Dabudong Battle

A successful defense operation of the Korean 1st division of defending the enemy attack for the Dabudong front and relieving the threats heading Daegu.

  • Date:
    1950.8.20~ 8.27

    Location:
    Waegwan-eup, Chilgok-gun, Gyungsanbuk-do and Dabu-ri, Gasan-myeon area

    Engaged Forces:
    Korean 1st Division, US 27th Regiment vs. North Korean 1st, 3rd, 15th Division

    Summary:
    A successful defense operation of the Korean 1st division of defending the enemy attack for the Dabudong front and relieving the threats heading Daegu.

  • Kim Il-sung realized that the original plan of occupying Busan until 1950 August 15th, the National Liberation Day, will be difficult, and changed August 15th as ‘the Daegu occupation date’ and encouraged the North Korean troops. The Korean and US army repeated the bloody battle of retreat and recovering their original defense positions. The crisis of northern Daegu was highest around August 15th, that the Korean army even had to engage into hand-to-hand fight.
    When the Daegu front was in great danger, and the defense of Daegu was questioned, General MacArthur ordered the US Far Eastern Air Force to carpet bomb the front of Daegu. The US Far Eastern Air Force Command showered 960 tons of bombs at the target from 1950 August 16th 11:58 to 12:24 with 98 B-29s. The effect couldn’t be sure because the troops of North Korea crossed the river already, but it was sure that the psychological effect of increasing our morale and decreasing the North Korean fighting spirit was sure.
    Even with the great effect of fire support and carpet bombing, the attack of North Korea to capture Daegu didn’t stop. The North Korean forces rallied their men to attack the west flank of Dabudong which was occupied by the Korean forces. 2 divisions attacked the Gunwi-Uiseong front, and flanked at the same time, and also tried to attack Daegu from the Yeongcheon direction, which showed the firm will of the North Korean army to occupy Daegu.
    The US 8th army headquarters and the Korean army realized that the Korean 1st division itself alone will not be enough to maintain the Dabudong defensive line, and decided to preserve the defensive strength. Due to this reason, the US 8th army added troops to the Dabudong and Gasan area to block the North Korean breakthrough.
    At this time, the North Korean plain-clothes soldiers attacked Daegu station with mortars. The Korean government had to move to Busan, and evacuation orders for the citizens went on. This made sure that the North Korean threat to Daegu had to be dealt with quickly.
    On the other hand, the US 27th regiment had to join the attack due to the order of the US 8th army, but maintaining the defensive line was up to the Korean army. Although the counterattack of the Korean army failed, but they successfully defended the line connected to Yuhaksan Mountain. This was able because the North Korean army judged that it will be hard to break through the Dabudong line, and to adjust their line to attack Daegu, there wasn’t any attacks on August 20th. When the line was settled down, the Korean 1st division commander and Us 27th regiment commander decided to take back their original Dabudong line by counterattacking with tanks on the road, and troops on the both flanks.
    However the North Korean forces attacked first. On August 21st, the North Korean forces attacked with mortars and grenades. Then, there were reports that the 1st battalion of the 11th regiment which was defending Yuhaksan Mountain was retreating back to Dabudong. After hearing this report, the 1st division commander said that “the destiny of our nation is depending on the defensive line of Nakdonggang River, and the rise and fall of our country depends on the Yuhaksan Mountain. Then where should our people head when we retreat from the Yuhaksan Mountain? Now, I will head first to the line, so you should all follow my lead. If I look like backing up from the front, do not hesitate shooting me. If any of you look like backing up, I will not hesitate to shoot your backs”. After listening to this saying, the 27th regiment commander concentrated their forces and successfully blocked the initial attacks of North Korea.
    After then, the North Korean forces attacked the US 27th regiment on the night of August 21st, with tanks and self-propelled artillery leading the way, but the US forces defeated them after a 5 hour fight. This was the first tank fight of the Korean War, and the sound of the shooting sounded like striking pins in a bowling alley. Due to this reason, this fight was also called the ‘Bowling Ally Battle’.
    However the Dabudong battle ended as the defeat of North Korea. It is known that 75% of the North Korean troops attacking Dabudong to occupy Daegu were lost, before they decided to retreat.
    1950 August 22nd, the progress of the Dabudong battle tilted to the US and Korean forces. The North Korean artillery regiment commander of the 13th division Jung Bong-ook surrendered, and bombing according to his testimony eliminated the artillery of the 13th division. Also they defeated the North Korean forces trying to surprise attack the Korean artillery along the Gasan ridge. The US Army Chief of Staff General Collins also decided that the line will be stabilized and he went back to Washington after participating in a strategy meeting in the Tokyo Far Eastern Command at August 23rd.

  • However the Dabudong line showed some unstablness in some ways. Starting from the night of August 22nd to the 23rd, the North Korean forces kept on infiltrating up to Gasan to continue their attack. However after then, The US and Korean forces counterattacked at the ‘Bowling alley valley’ to eliminate the North Korean forces, and stabilize the Y shaped defensive line at August 24th which was originally set as the “Last Defensive Line”.

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