Background of Participation
With the UN Secretary-Generalâs request of military assistance for South Korea, France decided on July 22, 1950 to participate in the Korean War by dispatching the destroyerâLa Grandiereâ. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, however, France realized the necessity of collective security for the world peace, and additionally decided, on August 25th, to send one infantry battalion to South Korea. On September 18th, the French government organized one infantry battalion including three rifle companies, one headquarter company, and one support company. The French Battalion arrived in Pusan on November 29th. After staying at the UN camp, it moved to Suwon and was assigned to the US 2nd Division on December 13th.
Activity of the Ground Forces
The French Battalion moved to the north of Hoengsong and established defensive positions on January 1, 1951, as the DPRK 5th Corps advanced to the Hongchon-Hoengsong-Wonju line with the New Year offensive. On January 10th, when the US 2nd Division was forced by North Korean troops to retreat from Wonju, they launched a counterattack. It was the French Battalionâs first combat of the war at Hill 247, south of Wonju, which helped to recover Wonju.
The French Battalion moved to Chowang-ri on January 30th to support the F Company of the US 23rd Regiment, which had been isolated by CCF. On February 1st, the French soldiers deterred Chinese attacks, and secured the position despite their inferior numbers. In this battle, the Battalion killed 1,300 Chinese soldiers while suffering 27 casualties, 97 wounded and 3 missing. Thanks to its achievement in this combat, the Battalion was awarded citations from the USA President, and from the French Army.The Battalion and the US 23rd Regiment were isolated in Jipyong-ri by the enemyâs February offensive. From February 14th, CCF launched an all-out offensive, but the Battalion managed to keep its defensive position.
After maintenance, the battalion participated in the operation of counterattack from March 7th. It crossed the 38th parallel on April 5th. When the CCF launched the May offensive, the French soldiers defended the road from Hongchon through Inje, but were isolated in behind enemy lines since their retreat was blocked on May 17th. The battalion, accompanied by the US 23rd Regiment, broke through the enemyâs interception line, and retreated to Hill 643, southeast of Hangye.
On July 15th, the Battalion advanced to Hudok-ri, east of Punchbowl. It was committed to the combat in the Heartbreak Ridge as the US 23rd regiment had failed to capture the Ridge. But the French soldiers also failed in their attacks on the 15th and 26th of September, causing 100 casualties. After re-equipping, the Battalion succeeded in recovering the enemyâs strong defensive post, Hill 931 on October 6th, and Hill 851 on October 13th, completing the Heartbreak battles.
On July 17, 1952, the French Battalion moved to the Jamestown line, and fought for outposts against Chinese forces. On October 3rd, the battalion was deployed along the main resistance line in the region of the Hill Hwasalmori. In the evening of October 6th, CCF launched preparation fire, which destroyed most of field fortifications constructed by the Battalion.
The Hill Hwasalmori battle began with Chinese attacks at 19:00. By mobilizing tremendous fire power from tanks, trench mortars, and recoilless rifles, the Battalion deterred the enemyâs attack. After two more failed attacks, CCF launched an all-out offensive in the evening of October 8th. But the Battalion repelled the enemy once again.In February 1953, the battalion was deployed at Songkog-ri, near Samichon along the western front. The most desperate combat in this area broke out when CCF attacked a French reconnaissance unit on February 24th. In this battle, the French soldiers successfully repelled the enemy.
After maintenance, the French Battalion was deployed in the Mt. Jungga region, southwest of Mt. Sobang on June 20th. It set up the outpost âDickâ on the Hill 478. From July 8th, CCF launched several attacks against the French unit to capture the outpost. But the battalion deterred the attack.
France dispatched 3,400 soldiers to the Korean War in which 262 were killed, and 1,008 wounded. The Battalion withdrew from Korea on November 6, 1953, leaving a small size of remaining forces, which withdrew in June 1965.