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Stop ĎEm At The 38th Parallel:

The Soviet Intervention In Korea


By Chris Oakley

Part 1




June 25th--The Korean War begins with the North Korean invasion of South Korea.

June 27th--President of the United States Harry Truman orders US naval and air forces deployed to the Korean Peninsula as part of a larger United Nations campaign defend South Korea against the North Korean invaders.

June 29th--The first US ground troops ship out to South Korea.

July 21st--North Korean troops capture the city of Taejon. The next day, NKPA advance units will seize the town of Kaesong.

July 24th--Torrential rains begin flooding much of the Korean Peninsula, forcing both sides to temporarily curtail most of their offensive operations. Both North Korean and UN commanders use this time to build up their troop strength in preparation for the next major series of engagements on the ground.

July 30th--The rains come to an end, allowing North Korean and UN forces to resume large-scale ground operations.

August 2nd--The North Korean Peopleís Army begins pushing south towards the coastal city of Pusan, one of the few major cities in South Korea still under UN control. NKPA advance platoons report heavier-than-anticipated resistance from the ROK forces, and the initially rapid pace of the North Korean drive gradually slows to a crawl.

August 5th--The North Korean advance toward Pusan is stopped just eight miles outside the city; UN troops form a defensive cordon that will eventually be nicknamed by the American press as "the Pusan Perimeter". There will be no further large-scale movement by either sideís ground forces until mid-September.

August 9th--Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin convenes an emergency session of the Politburo at the Kremlin in Moscow. The main item of discussion at that meeting: a proposed contingency plan to deploy Soviet ground troops to the Korean Peninsula to aid the NKPA against MacArthurís expeditionary force. No firm decision is taken at the time, but it is agreed that the troop deployment option should be kept on the table pending further developments along the Pusan Perimeter.

August 17th--UN forces defending the Pusan Perimeter stop a series of probing attacks by the NKPA.

August 20th--General Douglas MacArthur begins drawing up a battle plan for an amphibious assault intended to break up the Communist battle lines. The assaultís intended target: the western port of Inchon. Circumstances, however, will force MacArthur to wait until mid-September to attempt the landing.

September 2nd--Stalinís Politburo holds another meeting on the matter of whether to deploy Soviet ground troops to Korea. At this time the consensus is taken that the Soviet Unionís role in supporting the North Korean war effort should remain secret, thus the ground forces will not be sent as yet; Stalin, however, reserves to right to change this policy if circumstances make such change necessary.

September 6th--The Pentagon approves the final draft of General MacArthurís battle plan for his proposed amphibious assault on Inchon. The assault itself will take place twelve days later.

September 12th--The US Central Intelligence Agency uncovers its first conclusive evidence of Soviet involvement in the fighting in Korea.

September 18th--General MacArthur commences his amphibious strike against Communist forces at Inchon.

September 20th--US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles drafts a terse, blunt message to the Soviet embassy in Washington which warns of what he refers to as "dire consequences" if itís proven that the Soviet Union has been aiding the North Koreans in their war against the South. Many in the Politburo believe Dulles is referring to the possible use of nuclear weapons by the United States against the USSR.

September 21st--Soviet foreign minister Vycheslav Molotov fires off an irate response to Dullesí communiquť, saying that any use of nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union by the United States will provoke immediate Soviet retaliation. This threat is more bluff than reality, given the considerable lead in nuclear bombs the US has over the USSR at the time; nonetheless, it is seen by President Trumanís cabinet as evidence of the Soviet Unionís belligerent nature and vindication of his staunch anti-Communist foreign policy.

September 24th--UN troops defending the Pusan Perimeter begin pushing their way northwest to link up with MacArthurís forces coming southeast from Inchon.

September 25th--The NKPA launches a three-pronged counterattack against MacArthurís advance columns. MacArthurís troops repulse the North Korean thrust with heavy casualties on both sides; in the course of the battle two North Korean battalion commanders are captured, giving the UN side access to important data about the Communistsí strategy.

September 28th--MacArthurís troops reach the outskirts of the South Korean capital, Seoul; further south, ROK forces backed by US Marines and Australian infantry liberate Taejon from the NKPA.

September 30th--The Soviet ambassador to North Korea telegraphs Stalin pleading with him to send ground troops to the Korean Peninsula immediately before MacArthurís expeditionary force out of Inchon links up with the UN contingent moving up from the Pusan Perimeter. That same day UN troops enter Seoul amid strong NKPA resistance.

October 3rd--UN ground forces encircle the last pockets of NKPA resistance in Seoul.

October 4th--NKPA troops repulse a South Korean attempt to retake Kaesong.

October 6th--The last pockets of NKPA resistance in Seoul are overrun by the UN expeditionary force. That same day, US Air Force B-29s mount a saturation bombing raid against Pyongyang, leaving half of the North Korean capital in ruins and nearly killing the NKPA general staff.

October 7th--On the heels of its victory at Kaesong, the NKPA moves to blunt an ROK attack on the town of Yonan.

October 9th--UN forces take the South Korean town of Chungju from the NKPA. Kim Il Sung, his steadily thinning patience finally snapped by this latest defeat, fires three NKPA senior generals and declares that he will henceforth direct all North Korean strategic military operations personally.

October 10th--Three entire NKPA divisions are annihilated near the South Korean village of Yoju in an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate General MacArthurís northern flank. The loss of these divisions is viewed by Moscow as a catastrophe for the Communist war effort and prompts Stalinís top generals to warn him that it may be necessary to deploy combat troops to Korea sooner rather than later. In response, Stalin orders a massive buildup of Red Army infantry and tanks along the Soviet-North Korean border.

October 12th--The Red Army begins assembling men and equipment along the Soviet-North Korean border in preparation for possible deployment to Korea. To confuse Western intelligence agents, the buildup is disguised as a routine troop training exercise.

October 13th--At his daily press briefing, General Douglas MacArthur announces that his advance troops from Inchon have linked up with the UN ground forces coming up southeast from the Pusan region.

October 16th--Chinese dictator Mao Zedong lets it be known via a secret letter to Joseph Stalin that the Peopleís Republic of China will support the Soviet Union in any military action it decides to take against the UN forces in Korea.

October 17th--Three B-29 squadrons equipped with nuclear bombs are deployed to US airbases in West Germany as a signal to the Soviet Union that any incursion of Soviet ground troops into the Korean Peninsula will be regarded as an act of war by the USSR against the United States and answered in kind.

October 19th--In response to the American deployment of B-29s to West Germany, the Soviets dispatch a Tupolev bomber wing to East Germany to carry out nuclear strikes against US and NATO bases in western Europe. UN Secretary General Trygve Lie calls on both the superpowers to refrain from using nuclear weapons lest the fighting in Korea escalates into World War III.

October 20th--Chinese "volunteers" begin assembling in Manchuria to await possible orders to go into Korea.

October 23rd--ROK and UN ground forces seize the North Korean coastal city of Haeju.

October 25th--US Marines attack the town of Ongjin and quickly encounter violent NKPA resistance; both the Americans and their NKPA foes endure massive casualties.

October 26th--Stalinís top military intelligence advisors give him some disquieting news: if the UN expeditionary forces in the Korean Peninsula maintain or accelerate their current rate of advance on the ground, it is projected that they will reach the banks of the Yalu River within 90 days or less.

October 28th--The last pockets of NKPA resistance in Ongjin are eliminated by heavy American bombing. That same day in Moscow, Stalin secretly orders additional Red Army troops sent to the Soviet-North Korean border as Kim Il Sung threatens to execute US and allied POWs held by the NKPA.

November 1st--Deciding he can no longer wait to intervene on Kim Il Sungís behalf, Stalin orders Soviet combat troops into North Korea. The first wave of these troops, accompanied by units of the Chinese Peopleís Liberation Army, cross the North Korean border just after 12 noon Moscow time.

November 5th--Soviet and Chinese infantry and armored divisions confront US and ROK units attempting to liberate Kaesong in a battle stretching along three different fronts. After 48 hours of savage fighting in which both sides sustain massive losses, the US and ROK troops are forced to retreat southward. Stalin hails this successful assault as "a glorious blow in defense of the peace-loving peoples of Korea against the bloodthirsty war- mongers of the capitalist world".

November 6th--President Truman condemns the Soviet-Chinese intervention in Korea and threatens to use nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union if the Red Army does not withdraw its troops from the Korean Peninsula by 12 noon US Eastern time(8:00 PM Moscow time) on November 9th. That same day, US Marines holding Ongjin come under attack by PLA and Red Army mechanized units.

November 7th--On the 33rd anniversary of the start of the 1917 October Revolution, Joseph Stalin delivers a speech in Moscowís Red Square boasting that the combined strength of the Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean armies will drive the UN out of the Korean Peninsula by New Yearís Day. What he does not mention is that heís already ordered a precautionary evacuation of some of his cabinet officials from Moscow in anticipation of a possible US nuclear attack on the Soviet capital.

November 8th--The US Marine troops defending Ongjin launch a counterattack on the Soviet-North Korean lines outside the town; the assault splits those lines in half and forces Red Army and NKPA commanders to rethink their tactics.

November 9th--President Trumanís deadline for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Korea passes without any sign that the Red Army is making any move to pull its troops out of the Korean Peninsula; at 12:01 PM Washington time, Truman gives the B-29 squadrons in West Germany the green light to commence nuclear attacks against primary and secondary targets in the western Soviet Union. Ninety minutes later, Moscow is destroyed by a 30-kiloton nuclear bomb detonated directly over the Kremlin while additional 30-kiloton bombs vaporize Leningrad and Murmansk.

Joseph Stalin, sheltering in an emergency bunker ten miles outside Moscow when the first American nuclear attacks occur, is enraged by the Soviet capitalís destruction and orders Red Air Force bombers to immediately make retaliatory strikes on the US bases in West Germany from which the attacks on Moscow and Leningrad were mounted.

November 10th--The West German airbases from where the B-29 nuclear raids on Moscow and Leningrad were launched are all annihilated by 20-kiloton Soviet nuclear warheads deployed from East German-based Red Air Force bombers; West Germanyís capital, Bonn, is also hit by nuclear attack. Soviet bombers drop a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb on the airbase from which the attack on Murmansk was made, but the bomb fails to detonate because of a technical malfunction in its trigger mechanism. That same day six US airfields in Great Britain are hit by nuclear bombs from Soviet long-range bombers based in the Arctic region.

In response to the Soviet attacks on Britain and West Germany, the United States drops two 30-kiloton nuclear bombs on Kiev and sends ground troops backed by NATO into East Germany. What had begun as a regional fight between North and South Korea is now escalating into World War III.

November 11th--Soviet land combat forces in East Germany begin their counterattack on the US-NATO invasion force from the west. Both sides sustain appallingly high losses. In Berlin, anti- Communist German civilians riot against Soviet and East German authorities, setting fire to the headquarters of the C-in-C for Berlinís Red Army garrison during the uprising; the main US military outpost in the western sectors of Berlin comes under siege from Soviet artillery.

November 12th--The Communist-appointed mayor of East Berlin is found dead of a self-inflicted razor wound to the throat.

November 14th--Soviet and North Korean ground forces outside Ongjin commence a new three-pronged attack against USMC troops defending the city; however, the assault soon peters out in the face of determined USMC resistance. The Red Army high command, which was evacuated to Stalinís underground bunker prior to the atomic bombing of Moscow, calls for more Chinese troops to be deployed to the Korean Peninsula to assist Soviet army combat units in driving back the UN forces.

November 16th--The largest air battle to be fought in British skies since the end of the Second World War takes place over the North Sea as RAF, USAF, and NATO fighters intercept a Soviet bomber force headed towards London with the intent of dropping nuclear bombs on the British capital. While many of the Western fighter-interceptors are lost to Soviet escort fighters in this engagement, the Soviets come out of it much the worse for wear as two-thirds of the bomber force is shot down and the rest is forced to turn back without being able to deploy their bombs.

November 17th--A new wave of Chinese combat troops cross the China-North Korea border to bolster the Communist campaign against UN forces in South Korea. In his private journal, Mao Zedong expresses mixed feelings about the recent developments in Europe; while he welcomes the newly commenced Red Army campaign to eject US forces from western Europe, at the same time he complains that the outbreak of war in the European continent will divert much-needed Soviet aid from the Korean struggle.

November 19th--B-29s bomb the North Korean port of Wonsan, knocking out a key Communist naval base in the area; at least 40 percent of the bombers committed to the raid fail to return.

November 20th--In retaliation for the previous dayís American bombing of Wonsan, Soviet bombers attack Inchon and Seoul. It is the first major Soviet air attack on South Korean cities; a quarter of the bomber force committed to these raids is shot down by USAF fighters.

November 22nd--A contingent of Polish troops is sent to East Germany to back up Soviet and East German ground forces against the US-NATO invasion. That same day, Ongjin is destroyed by a Soviet nuclear warhead.

November 24th--US nuclear bombs vaporize most of Nampo, one of North Koreaís most important seaports, in retaliation for the Soviet nuclear strike on Ongjin two days earlier.

November 27th--UN ground forces launch a two-pronged drive on Kaesong in their latest attempt to retake the city.

November 28th--Soviet, East German, and Polish troops begin a three-front assault on US and NATO ground forces inside East Germany with the aim of driving them back to the West German border. In Russia, Stalinís secret police chief, Lavrenti Beria, is assassinated by unknown gunmen.

November 30th--In retaliation for the American nuclear attack on Nampo, Soviet bombers drop a 20-kiloton nuclear warhead on Seoul. General Douglas MacArthur, who was on an inspection tour of UN forward positions at the time of the Soviet strike, rushes to Inchon to assist surviving ROK military and civilian leaders in forming an emergency provisional government to restore order in the aftermath of the attack.

December 1st--The Communist assault on US-NATO positions inside East Germany grinds to a halt due to poor weather.

December 3rd--In a statement from his new field headquarters at Inchon, Douglas MacArthur declares that his forces will not stop fighting until the Communists have been expelled from the Korean Peninsula. However, with most of the worldís attention focused on the NATO-Soviet war in Europe, MacArthurís comments draw very little notice from the world press.

December 6th--Soviet and Chinese ground forces begin a four-front assault aimed at recapturing Pyongyang, then under UN occupation. General MacArthur, concerned that the loss of the North Korean capital may jeopardize the entire UN strategic position on the Korean Peninsula, directs US and ROK troops to counterattack at once.

December 7th--On the ninth anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Truman makes a special radio address to the American public. Defiantly proclaiming that the United States will not capitulate to the Soviet Union or the Peopleís Republic of China, he states categorically that US troops in Korea and western Europe will fight to the last man to free those areas still under Communist control.

December 9th--A Soviet Jewish dissident is arrested by the NKVD and charged with the assassination of Lavrenti Beria.

December 10th--Fighting in East Germany resumes as the weather finally clears up and US and NATO ground forces commence a two-pronged counterattack against the Communist lines.

December 12th--Soviet and Chinese ground troops near Pyongyang, unable to further penetrate US-ROK defenses around the occupied North Korean capital, request tactical air strikes by the Soviet air force on US and ROK forward positions around the city in the hope that this will force UN forces to retreat or surrender.

In compliance with the request, Soviet Il-28 bombers pound the main US and ROK defensive positions at Pyongyang; despite taking heavy casualties from US anti-aircraft batteries, the Soviet bombers succeed in dislodging many of the American and South Korean defensive positions in the Pyongyang area, allowing Red Army and PLA divisions to split the UN lines in two and retake the North Korean capital.

December 14th--The Jewish dissident accused of killing Lavrenti Beria is hanged after a show trial. To the very end he protests his innocence, all to no avail; not until the Communist regime in Russia collapses several years after the end of the war does it finally emerge that Beriaís demise was in fact the work of a rogue element of his own secret police.

December 16th--Kim Il Sung, who has been directing the North Korean war effort from a secret emergency command post for most of the past two months, returns to Pyongyang in triumph to formally proclaim the restoration of the North Korean capital to Communist rule and plan the NKPAís next major offensive, a two- pronged thrust across the 38th parallel intended to capture the temporary South Korean capital Inchon.

December 17th--Soviet warplanes bomb Inchon in the heaviest conventional bombing raid to date of the war, killing at least  100,000 Korean civilians.

December 18th--Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean ground forces breach the 38th in the first phase of the Communist offensive to capture Inchon. The attack is met with immediate and ferocious resistance from UN and ROK troops, and within hours the pace of the Communist advance has slowed to a crawl.

December 20th--East German chancellor Walter Ulbricht is admitted to a Berlin hospital after complaining of severe headaches; to his shock and that of his colleagues, he is discovered to be in the first stages of radiation poisoning.

December 22nd--East Germanyís official government news service announces the death of Walter Ulbricht from a cerebral aneurysm. Doctors privately believe the trauma of being diagnosed with radiation poisoning may have been a factor in the events leading up to the aneurysm.

December 26th--The Chinese army sends an additional 100,000 troops to the Korean Peninsula to support the Communist drive on Inchon.

December 28th--Carrier-based US Navy and Marine Corps jets stage a massive conventional bombing raid on the Soviet Pacific naval base at Vladivostok just before dawn; the attackers are immediately confronted with murderous opposition from Soviet anti-aircraft guns and land-based Soviet fighter planes. Though at least half of the attack force is lost to enemy action, the raid inflicts substantial damage on Soviet naval facilities and also sinks a number of Soviet merchant ships.

December 30th--UN forces defending Inchon execute a flanking maneuver that catches Soviet and North Korean ground forces off guard and traps two full divisions in a narrow pocket northeast of the provisional South Korean capital.


January 1st--In an effort to reduce the flow of war materiel from the USSR to Communist forces in Germany, US bombers attack Soviet supply bases in Poland.

January 2nd--The commander of one of the divisions trapped in the pocket northeast of Inchon requests authorization from the Kremlin to break out of the pocket while his unit is still at full strength. The Kremlin responds with orders to stand fast and veiled threats of court-martial or even execution.

January 4th--US and ROK tanks assault the main Communist front near Inchon.

January 6th--US and NATO divisions inside East Germany start a three-column push towards Leipzig.

January 7th--East German and Soviet ground forces near Leipzig launch a massive counterattack.


To Be Continued...

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