November 5, 1950 – The Battle of Pakchon took place ten days after the start of the Chinese First Phase Offensive, following the entry of the People’s Volunteer Army into the Korean War. The offensive reversed the United Nations (UN) advance towards the Yalu River which had occurred after their intervention in the wake of the North Korean invasion of South Korea at the start of the war. The battle was fought between British and Australian forces from the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade with American armour and artillery in support, and the Chinese 117th Division, around the village of Pakchon on the Taeryong River. After capturing Chongju on 30 October the British and Australians had been ordered to pull back to Pakchon in an attempt to consolidate the western flank of the US Eighth Army. Meanwhile, immediately following their success at Unsan against the Americans, the Chinese 117th Division of the 39th Army had attacked southward, intending to cut off the UN forces as they withdrew in the face of the unexpected Chinese assault. To halt the Chinese advance, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade was ordered to defend the lower crossings of the Taeryong and Chongchon rivers as part of a rearguard, in conjunction with the US 24th Infantry Division further upstream on the right. During the night of 4/5 November, the Chinese and North Koreans mounted a full-scale assault on the US 24th Infantry Division, pushing back an American infantry regiment nearly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). The Chinese force subsequently turned west, advancing between the Taeryong and Chongchon rivers and threatening the rear of the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade by cutting the Pakchon–Sinanju road. The following day they attacked an American artillery battery which was guarding a vital concrete bridge near Kujin. The British and Australians then successfully counter-attacked the Chinese forces occupying a number of nearby ridgelines during the day but were in turn counter-attacked before being pushed off the high ground during the night. In their first battle with the Chinese, the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) captured a well defended hill with only limited offensive support, and held it the face of heavy counter-attacks before confused command decisions resulted in a disorganised night withdrawal while still in contact. The withdrawal threatened to open the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade’s left flank and the Australians were ordered to immediately reposition on the ridge, yet ultimately it was too late to regain the feature in darkness. However, following heavy fighting the pressure on the Australians unexpectedly ceased after midnight, and parties of Chinese were observed beginning to withdraw. By early morning the Chinese attack had been checked and 3 RAR had redeployed to new positions in the paddy fields around the railway crossing north of Maenjung-dong. The fighting was costly for both sides. Although the Australians halted the advancing Chinese 117th Division and inflicted numerous casualties on them, they also suffered heavy losses. In the aftermath the inexperienced Australian battalion commander—Lieutenant Colonel Floyd Walsh—was relieved of his position by the British brigade commander, having taken over just six days earlier following the death of the previous commanding officer at Chongju. Nonetheless, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade succeeded in preventing a Chinese break-through at Pakchon, keeping open vital withdrawal routes across the river and securing the UN left flank. Suffering significant casualties, the Chinese offensive was halted the next day due to logistic difficulties. The Chinese and North Koreans were temporarily forced to withdraw north, while the UN successfully reinforced its positions, holding on the Chongchon Line. Yet by late November the US Eighth Army was again forced to withdraw after the Chinese began their Second Phase Offensive, starting a long retreat south. The UN forces were subsequently expelled from North Korea, and withdrew to the 38th Parallel where they sought to re-establish defensive positions. After the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade’s initial success, they had in turn been counter-attacked by the Chinese before being pushed off the high ground during the night. During the action the brigade lost 12 killed and 70 wounded, the majority of them among the Australians. Chinese losses were not known with many of their dead removed from the battlefield, but according to Commander Wu Xinquan of the Chinese 39th Army, an infantry company from the Chinese 350th Regiment was badly mauled by the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade during the engagement. Australian forces later estimated that the Chinese had suffered 200 killed and another 200 wounded. In their first battle with the Chinese, 3 RAR had successfully captured a well defended hill with only limited offensive support, and had held it the face of heavy counter-attacks before confused command decisions resulted in the battalion conducting a disorganised night withdrawal while still in contact. The fighting was costly for both sides and although the Australians had halted the advancing Chinese 117th Division and inflicted numerous casualties on them, they had also lost heavily. Nonetheless, the 27th British Commonwealth Brigade had succeeding in preventing a Chinese break-through at Pakchon, keeping open vital withdrawal routes across the river and securing the UN left flank. Suffering significant casualties, the Chinese offensive was finally halted the next day due to logistic difficulties. The Royal Australian Regiment and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were later granted the battle honour “Pakchon”. The Chinese and North Koreans were temporarily forced to withdraw north, while Walker successfully reinforced the UN positions, holding on the Chongchon Line. The Chinese had failed to exploit their initial success, and instead now seemed to adopt a deliberately cautious strategy.