The Inchon Invasion

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Troops re-enact Inchon Landing on 60th anniversary

He commandeered a jeep. I watched for an hour the disaster I had inherited. In that brief interval on that blood-soaked hill, I formulated my plans. They were desperate plans, indeed, but I could see no other way except to accept a defeat which would include not only Korea, but all of Continental Asia. How could that have been, this instant of genius in the midst of overwhelming catastrophe and seemingly hopeless rout?

Asserted his later compatriot and eventual successor, Lt. Matthew B. Clear-eyed and alert despite his 71 years, with thinning hair but no gray, MacArthur set about his plans. Ironically, unlike other U. Army generals of the day like Omar Bradley, who stated openly that seaborne landings were obsolete , MacArthur was a distinct rarity—an army leader who firmly believed in amphibious operations, based on his own previous wartime experiences in the Pacific against the Japanese Army, working hand-in-glove with the U.

Moreover, unlike Truman, Bradley, and former U. At Inchon, MacArthur used navy ships, Marine aerial Corsairs and Marine and army troops jointly, in a superb example of inter-service cooperation. The obstacles were formidable, indeed. They referred to Navy hydrographic studies which listed the average rise and fall of tides at Inchon at Not only did it make a perfect location for enemy mines, but also any ship sunk at a particularly vulnerable point could block the channel to all other ships.

Recommended: Imagine a U. The landing craft, after putting the first assault waves ashore, would be helpless on the mud banks until the morning tide. And then there came the icing on the cake.


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The specter of an Asian Dunkirk thus loomed, with MacArthur in no doubt that he must first defend Japan, and only then Korea. And what about the Japanese Home Islands? Might they not be attacked by their traditional enemy, the Russian bear, while MacArthur was tied down in Korea? And what, too, of the Red Chinese? Might they not also sweep down from the north and crush the X Corps like a paper cup and then go on to do the same to the 8th Army in the Pusan Perimeter?

The risks that MacArthur was running were enormous. The enemy, I am convinced, has failed to prepare Inchon properly for defense.

How Douglas MacArthur Masterminded The Korean War’s Inchon Invasion

The very arguments you have made as to the impracticabilities involved will tend to ensure for me the element of surprise, for the enemy commander will reason that no one would be so brash as to make such an attempt. As an example, the Marquis de Montcalm believed in that it was impossible for an armed force to scale the precipitous river banks south of the then walled city of Quebec, and therefore concentrated his formidable defenses along the more vulnerable banks north of the city. But Gen. James Wolfe and a small force did, indeed, come up the St. Lawrence River and scale those heights.

Thus, he captured Quebec and in effect ended the French and Indian War. Like Montcalm, the North Koreans would regard an Inchon landing as impossible. Like Wolfe, I could take them by surprise. My confidence in the Navy is complete, and in fact I seem to have more confidence in the Navy than the Navy has in itself!

A great voice in a great cause. General Ridgeway called it a 45,to-one shot. Only three dates were possible for the attempted landing because of the moon: September 15, October 11, and November 3; characteristically, MacArthur chose the first, even though when President Truman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved Operation Chromite, there were only a mere 17 days to D-Day. After that, Walker would break out of the perimeter, link up with X Corps and drive the NKPA back to their frontier—and later beyond it.

Lem Shepherd. Marine Reserves flooded in from posts around the world and homes across the country. During four frantic days, August l to 5, nine thousand officers and men reported for duty. It was well fortified. More, Wolmi rose feet above water and was the highest point of land in the Inchon area.

The Marines were concerned that they would be landing under fire directly into a city of , people where warehouses and buildings were fortified. In addition, once the port was taken, the Marines would have to regroup and prepare for the expected NKPA counterattack that might well drive them back into the water with heavy losses, much as had happened during the Canadian raid on Dieppe in Nazi-occupied France in Surviving this, they would have to cross the wide and swift Han River before they could reach Seoul, the coveted prize.

And what of the defenders? In Seoul there was the 10,man 18th Rifle Division, reinforced by the Seoul City Regiment, an infantry unit 3, strong. There was also the hated 36th Battalion, th Security Regiment, plus an antiaircraft defense force unit armed with Russian 85mm guns, 37mm automatic cannon, and At Inchon was a garrison of two thousand new conscripts and two harbor defense batteries of four 76mm guns, each manned by two hundred gunners.

In addition, Russian land mines were being laid, trenches and emplacements dug, and weapons and ammunition arriving. There were plans to mine the harbor, but the work had not begun. Kimpo Airfield, too, was an extremely worthwhile military objective. Located to the north of the Inchon-Seoul axis, it lay a mile inland along the left bank of the Han River, downstream—or northwest—of Seoul.


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It was the best airfield in Korea, serving the two million inhabitants of Seoul as well as the port of Inchon. Espionage played a significant part in the planning stages from the Navy side. So successful were his efforts that he actually turned on a light in a lighthouse to guide the first assault ships into Inchon harbor before dawn on Sept. The channel navigation lights were on.

We were taking the enemy by surprise. The lights were not even turned off. Naval planners nervously recalled the disastrous storm that had occurred during the invasion of Okinawa in the spring of , and wondered if history might be repeating itself. MacArthur boarded his flagship the Mt. McKinley on the 12th. The vessel and its mates at sea were buffeted by howling winds and high seas when the storm suddenly veered north from the east coast of Japan on the 13th. But the worst of the terrible storm narrowly missed the invasion fleet.

As the countdown for Chromite approached, two diversionary bombardments took place by air to the south at Kunsan and to the north at Chinammpo, with the battleship USS Missouri blasting Samchok on the east coast right across from the real target, Inchon. Next came Wolmi-Do; beginning on Sept. Many aircraft are bombing Wolmi-Do.

There is every indication the enemy will perform a landing. All units under my command are directed to be ready for combat; all units will be stationed in their given positions so that they may throw back enemy forces when they attempt their landing operation. At last, 71, officers and men of the U. Marines swept in from the Yellow Sea to face 40, North Korean troops. What would be the outcome—tremendous victory or ignominious defeat?

Operation Chromite: the Inchon Landing (Korea, 15 September 1950)

The initial landing force of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, lst Marine Divsion clambered ashore from their landing craft and scaled the sea wall, securing Wolmi-Do Island in a mere—and historic—45 minutes. The first task was to neutralize Wolmi-Do, the little island that sat right athwart the channel, with all channel traffic within point-blank range of its guns. Marine Corsair planes strafed the island beaches … and the Marines stormed ashore, scattering the dazed defenders. Elsewhere the LSTs simply rammed holes in the wall, or Marines opened holes with dynamite, through which the assault troops poured.

And what of the man whose military genius had foreseen all this from the start? Aboard the Mt.

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MacArthur simply said. Photographers were busily engaged in taking pictures of the General, while he continued to watch the naval gunfire—paying no attention to his admirers. As the Marines had stormed ashore, elderly Korean civilians had gathered to watch them in awe, admiration, and relief at being liberated from their northern oppressors. Frank E. Back on the Mt. The landings were divided into a trio of Beaches: Green to take Wolmi-Do, and Red and Blue to seize Inchon proper, with the former to the north of the causeway linking Wolmi-Do to the port and the latter to the south of it.

The main battle assault was at Red Beach. The attack was successful and totally outflanked the North Korean Army. General MacArthur, commander of UN troops in Korea, had from the very start believed that the path to victory in Korea was a flanking amphibious assault. MacArthur wanted to land at Inchon, the port city serving Seoul, which was 20 miles inland.

MacArthur had to overcome the opposition of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but soon had approval for his plan and, more importantly, received the Marine 1st Division to carry out the assault itself. Major General Edward Almond, MacArthur's chief of staff, was appointed the commander of the invasion force. On September 10, a fleet of vessels set off from Japan for the beachhead at Inchon. Inchon had both an inner and outer harbor.

To successfully land at Inchon, it was necessary to capture Wolmi-do Island in the harbor.

TOKYO (1 p.m.)

Because of the tides, it would be essential first to attack Wolmi-do; and then, the next day, it was possible to attack Inchon. On the evening of September 15, after a day of bombardment, the Marines began their invasion of the island. The Marines quickly achieved their first objective - Radio Hill. Within an hour, the island was in American hands. The Marines suffered only 17 wounded, none serious.