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Inchon Landing

Inchon Landing (1950).During the Korean War, in the summer of 1950 United Nations forces were pushed back to the Pusan perimeter. In spite of this calamitous situation, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as early as July, had conceived of a great amphibious operation that would land at Inchon, South Korea's principal west coast port, and drive inland to liberate Seoul, South Korea's capital. He envisaged a huge turning movement that would cut the enemy's major lines of communication and force the North Korean Army, already overextended, to face around and defend on a new front.

Naval commanders saw horrendous problems in assembling the necessary amphibious shipping and negotiating the treacherous sea approaches to Inchon. The tides, up to 30 feet, were among the highest in the world. Low tide left vast mudflats across which landing ships and landing craft could not beach and amphibian tractors could not crawl. Hydrographers stipulated that the best date for the landing would be 15 September, when the morning high tide would be at 6:59 A.M. and the evening high tide at 7:19 P.M.

The landing force, which MacArthur designated X Corps, would have to be gathered from parts scattered around the world. In the assault would be the hastily assembled 1st Marine Division. In reserve would be the 7th U.S. Infantry Division, weakest of the four divisions that had made up the occupation force in Japan and with untrained South Korean conscripts as half its rifle strength.

At daybreak on 15 September, a Marine battalion landed on Wolmi‐do, an island forming the northern arm of the channel. That evening, two Marine regiments made the main landing against Inchon itself, going over sea walls that were themselves formidable barriers. The assault, with a five‐to‐one strength advantage, easily overcame the 2,200 second‐rate North Korean troops defending the city.

The march to Seoul, against thickening defenses, began the next morning. After heavy fighting, Seoul was declared “secured” on 28 September. The next day, MacArthur escorted President Syngman Rhee in a triumphal reentry into his capital city.
[See also Korea, U.S. Military Involvement in; Korean War.]

Bibliography

Lynn Montross and and Nicholas A. Canzona , The Inchon‐Seoul Operation, 1955.
Robert D. Heinl , Victory at High Tide, 1968.

Edwin Howard Simmons

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