Military history

Battle of the Chosin Reservoir

Gen. Raymond Davis was the 28-year-old commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, when Chinese forces attacked at the Chosin Reservoir on Nov. 27, 1950, Thanksgiving Day.

Gilda Renfrow Six's mosaic honoring battle
From Parris Island Museum

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir was a battle in the Korean War, in which 30,000 troops (nicknamed the "Frozen Chosin" or "The Chosin Few") under the command of American General Douglas MacArthur faced approximately 120,000 Chinese troops. The name Chosin is the Japanese rendition of the Korean place name Changjin. The name stuck due to the outdated Japanese names on maps used by UN forces.

The North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950 caught the free world off guard. In a bold move to reverse the tide of the war, the 1st Marine Division, supported by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, landed at Inchon and cut off the bulk of the North Korean Army.

As the Allies drove north toward the Yalu River, Chinese Communist forces poured over the Manchurian border, trapping the Marines near the Chosin Reservoir.

Written off for lost, the Marines regrouped and fought their way to the sea, where they rejoined the American forces.

A brutal battle in freezing weather followed. Although they inflicted enormous casualties on the Chinese forces, the UN troops were forced to evacuate North Korea after they withdrew from the reservoir to the port of Hungnam.

The battles of the Chosin Campaign, which had a decisive impact on the future course of the war, were fought in the 10-day period between Nov. 27 and Dec. 6, 1950.

Description of the battle
From Parris Island Museum

Surrounded by the Chinese and heavily outnumbered, 10,000 Marines battled their way to safety down 40 miles of winding mountain road in sub-arctic weather. Veterans of the campaign have called themselves the "Chosin Few" ever since.

Walt Six, husband of Gilda Renfrow Six, was sent to Korea after joining the Marine Corps in 1948.

He was part of the 1st Marine Division and was the only trained movie photographer in Korea for the Marine Corps. His duty was to take movies of the war. Walt took movies of the Battle of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

Today, this battle ranks as one of the Marine Corps' proudest moment in history. The Chinese Army was forced to withdraw from the front. The Marines maintained their ranks and marched out orderly.

Walt's movies are used by the Marine Corps and he's given credit.

Years after the battle, Gilda made the beautiful mosaic of the battle. It is in a place of honor at the Parris Island Museum at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.

— Source: U.S. Marine Corps