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The third Battle of the Hook was a battle of the Korean War that took place between a United Nations force, consisting mostly of Britishmarker troops, supported on their flanks by Americanmarker and Turkishmarker artillery units against a predominantly Chinesemarker force. There had been two previous engagements at the Hook earlier in the Korean War when first the United States Marine Corps and later the Black Watch, a British regiment, had successfully held the Hook against Chinese assaults. The Hook was defended on a fourth occasion immediately prior to the armistice by two Australian battalions during the Battle of the Samichon River.

Background

During Korean War, elements of the United Nations forces were engaged in fierce fighting to prevent People's Volunteer Army forces from gaining ground, prior to a possible cease fire. This was to deny them additional bargaining power, during negotiations.

One such action took place at a feature called "the Hook", a crescent shaped ridge near Sami Creek, a tributary of the Imjin Rivermarker near Kaesongmarker. This ridge was a place of tactical importance in the Commonwealth sector: it was a potential attack point which the Chinese needed to take before assaulting Yong Dong, and opening up an invasion route to Seoulmarker, the South Koreanmarker capital.

In 1953, the 1st Battalion the Duke of Wellington's Regiment (the "Dukes") were moved from its position on Yong Dong, to relieve the Black Watch, who had been defending The Hook from 12 May to 28 May. During this period, the Black Watch had suffered 12 soldiers killed, 73 wounded and 20 missing. The Dukes had hardly settled into place when the Chinese attacked. During heavy initial Artillery and Mortar fire, the Dukes suffered some fifty-eight casualties.

Battle

The Chinese forces charged the forward Britishmarker positions once the bombardment ceased. The Dukes were outnumbered by 5 to 1. The fighting that ensued was bloody and akin to the battles that the 'Dukes' had fought during World War I. Artillery shells rained down on the Hook, from both the Chinese and UN forces. The Chinese launched a second attack but were cut down by heavy artillery fire from UN forces. Further attacks occurred during the day, but all were defeated in heavy fighting.



Just 30 minutes into 29 May, the Chinese forces launched another attack, but they were again beaten back. The Dukes began advancing up the line of the original trenches to dislodge the remaining Chinese forces in the forward trenches. The Dukes secured the Hook at 03:30.

Chinese shelling

Between 19 May and 29 May, Chinese artillery fired over 20,000 shells onto the Hook position, and 11,000 of these shells were fired on the night of 28 May, with over 200 heavy calibre shells hitting the Hook positions in the one hour between 17:45 and 18:45.

United Nations shelling

37,818 shells of all calibres were fired by Britishmarker artillery and the 1st US Corps artillery, comprising:
  • 3,724 155mm shells from the US 4th/11th and the 936th Field Artillery Battalions.
  • 577 155mm shells from the US 204th Field Artillery Battalion.
  • 1,152 8-inch shells from the US 17th Field Artillery Battalion.
  • 36 240mm shells from the US 159th Field Artillery Battalion.
  • 325 rockets from a US Rocket Battery.
  • 504 20pr shells from the tanks of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.


Aftermath

Chinese casualties consisted of some 1,050 killed, with over 800 wounded. Of these, 167 were actually counted, the remainder being seen dead but could only be estimated. There were probably many others unseen, perhaps accounting for the casualty figure of approximately 2,000 published elsewhere.

The Dukes had 3 officers and 17 other ranks killed, 2 officers and 84 other ranks wounded, with 20 men missing. There were other casualties from other supporting units listed below. In addition, there were a further 50 casualties from artillery and mortar attacks between 10 May and 28 May.

Casualties from other supporting units:
  • 20th Field Regiment RA = 2 men killed, 4 wounded.
  • 61st Light Regiment RA = 1 man killed, 7 wounded.
  • 1st Battalion Kings Regiment = 7 men wounded.
  • 1st Battalion Black Watch = 1 man wounded (attached to 1DWR)
  • KATCOM Korean Auxiliary = 1 man killed.
  • Total casualties = 24 killed, 105 wounded, 20 missing = 149 total.


For their action, the Duke of Wellington's Regiment was awarded the Battle Honour The Hook 1953. Later, the 1st Battalion's Headquarter Company was renamed "Hook Company".

References

1DWR War Diaries in WO 308/53, The National Archivesmarker, London

External links




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