Thursday, 9 June 2016

More on That Sticky Situation at the Imjin River

Since writing my post on the British officer reporting a 'sticky' situation to his American superior it has become quite clear that this is not apocryphal, but does in fact refer to the report by Brigadier Thomas Brodie to Major-General Robert H "Shorty" Soule on the position The Glosters were in during the Battle of the Imjin River.

This goes to reinforce my point that this is not just a 'clash of cultures' anecdote but should be classed in the 'military blunder' category along the lines of "advance rapidly to the front... and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns".  

It's interesting that the sources for this story seem to British - Farrar-Hockley, who was the adjutant of the battalion, and an interview of Brodie much later by Max Hastings.  General Soule died in 1952 and left no account of what he thought the actual situation was.  But if Brodie's report contributed to his decision first to delay and then to withdraw the relief column, then some serious blame should attach to it.

After all, the Glosters had over 500 men killed or taken prisoner during their stand at Hill 235.

The Glosters Memorial at Hill 235

Let's end with another book review.  I don't have Farrar-Hockley's Official History of the British operations in Korea, however my copy of his Edge of the Sword has few cuttings in it.  One is a review by Max Hastings of the first volume.  He praises Farrar-Hockley's comprehensive account but criticises the lack of judgments on the performance of units and individuals.
In years to come, when the eye-witnesses are all dead, lay readers of General Farrar-Hockley's books could sometimes be very uncertain - to put it crudely - whether a given action was a heroic and necessary sacrificial stand, or a culpable blunder by those responsible
For his services during the Korean War Major-General Thomas Brodie received the a CB, a DSO, the US Silver Star (twice) and the US Legion of Merit.  He died in 1993.  "Farrar the Para" was awarded the DSO for his actions on Hill 235 and a mention-in-despatches for his conduct while a prisoner of war.  He died in 2006 - General Sir Anthony Heritage Farrar-Hockley GBE, KCB, DSO*, MC.

1 comment:

  1. I think I might read some books of the Korean War! Never did that before, so I have to catch up a little bit!



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