KOREA AND PUSAN
THE BATTLE FOR A LOGISTICAL BRIDGEHEAD
Troops, ordnance and other supplies that arrived in Pusan, south east in Korea, had to be unloaded from ships and aircraft and moved on to meet the enemy. Service troops brought over from Japan together with indigenous labor used the equipment available to them in the area, as well as the port equipment and means of transportation brought in to them. The fighting forces then had to use the weapons and ammunition, together with fuel, food and other supplies to do their best to stop a very determined North Korean Peoples Army.
The United States Forces needed a port to bring in their units and their supplies. Seoul and Inchon had fallen very quickly and were by the end of June 1950 no longer available. A quick study of available information in Far East Command, had indicated that the Port of Pusan with the main double track railroad leading north from it, were the best suited place for a base. When Pusan in addition had a big port and was the second largest city in South Korea and closest to Japan, it must have been an easy choice.
The first two companies of the 24th Infantry Division, arrived at an air strip near Pusan 2 July 1950, exactly one week after the start of the North Korea attack, and just three days after the decision was made by Truman to put in ground forces. An advance Command Base established in Pusan 30 June had arranged for Korean trucks to transport the two companies to Pusan Railroad Station. Here they entrained and were transported the 150 miles to Taejon. The advance party from 24 Infantry Division, named "Task Force Smith" after its commander, were in battle against superior North Korea forces in the vicinity of Osan 5 July.
On 1 July the Commanding General, Eight Army, Yokohama, Japan directed the establishment of the Pusan Base Command. The mission of the organization was logistical support of combat and service forces ordered into Korea under the flag of the United Nations. The U.S. Brigadier General Crump Garvin and a staff of officers arrived in Pusan on 4 July, proceeded with the organization of the Base Command, and did not have much time to celebrate this important U.S. date.
The period from 10 July 31 July was described as the formative period. Effective from 13 July, Headquarters Pusan Logistical Command was organized as a provisional unit with Brigadier General Garvin as its first Commanding Officer. With the issuance of General Order # 157, dated 16 July and effective from 20 July, Pusan Logistical Command was re-organized to a table of distribution unit. This action was necessary to reassign all personnel from their parent units in Japan to the appropriate units in Korea. Major subordinate commands were subsequently established under Pusan Logistical Command, but due to critical shortage of personnel, a combined office was set up covering the G-1, G-2 and G-3. An other shortage of personnel was in the Adjutant General's office with the especially lack of clerk-typists and administrative specialists. An intensive training program of available individuals with aptitude was necessary to fill the positions.
The historical report for Pusan Logistical Command for July 1950 states:
"Following the arrival of the U.S. 24th Infantry Division, the build-up of additional troop units and supplies developed rapidly causing numerous logistical problems. Lack of personnel, equipment and facilities were the major factors, which hampered early operations. Nevertheless, through the whole-hearted cooperation of all concerned, the tremendous task of moving huge quantities of supplies and thousands of troops through the port of Pusan was accomplished. Around the clock operations were routine, with little time for rest. ..... Normal administrative functions and procedures were subordinated to urgent operational tasks. Much improvisation and the use of field expedients were necessary in lieu of suitable standard equipment. Many examples of personnel initiative on the part of the command and staff are significant in the following reports."
New units to join the Pusan Logistical Command arrived rapidly. Among those who arrived on 13 July were: an engineer battalion minus, a medical detachment, an ordnance depot company, quartermaster units, several truck transport companies and a provisional evacuation hospital. From 24 to 28 July several other units arrived: an army band (!), an engineers maintenance company, several ordnance base depot units, a ordnance ammunition company, a military police company, an amphibious transport truck company, a medical ambulance company, and more quartermaster units.
Personnel and units also arrived in the next month, and the Pusan Logistical Command monthly activity report for August states:
"The buildup of manpower and supplies continued at an accelerated pace during the month of August. Many logistical and administrative problems, which existed in July, gradually diminished or disappeared entirely with the arrival of additional personnel and equipment. However, large scale movements of combat units through the port of Pusan continued to challenge the ability, resourcefulness and ingenuity of operating agencies responsible for logistical support."
During August, operations of Pusan Logistical Command were stabilized as additional personnel, equipment and furniture became available. Trained or partially trained men replaced untrained personnel. A big problem was the receipt of malasigned personnel from Eight Army Replacement Training Center in Japan. Only an estimated 15 percent of enlisted personnel arriving for technical assignment within the Command were qualified for such assignments. Another problem was to find suitable assignments for people returned from the front because of age, physical limitations, injuries, etc.
Throughout the month of August, the assigned strength of Pusan Logistical Command increased from 5,200 to 8,142, with another 39 units which arrived for permanent attachment to Pusan Logistical Command. Whether this was too many persons, taking away a lot of good men from the fighting itself, was very difficult to estimate. But there was actually one who made an estimate. The Quartermaster in PLC spent some time in September figuring out the ratio of quartermaster personnel to the number of troops served. In the beginning of the month the ratio was 1,74%, declining to 1,36 at the end of the month.
The rapid influx of units and personnel into Pusan created a definite housing problem, and an officer of G-1 section was designated to spend full time locating, procuring and assigning billeting and office space for the units and individuals, attached or transient. Naturally this problem did not solve itself, but became progressively more acute during August as units and casual personnel arrived for attachment to the Pusan Logistical Command. A Real Estate Division was established to procure real estate property for use of all forces. A total of 78 requests were processed in August.
Even if there were a housing problem, moral where generally good in PLC in July. This was mainly due to the moral building activities introduced like; church services, movies at regular intervals, and sports equipment.
Other individuals needed special facilities to be kept in good order. An enclosure for prisoners of war, operated by U.S. and Korean Army personnel, was established 31 July with 39 prisoners. This increased to 1899 persons by the end of August. By the end of September there had been a rapid increase 10,829 prisoners, mainly because of the successful attack on Inchon that made the North Korean defenses collapse.
The available storage area became so tight that when representatives of the British, Australian and Canadian forces made a request for storage space on 10 September, there was little storage space of any type. An area in Pusan used by the Korean government had to be cleared to make it available for the Commonwealth troops. The reasons for the lack of storage space, as well as other land and housing, were at least two fold. One was that mountains closely bound Pusan on land, and the other was that a large force with a significant amount of supplies were crammed into this area.
A Repair and Utility Division was established as part of the Pusan Logistical Command at the beginning of August. Its functions were to maintain installed property and to control distribution of water and power within the command. A native contractor engaged in repair and utility work completed a total of 127 minor work requests. Four water supply points were in operation at the beginning of the month dispensing the only potable water. One of these had to be disconnected due to lack of equipment. Native owned cold storage facilities operating at about 25 percent efficiency at the beginning of the month were improved to operate at 90 percent by the month's end. Also native ice- making facilities were acquired which by the end of the month were producing 60 tons per day.
Enough electricity became a major problem in Pusan, and it was acute in the beginning of August 1950. Power barges were looked upon as the only solution. On 15 August the power barge "Jacona" arrived form Japan and was operating within the week to augment the local power supply. But this was not enough. It went so far as a consideration to move a power barge in Manila on the Philippines to Pusan. But this was not done due to the consequences of loss of electricity for light industries in the Manila Area, and the overall effect on Philippine economy. In addition the power barge would have to go trough repairs to make it seaworthy for towage to Korea. The electricity problems in Pusan had not been solved by the middle of September, and were anticipated to become worse as liberated towns in Korea also needed electricity from power barges. Several solutions were suggested, even the possibility of bringing a power barge from the Atlantic trough the Panama Canal to Korea.
War included a lot of paper. Pusan Logistical Command had "only" one mimeograph machine to produce directives issued by the Pusan Logistical Command itself, produce blank forms, and to reproduce nearly all directives received from higher headquarters. This machine was in August operated 24 hours a day. A central filing system was established and procedures placed in effect for the handling of all communications. Suitable safes were obtained from Japan and an enclosure constructed around operating personnel. Through co-operation with the signal communications center, a system was instituted whereby all decoded electrical messages would be delivered on stencils ready for reproduction. This system cut down the workload, speeded message delivery and reduced possibility of errors.
The military situation at the beginning of September was still critical. On 31 August North Korea launched an attack which General Headquarters in Japan called an "all out effort". The result of these attacks was limited withdrawal to a shorter defense line protecting Pusan. This proved to be sound strategy. It made possible a defensible barrier for the important port of Pusan where an accelerated build-up of manpower and supplies added ever increasing strength to the projected UN offensive. As a standby precautionary measure and to provide a secondary defense if needed, the service troop of the 2nd Logistical Command were organized into tactical groups for the defense of key installations and highways. The plan, however, was not put into action.
All in all, the establishment of a base in Pusan were conducted in a very straight forward manner. It could have been much worse of the North Korean had had aircraft and naval ships capable of attacking the base or the supplies coming into the port.
Units came to Pusan in what at first looked in an ever increasing number. Most of them were badly needed at what became to look more and more as a frontline. As had happened with Task Force Smith, also other units engaged in battle had to have replacements for killed, wounded and sick personnel.
155 different units arrived in Pusan in July. There were five armored, seven artillery, seventeen engineer, twenty-one infantry, eleven medical, sixteen ordnance, six quartermaster, eight signal corps, eleven transportation corps, eleven Air Force, and forty-two other units. In the handling of troop movements, continuous difficulty was experienced because of a lock of advance information on unit arrivals. Without this information, it was necessary to hold units aboard ships or in assembly areas thus hampering port and other activities in Pusan. This is confirmed by the fact that of the 155 units that arrived in July, only 69 units had departed Pusan at the end of the month. Even if the units who arrived to be a part of Pusan Logistical Command is subtracted, one is left of with a large number of units who stayed in Pusan for a considerable number of days. Other possible reason for this other than lack of information could of course have been the time needed to unload the ships, and training of the units before sending them to battle.
To fill up for all the casualties, replacements were needed. At first it had been the G-1 section of PLC who had handled processing of troops arriving in Pusan destined for the front. This included the issue of necessary equipment, feeding and transportation of personnel to final destination. 24 July saw the arrival of the 8069th Replacement Battalion. This battalion, which in the beginning only had 59 persons, received, processed and shipped in accordance with established procedures, 812 replacements and/or casuals before the end of July. This number increased to 11.583 in August and 15,645 in September. A major problem in processing replacements was caused by faulty passenger lists. Some did not correctly state destination of personnel thus requiring reassessment upon arrival in Pusan.
When the 77th Engineer Combat Company received replacements in the second half of August, most of them were eighteen to twenty years of age without combat experience. They came from the technical services: signal corps, ordnance, medical, whatever. The lack of combat and infantry training rendered the replacements less than fully effective, but it was better to have replacements then to have none at all.
The number of 50,000 Army and Marine troops where passed in the beginning of August 1950. The Air Force had 4000 troops in Korea at the same time. The estimates where that there would be more than 100,000 troops in Korea 31 August and 176,000 30 September.
Units from several other countries also started to arrive in Korea in September. One of these were the Swedish Hospital Group. Preparations were made from the end of August to provide building and logistical support to the Swedes upon its arrival, and considerable time and materials were expended in locating and preparing a suitable area and in rehabilitation of buildings in early September.
But not everyone came. Some left Korea. In connection with a program of integrating Korean Army personnel into United States Army units, 8,300 Korean Army personnel were processed at the replacement battalion and shipped to Japan in August. A problem involving deferments from Korean Army service for certain technical indigenous employees within Pusan Logistical Command was solved by action on the part of Labor and Civil Affairs officers. Towards the end of August, arrangements were made to equip 2000 Korean Augmentation soldiers to the U.S. Army every fourth day, with clothing, individual equipment, and weapons. An other 8,334 Korean soldiers were during September transported to Japan on returning Japanese vessels for integration into U.S. Army combat units.
Wounded and sick personnel had to be evacuated from Korea in order to obtain proper care and avoid too much work for the medics in Korea. A thirty day evacuation policy had been established, meaning no person should stay more than 30 days in Korea after being wounded or sick. Evacuation was either by air or water lift to Japan. It may look a bit strange they did not want to get people out faster considering the hard pressed situation around the perimeter.
People die in war, and then it is a challenge for the living to take proper care of the remains. Obviously this was a problem in the first month of the Korean War. Office of the Quartermaster General, Department of the Army, sent a letter 1 August 1950 to FEC, among others, concerning proper care of remains where no Armed Forces mortuaries or commercial mortuary facilities were available. It had been the practice to airlift unembalmed remains in the "pouch, human remains" from place of death to a point where the remains could be embalmed or other preserving measures taken. The remains were then casketed and shipped home. The Department of the Air Force and Military Air Transport Service had strongly disapproved of the airlifting of unembalmed remains in a pouch. They considered establishing of sub-mortuaries to be provided with the minimum mortuary equipment and supplies to care for a maximum of 50 remains at any time, and the development of an "expendable, inexpensive, flexible, airtight container to be used in the pouch, human remains, or a wooden transport case." By the end of September a total of 199 Americans were buried in the UN Military Cemetery in Pusan. Personal effects of 404 deceased were shipped to FEC Personal Effects Depot in Japan during September.
The Port of Pusan was not a big. But the demands of the Korean War required a big port with a lot of specialized equipment and personnel to handle it. Neither of this were easily acquired.
When the bulk of the personnel and equipment of the 24th Infantry Division arrived with ship in Pusan 2 - 9 July, it was the division's personnel who had to unloaded most of their own equipment with only a limited amount of Korean labor to assist. This off-loading of unit equipment by unit personnel was in effect throughout July.
In the period from 15 to 31 July, 230 ships arrived, while 214 departed. These ships carried with them 42.581 troops to Pusan, and evacuated 3.251 patients. During the period 2-31 July, a total of 309,314 M/T were of-loaded in the port with a daily average of 10,666 M/T. Quite a lot more arrived in August, a total of nearly 600.000 measurement tons was discharged by the Port and a total of 29.000 M/T backloaded to various other ports. Seven ammunition ships were discharged at Haeunde Beach. A pier constructed to unload lighters at the beach facilitated operations. September came with a drop in discharged cargo. 237 vessels departed after having unloaded less than 500,000 M/T. 43,503 M/T were backloaded to various ports. Fifty-two Japanese power barges were contracted for and delivered to the port. This number was considered adequate to meet local lighterage requirements.
The critical shortage of heavy lift equipment prevented the rapid off-loading of heavy items of unit equipment. Some heavy lift equipment was towed from headquarters 2nd Transportation Medium Port in Yokohama to Pusan. It arrived 23 July after earlier arrival had been prevented by the typhoon "Grace". With this arrival, the port equipment was estimated to be 40 percent complete, except for large cranes, which was estimated to 70 percent of the needs. A 100- ton crane arrived from Japan in August and speeded the unloading of heavy items of equipment and bulky cargo packages. The 7th Medium Port took over responsibility for operation and administration of the Port of Pusan 31 August. Several port units became integral units of the Medium Port.
Because of accelerated shipping of ordnance items, it was in August deemed advisable to establish a Port Liaison Section to provide a close check on cargo arrival. This was particularly advantageous with regard to ammunition, as it enabled the movement of critical items directly from a ship to rail car to the unit, which had made the requisition. Ordnance liaison teams were also organized to help arriving units make last minute preparations for front line duty.
The handling of the freighter "Arizpa", mentioned in the monthly report of September, gives a good description of the time consuming process of unloading a ammunition ship. The Arizpa arrived in Pusan on 11 September with 104,000 rounds of critically needed 105-mm howitzer ammunition. Unloading was begun 12 September for shipment by rail to a engineer depot for processing. Ten rail cars where loaded and shipped onward by the end of the first day. By 15 September, 74,000 rounds, or 71% of the rounds, had been loaded onto rail cars for further transportation. All in all it still took almost a week to clear a ammunition ship as late as in the middle of September 1950.
An important reason they needed all this time to unload the ships, could have been lack of personnel. With this in mind, PLC completed and submitted a study in September to Eight Army in Korea indicating needs for personnel to operate harbor craft and floating equipment in Pusan. The study was returned by General Headquarters trough Eight Army in Korea with the statement that no qualified military personnel were available. All qualified personnel were probably tied up in the Inchon landing.
Thousands of tons of supplies in the Port of Pusan or at the airfields in the perimeter would not do much to win the war if they stayed where they had been unloaded. The supplies and personnel had to be transported onwards to the units that needed them. Other requirements for transportation also had to be meet. With the arrival of a port company on 2 July 1950, one platoon of a transportation truck battalion on 8 July, and a military railway transportation unit on 9 July, the Transportation Section of the Command began to operate as a transportation team.
It was the railroad that became the most important mean of transportation. The Japanese had built up the railways in Korea to a modern standard. The main line between Pusan and Seoul was double-tracked and standard gauged, as it partly winded through rugged hills for a distance of about 250 miles. The railways had been maintained in fairly good condition, and at least by 1949, railway repair shops were functioning efficiently in South Korea. Out of a total of 9,000 freight cars, 7,000 were in operation.
As war erupted, employees of the Korean National Railways continued to handle all train operations, while the rail division of the transportation section controlled operations and movements. Control of movements was a day-to-day proposition, there being no established movement plan. All supply, maintenance and engineering functions were also in the hands of the rail division. An important factor affecting operations was the lack of open and closed storage areas of sufficient capacity. This resulted in cars being held under load for days and weeks. Several checks indicated that 57 to 60 percent of available cars were held under load. At one railhead 1250 car days were lost over a ten-day period.
The monthly activity report for Pusan Logistical Command for August states that:
"Overall tonnage capabilities of rail lines was not a limiting factor. As a result, principal control was over troop and other special moves and critical items of rolling stock. Korean National Railways personnel operated all rail lines. The operation was accomplished in a most commendable manner in spite of isolated reports to the contrary. Korean National Railways at the request of the transportation division undertook numerous construction projects. As of 1 August, there were 431.1 miles of rail line in operation. As of 31 August the amount had diminished to 288.1 miles."
Even if the tactical situation in the Pusan Perimeter in the beginning of September made it necessary to place an embargo on all train movements to some areas of the perimeter, trains continued to be a very important mean of transportation. A total of 573 mixed trains and 358 personnel trains moved 198,901short tons of freight and 134,833 passengers toward the front during September 1950. A daily hospital train started running from Pusan to Haeunde for airlift of patients from a air field designated K-9, to Japan. Engineers started the construction of three tracks at Haeunde to increase the ammunition handling capacity of that railhead, and more siding to hold rail cars with Air Force ammunition and aircraft fuel at a small town named Suyong.
It is obvious that GHQ FEC had understood how useful the railroad were in Korea. They gave the order 14 August 1950 that "Railroad system within Korea will be used to a maximum." Truck transportation should augment the railroad where the railroad system was not adequate, and in case of emergency resupply.
And indeed, trucks did augment the railroad. The first available means of road transportation were some 150 civilian trucks gathered with the assistance of the Korean National Police. Many of these were in poor operating conditions. But indigenous truck companies had worked out very well. Preparations were made to form more such companies and thus release Army units for use elsewhere. And when the shortage of experienced officers the Highway Division had experienced in July was greatly relieved in August, everything started to look very bright on the transportation side.
Was the situation almost to good? An example that it might have been to good, was a truck company alerted for the movement of the British 27th Brigade in September. The truck company had returned three days before from another mission and meant they had not yet brought their maintenance to the desired standard. Therefore they could not take the task of moving the British. Another truck company took over the mission. If there had been any shortage of truck companies, they would very likely have had to speed up their maintenance and done the job.
Even a bus service was established in Pusan in the beginning of September. This was primarily to carry military personnel to and from work. Indigenous personnel were used as operators for the passenger-type busses, which had been constructed in Japan on 2 1/2 ton truck chassis. Trough 30 September, the busses carried 47,286 passengers and traveled almost 30,000 miles.
But it was not everywhere that rail or trucks were the best mean of transportation. A resupply program for certain units, promoted by the severance of rail and highway lines by enemy forces, was begun in August utilizing Landing Ship Tanks. Returning vessels were used to evacuate wounded and other personnel as well as equipment. In view of amounts of supplies forwarded and personnel and equipment evacuated, this use of Landing Ship Tank's was considered highly successful. Fourteen such missions were completed in September under unfavorable weather conditions. On 8 September EUSAK ordered the 2nd Logistical Command also to supply Republic of Korea Army divisions, operating in the northeast of the perimeter, with the use of Landing Ship Tanks. After some preliminary difficulties due to faulty coordination, the first vessel sailed 25 September for Kanggu-Dong on the east coast. When considering that it took 17 days from the order was given until the first Landing Ship Tank sailed, one must bear in mind that the landing of Inchon took place in this period, and that there were other ways of supplying the Republic of Korea forces.
Transportation by air was also used. In the period up to the defensive establishment of the Pusan Perimeter, it happened now and then that smaller U.S. units were cut off and isolated by the enemy, or that they were in such a geographical position that no supplies could be brought forward by rail, trucks, or by sea. Though the sources don't tell much about where, when, and how this was done, the U.S. forces had air lift and air drop capacity and the will to try to accomplish such resupplies. A small combat team ran out of ammunition shortly after the first U.S.-North Korea contact. Cut off by the enemy, it was resupplied by the use of transport aircraft.
It could be locked upon as a failure of the Transportation Section of PLC when the Ordnance Section established a Transportation Branch of its own in September. The purpose for the was to minimize time and effort in handling the great tonnage of ordnance materiel and ammunition which came into Pusan for subsequent shipment by rail to forward depots and units. The Ordnance Section wanted ordnance materiel and ammunition to go directly from ships to rail and then to depots or end user. Assistance of this branch enabled the Ammunition Division to re-consign 11,590 tons of ammunition resulting in a large saving of man-hours which otherwise would have been expended in loading and unloading.
Moving a division, and in just two days, demands an enormous transportation capacity. This transportation capacity was in place a little more than a month after the outbreak of the war, in the end of July. The 25th Infantry Division had to be moved the 150 miles from Sangju in the north of the perimeter to a new defensive sector in the southwest near Masan. This was in order to stabilize the defensive position securing Pusan against a new North Korean threat from the west. In a well executed operation the 25th moved in two days arriving just in time to hold the line.
Rail as primary transportation, together with trucks, busses, ships, and aircraft, accomplished the task of moving personnel and equipment from the port and in the perimeter without any visible difficulties.
The fast growing Army forces, and the not so fast growing and much smaller Air Force in Korea, needed food and water, spare parts, weapons and ammunition, petroleum, oil and lubricants to achieve their tasks. This came in ever increasing amounts from Japan and the USA.
Initially, supplies came in at a rate faster than they could be processed. This situation improved with the acquisition of additional maintenance and depot units and space for this purpose. Many items of critical equipment required were not available in Pusan nor in Japan. Difficulty was also experienced in connection with those items that were being issued on an automatic issue basis from the Yokohama Engineer Depot. This office did not know the basis of issue of automatic resupply, consequently was not aware of items in transit or those to back order. (Only for engineers?)
The historical report for July states: "During these early days of operation, all incoming ships were met at the Port by a representative of the Director of Supply's office as by representatives of the technical services. Unit shortages in supplies and equipment were made up, where possible, from the limited depot stocks and any excesses were picked up and returned to depot stocks. Supply ships where discharged as rapidly as possible not only because the cargoes, particularly ammunition, were urgently needed in the forward areas, but also because a quick turn-around of all vessels was vital with the limited number of cargo ships in service at that time." It's worth noting that no particular shortage in supplies and/or equipment is mentioned. On the contrary, some units had excesses with them to Korea.
The aim by 14 August 1950 was to have thirty days level of supplies in Korea for all classes except bulk class III, III-A, V-A and Air Force technical items. Stocks of bulk class II and III-A where to be maintained at maximum levels consistent with available bulk storage facilities ashore and afloat.
The bulk storage for oil in Pusan was at least 250.000 barrels. Not enough? Aviation 80 octane gasoline was in short supply throughout August due to lack of stocks in the theater. An other type of gasoline, mogas 80, was ordered as a substitute for use in liaison aircraft when aviation 80 was not available. (enough fuel as long as you can use a substitute). "Ten (10) days packaged POL will be carried by units. Resupply will be from bulk and packaged POL stocks at Pusan POL Terminal, forwarded by tank cars, trucks, pipelines, drums, and cans, as conditions warrant." Petroleum products were issued to all UN forces in Korea in September except for X Corps. The principal means of shipment were tank cars, which hauled about 11 car loads. Considerable loss of oil on incoming shipments occurred due to poor shipping containers, which consisted of two 5 gallon cans in wooden boxes. The following amounts (short tons) of petroleum products were issued: U.S. Forces, 22,399; British Commonwealth, 10,4; Philippines 15,2; Republic of Korea Army, 5437,1.
The 192d Ordnance Battalion had arrived three days before the quartermaster battalion. It set up and operated a Ordnance base depot, a ammunition depot, provided maintenance support, and controlled the off-loading of ordnance items at the port for further movement. In early operations, no accurate record was kept of material handled as all efforts were concentrated in expediting the shipment of supplies to the front. Many items never entered the depot but were sent from the docks directly to forward areas. As a result, requisitioning was done mainly for existing critical shortages. The arsenal detachment belonging to the 24 Infantry Division, sent a report 10 September to Detroit Arsenal concerning combat observations of M46 - Patton tanks. Trowing of tracks due to type of terrain and construction of final drive was the most serious deficiency encountered next to auxiliary engine failures. The report also notes that the fuel filler covers should be properly fastened to avoid enemy troops blowing up the tank with the use of handgrenades. Many parts shipped in original shipment were not properly identified which made segregation and preparation for issue difficult. This report was the second concerning these tanks and together with other reports later on, it shows procedures for reporting of combat observations were functioning well. EUSAK obviously felt they did not have enough control over major ordnance items or that they were in short supply, directing by 3 August that no issues would be made without their approval. It must have been the other way around with heavy engineer equipment, establishing a pool for excess to the needs of the units 5 August. In an adjustment 14 August 1950, mortars and howitzers were given new amounts of ammunition per weapon per day; 81-mm mortar - 80 rounds, 4.2 inch mortar - 80 rounds, 105-mm howitzer - 180 rounds, 155-mm howitzer - 140 rounds.
No matter what, the troops must be fed, protected from weather, allowed to bathe with some frequency, and provided with changes of clothing, particularly socks. This is necessary to keep the troops effective. This is the responsibility of the rear-area logistical personnel, who frequently are insensitive to foxhole concerns or are incapable of responding." A depot for receiving, storing and issuing supplies, screening requisitions and handling daily train requirements, was established 11 July with the arrival of the 8056th Quartermaster Battalion. Services like bakery, shoe repair, hospital laundry and general laundry, were established before the end of the month. In August, the limited number of laundry personnel precluded the furnishing of service except for hospitals and a few local troops. Lack of personnel also prevented effective salvage operations. At the 5 August EUSAK required approval for all issues of C rations due to that the supply was critical.
But this situation did not last for long. During August there is a rapid build up of quartermaster supplies in the Pusan area. Out of 20,000 short tons of class I received and stored, less than 9,000 short tons were issued. Even if one considers that some of this food became impossible to eat for human beings, there must have been a considerable amount of food stored in Pusan by the end of August. This is even more obvious when it comes to class II and IV. 22,000 short tons were received and only 1,798 tons were issued, adding more than 20,000 short tons to stored amount. Issues to forward areas by rail were made on telephone requests and written requisitions. Even Warehouse deliveries were made on occasions when unit trucks were in the area. (There are no sign of any restrictions put on the issue; Just pick up a phone and order what you want, or come directly and get it.) In compliance with instructions from EUSAK, issues of beer and soft drinks begun through quartermaster channels from the 6 August. The basis of the gratuitous issue was one can of beer and one soft drink per man per day when available. The quartermaster's storage problem was greatly alleviated early in September. Sufficient military personnel were available for proper supervision of the indigenous labor so that stocks could be cleared form the docks and moved to the open storage area for segregation. The back-log of unsegregated supplies that had accumulated in July and August in the open storage areas were sorted and moved into closed storage or properly stored in open storage. Closed storage was tripled so that 241,250 square feet was available while cold storage space available increased to 150,000 cubic feet. Gratuitous beer and PX rations were furnished all forward troops in September. Perishables were issued during the month, when available, to replace canned components of the "B" ration. Thirty-one refrigerator cars and four new portable refrigerator units were used to supply forward units.
But refrigerators could not save the entire stock of K- rations in the quartermaster depot. The total of 220,343 such rations, packed in 1943 and 1944, were declared unfit for issue to U.S. forces. What happened to these K-rations? Any very hungry persons around? What if someone had found out that these K-rations were unfit before using space and money on a ship to send them over to Korea? An effective salvage operation of clothing and other sensitive items of equipment was begun during the month of September. A total of 953 tons were received and 280 tons were processed. At month's end 237,5 tons of bundled trousers and shirts were stenciled and ready for shipment to Japan for repairs and resizing. Other than for minor repairs on typewriters and office machines, there were no repair facilities available in Korea. And why should they have repair facilities in Korea with Japan so close? Towards the end of August there was no reason any U.S. soldier should not eat fresh bread. The bakery was converted from a field installation to a fixed bakery on 17 August, increasing the daily produced amount of bread from 4,590 pounds in the beginning of the month, to 36,442 pounds on 25 August.
A complete signal detachment had arrived in Pusan from Yokohama by 11 July. They had a signal depot set up and operating within a few days. Depot personnel worked 14 to 20 hours a day handling the great amount of signal supplies arriving from Japan. During the remainder of July, communications personnel worked day and night enlarging the communications network in Pusan to take care of the ever-increasing demand.
Communications improved considerably in August and the radio net was replaced by telephone for most of Pusan Logistical Command's area with the installations of more then 250 telephones and several reorganizations of switchboards. A part of this was a survey of the existing city cables and a plan for their rehabilitation. Approximately 800 cases of malfunctioning were reported by subscribers and repairs accomplished. The greatest obstacle in making such repairs were the rough roads.
77th received their first mail from the USA and Japan on 20 July, nine days after they had left Japan. The men's moral was lifted immeasurably.
77th Engineer Combat Company had in the beginning of August a need for barrier and field fortification materiel. This was either in limited supply or not available at al. This was just as the Pusan Perimeter began to get a lasting shape. Many units are likely to have had the same need to make their positions better. G-4 2nd Logistical Command reported that the shortage of dunnage for loading ships (probably to Inchon), foundations of storage areas on soft ground, bracing loads in rail cars, and in the sinking of telephone poles firmly, were a problem causing much difficulty throughout September. No relief appeared in sight by the end of the month. (Did the supplying side not understand the need for dunnage? Was it given lower priority compared to other supplies?) The engineers are the only in the monthly reports with serious complaints, like these in the report of September: "The principal difficulties were caused by the lack of such construction materials as lumber and plumbing supplies and the heavy demand put upon existing Korean electric and water facilities. . The scarcity of supplies, tools, equipment, transportation and trained supervisory personnel which has handicapped this branch from the beginning continued throughout the month. The use of general contractors to accomplish the work was described as unsatisfactory, not because of the contractors inability to handle the work, but for such reasons as the drafting of skilled men, continuos security checks by police, lack of suitable materials (particularly transformers and other electrical items), and lack of transportation caused by the requisitioning of all vehicles by the Republic of Korea Army." The supplies needed for building up a complete town with all necessary facilities were obviously not part of what either Japan nor the U.S. could provide. Or, it was given lower priority then the men and supplies with a more direct wartime use. This comes as a natural consequence of the task FEC had before the North Korea attack, to defend Japan and not to fight a war in Korea or anywhere else
Even if the engineers complained, they were able to do a considerable amount of work. Roads were maintained, a stone and earth barge pier constructed at Haeunde, different work on the railroads, dry cleaning plant and more quarters, bunkers and billets were constructed, POL storage tanks near Ulsan with a six-mile pipeline to the Ulsan railroad station, just to mention some of the 180 work orders processed.
Resupply of stocks to ASPs (Artillery support?) in the first half of September was accomplished by automatic issue based upon authorized levels as indicated in Status of Stock Reports. Later in the month, heavy expenditure resulting from the improved tactical situation required a new issue procedure. Shipments were made to ASPs on EUSAK shipping orders. This provided for balancing of stocks in forward areas based on tactical plans rather than basic loads. "By 1 October, resupply of all supplies, except bulk Class III and III-A, Class V-A and AF Technical items, will be on requisition basis with direct supply from the ZI to Korea. Resupply of bulk Class III and III-A will continue on a requisition basis, to be supplied to Korea from stocks in Japan."
The efficiency of a logistical system can be measured in several ways. One way is to measure the actual supply- situation at the units involved in the fighting. I have chosen one of these fighting units in Korea; the 19th Infantry Regiment. The 19th came to Korea with the major part of the 24th Infantry Division, from 6 June 1950. It is the period from arrival in Korea until breaking out of the Pusan Perimeter in the middle of September, that is studied here.
Is it correct to have a look at an infantry regiment instead of an infantry division, and is the 19th representative for a U.S. Army unit in Korea? An infantry regiment consisted of more than 2000 persons and had large quantities of all the normal infantry weapons. Normally an infantry regiment had attached to it Army units other than infantry. The 19th had for the most of this period, attached to it a field artillery battery, one company of engineers, and other units like medical and anti air artillery. The number of personnel, or the lack of personnel, and the weaponry for the 19th, seems to be the same as mentioned in other sources for other infantry regiment 's. Looking at the fighting, the 19th had its normal part of the fighting with advancing North Korea units, and later as perimeter defense.
The first unit report found in the National Archives, is unit report 14, dated 23 July. The 19th was not in active combat. Paragraph 3b in the report is Logistics. All it says is "negative" - which means there is nothing to report or no change compared to the last unit report. The authorized strength was 2373 persons, but the regiment had only got 1179 persons, lacking 1194 persons, or more than half of its authorized strength.
Three days later (26 July) the 19th was in the area of Chinju Hadong. The 19th has increased its number of personnel to 1508 persons, with 2101 persons in attached units. The supply situation was very poor due to recent combat. 2nd Battalion needed 90 % complete resupply, with other units just in poor supply status. The critical shortages are many and including, not surprisingly, anti-tank ammunition. 19th Infantry Regiment had had its part of fighting with North Korean tanks.
28 July there are no changes, except that the attached 3rd Battalion from 29th Infantry Regiment, "after recent combat needs complete resupply of all crew served & automatic weapons, all signal equipment & 50 % resupply on vehicles." Resupply was in process. The 19th had 1731 persons and additional 1609 in attached units.
The day after, the unit report says: "Resupply of all units while in combat, is in process. Adequate individual and small arms are being received. Estimated 65 % signal supplies either received or enroute. Adequate supply of POL and rations are on hand. Ammunition supply, except for critical items listed in previous report is good. All crew served weapons are critical and as yet not been received."
The situation 30 July was generally described as fair with some critical shortages like the ones mentioned above. The 19th had received more personnel and had 1895 persons still 478 persons under the authorized strength. It obviously took time to build up the regiment to full strength. Also in this way the unit had the same problems as other units. 31July the report says: "...... status of supply as to weapons and equipment not possible to determine this hour due to combat."
The next day's reports included nothing of the logistical situation. In unit report 27 from 6 August, written in Changnyong, it is stated that a new complete shortage lists for all units of the regiment were in process, and that an effort would be made to reequip all units. For the next period until 23 August, the unit reports are missing. 9th Regimental Combat Team relived the 19th on 24 August and the regiment was reorganized, refitted and prepared for future employment. This period of relief did not last long.
On 28 August the status of supply for class II and IV were poor due to recent combat, but the situation for food and fuel were good. Co-operation and resupply from technical services had been good. For class V - the situation was described as: "Sufficient on hand, resupply good." There were still some critical shortages like crew served weapons and trucks. The situation when it comes to personnel had not changed to the better during August. The personnel strength was 1855 persons 518 under authorized strength.
The regiment submitted a new type of unit report from 4 September 1950 where critical shortages were in a very detailed form. Personnel were no longer one of these critical shortages, on the contrary. The total number of personnel was almost 3200 persons. And it became bigger. Republic of Korea soldiers are first mentioned in the report from 9 September with almost 400 persons, which increased to more than 900 from the 19 September. This brought the total number of soldiers in the regiment itself, up to around 4000. Why did a regiment become this big when the authorized strength was 2373 persons? One reason could have been that it probably was better to employ new soldiers into a unit that functioned than to produce new unstable units.
The personnel of 19th Infantry Regiment normally had to rely on their feet when they moved inside their part of the front. But a regiment needed a large number of trucks to transport ordnance, food and fuel, and also to transport personnel fast to increase strength in units under attack. The authorized number of ¼ ton trucks was by 4 September 180, but only 123 were on hand. The shortage improved some towards 19 September, but only with 9. For ton trucks and 2½ ton trucks the number of trucks on hand were almost the same as authorized strength, respectively 45 and 80. Trailers were a problem with less than half on hand compared to the authorized 208.
In the beginning of September, 19th Infantry Regiment was short of 98 insulated food containers, 220 burners for cooking outfit, 118 pistol belts and 173 shovels. After the 7 September, none of these quartermaster shortages are mentioned any more. The 19th obviously had been supplied with the necessary equipment.
Ordnance did not develop in the same positive way as quartermaster. The unit lacked 10 heavy machine guns and from 10 to 13 60mm mortars during the month of September. Pistol Cal 45 was in short supply with 132 in the beginning of the month, increasing to a shortage of 332 by 9 September - the same time as the first Republic of Korea soldiers had arrived to the unit. By 26 September the unit had received some but not all of the missing pistols. They still 82 in short supply. How 19th Infantry Regiment in the month of September kept track of the time, and how they were able to see anything at some distance, are good questions considering they had a shortage of more than 360 wrist watches and between 200 and 300 binoculars. Other ordnance like tool-sets, demolition equipment and towing ropes showed the same shortages for the whole month.
And how did they communicate inside the unit, and to other units, lacking 43 handsets, and from 20 in the beginning of the month increasing to more then 40 radio sets towards the end of September. 19th Infantry Regiment also lacked 158 compasses during September.
The conclusions that can be drawn out of these reports are that most of these items in shortage could easily have been obtained. Why did the unit not receive them? Were they by some reason left in depots in Pusan? Especially for the shortcomings of September, there should have been more than enough time to solve them - more than two months after the North Korean attack. For the most of the items mentioned above, they are not normally lost or destroyed in action. The figures are very stable, indicating that fighting is not causing substantial more shortage?
An office for civil affairs was established in Pusan as early as 28 June 1950 through the effort of a Korean Military Advisory Group officer and a Foreign Service Staff Officer whom from before the attack, both had their daily work in the Pusan area. This office promptly established liaison with municipal and provincial governments, the National Police, and several other prominent Korean administrators. Immediate efforts were made to obtain continued functioning of the Korean Oil Storage Co., the Korean National Railways, the South Korean Electric Co., the Office of Supply, and the Port of Pusan. Attention of responsible Korean officials was called to the needs of augmenting fire-fighting crews, creation of rubble brigades, a first aid training program, and the tightening of internal security.
At the end of July, the Pusan Logistical Command was employing 5000 indigenous Koreans. These had been recruited, screened, classified, and performed personnel reporting by the office for civil affairs. In August an indigenous labor office was established as a special staff section, to properly supervise and administer indigenous labor employed by all components of the command. The number of employed Koreans reached more than 7500 by the end of August, and 8.400 at the end of September.
Not everyone was satisfied with the indigenous labor. In August the quartermaster of Pusan Logistical Command attributed much of the breakage of supplies to their rough and careless handling of supplies. He further stated that native labor was "generally inefficient, unintelligent, and dishonest." Lack of knowledge of the English language could be part of the reason this statement. It was said that after some time the indigenous Koreans had built up two big piles with a particular item in each. In one of them there was the item "HANDLE WITH CARE", and in the other "THIS SIDE UP". The quartermaster dissatisfaction with native labor continued in September. "The native labor situation failed to improve any over last month. Late arrivals, short gangs, inefficient foremen and general slothfulness was the rule. Inclement weather invariably resulted in insufficient labor."
Others were more pleased. One of the units of engineers in Korea, the 77th Engineer Combat Company got used to contacting the local mayor or police chief, explain the urgency of the situation or the importance of the mission, and ask for a number of broad backs and strong legs. Under local leadership the Koreans were regarded to be highly effective. When the company towards the end of August had to build a five thousand-foot seventy-five feet wide runway in seven days, they asked for help in the nearest small town. With the exchange of a significant amount of rice, townspeople placed stones by hand and tamped these down into a densely compacted interlocking grid.
Not much lumber were coming through the pipeline from Japan, and local sources had to be found. The 77th Engineer Combat Company, had in the middle of July no construction material, a very essential type of materiel for engineers. They had to rely on the local privately owned lumberyards that always were full of lumber stamped "UNRRA" - United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. The agency had for some time sent building materials to underdeveloped countries, including quite a lot to Korea.
The expansion of the various sections of the Pusan Logistical Command required the procurement of much additional office equipment. Some was obtained from normal supply channels but most was procured from local manufactures who produced slowly and not too satisfactorily, according to the monthly report for August from Pusan Logistical Command.
A purchasing and contracting office began operating 12 July. A staff of Korean personnel, whom had been fairly well oriented in American purchasing and contracting methods by U.S. State Department personnel before the North Korea attack, joined the office and gave valuable help. Raw materials shortages, lack of industrial plants and the general economic condition of Korean enterprises, were the negatives. On the positive side; the Purchasing and Contracting Officer was able to procure most of the equipment, supplies, and services necessary to accomplish the assigned mission. 50 contracts worth more than one million U.S. $ were awarded in the Pusan area before the end of July.
In addition to the valuable help of several thousands indigenous persons, and the delivery of several types of supplies, the South Korean railroad and local trucks where of primary importance. Not everything was up to standards required by the U.S. troops. But there is no doubt the they could have found no better town than Pusan south of Seoul concerning the local pipeline.
helping the Korean population.
Even in the confused early days of the conflict in Korea and before U.S. troops arrived in force, Ordnance was pushing its service forward to assist the hard-pressed Korean Army. As fluid and obscure as the tactical situation was, a little group of eleven U.S. Army Ordnance men with the Korean Military Advisory Group were assisting the South Korean Ordnance in keeping weapons firing and vehicles rolling. Small shops were hastily set up in civilian machine shops and garages.
In the planning phases of transportation operations, FEC obtained much valuable assistance from technical experts of the Economic Cooperation Administration. It had been created in 1948 to administer the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan). The Economic Cooperation Administration. furnished Republic of Korea units with Class I and Class II as their regulations permitted, that is civilian type items. Other resupply to Republic of Korea units were based on 50% of signal equipment, vehicles, and Class III, normally furnished U.S. divisions, and 100% of all other items normally furnished U.S. divisions.
One of the other challenges for Eight Army and later Japan logistical command, were to re-equip the molested Korean Army. G-4 GHQ FEC sent a check note to the technical services 25 July 1950 for the re-equipment of an army with a strength equal to four U.S. infantry divisions, but with just half the equipment authorized for U.S. divisions. In signals equipment alone this represented 2100 different radios and 1900 telephone sets, just to mention some of the equipment.
But the support to Korea was not only military. The North Korean attack and the war in general made the population of South Korea go through a hardship almost impossible to describe. They had to be helped.
The steady withdrawals of UN forces during July and August displaced thousands of Koreans who became refugees. This did not only aggravate the relief problem, but required immediate control and health measures to cope with great masses of people moving aimlessly about under conditions of increasing malnutrition and prolonged exposure. Approximately 150,000 refugees were evacuated from combat areas. The first shipment of Economic Cooperation Administration supplies arrived in the middle of August, alleviating somewhat shortages of food, equipment and medical supplies.
With the prosecution of the war in Korea it became evident there would be a need for more economic aid and rehabilitation in Korea. By action of the United Nations and by direction of the Unified Command Washington 19 September 1950, the Unified Command Tokyo was given the responsibility and authority for civilian relief and support in Korea. The responsibility for general staff supervision of the non-military supply program for Korea was assigned to G-4 which subsequently established a Korean Economic Aid Division 1 October 1950 to handle the aid.
Is the lack of information on personnel and materiel the biggest problem they had?
At 20 of August the 77th Engineer Combat Company could best be described as a sorry lot. Their equipment was shabby and badly worn, with no replacement issues. No laundry facilities were available. They had no cots, no bedding, no tents, and no mosquito netting. The canned food issued left much to be desired. But they did have ammunition, demolitions, and land and antipersonnel mines in abundance.
The importance of Pusan can not be overestimated. Huge quantities of supplies and thousands of troops went ashore in Pusan harbor and were sent onwards to the front. Without the bridgehead in Pusan, there is not much doubt that Republic of Korea would have been lost, and a difficult landing would have had to be made somewhere on the Korean coast to re-establish Republic of Korea. Would there have been political will for such a landing? Would the employment of nuclear weapons been more likely if the North Korea forces had been able to occupy Pusan together with the rest of Republic of Korea? (Should I go more closely into this subject?) What would have happened to the remains of Republic of Korea military forces without Pusan? Could so many young Koreans have been trained and equipped, without Pusan Perimeter as a gathering area for the transport over to Japan. (A Contra factual hypothesis is what I have used here.)
The UN forces, comprising mainly of Republic of Korea and U.S. military were able to hold the perimeter. But more than one unit commander probably made plans on how to escape Korea in case the perimeter defense broke down. Bussey as commanding officer of the 77th Engineer Combat Company writes: "I located about five hundred oil drums, and I had outboard motors for twelve assault boats. I made a sketch and estimated the laceing required to make one or several rafts of oil drums to float my people back to Japan if we had a Dunkirk. Fortunately that didn't come to pass."
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