The Korean War, which stretched from 1950 to 1953, is called the Forgotten War because no one really remembers why we were there in the first place.
My father was in the U.S. Air Force during the war, so I grew up hearing about the conflict. Korea was divided after World War II into the communist north and democratic south. The war began in June 1950 when the North Korean Peoples Army invaded South Korea. After President Harry Truman announced support for the South Koreans, troops from America, the United Kingdom and the United Nations entered the fight.
The U.S. quickly dominated the skies over Korea during the war because of the experienced pilots of World War II who flew the U.S.-made F-28 Twin Mustang. North Korea just couldn’t keep up. We were much too experienced and had a superior airplane. That is until China joined the fight. It was China, not really the North Korea military forces, that helped North Koreans gain a military advantage.
However, when the Chinese and Soviet Union began flying the MiG-15 over Korea, it halted the very successful daylight bombing raids from the U.S. B-29 Flying Fortress. The MiG-15s were faster and could outmaneuver the dated Mustang aircraft sent to escort the bombers.
The United States, however, was not about to be outdone, so enter the U.S. F-86 Sabre, a superior jet to the Soviet-made MiG-15. The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft made by North American Aviation. These two jets fought it out over the skies of Korea. It became the first dogfighting involving jets.
According to the National Cold War Exhibition, “The communist pilots found it difficult to hit the more aerodynamic F-86s.”
The tables quickly turned in favor of the U.S., Britain and the United Nations when the U.S. Aur Force’s F-86 Sabres entered the war.
Chinese ground forces were so massive (approximately 300,000) compared to the U.S. and UN forces that one British soldier described it this way: “There was a gap in the hills we were defending, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked like ants swarming out of a nest. There were literally, no exaggeration, thousands upon thousands of Chinese coming at us… It took my breath away”.
All of the U.S. and allied ground troops fought gallantly and bravely. But It was the Gloucester Regiment, which was a part of the 29th British Independent Infantry Brigade, that were dubbed the “Glorious Glosters” by the media.
Here’s why they earned that name.
After the initial massive Chinese ground attack, most units were pulled back to refresh and regroup. All but the Gloucester Unit, who fought on. Many attempts were made to try and rescue the Gloucesters, but they all ended in failure. They were on their own. During the next two-and-a-half days, the Gloucester Regiment, numbering 600, were surrounded by the massive Chinese Army with no way out.
Instead of giving up and surrendering amid overwhelming odds, they fought on, sometimes engaging the Chinese in hand-to-hand combat. Of the original 600, only 39 escaped being killed or captured.
Hill 235, where the Gloucesters fought, was later renamed Gloucester Hll by South Korea. The Gloucester Regiment’s Motto was “By our deeds we are known.”
In the battle of Gloucester Hill, the U.S. lost 1,500 men, the South Koreans 8,000, and other UN forces 1,000.
Chinese casualties were estimated to be a staggering 70,000.
For their bravery and heroism, the Gloucester Regiment was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, America’s highest honor for extraordinary heroism, bravery and valor.
The year 2021 marked the 70th anniversary of the battle of Gloucester Hill, also known as the battle of Imjin River. A memorial in South Korea commemorates the fearlessness of the Gloucester Regiment and C Troop. “Freedom, Friendship, Peace” are words enshrined on the entrance to the memorial.
Truly they were the Glorious Glosters. I love their motto — “By our deeds we are known.” Perhaps we should remember that we too are known by our deeds.
Good words to remember, don’t you think?
Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.