Dutch Volunteers fighting in the Korean War

written by Elie van Schilt, veteran NDVN soldier

Chapter X :

ROK Attack and Chinese Counterattack at Hoengsong

The next day A Company has to move into a new position, at the east side of the ruins, there are rumours that enemy concentrates troops and even attempts to infiltrate the area, by slipping through between the two advancing ROK divisions.
But nothing happened, the offensive of the ROK troops is not vast, yet advances, they have neared Honchon, are just a couple of kilometers distant. And still more ROK troops are brought in. There is good flight weather, the airforce can assist the advancing ground troops, despite the enemy still puts up considerable resistance. The enemy troops are still retreating. The artillery is also moving to take up new positions further north.
In the morning suddenly a report comes in that the Chinese last night have broken through and advance on Hoengsong. Two American battalions were separated from the 38th Regiment, in the valley just under Honchong. It seems the Chinese are just a few miles from the Dutchmen; the ROK divisions were pu to flight. A Company has to move back into it's old positions along the river immediately. Now we can hear machine gun fire nearby, and some bullets fly high over. Within an hour A Company has taken up it's old positions, on the opposite side of the river there is heavy fire, it is also discovered that the Chinese have visited our positions last night, dead Chinese are spread all over the area. Also around our command post, just reoccupied again, lie dead Chinese, a little further a South Korean medic, killed by granade fire.
Ever more rumours come in about the encircled Americans, they shall have been massacred by the hundreds. It is indeed a valley of the dead, they are entrapped like rats in a trap, now the Chinese have occupied the mountains on both flanks. The ROK divisions do nothing, retreat while leaving all their material behind.
An hour later a platoon of tanks moves to the river, they are sent further up to relieve the encircled battalions, it is not a task they will be envied for, everybody watches them turn around the curve, but less then 10 minutes later they come back full speed, there is no chance to break through, the tank commander says, the road lies under fire, barricades everywhere, the Chinese occupy every mountain, who are not impressed by being shot at, and they are close.
Later aircraft come who take the mountains on the other side of the river under heavy fire, again and again they dive over the positions of A Company toward the mountains on the opposite side, it rains empty cartridges on the positions.
The Netherlands Battalion is ordered to hold Hoengsong to provide the two encircled battalions with an opportunity to link up when they undertake an attempt to break out that evening. In the afternoon, 38th Regiment headquarters moves southward. The tanks which tried to break through now take up positions along the riverside and shoot like crazy at the mountains, wherever they believe the Chinese to be. They a nswer the fire with mortar granades, the tanks start their engines and withdraw from Chinese view. The Dutch are grumbling, there they go again, the shitters, in a tank you are safe from mortar fire, and this morning, too, they had been back very fast. All that shooting was just meant to run out of ammunition fast, then they have an excuse to retreat.
More mortar granades come in, all in the vicinity of the house which was determined to be the command post. In the area there must be one of them leading the artillery fire, otherwise they could not shoot that accurate.
Suddenly above the command post someone calls for the medic, now he could not help much, the group which lay in hiding had a direct hit, two men dead, among them the medic, and a group of wounded, also a couple of South Korean dead. The boys lay in a deep hole, just perfect cover, but the granade hit just that hole. A number of officers and N.C.O.s moves toward Wonju to reconnoitre the positions they shall move into tonight. Report comes in that the two enclosed battalions contacted each other and shall try to fight their way out tonight. The aircraft continue to attack the Chinese until dark.
It is dark already when the first of the enclosed battalions appear, first a few tanks, everybody is anxious to see, is it the Americans or the Chinese with a couple of tanks they took as booty ? Finally the first reach the banks, it seems to be Americans indeed, they are relieved to reach our positions, the tanks were the first, then come the trucks with the dead, three, four layers packed over each other, also the trucks with the wounded are so overloaded that they lie on top of each other, there is groaning, and blood drops off the truck.
We thought never to get out, said an American Sergeant, and now I don't get how we got out, Chinese were everywhere, thousands of them, there was no way through. Then he marches through with his troops, hundreds of stuped men, covered by blood and mud, dead tired and willing to leave that place as fast as possible, the place where they have lived through horroble things. Still Americans pass by, it is hard to believe that so many could escape, regarding those alarming reports.
Suddenly there are shots from the direction of the battalion command post, a platoon commander says they have been taken under fire from the rear, from the battalion command post, over telephone report comes in that the battalion command post has been attacked and taken by the Chinese, Captain Tak, who delivers that report, is wounded himself, a bayonet stitch in the arm, also several other wounds inflicted by a handgranade.

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

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