Inchon and Chosin Reservoir - Korean War 1950 - 1953

Marines of 41 Commando RM

On June 25th 1950, five years after the Japanese had been ejected from Korea and the country divided into North and South Korea at the 38th parallel, North Korea, which had become a Democratic Republic under Soviet influence, invaded South Korea. The United Nations reacted swiftly and called on all members to help South Korea. Within the week US had landed troops in Korea, followed by the British 27th Infantry Brigade from Hong Kong. The US Commander requested a raiding force to strike behind enemy lines, an ideal role for the Royal Marines, 41 Independant Commando RM was raised on 16th August 1950 comprising Marines from the British Pacific Fleet, volunteers form Britain and a draft from 3 Commando Brigade RM then on active service in Malaya. The volunteers from UK were flown out to Japan by BOAC, dressed in civvies.

Upon arrival in Japan "41" came under US command and the men were issued with USMC uniforms and weapons, but Royal being Royal the insisted on wearing their "Green Berets".

The first alloted task to 41 Commando RM, who were commanded by LT COL D.B.Drysdale, was to carry out clandestine raids on the NE coast of Korea, cutting railway lines and attacking military targets. On September 15th a successful amphibious landing was carried out at Inchon, 200 miles behind the North Korean front lines, by USMC and the Royal Marines attached, who thrust inland and recaptured Seoul. China now entered the war on the Norths' side. 300,000 Chinese Peoples Volunteers crossed the Yalu river and quickly surrounded the 1st US Marine Division at Hagaru-ri near Chosin Reservoir. 41 Commando RM was assigned to the US 1st Marines when it reache Koto-ri, 10 miles south of Hagaru-ri, Royal was given the task to break through enemy lines "at all costs" to re-inforce the US Marines at Hagaru-ri. With a company of US Marines and a US Army Infantry company, collectively called "Task Force Drysdale" after 41's CO, the British and US Marines, supported by a company of USMC tanks, fought furiously over ten miles of hilly terrain in freezing weather conditions to reach Hagaru-ri. 61 Royal Marines were lost in the fighting out of a total of 235, but they broke through and fought with the 1st US Marine Division in the defence of Hagaru-ri and in the break-out from the Chosin Reservoir. 41 Commando RM reached the coast after a forces march and was evacuated from Hungnam in December 1950. President Harry S Trueman awarded them a United States Presidential Citation for its action in supporting the US Marines.

After being brought up to strength in Japan, 41 Commando RM returned to Korea and resumed raiding operations behind enemy lines until its return to Britain and disbandment in February 1952. The Korean War ended on July 26th 1953.