The United Nations counteroffensive to the Yalu
The expectation of Kim Il-sung (North Korea) and his allies Mao Zedong (China) and Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union) that all of South Korea would fall in a month was not met...
The United Nations Command (UNC) held on to the Pusan Perimeter and built up their strength there. In mid-September 1950 they broke out at the same time as another UNC force landed at Inchon near Seoul cutting off the North Korean Army (KPA). In one of the longest pursuits in military history the UNC chased the KPA 700 kilometres in six weeks. The KPA army fell apart and over 100,000 prisoners were taken – most of the force it had used to invade the south. With the UNC now well inside North Korea, heading for the Yalu River in late October 1950, the war seemed all but over.
This was distressing news for the men of 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) who wondered if they would see any fighting at all. They arrived in the Pusan Perimeter just too late for the breakout. They headed north to catch up with the UNC advance, but it appeared they had missed the war. They did not change their view when they first encountered a mass of KPA infantry on 19 October at Sariwon, 30 kilometres south of the North Korean capital Pyongyang. All 1982 KPA soldiers surrendered to 3RAR without a shot being fired.
The following week 3RAR found the war. KPA resistance stiffened, and driving north-west from Pyongyang, 3RAR, under their commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles Green, fought three battles in eight days from the Apple Orchard on 22 October to Broken Bridge and then Chongju on 29 October. Chongju was the furthest point north the Australians reached in the Korean War, still 70 kilometres south of the Yalu River. The Battalion lost 74 men killed or wounded. The day after Chongju, North Korean artillery fired on 3RAR and they lost one more man. It was the battalion commander Charles Green. He died on 1 November.