Dutch Volunteers fighting in the Korean War

written by Elie van Schilt, veteran NDVN soldier

Chapter XVI : Hill 325 retaken

The platoon commander requests permission to climb up the mountain, the lieutenant wants to be there when the attack is launched.
The Chinese have done their best to prepare their defenses on top of the 325. How our boys see a chance to expel the Chinese, after all they went through the last days, they are too tired to stand on their feet and yet they have to climb up that mountain. The boys who carried down the wounded and fallen are totally exhausted, lie on the ground. In this condition it is impossible to send them back up the mountain.
Thick fog sets in. Artillery and mortars take the valley to the north of the 325, where the Chinese hold positions, under constant barrage.
Once on top of the 325, the platoon commander finds a great chaos. A part of the American platoon has retreated in panic, they flee in direction of the Dutch positions. He fetches an American sergeant, turns him with his face toward the top of the 325, on which, at this precise moment, napalm and phosphor granades detonate. He yells at the sergeant : "move upstairs, damned !" "Go back !"
They had to attack together with the Dutch. In the firy blaze it can be observed how the Chinese jump out of their positions, fearing the phosphor and mortar granades, run down in agony. But they still are courageous, does the mortar fire stop, they immediately return into their positions.
When the Americans and Dutch attempt to move up to the top, they are greeted by a hail of bullets.
It will be a very hard night, three times they attempt to take the hill, but they do not succeed, because of determined resistance. If they do not take it before daybreak, then hill 325 is lost and the position around Wonju has to be given up.
At six o'clock the last attack is started. The platoon commander, his bayonet affixed on his rifle, runs ahead, uphill, shouts "attack !". It is crawling rather than going, up the last, steep part of the hill, the Chinese throw handgranades, they detonate between our boys, yet there are shouts " forward !"
Some boys even managed to get a machine gun up the mountain. It turns into man-to-man combat, the bayonet is frequently used. Then all who have not been shot reach the top of the 325.
Some fall over because of exhaustion, there are a couple of boys who vomit. But the hill has to be held, everybody is assigned a place by the platoon commander, the telephone connection with company command is repaired.
The wounded, as far as they still can walk, climb, stumble as good and as bad as they can down, shortly afterward followed by others with covered stretchers, a couple of boys come down crying, they had mental breakdowns, one is led off with a shock. It is a very sad case, two brethren of whom one fell that night, the other received report over the telephone. The company commander receives another bad report, the platoon sergeant fell, he was the man with the machine gun; they found him behind it, dead.

Now, a couple of days later, the battalion may recover. The place assigned is not comfortable, but it is quiet. When evening approaches, they hear rumbling, this can only be the British brigade and they seem to push eastward. The Chinese have to retreat, otherwise they will be encircled. Already the next morning a report comes in, they have to move out again, that evening the tired boys are again in position. Again digging trenches, prepare positions for defense. Now they occupy a stretch which only days before had been filled with Chinese. The valley below is scattered with dead Chinese, a few stray horses are there, nobody may enter that valley, snipers might still be around. In this sector the Chinese are on a massive retreat, but to the east of Wonju they are on the advance southward, and attempt to break through to Chechon. It seems we have to move there soon, some shout.

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

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