Excerpt of article in the Tampa Tribune, November 11th, 2000, an interview with William Smith, 7th Division, 31st Regiment, Chosin Reservoir, November 27th, 1950
The article is under the title of "Chosin - Marines Recall Horror, Misery of Battle" The following is an excerpt of that article.
"William Smith, 72 of Tampa, was a sergeant with the Army's 7th Division stationed in Korea when the war began. His unit was with the Marines in the drive north. He had encountered a few Chinese troops in earlier fighting, but not in the numbers which confronted him along the Yalu.
The Chinese troops made their move about Thanksgiving, as members of the 1st Marine Division approached the river and the Chosin Reservoir. By Nov, 27, 1950, the Americans were surrounded.
The Chinese swarmed at the Army troops at the reservoir. Smith said he found the only cover around, an outhouse, and fired at the troops with his M-1 rile.
"The next morning there were so many bodies in front of the outhouse that you couldn't fire over them," Smith said. "There must have been 200. We were surrounded that morning."
"They would rush us and back off like they were playing with you," he said.
The situation was so dire, everyone had to fight, Smith said.
"I saw guys, coming out of that reservoir, that should have been written up (for awards), but there was nobody to write them up," Smith said. "The firefights were constant. All walking wounded had to fight."
PLEASE NOTE: I'm glad that William had the chance to let others know of what the Army went through at Chosin. But I noticed the article had a few errors. I hope that in the future that the history of the Army at Chosin will be told.
William was not stationed in Korea at the start of the Korean War. He was in Korea before the war with the 32nd Regiment, 1948. William was stationed at Camp Crawford, in Sapporo Japan in July 1950 when the war broke out.
The 7th Division was 'separate' from the Marines, they were never 'with' the Marines. In fact the 7th Division replaced the Marines at East of Chosin and passed the Marines on the way North to the reservoir.
(Again, only parts of the 7th Division Regiments ended up at Chosin - NOT the entire Division.) Yes, part of the 7th Division (Task Force Faith-MacLean) became 'attached' to the Marines in the evening hours on November 29th, 1950, meaning placed under command of the Marine Commander. In fact in the 3rd Battalion, 31st Regiment, William said that there were 2 Marines. If I am correct, Appleman states in EAST OF CHOSIN, there were a total of 5 Marines 'with' the 31st RCT on the east side of the reservoir.
All the Army Divisions at Chosin, 7th and 3rd Divisions included ROK's, Republic of Korea soldiers. The Marine commander did not agree with the 'attaching'of the ROK's to the Marines. Why did the Army Divisions use ROK's? Since the start of the war in July of 1950, the Army sent the closest Divisions (24th, 25th Division and 1st Cavalry Division)to Korea immediately and kept taking men for replacements from the 7th Division. The 7th Division was located in the Northern most parts of Japan and was stripped bare of men by the date for Inchon about 8,000 ROK's were attached to the 7th Division.
The Marines landed at Inchon on September 15, the 31st, September 17th, 1950.
The 7th Division then landed at Iwon, October 29, 1950, about 100 miles north of the Marine landing at Wonsan.
About the 200 bodies the next morning. An exaggeration? Nothing is said that the outhouse was on a small slope - thus allowing bodies to collect on the ground. This is not an exaggeration of numbers. One can clearly realize that it could be possible to have such a large amount if the fact be known that the building was on a small hill.
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