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Chosin Reservoir: by Nathan Anderson by Trench-ADF Chosin Reservoir: by Nathan Anderson by Trench-ADF
Commissioned work from Nathan at for the Armageddon's Song series.…

Excerpt 'Shaw - USMC: Soldiers, Spies and Lies'

Major General Barr, the 7th’s commander, simply followed Almond’s orders until he had reached the river, but once that had been achieved he pulled back his widely scattered division as quickly as possible. The 17th were ordered to remain but the 32nd made rapid tracks to Chosin.
7th Infantry Division relieved the 5th Marine Regiment at Chosin’s eastern side and reorganized into task forces and Regimental Combat Teams. The 32nd, as RCT31, were on the north side of the P’ungnyuri River inlet with 31st Tank Company, 57th Field Artillery, and D Battery of 15th AAA Battalion with its self-propelled anti-aircraft guns.
31st Infantry Regiment were their ‘depth’, but that was only assuming that an enemy would attack from the northwest, the direction of the Yalu and China. There was no one on the right flank of the 31st and 32nd, not even observation and listening posts.

After 5th Marines had moved west, to rejoin their division, the first of the famous Chesty Puller’s 1st Marine Regiment arrived from Hamhung, and with them came a reconnaissance patrol of British Royal Marines.
41 (Independent) Commando, who had been conducting raids from the sea until the Wonsan and Iwon landings, was slated for disbandment once their amphibious raiding role ended. To avoid this, Lt Col Drysdale, the ‘Royals’ CO, had been looking for other employment for them and General Smith had snatched them up. 41, currently billeted with 1st Engineers back in Hamhung, were now to be reconnaissance troops for General Smith's 1st Marine Division. 
The commando patrol had gone up into the hills on their right and stopped by Dwight’s position to warm up when they came back down just before last light.
Dwight had chatted with the patrol commander, a Scottish corporal whose accent was so thick that he could barely make it out.
When had it last snowed here, the corporal asked?
That had been during the previous evening, Dwight had answered.
Well, someone had been about since that time, a dozen or so men wearing standard Chinese military boots were up there somewhere, probably watching them right now, the corporal stated. They had probably seen the Royal Marine patrol heading out from Hagaru-ri and had hidden up until the commandos departed, using windswept rocks as stepping stones, where possible, to break track.
The eight man Royal Marine patrol had not tried to follow, not when the enemy had a clear advantage.
The patrol had departed to make their report and Dwight now felt as if eyes were constantly on him

On the previous day, 25th November, the bulk of the 1st Marine Division, on the west side of the reservoir, with the reservist 7th Marine Regiment as spearhead, had stepped off into the attack. 
It was timed to coincide with the renewed advance of the US 8th Army, on the west of the peninsula, with the reconstituted South Korean II Corps on its flank. 
So far, there was no word on progress in the west, but the marines had encountered no enemy so far, up here in the north east.

The old burn scarred palm of Dwight’s left hand was not a major handicap for Dwight, who was right handed, but changing arms, to relieve his tired right, was a little challenging. 
He and his sergeant, Mitchel Parish of Little Rock, a veteran and reservist, with the eagles claw of the 17th Airborne on his right sleeve. worked in silence. They saved their breath and as a bout of pick work ended the major automatically took the non-com’s place, shovelling out the spoil to create a bullet catchment area around the foxhole.
Their fighting hole was a three man affair, but they had no radioman and the runner was on sick call, having forgotten to change his socks immediately after a assisting with digging the supply sergeants large pit the previous day, the sweaty felt socks had frozen to his feet.
Hagaru-ri, three mile to the south, held the record for being the consistently coldest spot on the Korean Peninsula for the previous hundred years. Consequently, cold weather discipline was something Dwight had been drumming into his men, particularly the danger of sweating.
They had to treat it as a drill, removing clothing to avoid perspiration and changing socks after exertion, using their body heat to dry them. It was not pleasant putting cold, damp socks next to your skin, but by draping them half in their shirt’s sleeves at the armpit, the second warmest part of the body, it warded off frost bitten toes.
His runner had fallen asleep fully clothed for only an hour, but that had been enough. Despite furious massaging, the tips of the toes had a dark hue to them. Private O’Rourke had run distance in high school, but if the colour of the toes deepened to black he would not be running anymore, the dead digits would have to come off to prevent gangrene setting in.
After a whole morning’s labour he was at last satisfied that they were deep enough and they changed socks before fully dressing again.

Sergeant Parish set about heating their food, which was another trial.
C Rations were greatly improved from they had been in WW2, in truth it would be hard for them to be worse, but the meals came wet packed in cans, not dehydrated. Each day box had six cans, known as the three ‘Heavies’ and three ‘Lights’, with meat in the heavy cans and bread, fruit cocktail and cake in the light ones.
The contents of the heavies froze into blocks of ice that had to be thawed, and simply putting a can on a naked flame only resulted in burnt food surrounding a still frozen core. The cans had to be stood in boiling water, as getting the frozen meat out of the can and into a mess tin for cooking was a frustrating task.
The supply clerks had the ideal solution, they wired the cans to the trucks engine block before their runs down to the supply depot. On their return, the food was cooked to perfection.
For the rest of the company there was C4 explosive, which did not explode when exposed to a match, it instead burned with a particularly hot flame. 
Sergeant Parish removed the piece of white bedsheet from his helmet, along with the helmets inner, and filled it with clean snow before placing it on a makeshift stove at the bottom of the newly completed foxhole. Once the snow had melted he opened both cans but did not completely remove the lids, using them as handles as he placed them in the water.
“What have we got to eat, Mitch?” Dwight asked.
Sergeant Parish was huddled close to the stove, absorbing what warmth he could and did not look up.
“One’s brown and the other is rumoured to have once worn feathers, sir.” The sergeant replied. “Got any preference?”
“Nope, guess they’ll both taste the same.”
Once properly heated, Sergeant Parish removed the cans and poured the water onto powdered coffee grains in their cups.
Kitchen duty complete, the helmet was swiftly returned to Mitch Parish’s head before it cooled down.
“Just for a minute or two,” he said with a happy sigh, “my body may be in this frozen s***hole, but my head is in Hawaii.”
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Submitted on
May 14, 2016
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