Across the Imjin

As peace negotiations remained deadlocked, the United Nations Command stepped up its offensive on the 1st Corps front. During September and October two operations, code-named Minden and Commando, were carried out to achieve defence in depth in the area and to provide greater flank protection to the Seoul-Chorwon supply route. In the first of these, Minden, the Wyoming line was extended to remove the salient created by the curve in the Imjin River.

mine clearing team, September 1951

D-Day for Operation Minden was September 8, 1951. The Commonwealth Brigade established a firm bridge-head in no man's land on the north bank of the lower Imjin. From this base the other two brigades would advance three days later to the objective, a line from Sanggorangpo to Chung-gol, code-named Wyoming. Engineers, meanwhile, constructed or re-opened roads through the area and built two bridges, Pintail and Teal, over the Imjin River. These bridges were vital links to the maintenance areas behind the Imjin and would play a major role in Canadian activities in the months ahead.

On September 11, the division moved north out of the bridgehead – the 29th Brigade on the left and the 25th Brigade on the right. The South Koreans and Americans advanced on either flank. By September 13 the operation was completed with little opposition and few casualties.

From the middle of September to Operation Commando which began on October 3, the 25th Brigade was engaged mainly in improving its positions and in routine patrolling. These patrols, it should be noted, were dangerous and often anything but routine for those who participated.

In Operation Commando, which involved all four divisions of the 1st US Corps, a new front line, known as Jamestown, was established. The Commonwealth portion of the line was on the high ground overlooking the valley of an unnamed tributary of the Sami-chon River. The American divisions were on the right and the 1st ROK Division was on the left. The brigades of the Commonwealth division launched their attacks on successive days so that each could be more heavily supported by artillery. The Canadians, with the 1st Royal Ulster Rifles attached from the 29th British Brigade, struck off on "D-Day plus 1." The main objective of the RCR was Hill 187, while the PPCLI objectives included a second Hill also numbered 187 and Hill 159. The Ulsters were to take the area between the villages of Yongdong and Chommal.

The Ulsters began the attack and, with little difficulty, secured all their objectives that afternoon. By late afternoon the next day, October 5, the RCR and the Patricias had signalled success as well. The 28th Commonwealth Brigade, which had meanwhile encountered greater opposition, succeeded in taking its objective, Hill 217, by October 8.

The division then lay on the Jamestown line between the Sami-chon and the Imjin rivers with lines Wyoming and Kansas to the rear. It held a front of approximately 19,000 metres with seven battalions in the front line. In the landscape ahead the enemy main line was much closer than before and the newly-won hills were more open to attack.

These operations also served to weld the 1st Commonwealth Division, with its various national groups, into a formidable fighting force. A sense of cohesion and esprit de corps developed which would be most valuable in the long months which lay ahead.

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