On this Day, October 10th
Battle of Heartbreak Ridge
Sep 13, 1951 - Oct 15, 1951 
Fighting had been so severe on Heartbreak Ridge that at one time Company G ordered to take Hill 520 on Oct 10 1951 numbered only twenty-three.


  On 10 October 1951, United Nations troops, holding the main north-south ridgeline, had already secured the steep part of the spur ridge that slanted down toward Hill 520. That part of the 520 ridge still in enemy hands consisted of several humps, the last and highest of which was Hill 520 at the blunt tip of the ridge. Responsibility for seizing this hump had passed from Eighth Army to X Corps, to the 2d Infantry Division, and finally to its 23d Infantry Regiment and to Company G, whose battalion commander selected it to make the attack.

After withdrawing from Bloody Ridge, the Korean People's Army (KPA) set up new positions just 1,500 yards away on a seven mile (11 km) long hill mass. If anything, the enemy's defenses were even more formidable here than on Bloody Ridge. The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division's acting commander, Brigadier General Thomas de Shazo, and his immediate superior, Major General Clovis E. Beyers, the X Corps commander, seriously underestimated the strength of the North Korean position and ordered a lone infantry regiment to make what would prove to be an ill-conceived assault straight up Heartbreak's heavily fortified slopes. The result is the month-long Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, fought in an important Communist staging area just a few miles north of the 38th parallel north.

The attack began on September 13 and quickly deteriorated into a familiar pattern for two weeks. First, American aircraft, tanks, and artillery would pummel the ridge for hours on end, turning the already barren hillside into a cratered moonscape. Next, the 23rd's infantrymen would clamber up the mountain's rocky slopes, taking out one enemy bunker after another by direct assault. Those who survived to reach the crest arrived exhausted and low on ammunition. Then the inevitable counterattack would come-waves of North Koreans determined to recapture the lost ground at any cost.

Finally, on September 27, the 2nd Division's new commander, Maj. Gen. Robert N. Young, called a halt to the "fiasco" on Heartbreak Ridge as American planners reconsidered their strategy. As long as the North Koreans could continue to reinforce and resupply their garrison, it would be nearly impossible for the Americans to take the mountain. After belatedly recognizing this fact, the 2nd Division crafted a new plan that called for a full division assault on the valleys and hills adjacent to Heartbreak to cut the ridge off from further reinforcement.

By October 10 everything was ready for the big raid. The sudden onslaught of a battalion of tanks racing up the valley took the enemy by surprise. By coincidence, the thrust came just when the Chinese 204th Division was moving up to relieve the North Koreans on Heartbreak. Caught in the open, the Chinese division suffered heavy casualties from the American tanks. For the next five days the Shermans roared up and down the Mundung-ni Valley, over-running supply dumps, mauling troop concentrations, and destroying approximately 350 bunkers on Heartbreak and in the surrounding hills and valleys. A smaller tank-infantry team scoured the Sat'ae-ri Valley east of the ridge, thereby completing the encirclement and eliminating any hope of reinforcement for the beleaguered North Koreans on Heartbreak.

The armored thrusts turned the tide of the battle, but plenty of hard fighting remained for the infantry before French soldiers captured the last communist bastion on the ridge on October 13. After 30 days of combat, the Americans and French eventually gained the upper hand and secured Heartbreak Ridge. However, both sides suffered high casualties: over 3,700 American and French and an estimated 25,000 North Korean and Chinese. These losses made a deep impression on the U.N. and U.S. command, which decided that battles like Heartbreak Ridge were not worth the high cost in blood for the relatively small amount of terrain captured. For this reason, Heartbreak Ridge was the last major offensive conducted by U.N. forces in the war.

On 10 October 1951, United Nations troops, holding the main north-south ridgeline, had already secured the steep part of the spur ridge that slanted down toward Hill 520. That part of the 520 ridge still in enemy hands consisted of several humps, the last and highest of which was Hill 520 at the blunt tip of the ridge. Responsibility for seizing this hump had passed from Eighth Army to X Corps, to the 2d Infantry Division, and finally to its 23d Infantry Regiment and to Company G, whose battalion commander selected it to make the attack.  

After withdrawing from Bloody Ridge, the Korean People's Army (KPA) set up new positions just 1,500 yards away on a seven mile (11 km) long hill mass. If anything, the enemy's defenses were even more formidable here than on Bloody Ridge. The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division's acting commander, Brigadier General Thomas de Shazo, and his immediate superior, Major General Clovis E. Beyers, the X Corps commander, seriously underestimated the strength of the North Korean position and ordered a lone infantry regiment to make what would prove to be an ill-conceived assault straight up Heartbreak's heavily fortified slopes. The result is the month-long Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, fought in an important Communist staging area just a few miles north of the 38th parallel north.  

The attack began on September 13 and quickly deteriorated into a familiar pattern for two weeks. First, American aircraft, tanks, and artillery would pummel the ridge for hours on end, turning the already barren hillside into a cratered moonscape. Next, the 23rd's infantrymen would clamber up the mountain's rocky slopes, taking out one enemy bunker after another by direct assault. Those who survived to reach the crest arrived exhausted and low on ammunition. Then the inevitable counterattack would come-waves of North Koreans determined to recapture the lost ground at any cost.  

Finally, on September 27, the 2nd Division's new commander, Maj. Gen. Robert N. Young, called a halt to the "fiasco" on Heartbreak Ridge as American planners reconsidered their strategy. As long as the North Koreans could continue to reinforce and resupply their garrison, it would be nearly impossible for the Americans to take the mountain. After belatedly recognizing this fact, the 2nd Division crafted a new plan that called for a full division assault on the valleys and hills adjacent to Heartbreak to cut the ridge off from further reinforcement.  

By October 10 everything was ready for the big raid. The sudden onslaught of a battalion of tanks racing up the valley took the enemy by surprise. By coincidence, the thrust came just when the Chinese 204th Division was moving up to relieve the North Koreans on Heartbreak. Caught in the open, the Chinese division suffered heavy casualties from the American tanks. For the next five days the Shermans roared up and down the Mundung-ni Valley, over-running supply dumps, mauling troop concentrations, and destroying approximately 350 bunkers on Heartbreak and in the surrounding hills and valleys. A smaller tank-infantry team scoured the Sat'ae-ri Valley east of the ridge, thereby completing the encirclement and eliminating any hope of reinforcement for the beleaguered North Koreans on Heartbreak. 

The armored thrusts turned the tide of the battle, but plenty of hard fighting remained for the infantry before French soldiers captured the last communist bastion on the ridge on October 13. After 30 days of combat, the Americans and French eventually gained the upper hand and secured Heartbreak Ridge. However, both sides suffered high casualties: over 3,700 American and French and an estimated 25,000 North Korean and Chinese. These losses made a deep impression on the U.N. and U.S. command, which decided that battles like Heartbreak Ridge were not worth the high cost in blood for the relatively small amount of terrain captured. For this reason, Heartbreak Ridge was the last major offensive conducted by U.N. forces in the war. 
       
 
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