Dutch Volunteers fighting in the Korean War

written by Elie van Schilt, veteran NDVN soldier

Chapter XI :

The Chinese take Hoengsong; the Battalion is scattered; retreat from Hoengsong

Now the telephone connection is lost. By transmitter it is attempted to get in contact with Staff Company, but they don't succeed. Now B Company sends an orderly out, around A Company command it is fired everywhere, several fires burn, in the distance Chinese trumpets sound.
The orderly returns, out of breath, he could not get through, dead and wounded everywhere, near battalion command a number of cars are burning. Now we know Staff Company has been raided and eliminated, the last Americans now have passed. The Chinese have already surrounded the left flank of A Company and threaten to cut their way out off. A Company is ordered to retreat to avoid encirclement.
A Company shall go in position near the bridge to cover the retreat. The intensity of the firing they are exposed to increases. The platoon commanders of A Company are ordered to leave their positions and meet near the road below. There is intensive fighting in Hoengsong, machine guns rattle, there are detonations everywhere and fires burn vehemently. Simply it is a hell. Individual fire is not perceptible any more, it is a constant banging caused by all kinds of firearms. Red and green light cartridges fly through the air. When A Company is on it's way down, they hear groaning of wounded and trumpet signals of the Chinese. Now a salvo is coming in so low that they have to take cover. After half an hour A Company reaches the bridge, they take position on both sides of the bridge.
The road southward is jammed with refugees. Tanks, autos, ambulances, artillery and things like that move in the direction of Wonju. In their middle hundreds of soldiers, the army is in a wild retreat. Wat is worse, there are Dutch soldiers among them. Half a kilometer to the north it is now really tough, the city burns as a torch, there are almost no houses standing, thus it has to be vehicles and other army supplies which were set on fire. The junction of roads at the southern end of the city constantly lies under mortar fire and it is almost impossible for vehicles to escape from the burning city. A lot of military transportation is left behind, the drivers and passengers run as fast as possible across a field to reach safety.
Then almoner van de Vrande appears at the road near A Company, reports that Colonel den Ouden has fallen, also Father Timen and many others. Shortly afterward a captain of Staff Company passes through, wounded in his arm. He can not say anything reasonable about the situation, only that Staff Company had received a hard beating. The city is scattered with dead and wounded, also Chinese and Americans, the Americans are so hard on the run, with their vehicles they simply ride over dead and wounded. It is a wild stream of fleeing soldiers who want to get out of town, and they are followed by the Chinese who send bullets after them from everywhere.
Now fleeing Dutchmen are ordered by A Company to assemble at Wonju airport. Then the commander of A Company orders a meeting of his platoon commanders and orders to inform the soldiers that everybody has to retreat on his own to Wonju airport. Ten minutes later the entire A Company is under way, participating in the great retreat. At times they can climb up on the back of a driving truck for a couple of kilometers, but it is much to cold to sit calmly, so they quickly jump off again. A bomber appears in the air, dropping torches on parachutes, so that the entire surrounding is lighted. At the side of the road there is a jeep in which Dutch language is spoken, a severely wounded Dutch captain is sitting in there, covered by blood all over, frozen stiff, they don't know the way to the forward CP hospital. Another fellow who knows the way accompanies them as a guide.
This battalion staff captain had run out of command post when the shooting began, was severely wounded, a number of Chinese approached him, he played dead. They took his wristwatch and moved on, shortly afterward he was found by a few Dutch, the place was like an insane asylum, Chinese and Dutchmen running across in disorder. Despite his severe wounds he still survived.
In the meantime several groups of Dutch soldiers arrived at Wonju airport, fires burn here and there, surrounded by our boys who have been scattered this night by a Chinese raid on Hoengsong, who had to walk the entire distance from Hoengsong, and this for the second time in a month. Scattered, but not defeated, as the future shall show.

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

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