It is currently 25 Jun 2017, 23:28



Welcome
Welcome to Campaigning Through Time, a ‘historum’ for the discussion of military history and the archiving of current events and commemoration. As founders, our goals were to create a community that would last, that would pride itself on purposeful discussion and relaxed moderation, and would ultimately nurture and encourage interest in military history. Working with the University of Kent's Military History Society and their network of students and alumni, we hope to extend military history to all who wish to learn more. All are welcome!

If you are new to our site, have a look at our rules and FAQ, browse our upcoming events, get help with coursework, check out our magazine, peruse our archive, or simply have some fun!

Registration is fast, simple, and absolutely free, so join the discussion today!





 Page 1 of 1 [ 7 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 12 Jan 2015, 23:33 
Corporal
Corporal

Joined: 01 Oct 2013, 23:12
Posts: 47
Has thanked: 0 time
Have thanks: 3 time
The Chinese People’s Volunteer Army during the Korean War

Image
Chinese infantry at the Battle of Triangle Hill, 1952: Image credit: Hohum

By Sam Willoughby


In October 1950, the war in Korean War took an abrupt turn with the entry of the Chinese. The father of Chinese Communism, Chairman Mao Tse Tung, had been watching events in Korea with growing concern. Since the American landings at Inchon in September 1950, the NKPA (North Korean People’s Army) had been in headlong retreat and large areas of North Korean territory had come under United Nations occupation. On 19th October, the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, was captured and United Nations and South Korean forces were rapidly approaching the Chinese border; South Korean troops approached the North Korean-Chinese border towards the end of October 1950. In China, the Communists had only recently achieved power after many years of civil war against the Chinese Nationalists and Japanese forces during World War Two, finally gaining victory in 1949 and were still in the process of consolidating their positions. Mao saw the United Nations forces as a severe threat to his regime and realised that he would need to act. On 14th October 1950, Chinese troops of the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) began to infiltrate into North Korea under the designation ‘Volunteers’ to disguise official Chinese involvement, meaning that the ‘Chinese People’s Volunteer Army’ itself was just an offshoot of the PLA. The Chinese were now on the march to confront the forces of the United Nations, under the command of P’eng Teh-huai. The volunteer army’s main weaknesses were a lack of heavy weapons, and its large range of small arms which were Chinese, American and Japanese-made, presenting a logistical nightmare.

Image
This Chinese poster depicts General Douglas MacArthur killing women and children, stating: 'The Chinese people absolutely can't condone encroachment by other countries without acting, and can't listen to imperialists who think they can wantonly encroach on China's neighbours' : Image Credit & Translation: Chineseposters.net

Image
Another Chinese poster stating: 'The Korean People's Army and Chinese People's Volunteer Army, victorious forever!' : Same source


However, aside from these problems, the volunteer army had a number of advantages of the armies of the United Nations. Firstly, the volunteer army had the upper hand in numbers. Secondly, many of its soldiers were experienced veterans of the recent civil war who were experts in field-craft, and finally, indoctrination and morale. The Chinese placed great emphasis on the political indoctrination of its troops, convincing many of them that their new found freedom was under threat, which meant that the volunteer troops were well motivated and prepared to fight- many of the volunteer army soldiers came from poor peasant families; many of whom had suffered at the hands of wealthy, corrupt land owners under Nationalist rule. The volunteer forces were not an army in the conventional sense, but more of a guerrilla army that placed strict discipline in its use of camouflage and mobility. The volunteer army mostly moved on foot, viewing the use of vehicles as a major obstacle in moving undetected. The volunteer army was primitive in terms of communications equipment; attacks were often signalled by bugles, which also served to frighten United Nations troops. A typical volunteer army attack took place at night using the element of surprise and were often characterised by bugles and screams by the charging Chinese troops.

According to Michael Hickey (1999), the first Chinese offensive got underway on 25th October, and by November 1950 there were 250,000 Chinese troops in North Korea. The sudden attack by the volunteer army came as a shock to the United Nations troops as unit after unit was thrown back in disarray. The US 61st Artillery Battalion found itself overwhelmed at the Chongchon River on 25th November after Chinese troops waded across storming the gun emplacements with one battery quickly captured and the other guns abandoned. The situation was so chaotic that the fleeing artillery troops found themselves intermingled with advancing Chinese troops who moved to attack the US 23rd Infantry Division which managed to keep its nerve, holding the Chinese back.

Image
Chinese Volunteer Army troops crossing the Amrokgang River into North Korea: Image Credit: Tourbillon


However, one battle was soon to follow in which the volunteer army would be severely tested- the Battle of the Imjin River. The Imjin River itself meanders through the hills near to the South Korean capital, Seoul. Dug in on the hills were the British 29th Infantry Brigade, the Gloucester Regiment’s 1st Battalion and the Northumberland Fusiliers. According to Peter and Dan Snow (2007), the British were at a number of disadvantages when preparing their defences on the hill- the terrain was very rocky, making it very difficult to dig fighting positions and artillery support was limited to a few light guns. The battle lasted from 22nd – 25th April 1951 when the fighting was particularly ferocious for both sides, which ended in defeat for the British. The 29th Brigade lost around 25 percent of its fighting force, and another 70 troops from the Gloucester Regiment were killed in action, as well another 530 who became prisoners of war. The number of Chinese troops killed was estimated at 10,000. The battle itself served a major purpose; had it not been for the British troops at the Imjin River, two major divisions of US and South Korean troops would have been cut off. US General James Van Fleet credited the British troops at the Imjin River on their brave defence against the volunteer army. The Chinese attack would continue for a short while after the Imjin River battle in an attempt to capture Seoul, but after taking heavy casualties from United Nations aerial and artillery attacks, their offensive ran out of steam. P’eng Teh-huai informed the Chinese High Command that it would take a long period of time for his units to regain their full strength, and the Chinese would never again attempt another large-scale offensive for the rest of the war.

Bibliography

• Hastings, Max, The Korean War, (London, 1987)

• Hickey, Michael, Korean War: The West Confronts Communism, 1950-1953, (London, 2000)

• Snow, Peter and Dan, The World’s Greatest Twentieth Century Battlefields, (BBC Books, 2007)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 13 Jan 2015, 18:21 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 27 Jun 2012, 11:56
Posts: 1688
Location: London, UK.
Has thanked: 42 time
Have thanks: 46 time
Nice read, but I do have a few questions :)

Did the Chinese Army ever overcome its logistical problems with shortages of heavy weapons and a too wide a range of other weapons?

Did Chinese assistance extend beyond troops on the ground? Did they offer training, weapons, economic support?

How would you rate the quality of Chinese forces fighting in Korea?

And do you think the involvement of China had any long lasting effect on the outcome of the war?



_________________
Image
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 16 Jan 2015, 00:36 
Private

Joined: 16 Jan 2015, 00:02
Posts: 2
Has thanked: 0 time
Have thanks: 0 time
Hello, I'm now tropic thunder as I'm having trouble with my renegade92 account.

In answer to your questions- the Chinese never acquired that many heavy weapons, it was only after Korea that the Chinese began to upgrade, they had a few trucks but mainly relied upon foot transport. Military assistance continued after the war, as the NKPA recovered as both the Soviets and the Chinese provided support to North Korea through weapons and training- Kim Ill Sung's NKPA was trained and equipped by the Soviets even before the war began, especially after the defeat of Japan in the Korean Peninsular after World War Two. Economic assistance also carried on.

Chinese tactics during the Korean War could be regarded as somewhat clumsy and costly through their human wave tactics, however with the huge amount of indoctrination and commitment to their cause, the Chinese were able to sustain heavy casualties and carry on fighting, which was very similar to the PAVN's tactics in Vietnam. These tactics made the UN realise that the war, if anything, was unwinnable and too costly for the West to carrying on committing troops and resources, and encouraged them to come to the negotiating table.

In terms of China's involvement influencing the long-lasting effects of the war, it would have made the Western powers view Mao's People's Republic of China as a force to be reckoned with and as a major Communist power. This would be realised in the coming years with China's involvement during the Vietnam War through its aid to the North Vietnamese and Vietcong, and the USA's fear of provoking China into invading Vietnam, hence why the US Air Force was told to keep away from North Vietnam's border with China. Plus, there was the Sino-Soviet Split, which showed that China could go it alone without Soviet support.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 19 Jan 2015, 15:56 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 30 Jan 2012, 19:49
Posts: 1874
Location: United Kingdom
Has thanked: 65 time
Have thanks: 119 time
Poor logistics, a lack of heavy guns and tanks, no tactics or training to speak of, and a home country still in a period of turmoil. None of these seem like a recipe for success.

Makes me wonder, would they have pitched in at all if the Soviets weren't sniffing about!

Do the above factors explain the rapid roll back of previously successful Chinese/North Korean forces?

Actually, considering the failings mentioned, what was the root of their initial success? Allied intelligence surely noticed?



_________________
Historian, Journalist, Feature Writer, and Editor.
Society Chairman/Advisor 2013-, Society President 2012-2013, Society Vice President 2010-2012, Archive/Forum Administrator 2011-

Image
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 26 Jan 2015, 20:22 
Private

Joined: 22 Jun 2014, 21:34
Posts: 7
Has thanked: 0 time
Have thanks: 3 time
A good article, and I was interested to see the comparison to Vietnam in terms of human wave tactics that forced the ARVN to adopt a guerilla campaign, which didn't happen in Korea.
Could it be the case that the Chinese stopped pushing the UN troops back as soon as they were away from the border because the immediate threat of ground invasion and 'big Mac' and his atom bomb had passed? Did they not want/ were unable to overcommit due to being a fledgling nation? Or was it that their lack of heavy equipment and the UN reliance on it meant that they fought more effectively in the mountainous north and down the eastern edge of the country where they were safer from tanks, aircraft and artillery?
We also must remember that after the Second World War the USA cut back defence spending a long way and discharged experienced members of the armed forces without thought of retention, so it could be the case that with largely WW2 surplus they simply couldn't take on the Chinese who with soviet backing were on fairly level terms technologically as the reliance on machinery which was the hallmark of cold war western armies had yet to emerge.
As for their initial success, John, I imagine that either the build up of troops was dismissed as an understandable reaction to UN troops going hell for leather towards the Yalu, or that insufficient troops were in theatre to stop them before the 38th parallel.

Matt


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 26 Jan 2015, 21:24 
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
User avatar

Joined: 30 Jan 2012, 19:49
Posts: 1874
Location: United Kingdom
Has thanked: 65 time
Have thanks: 119 time
mattcurry wrote:
with largely WW2 surplus they simply couldn't take on the Chinese


Whilst your point about being fighting across a more level technological playing field is a good one, I'd like to mention that the question of wartime surplus and its continuing effectiveness is something I had to cover in my National Service dissertation. The British at least were more than happy with the capability of wartime surplus going into Korea and Malaya.

Which is good, because the only bits of new equipment I could find the Army being issued with between the last days of the war and the early 1950's were the Centurion tank, Charioteer tank destroyer (for the TA only) and the Super Bazooka.

Quote:
As for their initial success, John, I imagine that either the build up of troops was dismissed as an understandable reaction to UN troops going hell for leather towards the Yalu, or that insufficient troops were in theatre to stop them before the 38th parallel.


Both fantastic points, when did D-Maccy first mention invention in China? Before or after their invasion?



_________________
Historian, Journalist, Feature Writer, and Editor.
Society Chairman/Advisor 2013-, Society President 2012-2013, Society Vice President 2010-2012, Archive/Forum Administrator 2011-

Image
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: The Chinese Volunteer Army during the Korean War
Unread postPosted: 27 Jan 2015, 00:35 
Private

Joined: 16 Jan 2015, 00:02
Posts: 2
Has thanked: 0 time
Have thanks: 0 time
Darkhorse wrote:
Poor logistics, a lack of heavy guns and tanks, no tactics or training to speak of, and a home country still in a period of turmoil. None of these seem like a recipe for success.

Makes me wonder, would they have pitched in at all if the Soviets weren't sniffing about!

Do the above factors explain the rapid roll back of previously successful Chinese/North Korean forces?

Actually, considering the failings mentioned, what was the root of their initial success? Allied intelligence surely noticed?


In answer to your questions- Soviet involvement may have had a small part to play- the Chinese were quite close to the Soviets at this time, this is well before the Sino-Soviet split in the early 60s, they would have relied on the Soviets to provide a counter-balance. Remember the Soviets had already developed their own A-Bomb to counter the US, and had the most modern military equipment available to the Communist Bloc at this time, they had supplied MiG-15 jets to the PLA during the civil war and provided other material support, plus it was the Soviets who provided the NKPA with the bulk of its equipment.

The most important factor in pushing China into the war was Mao's resilience to preserve the Chinese Communist regime, which at this time was still consolidating its power, having only defeated Chang Kai-Shek's nationalists barely a year before. Plus, it may have been a case of UN overconfidence- since the landings at Inchon, the NKPA was collapsing on all fronts and falling back in disarray, swathes of North Korean territory was being captured, and Pyongyang had fallen. The NKPA's original offensive had run out of steam until the Chinese were involved.


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 Page 1 of 1 [ 7 posts ] 


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  

cron

suspicion-preferred