This Day In History: The Chinese Are On The Offensive In Korea (1950)

On this date in history, the Chinese launched a massive operation in Korea that changed the direction of the war. In a rapid attack the Chinese launch a massive counterattack near their country’s border with North Korea. The Chinese army one of the largest in the world used its massive reserves of manpower to overwhelm the UN forces. The American-led UN force had been able to repel the North Korean invasion. General MacArthur had commanded an amphibious landing that outflanked the North Korean army and forced them to retreat. The Americans then pushed deep into North Korea and it seemed that they were on the verge of an outright victory. The Chinese were very concerned by the turn of events and they believed that the Americans wanted to conquer North Korea. They believed that this would leave the Americans positioned on their border. The Chinese communist leader refused to countenance this and order an invasion of North Korea to expel the allies from the country.  He ordered some 300,000 men to cross the border and assist the North Koreans.

South Korean Korean War Refugees
South Korean War refugees

In some bitter fighting, the Chinese Red Army launched a surprise attack on MacArthur’s forces.  They managed to drive the American and the UN forces back but they soon stopped their offensive. It is possible that the Chinese did not want a general war at this stage. However, MacArthur believed that the sudden pause in the Chinese offensive was a sign of weakness. He decided to launch a Christmas Offensive but this was a failure and the People’s Army launched a devastating counterattack and drove the Americans and their allies back and forcing them into a headlong retreat. They  Chinese and North Korean army were able to drive the Americans from the majority of their positions in the North and forced them to retreat back into Southern Korea.  The Americans and the UN were able to establish a new defensive line in the south and this halted the Chinese army. The Chinese and the North Koreans using mass infantry charges tried to break through these lines. The lines were not to significantly move for the rest of the war. The Korean War became a bloody stalemate.  The massive Chinese counterattack was to alter the direction of the war. It prevented the Americans and their allies from securing a decisive victory in Korea and ended any hope that they boys would be home by Christmas. Instead, the Americans became bogged down in an Asian War and they had a real fear that it may escalate into a full-scale nuclear war with the Communist Bloc, led by Moscow.

American GIs after the death of