Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War

In late August, three of the division's regiments were given warning orders to
prepare for a move from reserve areas to assembly areas to organize for reemployment
in the offensive. (For 3/7, their warning order on August 26 did not even include
"destination, time, attachments [or] situation.") The other units of X Corps had bogged
down and the Marines were needed to relieve elements of the 2nd Inf Div and 8th ROK
(Republic of Korea) Div so the offensive could get moving again. From the positions
formerly occupied by the units relieved, the X Corps plan called on the 1st Mar Div for
"the execution of a limited objective attack to seize the high ground north of the
Punchbowl and along the Inje-Changhang axis." On August 31, the 1st Mar Div was to
attack Yoke Ridge and take it for a new EUSAK defensive line forward of Line Kansas
(to be called the Hays Line).18 (See Map # 13)
The CINCUNC (Commander in Chief United Nations Command), General
Matthew B. Ridgway, said of the area's value:
Another area the enemy held dear was an ancient volcanic crater we named the
Punchbowl, about twenty-five miles north of Inje, and the same distance from the
east coast, near the zone boundary of U. S. X and ROK I Corps. Its rim was
nearly knife-sharp all around the edges, rising abruptly several hundred feet
above the crater floor, and thickly wooded on every side. The enemy was solidly
entrenched on the rim here and well armed with mortars and artillery. Much blood
was spilled in the coming months to win control of this area. In the Eighth Army's
possession, it would shorten the line, provide better observation, and lessen the
chance of strong enemy surprise attacks in that quarter. Once we had seized it,
we never gave it up.19
X Corps's overall goal, dictated by EUSAK on 21 July, was to probe Communist
positions and determine their strength, keep them off balance and unable to launch
18 Third Battalion, Seventh Marines "Historical Diary" August 1951, 6; 1st Mar Div, "Historical Diary,"
August 1951, 1; Allan R. Millett, Drive North, 38; 1 Mar Div, "Historical Diary," (August 1951), 1, 3; Lynn
Montross, et al., The East-Central Front, chapter IIX-IX; U. S. Pacific Fleet, "Third Interim Evaluation
Report," chapter 15; 1st Mar Div, "Historical Diary," August 1951, Division OpnO 19-51.
19 Oral Account of General Matthew B. Ridgway in Knox, Uncertain Victory, 378.

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Montandon, Joshua W. Battle for the Punchbowl: The U. S. 1st Marine Division 1951 Fall Offensive of the Korean War. Denton, Texas. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc3938/. Accessed September 19, 2014.