West of the Imjin

MK note: Thanks to (Lawrence) Leland Harper (#65) for all of his photos on these three pages and for his (slightly edited) comments on them. MK.

Leland said in various emails: I arrived at Item Co (of 15/3) in April of 1952. On the day I arrived, Lt Arneson, the 4th Plt Leader, let the four of us assigned to his 4th Platoon draw straws to determine who went to the Mortar Section (only one) and to the 57mm Recoilless Rifle Section (the other three).  I got the shortest straw, so he put me in the mortar section.

Soon after arriving at Item Company, I took a picture of the hills in view from my very first mortar position. Later, a buddy took a picture of me from a nearby spot.  Here are both pictures:

On the back of the hill picture (to your left), I wrote, "Hill  317 is the one with the peak and Breadloaf is the long flat one to the right of it." Yes, Merv, that is a camouflage net over one of our mortars.

I understand the enemy was on Hill 317 and Breadloaf. Our 1st, 2nd, & 3rd platoons were on outposts between our 4th platoon area and those hills. We, in the 4th platoon, usually learned just what activity had taken place (between meals) because our platoon area was also the chow area. Had I stayed longer at this position and had I been in one of the three rifle platoons, I would probably remember a lot more about the events at this position.

Shortly after I joined Item Co in this position, the whole 3rd Bn moved to the part of the 8th Army Reserve Area we knew as Camp Blue. I'll send you some pictures taken there. Leland.

MK note (again):
The first photo above is special to me because I remember the scene so well: the formidable 317 to the left; Outpost Kelly, the second highest peak in the photo, to the right; and, the long, flat, and not as tall Breadloaf lying between 317 and Kelly. In April 1952, 317 was held by the Chinese, Breadloaf was in no man's land, and Kelly was the outpost for Baker.

Richard "Dick" Lawrence (#4) told me the first photo above was taken from the rear of the MLR and just to the left (west) of the B/15/3 MLR location just west of Charlie Co, which was on the MLR between Baker and the Imjin. Believe me, Dick should know - not only from his sojourn there that winter, but also because the whole 1st Bn, including Dick in Baker Co, me in Able Co, and other Bunker Buddies in the 1st Bn, arrived on 31 Jul 1952 (back again for Dick!!) at Baker's old position for an assault to retake Kelly. We stayed there a while after that.

Sherwin "Arc" Arculis (#6) sent me some excerpts from the official history of the 3rd Div: 3d INFANTRY DIVISION (MARNE DIVISION) IN THE KOREAN WAR. It says in part:

"The 3d Division returned to the front on 20 November .... (1951) .... near the confluence of the Imjin and Yokkok Rivers (the area from Hill 355 to just east of Outpost Nori - "our" IBB hills) .... The Division began a period of aggressive patrolling and bunker improvement that lasted through late April 1952. During this time the division maintained two regiments in the line and one in reserve, rotating the regiments in reserve to provide relief from front-line duties and allow each regiment time for training. On 26 April 1952 the division was placed in Eighth Army reserve for a two-month training period."

But, Arc also points out that: "A large relief like this would be spread over several days and nights and staggered by units. I am sure you guys (1st Bn) moved out and the date in the history reflects the end of the relief of the 3rd Division. We left 355 in the dead of the night and by platoon with each being relieved by elements of the new units."

The 1st Bn already had left the line about the middle of  April 1952 and headed  to the POW camp near Pusan to guard prisoners. Several 1st Bn guys, including me, remember being there for the prisoner's May Day (the 1st) celebration.

That's another  story, partly told on the page The POW (and how!) Place.

Dan Wolfe (#59) emailed me as follows: "Great work, Mervino. When I arrived at L Company in April, 1952, it was on the MLR opposite Sugarloaf, Hill 317 and Breadloaf.  Although it was relatively quiet in the area, the vets told me they had bloody clashes on 317 in the previous months. There was a broad, tall, weeded, and long valley between the MLR and 317. Quite often, patrols making their way through the weeds stepped onto pheasant's nests. The noise scared us right out of our GI underwear. In late April or early May, as I recall, we were sent to the rear to receive replacements and training. Dan.

J. C. Poe emailed me this comment: "Yes, Merv, that is one of the best photos of 317 and Breadloaf I have ever seen; and, that very best of all time pee bringers ever to be part of an infantry unit can't be hidden by a net from these old eyes. I wouldn't stretch truth MUCH - but, as I recall, when the platoon leader called for a fire mission on Nori, I always asked him, 'Do you want this one in the chink's left or right back pocket?'."  J C

Leland's photos taken at "Camp Blue" and the stories that go with them are on the next page - Blue Reservations.

3rd Division Page      IBB Map and Photo Index
IBB - Page Seven     
Blue Reservations
"Can Do" Photo Album

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