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A Battlefield Historic Analysis on the Chinese CommunistForces's May Offensive in the Korean War

정명복 1

1육군군사연구소

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This study takes on the Chinese Communist Forces(CCF)'s May Offensive with a historic perspective and battle historic consideration, in order to draw out differences from the past military history, and present the facts. The CCF intervened in the war from October 1950 to July 1953 and had a great deal of impact on the war. The CCF suffered from absolutely inferior firepower and loss of air supremacy compared to the United Nations(UN) Forces, yet they still managed to push UN Forces all the way back to the Cheongcheon Rver-Imjin River Defense Line, ignoring the political barrier of the 38th Parallel and came close to breaking down the entire front line. In particular, the main topic of this study, the May Offensive, was the last of the five major offensives of the CCF and took place in May 1951. The CCF began their attack from May 16 to contain the western front, stop the US 10th Corps from providing support and annihilate four ROK divisions in the eastern front line and thereby bring back the initiative. As a result, there was a period when a major penetration was made reaching Hyeonri- Soksari-Hajinburi Line and the ROK 3rd Corps came to be annihilated and finally dismantled. However, thanks to the US 10th Corps' efficient defense and the ROK 1st Corps' performance in the Hangyeryong pass and Daegwanryong pass, the ROK 6th Division's Yongmunsan Battle etc. And through the efficient operational guidance, the US 8th Army was able to stop the CCF troops and its counter attack. As a result, the CCF suffered their biggest loss in the Korean War. Consequently, from the CCF's point of view, they have managed to annihilate the ROK 3rd Corps, but having overdone the attack beyond their capability, they made themselves vulnerable to a resultant counter attack. They thus failed to reach their objective of bringing back the initiative of the war. From the UN Forces' point of view, they managed to achieve their political objective of bringing the CCF to the truce talks. This study concentrates on the examination of strategic execution of both sides during the May Offensive when the major battlefield was in the middle-eastern line. Especially, among the battle records, such as the US intelligence estimate, and CCF's time of attack, and CCF's concentrated penetration and depth maneuver, which are facts based on military records, are compared and analyzed in a battle historic perspective. Analysis shows that at the beginning of the CCF's May Offensive, although past investigations say that the US wasn't fully aware of the main CCF's movement directions during their intelligence estimate, but it is confirmed that the US 8th Army precisely knew where the CCF was heading. The CCF's preparation fire and time of attack, given the circumstances and historical material, turns out that the battle preparation fire began at 16:30, May 16 and the battle was launched at 17:30. Also, it was known that 3~4 CCF divisions against each ROK division, but research shows that on the ROK 7th Division, 6 CCF divisions attacked, and they concentrated on breaking through crowded areas. Additionally, the CCF (2nd Battalion, 178th Regiment, 60th Division) conducted its depth maneuver to Omachi Hill, occupied it, at 07:00, May 17, and then utilized two divisions (60th and 81st) to impose a blockade. In conclusion, the CCF's May Offensive was analyzed in a battle historic view only regarding the key affairs, but accurate facts were drawn out that would somewhat assist restoring the historical facts. Moreover, I hope that further research would be conducted on the May Offensive, which brought the CCF to the negotiation table thanks to the ROK and UN Forces' dedicated efforts.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.