to take some prisoners. The place where they had to leave the truck was at a river; once the patrol is formed, they start, in the direction of Sandong Pyong. Everywhere it is dead silent, so silent that you think something is wrong. Once in Sandong Pyong the village seems deserted, you can see that there was heavy fighting, castaway ammunition and rifles. A deserted police post is turned totally upside down, also here weapons left behind, clothes, coagulated blood here and there. It seems the Chinese have ambushed the village and they can't be too far off yet.
The platoon which spearheads may not proceed further than to the river winding; the village Chohyon just opposite the river is prohibited terrain. Suddenly there is a shooting party in front of the patrol, immediately there is report of enemy contact, and a pursuit sets in. The North Koreans withdrew hastily; it appeared they were busy laying mines. The patrol went off the way, climbing the hilltops to reach a better position versus the enemy. In front you see the village Chohyon-ri, with small houses, all covered with snow. It looks quiet, but you can bet that a troop sits in those houses observing every movement of our patrol. On the other side of the river there are also mountains, and on the flanks the enemy takes position. There is continuous rifle fire and the patrol is exposed to case shot fire. For the larger part the river is frozen over. Now something happens which was not planned. A sergeant with a group of men runs across the river into the village of Chohyon-ri. They are exposed to heavy fire from the mountain slopes and from the houses, and it is a miracle that none of the Dutchmen was hit yet. Immediately afterwards the Dutch were engaged in a heavy fight with the North Koreans, and to make things worse the radio operator reports that additional enemy troops approach from the east to reinforce the enemy. The reconnaissance aircraft pilot estimates them 300 men strong, while the Dutch have only about 100 men.
Then there is a call for the medics. It seems there is a number of wounded; one of them severely. The medic begins to run to offer assistance as soon as possible, but he too is taken under fire. Another report comes in from the aircraft, according to which the platoon is entirely surrounded by the enemy; the pilot dives a couple of times to indicate the enemy's positions. Then there are calls for carriers; the wounded have to be transported, but the intensity of the fire is increasing; it seems not possible to remove the wounded without taking losses. Air assistance is requested, but the fight continues, the open terrain between the village and the place where the rest of the troop took position lies completely under fire.
After waiting and waiting there is no air support coming. The pilot again reports the platoon is completely surrounded and advises immediate withdrawal. This is refused, they don't withdraw without the wounded, but a platoon is dispatched to the rear to create an opening for the withdrawal. Then report comes in that the Sergeant Major medic was killed by a shot which penetrated his heart. In the meantime evening sets in and the fight continues; it lasts now 4 hours, and some boys run out of bullets. From headquarters, the order comes to withdraw. The platoon sent to the rear came just in time to prevent the way back being cut by a small group of North Koreans who almost reached their assigned position. The Dutch open fire and repulse them. The ammunition stocks are meanwhile minimal, bullets have to be borrowed in order to continue firing. It is decided to fire on to cover others removing the wounded. The pilot again airs the order from 2nd Division to immediately withdraw to base, but the order is refused, the wounded have to be taken out first.








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

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