China Verses USA: Two Early Battles in the Korean War

Translator’s Note: This is an English translation of the original Chinese text entitled ‘盘点解放军境外十大歼灭战 美军死的很冤枉’ or, ‘PLA Record of Service Overseas – the USA’s Unjust War of Annihilation and the Casualties Caused’. This interesting document lists ten battles in the Korean War, and analyses the PLA’ s victories, performances, and tragic sacrifices. I present here the English translation of the first two major engagements of the PLA in the Korean War listed in this article – the first is against the US trained and armed South Korean Forces at Fei Hu Shan, and the second is against the US Marines at Yun Shan. It is obvious that many Western histories of the Korean War are hopelessly inaccurate and the product of skewed thinking and political bias.  The reality is that the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army – enthused as it was by Communist ideology – inflicted defeat after defeat on the best military forces the capitalist West had to offer.  The Chinese text is a refreshing break from the usual Western narrative which depicts comprehensive military defeats of US forces as a ‘disguised’ victory. I have retained the original Chinese text for the reader’s general interest. ACW 9.11.14

First Engagement: Battle of Fei Hu Shan (飞虎山)

Date: November the 2nd, 1950

Location: North Korea (DPRK) – Fei Hu Shan

Chinese victory: UN vanguard of two South Korean Divisions repulsed suffering 15,000 casualties.

Chinese People's Volunteer Army
Chinese People’s Volunteer Army

On October the 25th, 1950, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (志愿军 – Zhi Yuan Jun) – numbering 200,000 – formally entered the Korea War. At that time, the Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [朝鲜 – Chao Xian] (DPRK) – Kim Il Sung (金日成) was concerned that as war-planes and tanks had not been able to turn the tide of war, how could a Chinese army comprised solely of ‘volunteers’ be successful? Due to the dire military situation in North Korea at that time, Kim Il Sung was of the opinion that his country was ‘finished’ (完了 – Wan Lao)! The commander of the Chinese Volunteer Army – Peng Dehuai (彭德怀) – laughed out loud at this suggestion, and firmly rejected its implications. Not long afterwards, (on the 2nd of November, 1950), the vanguard of the United Nations Forces – consisting of the 53rd and 55th Divisions – was advancing toward the area Fei Hu Shan (飞虎山), where the 25th and 29th Divisions of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army was awaiting in ambush. At Fei Hu Shan the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army rapidly attacked the UN Forces that were heading northward with the intention of threatening the sovereign security of the Chinese border. In just three days, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army held the desperate UN Forces in a death-grip that destroyed two entire South Korean Divisions. This encounter demonstrated that beyond its political rhetoric, the United Nations Forces, (led by the United States of America), was nothing more than a toothless tiger!

Success: The 25th and 29th Divisions of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army were formed from the reorganisation of surrendered Guomindang (国民党) nationalist forces, to form a new army of heroic troops. In function, this new army adopted the Japanese tactic of rapid and aggressive deployment and advance, designed to quickly disorganise and destabilise the enemy. This is the application of ‘suddenness’ and ‘shock’ on the battlefield, which is highly effective during open terrain combat. In the Fei Hu Shan engagement, the Chinese Forces quickly encountered and destroyed the South Korean Forces headquarters, and rendered the South Korean Forces leaderless and confused. This initial action took away the South Korean command and control infrastructure. South Korean discipline then rapidly collapsed and the battle became a massacre.

Failure: The Chinese 38th Army was unable to effectively co-ordinate its advance with the Fei Hu Shan offensive due to intense snow blizzards. This meant that it could not advance rapidly to the Fei Hu Shan area and cut-off the escape route of the retreating South Korean forces. Another factor which slowed down the 38th Army was its capture of a large number of US produced tanks – which none of the Chinese Volunteers could operate. This was a great pity, as these valuable vehicles had to be abandoned. A laughable excuse for the failure to advance is that the Chinese troops were so cold whilst fighting in the North Korean winter that the first thing they did following battles was to rob the warm quilted coats from the dead South Korean soldiers! Another error was the mistaking of the late arriving DPRK’s 8th Division, for a South Korean Division – at this time the two allies (China and North Korea) opened fire on one another’s positions.

Second Engagement: Battle of Yun Shan (云山)

Date: December 11th, 1950

Location: North Korea (DPRK) – Yun Shan

Chinese victory: US 1st Marine Division engaged suffering 15,000 casualties

Chinese Casualties in the Korean War
Chinese Casualties in the Korean War

After the first battle (described above) the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army quickly retreated and MacArthur – the Commander of the US Forces – mistakenly presumed that China had only ‘symbolically committed troops’ and ordered the UN Forces to rush onward in a northerly direction, toward the Chinese border area. MacArthur sentimentalised the conflict by publically stating that the war will be over by Christmas. On the night of December the 11th, 1950, the US 1st Marine Division advanced into the Yun Shan area, and was surrounded by the 38th Chinese People’s Volunteer Army. This is how the first major engagement between US and Chinese forces began. After the US 1st Marine Division was surround by the Chinese forces, the US quickly rushed support into the area.  In turn, the Chinese forces launched an immediate and intensive offensive that was inspired through self-sacrifice and heroism. After suffering massive casualties, the US withdrew its forces from the area to prevent total destruction. The US used this tactic throughout the Korean War so that when obviously losing a battle, they could claim that they withdrew ‘voluntarily’ and therefore ‘never lost a battle’, etc. However, their retreat was blocked by the 175th and 180th Chinese Regiments, who fought tenaciously in an attempt to prevent the US forces from retreating southward in good order. So effective was this blocking action that the US forces lost 15,000 casualties – but the two Chinese blocking Regiments were reduced to just 5 men. The writer Wei Wei (魏巍) recorded their sacrifice in the following prose:

These are the most beautiful of people.’

When surveying the details of this tragic battle, tears cannot help but be shed.


©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2014.


盘点解放军境外十大歼灭战 美军死的很冤枉


















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