1 RUR withdraw after Battle of Chaegunghyon, Korea.

Wed, 01/03/1951
Chaegunghyon (Happy Valley) Battle Map

The Chinese Third Phase Offensive aimed to cross the 38th parallel and force the UN and the US to abandon Korea and concede the first global victory in what was being called the 'Cold War' The first major action for the 1st Battalion The Royal Ulster Rifles was on 3 January 1951, when the Battalion, as part of 29 Brigade, covered the withdrawal of UN forces to the south of the Han River and at the Battle of Chaegunghyon (better known as 'Happy Valley') checked the enemy advance.

The Rifles had moved into their position on 1 January and were well established around Chaegunghyon on 2 January, awaiting an expected Chinese attack.

The opening actions consisted of small groups of South Korean troops approaching the forward company locations before first light and requesting passage through. They were in fact Chinese English-speaking individuals who, in B Company's forward-left location, succeeded in overrunning section positions. At first light, in Lt John Mole's 4 Platoon area, as his platoon fought to re-establish a forward section position, a Chinese soldier came forward with his hands raised stating in English that he was surrendering. However, as Mole stood to receive him, the soldier, clad in his padded uniform, suddenly opened fire with his carbine, whereupon Mole took cover in a trench and engaged the overrun section area with a Bren Gun. As he did so he was suddenly knocked backwards from his firing position when a bullet struck and passed through his helmet. Remarkably, he was uninjured and in the confused fighting that followed the Company Commander, Major Mike Mulligan, ordered 4 Platoon to withdraw. Moving forward after an artillery and mortar shoot onto the position now occupied by the enemy, Major Mulligan advanced to recapture 4 Platoon's position astride the pinnacle of Hill 195.

Following 1 RUR's actions to repel the Chinese, Headquarters 29 Brigade then ordered 1 RUR to withdraw during the night 3-4 January as the Chinese were already infiltrating behind them. B Company, with Lt Mole's platoon was amongst the first to withdrawn and was lorried out of the Battalion area and avoided the action which followed.

Shortly after the withdrawal began, a 'friendly' (US) aircraft dropped flares in error and thus alerted the Chinese who dominated some of the heights overlooking the withdrawal route. A hail of mortar and machine-gun fire disrupted the long column of Riflemen. A confused period of close fighting in the dark followed but eventually the Rifles broke contact. The next day the casualty return revealed that there were 208 killed, wounded and missing; however, this was reduced to 157 as many returned from medical treatment centres or from evading enemy capture. The Rifles moved to Pyongtaek on 5 January 1951.

For a detailed account of events on 3 January, please click on the Story of the Battle of Chaegunghyon.