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(The KOREAN WAR – continued)

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The KOREAN WAR (5 of 8)

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First Contacts between the Chinese and UN Forces

On October 25, 1950, South Korean forces were approaching the Yalu River around the city Chosan. They were eager to send President Syngman Rhee a bottle of water taken from the Yalu. Eight miles east of Chosan a South Korean battalion was destroyed by an enemy force. That force moved farther south that same day and skirmished with US troops. The Americans took a few prisoners and discovered that they did not understand Korean. Within hours it was reported to command-center that US and South Korean forces in the area had come into contact with about 20,000 Chinese troops.

After several days of intermittent contact with the UN forces, the Chinese force withdrew into the mountains. In Tokyo, MacArthur clung to his belief that China would not enter the war, at least in significant number. He still believed that the war would be over by Christmas. In late October, US Marines landed on the North's east coast at Wonson unopposed. They marched northward and inland, arriving on November 15 at the Changjin Reservoir, to be familiar to Americans as the Chosin Reservoir. On November 21, the 17th Regiment of the US 7th Division reached the town of Hyesan on the Yalu River, the second contact by UN forces with the Yalu River. On November 24, MacArthur's troops reached the city of Chongjin on the northern east coast.

Meanwhile, Stalin had relented and given the Chinese some air cover for the crossing of bridges on the Yalu River. North Koreans were flying combat aircraft from Manchuria, and the US bombed these bases without publicity. US and Russian planes clashed from the first of November. According to Russian documents, by November 15, the Russians had shot down 23 US aircraft. On November 15, Mao thanked Stalin for the heroism of the Soviet pilots.

The Soviet Union was to continue to send its planes to cover communist forces, but it began to train Chinese pilots as fast as it could to replace the Russians, and it began supplying the Chinese with MIG aircraft. Also, the Soviet Union began sending advisors to accompany the Chinese in Korea.

By now some Greek and Australian troops had joined the UN forces in Korea. On November 20 a much valued Field Ambulance and Surgical Unit had arrived from India, and on November 23 a battalion of Dutch troops had arrived.

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