The emotive Korean War Battle of Imjin River Glosters Hill 23rd April 1951 Killed in Action pair awarded to Private R.B. Cook, 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, who enlisted in September 1950, and was then killed in action during the Gloste...

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The emotive Korean War Battle of Imjin River Glosters Hill 23rd April 1951 Killed in Action pair awarded to Private R.B. Cook, 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, who enlisted in September 1950, and was then killed in action during the Glosters epic stand at Hill 235 during what became known as the Battle of Imjin River on 23rd April 1951, the second day of the battle.

Korea Medal 1950-1953, 1st type obverse; (22530176 PTE. R.B. COOK. GLOSTERS.); United Nations Medal for Korea, British issue.

Condition: Good Very Fine.

Ronald Bertram Cook was born on 9th January 1927, and came from Nottingham, where his mother lived at 6 Healey Street. Cook enlisted into the British Army in September 1950 as a Private (No.22530176) the Wessex Brigade, and he formed part of a draft for Japan, where he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment.

The Korean War had just broken out, and Cook was then posted with the 1st Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment to Korea and found himself manning a defensive position along the 38th Parallel during the Chinese Spring Offensive of April 1951, being present during the Glosters epic stand at Hill 235 during what became known as the Battle of Imjin River which lasted from 22nd to 25th April 1951.

The battle opened on the night of 22 April 1951. A Chinese patrol on the north bank of the river moved around the Belgians on Hill 194 and continued to advance east towards the two bridges on which the Belgians depended. Elements of the 29th Brigade’s reserve, the 1st RUR, were deployed forward at about 10pm to secure the crossing but were soon engaged by Chinese forces trying to cross the river. The Royal Ulster Rifles were unable to secure the bridges. This development meant that the Belgian battalion on the north bank of the river was in danger of being isolated from the rest of the 29th Brigade.

Chinese forces following the initial patrol either attacked the Belgian positions on Hill 194 or continued their advance towards the bridges. Those who were able to cross the Imjin attacked the Fusiliers' right rear company, Z Company, on Hill 257, a position close to the river and almost directly south of the crossings. Further downstream, Chinese forces managed to ford the Imjin and attacked the Fusiliers' left forward company, X Company, on Hill 152. The retreat of X Company from Hill 152 had serious consequences for Y Company, which occupied the right forward position of what can be described as a squarish fusilier position marked out by four widely spaced company perimeters at the corners. Although Y Company was not attacked directly, Chinese forces threatened its flanks by forcing Z and X Companies from their positions. After unsuccessful British attempts to regain those lost positions on Hill 257 and 194, Y Company’s position was abandoned, the retreat being covered by C Squadron, 8th Hussars.

On the left of the brigade's line, a forward deployed patrol of 16 men repelled four attempts by a battalion of the 559th Regiment, 187th Division to cross the river, but was eventually forced to fall back when their ammunition reserves ran low after inflicting 70 casualties without suffering any loss. During the rest of the night, the Glosters' right and left forward companies, A and D Companies, engaged Chinese units trying to cross the Imjin. By morning, A and D Companies had suffered severe casualties; only one officer in A Company remained in action. Casualties included A Company’s commander, Major Pat Angier, who was killed during the night.

On 23 April, attempts to regain control of areas lost during the night by the Fusiliers and American forces from the 3rd Infantry Division's reserve failed. A US attack by the 1st Battalion, 7th Infantry, on Communist forces near Hill 257 was ordered to support the Belgian withdrawal from the north bank of the Imjin River. Despite losing seven vehicles, the Belgian battalion successfully executed its withdrawal, which was coordinated with the beginning of the American attack on Hill 257. The Belgians escaped to the east and took up new positions south of the Glosters and the Fusiliers before moving to the vicinity of the 29th Brigade's command post.

At around 8.30pm on 23 April, the forward companies of the Glosters, A and D companies, were withdrawn from their positions after suffering heavy casualties. C Company, under Major Paul Mitchell, retreated as well, but it was impossible for B Company, under Major Denis Harding, to disengage and join the battalion's remaining elements on and near Hill 235, a position between the Imjin and the Seolmacheon stream that became known as Gloster Hill. The men of B Company were able to drive off seven Chinese assaults on their position before they, too, managed to withdraw to Hill 235 the next morning. Only 17 men of B Company remained in action after reaching the remainder of the battalion.

During the night, as the Glosters’ B Company faced numerous attacks, the Chinese 188th Division crossed the Imjin and attacked the Fusiliers and the Royal Ulster Rifles on the right of the brigade’s line. The 187th Division also engaged the brigade’s battalions on the right, while the 189th Division kept up the pressure on the left. Most dangerous for the unity of the 29th Brigade was the Chinese deep penetration of the line between the Gloucestershire Regiment and the Northumberland Fusiliers, cutting off the Glosters. To counter the Chinese attack and protect the Glosters from being completely surrounded, the Philippine 10th Battalion Combat Team (BCT) was temporarily attached to the 29th Brigade. A combined force of M-24 tanks of the 10th BCT and Centurions of the 8th Hussars supported by infantry reached a point 2,000 yards (1,800 m) from Hill 235 on 24 April. However, the column failed to make contact as the lead tank was hit by Chinese fire and knocked out, blocking the route and making any further advance against heavy resistance impossible. At this point, according to an official American narrative of operations, the brigade commander considered it unwise to continue the effort to relieve the Gloucester Battalion and withdrew the relief force.

Continued Chinese pressure on the UN forces along the Imjin prevented a planned US attack by the Puerto Ricans of the 1st and 3rd Battalions, 65th Infantry, to relieve the Glosters. When two further attempts by a tank troop to link up with the Glosters failed, Brigadier Brodie left the decision to Lieutenant-Colonel Carne whether to attempt a break-out or surrender. No further attempts to relieve the Glosters were undertaken because, at 8 am on 25 April, I Corps issued the order to execute Plan Golden A, which called for a withdrawal of all forces to a new defensive position further south.

In accordance with orders issued by I Corps, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Ulster Rifles, and the Belgian battalion tried to reach the safety of the next UN position, supported by C Squadron, 8th Hussars, and 55 Squadron, Royal Engineers. The Belgians occupied blocking positions west and southwest of the 29th Brigade's command post in order to allow the other units of the brigade to fall back through the battalion’s positions. The withdrawal under intense enemy pressure was made even more difficult by the fact that Chinese forces dominated parts of the high ground along the line of retreat and were thus able not only to observe any movements by the 29th Brigade, but also to inflict heavy casualties on the retreating units. Among those killed was the CO of the Fusiliers, Lieutenant-Colonel Foster, who died when his jeep was hit by Chinese mortar fire. In the words of Major Henry Huth of the 8th Hussars, the retreat was one long bloody ambush . When B Company of the Ulsters, which had acted as rear guard during the retreat, reached the safety of the next UN line, all elements of the 29th Brigade except for the Glosters had completed the withdrawal.

The Glosters' situation on Hill 235 made it impossible for them to join the rest of the 29th Brigade after it had received the order to retreat. Even before the failed attempts to relieve the battalion on 24 April, B and C Companies had already suffered such heavy casualties that they were merged to form one company. Attempts to supply the battalion by air drop were unsuccessful. Despite their difficult situation, the Glosters held their positions on Hill 235 throughout 24 April and the night of 24/25 April. In the morning of 25 April, 45 Field Regiment could no longer provide artillery support. Since Brigadier Brodie had left the final decision to Lieutenant-Colonel Carne, the Glosters' CO gave the order to his company commanders to make for the British lines as best as they could on the morning of 25 April. Only the remains of D Company under the command of Major Mike Harvey escaped successfully from Gloster Hill and reached the safety of friendly lines after several days. The rest of the battalion was taken prisoner, including Lieutenant-Colonel Carne.

Had the Chinese achieved a breakthrough in the initial stages of their assault, they would have been able to outflank the 1st ROK Division to the west and the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division to the east of the 29th Brigade. Such a development would have threatened the stability of the UN line and increased the likelihood of success for a Chinese advance on Seoul. Although the Chinese benefited from the brigade's scattered deployment and lack of defensive preparations, they were nevertheless unable to take the positions before UN forces could check further advances. In three days of fighting, the determined resistance of the 29th Brigade severely disrupted the Chinese offensive, causing it to lose momentum, and allowed UN forces in the area to withdraw to the No-Name Line, a defensible position north of Seoul, where the Chinese were halted.

Cook is confirmed as having been killed in action during the Battle of Imjin on 23rd April 1951, the second day of the battle, during what was the fiercest day. Having been initially listed as missing in action, it was not till November 1954 that his mother in Nottingham was officially notified of his death in action by the War Office. Having no known grave, he is commemorated by name on the Imjin Memorial.

10/28/20 - 04:13:47