CRITIQUE OF ROY APPLEMAN'S BOOK "SOUTH TO THE NAKTONG, NORTH TO THE YALU"

CRITIQUE OF ROY APPLEMAN'S BOOK"SOUTH TO THE NAKTONG, NORTH TO THE YALU"

     An explanation of my citation references is in order.  Most of them are from the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, known as NARA II.  All documents located there will be identified as NARA II.  Since full location information is necessary, the citation must also include:  Records Group (RG), Stack Area, Row, Compartment, Shelf and Box or Box Numbers.  For example, records for the 5th Regimental Combat Team for 1949 would be cited:  NARA II, RG 407, 270, 68, 19, 8, Box 4689.  Many more documents are located at the U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  Their specific location is in the Army History Education Center (AHEC).  They would be cited: AHEC plus the specific designation of the files.  For example, personal narratives of men participating in the Korean War in the 21st Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division would be:  AHEC, Korean War Survey Collection, 24th Division, 21st Regiment.  Other personal narratives have been obtained from the 21st Infantry Regiment's Historian.  They would be cited: 21st Infantry Historian records.  Part of Appleman's problem is that the war had been going on for almost a year before he arrived and did not properly verify information given to him about that period of time.  Some of the men were trying to make a reputation and others were trying to cover up errors in judgement. 

     In the first full paragraph on page 61, he writes that only 406 men were air landed in Korea on July 1.  He also writes that each man had 120 rounds of ammunition.     

     He completely ignores the fact that most of the men landed the next day. A personal narrative by Sgt Clifford Johnson (1) of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment states that only about 120 men made it to Pusan on July 1 and that those men immediately boarded a train for Taejon. 2d Lt. Brian Macaulay (2) stated that though he was in the third plane loaded, his plane was the first to arrive at Pusan airport. On that plane were he, his 30 man platoon, a jeep and a section of 75mm recoilless rifles. (3) He states that they immediately boarded a train for Taejon, arriving there early the next morning. He states that he and the other officers who had arrived accompanied Lt. Colonel Smith early that morning, driving north to Osan to select their defensive positions. A personal narrative by retired Colonel William Wyrick, then a 2d Lt. Platoon leader in Company "C" records that he and the 18 men in his platoon spent the night of July 1 in an empty hangar at Itazuke. Additionally, Sgt Phil Burke, (4) the NCO in charge of the 40 enlisted men in the Medical Platoon states that only half of the enlisted men and both officers flew to Pusan that first day and that he and the balance flew to Pusan the next day on a C-47 aircraft. Norman Fosness, (5) who was a Browning Automatic Rifleman in "B" Company tells the same story and additionally states that when he went to the armory to draw his weapon, he was issued 240 rounds and two hand grenades. His squad leader, PFC Thornton (6) wrote that he was issued two extra bandoleers of ammunition for his M-1 and two hand grenades. There were two types of bandoleers, a five pouch (total 40 rounds) and a ten pouch (total 80 rounds). Thornton did not specify which type bandoleer, but even if it were the 5 pouch type, including the 80 rounds in his cartridge belt, he would have an additional 80 rounds for a total of 160 rounds NOT 120. Where Appleman got the figure of 120 rounds is a mystery to me.

      On page 61 in the third full paragraph he writes that only six C-54  planes were available.  In his footnote #7 he writes that the 24th Infantry Division War Diary for July 1st states that there were 24, but that Smith denied  this when questioned by Appleman.

     Copies of memorandums of telephone calls made by various officials of the 24th Infantry Division, including at least one initiated by Lt. Colonel Smith indicate that there were at least thirteen C-54 aircraft. (See copies of those memorandums at "Battle at Osan-Task Force Smith Revisited".

     On page 62, Appleman makes NO mention of the balance of Task Force Smith having landed at Pusan in the Morning of July 2, and which arrived at Taejon during the day on July 2. Colonel Smith and the officers who came with him on July 1 had driven north of Osan to inspect prospective defensive positions.

On page 63 in the first full paragraph he writes about the 52d Field Artillery contingent of 108 men, commanded by Lt. Colonel Miller O. Perry.

    The 52d Field Artillery War Diary specifies that half of Headquarters Battery, half of Service Battery and Battery "A" with 180 men and 73 vehicles were loaded on a Landing Ship Tank (LST) when it was determined that there were not enough aircraft to airlift them. In addition in a personal narrative located in AHEC files, Colonel Perry writes that his command was brought up to Table of Organization & Equipment (TO&E) strength be transferring men and equipment from every other element of the 24th Division Artillery.

     On page 67, in the last paragraph which continues on to page 68 he writes that because the trails were so narrow, two jeeps in tandem pulled the guns into place.

A narrative by 1st Lt. Dwain Scott, (7) Commander of "A" Battery, 52d Field Artillery Battalion states that the terrain at the main battery position was so muddy that a 2 1/2 ton six by six truck (6 wheel drive) had to be winched into position and that it in turn, winched each of the four howitzers into firing positions.  Apparently Appleman looked at the original documents prepared when it was anticipated that the entire artillery contingent would be airlifted to Pusan.  Since nothing as large as a prime mover or 6X6 truck would fit in a C-54, if they went by air, the howitzers would  have to be towed by jeeps. 

      In the first full paragraph on page 68 he writes that volunteers from the artillery Headquarters and Service Batteries made up four .50 caliber machine gun crews and four 2.36 inch bazooka teams and joined the infantry in their position.  He also writes that there were only 6 rounds of High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) available.

     Lt. Colonel Miller O. Perry, (8) (9) Commanding Officer of the 52d Field Artillery Battalion, wrote in a personal narrative  that he furnished TWO machine gun and TWO bazooka teams.  This same information appears in the 52d FA Battalion War DiaryIn a personal narrative by Private Robert Fitzgerald (10) who was a gunner on a 105mm howitzer, he states that he was "volunteered" to man a machine gun with the infantry.  Private Fitzgerald was captured at Osan along with  2d Lt. Isadore O. Peppe who was in charge of all four teams.  (Another "volunteer"?).  They each spent over three years in a Prisoner of War (POW) Camp.  In a narrative by 1st Lt. Dwain Scott, the commander of "A" Battery, he states that there were 13 HEAT rounds.  He also writes that aside from the ammunition at the gun positions, all of the other ammunition was located in a single dump at the foot of the hill where they were located.  He writes that a shot from one of the passing tanks hit that dump and rounds were exploding all of the rest of the time that tanks were passing the main battery position.  Herman Critchfield  (11) who had been in a marine artillery unit in the Pacific during WW II was the senior gunner in the crew of that forward 105.  He writes  that the first two rounds disabled the first two tanks.  When they fired the third round, there was so much smoke that he could not see whether anything was hit.  Then as they were loading the fourth round it jammed because the projectile had not been properly seated in the shell, so they abandoned the position and returned to the main battery position.

     In the third full paragraph on page 68, Appleman writes: "At the Osan position as a rainy 5 July dawned were 540 Americans:  389 enlisted men and 17 officers among the infantry and 125 enlisted men and 9 officers among the artillerymen." 

      Of interest here is that on page 63 he states that there were 73 vehicles and 108 men of the 52d Field Artillery Battalion. Apparently between page 63 and page 68, the artillery unit gained 26 men! The 52d FA Battalion War Diary specifies that there were 180 men. Lt. Colonel Miller O. Perry in a personal narrative writes that because Eighth Army Headquarters had ordered that the first units to go to Korea would be brought up to full Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) strength, men and equipment from other units of the 24th Division Artillery were transferred to his unit prior to departure from Japan. I also used a combination of rosters, personal narratives, War Diaries and the Korean War Casualty List to come up with the following information: There were 19 infantry officers, two medical officers, an infantry Captain from the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG) and a 2d Lt. from the 3d Engineer Battalion, 24th Infantry Division for a total of 23 officers with the infantry contingent. There were eleven American artillery officers, including 1st Lt. Everett G. Andrews O-530568 from the KMAG who apparently joined them at the same time as a South Korean artillery Captain named Seung Kook Yoon,who joined the artillerymen when they stopped at Taejon. That fact is specifically mentioned in the War Diary. There is no other documentation for Lt. Andrews except that as part of after action interrogations of participants, he is mentioned by name, rank and serial number. With the figures adjusted to reflect the corrections, there had to be 594 Americans. There are several memorandums indicating that the Infantry component be exempted from the requirement to deploy at full TO&E strength and for whatever reason, that request was approved.  Of the artillery officers, two:  2d Lt James Thompson and 1st Lt. James G. White were killed during the battle.  Three officers were captured, Captain Ambrose Nugent, 2d Lt. Isadore Peppe and 1st Lt. Roger W. Hartman.  Lt. Hartman died in captivity.  Lt. Peppe was released on 30 August 1953 and Captain Ambrose was released on 1 September 1953.  A total of five enlisted men, PFC Claude Bengtson, PFC Edward Cardinal, PFC Rodney Hamaguchi, PFC Vola Owens and PV1 Willard Sibley wer killed at Osan.  Five more, Cpl Lester Diekman, PFC Grady Flook, PV2 Melvin Hill, PFC William Mann and PV2 Robert Stephens died while Prisoners of War (POW).  Five more, PV2 Richard Cummings, PV2 Robert Fitzgerald, PFC Edward King, PV2 Harold Ripple and PFC Jesse Sizemore survived and were released in late August 1953.  Lt. Peppe was in charge of the artillery machine gun and bazooka crews sent to the infantry positions to support them.  PV2 Fitzgerald was one of the machine gun operators.  The other two officers were artillery liaison officers.  Cpl Diekmann, PFC Flook, PFC Owens and PV2 Ripple were Artillery Liaison Specialists and were located at the infantry positions.  The other casualties were part of the machine gun and bazooka crews sent to the infantry positions. 

     In the partial paragraph at the top of page 70 he writes:  The six rounds of HEAT ammunition in the forward gun were soon expended, leaving only the HE shells which ricocheted off the tanks.  The third tank through the pass knocked out the forward gun and wounded one of the crews members.

     Ridiculous on the face of it.  If the forward gun knocked out two tanks and even if they had used the last of the six rounds to knock out the second tank, how could they have fired HE rounds and still be destroyed by the third tank.  Herman Critchfield, who was the head gunner on the forward 105 writes that he fired at the first tank and it spun out off the road and stopped.  They fired on the second tank which was hit and also spun out.  They fired on the third tank, but could not see the results because of the large amount of smoke from firing the first two rounds.  He writes that they started to load the fourth round, but the round was not properly seated in the case (a production defect), so it jammed part way into the breech.  Hearing a lot of small arms fire, he ordered the crew abandon the gun and return to the main battery position.  Herman Critchfield also does not mention any wounded.

      In the latter part of the 5th paragraph on page 71 he writes:  "After the last tank rumbled out of sight toward Osan, the score stood as follows:  The forward 105mm howitzer and 2.36 bazookas fired from the infantry positions had knocked out and left burning one tank and damaged another so that it could not move;  the artillery had stopped 3 more in front of the battery position, while 3 others had manged to limp out of range toward Osan.  This made 4 tanks destroyed or immobilized and 3 others slightly damaged but serviceable out of a total of 33."

     Appleman  has just enumerated a total of FIVE tanks, but comes up with a total of FOUR?  Another evidence of either poor proof reading or none at all!  The narrative by Herman Critchfield indicated that the first two tanks were immobilized by the first two HEAT rounds fired by the forward 105.  Because of the large amount of smoke he was unable to determine what happened to the third tank that they fired on. The War Diary for the 21st Infantry records that there were 30 tanks while the artillery War Diary indicates that there were 30 to 40.  That same war diary reports that eight enemy tanks were destroyed.  Since the infantry positions were on the highest elevations in the area, their observations about the total number of tanks are most likely to be correct.

      In the first full paragraph on page 73 he writes that Perry's artillery had fired on the enemy infantry as long as the fire direction equipment functioned, but this too had failed soon after the infantry fight began.

      There is no indication in either the narratives by Colonel Perry and Lt. Scott or in the artillery War Diary that the howitzers at the main battery position fired on anyone except the tanks.  The only reliable connection between the forward Observers and the main artillery battery were phone lines laid on top of the ground and across the road.  When the first tank of the first group of tanks drove down the road, the wires were cut by the tank treads.  Radios were non-functional and the first group of tanks had cut the communications wire from the artillery position to the forward observer with the infantry.  Attempts to lay replacement wiring were unsuccessful because the wire laying crews were fired on so no replacement communication lines were ever put in place.  Wire laying crews would not have been able to lay new lines until after the last enemy tank had passed.  By that time all ammunition available at the main battery position had been expended and according to Lt. Scott, a lucky shot from one of the tanks had hit the only storage location early on and rounds from that area were exploding during most of the time while the tanks were passing by.

     In the last sentence of the last full paragraph on page 73, he writes that enemy machine guns on hills overlooking the right flank also began firing on Smith's men.

     According to my Army Map Service (AMS) Series L751 topographical map, sheet 6625 IV, there was NO higher elevation as Colonel Smith had selected the highest elevations for his defensive positions.  In addition, 2d Lt. William Wyrick, who was a platoon leader in Company C, writes in a personal  narrative that prior to receiving the order to retreat, there had been no fire directed at the positions he and his men held on the right flank.  The only fire he mentions receiving was when they were retreating and the North Koreans had occupied the positions they had just vacated.

      In the second full paragraph on page 74 he writes that Smith planned to withdraw his men by leapfrogging units off the ridge, each jump of the withdrawal covered by protecting fire of the unit ahead.  He writes that the selected route of withdrawal was toward Osan down the finger ridge on the right flank, just west of the railroad track.  He writes that Company "C" was first off the hill, followed by the medics, battalion headquarters and finally "B" Company.  He also writes that the second platoon of "B" Company never received the withdrawal order and that a runner reported to Lt. Barnard that the 2d platoon was the only one still in position.

     A narrative by then 2d Lt. William Wyrick, (11) who, with a 2d Lt. Dill, was a platoon leader in Company "C" states that their two platoons were supposed to cover the retreat of "B" Company from the finger ridge, but none of the men in his platoon made it to that point on the ridge. From all of the narratives that I have read, the retreat by the infantry was not orderly but was a route. The only planned operation in the infantry unit appears to have been by the Medical Platoon, led by Sergeant Phil Burke. Even though wounded by shrapnel from a mortar round, he made a determined effort to gather his medics together and attempt to remove all of the wounded to safety. Sgt Burke, in his narrative writes that Lt. Barnard accompanied him on their four day trip back to our lines, at one point, exchanging his watch with a Korean farmer for a two wheeled cart to transport a wounded man..  As for the second platoon never receiving the withdrawal order, 2d Lt. Alan Macaulay, who actually was the commander of the 2d platoon of B Company, states that the only force west of the road was one squad of the 2d platoon, reinforced by one light machine gun. That squad withdrew covered by fire from the one machine gun, manned by Private First Class (PFC) Florentine Gonsalez, who, with his assistant gunner stayed in place until the squad reached the eastern side of the road safely. Gonsalez was captured and his assistant was killed. Gonsalez received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions and spent 38 months in a prisoner of war camp. Lt. Macaulay states that he never saw Lt. Barnard. Contemporary officers rosters listed all of the four platoon leaders in B Company and Lt. Barnard was NOT among them.  Those same rosters list Lt. Barnard as a platoon leader in L Company!  Supposedly he had attended Air Transportability Training and was sent to Itazuke to help supervise the loading of equipment.  

      In the third full paragraph on page 74, Appleman writes that at about 12:30 the enemy appeared in force on a high hill to the west of the highway overlooking and dominating the knob on the west side of the road held by a platoon of Company B.  In  the last sentence of that same paragraph, he writes that enemy machine guns on hills overlooking the right flank now began firing on Smith's men.

      There were NO elevations on the west side of the road which were within about three quarters of a mile which were higher than that held by that one squad of B Company. See AMS Series L751 map, Sheet 6625 IV-Suwon.

     In the last paragraph on page 74 and which continues on to page 75, Appleman writes that Colonel Smith went to the railroad track and followed it south to a point opposite the artillery position, where he struck off west through the rice paddies to find Colonel Perry to tell him that the infantry was leaving.

    Personal narratives by both Colonel Perry and Lt. Scott, the "A" Battery Commander tell a different story. Neither mentions the presence of Colonel Smith. Colonel Smith would also have had to cross the road, as at that point it was also west of the railroad tracks. There were no rice paddies at the point west of the road at the main battery position of the artillery. Lt. Scott writes that Colonel Perry, Captain Simpson and he were in the Command jeep and that they had the howitzer breech blocks with them. The artillerymen were following the jeep in two or three trucks. He does mention that as they were leaving a light rain was beginning to fall and that infantrymen were just beginning to come over the hill to their north. He writes that they tried to drive west toward the ocean, but were stopped by a vehicle burning in the road. They then tried to drive south through Osan toward Pyongtaek, but saw several tanks with their crews standing around them. They took a road east on the northern edge of Osan. On the way they dumped the breech blocks in a rice paddy. The road then turned south and arrived in Ansong. See AMS Series L751 maps, Sheet 6625 III.

      At the beginning of the second full paragraph on page 75, he writes that Perry and Smith planned to take a road at the south edge of Osan to Ansong and that rounding a bend in the road near the southern edge of town, Smith and Perry came upon three enemy tanks halted just ahead with some of the crew members standing about smoking cigarettes.  They then turned around and drove back to the north edge of Osan and turned into a small dirt road that led eastward.

    As mentioned above, there is no mention in either Colonel Perry's or Lt. Scott's narratives about Colonel Smith. According to the narrative by Lt. Scott, the tanks and crew members were encountered in the northern part of Osan. There is no mention of cigarettes in his narrative. The road which Appleman says was a small dirt road was actually a two lane paved road which went almost due east for about seven or eight miles before it turns south, becoming a two lane dirt road for about twelve or thirteen miles until it arrives at Ansong.

     In the third full paragraph on page 75 he writes that the column came upon groups of infantry struggling over the hills and that about 100 infantrymen joined the group that way.

     In their narratives, Lt. Scott and Colonel Perry only mention mention infantry in regard to the retreat.  Lt. Scott mentioned that after the Artillery group was already loaded on vehicles and ready move south to leave, they saw some of the infantry straggling down the slope of a hill to their north.  Colonel Smith later apparently got several of the artillery trucks still hidden and began his trip south.  None of the personal accounts by men who were retreating mention being picked up by any trucks.  Some of the groups that these men were in had as many as 40 men in them.  Any men on trucks in the convoy led by Colonel Smith would have been those coming south over the hill north of the artillery position.



      On page 75 in the last paragraph, which continues on to page 76, Appleman writes that on the morning of July 6 Colonel Smith and his party went to Chonan.  He also writes that Lt. Barnard and twelve men of the reserve platoon of B Company reached Chonan two days after the Osan fight, arriving only half an hour ahead of the enemy.

     The 21st Infantry Regiment War Diary states that Colonel Smith and the men with him arrived at Ansong about 7:30 P.M. on July 5th and that on the next morning they all went by truck to the airstrip at Taejon to get replacement personnel and replace lost equipment.  Company B had NO reserve platoon.  At best a platoon at Osan might have had 30 of the 42 men authorized.  About Lt. Barnard - Sergeant Burke, the enlisted head of the medical platoon wrote a narrative account of the battle.  When the retreat began, he was helping a wounded man and since he had been wounded by a mortar fragment, when he met Lt. Barnard late in the day on July 5th, Lt, Barnard exchanged his watch with a Korean farmer for a 2 wheeled cart and put the wounded man in it.  He says they walked for four days and nights and finally arrived at an aide station in Chochiwan on the afternoon of July 9th.  That was FOUR days after the fight at Osan, so Barnard could not have led any men arriving on July 7th!   Both Burke and Barnard spent some time on litters at the aid station.  Burke even writes that the Doctor in charge gave each of them a shot of whiskey.  Burke began passing kidney stones and was evacuated to a hospital and did not return to the unit for about a week.  Sgt. Burke is the ONLY one of the people who wrote a narrative who even mentions Lt. Barnard.  Except for that, I would agree with Lt. Macauley, with whom I have spoken several times, that Lt. Bernard was NOT with Task Force Smith.

      At the bottom of page 90 Appleman writes:  "On the morning of 9 July, the 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry".

     Another example of poor or non-existent proof reading.  It should read 21st Infantry.

         On  page  99  he writes:  "Dean started the 18th Infantry Regiment.."

     Another case of poor proof reading, it should have read 19th Infantry Regiment.

 

 

    

 

 


CITATIONS

1.  AHEC- Korean War Survey Collection-24th Division, 21st Regiment.

2.  E-mail from Brian Macaulay dated September 12, 2012.

3.  AHEC- Korean War Survey Collection-24th Division, 21st Regiment.

4.  Gimlet4ever (21st Infantry Regiment Website) Introduction by Colonel William Wyrick of narrative by Sgt Phil Burke.

5.  Gimlet4ever:  Narrative by Norman Fosness

6.  AHEC- Korean War Survey Collection-24th Division, 21st Regiment.

7.  AHEC- Korean War Survey Collection-24th Division, 21st Regiment.

8.  AHEC- Korean War Survey Collection-24th Division, 21st Regiment.

9.  NARA II- RG 407, 270, 67, 24, 06, Boxes 3469-3480.