Korean War: Counter Attack
Scenario Preview, Part Five
Korean War: Counter Attack is part of an ambitious project that will unfold over a long time, to tell the story of the entire Korean Conflict in Panzer Grenadier form. The series includes Korean War: Pusan Perimeter and will see at least two more boxed games and four more book supplements.
But for now, the exciting newness is Korean War: Counter Attack. Let’s resume our review of its scenarios:
The Great Naktong Offensive and the Breakthrough in the South
The situation along the southern approaches to the Naktong River was very chaotic in early September with the North Koreans crossing the Naktong River in several points along the southern front. They had crossed at the Kihang ferry and captured Agok. They had also used underwater bridges to cross at night in many areas along the Naktong River. Nearing the end of their strength, the NKPA attacked with desperate fury. This is the time when U.S., United Nations and ROK forces would fight off some of the toughest North Korean attacks of the war. Scenarios 33 through 41 cover these action- packed battles.
Breakout Along the Naktong
31 August - 1 September 1950
The fresh North Korean offensive along the Naktong threw two regiments against the African-American 24th Infantry Regiment. The regiment’s forward battalion had been poorly deployed, with only one company forward and many ROK stragglers interspersed with the Americans. When the North Koreans approached the white battalion commander immediately absented himself from the scene and the white regimental commander soon followed. Chaos resulted.
When their white officers fled, many of the black soldiers followed. Much of the battalion melted away, and the North Koreans poured into the gap. The U.S. Army’s Official History in essence accuses the soldiers of cowardice under fire; many of these claims would later be proven false but not until the incident had been used by some within the Army’s high command to argue against racial integration.
The U.S. Army’s Official History is a textbook example of academic racism in action. Nowhere does it spew racial invective; in fact, it only admits that the 24th Infantry was a “Negro” unit in the index, and never mentions this in the text. Even 50 years after its publication, one ignorant of the broader scholarship of the war could be fooled into thinking that there was just something wrong with the 24th Infantry on the pure level of military effectiveness. Readers are thereby led to the desired conclusion, that black people are simply inferior. Sometimes a work of “history” is itself an artifact of a shameful history.
Action on Sibidang-san
31 August - 1 September 1950
While two North Korean regiments attacked the hapless 24th Infantry Regiment, two others assaulted its neighbor. After crossing the Nam River and scattering the ROK National Police assigned to contest the riverbank, North Korean troops backed by tanks attacked the Americans dug in on the Sibidang-san heights, which dominated the road leading to the supply center of Masan.
Repeated North Korean assaults cost them massive casualties, but failed to push the Americans off Sibidang-san. One American company had lost its positions and several thousand North Koreans had ended up in the American rear areas, sowing death and confusion wherever they went. But the 35th Infantry had held where its neighboring regiment had not.
This is a similar scenario to the previous, though the Americans are much better here. There are large forces on each side, with the Norks having plentiful troops to throw at the Americans and little regard for their own casualties as long as they can achieve a breakthrough.
SCENARIO THIRTY FIVE
Shield for Yongsan
1 September 1950
To the right of the 35th Infantry, the 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division held a front of more than 20,000 yards. The NKPA’s 9th Division, still believing the area held by the 24th Infantry Division, sent its troops across the Nam River into a nearly-undefended zone. The Americans quickly organized a scratch force of engineers, recon troops and anti-aircraft gunners to drive them back.
The heavy automatic weapons of the American anti-aircraft troops made an impressive display in the firefight that followed the two forces’ collision. They did not, however, keep the North Koreans from working their way around the small task force and into the American rear areas.
This is an odd little scenario, with the Americans having a few units of enormous firepower trying to hunt down the Norks and drive them off. With little anti-tank capability, the Norks will find those two Pershing platoons a handful as well.
2 September 1950
The North Korean attack split the 2nd Infantry Division, leaving the divisional engineer battalion with some assorted stragglers and tank support to attempt to hold the town of Yongsan. The North Koreans could not get more reinforcements into the town, and pressed their attack with the equivalent of a single battalion of infantry and a platoon of tanks.
The engineers lost all but one of their officers, but still managed to hold their positions inside the town against relentless North Korean assaults. In the afternoon the 9th Infantry Regiment reorganized about 800 men who had fled from earlier North Korean attacks into an ad hoc battalion without support weapons and with the help of the divisional tank battalion ejected the North Koreans from the rest of Yongsan.
This is a tough fight for a small piece of terrain, with small forces contesting an even smaller objective but with long-range weaponry that can make the battle take up the whole game board. And there’s always a need for another Pershing vs. T34/85 scenario.
SCENARIO THIRTY SEVEN
5 September 1950
Douglas MacArthur had wanted the Marine Brigade withdrawn from the front lines to prepare for the landing at Inchon, but Walton Walker insisted they were needed to restore 2nd Infantry Division’s positions. MacArthur’s staff approved their use, and the Marines began a three-day counter-attack west of Yongsan. On the third day the Marines once again approached Obong-ni Ridge, once again occupied by the North Koreans.
The North Koreans struck first this time, with infantry supported by tanks. In a small tank battle the North Korean tanks knocked out two Marine Pershings, and in turn lost two T-34/85 tanks to bazooka rockets. Heavy artillery and mortar fire eventually drove off the North Koreans, and just after midnight the Marines left the front line to embark for Inchon.
It’s not really an ambush, since the Norks left their positions to attack rather than waiting for the Marines to come to them. In game terms, no one starts hidden and the victory conditions encourage an all-out brawl. That favors the Marines, with their greater firepower and their Pershings, but they have a higher bar to cross in order to win.
Desperation Around Changnyong
8 September 1950
North Korean infiltration tactics had nearly surrounded the 2nd Infantry Division’s 23rd Infantry Regiment. The division staff shortened the regiment’s sector to free one of its battalions to form a strong perimeter and release enough troops to clear North Korean raiders from its supply lines. With strong artillery support, the North Korean 2nd Division launched a determined night attack to break through the American regiment’s reinforced position.
North Korean infiltration tactics made good progress, but the Americans just managed to plug the holes torn in their lines by the attackers. When the sun rose, and with it the threat of American air power, the North Koreans pulled back to their original lines, to make one final effort the next night.
A small American force is facing waves of Norks coming from multiple directions; the American wins by surviving. That won’t be easy; the North Koreans are poorly-led and have low morale, but they do have artillery support for once and there are a lot of them.
6 September 1950
In the British Army’s first combat action of the Korean War, Capt. Neil A. Buchanan of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders led a company-sized force out to force back a group of North Koreans trying to infiltrate between the British brigade and the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division. Some ROK National Police accompanied the Brits on their mission.
Buchanan and his batman were badly wounded, and the captain ordered his men to leave him behind. That was the last anyone saw of the gallant captain and his servant. Other British probes eventually forced the North Koreans out of the gap.
The British are coming! It’s just a small taste of Brit action, with the 27th Infantry Brigade driving off a Nork force that’s penetrated United Nations lines. No one has any artillery, so we have a straight-up infantry fight.
Counterattack at Haman
1 September 1950
On the morning of 1 September, part of the 25th Infantry Division’s front collapsed under North Korean attack. The Army would later blame the segregated 24th Infantry Regiment, but later historians (including U.S. Army scholars) determined that ROK National Police stationed in the middle of the regiment’s lines had given way first and not the African-American regulars; but wherever the rout started, the badly-deployed and badly-led Americans began to give way as well. Without waiting for Eighth Army approval the division command committed its reserve, the very solid 27th Infantry Regiment, to a counterattack.
The 2nd Battalion of the 27th Infantry, together with the remnants of two companies of the 24th Infantry, went in hot on the heels of a lengthy bombardment and pushed beyond Haman to recapture some of the original lines west of town on the ridges. A victory of sorts, but with constant pressure on all portions of the perimeter there were already inklings that the 27th Infantry were needed in the 2nd Division’s sector.
The Americans are on the attack, against a veteran but badly-depleted Nork division. The U.S. Army has some artillery to help out, but it’s a pretty tall order as the American infantry isn’t all that eager to engage the North Koreans.
SCENARIO FORTY ONE
Back to Battle Mountain
9 September 1950
North Korean troops had taken Battle Mountain on 7 September, and the Americans made repeated attempts to take it back. Two days later, the 3rd Battalion of the 27th Infantry sent two companies up the hill to make one last attempt to wrest the high ground from the North Koreans.
The effort only brought the Americans still more casualties, and Lt. Col. John T. Corley, the newly-appointed commander of the 24th Infantry Regiment, ordered the attached 27th Infantry troops to give up the attempt. The North Koreans had gained the prize, but over the coming days they would be unable to make much use of it.
This is just a small scenario, with the Americans trying to pry the Norks off a bloody hilltop. Neither side is very enthusiastic about this battle, but the Americans bring lots of artillery and the North Koreans have a very strong position.
And that’s the seventh chapter.
You can order Korean War: Counter Attack right here.
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and award-winning journalist, he has published over 100 books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold.