Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chosin Reservoir and the Hungnam Evacuation

Andrew Salmon gives commentary through the new exhibit at the National Museum of Contemporary History, located conveniently next to the US Embassy in Gwanghwamun. The exhibit is on the Hungnam Evacuation of December 1950.
December 1951. The Korean War appears to be over. Communist troops have disappeared. As a Siberian cold front descends over the freezing battlescape of North Korea, UN troops mass for their final "Home for Christmas" offensive. In fact, only the ones who will be "home for Christmas" will arrive in body bags ... for the unknowing troops are, in fact, advancing into the greatest ambush of the 20th century. 
In Korea's worst terrain -- around a frozen highland reservoir named "Chosin" -- the UK's 41 Commando, embedded with US 1st Marine Division finds itself surrounded by eight Chinese divisions. Their mission: to annihilate the marines "like snakes in their own homes". What follows is now legend: a harrowing breakout in a battlescape higher than Cassino and as cold as Stalingrad, that carves a path through the enemy ranks; a "scorch earth" retreat that devastates the land; and the winter evacuation from Hungnam into the freezing waters of the north Pacific (recently captured, quite accurately, in the hit film "Ode to My Father"). 
In the Royal Asiatic Society / National Museum of Contemporary History joint event, Andrew Salmon will give background as well as run "Green Beret, White Hell" a presentation covering the role of 41 Commando, Royal Marines, in the eye of the hurricane. 
Events covered (and he swears he's not making it up) will include:
  • The 9-1 battle in "Hellfire Valley"
  • The "Cairn of Corpses" at Hagaru
  • The "White Star of Koto-ri"
  • The "Bridge of Bodies" at the Funchillin Pass
  • The "Ship of Miracles" 
  • The greatest man-made explosion since Nagasaki

all pictures provided by Andrew Salmon

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