Seolma-ri Battle

During the April Offensive of the Communist Chinese(The 5th Offensive), the British 29th brigade fought against the surrounding Chinese for 3 days and conflicted a severe loss on the Chinese forces, securing a safe retreat of the UN forces at the same time.

  • Date:
    1951.4.22 ~ 4.28.

    Location:
    Gamaksan Mountain Seolma-ri Jeokseong-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do

    Engaged Forces:
    British 29th Brigade vs Communist Chinese 63rd Army Subordinate

    Summary:
    During the April Offensive of the Communist Chinese(The 5th Offensive), the British 29th brigade fought against the surrounding Chinese for 3 days and conflicted a severe loss on the Chinese forces, securing a safe retreat of the UN forces at the same time.

  • Commander of the 8th US army(EUSA) lietenant general Janes A. Van Fleet secured the Utah Line at April 20th and ordered the 1st and 9th army to advance to the Wyoming Line on the 21st. However, the 1st and 9th army obtained intelligence that the Chinese will launch a major offensive on the 22nd. Due to this reason, the UN Command order to cease attack and take defensive posture against the Communist army on the 22nd afternoon.
    Peng Dehuai prepared for the 5th offensive in order to take the initiative back, and committed 300 thousand men. The Chinese strategy was to defeat the UN forces and Korean forces one by one, and capture Seoul through all-out assault.
    Under this strategy, the North Korean 1st Corps and Chinese 64th army was to destroy the Korean 1st division and advance on Seoul. The Chinese 63rd army was to cross the Imjingang-River to destroy the British 29th Brigade along the Seolma-ri area of Gamaksan mountain(675th highland). After that, advance on Dongducheon and Pocheon to cooperate with the Chinese 3rd and 9th army to besiege the US 24th and 25th division.
    The British 29th brigade deployed the Gloster battalion on the Seolma-ri area around the left of Gamaksan Mountain, which was the the left front line. They also deployed the Fusiliers battalion on the Janhyeon-ri area around the north side of Gamaksan Mountain, and the Belgian battalion on the Dogampo(??) area. However due to the sharply curved terrain, each battalion and company couldn’t cooperate well. Especially due to the distance with the Korean 1st division which was its closest ally on the left side, the enemy’s flank was a big worry.
    The Chinese 63rd army crossed the Imjingang-river 22 aclock on April 22nd and attacked the British 29th brigade. Every front line battalion was attacked, the right front Belgian battalion around Geumgulsan mountain on the northern side of the river was isolated, and Fusiliers battalion on the center retreated, but was massacred. Gloster battalion on the right front retreated to the 257th highland. On the 23rd, brigade commander Tom Brody placed the reserve Rifles battalion at the 398th highland behind the Fusiliers battalion on the center to defend the supply and retreat route. He also ordered the C company(Centurion tank company)to support the Fusiliers battalion’s take-back of the 257th highland but failed due to the counterattack of the Chinese. Due to this battle, the Gloster battalion that retreated to the 235th highland was completely isolated by the Communist Chinese which infiltrated the rear.

    Under this situation, the UN command committed the Philippine battalion of the US 7th brigade, 3rd division and 6 Centurion tanks from the 8th 영 후사르스 brigade to save the Gloster battalion on April 24th. However, a friendly tank was exploded by a mine, which blocked the only entrance to Seulma-ri, and the counterattack hardened.
    Eventually, during the desperate struggle, the Gloster battalion was ordered by radio to self-escape, and attempted so by each company by company leaving the battalion commander, army chaplain, army surgeon and 50 injured soldiers. The majority of the battalion which used the southern route and the soldiers left behind were captured, and the D company which escaped by the northern path was rescued by the 1st division and 12th brigade. On the other hand, the Fusiliers battalion in the center line, and the Rifles battalion on the right line started to retreat 8 aclock on April 25th. Under the cover of the 후사르스 tank company and engineering company, the retreat operation started at 10 aclock, closely tracked by the Communist Chinese army. After the retreat of the 2 batallions, the Belgian battalion covering from the south and brigade command shacked off the chase too. At the afternoon, they passed the US defense line and arrived at Deokjeong, which was the later line of defense of the Delta Line(Seongdong-ri Geumcheon – Deokjeon – Pocheon – Gapyung), and the Seolma-ri Battle of the British 29th brigade was terminated.

  • In the Seolma-ri Battle of the British 29th brigade, 1,091 casualties occurred and out of that, 21 officers and 509 soldiers of the 850 Gloster battalion soldiers were took as POW. However, due to their heroic battle despite being surrounded for 3 days, they defended the Gamaksan mountain area and the roads along and slowed the Chinese offensive. During this event, the US 1st corps could successfully retreat to the Delta Line, and prepare for the defense of Seoul.

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