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1950: Pyongyang taken as UN retreats

VIDEO : Dramatic footage of Pyongyang evacuation

Chinese troops have entered the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, as United Nations forces are pushed steadily back towards South Korea.

The North Korean People's Army (NKPA) invaded the south in June this year. Forces from the UN and Republic of Korea led a counter-offensive on 15 September.

North Korean forces quickly retreated back over the 38th parallel and General Douglas MacArthur ordered troops to pursue them into North Korea.

On 19 October Pyongyang was captured and by 24 November, North Korean forces were driven back almost to the Yalu River which marks the border of China.

But two days later, as General MacArthur prepared for a final offensive Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) joined the NKPA to launch this latest counterattack.

Thousands trapped

Today in Pyongyang, the CCF had to wade across the Taedong River because American engineers had destroyed bridges to the deserted city and burned all supplies and equipment that might help enemy forces.

Thousands of refugees are waiting to be taken from the north to the south bank by small boats.

Meanwhile in the north-east of the country, up to 20,000 US Marines and 7th Division infantrymen are totally surrounded by Communist Korean and Chinese forces south of the Chosin reservoir.

Reports from the headquarters of X Corp say marines and soldiers are now under fire from six Chinese divisions and enduring some hardship in sub-zero temperatures.

Allied aircraft are supplying the trapped troops with ammunition and food and have evacuated 1,700 wounded men to hospitals on the coast.

The British Commonwealth 29th Brigade, the rearguard of the Eighth Army, has retreated to positions further south of Pyongyang.

And two companies of the US 187th Airborne Regiment are fighting Communist troops near Sibyon, 70 miles (112 km) south-east of Pyongyang.

UN reinforcements have been sent to the American paratroops.

In Washington, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee had a meeting with President Harry S Truman to discuss events in Korea.

And General Omar Nelson Bradley, general of the army, has been explaining the seriousness of the situation to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Yesterday President Truman condemned the Chinese for joining NKPA forces and escalating the war.

In Context
The dramatic events at the Chosin Reservoir were reported as one of the greatest and bloodiest retreats in US Marine Corps history.

For two weeks, during one of the coldest winters on record, the First Marine Division, 200 British Marine Commandoes and elements of the US Seventh Division fought their way to the sea port of Hungnam along a narrow route through the mountains of North Korea - the Funchilin Pass.

They had support from ships in Hungnam that provided naval gunfire and navy and marine aircraft. At Hungnam, the Navy re-deployed more than 100,000 marines and soldiers of the X Corps, and evacuated over 100,000 North Korean refugees.

All UN troops retreated south and in January, 1951, the Communists recaptured Seoul, the South Korean capital.

UN troops prepared a second counterattack for March 1951 and by June had recaptured Seoul.

The Korean War cost about two million lives.

It ended with an armistice on 27 July 1953 which established a fixed demarcation line with a four kilometre (2.4 mile) demilitarization zone.

The armistice was only ever intended as a temporary measure but remains the only safeguard for peace on the Korean peninsula.

American troops remain stationed in the demilitarized zone on and around the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea.


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