Chaegunghyon - 1 RUR in 'Happy Valley'.

Tuesday, 2 January, 1951
Battle Map, Chaegunghyon (Happy Valley).

On 31 December 1950, the Chinese attacked across the Imjin at Korangpo-Ri and established a bridgehead. The following morning at 1030 hours, the 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles (1 RUR) moved north along the Seoul to Kaesong road to a brigade blocking position near Tongo-Ri from where it was to attack the enemy's leading elements. But the Chinese breakout from the bridgehead was sooner and faster than expected. The Battalion was therefore halted and moved cross-country to the area of Chaegunghyon. This was the fall-back defensive area the Battalion had been digging during its time in reserve for that same South Korean division that the Chinese were now fighting through to the north. The Brigade now occupied a Divisional area. During that evening the Battalion moved into its positions, dug in and settled in to wait.

The Battalion's position was sited in low hills covering a track and river bed which led in from the north-east and joined the main road to Seoul about four miles further south. The village of Chaegunghyon itself was roughly in the centre of the position, while on the Battalion's right flank was the rugged mountain mass of Nogo San, some 440 metres high. B and D Companies were allotted the high ground to the west of the valley, while A and C were slightly forward and on the east. Battalion H.Q. and A Echelon were sited in and around the mouth of a short railway tunnel, and a small saddle just east of the tunnel was occupied by the Battle Patrol and three troops of Cromwell tanks in a depth blocking position.

IWM BF223The weather on 2 January was bright, but bitterly cold, and snow lay on the ground. Information was scarce, but it appeared that, over to the east on the main Chorwon to Seoul road, the leading enemy elements were within eight miles of Uijongbu, where 27 British Commonwealth Brigade was heavily engaged. A section of the 1 RUR Battle Patrol, led by 2Lt Mervyn McCord, pushed north through Koyang some five miles forward from were it had good observation to the north. No enemy movement was seen and the patrol returned with nothing to report. Defensive preparations continued and at 2200 hours Brigade Headquarters reported that there was no contact with the enemy. At about the same time a patrol from D Company went out to make contact with a flanking American unit and reported that all was quiet when it returned shortly after midnight.

The Battle of Chaegunghyon would begin the following day and end in a bloody and costly withdrawal for the Rifles on 4 January 1951.

(Above, left; Riflemen digging trenches in 'Happy Valley', north of Seoul, just before the Chinese attack of 2 January 1951. (© IWM (BF 223))